Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.
515
MALTE-BRUN—MALTHUS

non-importation of goats from Malta; and preventive measures adopted in Malta in 1906, by banishing goats' milk from the military and naval dietary, put a stop to the occurrence of cases. In the treatment of Malta fever a vaccine has been used with considerable success.


MALTE-BRUN, CONRAD (1755–1826), French geographer, was born on the 12th of August 1755 at Thisted in Denmark, and died at Paris on the 14th of December 1826. His original name was Malte Conrad Bruun. While a student at Copenhagen he made himself famous partly by his verses, but more by the violence of his political pamphleteering; and at length, in 1800, the legal actions which the government authorities had from time to time instituted against him culminated in a sentence of banishment. The principles which he had advocated were those of the French Revolution, and after first seeking asylum in Sweden he found his way to Paris. There he looked forward to a political career; but, when Napoleon's personal ambition began to unfold itself, Malte-Brun was bold enough to protest, and to turn elsewhere for employment and advancement. He was associated with Edme Mentelle (1730–1815) in the compilation of the Geographic mathématique . . . de toutes les parties du monde (Paris, 1803–1807, 16 vols.), and he became recognized as one of the best geographers of France. He is remembered, not only as the author of six volumes of the learned Précis de la géographie universelle (Paris, 1810–1829), continued by other hands after his death, but also as the originator of the Annales des voyages (1808), and one of the founders of the Geographical Society of Paris. His second son, Victor Adolphe Malte-Brun (1816–1889), followed his father's career of geographer, and was a voluminous author.


MALTHUS, THOMAS ROBERT (1766–1834), English economist, was born in 1766 at the Rookery, near Guildford, Surrey, a small estate owned by his father, Daniel Malthus, a gentleman of good family and independent fortune, of considerable culture, the friend and correspondent of Rousseau and one of his executors. Young Malthus was never sent to a public school, but received his education from private tutors. In 1784 he was sent to Cambridge, where he was ninth wrangler, and became fellow of his college (Jesus) in 1797. The same year he received orders, and undertook the charge of a small parish in Surrey. In the following year he published the first edition of his great work, 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. The work excited a good deal of surprise as well as attention; and with characteristic thoroughness and love of truth the author went abroad to collect materials for the verification and more exhaustive treatment of his views. As Britain was then at war with France, only the northern countries of Europe were quite open to his research at that time; but during the brief Peace of Amiens Malthus continued his investigations in France and Switzerland. The result of these labours appeared in the greatly enlarged and more mature edition of his work published in 1803. In 1805 Malthus married happily, and not long after was appointed professor of modern history and political economy in the East India Company's College at Haileybury. This post he retained till his death suddenly from heart disease on the 23rd of December 1834. Malthus was one of the most amiable, candid and cultured of men. In all his private relations he was not only without reproach, but distinguished for the beauty of his character. He bore popular abuse and misrepresentation without the slightest murmur or sourness of temper. The aim of his inquiries was to promote the happiness of mankind, which could be better accomplished by pointing out the real possibilities of progress than by indulging in vague dreams of perfectibility apart from the actual facts which condition human life.

Malthus's Essay on Population grew out of some discussions which he had with his father respecting the perfectibility of society. His father shared the theories on that subject of Condorcet and Godwin; and his son combated them on the ground that the realization of a happy society will always be hindered by the miseries consequent on the tendency of population to increase faster than the means of subsistence. His father was struck by the weight and originality of his views, asked him to put them in writing, and then recommended the publication of the manuscript. It was in this way the Essay saw the light. Thus it will be seen that both historically and philosophically the doctrine of Malthus was a corrective reaction against the superficial optimism diffused by the school of Rousseau. It was the same optimism, with its easy methods of regenerating society and its fatal blindness to the real conditions that circumscribe human life, that was responsible for the wild theories of the French Revolution and many of its consequent excesses.

The project of a formal and detailed treatise on population was an afterthought of Malthus. The essay in which he had studied a hypothetic future led him to examine the effects of the principle he had put forward on the past and present state of society; and he undertook an historical examination of these effects, and sought to draw such inferences in relation to the actual state of things as experience seemed to warrant. In its original form he had spoken of no checks to population but those which came under the head either of vice or of misery. In the 1803 edition he introduced the new element of the preventive check supplied by what he calls “ moral restraint, ” and is thus enabled to “ soften some of the harshest conclusions ” at which he had before arrived. The treatise passed through six editions in his lifetime, and in all of them he introduced various additions and corrections. That of 1816 is the last he revised, and supplies the final text from which it has since been reprinted. Notwithstanding the great development which he gave to his work and the almost unprecedented amount of discussion to which it gave rise, it remains a matter of some difficulty to discover what solid contribution he has made to our knowledge, nor is it easy to ascertain precisely what practical precepts, not already familiar, he founded on his theoretic principles. This twofold vagueness is well brought out in his celebrated correspondence with Nassau Senior, in the course of which it seems to be made apparent that his doctrine is new not so much in its essence as in the phraseology in which it is couched. He himself tells us that when, after the publication of the original essay, the main argument of which he had deduced from David Hume, Robert Wallace, Adam Smith and Richard Price, he began to inquire more closely into the subject, he found that “ much more had been done ” upon it “ than he had been aware of.” It had “ been treated in such a manner by some of the French economists, occasionally by Montesquieu, and, among English writers, by Dr Franklin, Sir James Steuart, Arthur Young and Rev. J. Townsend, as to create a natural surprise that it had not excited more of the public attention.” “ Much, however, ” he thought, “ remained yet to be done. The comparison between the increase of population and food had not, perhaps, been stated with sufficient force and precision, ” and “ few inquiries had been made into the various modes by which the level ” between population and the means of subsistence “ is effected.” The first desideratum here mentioned—the want, namely, of an accurate statement of the relation between the increase of population and food—Malthus doubtless supposed to have been supplied by the celebrated proposition that “ population increases in a geometrical, food in an arithmetical ratio." This proposition, however, has been conclusively shown to be erroneous, there being no such difference of law between the increase of man and that of the organic beings which form his food. When the formula cited is not used, other somewhat nebulous expressions are sometimes employed, as, for example, that “ population has a tendency to increase faster than food," a sentence in which both are treated as if they were spontaneous growths, and which, on account of the ambiguity of the word “ tendency,” is admittedly consistent with the fact asserted by Senior, that food tends to increase faster than population. It must always have been perfectly well known that population will probably (though not necessarily) increase with every augmentation of the supply of subsistence, and, may, in some instances, inconveniently press upon, or even for a certain time exceed, the number properly corresponding to that supply. Nor could it ever have been doubted that war, disease, poverty—