THE PROPAGATION of the species is wonderfully aided by a mild government. All republics are a standing proof of this; especially Switzerland and Holland, which, with regard to the nature of the land, are the two worst countries in Europe, and which are yet the most populous.
That very equality of the citizens which generally produces equality in their fortunes, brings plenty and vigor into all the parts of the body politic, and spreads these blessings throughout the whole state.
If a man is not well off, and feels that his children would be poorer than he, he will not marry; or if he does, he will be afraid of having too great a number of children, who would complete the ruin of his fortune, and sink even lower than their father.
I admit that the boor or peasant, once married, will increase the race without any regard to his poverty or wealth; that consideration does not affect him; he has always a safe inheritance to leave his children, and that is his plow; so nothing withholds him from following blindly the instincts of nature.
But of what use to a state are those crowds of children which waste away in misery? They perish almost as rapidly as they are born: they never thrive: feeble and impotent, they die retail in a thousand ways, or are carried off wholesale by those frequent epidemics which poverty and bad diet always produce: those who escape attain the age of manhood without possessing its vigor, and waste away during the rest of their lives.
France supplies a great proof of all this. During the late wars, the dread which all the youths had of being enrolled in the militia forced them to marry, and that at too tender an age, and in the bosom of poverty. A great many children were born of these numerous marriages who are not now to be found in France, because poverty, famine, and disease carried them off.