Thursday, March 22, 2007

Samuel Leavitt, Anti-Malthus II (1881)

"A stranger was found yesterday wandering near Behring's Straits, American side, after ten in the morning, without his breakfast—no one having offered him any." This is just one of the shocking future events in the "Millenual Bulletins" contained in Samuel Leavitt's second "Anti-Malthus" essay. Actually, a number of Leavitt's predictions are shocking, and reflect some fairly unpleasant ideas about human beings, progress and the like. I want to do some more with these essays in another post, but, for now, it might be worth comparing them to another vision of the future from J. William Lloyd.

"The Vision is for many days."

IN the PHRENOLOGICAL JOURNAL for last August there was an article entitled,
"Anti-Malthus: Colonize the Whole Earth with Good and Wise People; and thus Fulfill
its Normal Destiny." The points maintained were these:

1: There are thirty-three billion acres of dry land upon our globe, and a billion and a half
of people. Filled with people at the Belgic rate it would contain nearly thirty billions; at the
Saxon rate, twenty-two billions; at the Japanese rate, twelve billions; at the Chinese rate, six
and a half billions.

2. It was shown that Malthus was unreasonable and inconsistent in maintaining that
there is any present danger of over-population of the earth,

3. It was averred that wise and good human creatures are Nature's great disinfectant;
and that the earth will not be thoroughly healthy, and therefore habitable, until it is
completely filled with such people, who will drain its swamps, and by the highest culture
prevent all malaria.

4. After showing how the earth would be prepared for such an immense population,
through the growth of science and art, the following statement w as made in conclusion: "A
thousand or ten thousand years from now a Central Council or a 'Pantarch' will probably
guide the movements and actions of the earth's twenty or thirty billions of inhabitants; just
as the wonderful train-controller, perched high at the north end of the Union depot in New
York, controls, by manipulating rows of buttons connected with the telegraphic instruments,
all the trains of the three great railroads centering there. Whereas now able men control the
distribution of money, produce, goods, etc., over the world, in a way that suits their selfish
aims: so then will the same thing be done by men actuated by pure benevolence. That
Central Council or bureau will be in electric communication with every corner of the earth,
and will be continually sending forth messages of information, warning, and exhortation."
The object of the present article is to furnish illustrations of the probable nature of the
bulletins that will be issued from that central office when the population shall have reached
twenty billions. These illustrations will be given as quotations from the daily official
newspaper organ of the Central Council, and some discussion of each will be added.

"BULLETIN 1.—Population too thick in Van Diemen's Land. Make room for them in

Of course, such an exigency and such an event as are here supposed must seem very
remote, when we consider the sparse population of those countries, and the seeming
undesirableness of Patagonia as a place of residence. But population is already pushing in
there from Buenos Ayres.

"BULLETIN 2.—Too many oranges raised in the world. The Valley of the Amazon must—
for five years raise them only for home consumption."

Here we begin to catch a glimpse of the fact that the long prophesied "Millennium," or
blissful condition of the race, could not possibly be realized until the uses of steam,
electricity, etc., had been discovered. Granted the fact that the earth could not be healthy until
filled with good and wise people; we come next upon the fact that the immense population
proposed could not be kept in harmonious working order without the swift means of
intercommunication furnished by those agencies. Furthermore, that a much higher plane of
morality than any single race has yet displayed would have to be reached by the whole race
before any imaginable external machinery would avail to preserve the peace and prosperity
of such a vast aggregation of nations, which must all yield implicit obedience to the wise
laws and instructions issuing from the sages gathered at the grand center: for otherwise, no
matter how well-intentioned most communities might be, a single inharmonic member in the
family of nations would cause a break in the orchestration—dire confusion, famine,
pestilence, and starvation through a large section of the earth.

