Front Page Titles (by Subject) Book II: OF THE CHECKS TO POPULATION IN THE DIFFERENT STATES OF MODERN EUROPE. - An Essay on the Principle of Population, vol. 1 [1826, 6th ed.]
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Book II: OF THE CHECKS TO POPULATION IN THE DIFFERENT STATES OF MODERN EUROPE. - Thomas Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, vol. 1 [1826, 6th ed.] 
An Essay on the Principle of Population, or a View of its Past and Present Effects on Human Happiness; with an Inquiry into our Prospects respecting the Future Removal or Mitigation of the Evils which it Occasions (London: John Murray 1826). 6th ed.
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OF THE CHECKS TO POPULATION IN THE DIFFERENT STATES OF MODERN EUROPE.
Book II, Chapter I
Of the Checks to Population in Norway.
In reviewing the states of modern Europe, we shall be assisted in our inquiries by registers of births, deaths and marriages, which, when they are complete and correct, point out to us with some degree of precision whether the prevailing checks to population are of the positive or preventive kind. The habits of most European nations are of course much alike, owing to the similarity of the circumstances in which they are placed; and it is to be expected therefore that their registers should sometimes give the same results. Relying however too much upon this occasional coincidence, political calculators have been led into the error of supposing that there is, generally speaking, an invariable order of mortality in all countries: but it appears, on the contrary, that this order is extremely variable; that it is very different in different places of the same country, and within certain limits depends upon circumstances, which it is in the power of man to alter.
Norway, during nearly the whole of the last century, was in a peculiar degree exempt from the drains of people by war. The climate is remarkably free from epidemic sicknesses; and, in common years, the mortality is less than in any other country in Europe, the registers of which are known to be correct.1 The proportion of the annual deaths to the whole population, on an average throughout the whole country, is only as 1 to 48.2 Yet the population of Norway never seems to have increased with great rapidity. It has made a start within the last ten or fifteen years; but till that period its progress must have been very slow, as we know that the country was peopled in very early ages, and in 1769 its population was only 723,141.3
Before we enter upon an examination of its internal economy, we must feel assured that, as the positive checks to its population have been so small, the preventive checks must have been proportionably great; and we accordingly find from the registers that the proportion of yearly marriages to the whole population is as 1 to 130,4 which is a smaller proportion of marriages than appears in the registers of any other country, except Switzerland.
One cause of this small number of marriages is the mode in which the enrolments for the army have been conducted till within a very few years. Every man in Denmark and Norway born of a farmer or labourer is a soldier.5 Formerly the commanding officer of the district might take these peasants at any age he pleased; and he in general preferred those that were from twenty-five to thirty, to such as were younger. After being taken into the service, a man could not marry without producing a certificate, signed by the minister of the parish, that he had substance enough to support a wife and family; and even then it was further necessary for him to obtain the permission of the officer. The difficulty, and sometimes the expense, of obtaining this certificate and permission, generally deterred those who were not in very good circumstances, from thinking of marriage till their service of ten years was expired; and as they might be enrolled at any age under thirty-six, and the officers were apt to take the oldest first, it would often be late in life before they could feel themselves at liberty to settle.
Though the minister of the parish had no legal power to prevent a man from marrying who was not enrolled for service, yet it appears that custom had in some degree sanctioned a discretionary power of this kind, and the priest often refused to join a couple together when the parties had no probable means of supporting a family.
Every obstacle, however, of this nature, whether arising from law or custom, has now been entirely removed. A full liberty is given to marry at any age, without leave either of the officer or priest; and in the enrolments for the army all those of the age of twenty are taken first, then all those of twenty-two, and so on till the necessary number is completed.
The officers in general disapprove of this change. They say that a young Norwegian has not arrived at his full strength and does not make a good soldier at twenty. And many are of opinion that the peasants will now marry too young, and that more children will be born than the country can support.
But, independently of any regulations respecting the military enrolments, the peculiar state of Norway throws very strong obstacles in the way of early marriages. There are no large manufacturing towns to take off the overflowing population of the country; and as each village naturally furnishes from itself a supply of hands more than equal to the demand, a change of place in search of work seldom promises any success. Unless therefore an opportunity of foreign emigration offer, the Norwegian peasant generally remains in the village in which he was born, and as the vacancies in houses and employments must occur very slowly, owing to the small mortality that takes place, he will often see himself compelled to wait a considerable time, before he can attain a situation, which will enable him to rear a family.
