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THE LION'S HEAD.
To the Editor of the London Magazine. Sir,-Will you have the kindness to insert in the Lion's Head the two following passages from a work of mine published some time since ? They exhibit rather a striking coincidence with the reasonings of the “ OpiumEater” in your late number on the discoveries of Mr. Malthus; and as I have been a good deal abused for my scepticism on that subject, I do not feel quite disposed that any one else should run away with the credit of it. I do not wish to bring any charge of plagiarism in this case: I only beg to put in my own claim of priority. The first passage I shall trouble you with relates to the geometrical and arithmetical series, and is as follows.
Both the principle of the necessary increase of the population beyond the means of subsistence, and the application of that principle as a final obstacle to all Utopian perfectibi. lity schemes, are borrowed (whole) by Mr. Malthus from Wallace's work (" Various Prospects of Mankind, Nature, and Providence,” 1761.) This is not very stoutly denied by his admirers; but, say they, Mr. Malthus was the first to reduce the inequality between the possible increase of food and population to a mathematical certainty, or to the arithmetical and geometrical ratios. In answer to which we say, that those ratios are, in a strict and scientitic view of the subject, entirely fallacious-a pure fiction. For a grain of corn or of mustard-seed has the same or a greater power of propagating its species than a man, till it has overspread the whole earth, till there is no longer any room for it to grow or to spread farther. A bushel of wheat will sow a whole field : the produce of that field will sow twenty fields, and produce twenty harvests. Till there are no longer fields to sow, that is, till a country or the earth is exhausted, the means of subsistence will go on increasing in more than Mr. Malthus's geometrical ratio, will more than double itself in every generation or season, and will more than keep pace with the progress of population ; for this is supposed only to double itself, where it is unchecked, every twenty years. Therefore, it is not true as an abstract proposition, that of itself, or in the nature of the growth of the produce of the earth, food can only increase in the snail-pace progress of an arithmetical ratio, while population goes on at a swinging geometrical rate : for the food keeps pace, or more than keeps pace, with the population, while there is room to grow it in, and after that room is filled up, it does not go on, even in that arithmetical ratio,—it does not increase at all, or very little. That is, the ratio (laid down by Mr. Malthus) instead of being always true, is never true at all : neither before the soil is fully cultivated, nor afterwards. Food does not increase in an arithmetical series in China, or even in England; it increases in a geometrical series, or as fast as the population in America. The rates at which one or the other increases naturally, or can be made to increase, have no relation to an arithmetical and geometrical series. They are co-ordinate till the earth or any given portion of it is occupied and cultivated, and after that, they are quite disproportionate: or rather, both stop practically at the same instant-the means of subsistence with the limits of the soil, and the population with the limits of the means of subsistence. All that is true of Mr. Malthus's doctrine, then, is this, that the tendency of population to increase remains after the power of the earth to produce more food is gone: that the one is limited, the other unlimited. This is enough for the morality of the question : his mathematics are altogether spurious. Political Essays, p. 403. See also Reply to Malthus, Longmans, 1807.
This passage, allowing for the difference of style, accords pretty nearly with the reasoning in the Notes from the Pocket-Book of an Opium-Eater. I should really like to know what answer Mr. Malthus has to this objection, if he would deign one, or whether he thinks it best to impose upon the public by his silence? So much for his mathematics : now for his logic, which the Opium-Eater has also attacked, and with which I long ago stated my dissatisfaction in manner and form following.
