The 'grinding necessity' of which Malthus had spoken does not raise but lower the standard; and a system of equality would lessen instead of increasing the pressure. Malthus, again, has proposed that parents should be responsible for their children. That is, says Hazlitt, Malthus would leave children to starvation, though he professes to disapprove infanticide.
The change in the theory of 'checks' raises another important question. Malthus now introduced a modification upon which his supporters laid great stress. In the new version the 'checks' which proportion population to means of subsistence are not simply 'vice and misery, but 'moral restraint, vice, and misery. How, precisely, does this modify the theory? How are the different 'checks' related?
Belief in the Malthusian theory of population was the most essential article of their faith, and marked the line of cleavage between the two wings of the Radical party. Malthus was the son of a country gentleman in Surrey. His father was a man of studious habits, and one of the enthusiastic admirers of Rousseau. His study of Émile probably led to the rather desultory education of his son.
The vagueness of Malthus himself and the confused argument of such opponents makes it doubtful whether they are really answering his theories or reducing them to a less repulsive form of statement. In other directions, the Malthusian doctrine roused keen feeling on both sides, and the line taken by different parties is significant. Malthus had appeared as an antagonist of the revolutionary party.
We can understand the alarm occasioned to believers in the established constitution of things, for Godwin's work now virtually forgotten, while Malthus is still appealed to as a discoverer in social science produced an immense effect on impressionable minds at the time.
But what those greater evils are, we do not know. How the happiness of any part of the sentient creation would be in any respect diminished if, for example, children cut their teeth without pain, we cannot understand. The case is exactly the same with the principle of Mr Malthus.
In Darwin this fundamental mode of naturalistic interpretation took, under the influence of the social-economic theories of Malthus, the special form of natural selection by means of the struggle for existence, in association with the assumption of unlimited and fluctuating variability in the forms of life. All living beings have a tendency to increase in number without limit.
Malthus was paralytic, it is thought that his fall may have been occasioned by another seizure. The unhappy gentleman was well known in the most respectable circles, and his loss will be widely and deeply deplored." "If ever a soul went straight to Hell," said Geraldine solemnly, "it was that paralytic man's." The Prince buried his face in his hands, and remained silent.
"Well, Ma'am, you won't believe it, But it's gospel fact and true, But these words is all she whispered, 'Why, where is the powder blew?" For other examples refer to "The Ode to Malthus" and "The Blow-up," which pain the sides while they cheer the heart. Again, we find the grotesque through Hood's writings in union with the fantastic and the fanciful.
When these considerations are kept in view, it does not appear to me that the objections to the general principle laid down by Malthus are of any weight; and the truth of the principle appears to be strongly illustrated by the care taken by Nature to have a certain number of carnivorous genera, in every order of animals, and among the animated inhabitants of every portion of the earth's surface, whereby the tendency to excess in every class of animals is continually checked and repressed.