A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Malthus, Thomas Robert

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Malthus, Thomas Robert (1766-1834). -- Economist, s. of a landed proprietor, was b. near Dorking, and ed.. at Jesus Coll., Camb., of which he became a Fellow. Taking orders he became incumbent of Albury, Essex. He travelled much on the continent, collecting information as to the means of livelihood and mode of life of various peoples. In 1798 the first ed. of his famous Essay on Population appeared, and in 1803 a second greatly enlarged. Its leading proposition, supported by much learning, is that while population increases approximately in a geometrical ratio, the means of subsistence do so in an arithmetical ratio only, which, of course, opened up an appalling prospect for the race. It necessarily failed to take into account the then undreamed-of developments whereby the produce of the whole world has been made available for all nations. The work gave rise to a great deal of controversy, much of it based on misunderstanding. M. was Prof. of Political Economy at Haileybury.