Montesquieu

People who have abso­lu­tely nothing, like beg­gars, have many chil­dren. For they are in the situa­tion of rising peo­ples : it is easy enough for the father to pass his art on to his chil­dren, who from the time they are born are ins­tru­ments of that art. In a rich or super­sti­tious coun­try these peo­ple mul­ti­ply, because they do not have the bur­dens of society but are them­sel­ves the bur­dens of society. But peo­ple who are poor only because they live under a harsh govern­ment, who see their field less as the basis of their sub­sis­tence than as a pre­text for harass­ment, those men, I say, beget few chil­dren : they have not even enough food for them­sel­ves ; how could they pos­si­bly ima­gine sha­ring it ? They can­not pro­vide care for them­sel­ves in sick­ness ; how could they raise crea­tu­res who are in a conti­nual sick­ness, which is child­hood ?

It is the ease of tal­king and the ina­bi­lity to exa­mine that have cau­sed some to say that the poo­rer the sub­jects were, the more nume­rous were the fami­lies ; that the more bur­de­ned they were by taxes, the more they put them­sel­ves in a posi­tion to pay them : two sophisms which have always doo­med monar­chies, and fore­ver will.

The har­sh­ness of the govern­ment can go so far as to des­troy natu­ral sen­ti­ments by the natu­ral sen­ti­ments them­sel­ves. Did not the women of America1 make them­sel­ves abort so their chil­dren would not have such cruel mas­ters ?

Relation of Thomas Gage, p. 58.