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the eyes of inhabitants in Mars or Venus, why should we, in the sight of superior beings, darken its people 1 Why increase the sons of Africa, by planting them in America, where we have so fair an opportunity, by excluding all blacks and tawnys, of increasing the lovely white and red? But perhaps I am partial to the complexion of my country, for such kind of partiality is natural to mankind.
ON SOME OF THE FOREGOING OBSERVATIONS, SHOWING PARTICULARLY THE EFFECTS WHICH MANNERS HAVE ON POPULATION.
In a Letter from Richard Jackson of London to the Author.
It is now near three years since I received your excellent Observations on the Increase of Mankind, in which you have with so much sagacity and accuracy shown in what manner, and by what causes, that principal means of political grandeur is best promoted; and have so well supported those just inferences you have occasionally drawn, concerning the general state of our American colonies, and the views and conduct of some of the inhabitants of Great Britain.
You have abundantly proved, that natural fecundity is hardly to be considered, because the vis generandi, as far as we know, is unlimited, and because experience shows, that the numbers of nations are altogether governed by collateral causes, and among these none of so much force as the quantity of subsistence, whether arising from climate, soil, improvement of tillage, trade, fisheries, secure property, conquest of new countries, or other favorable circumstances.
VOL. II. 21
As I perfectly concurred with you in your sentiments on these heads, I have been very desirous of building somewhat on the foundation you have there laid; and was induced, by your hints in the twenty-first section, to trouble you with some thoughts on the influence manners have always had, and are always likely to have, on the numbers of a people, and their political prosperity in general.
The end of every individual is its own private good. The rules it observes in the pursuit of this good are a system of propositions, almost every one founded in authority, that is, derive their weight from the credit given to one or more persons, and not from demonstration.
And this, in the most important as well as the other affairs of life, is the case even of the wisest and philosophical part of the human species; and that it should be so is the less strange, when we consider, that it is perhaps impossible to prove, that being, or life itself, has any other value than what is set on it by authority.
A confirmation of this may be derived from the observation, that, in every country in the universe, happiness is sought upon a different plan; and, even in the same country, we see it placed by different ages, professions, and ranks of men, in the attainment of enjoyments utterly unlike.
These propositions, as well as others framed upon them, become habitual by degrees, and, as they govern the determination of the will, I call them moral habits.
There are another set of habits, that have the direction of the members of the body, that I call therefore mechanical habits. These compose what we commonly call the arts, which are more or less liberal or mechanical, as they more or less partake of assistance from the operations of the mind.
The cumulus of the moral habits of each individual is the manners of that individual; the cumulus of the manners of individuals makes up the manners of a nation.
The happiness of individuals is evidently the ultimate end of political society; and political welfare, or the strength, splendor, and opulence of the state, have been always admitted, both by political writers, and the valuable part of mankind in general, to conduce to this end, and are therefore desirable.
The causes that advance or obstruct any one of these three objects, are external or internal. The latter may be divided into physical, civil, and personal, under which last head I comprehend the moral and mechanical habits of mankind. The physical causes are principally climate, soil, and number of persons; the civil, are government and laws; and political welfare is always in a ratio composed of the force of these particular causes. A multitude of external causes, and all these internal ones, not only control and qualify, but are constantly acting on, and thereby insensibly, as well as sensibly, altering one another, both for the better and the worse, and this, not excepting the climate itself.
The powerful efficacy of manners in increasing a people is manifest from the instance you mention, the Quakers; among them industry and frugality multiply and extend the use of the necessaries of life; to manners of a like kind are owing the populousness of Holland, Switzerland, China, Japan, and most parts of Hindostan, &c., in every one of which the force of extent of territory and fertility of soil is multiplied, or their want compensated by industry and frugality.
Neither nature nor art has contributed much to the production of subsistence in Switzerland; yet we see frugality preserves and even increases families that live on their fortunes, and which, in England, we call the gentry; and the observation we cannot but make in the southern part of this kingdom, that those families, including all superior ones, are gradually becoming extinct, affords the clearest proof, that luxury (that is, a greater expense of subsistence than in prudence a man ought to consume) is as destructive, as a disproportionable want of it; but in Scotland, as in Switzerland, the gentry, though one with another they have not one fourth of the income, increase in number.
And here I cannot help remarking, by the by, how well founded your distinction is between the increase of mankind in old and new settled countries in general, and more particularly in the case of families of condition. In America, where the expenses are more confined to necessaries, and those necessaries are cheap, it is common to see above one hundred persons descended from one living old man. In England, it frequently happens, where a man has seven, eight, or more children, there has not been a descendant in the next generation, occasioned by the difficulties the number of children has brought on the family, in a luxurious, dear country, and which have prevented their marrying.
That this is more owing to luxury than mere want, appears from what I have said of Scotland, and more plainly from parts of England remote from London, in most of which the necessaries of life are nearly as dear, in some dearer than London; yet the people of all ranks marry and breed up children.
Again; among the lower ranks of life, none produce so few children as servants. This is, in some measure, to be attributed to their situation, which hinders marriage, but is also to be attributed to their luxury and corruption of manners, which are greater than among any other set of people in England, and is the consequence of a nearer view of the lives and persons of a superior rank, than any inferior rank, without a proper education, ought to have.
The quantity of subsistence in England has unquestionably become greater for many ages; and yet, if the inhabitants are more numerous, they certainly are not so in proportion to our improvement of the means of support. I am apt to think there are few parts of this kingdom, that have not been at some former time more populous than at present. I have several cogent reasons for thinking so of a great part of the countries I am most intimately acquainted with ; but, as they were probably not all most populous at the same time, and as some of our towns are visibly and vastly grown in bulk, I dare not suppose, as judicious men have done, that England is less peopled than heretofore.
The growth of our towns is the effect of a change of manners, and improvement of arts, common to all Europe; and though it is not imagined, that it has lessened the country growth of necessaries, it has evidently, by introducing a greater consumption of them (an infallible consequence of a nation's dwelling in towns), counteracted the effects of our prodigious advances in the arts.
But however frugality may supply the place, or prodigality counteract the effects, of the natural, or acquired subsistence of a country, industry is, beyond doubt, a more efficacious cause of plenty than any natural advantage of extent or fertility. I have mentioned instances of frugality and industry, united with extent and fertility. In Spain and Asia Minor, we see frugality joined to extent and fertility, without industry; in Ireland, we once saw the same; Scotland had then none of them but frugality. The change in these two countries is obvious to every one, and it is owing to industry not yet very widely diffused in either. The effects of industry and frugality in England are surprising; both