Higher morality—loftier manhood and womanhood—is, therefore, the one remaining
need, before "the good time coming" can be ushered in. As the writer stood in the gallery of
Machinery Hall, in the Worlds Fair at Philadelphia, he said: ''Before me here is the physical
basis for the Millennium. But all these fruits of science and art are now monopolized by the
few shrewd and forceful. It remains, therefore, for the masses to be so morally and
intellectually elevated that they will be strong and good and wise enough to enter upon their
rightful inheritance in the elements of production and the means of distribution, including
those results of human genius. The farmers in India, Ireland, Persia, and the "seven years of
(practical) famine in a land of plenty" in this country—1873-80—show how useless it
would be to fill the earth with people until a general high morality makes decent self-government and national government possible.

But this necessary dissertation leaves no room to discuss the orange crop, and this
subject must be passed with a bare allusion to the fact that either the Orinoco or Amazon
basin could feed the present population of the earth.

"BULLETIN 3.—A bad case of coast fever at the mouth of the Congo River Africa. The
authorities must account for this oversight."

[The mouth of the Congo will then be as healthy as our White Mountains are now.]

This, again, seems extravagant to the superficial observer, as it is well known that a white
person can now scarcely live at all in that malaria-soaked region. But what is malaria? It is
simply a noxious gas liberated from abnormally rotting animal or vegetable substances—
when no longer serviceable in their organic shapes. Covering these substances lightly with
dry earth quickly and wonderfully dissolves them into their original elements, and makes
useful fructifying manure of them, without letting any atom escape to poison living
organisms. Think you that there will be malarious fever in any part of beautiful, fertile
Africa when twenty billions of the wise and good inhabit the earth? No, indeed! Why, even
now, in densely-peopled portions of China, the well-instructed peasant carries a basket to
gather from the high way anything of a manurial nature he may observe in passing.

"BULLETIN 4.—The people of France must elevate their spiritual and esthetic tone so
as to bring them to a lower breeding ratio, or prepare to begin, four years from now, to send
annually to Kamschatka their surplus population, to the amount of a million a year. Their
normal limit, at present, is two hundred millions which is now considerably exceeded."

In just such a manner would population need to be regulated and transferred: and the
absolute necessity of a central guidance becomes more apparent as we proceed. France, for
various well-known reasons, is now stationary as to population. Under improved conditions
the country would naturally fill up; and that mercurial race, so hard to control, might then
need the prospect of a large forced emigration from "La Belle France" to the less genial
region mentioned, to induce them to curtail their increase. But, of course, in the universally
bettered conditions of those times, life in Kamschatka would be more enjoyable than it now
is in the most favored regions.

"BULLETIN 5.—Too many foreign airships and air-palaces gather in summer over the
lake regions of Italy, Scotland, and Ireland, over the Yellowstone and other American parks
and resorts around the higher peaks of the Andes in South America, the Himalayas in Asia,
and the Mountains of the Moon in Africa. They obscure the view and are otherwise a

Of course, we all know that the occurrence of such events is only a question of time.
The first steam-lifting balloon was a sure prophecy of the swift-moving, heavy-freighted airpalace.

The clustering of such vehicles about the most attractive places in summer is a
natural event.

"BULLETIN 6.—The State of Virginia, U. S., will be under censure for sparse
population and inferior cultivation of the region once known as The Dismal Swamp,' if
another case of chills and fever occurs there."

O, ye shiverers! beside all malaria-breeding places, does it seem impossible for you to
realize the possibility of such immunity from this poison fiend—this evil "Prince of the
Power of the Air?" Behold how many old-settled regions, once redolent of miasma, are now
even under imperfect care and cultivation, apparently quite free from it. The English
literature of Shakespeare's time abounds with allusions to the ague-smitten people of
districts of Britain now quite exempt from such evils. But what a new departure it would be
to have the officials of States and counties instructed by the higher authorities to bring more
population into them in order to increase their healthfulness! This would present a
refreshing contrast to the methods adopted by soil monopolists in Scotland and Ireland,
who drive the population from whole counties, to turn the land into sheep and cattle ranges
and game preserves. How utterly depressing to the people driven out is the idea that they are
cumberers of the ground." How encouraging, on the other hand, to the people invited, would
be a call for population, when those invited were assured that they could not only prosper in
the new home, but also promote the prosperity of their new neighbors—and even the health
of those neighbors.

