Ode to Mr Malthus
Poetry, Drollery, Satire
T H, pseud. [Thomas Hood]
Political Economy, Population, Phrenology, Hospitals, Cruelty, Epidemiology
The illustration captioned 'A Child's Call to be Disposed of"' (91) depicts a baby in a basket hanging from a lion-faced door-knocker on a door bearing the name 'John Knox'. The narrator cannot enjoy his 'Malthus' with his many noisy children running round. He exclaims: 'Oh Mr. Malthus, I agree / In every thing I read with thee! / The world's too full, there is no doubt, / And wants a deal of thinning out' (92). Regrets the efforts of those 'Wrongheads, / With thick not long heads, / Poor metaphysicians!' who attempt to keep people alive (93). The illustration captioned 'Laying the First Stone of an Hospital' (facing 93) depicts a cleric reading an oration, and a knight with mallet and trowel, standing over a foundation stone under which a body lies, while a sober crowd looks on. The narrator believes that he could profitably weed the human species, and suggests some candidates for weeding. Fears the likely interference of 'Some humane Martin'. The illustration captioned 'Fancy Portrait—Mr. Malthus' (facing 96) depicts a man sitting in an armchair in front of the hearth reading 'Tales of Ogres'. The paintings on the wall are entitled 'Babes in the Wood', 'Skirmish with Infantry', 'Siege of Baby[lon]', and Herod's Mass[acre]'. Welcomes the cholera epidemic as a useful corrective of overpopulation. Instead of imposing quarantine on shipping, 'We ought to import the Cholera Morbus!' (97).
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
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