Obrazy na stronie

by the reviewer; and form the basis of his argument. But the missionaries in 1799 (that is, about the period of Turnbull's voyage), assert the number of the inhabitants to be 16,050. Their mention of the odd fifty seems incidentally to prove that their census was the result of actual enumeration. However, the force of the arguments respectively founded by Mr. Malthus and the reviewer, is strangely weakened by the missionary evidence. The in fanticide practised in the island, is a circumstance which may be accounted for independently of any supposed arrangement on the part of the parent to check the population; at least, where the parent is not a plebeian. It seems, then, that the population of Otaheite never amounted to the calculation of Cook, nor descended to that of Turnbull. Arithmetic has always been hostile to hypothesis; though it is conceded in the present instance, that both Malthus and the reviewer fairly judged their rival systems to be befriended by simple addition. But so much for rival systems, each built on misinformation! Pinkerton, no incompetent judge of statistical questions, thinks that the whole of Australasia and Polynesia does not contain above 300,000 souls; and he chastises Forster for computing the population of Otaheite at 160,000; though so considerable a deduction from the number assigned by Captain Cook.

The reviewer has unaccountably given us to understand, that no extraordinary measure of vice is to be found in this island; whereas the reverse is notoriously the fact; and equally notorious is the positive check it affords to the natural progress of population. The profligacy of the inhabitants is at least in proportion to the envied climate, exuberant vegetation, and luxurious scenery, of this Hesperian region; but by the righteous arrangement of Providence, their abuse of its bounty is recoiling upon these children of nature; and they seem at this hour

to be "receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet."

Mr. Malthus's theory is accused of a tendency to create a positive check on the progress of charity; since every assistance given to the lower orders encourages the mar riage of young persons, who expect the same gratuities which were conferred on their parents, to be bestowed on themselves, when they venture into domestic troubles. But any individual, with a judgment liberalized by Christianity, will be charitable in practice, at the very time when his political theories con demn the cause which calls forth the exercise of his principles. He may advise moral restraint, while he silently determines to relieve the subject of his admonition, should circumstances render relief neces sary. Whatever consequences he foresees, or thinks to be inevitable, will not be suffered to suspend an act of present duty; for this simple reason, that the results of all things may safely be left with Omniscience.

But I would here remark, that the alarm excited in some serious minds by the system of Mr. Malthus, seems to me to wear the appearance of a disposition to question the powers of Providence to meet the exigencies of a supposed crisis in the affairs of the world; or to doubt the Divine mercy in eventually permitting a scarcity so calamitous in its consequences, as even to occasion the destruction of half the species, Supposing such a scarcity actually to depopulate half the earth once in every generation-will it be thought romantic to make this inquiry, Would mankind consent to purchase, by submitting to this perio dical scourge, a perfect immunity from all other evil; from every disquietude of mind, including the usual sources of domestic uneasiness (trifling indeed when contemplated individually, but far otherwise in the aggregate); the desolation of spirit occasioned by the wounds, or the loss of friends; the distractions

of remorse, of shame, of defeat, of fear, of jealousy, of insulted pride; the perturbation of guilt and despair;-an immunity from every derangement of the animal system; the languor of protracted debility; the throbs of protracted torture; from all that appals the imagination in prospect, or maddens with excess of agony when actually endured; an immunity also from the effects of popular commotion; from the terrors of war-" upon the earth, distress of nations, with perplexity; men's hearts failing them with fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom"-the fire and the sword? Would men gain, or would they not gain, by this compromise? Let those think out an answer to this inquiry who have taken the dimensions of human misery, from a fair knowledge of the world, added to their own practical acquaintance with sorrow and pain. The Anti-Malthusians talk unadvisedly in asserting that individuals in the middle and higher ranks, though of small fortune, may marry, Their statement amounts to this: the 2001. or 400l. a year, which suffice for a bachelor, would suffice for a family; but with the mistaken assumption, that persons may accommodate their married habits to their single incomes; as if (to say nothing of the hardier sex) a woman of refinement could step down from a life of comparatively luxurious ease, to the coarse housewifery of a farm-bouse. The question is not, whether inexperience, encouraged or deluded by strong attachment, would persuade her to venture into such servitude; but whether a man, who deserved to be happy with her, could bring himself to propose this dark descent. If an indigent bachelor must marry, he would most probably consult his own happiness, and most certainly his convenience, by soliciting the hand of his laundress's daughter, whose tears would not be likely to

