Stephen Leacock

Here you will find the Long Poem Oh! Mr. Malthus! of poet Stephen Leacock

Oh! Mr. Malthus!

"Mother, Mother, here comes Malthus,
Mother, hold me tight!
Look! It's Mr. Malthus, Mother!
Hide me out of sight."
This was the cry of little Jane
In bed she moaning lay,
Delirious with Stomach Pain,
That would not go away.
All because her small Existence
Over-pressed upon Subsistence;
Human Numbers didn't need her;
Human Effort couldn't feed her.
Little Janie didn't know
The Geometric Ratio.
Poor Wee Janie had never done
Course Economics No. 1;
Never reached in Education
Theories of Population, --
Theories which tend to show
Just how far our Food will go,
Mathematically found
Just enough to go around.
This, my little Jane, is why
Pauper Children have to die.
Pauper Children underfed
Die delirious in Bed;
Thus at Malthus's Command
Match Supply with true Demand.
Jane who should have gently died
Started up and wildly cried, --

"Look, mother, look, he's there again
I see him at the Window Pane,
Father, -- don't let him, -- he's behind
That shadow on the window blind, --"
In vain the anxious parents soothe, --
What can avail their useless Love?
"Darling, lie down again; don't mind;
Branches are moving in the Wind."
With panting Breath, with Eyes that stare,
Again she cries, "He's there, he's there!"
The frightened Parents look, aghast,
Is it that something really passed?
What is it that they seem to scan,
Ghost or Abstraction, Dream or Man? --
That long drawn Face, the cloven Lip,
The crooked Fingers all a-grip,
The sunken Face, cadaverous,
The dress, Ah, God deliver us!
What awful Sacrilege is that?
The Choker and the Shovel Hat,
The Costume black and sinister,
The dress of God's own minister!
What fiend could ever urge a Man
To personate a Clergyman!
The Father strides with angry fist
"Out, out! you damned Economist!"
His wife restrains his threatening Paw, --
"William, it's economic Law!"
She shrieks, -- "Oh William! don't you know
The Geometric Ratio? --
William, God means it for the best
Our Darling's taken! we've transgressed -- "
And crying, "Two times two makes four,"
She crashes swooning to the Floor.
And when her Senses come again
Janie had passed from mortal Pain
And scowling Malthus had moved on
Murm'ring, "That's one more Infant gone,"
To other Windows, one by one; --
Later he came and took their Son.
With Jane and John gone, out of seven,
They kept at five and just broke even.
"Mary," the chastened Father said,
"I feel God's wisdom; two are dead
The world has only food for five,
Quintuplets are the thing that thrive."
She sobbed, -- "We'll do it if we can!
But, oh that awful Malthus Man."

Such is the tale, we have it straight from Wordsworth's pious Pen
He happened to be out, not late, just after sunset, when
He met a little cottage Girl, she was eight years old, (she said),
Her Hair was thick, he saw, with Curls that clustered on her Head;
And he recalls in pious Verse the Interview she gave
While sitting eating Porridge on her Sister Janie's Grave,
Reciting with her Baby Voice and placid Infant's Breath
The orthodox complacent Thought on pauper Children's death;
And thus the plump and happy Child, her Belly full of food,
Drowsy with Sunset Porridge smiled, -- the World was pretty good.
With her little Belly fully
Satisfied, her Mind got woolly;
She was just like all the rest
Couldn't stand an acid Test,
Took her thoughts too near the Place
Where Digestion had its Base.
What the Child mistook for Knowledge
Just fresh air and lots of Porridge, --
Here is where Biology
Moves into Ontology.

But Willie, Willie Wordsworth, if again you walk the Street
Just meet a little Cottage Girl, and get the thing complete.
You'll find her just as charming as a Child upon a Grave,
And her Hair in Curl is permanent with what she calls a Wave.
She needs no babbling Innocence, no baby Words to show,
The danger spots of little Tots in moving Ratio.
That population is a Thing that all the world must shun,
She'll show you as a Theorem in Economics One, --
At least until four years ago, when all the World went crack
And all the world got overfed, and all the World got slack.
And by the Bump we call the Slump, Production's Force was torn
And Coffee Beans went up in Flames beside ungathered Corn
And Melons floated out to Sea and Hogs were left unborn,
And beer rolled down the Tennessee and California Wine
Was used as Blood for Hollywood, and Rye thrown in the Rhine
And Super-Products in a Stack, --
But stop, a bit, we must turn back.

Turn back to Malthus as he walked o'er English Fields and Downs
And walked at night the crooked Streets of crooked English Towns,
Lifeless, undying, Shade or Man, as one that could not die
A hundred years his Shadow fell, a hundr