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nature, these sentiments would inevitably
expire. The narrow principle of self“ ishness would vanish. No man being
obliged to guard his little store, or pro“ vide with anxiety and pain for his restless
wants, each would lose his individual ex“ istence in the thought of the general
good. No man would be an enemy to his neighbours, for they would have no subject of contention; and of consequence
philanthropy would resume the empire “ which reason assigns her. Mind would 66 be delivered from her perpetual anxiety • about corporal support; and be free
to expatiate in the field of thought which “ is congenial to her. Each would assist “ the inquiries of all a.”
This would indeed be a happy state. But that it is merely an imaginary picture with scarcely a feature near the truth, the reader, I am afraid, is already too well convinced.
Man cannot live in the midst of plenty. All cannot share alike the bounties of nature. Were there no established admini• Political Justice, b. viii. .c.iii. p. 458.
stration of property, every man would be obliged to guard with force his little store. Selfishness would be triumphant. The subjects of contention would be perpetual. Every individual would be under a constant anxiety about corporal support, and not a single intellect would be left free to expatiate in the field of thought.
How little Mr. Godwin has turned his attention to the real state of human society, will sufficiently appear from the manner in which he endeavours to remove the difficulty of a superabundant population. He says, “ The obvious answer to this objection is, " that to reason thus is to foresee difficulties
at a great distance. Three-fourths of the “ habitable globe are now uncultivated. “ The parts already cultivated are capable
of immeasurable improvement. Myriads “ of centuries of still increasing population
may pass away, and the earth be still “ found sufficient for the subsistence of its « inhabitants 4."
I have already pointed out the error of supposing that no distress or difficulty a Polit. Justice, b. viii. c. ix. p. 510.
would arise from a redundant population, before the earth absolutely refused to produce any more. But let us imagine for a moment Mr. Godwin's system of equality realized in its utmost extent, and see how soon this difficulty might be expected to press, under so perfect a form of society. A theory that will not admit of application cannot possibly be just.
Let us suppose all the causes of vice and misery in this island removed. War and contention cease. Unwholesome trades and manufactories do not exist. Crowds no longer collect together in great and pestilent cities for purposes of court intrigue, of commerce, and of vicious gratification. Simple, healthy and rational amusements take place of drinking, gaming and debauchery. There are no towns sufficiently large to have any prejudicial effects on the human constitution. The greater part of the happy inhabitants of this terrestrial Paradise live in hamlets and farm-houses scattered over the face of the country. All men are equal. The labours of luxury are at an end ; and the necessary labours of
agriculture are shared amicably among all. The number of persons and the produce of the island we suppose to be the same as at present. The spirit of benevolence, guided by impartial justice, will divide this produce among all the members of society according to their wants. Though it would be impossible that they should all have animal food every day, yet vegetable food, with meat occasionally, would satisfy the desires of a frugal people, and would be sufficient to preserve them in health, strength and spirits.
Mr. Godwin considers marriage as a fraud and a monopoly. Let us suppose the commerce of the sexes established
upon principles of the most perfect freedom. Mr. Godwin does not think himself, that this freedom would lead to a promiscuous intercourse ; and in this I perfectly agree with him. The love of variety is a vicious, corrupt and unnatural taste, and could not prevail in any great degree in a simple and virtuous state of society. Each man would probably select for himself a . Polit. Justice, b. viii. c. viii. p.498, et seq.
partner, to whom he would adhere, as long as that adherence continued to be the choice of both parties. It would be of little consequence, according to Mr. Godwin, how many children a woman had, or to whom they belonged. Provisions and assistance would spontaneously flow from the quarter in which they abounded to the quarter in which they were deficienta. And
every man, according to his capacity, would be ready to furnish instruction to the rising generation.
I cannot conceive a form of society so favourable upon the whole to population. The irremediableness of marriage, as it is at present constituted, undoubtedly deters many from entering into this state. An unshackled intercourse on the contrary would be a most powerful incitement to early attachments; and as we are supposing no anxiety about the future support of children to exist, I do not conceive that there would be one woman in a hundred, of twenty-three years of age, without a family. • Political Justice, b. viii. c. viii. p. 504.