flow at the reflection of having rashly encountered distresses which already oppress, and will inevitably oppress more. There would be no sentiment, no sympathy, no struggle of a delicate mind, to suppress tender upbraidings; no conflict of passionate love, with the bitter consequences of poverty and self-condemnation. All this would be satisfactorily escaped. There would be a sordid house; a more sordid wife; with no cause of affliction to her, but such as would" make Tom Butcher weep." Of the two evils, I should advise a man of genuine feeling to choose the young laundress. At all events, it is the evil which the Anti-Malthusian deserves himself to taste, by way of ascertaining the full and fair value of his own hypothesis. Let this desperate speculator understand, that marriage, if it mean nothing more than the legal union of Robert and Catherine, is only a permanent penance, fitted to expiate the crimes of Napoleon the Great; but if it realize its own intent, and fill its own capacities, we must condescend to provide against the incursion of vulgar wants; and regulate our cautionary measures by that true philosophy of human nature, which instructs us that the most refined emotions of the mind are far from being independent of the soul's union with its "muddy vesture of decay." Foolish ventures are indeed made, and will be made, in spite of Mr. Malthus, and of this paper. Young persons will offer and receive addresses in the spirit of affected sentiment; and after marriage will have full leisure for repentance.

Respecting the general subject of population, I do not presume to have more than a general opinion. On looking over the very cursory remarks here offered, I thought more than once that I felt the ground beginning to sink; and therefore hurried out of the way of danger. Perhaps some of your correspondents will force me to try the surface again; which I will do

without force, if they will provide me stilts, and dry stockings, in the event of reaching the quicksand. When I began these observations, my chief design was, and chief it remains, to write for the sake of obtaining information from others, who, from their habits of investigation on subjects of this nature, are qualified to repress the dogmatism of all positive and fretful theorists. I have been told that Mr. Pitt's views of population were coincident with the new system. Of course, he regarded the matter as a branch of political philosophy. The readers of your work will connect it with the moral government of God. Far from wishing to violate this hallowed connection, I would endeavour to strengthen it; but by inquiring again, whether the worst supposable consequences of the obnoxious hypothesis may not be as reconcilable with the arrangements of Providence, as the proportion of evil actually known to be infused into the system of this world. Human vindications of the Divine procedure must be founded on Divine revelation, as illustrated by the visible creation.

When Milton ventured to justify Providence, he took care to occupy the vantage ground of Scripture; and the didactic part of his performance is merely a poetical amplification of the simple statements of the Bible. Then came the twin philosophers, Bolingbroke and Pope, with the beggarly elements of human wisdom. Yet the Essay on Man contains many a noble sentiment; and divinity at least as excellent as can be detected in the writings of such of Mr. Malthus's opponents as deny (this is far from being the case, however, with the British Reviewer) the catholic doctrine of original sin, while they revolt at the charge supposed to be brought by his system against the benevolence of the Deity. Let these persons explain how the permission of the crimes perpetrated during the last twenty-three years by revolutionary

France, adjusts itself to the scheme of universal goodness; and I wil dare to promise them full satisfaction on every branch of the hypothesis, which, right or wrong, has persuaded me to adopt the general sentiments, and, in the present communication, the signature of,

Sir, your a priori reader,


To the Editor of the Christian Observer. My education and habits of life as a tradesman have inclined me hitherto to be but little of a politician. I have in general contented myself with the regular routine of my business; and, excepting the attention which is at times forcibly called to the important occurrences of the present eventful period, I have left state affairs to wiser heads than mine, thankful to Providence that my humble sphere did not expose me to many of those severe trials, which I am sure they must experience, who, being called upon to decide in matters of state, on questions of the most intricate nature, at the same time wish to preserve a conscience void of offence towards God and man.

But it has unfortunately happened, of late years, either from the unbounded spirit of adventure in our merchants, or from the too ready ear which our Government has lent to their statements, that commerce and politics have become so much connected with each other, as to require from the merchant, and those concerned with him, an accurate knowledge of the politics of the day, in addition to that of his own trade. Formerly, it was deemed a relaxation to take up the newspapers occasionally, after the business of the day was over; but now, a man is almost compelled to study them, in order to guard against being led into dangerous errors in his mercantile adventures, by the frequent changes: in the measures of Goverument respecting commerce. I confess, Mr. Editor, this is a matter which, as

an old-fashioned man, I cannot approve of. I think it highly proper that statesmen should make themselves acquainted with the outlines of trade and commerce in general, but I do not like to see too many of our manufacturers and merchants turn statesmen. One cannot help fearing, that, instead of legislating for their country, upon an enlarged principle, their attention may be too much drawn to their own individual interests.

These thoughts have occurred to me, in considering the many difficulties which I have experienced of late in carrying on my own trade, occasioned by the new-fashioned system of commerce; and which I cannot but think would have had no exist ence, if Government had not been too anxious to please the mercantile part of the nation, at the expense (in my opinion) of sound policy,-I had almost said, at the expense of every principle of morality. You will easily suppose that I allude to the present mode of exporting and importing goods to and from those countries under the controul of France, and which, with regard to us, are in the mongrel character of half friends, half foes. I was much pleased with some remarks which appeared in your work last year, particularly a paper, signed PROBUS, in your number for April 1810*, and have been a good deal struck with the fulfilment of his almost prophetic forebodings respecting many of the "nouveaux riches."

