Black Dwarf,  1 (1817), 759–64.

Imlac on Reform: Letter IV  [4/4]

Imlac, Westminster


Letter, Serial


Political Economy, Population, Government, Radicalism, Disease, Medical Treatment, Surgery, Vulcanology

    Begins: 'There is an anomaly in our present situation, so totally opposed to all sound principles—so paradoxical in its nature, so ruinous in its effects, rivalling Mr. Malthus's geometrical progressive ratio, which cannot subsist without beggaring the great mass of the population, and finally ruining itself' (759). Discusses at length the government's handling of the national economy, especially with regard to funded property and national debt. Comments of the national constitution that 'Scrofula is the prevalent disease in our constitution, for which hitherto there has been found no specific' (761). Later draws an analogy between the national economy and cancer, stating: 'I fear we are already past all hope of recovery—backwards or forwards death stares us in the face. We have a cancer penetrating every corner of our bodies; to permit it to enlarge is certain dissolution; to extract it by the knife requires too much strength and firmness in the patient, and too bold and skillful an operator, to be reasonably expected'. Observes: 'Our future history will resemble that of the little Italian village of Toro del Greco [...] on the edge of Vesuvius [...] as no earthquake or eruption had happened in their day, they lived in stupid security. [...] Every now and then, a slight jet of lava frightened them, but the symptoms abating, "suspicion is again lulled asleep" and they relapse into their former infatuated security. 'Till after a few years the volcano, as if it had repressed its passion to a state of almost suffocation, suddenly bursts forth with the most impetuous fury, and buries in unexpected and total destruction their lives and property'. (763)

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