The most singular thing in this singular performance of our author is, that it should have been originally ushered into the world as the most complete and only satisfactory answer to the speculations of Godwin, Condorcet, and others, or to what has been called the modern philosophy. A more complete piece of wrong-headedness, a more strange perversion of reason, could hardly be devised by the wit of nan. Whatever we may think of the doctrine of the progressive improvement of the human mind, or of a state of society in which every thing will be subject to the absolute controul of reason ; however absurd, unnatural, or impracticable we may conceive such a system to be, certainly it cannot without the grossest inconsistency be objected to it, that such a system would ni. cessarily be rendered abortive, because if reason should ever get the mastery over all our actions, we shall then be governed entirely by our physical appetites and passions, and plunged into evils far more insupportable than any we at present endure in consequence of the excessive population which would follow, and the impossibility of providing for its support. This is what I do not understand. It is, in other words, to assert that the doubling the population of a county, for example, after a certain period, will be attended with the most pernicious effects, by want, famine, bloodshed, and a state of general violence and confusion; and yet that at this period those who will be most interested in preventing these consequences and the best acquainted with the circumstances that lead to them, will neither have the understanding to foresee, nor the heart to feel, nor the will to avert the sure evils to which they expose themselves and others; though this advanced state of population, which does not admit of any addition without danger, is supposed to be the immediate result of a more general diffusion of the comforts and conveniences of life, of more enlarged and liberal views, of a more refined and comprehensive regard to our own permanent interests as well as those of others, of correspondent habits and manners, and of a state of things, in which our gross animal appetites will be subjected to the practical controul of reason. If Mr. Malthus chooses to say that men will always be governed by the same gross mechanical motives that they are at present, I have no objection to make to it; but it is shifting the question : it is not arguing against the state of society we are considering from the consequences to which it would give rise, but against the possibility of its ever existing. It is very idle to alarm the imagination by deprecating the evils that must follow from the practical adoption of a particular scheme, yet to allow that we have no reason to dread those consequences but because the scheme itself is impracticable." --Sce Reply to Malthus, passim, or Political Essays, p. 421.
This, Mr. Editor, is the writer, whom “ our full senate call all-in-all sufficient." There must be a tolerably large bonus offered to men's interests and prejudices to make them swallow incongruities such as that here alluded to; and I am glad to find that our ingenious and studious friend the OpiumEater agrees with me on this point too, almost in so many words. I am, Sir, your obliged friend and servant,
Since our friend B. F.'s interesting Journal was printed we have received letters of a very recent date from New South Wales, which state that two gentlemen have penetrated nearly sixty miles beyond Lake George, to the latitude of 360 south. They passed over a great extent of fine grazing country, thinly timbered forests, and open downs, abounding in limestone, rich soil and herbage, and fine water. From their last station they could see, with the aid of a glass, to within twenty miles of the coast, over a country apparently rich and thinly wooded. The natives who accompanied them said, the salt water was only one day's journey further. About twenty miles from Lake George, they passed a beautiful and very considerable river, which, as they conjectured, must discharge its, waters into the ocean. We hope to present our readers with a particular relation of their journey in our next number.
No. VII. of the “ Additions to LORD Orford's Royal, and NOBLE Authors,” will certainly appear next month—we regret that it came too late for insertion in the present number.
Elia requests us to say, he is not the Lion some of his Correspondents take him for.
The Packet from C. R. S. has been received and forwarded as requested. B. B. will find the object of his inquiry at No. 41, Water-lane, Fleet-street. Our anonymous Contributors have increased so much upon our hands of late that we really cannot undertake to give particular replies to all-we must therefore intreat them to consider the non-appearance of their papers as a sufficient auswer.
JOURNAL OF AN EXCURSION
ACROSS THB BLUE MOUNTAINS OF NEW SOUTH WALES.
Monday, October 7, 1822.- This saw almost the only deciduous' naspring month is the fittest to make tive tree in the territory-namely, this excursion in. The winter nights the white cedar, beautiful in itself, are too cold, and the summer days and congenial to me from that sintoo hot. In the autumn the flowers gularity. All the other indigenous are not in bloom. The difficulties of trees and shrubs, that I have seen, the travel commence at Emu Ford, are evergreens; the eternal eucaover the river Nepean, a branch of lyptus, with its white bark, and its the Hawkesbury. Crossing this scanty tin-like foliage, or the dark stream is always a work of such time casuarina tall, and exocarpus fuand trouble, and sometimes of such nereal; both as unpicturesque as the difficulty and danger, that the tra- shrubs and flowers are new and veller should send forward his cart beautiful; the various banksia, and or baggage-horses to overcome it, the hesperidean* mimosa; the exhalf a day before he rides, or rows quisite epacris; the curious grethrough it himself. The ferry is the villea ; xanthorrhæa, the sceptre of property of Government, who (Go Flora; telopeia the magnificent, and vernment-like, as we shall have large arthropodium the lovely. New South occasion to see in this journey) have Wales is a perpetual flower-garden; hitherto delayed either to provide a but there is not a single scene in it, punt themselves, or to suffer the of which a painter could make a stockholders of the colony to build landscape, without greatly disguising one by subscription. The conse- the true character of the trees. F “X quences are frequent losses of cattle part of their economy (says Mr. in swimming, and injury of sheep in Brown, the botanist), which conboating over. Athough the river tributes somewhat to the peculiar was not unusually high, we were character of the Australian forests, obliged to unlade our cart before it is that the leaves both of the eucacould be drawn through the ford; lyptus and acacia, by far the most and thus lost several hours in trans- common genera in Terra Australis, porting the baggage by one small and, if taken together, and conboat, and in re-loading the cart. sidered with respect to the mass of
On the banks of the Nepean, I vegetable matter they contain, (cal
. I do not mean that the mimosa belongs to Linnæus's natural order Hesperideæ, though the eucalyptus does : my epithet is merely classical : I would say golden.
