Henry Salt Archive

Henry Salt (1853-1939) was the author of the Life of Henry David Thoreau, Animals Rights and A Plea for Vegetarianism which inspired Gandhi for follow a vegetarian diet.

Hymn to Malthus

Mighty Malthus, sage austere,
Scourge of this o’er-peopled nation,
Whom philosophers revere,
Lord and God of population,
Millionaires thy doctrines bless,
Landlords sing thy praise shrilly;—
Must we, dare we then, confess
That we find thee wondrous silly?

Parson Malthus, ‘twas thy feat
To devise that curst alliance
Where religion deigned to greet
Laws of “Economic Science”—
Strange, since Christ in days of old
Blessed the poor, and meek and needy,
Later pastors of his fold
Now should bless the rich and greedy!

“Let the rich man wed a wife;
Let the poor man mateless tarry;
‘Midst the crimes of lowly life,
Count it worst of all to marry;
Worse than every lawless deed,
Begging, thieving, poaching; arson”—
Such was thy most Christian creed,
O thou philanthropic parson.

Such thy creed; and now we see
Fair thy fame and great thy glory;
Prophet thou of bliss to be,
Hero of Malthusian story
Smug professors praise thy works;
Selfish statesmen cry “God speed ‘em”;
Christians, heretics, and Turks
All admire—though none can read ’em.

Mighty Malthus, dare we own
That we do regret it rather
These thy precepts were not known,
Ay, and practised, by—thy father?
Then, perchance, the world had seen
Less of speculation rotten;
Less of rant and cant had been—
For thou would’st ne’er have been begotten!

H. S. S.
Justice, September 5, 1885 - No. 86