Page images

public and the individual morality of our improving, as well as multiplying countrymen, have increased, are increasing, and will not be diminished.

I am old enough to be able to remember what I have known and seen, and what my parents related to me, and to compare what I remember and heard of with what I now observe and know; and my personal conviction of the exhilarating fact which I am expressing is a daily source of gratification to me and of self-congratulation; let me add, and of real gratitude likewise to Him from whom all improvement flows-that I am living at this time, in such a country, and with such a prospect around me.

But it would be most unjust to my contemporaries abroad not to admit, and state also, the coinciding truth, that the meliorations which do so much honour to human nature are not confined to our insular community. The spirit of increasing good is moving upon every one; the breath of Heaven is gently breezing upon all. In each, a new impulse to what is right and best is exciting the human heart, and purifying the mind, and creating a diffusing dissatisfaction with what appears of a different character. The world is visibly moralizing everywhere as its numbers increase. There is too much to be done to be effected rapidly or ostensibly; and all that is well accomplished will be unseen, because it is private, and can only take place by its individual efficacy. But actions and consequences will, by degrees, be perpetually bringing out evidence of the new process that is working, and the moral progression in which human society is now steadily advancing.

A few more particular considerations may be subjoined on the inevitable connexion between the increasing population and the increasing morality of a nation, taking this always in its fair and large sense, in the actual general truth, and not judging by the partial exceptions or interrupting anomalies only.

If the moral virtues were not the most useful to society and the most beneficial to the individual, they would have long since become obsolete among mankind. No sane person would willingly put others into handcuffs and fetters if they were unnecessary, or spontaneously encumber himself with them if he could live without them. None would, therefore, restrain or regulate their inclinations and actions by any

moral rules or self-coercion, nor require others to observe them if they were useless to himself and of no importance to the general community. But if morals are unserviceable, so are laws-for all laws are moral restrictions on human conduct--and can only be obeyed by the self-government of individuals, in conformity with their injunctions. Laws are the political and civil morality which the social authorities enjoin in actions wherein the public are interested. The morality of private life consists of those private laws which reason and revelation respectively require every individual to obey and practise for his own advantage and happiness, as well as for their social necessity and benefit. The continued inculcation, in every country and in every age, of both public and private morals, is an unceasing evidence to us that human welfare cannot be preserved without them, nor individual comfort either.

On this indestructible principle the moral improvement of Society has been based; and by this its moral conduct, so far as it has been taught and practised, has been everywhere upheld. Fancy, argue, speculate, wish, will, and act as we may please, still the truth, which no one can avert or escape, will press always and heavily upon us, that he who will be immoral must and does personally suffer in mind, body, character, property, health, safety, or comfort; and in consequences more or less immediate from his immoralities, and in proportion as he will commit them. Our Creator has so framed our body, and mind, and our social relations, that we cannot shelter ourselves from such results, nor annihilate the connexion between wrong conduct and personal evil from it of some sort or other. This being the established law, observe its operation as society multiplies.

The common effect of all enlarged population is, that the numbers in all arts, trades, and professions increase, and, of course, the claimants for employment. When the labourers are few and the work indispensable, we must take such as we can get, even the worthless; because it is better to make use of the bad who will labour at all, than not to have that done which it is necessary to effect. But as the working population increases, selection becomes possible; and in every case where it can be practised, the man who is both moral and able is preferred to those who choose to be otherwise. No one will prefer the knave to the honest, or the

drunkard to the sober, or the profligate to the moral man. This certainty, and the unvarying choice of the better when the better is to be had, act like a premium and stimulus to create the habit and quality which, even in their worldly effects, are found to be so advantageous.