† Major Taylor has contrived to present us with a very beautiful landscape in his Paroramic View of Port Jackson and the Town of Sydney, just published in London.—ED. Nov. 1823.
culated from the size, as well as the the poet, as emblems, as they are to number of individuals) nearly equal the painter, as picturesque objects; to all the other plants of that coun- and the common consent and immetry, are vertical, or present their morial custom of European poetry margin, and not either surface to have made the change of seasons, wards the stem, both surfaces having and its effect upon vegetation, a part, consequently the same relation to as it were, of our very nature. í light. Can this circumstance be can, therefore, hold no fellowship partly the cause of their unpic with Australian foliage, but will turesqueness of the monotony of eleave to the British oak through all their leaf? or is it merely their ever- the bareness of winter. It is a dear greenness? “ In the Indies, (says sight to an European to see his Linnæus), almost all the trees are young compatriot trees in an Indian evergeen, and have broad leaves; climate, telling of their native counbut in our cold regions most trees try by the fall of their leaf, and in cast their foliage every year, and due time becoming a spring unto such as do not, bear acerose, that is themselves, although no winter has narrow and acute leaves. If they passed over them; just as their fel. were broader, the snow which falls low-countrymen keep Christmas, during winter would collect among though in the hottest weather, and, them, and break the branches by its with fresh fruits about them, affect weight. Their great slenderness pre- the fare, and sometimes the fire-side vents any such effect, allowing the of Old England. “ New Holland snow to pass between them.” + But (says Sir James Smith) seems snow is not unknown to the eucae very beautiful or picturesque counlypti and acaciæ of New Holland ; try, such as is likely to form or to and may not the verticalness of the inspire a poet. Indeed, the dregs of broad leaves of some of them answer the community, which we have the same snow-diverting purpose as poured out upon its shores, must the acerose-leavedness of European probably subside and purge themevergreens? Yet the foliage of the selves, before any thing like a poet eucalypti is always scanty, and the or a disinterested lover of nature can snow of Australia apt to melt. Be arise from so foul a source. There this as it may, no tree, to my taste, seems, however, to be no transition can be beautiful, that is not deci- of seasons in the climate itself to ex. duous. What can a painter do with cite hope, or to expand the heart and one cold green? There is a dry fancy:"1 harshness about the perennial leaf, Af Emu Plains, or Island (for it is that does not savour of humanity in sometimes insulated by the washings: my eyes: there is no flesh and blood of the mountains when the Nepean in it: it is not of us, and is nothing is flooded), there is a Government to us. Dryden says of the laurel: Agricultural Establishment, with a From winter-winds it suffers no decay,
good brick house for the superintendFor ever fresh and fair, and ev'ry month is ent, and huts for the convict labourMay.
Here are grown for the benefit
of the crown, wheat, maize, and toNow, it may be the fault of the bacco; but experience everywhere cold climate in which was bred, proves the loss at which Governbut this is just what I complain of ment raises its own supplies. These in an evergreen. “ For ever fresh" plains are not naturally cleared; but is a contradiction in terms; what is they will very soon be free from “ for ever fair" is never fair; and, stumps by the labour of these conwithout January, in my mind there victs, and will then leave a rich tract can be no May. All the dearest of arable land for favoured grantees. allegories of human life are bound It is this river, whether we call it up in the infant and slender green of Hawkesbury or Nepean, that is the spring, the dark redundance of sum- Nile of Botany Bay; for the land on mer, and the sere and yellow leaf of its banks owes its fertility to the autumn. These are as essential to floods, which come down from the
* Flinders's Voyage, vol. ii. p. 587.