How encouraging, by the way, is this call for a twenty-fold peopling of the earth, to the
wretched multitudes of the city tenement-houses; who have, indeed, reason to think that they
are cumberers of the ground. But, alas! how few are "good and wise!"—or have a chance to

"BULLETIN 7.—The Khan of Tartary is notified that if we can't prevent portions of
reclaimed desert from being again denuded of trees and other vegetation, and relaxing into
barrenness steps will be taken to put a better man in his place."

[It will be observed that the perfect '' Millennium " has not yet arrived.]

In the first article considerable space was devoted to the methods by which wastes and
wildernesses and deserts would be reclaimed and made fertile. That process is in progress
in portions of our own country. The so called desert lands, this side of the Rocky
Mountains, are being rapidly reclaimed, and the rain belt is widening as the soil is broken up
and tree-planting progresses. Unfortunately thousands are ruined " in mind, body, and
estate," who, trusting to the lying reports of land and railroad agents, rely too soon upon
these recuperative agencies. But we can not yet begin to see the limits of the improvements
that will accrue in this regard from agricultural chemistry, irrigation, artesian wells, etc.
As to chemistry, for instance, some one has discovered, lately, that vast spaces on Long
Island need only the addition of a certain cheap chemical element to make them yield
bountiful .harvests.

"BULLETIN 8.—A case of miscarriage in the Island of Sumatra is another warning to
women not to spend all night dancing during their last month. Twenty billions of people is
little enough to keep the earth healthy and happy. The nice balances of population can not
be maintained if such mishaps become frequent again."

That seems extravagant, even as a fancy, concerning the good time coming. But who
shall say what is impossible in such directions? We know that there are Indian races
existing, among whom miscarriages are of very rare occurrence, and whose women are
occupied only for a few hours in parturition. The time prophesied will surely come, when "a
man shall be more precious than fine gold"—yea, even an infant. It appears strange, again,
that this preciousness of humanity, this dignity of human nature, should occur when the
earth is full of people, rather than when population is scant. But this seems ordained, and
careful study of all the facts shows that it is natural. Yet how stupendous, how
overwhelmingly glorious the idea, that instead of nations slaughtering each other with all the
enginery of war that diabolical ingenuity can invent; instead of rulers of such "civilized"
nations as England tacitly encouraging famine and starvation in its dependent Indias and
Irelands, as "a means of bringing population down to the proper number;" instead of
infanticide and foeticide being encouraged not only in heathen India and China, but also in
Christian Europe and America; instead of the strong everywhere ruthlessly destroying and
shortening the lives of the weak by forcing them to overwork and hurtful work: a time
should come when human creatures would be so precious that a foeticide occurring in an
island of the Asiatic Seas would be bulletined throughout the twenty billions of the earth s
inhabitants as a rare and shocking event!

"BULLETIN 9.—A stranger was found yesterday wandering near Behring's Straits,
American side, after ten in the morning, without his breakfast—no one having offered him
any. He had missed the morning air-ferry-ship, and had been overlooked. Such occurrences
take the bloom from our boasted New Civilization."

That certainly opens a vista of felicity in the high-noon of our glorious planet, that is
delightful to contemplate. There is nothing impossible about this. Given a world full of wise
and good people, producing abundant food for all—guarding carefully against accidents to
any—and the necessary conditions are obtained. Even now abundance of nourishment for
all living people always exists on the earth. If "man to man would brother be," it would be
properly distributed. Listen to this description of the waste of natural products in South
America, which contains vast unoccupied acres of the most fertile lands in the world.
Col. George Earl Church, of London, in a report to the Governments of Brazil and
Bolivia, says:

