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#107 - Thomas Robert Malthus Estimate: $12,000+

Malthus agrees with his intellectual foe on the population question: "I quite approve of your emigration plan"

English scholar influential in the fields of political economy and demography (1766-1834). ALS signed “T. Robt. Malthus,” one page both sides, 7.25 x 9, January 11, 1831. Unpublished letter to economist Nassau William Senior, written from St. Leonards while convalescing. In full: “I should have written to you this evening, if I had not received your letter of this morning. I quite approve of your emigration plan, and see no objection to the draft of the bill which seems to propose adequate means to accomplish the desirable end. It would give me great pleasure to join your party, and I should not have been deterred by your saying that you could not give me a bed, knowing that there must be plenty of such articles in the neighborhood; but as we are about to have this warm climate on Saturday sennight, I think that two winter journeys so near together would not be justifiable either in regard to my health or resources. I must be at the College without fail on this day fortnight, and we have taken our lodgings to that time; but as Mrs. Malthus particularly wants a day on town, we shall start on Saturday and sleep at Mr. Otters at Stockwell that night. I will endeavour to see you on Sunday or Monday.” Addressed on the reverse of the second integral page in Malthus’s hand. In very good to fine condition, with a block of toning to the upper portion of all but the first page, and repaired areas of paper loss to the integral address leaf.

In Malthus’s 1798 Essay on the Principle of Population, focused on the unsustainability of a steadily increasing population, he argued that when the population grows faster than the production of food, the cost of living increases, thereby reducing the standard of living for all and causing economic instability. Malthus advocated for society to adopt preventative measures via abortion, birth control, and postponement of marriage to keep the population within the limits of its resources. Completely out of sync with the popular view that society was steadily improving, Malthus became instantly controversial and Nassau William Senior, a highly regarded classical economist at Oxford, became his chief intellectual opponent. This letter is fascinating in that Malthus agrees with the “emigration plan” put forth by Senior, which called for legislative action to encourage laborers and farmers to emigrate from the agricultural districts of England and Wales and settle elsewhere, suggesting places such as the United States, Canada, and South Africa. He argued that such an exodus would relieve the British economy from the strain of ‘paupers’ while also improving these resource-rich developing nations overseas with an influx of labor. Malthus is exceedingly rare in general and as correspondence with a fellow economist about the population question, this letter in particular is of the utmost desirability.

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