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Chap. I. — Preliminary Thoughts On Certain Por-
"In the adoption of the system of Education, I foresee an enlightened peasantry, frugal, industrious, sober, orderly, and contented, because they are acquainted with the true value of frugality, sobriety, industry, and order; crimes diminishing, because the enlightened understanding abhors crime; the practice of Christianity prevailing, because the mass of your population can read, comprehend, and feel its divine origin, and the beauty of the doctrines which it inculcates; your kingdom safe from the insult of the enemy, because every man knows the worth of that which he is called upon to defend."
Speech of the late Samuel Whitbread, Esq., M. P.
PRELIMINARY THOUGHTS ON CERTAIN PORTIONS OF OUR POPULATION.
The Philosophy of Population, though it has recently excited much attention and produced ample discussion, does not seem even now to have obtained that place in Human Studies which it so well deserves. It is strange that it should bear this modern date. Since in every country the questions it embraces must have been of almost equal importance,—the failure threatening the industrial resources, as the excess does the subsisting means, of every community,—it is a ground of surprise that we can find scarcely any notice of it, any reference to it, in the writings of antiquity. It was, doubtless, a subject of anxious thought to many who lived in the remotest periods of the eaxO1 •
The sage in his contemplations, the statesman in his projects, could not utterly neglect or slight it. With a terrible earnestness it demanded the attention of both. Plato, indeed, in his ideal of a State, has not wholly overlooked it. Speaking on certain regulations of marriage, he causes his great interlocutor, Socrates, to state the alternatives,—"That as far as possible our city may he neither too full nor too empty."* The void exhausted by frequent famines, the waste left by exterminating wars, would sometimes peril the being of peoples and the identity of nations. Grave was the problem, how these devastations might be repaired. Kedundance was not, on the other hand, unattended by difficulties. Though the world may not have been filled with its present number of inhabitants, some parts of it were densely thronged. The swarm gathered in the fruitful vale. Wherever, too, the limit of a country was narrow,—not lying in the depth of a continent but shut in by shores,—not spreading over a champagne but imprisoned by mountains,—increase would become more likely, from the higher cultivation of the soil, from the demand of domestic manufacture, and from the prevention of any outgrowth of itself beyond the bounds which local necessity had set. Scarcely less grave was the problem, how these augmented wants might be supplied. The records have not been kept, but it cannot be doubted, that profound musings, that
* "Kect pctfls ftiyaXtt kfttv « -rohis notice To e'vvoflov, fit^]s rfttrcga -»x7<tt."—Rep : lib. v.
sagacious conjectures, that comprehensive schemes, have always more or less agitated the mind of the wise and the good, touching their species in this particular view of it,—its repression or its multiplication. Philanthropy, of no degree or direction, could overlook that which involved its every exercise. A hoary. dignity, unquestionably, rests upon the science, however its discoveries lie buried with the fathers of the world.
The Sacred Volume has gathered up certain notations of this great study of our nature, which are worthy of their register. It points us to Him who "enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them."* It assures us that it must be on account of His anger against our wickedness, if he "multiply the nation," and withhold the proper consequence by not "increasing the joy."f The greatest proportion of human beings to their earthly dwelling-place is always assumed by it to be a good, a thing to be desired. God, it assures us, "made it to be inhabited." "He hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth." Is the Parent described ?" As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them." Is the might of Thebes, with its hundred gates, proclaimed? It is "populous No." Guarding with holy jealousy and fearful judgment every violation of purity, consecrating marriage as * Job xii. 23. + Isa. ix. 3.