The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 2 [of 3]

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 300

and powerful; or, rather, increase a nation tenfold
in numbers and strength.

* * * * *

FOOTNOTES:

[77] This paper and the answer to it are the last we have to extract
from Mr. Collinson's collection. The papers that follow, having notes
with the signature B. V., are from the collection referred to before,
Vol. I, p. 399. _Editor._

[78] In 1751.

[79] A water insect, well-known to naturalists.




R. J.[80] ESQ. OF LONDON, TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, ESQ. AT PHILADELPHIA.

_Remarks on some of the foregoing Observations, showing
particularly the Effect which manners have on Population._


DEAR SIR,

It is now near three years since I received your excellent
_Observations on the Increase of Mankind_, &c. in which you have
with so much sagacity and accuracy shown in what manner, and by
what causes, that principal means of political grandeur is best
promoted; and have so well supported those just inferences you have
occasionally drawn, concerning the general state of our American
colonies, and the views and conduct of some of the inhabitants of
Great Britain.

You have abundantly proved, that natural fecundity is hardly to
be considered, because the _vis generandi_, as far as we know,
is unlimited, and because experience shows, that the numbers of
nations is altogether governed by collateral causes, and among these
none of so much force as quantity of subsistence, whether arising
from climate, soil, improvement of tillage, trade, fisheries,
secure property, conquest of new countries, or other favourable
circumstances.

As I perfectly concurred with you in your sentiments on these heads,
I have been very desirous of building somewhat on the foundation you
have there laid; and was induced, by your hints in the twenty-first
section, to trouble you with some thoughts on the influence manners
have always had, and are always likely to have, on the numbers of a
people, and their political prosperity in general.

The end of every individual is its own private good. The rules it
observes in the pursuit of this good are a system of propositions,
almost every one founded in authority, that is, derive their
weight from the credit given to one or more persons, and not from
demonstration.

And this, in the most important as well as the other affairs of
life, is the case even of the wisest and philosophical part of the
human species; and that it should be so is the less strange, when we
consider, that it

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