"Only the ocean fringe of South America had been, to a limited extent, developed by
modern methods of transit; the Pacific coast represented simply the sharp slope of an
uninterrupted mountain wall from Panama to Patagonia, and neither man nor beast could
travel across the snow-swept barrier, abreast of the head waters of the Amazon in Peru and
Bolivia, without scaling the passes at an elevation in no place lower, and in most of the
passes as high, as the loftiest peak of the Alps; Peru, with a Babel-like ambition, was then
working heavenward with its gigantic railway system, ignoring the fact that its richest and
most extensive lands are on the Atlantic slope. Alone of all the South American States, the
Argentine Republic appeared to appreciate the problem of opening the interior, and, with the
force of its credit and energy, pushed its railways toward the heart of the continent. . . . I
found millions of sheep, llamas, and alpacas, browsing upon the mountain sides, and not a
cargo of wool was exported; vast herds of cattle roamed the plains, and yet an ox-hide was
worth scarcely more than a pound of leather in the European market; hundreds of tons of
the richest coffee in the world were rotting on the bushes, and only about ten tons per
annum were sent abroad as a rare delicacy; abundant crops of sugar in the river districts
were considered a misfortune by the planter, because there was no market; the valleys of
Cochabamba were rich in cereal wealth, unsalable when the crop was too great for home
consumption; not a valley or mountain-side but gave agricultural, medicinal, and other
products, such as commanded ready sale in any foreign market; sixty-five kinds of rare and
beautiful cabinet woods stood untouched by man in the great virgin forests of the north and
east. The mountains were weighed down with silver, copper, tin, and other metals, and the
people gazing upon a wealth sufficient to pay the national debts of the world, and yet
unavailable for lack of means of communication."

"BULLETIN 10.—The Central Office is happy to announce that the Caucasian is now
the only race on the earth. The last specimen of an inferior breed—a mixture of Malay,
Creole, and Esquimaux —died last week in New Zealand."

It is ''all very fine"—humane, brotherly to extol the other races, but the fact remains that
the Caucasian is by far the highest. It seems scarcely possible that the perfect life hoped for
can be realized on this globe until the other races have gradually passed away, as the North
American Indian is now doing. We must be just and generous to these races, and give them
every chance of improvement while they remain; but if it is their fate to pass away we can
not prevent it. It seems apparent, for instance, from the history of South America, that their
intermingling by marriage with us only produces an inferior mongrel, and hinders the
advent of the perfect human being. They must "go."

"BULLETIN 11.—The North Pole Summer Sanitariums and Ice Cures being
inconveniently crowded of late years, large establishments of the sort are rapidly springing
up at the South Pole, on the Asiatic side, with daily air-ship lines to all principal points south
of the Equator."

There is nothing extraordinary about this, when already we find the wealthy yachtsmen
of England taking their summer trips around the North Cape of Sweden, the most northerly
point of Western Europe.

"BULLETIN 12.—The wool crop is getting short. Sheep-raising is not pushed properly
on some of the higher slopes of the Andes, Rocky Mountains, Himalayas, and Balkans."

Thus will the watchful eyes of the Central Sages continually take in the situation on
every rood of terra firma; every rood will be to them a ''holy rood" —to be guarded with
religious care. The resources of our planet—its capacities for making twenty or thirty billion
people comfortable and happy—are immeasurable, when once wisdom and goodness are
permanently assured for the whole race. The Infinite One now, when at length it seems safe
to do so, has opened the eyes of our keenest men to secrets of art and nature, the possession
. of which gives them powers such as our forefathers would have considered ''Divine," or
miraculous. These powers will not long be monopolized by Rothschilds, Goulds,
Vanderbilts, and Bonanza kings.

"BULLETIN 13.—A large part of the people of New Orleans, U. S., turned out on
Wednesday to bid farewell to a woman who had been banished to Nova Zembla, for wasting
a bucket of slops, by emptying it from a steamer into the Mississippi, instead of consigning
it to the proper manurial receptacle."

Well, it must be acknowledged that this is rather straining a point, as to the mass of the
population attending this farewell. But the idea about such a waste being considered
reprehensible in that "Beautiful Hereafter" is "solid." A storm of indignation will soon arise
against the system of agriculture that has sent the virgin soil of so many of our States to
Europe, in the shape of tobacco, cotton, wheat, etc., and so much more of our fertility to the
sea through the sewers of our cities.