As I before said, Sir, I am no politician; and perhaps it is on that account that I am so utterly at a loss how to account for our Government persisting in sanctioning the present mode of trade. To me it appears, in every point of view, highly impolitic. I think it tends to degrade the character of our merchants and seamen, by accustoming them to every species of fraud and dissimulation; for whatever these Proteuses may think of themselves, 1 durst appeal to the

* P. 218. CHRIST, OBSERV. No. 121.

common sense and honesty, which, thank God, are still left in the nation, whether that man must not be considered as degraded, who, merely for his own emolument, will one day swear himself an Englishman, another day an American, and a third a German, just as the wind blows. Another objection to this trade, in a political point of view, is the disproportion between the imports and the exports, and that the chief profit arising from it goes into the pockets of foreigners. Another political evil, in my opinion, is the great number of foreign seamen, who are by these means educated at our expense for Bonaparte: (I think you did allude to this subject in one of your numbers*). These sailors acquire an intimate knowledge of all our coasts and harbours; and I think an attentive observer cannot but have been struck with the improved appearance of these men in the last few years. I am much in the habit of seeing them, and used to feel some elation in the comparison between them and our British tars; but I assure you I see a wonderful alteration now in their dress and manners, and I hear a good deal of their seamanship; so that I entertain a far more respectable opinion of them as sailors than I ever used to do, and cannot but have my fears that we shall, on some future day, feel the sad effects of this great addition to the resources of our enemy. Besides these objections, it is a matter well worth consideration how far we should be benefited by putting a total stop to the trade. I say benefited, because I believe, in this as in all other cases, it will eventually be found that honesty is the best policy. Your correspondent, MERCATOR†, has some judicious remarks on this head. There are, I believe, few of the articles we now get from the Baltic, which might not easily be raised in our own dominions, either at home or abroad. Surely, if British capital and ingenuity were sufficiently ex* See Vol. for 1810, p. 249. + Vol. for 1810, p. 217.


erted in Ireland and America, we should have no temptation to resort to such means as are now made use of. I might go on to allude to the supply of naval stores which the enemy receives by the abuse of our licences. It is impossible, upon the present system, but that such abuses should exist; and I fear, from what I have heard, that they exist to a considerable extent, and that the minds of men have become so familiarized with it as to think it no crime. Every thing now-a-days, Mr. Editor, has some soft appellation to disguise its enormity. Forgery and perjury are merely a simulated clearance; and a " slipping voyage" is the technical term for supplies of naval stores conveyed to our enemies; which, if it could clearly be brought home to some of our merchants, would probably give them at least a slipping voyage to Botany Bay.

But I must check myself, or I shall consume both your time and patience, before I come to my main reason for addressing you; and that is, to ask how people in my situa tion ought to act under the present circumstances. I need not tell you, after what I have written, that I disapprove entirely of the trade in question, and should exceedingly regret having any thing to do with it, directly. But indirectly, Sir, we all must be concerned in it, in a greater or less degree. The desk, for instance, on which I write, and the candles which give me light, are of Russian produce, besides various other articles commonly used for domestic purposes. The question is, where to draw the line; and I shal feel myself much obliged to any of your numerous correspondents who will give himself the trouble to reflect a little on the subject, and favour me with his sentiments through the medium of your valuable publication. My business consists in buying hemp and tar of the merchants, and manufacturing them into cordage for the use of the King's navy and the merchant service; and this, I think

you will agree with me, is a very honest and useful calling. Occasionally I used to derive considerable profit by importing my hemp and tar direct from Russia myself. The moment, however, I found that this was no longer to be done without fictitious papers, false statements of the voyage intended, a false protest of the pretended loss or capture of the vessel, in order to cancel a bond deceitfully given in Russia, and many other such like deceptions, accompanied, I fear, frequently with perjury,"standing up to swear all true," I did not hesitate to relinquish any. concern in this part of the business: but it becomes a serious question with me, whether I ought to go further. There appears, however, no alternative between giving up my business entirely, and throwing myself and family out of employment, or buying my hemp and tar, as usual, in the market, without concerning myself by what means they come there.

I am aware that it will not avail one moment, to state how great the sacrifice must be in the former in stance; such as extensive warehouses and machinery unoccupied, and la bourers and mechanics deprived of their labour, &c. Still, however, in proportion to the greatness of the sacrifice, should be one's care to do nothing rashly, and to weigh well whether duty really calls for that sacrifice under the circumstances of the case. The matter seems to resolve itself simply into this ;-how far a man is called upon to investigate the means by which another obtains his goods. It is vain to disguise my suspicions that dishonourable means must have been resorted to. But, on the other hand, you will please to observe, that these goods are exposed fairly to an open sale in the market, without the least infringement of the laws of one's country. I fear that lies have been told, and frauds committed, to obtain these goods. I fear, also, the same may be said of many other branches of trade. But

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