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has been considered in this second book with that which formed the subject of the first, I think it appears that in modern Europe the positive checks to population prevail less, and the preventive checks more than in past times, and in the more uncivilized parts of the world. War, the predominant check to the

population of savage nations, has certainly abated, even including the late unhappy revolutionary contests ; and since the prevalence of a greater degree of personal cleanliness, of better modes of clearing and building towns, and of a more equable distribution of the products of the soil from improving knowledge in political economy, plagues, violent diseases and famines have been certainly mitigated, and have become less frequent.

With regard to the preventive check to population, though it must be acknowledged that that branch of it which comes under the head of moral restrainta, does not at present prevail much among the male part of society; yet I am strongly disposed to believe that it prevails more than in those states which were first considered ; and it can scarcely be doubted that in modern Europe a much larger proportion of women pass a considerable part of their lives in the exercise of this virtue, than in past times and

a The reader will recollect the confined sense in which I use this term.

part

among

uncivilized nations. But however this may be, if we consider only the general term which implies principally a delay of the marriage union from prudential considerations, without reference to consequences, it may be considered in this light as the most powerful of the checks, which in modern Europe keep down the population to the level of the means of subsistence.

ESSAY,

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Of Systems of Equality. Wallace. Condorcet. Το a person

who views the past and present states of mankind in the light in which they have appeared in the two preceding books, it cannot but be a matter of astonishment, that all the writers on the

perfectibility of man and of society, who have noticed the argument of the principle of population, treat it always very lightly,

and

and invariably represent the difficulties arising from it as at a great and almost immeasurable distance. Even Mr. Wallace, who thought the argument itself of so much weight as to destroy his whole system of equality, did not seem to be aware that any difficulty would arise from this cause, till the whole earth had been cultivated like a garden, and was incapable of any further increase of produce. If this were really the case, and a beautiful system of equality were in other respects practicable, I cannot think that our ardour in the pursuit of such a scheme ought to be damped by the contemplation of so remote a difficulty. An event at such a distance might fairly be left to Providence. But the truth is, that, if the view of the argument given in this essay be just, the difficulty, so far from being remote, is imminent and immediate. At every period during the progress of cultivation, from the present moment to the time when the whole earth was become like a garden, the distress for want of food would be constantly pressing on all mankind, if they were equal. Though the produce of the earth would be increasing every year, population would have the power of increasing much faster, and this superior power must necessarily be checked by the periodical or constant action of moral restraint, vice, or misery.

duce truth

M. Condorcet's Esquisse d'un Tableau Historique des Progrès de l’Esprit Humain was written, it is said, under the pressure of that cruel proscription which terminated in his death. If he had no hopes of its being seen during his life, and of its interesting France in his favour, it is a singular instance of the attachment of a man to principles, which every day's experience was so fatally for himself contradicting. To see the human mind in one of the most enlightened nations of the world, debased by such a fermentation of disgusting passions, of fear, cruelty, malice, revenge, ambition, madness and folly, as would have disgraced the most savage nations in the most barbarous age, must have been such a tremendous shock to his ideas of the necessary and inevitable progress of the human mind, as nothing but the firmest conviction of the

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