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Of systems of equality. Godwin.
On the state of this fund the happiness or the degree of misery, prevailing among the lower classes of people in every known state, at present chiefly depends; and on this happiness or degree of misery depends principally the increase, stationariness, or decrease of population.
And thus it appears, that a society constituted according to the most beautiful form that imagination can conceive, with benevolence for its moving principle instead of self-love, and with every evil disposition in all its members corrected by reason, not force, would from the inevitable laws of nature, and not from any original depravi. ty of man, or of human institutions, degenerate in a very short period into a society constructed upon a plan not essentially different from that which prevails in every known state at present ; ; a society divided into a class of proprietors and a class of laborers, and with self-love for the mainspring of the great machine.
In the supposition which I have made, I have undoubtedly taken the increase of population smaller, and the increase of produce greater than they really would be. No reason can be assigned why under the circumstances supposed population should not increase faster than in any known
of systems of equality. Godwin.
instance. If then we were to take the period of doubling at fifteen years instead of twenty-five years, and reflect upon the labor necessary to double the produce in so short a time, even if we allow it possible; we may venture to pronounce with certainty, that if Mr. Godwin's system of society were established in its utmost perfection, instead of myriads of centuries, not thirty years could elapse before its utter destruction from the simple principle of population.
I have taken no notice of emigration in this place, for obvious reasons.
If such societies were instituted in other parts of Europe, these countries would be under the same difficulties, with regard to population, and could admit no fresh members into their bosoms. If this beautiful society were confined to this islánd, it must have degenerated strangely from its original purity, and administer but a very small portion of the happiness it proposed, before any of its members would voluntarily consent to leave it, and live under such governments as at present exist in Eu. rope, or submit to the extreme hardships of first settlers in new regions.
Observations on the Reply of Mr. Godwin.
MR. GODWIN in a late publication has replied to those parts of the Essay on the Principle of Population, which he thinks bear the hardest on his system. A few remarks on this reply will be sufficient.
In a note to an early part of his pamphlet he observes, that the main attack of the essay is not directed against the principles of his work, but its conclusion." It
may be true indeed, that as Mr. Godwin had dedicated one particular chapter towards the conclusion of his work to the conside. ration of the objections to his system, from the principle of population, this particular chapter is most frequently alluded to: but certainly if the great principle of the essay be admitted it affects his whole work, and essentially alters the founda
Reply to the attacks of Dr. Parr, Mr. Mackintosh, the author of an Essay on Population, and others, p. 10. vol. ir.
Observations on the reply of Mr. Godwin.
tions of political justice. A great part of Mr. Godwin's book consists of an abuse of human in stitutions, as productive of all or most of the evils which afflict society. The acknowledgment of a new and totally unconsidered cause of misery would evidently alter the state of these arguments, and make it absolutely necessary that they should be either newly modified or entirely rejected.
In the first book of Political Justice, chap. iii. entitled, “ The Spirit of Political Institutions," Mr. Godwin observes, that “ Two of the greatest “ abuses relative to the interior policy of nations “ which at this time prevail in the world consist “in the irregular transfer of property, either first
by violence, or secondly by fraud.” And he goes on to say, that if there existed no desire in individuals to possess themselves of the substance of others, and if every man could with perfect facility obtain the necessaries of life, civil society might become what poetry has feigned of the golden age. Let us inquire, he says, into the principles to which these evils are indebted for existence. After acknowledging the truth of the principal argument in the essay on population, I do not think that he could stop in this inquiry at mere human institutions. Many other parts of his work
Observations on the reply of Mr. Godwin.
would be affected by this consideration in a similar manner,
As Mr. Godwin seems disposed to understand, and candidly to admit the truth of the principal argument in the essay, I feel the more mortified that he should think it a fair inference from my positions, that the political superintendents of a community are bound to exercise a paternal vigilance and care over the two great means of advantage and safety to mankind, misery and vice; and that no eyil is more to be dreaded than that we should have too little of them in the world to con. fine the principle of population within its proper sphere. I am at a loss to conceive what class of evils Mr. Godwin imagines is yet behind, which these salutary checks are to prevent. For my own part I know of no greater evils than vice and misery; and the sole question is respecting the most effectual mode of diminishing them. The only reason why I object to Mr. Godwin's system is my full conviction, that an attempt to execute it would very greatly increase the quantity of vice and misery in society. If Mr. Godwin will undo this conyiction, and prove to me though it be
1 Reply, &c. p. 60.