An Essay on the Principle of Population;MALTHUS, T.R.
or a view of its past and present effects on human happiness; with an inquiry into our prospects respecting the future removal of mitigation of the evils which it occasions. A new edition, very much enlarged.
London: Printed for J. Johnson. 1803.
Second edition, known as the Great Quarto edition and, with its altered title and expanded and amended text, "regarded by Malthus as a substantially new work" (ODNB). Quarto, 265x205mm. pp. viii, , 610. Contemporary tree calf, expertly rebacked with original spine laid down, spine lavishly decorated in gilt, black morocco label lettered in gilt. Some rubbing to extremities, bottom corners strengthened. Front pastedown has book label of Christopher Clark Geest. Some slight foxing but overall a handsome copy of an important, influential and controversial book.
PMM (reference to the first edition) states that "the central idea of the essay - and the hub of Malthusian theory - was a simple one. The population of a community increases geometrically, while food supplies increase only arithmetically". When the food supply becomes insufficient, the population is reduced by what Malthus calls "vice" (contraception, homosexuality, abortion) or "misery" (wars, famines, plagues). In the second edition Malthus sought to "lighten this 'melancholy hue'" (ODNB) by arguing that were people to exercise some restraint and forbear the producing of children when unable to support them, then human happiness would be likely to increase. Those having to do the forbearing might, of course, feel otherwise and there is no doubt that Malthus's views were not universally popular. But, given that similar "restraint" arguments are adopted in discussions on the link between population and climate change, perhaps Malthus is due a revival.