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try can furnish. This proposition is only true when applied to the globe itself, or to a portion of it which has no possible means of drawing from abroad any portion of its subsistence. He also supposes that the increase of subsistence can only follow an arithmetical progression, as the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5—while population advancing in geometrical progression, will multiply in the ratio of 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, &c. This reasoning which forms the basis of the system of Mr. Malthus, and to which he appeals incessantly through his work, appears to us completely sophistical—and what is more important, this proposition is only irue in the abstract, and can never be applied to political economy.”
M. Sismondi then goes on to state, that Mr. Malthus puts in opposition, without any regard to circumstances, the possible increase of the human race, to the positive and actual increase of vegetables and animals in a confined place, and under the most unfavourable circumstances. But when considered in the abstract, the multiplication of vegetables advances in a geometrical progression infinitely more rapid than that of birds or domestic animals, and these in their turn, multiply far more rapidly than men. It is scarcely possible to number the seeds of some plants—but speaking of those which contribute immediately to the support of man, and taking even a moderate estimate, it may be said that a grain of wheat will produce twenty grains the first year, four hundred the second, and eight thousand the third. The multiplication of the animals that feed on these vegetables is naturally slower, yet sheep double their number in four years, quadruple in eight, &c. In doubling every four years, in the twenty-fourth year, before, according to Mr. Malthus, the human race would have doubled once, sheep would have multiplied at the rate of sixty-four for one.
A famine caused by the inclemency of the seasons, by accidental occurrences, is not the obstacle to population of which Mr. Malthus speaks. He supposes an impossibility of production, not the loss of what may have been produced. The destruction of harvests, caused by rain or drought, is only a casual misfortune; it may be compensated by an increased abundance in the ensuing season, and can only be considered a counterpoise to the devastations which war or pestilence may occasionally make in the human family.
M. Sismondi is certainly happy in the illustrations he employs to prove that there are some latent and moral causes which act on the production of the human species, and that the mere want or abundance of food, is not the only principle which ought to be taken into consideration, when discussing this doctrine. The nobility, he remarks, are every where in possession of sufficient subsistence. They ought then, according to Mr. Malthus,
to multiply until their descendants cover the land, or shall be reduced to the last degree of poverty. But precisely the contrary happens. In every country in the world, ancient families decrease after a certain number of generations, and the body of the nobility is constantly recruited from the commoners. The descendants of those who lived in the time of Henry IV. are not so numerous as their ancestors were.
" The origin of the Montmorency's is traced back at least as far as the epoch of Hugo Capet, and no one will doubt that from that time all those who had the right of bearing this name, have carefully preserved it. The Montmorencys have never wanted bread, their multiplication, according to the system of Mr. Malthus, can never have been stopped through the want of subsistence. Their number ought then to bave doubled every twenty-five years. At this rate, supposing that the first had lived in the year one thousand, in the year 1600 his descendants. ought to have amounted to the number of 16,777,216. France, at that period, did not contain so many inhabitants—their multiplication continuing at the same rate, the whole world, at the present day, would contain none but Montmorevcy's."
This calculation has an air of pleasantry, but it seems to be a legitimate ivference from Mr. Maltbus' theory. The obstacles which human vices and passions oppose to the increase of population,-obstacles always sufficient to check its progress, and altogether independent of the means of subsistence, will constantly anticipate the evils Mr. Malthus apprehends, for we here perceive that it checks, before all others, those ranks of society which are most elevated and the most sheltered from want.
We are aware while we have been presenting M. Sismondi's observations on this question, that he has not exactly met the strong position of his adversaries. Their theory is that from the naturally slow increase of capital, from the carelessness, the profusion, the general profligacy of the rich, from the many political causes that counteract the accumulation of wealth, capital, which must be the support of population, can only increase by slow degrees, by at most an arithmetical progression, while the natural tendency of population is to multiply in the rapid ratio of the geometrical series. It has always appeared to us, however, that one element which ought to enter into the calculation, has been overlooked. In most countries, not more than one-fifth, or one-sixth; in fertile countries, not more than one-tenth of the population are found to be agriculturalists, to be employed in raising food for the maintenance of the rest. Now, as labour is the source of all capital, is capital itself, it seems
to us to have been forgotten that in the very increase of popula. tion there is necessarily a proportionate increase of capital, a multiplication of the very power wanted to produce subsistence for the increasing multitudes. As long as there is land unoccupied, or unskilfully or wastefully employed, a small portion of the new progeny may produce food for the rest. When the earth shall be covered with barvests, and no room be left for industry and skill, it will be time then seriously to inquire into the measures which ought to be pursued, with the surplus of the still increasing consumers.
One passage, relative to the United States, we will extract from M. Sismondi. It is unpleasant to notice in the pages of such a writer, opinions we consider as so unfounded, or, at least, so very much exaggerated. Even if derived from the Fearons and other names of equal notoriety, from men who come here purposely to “spy out the weakness of the land," and exaggerate its defects, we regret to find them obtaining currency through the instrumentality of one who holds so high a rank in literature, and evidently bears to our country no ill will. He attributes the character he ascribes to us, to the natural effect of our rapid increase in wealth and population.