"BULLETIN 14.—The Central Council takes pleasure in announcing that apparently as
a result of the solar convulsions of recent years, and the consequent violent, but harmless
perturbations of our planet, several new, warm streams have been for some time pouring
from the Equator to both poles. Those of the Pacific converging at Behring's Straits pour
through into the Arctic region a current so hot that it is hardly endurable as a hot bath The
American Gulf Stream and the Japanese Curo Siwo are much hotter than before. As a
consequence, the climate is so changing in those northern regions that upper British
America, Siberia, and some of the Antarctic lands are becoming quite pleasant and fruitful
regions. If this process continues a few years, we may be able to announce the possibility of
raising the earth's population to twenty-five billions. Other causes, as yet unexplainable,
have produced an increase of direct sun-heat in those regions. P. S. Another fact noticeable
is a diminished heat in the Torrid Zone."

"BULLETIN 15.—The electric light towers of the world generally will have to be more
carefully treated. Complaints come in from various quarters that travelers along very
prominent highways are frequently unable to read their newspapers at night."

"BULLETIN 16.—The people of a village on the banks of the Niger River, Africa, were
horror-struck lately, at observing an odor of decaying, malaria-breeding vegetation, issuing
from the garden of a citizen. Investigation showed a rank undergrowth of rotting weeds. The
man excused himself on the plea that being a poet he had been for a fortnight in a fine
frenzy of imaginative creation, and had neglected his weeds. Excuse not received. He was
sent to the Antarctic Fisheries, where high cultivation of the soil is not called for, and there is
no chance to waste the food-producing gases."

"BULLETIN 17.—A melancholy circumstance is reported from the Bernese Alps. A
lovely maiden of eighteen years told her first, and therefore true, love three years ago that
she believed in long engagements, and did not wish to marry him for at least five years. Not
willing of course, to think of marrying any but his 'own and only one,' fearing that his
admiration for the other sex might overcome his resolution in that unprecedented long
interval, he built himself a stone hut high up in the Alps, and subsists as a goat-herdsman,
and occasionally visits his whimsical betrothed. Girls should be careful how they trifle with
these sacred matters."

The above, soberly considered, must be counted as a legitimate illustration of the fact
that on a paradisaical planet, there will be an absolute lack of tragedies; and incidents that
seem laughably trivial to us, as matters of national consideration, will be the only variations
from the uniform felicity. In that blissful time the first love will be usually the only love. For
all young people will be then thoroughly instructed in physiology, phrenology,
psychometry, hygiene, etc., so that they will guard their hearts until a true mate appears.
Moreover, all then living in associated homes, will have an abundance of young folks to
choose from, and will thus avoid the haphazard marriages that inevitably result from the
isolation of our present modes of life.

"BULLETIN 18.—It has chanced, 'in the whirligig of time,' that Boston, once so proud
of its superiority, is now the most barbarous place on the earth. A middle-aged citizen so far
forgot himself in the heat of argument yesterday, as to call another citizen 'a liar.'"

"BULLETIN 19.—In the present active state of human sympathy, people need to be
careful about making demands upon it. Several air-ships arriving lately at Tobolsk from the
North, containing people who said that they had tasted no strawberries and cream this
year—the people of that place immediately stripped their vines of the delicious berries to
present them to the strangers, and so had none for themselves for a week afterward."

"BULLETIN 20.—On and after the 10th prox. the Society of Sky Painters will present
a series of paintings by the new process upon the zenith on each clear day; passing around
the earth from east to west. They will begin at Siam; and knowing by telegraph how far each
picture is seen, will make them continuous by beginning the next at the farthest point at
which the picture of the previous ray was plainly visible. The panorama will illustrate the
battles of Armageddon—the last great battles between right and wrong, truth and error,
reason and madness, vice and virtue, selfishness and benevolence, religion and atheism order
and disorder. These were fought upon the soil of North America, and their representation
will form very striking pictures."

Now all this will seem very fanciful to some, very absurd to others. But every one of
these ''bulletins" is somewhat founded upon existing facts.
Even if all the fancywork be set aside, the truth remains, that the doctrine concerning the
filling of the earth with good and wise people is incontrovertible.


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