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truth of his principles, in spite of all appearances, could have withstood.
This posthumous publication is only a sketch of a much larger work, which he proposed should be executed. It necessarily wants therefore that detail and application, which can alone prove the truth of any theory. A few observations will be sufficient to shew how completely this theory is contradicted, when it is applied to the real, and not to an imaginary, state of things.
In the last division of the work, which treats of the future progress of man towards perfection, M. Condorcet says that, comparing in the different civilized nations of Europe the actual population with the extent of territory, and observing their cultivation, their industry, their divisions of labour, and their means of subsistence, we shall see that it would be impossible to preserve the same means of subsistence, and consequently the same population, without a number of individuals who have no other means of supplying their wants than their industry.
Having allowed the necessity of such a class of men, and adverting afterwards to the precarious revenue of those families that would depend so entirely on the life and health of their chief“, he says very justly, “ There exists then a necessary
cause of inequality, of dependence, and even of misery, which menaces without
ceasing the most numerous and active " class of our societies.” The difficulty is just and well stated; but his mode of removing it will, I fear, be found totally inefficacious.
By the application of calculations to the probabilities of life, and the interest of money,
that a fund should be established, which should assure to the old an assistance produced in part by their own former savings, and in part by the savings of individuals, who in making the same sacrifice die before they reap the benefit of it. The same or a similar fund should give assistance to women and children who lose their husbands or fathers ; and afford a capital to those who were of an age to found a new family, sufficient for the developement of their industry. These establishments, he observes, might be made in the name and under the protection of the society. Going still further, he says, that by the just application of calculations, means might be found of more completely preserving a state of equality, by preventing credit from being the exclusive privilege of great fortunes, and yet giving it a basis equally solid, and by rendering the progress of industry and the activity of commerce less dependent on great capitalists.
• To save time and long quotations, I shall here give the substance of some of M. Condorcet's sentiments, and I hope that I shall not misrepresent them; but I refer the reader to the work itself, which will amuse, if it do pot convince him.
Such establishments and calculations may appear very promising upon paper; but when applied to real life, they will be found to be absolutely nugatory. M. Condorcet allows that a class of people which maintains itself entirely by industry, is necessary to every state. Why does he allow this? No other reason can well be assigned, than because he conceives, that the labour
necessary to procure subsistence for an extended population will not be performed without the goad of necessity. If by establishments upon the plans that have been mentioned this spur to industry be removed; if the idle and negligent be placed upon the same footing with regard to their credit and the future support of their wives and families, as the active and industrious; can we expect to see men exert that animated activity in bettering their condition, which now forms the master-spring of public prosperity? If an inquisition were to be established to examine the claims of each individual, and to determine whether he had or had not exerted himself to the utmost, and to grant or refuse assistance accordingly, this would be little else than a repetition upon a larger scale of the English poorlaws, and would be completely destructive of the true principles of liberty and equality.
But independently of this great objection to these establishments, and supposing for a moment that they would give no check to production, the greatest difficulty remains yet behind. VOL. II.
every man were sure of a comfortable provision for a family, almost every man would have one; and if the rising generation were free from the fear of poverty, population must increase with unusual rapidity. Of this M. Condorcet seems to be fully aware himself; and after having described further improvements, he says,
“ But in this progress of industry “ and happiness, each generation will be “ called to more extended enjoyments, and “ in consequence, by the physical consti6 tution of the human frame, to an in
crease in the number of individuals. “ Must not a period then arrive when these “ laws, equally necessary, shall counter
act each other ; when, the increase of " the number of men surpassing their means “ of subsistence, the necessary result must “ be, either a continual diminution of hap
piness and population-a movement
truly retrograde; or at least a kind of • oscillation between good and evil ? In “ societies arrived at this term, will not this 6 oscillation be a constantly subsisting cause of periodical misery? Will it not