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The economist Thomas Malthus was born on this day (or possibly February 14) in 1766. Malthus and his famous theory — as popularly reduced, the idea that the poor are doomed by their own reproductive habits, given that they multiply faster than they can be fed — have been given rough treatment in English literature. In A Christmas CarolDickens casts Scrooge as a heartless Malthusian when he refuses to give alms: “If they would rather die they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” The sterility of Huxley’s Brave New World is managed by women who store their contraceptives in “Malthusian belts.” Stephen Leacock’s “Oh! Mr. Malthus!” is a 350-line slap at the population-food theory, with an equally critical aside on the “comforting explanation” of poverty found in Wordsworth's poem “We Are Seven,” published the same year (1798) as Malthus’s Essay on Population. Leacock was a professor of economics at McGill University, and many of his academic publications are compassionate on poverty and social planning; but it’s the poem which packs the punch, and the retribution:

Let's seek the Shade of Malthus out from where he walks at Night,
And bring him up for Punishment, -- It certainly seems right;
He that misled a hundred Years Man's Footsteps from his Path, --
That turned our Household Joy to Tears, -- how shall he feel our Wrath?
Shall boiling Oil reduce his Flesh to Chicken à la King,
Would molten Lead upon his Head be pretty much the Thing?
Ah, no! not bye-gone Cruelty his erring Soul shall harry,
We'll fit the Punishment to Crime, make Mr. Malthus marry.
                  Ho! Reverend Robert, come and doff
                  That cleric suit; yes, take it off, --
                  Nay, never mind the leather Face
                  The faded parchment skin,
                  Come, stand up, Robert, chuck a Brace,
                           Another life begin!

Source: Today in Literature

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