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The collected writings of Thomas De Quincey (v. 9)

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Pages: 234

Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.

Publisher: Date:8/5/2009 - General Books LLC

By: Thomas De Quincey

Excerpt from book: MALTHUS ON THE MEASURE OF VALUE1 To the Reader.—This article was written and printed before the author heard of the lamented death of Mr. Ricardo.2 It is remarkable at first sight that Mr. Malthus, to whom Political Economy is so much indebted in one chapter (viz. the chapter of Population), should in every other chapter have stumbled at every step. On a nearer view, however, the wonder ceases. His failures and his errors have arisen in all cases from the illogical structure of his understanding : his success was in a path which required no logic. What is the brief abstract of his success ? It is this: he took an obvious and familiar truth, which until his time had been a barren truism, and showed that it teemed with consequences. Out of this position—That in the ground which limited human food lay all the ground which limited human increase, united with this other position, That there is a perpetual nisus in the principle of population to pass that limit—he unfolded a body of most important corollaries. I have remarked in another article on this subject how entirely these corollaries had escaped all Mr. Malthus's predecessors in the same track.8 1 This paper appeared in the London Magazine for December 1823, in addition to De Quincey's Letter in Reply to Hazlitt, but as an independent contribution. It was reprinted in vol. xvi. of Messrs. Black's re-edited issue of De Quincey's Collected Writings, and annexed there to the paper on Malthus.—M. a Ricardo died llth September 1823.—M. 8 In a slight article on Mr. Malthus, lately published [ante, pp. 11-19. —M.], I omitted to take any notice of the recent controversy between this gentleman, Mr. Godwin, and Mr. Booth: my reason for which was that I have not yet found time to read it. But, if Mr. Lowe hasPerhaps the most ...  

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