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volume I have pointed out the marked contradiction afforded by the experience of the United States to the argument of Mr. Malthus; and in a former Course of Lectures* I have investigated the sources of Rent and the origin of the value of land in a new settlement under circumstances to which Mr. Ricardo's hypothesis is totally inapplicable. It is on the foundation of facts furnished by American experience, and by the light afforded by the rise and growth of new communities, that Mr. Carey has built some of his powerful arguments against Ricardo, which have met with an answer, in my opinion, by no means satisfactory, from Mr. J. S. Mill, while they have received countenance from one of the master minds of modern political economy, M. Bastiat.
But if it be true that the theories of Rent and Population which our English writers have laid down find no counterpart in the actual face of things on the other side of the Atlantic, where we are enabled to survey society in its primitive elements, and to watch the rise and progress of economical phenomena in their simplest form, this circumstance in itself appears to me to afford a strong presumption against their truth. For the laws of political economy, pro
the opportunity enjoyed by those writers of observing the early and simpler phases of society, as on account of the independence of their views, unfettered by adherence to the received doctrines of the English school.
perly so called, must be (exceptional causes being allowed for) of universal application, and not in discordance with the facts presented by any of the widely varying conditions of human society. The origin of rent, if it be reducible to a single law, must be the same in America as in Europe, in a new settlement, and in an old community. The same with regard to population. If by the constitution of our nature there be a tendency to excess of numbers incompatible with the wellbeing of society, the same cause would produce similar effects on both sides of the Atlantic; population would not be found to outrun production on the one side, and production to maintain the lead of population on the other.
In the last Lecture of this volume, in which the conclusions from the preceding Lectures are summed up, I have endeavoured to exhibit the true law of population as a self-regulating power, capable of adjusting itself to the most opposite phases of society, and, in the absence of disturbing causes, proportioning the supply of life to the demand under all the infinitely varying circumstances of human nature.
The freedom with which I have canvassed opinions held by some of the great masters of economical science, will not, I hope, expose me to the charge of presumption. Towards those from whom I dissent most widely I have endeavoured always to observe
a tone of courtesy and respect, not forgetting how much easier it is to criticise a system than to construct one; but remembering also, that there could be no progress in the science, if deference for authority, however high, should restrain inquirers from questioning doctrines which have received the sanction of illustrious names.
Queen's College, Oxford, October, 1854.
G. K. R.
explained and qualified