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The Age of George III

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Thomas Malthus: An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798)

An Essay on the principle of population, as it affects the future improvement of society, with remarks on the speculations of Mr Godwin, M. Condorcet and other writers. (London, printed for J. Johnson, in St. Paul's Churchyard

Index

Preface  
Chapter 1: Question stated - Little prospect of a determination of it, from the enmity of the opposing parties - The principal argument against the perfectibility of man and of society has never been fairly answered - Nature of the difficulty arising from population - Outline of the principal argument of the Essay
Chapter 2: The different ratio in which population and food increase - The necessary effects of these different ratios of increase - Oscillation produced by them in the condition of the lower classes of society - Reasons why this oscillation has not been so much observed as might be expected - Three propositions on which the general argument of the Essay depends - The different states in which mankind have been known to exist proposed to be examined with reference to these three propositions.
Chapter 3: The savage or hunter state shortly reviewed - The shepherd state, or the tribes of barbarians that overran the Roman Empire - The superiority of the power of population to the means of subsistence - the cause of the great tide of Northern Emigration.
Chapter 4: State of civilized nations - Probability that Europe is much more populous now than in the time of Julius Caesar - Best criterion of population - Probable error of Hume in one the criterions that he proposes as assisting in an estimate of population - Slow increase of population at present in most of the states of Europe - The two principal checks to population - The first, or preventive check examined with regard to England.
Chapter 5: The second, or positive check to population examined, in England - The true cause why the immense sum collected in England for the poor does not better their condition - The powerful tendency of the poor laws to defeat their own purpose - Palliative of the distresses of the poor proposed - The absolute impossibility, from the fixed laws of our nature, that the pressure of want can ever be completely removed from the lower classes of society - All the checks to population may be resolved into misery or vice.
Chapter 6: New colonies - Reasons for their rapid increase - North American Colonies - Extraordinary instance of increase in the back settlements - Rapidity with which even old states recover the ravages of war, pestilence, famine, or the convulsions of nature.
Chapter 7: A probable cause of epidemics - Extracts from Mr Suessmilch's tables - Periodical returns of sickly seasons to be expected in certain cases - Proportion of births to burials for short periods in any country an inadequate criterion of the real average increase of population - Best criterion of a permanent increase of population - Great frugality of living one of the causes of the famines of China and Indostan - Evil tendency of one of the clauses in Mr Pitt's Poor Bill - Only one proper way of encouraging population - Causes of the Happiness of nations - Famine, the last and most dreadful mode by which nature represses a redundant population - The three propositions considered as established.
Chapter 8: Mr Wallace - Error of supposing that the difficulty arising from population is at a great distance - Mr Condorcet's sketch of the progress of the human mind - Period when the oscillation, mentioned by Mr Condorcet, ought to be applied to the human race.
Chapter 9: Mr Condorcet's conjecture concerning the organic perfectibility of man, and the indefinite prolongation of human life - Fallacy of the argument, which infers an unlimited progress from a partial improvement, the limit of which cannot be ascertained, illustrated in the breeding of animals, and the cultivation of plants.
Chapter 10: Mr Godwin's system of equality - Error of attributing all the vices of mankind to human institutions - Mr Godwin's first answer to the difficulty arising from population totally insufficient - Mr Godwin's beautiful system of equality supposed to be realized - In utter destruction simply from the principle of population in so short a time as thirty years.
Chapter 11: Mr Godwin's conjecture concerning the future extinction of the passion between the sexes - Little apparent grounds for such a conjecture - Passion of love not inconsistent either with reason or virtue.
Chapter 12: Mr Godwin's conjecture concerning the indefinite prolongation of human life - Improper inference drawn from the effects of mental stimulants on the human frame, illustrated in various instances - Conjectures not founded on any indications in the past not to be considered as philosophical conjectures - Mr Godwin's and Mr Condorcet's conjecture respecting the approach of man towards immortality on earth, a curious instance of the inconsistency of scepticism.
Chapter 13: Error of Mr Godwin is considering man too much in the light of a being merely rational - In the compound being, man, the passions will always act as disturbing forces in the decisions of the understanding - Reasonings of Mr Godwin on the subject of coercion - Some truths of a nature not to be communicated from one man to another.
Chapter 14: Mr Godwin's five propositions respecting political truth, on which his whole work hinges, not established - Reasons we have for supposing, from the distress occasioned by the principle of population, that the vices and moral weakness of man can never be wholly eradicated - Perfectibility, in the sense in which Mr Godwin uses the term, not applicable to man - Nature of the real perfectibility of man illustrated.
Chapter 15: Models too perfect may sometimes rather impede than promote improvement - Mr Godwin's essay on 'Avarice and Profusion' - Impossibility of dividing the necessary labour of a society amicably among all - Invectives against labour may produce present evil, with little or no chance of producing future good - An accession to the mass of agricultural labour must always be an advantage to the labourer.
Chapter 16: Probable error of Dr Adam Smith in representing every increase of the revenue or stock of a society as an increase in the funds for the maintenance of labour - Instances where an increase of wealth can have no tendency to better the condition of the labouring poor - England has increased in riches