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Ryan Walter

When Malthus’s Essay was published in 1798, British politics was still attempting to process the French Revolution and its implications for the possibility of political economy as a science of reform. In this setting, the anti-utopian character of Malthus’s brand of Protestant Enlightenment was embraced by important sections of his society, above all, by those Christian political economists who shared his preparedness to use natural theology as the architecture for political economy. The reception was colder from utilitarians such as James Mill, reforming Whigs at the Edinburgh Review, and, on the other side of politics, Romantics such as Robert Southey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. At a more general level, Malthus’s principle of population was widely absorbed, but also subjected to reformulation that removed its theological basis.