“But the most remarkable consequence of this rapid increase of population and wealth in America, is the influence that this universal and foolish contest for riches has had on the moral character of its inhabitants. There is no American who does not expect for himself a progress, and a rapid progress to fortune. The pursuit of gain has become the first consideration of life, and among the most free people on earth, liberty itself has lost its price, compared to profit--a spirit of cal. culation descends even to children—it subjects to constant barter all territorial property-it extinguishes the progress of the mind, all taste for the arts, for letters, and for sciences. It corrupts even the agents of a free government, who manifest a dishonourable avidity for offices, and it impresses on the American character a stain which it will not be easy to efface." Vol. i. p. 458.
If M. Sismondi will select such writers as Mr. Fearon, who on this occasion appears to have been his oracle, as guides, he must expect on all and every occasion to be led astray. Io all commercial countries, perhaps, in countries not commercial, there exists an ardent desire for wealth. The love of office also is said to pervade more people than one. It is not impossible that in our commercial cities, as in others, the spirit of adventurous speculation is occasionally so much excited, as to lead strangers, who, ignorant of the general tenor of our occupations, should take the exception for the rule, to form sometimes very erroneous conclusions. But froin this stain, to any unusual or dangerous extent, we have no hesitation in saying our country is free. Yet the great mass of our population is sound and uncorrupt, and if any crisis should arise, requiring the manifes. tation of pure and disinterested patriotism, we have no doubt the feelings of those days when our countrymen perilled all that they possessed in defence and vindication of abstract rights, on a question of principle, not for mercenary claims, would instantly be revived, and that the bright days of our Revolution would not be sullied by any unworthy contrast.
M. Sismondi bas much merit as a writer. His style is lucid and nervous, his illustrations clear and candid, and his works constantly discover fine moral traits in the man. As a political economist, however, we think him inferior to M. Say; yet we are glad occasionally to see the science considered not merely as a mathematical question, but one into which moral considerations must and ought to enter.
ART. II.-1. Essai Politique sur l'Ile de Cuba. Par ALEX
ANDRE DE HUMBOLDT. ' 2 vols. 8vo. Paris. 1826.
2. Aperçu Statistique de l'Ile de Cuba, precedè de quelques
Lettres sur la Havane. Par B. HUBER. 1 vol. 8vo.
3. Anales de Ciencias, Agricultura, Comercio y Artes. Por
D. RAMON DE LA SAGRA. Habana. 1827-28-'29.
CUBA is one of the most extensive, beautiful and fertile islands on the surface of the globe. She is fortunate in her location, in her climate, in the distribution of her hills and mountains; even her great and disproportionate length, while it diminishes her compactness and internal strength, is compensated in a great degree by the almost unexampled number of superb harbours which open to commerce each part of her productive territory, and by the salubrity which the breezes of a contiguous ocean impart to every portion of her waving and diversified surface. Her soil seems adapted to almost all
. changes of culture the rich products of the tropics and the VOL. IV.NO. 8.
cerealia of the temperate zone meet together—the palm, the mahogany and the pine commingle their foliage; wheat and rice, maize and the sugar cane, coffee and tobacco, and cotton and cacao are found in the same vicinage, and the spices of either India, and the golden fruits of a thousand hills and isles may be made to flourish in her luxuriant bowers. More than fifty years ago, when neglected and almost uncultivated, Raynal remarked, with almost prophetic anticipation, that to Spain Cuba alone might be worth a kingdom.*
Her commercial and political position is as fortunate as her physical advantages are great. "The Gulf of Mexico, on the shores of which the commerce of the great Republic of that name must chiefly be transacted, which receives the waters and the wealth of the Mississippi, has its entrance nearly closed by the Island of Cuba. Two passages, one between Cape St. Antonio and Cape Catoche in Yucatan, the other between the Havana and the Cayos or Keys along the southern point of Florida, both easily watched and commanded from the forts of that island, are the outlets through which the productions of the districts of North-America most abounding in metallic riches, and most fertile in soil, must pass. In war, whether as a party or a neutral, as a friend or an enemy, her position is commanding, and her influence must be great; and in peace, she is placed amidst the great thoroughfares of commerce, and if prudently governed, must share in the production and distribution of unbounded wealth. Her southern coast opens upon the Bay of l'onduras and the Caribbean Sea, and makes an intercourse easy with the Republic of Colombia and Central America ; to the north-west she borders, as we have already stated, the Gulf of Mexico ; while to the north-east, the Gulf Stream and the old and new Channel of Bahama; and to the east, the Windward Passage sweep along her coasts.
A most rich and diversified commerce must thus constantly pass her shores; it will depend on the wisdom of her rulers how far she shall be made to partake of and profit by these blessings.
We propose to examine somewhat in detail those peculiarities, if so they may be termed, which secure to this favoured island so many advantages ; then glance, for a moment, at its past, present and future destiny.
Cuba is a long and comparatively narrow island, extending in its general direction from W. N. W. to E. S. E. It lies just within the tropics, between 23° 9' 24" and 19° 47' 16'' of North latitude, and 76° 30' 25'' and 87° 17' 22' of longitude West of
* Hist. Pbil. vol. vi. p. 303.--Edit. 1795.