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Much less will he give himself the trouble in a fair and candid manner to attempt an exposition of their fallacy.The speculative philosopher equally offends against the cause of truth.
He professes to have read some of the speculations on the future improvement of society, in a temper very different from a wish to find them visionary; but he has not acquired that command over his understanding which would enable him to believe what he wishes, without evidence, or to refuse his assent to what might be unpleasing, when accompanied with evidence.
The view which he has given of human life has a melancholy hue; but he feels conscious, that he has drawn these dark tints, from a conviction that they are really in the picture; and not from a jaundiced eye or an inherent spleen of disposition.
The Essay might, undoubtedly, have been rendered much more complete by a collection of a greater number of facts in elucidation of the general argument.
But a long and almost total interruption, from very particular business, joined to a desire (perhaps imprudent) of not delaying the publication much beyond the time that he originally proposed, prevented the Author from giving to the subject an undivided attention.
The first, published anonymously in 1798, was so successful that Malthus soon elaborated on it under his real name.
The rewrite, culminating in the sixth edition of 1826, was a scholarly expansion and generalization of the first.
The question is not brought to rest on fewer points; and even in theory scarcely seems to be approaching to a decision.
The advocate for the present order of things, is apt to treat the sect of speculative philosophers either as a set of artful and designing knaves, who preach up ardent benevolence, and draw captivating pictures of a happier state of society only the better to enable them to destroy the present establishments and to forward their own deep-laid schemes of ambition: or as wild and mad-headed enthusiasts whose silly speculations and absurd paradoxes, are not worthy the attention of any reasonable man.
The advocate for the perfectibility of man, and of society, retorts on the defender of establishments a more than equal contempt.
He brands him as the slave of the most miserable and narrow prejudices; or as the defender of the abuses of civil society only because he profits by them.