This principle operates alike in every class of society. Whoever will unite the moral qualities and habits with due skill and industry in any walk of life, will be superior beings in estimation, in real value, and in conduct, to those who choose to be immoral or irregular, and will be preferred as such wherever the best and fittest are wanted or sought for. The improvement which their individual virtues will occasion in their minds and manners will increase their ability in all their employments, and their own comfort likewise. It is such a recommendation to be in this state and to have this character, that the propensity to acquire it is always operating, and increases as knowledge and education enlarge the perception of the utilities, and as the failures, and sufferings, and disgraceful conduct of the contrary tendency are seen and noticed. But the more population enlarges, the more the difference is observed and felt. The respectability of the moral in every rank rises always so high above the vicious and the criminal as to be a distinction in every town and village. Such characters are more wanted as numbers increase; and the demand and preference for them are continually drawing others to become like them, and cause the young to form themselves by such models. This is as true of the humblest We as of the greatest, and in all the intermediate states. seek for honest and moral servants, and never willingly employ those who are otherwise. In all our dealings, we desire to meet with such characters and prefer them. All magistrates desire such assistants, and the public require such magistrates. In every public office and private circle, integrity and virtue distinguish the individuals who have them with the silent esteem and approbation of those who know them; and, therefore, as soon as the mind becomes generally cultivated, and the knowledge of right and wrong is circulated, the moral virtues increase in their power and influence. Success will rarely be attained, or not be permanent without them; and whoever wishes to be most safe, most forward, most honoured, and most happy, is urged by his personal interests to be earnest to acquire and solicitous to preserve them.

On this ground, that the most moral men will always be the most useful, the most improved, the most valued, and the most prosperous men in every society, increase of population mast augment the number of the moralized individuals, and the general habits and practice of morality in the country. The necessity for them will be augmented with the fresh numbers that arise. They will be more appreciated as they are more wanted. They will be more selected and preferred for their utilities; and as they multiply in number, all that are not so will fail and suffer in every class from their depreciation and inferiority, on account of their deficiency. While we can help ourselves to what is better, we shall never take what is worse.

But do no evils attend an increase of population? None, I think, from the increase alone. No new ones accrue which did not exist before. The young generations come unoffendingly among us as to themselves, and have been planned to come in the most helpless and docile form, that we may mould them to our wishes, and make them what they ought to be. If, then, they afterward become producers of evil, they are trained to be so by our habits, and only imitate at first what they find, and continue it because they have learned from us to

practise it.

It is true, they want subsistence, and must acquire it; but so do all among whom they come; and until nature fails to produce what their industry solicits from it, there will be enough for them to share, as well as for their predecessors to enjoy

They have likewise to be settled in some channels by which they may gain what they require; but they bring new wants and new labour with them, and these enlarge the antient channels or form new ones. The same difficulties exist every hour in society, whether more come or not; all stages of it have their poor, and necessitous, and unprovided: the stationary population as much as the enlarging, and the declihing many more. If population should produce no more than merely to replace itself, yet it must have its infant, who must be fed by others, and old age, which cannot maintain itself by its labour. The same proportion of these exist at all times, and, as far as public mendicancy indicates destitution, more of this, in its most miserable shapes, appears in countries that enlarge but little, than in an increasing population like our own. Vice,

crime, and penury coexist in all nations, and are the chief causes of each other. They never disappear when population stops, and do not increase in ratio, though they may in mere number, because it multiplies and prospers.


Views of the State of the Living World in several Countries.-The Comparative Proportion of their Inhabitants at the succeeding Ages of Life.-The possible Longevity of Human Nature, and Instances of it in various Parts of the World.


Having thus surveyed the laws and system which have been established for the continuance and governed augmentations of the human population, let us now consider the natural state of our LIVING WORLD, which results from them, as this will show us the plan and intention of the Creator in appointing them, and in sustaining their daily operations.

We will begin our inquiry with our own country, as that in which, as residents in it, we cannot be but most interested.

One remarkable fact appears to us in our living world, which is, that the males with us are almost equally divided between those who are under twenty years of age and those who are older. In the year 1821, nearly one half of all the male inhabitants of Great Britain were found to be less than twenty years old; and the other moiety to be above that age.* The same fact occurred again in the census of 1831.† This was as true of England and Wales by themselves as of Scotland, with a little more on the younger side, separately taken.§

"In the enumeration of 1821, the males under twenty were 3,072,392; upward of twenty, 3,002,200; including all the males whose ages were then ascertained."-Rickm. Enum. Abst., vol. i., p. 9.

"In the enumeration of 1831, the males known to be under twenty were 3,941,495; upward of twenty, 3,944,511."-Ib.

Mr. Rickman has classed the ages in England and Wales in 1821.Enum. Abst., p. 37. In this table those under twenty amount to 2,598,636, those above twenty are 2,552,416. In 1831 the males in ENG LAND of twenty years were 3,199,984; and those under twenty were 3,176,643. In WALES, those of twenty were 194,706; under that age, 199,857.-Rickm., ib., vol. ii., p. 1043.

In 1831 the males in Scotland of twenty were 549,821; and under,

« PreviousContinue »