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respecting population and plenty.

a country thus circumstanced, will not indeed be the quantity of food, because part of it is exported, but the quantity of employment. The state of this employment however will necessarily regu: late the wages of labor, on which depends the power of the lower classes of people to procure food; and according as the employment of the country is increasing, whether slowly or rapidly, these wages will be such, as either to check or to encourage early marriages, such, as to enable a laborer to support only two or three, or as many as five or six children.

The quantity of employment in any country will not of course vary from year to year, in the same manner as the quantity of produce must necessarily do, from the variation of the seasons; and consequently the check from want of employment will be much more steady in its operation, and be much more favorable to the lower classes of people, than the check from the immediate want of food. The first will be the preventive check; the second the positive check. When the demand for labor is either stationary, or increasing very slowly, people not seeing any employment open by which they can support a family, or the wages of common labor being inadequate to this purpose,

On the prevailing errors

will of course be deterred from marrying. But if a demand for labor continue increasing with some rapidity, although the supply of food be uncertain, on account of variable seasons, and a dependence on other countries, the population will evidently go on, till it is positively checked by famine, or the diseases arising from severe want.

Scarcity and extreme poverty therefore may or may not accompany an increasing population, according to circumstances; but they must neces. sarily accompany a permanently declining population; because there never has been, nor probably ever will be, any other cause than want of food, which makes the population of a country perma. nently decline. In the numerous instances of de. population which occur in history, the causes of it may always be traced to the want of industry, or the ill direction of that industry, arising from violence, bad government, ignorance, &c. which first occasions a want of food, and of course depopulation follows. When Rome adopted the custom of importing all her corn, and laying all Italy into pasture, she soon declined in population. The causes of the depopulation of Egypt and Turkey have already been alluded to ; and in the case of Spain, it was certainly not the numerical loss of

respecting population and plenty.

people occasioned by the expulsion of the Moors; but the industry and capital thus expelled, which permanently injured her population. When a country has been depopulated by violent causes, if a bad government, with its usual concomitant insecurity of property ensue, which has generally been the case in all those countries which are now less peopled than formerly, neither the food nor the population can recover themselves, and the inhabitants will probably live in severe want.

But when an accidental depopulation takes place, in a country which was before populous and industrious, and in the habit of exporting corn, if the remaining inhabitants be left at liberty to exert, and do exert, their industry in the same direction as before, it is a strange idea to entertain that they would then be unable to supply themselves with corn in the same plenty ; particularly as the diminished numbers would of course cultivate principally the more fertile parts of their territory, and not be obliged as in their more populous state, to apply to ungrateful soils. Countries in this situation would evidently have the same chance of recovering their former number, as they had originally of reaching this number; and indeed if absolute populousness were necessary to relative plen.

On the prevailing errors

ty, as some agriculturists have supposed, - it would be impossible for new colonies to increase with the same rapidity as old states.

1 Among others, I allude more particularly to Mr. Anderson, who, in a Calm Investigation of the Circumstances which have led to the present Scarcity of grain in Britain, (published in 1801) has labored with extraordi. nary earnestness, and I believe with the best intentions possible, to impress this curious truth on the minds of his countrymen. The particular position which he attempts to prove is, that an increase of population in any state whose fields have not been made to attain their highest possible degree of productiveness, (a thing that probably has never yet been seen on this globe ) will necessarily have its means of subsistence rather augmented than diminished, by that augmentation of its population; and the reverse. The proposition is, to be sure, expressed rather obscurely; but from the context, his meaning evidently is, that every increase of population tends to increase relative plenty, and vice versà. He concludes his proofs by observing, that if the facts which he has thus brought for: ward and connected do not serve to remove the fears of those who doubt the possibility of this country producing abundance to sustain its increasing population, were it to augment in a ratio greatly more progressive than it has yet done, he should doubt whether they could be con. vinced of it, were one even to rise from the dead to tell them so. Mr. A. is perhaps justified in this doubt, from the known incredulity of the age, which might cause people to remain unconvinced in both cases. Mr. A. however, entirely, respecting the importance of directing a greater part of the national industry to agri.

I agree with

respecting population and plenty.

The prejudices on the subject of population bear a very striking resemblance to the old pre. judices about specie, and we know how slowly and with what difficulty these last have yielded to juster conceptions. Politicians observing, that states which were powerful and prosperous were almost invariably populous, have mistaken an effect for a cause, and concluded that their population was the cause of their prosperity, instead of their prosperity being the cause of their population; as the old political economists concluded, that the abundance of specie was the cause of national wealth, instead of the effect of it. The annual produce of the land and labor, in both these instances, became in consequence a secondary consideration, and its increase, it was conceived, would naturally follow the increase of specie in the one case, or of population in the other. The folly of endeavoring by forcible means to increase the quantity of specie in any country, and the ab

culture ; but from the circumstance of its being possible for a country, with a certain direction of its industry, always to export corn, although it may be very populous, he has been led into the strange error of supposing, that an agricultural country could support an unchecked po, pulation. vol. ii.

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