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William Godwin: his Friends and Contemporaries
Ch. X. 1819-1824
William Morgan to William Godwin, 6 November 1820

Contents Vol. I
Ch. I. 1756-1785
Ch. II. 1785-1788
Ch. III. 1788-1792
Ch. IV. 1793
Ch. V. 1783-1794
Ch. VI. 1794-1796
Ch. VII. 1759-1791
Ch. VII. 1791-1796
Ch. IX. 1797
Ch. X. 1797
Ch. XI. 1798
Ch. XII. 1799
Ch. XIII. 1800
Contents Vol. II
Ch. I. 1800
Ch. II. 1800
Ch. III. 1800
Ch. IV. 1801-1803
Ch. V. 1802-1803
Ch. VI. 1804-1806
Ch. VII. 1806-1811
Ch. VIII. 1811-1814
Ch. IX. 1812-1819
Ch. X. 1819-1824
Ch. XI. 1824-1832
Ch. XII. 1832-1836
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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
Nov. 6, 1820.

. . . “I have delayed acknowledging the receipt of your valuable present, till I had time to examine it thoroughly, that I might be better able to give my opinion of it. I can now assure you, with great truth, that I have carefully read the whole of your answer to Mr Malthus with much pleasure and instruction, and am fully convinced that you have given the death-blow to his geometrical and arithmetical ratios. It might have been thought that a system so disgusting could not have required any great effort to destroy it: but the popularity of Mr Malthus’s publication has proved the contrary: and I think the public are much indebted to you for quieting their alarms, and for exposing the folly and impiety of a system which made the kind and benevolent Author of Nature to appoint vice and misery as his agents in the world. I do not know whether you have not granted too much in supposing that the existence of the present population may be preserved by four children to a marriage. If half the inhabitants die before they attain the age of 21, as in the Northampton Tables, which give the mean probabilities very
fairly, what compensates for the bachelors and old maids? Illegitimate births may do a little towards it, but certainly not enough. I have always thought that 4½ children, or more, are necessary, and therefore that Dr Franklin’s 8 children (if such a mean ever existed) would not be sufficient to double the number in the way he mentions. It should also be observed that the inhabitants of America are remarkably short-lived, which proves an earlier decay of their constitution, and consequently a shorter period for procreation. This goes a little way towards strengthening your argument with respect to America, but it really wants no assistance. I am myself convinced that population fluctuates in all parts of the world. In some it becomes less, in others greater: but I cannot subscribe to your opinion that the human race may become extinct, any more than I can to that of Mr Malthus that they are in danger of increasing so fast as to render it our duty to check it, by divesting ourselves of our best and noblest feelings, in relieving or preserving the lives of our fellow-creatures.”