The Norway farms have in general a certain number of married labourers employed upon them, in proportion to their size, who are called housemen. They receive from the farmer a house, and a quantity of land nearly sufficient to maintain a family; in return for which they are under the obligation of working for him at a low and fixed price, whenever they are called upon. Except in the immediate neighbourhood of the towns, and on the sea-coast, the vacancy of a place of this kind is the only prospect which presents itself of providing for a family. From the small number of people, and the little variety of employment, the subject is brought distinctly within the view of each individual; and he must feel the absolute necessity of repressing his inclinations to marriage, till some such vacancy offer. If, from the plenty of materials, he should be led to build a house for himself, it could not be expected, that the farmer, if he had a sufficient number of labourers before, should give him an adequate portion of land with it; and though he would in general find employment for three or four months in the summer, yet there would be little chance of his earning enough to support a family during the whole year. It is probable, that it was in cases of this kind, where the impatience of the parties prompted them to build, or propose to build a house themselves, and trust to what they could earn, that the parish priests exercised the discretionary power of refusing to marry.
The young men and women therefore are obliged to remain with the farmers as unmarried servants, till a houseman's place becomes vacant: and of these unmarried servants there is in every farm, and every gentleman's family, a much greater proportion, than the work would seem to require. There is but little division of labour in Norway. Almost all the wants of domestic economy are supplied in each separate household. Not only the common operations of brewing, baking, and washing, are carried on at home, but many families make or import their own cheese and butter, kill their own beef and mutton, import their own grocery stores; and the farmers and country people in general spin their own flax and wool, and weave their own linen and woollen clothes. In the largest towns, such as Christiana and Drontheim, there is nothing that can be called a market. It is extremely difficult to get a joint of fresh meat; and a pound of fresh butter is an article not to be purchased, even in the midst of summer. Fairs are held at certain seasons of the year, and stores of all kinds of provisions that will keep are laid in at these times; and, if this care be neglected, great inconveniencies are suffered, as scarcely any thing is to be bought retail. Persons who make a temporary residence in the country, or small merchants not possessed of farms, complain heavily of this inconvenience; and the wives of merchants, who have large estates, say, that the domestic economy of a Norway family is so extensive and complicated, that the necessary superintendance of it requires their whole attention, and that they can find no time for any thing else.
It is evident, that a system of this kind must require a great number of servants. It is said besides, that they are not remarkable for diligence, and that to do the same quantity of work more are necessary than in other countries. The consequence is, that in every establishment the proportion of servants will be found two or three times as great as in England; and a farmer in the country, who in his appearance is not to be distinguished from any of his labourers, will sometimes have a household of twenty persons, including his own family.
The means of maintenance to a single man are, therefore, much less confined than to a married man; and under such circumstances the lower classes of people cannot increase much, till the increase of mercantile stock, or the division and improvement of farms, furnishes a greater quantity of employment for married labourers. In countries more fully peopled this subject is always involved in great obscurity. Each man naturally thinks, that he has as good a chance of finding employment as his neighbour; and that, if he fail in one place, he shall succeed in some other. He marries, therefore, and trusts to fortune; and the effect too frequently is, that redundant population occasioned in this manner is repressed by the positive checks of poverty and disease. In Norway the subject is not involved in the same obscurity. The number of additional families, which the increasing demand for labour will support, is more distinctly marked. The population is so small, that even in the towns it is difficult to fall into any considerable error on this subject; and in the country the division and improvement of an estate, and the creation of a greater number of housemen's places, must be a matter of complete notoriety. If a man can obtain one of these places, he marries, and is able to support a family; if he cannot obtain one, he remains single. A redundant population is thus prevented from taking place, instead of being destroyed after it has taken place.
It is not to be doubted, that the general prevalence of the preventive check to population, owing to the state of society which has been described, together with the obstacles thrown in the way of early marriages from the enrolments for the army, have powerfully contributed to place the lower classes of people in Norway in a better situation, than could be expected from the nature of the soil and climate. On the sea-coast, where, on account of the hopes of an adequate supply of food from fishing, the preventive check does not prevail in the same degree, the people are very poor and wretched; and, beyond comparison, in a worse state than the peasants in the interior of the country.
The greatest part of the soil in Norway is absolutely incapable of bearing corn, and the climate is subject to the most sudden and fatal changes. There are three nights about the end of August, which are particularly distinguished by the name of iron nights, on account of their sometimes blasting the promise of the fairest crops. On these occasions the lower classes of people necessarily suffer; but as there are scarcely any independent labourers, except the housemen that have been mentioned, who all keep cattle, the hardship of being obliged to mix the inner bark of the pine with their bread is mitigated by the stores of cheese, of salt butter, of salt meat, salt fish, and bacon, which they are generally enabled to lay up for the winter provision. The period in which the want of corn presses the most severely is generally about two months before harvest; and at this time the cows, of which the poorest housemen have generally two or three, and many five or six, begin to give milk, which must be a great assistance to the family, particularly to the younger part of it. In the summer of the year 1799, the Norwegians appeared to wear a face of plenty and content, while their neighbours the Swedes were absolutely starving; and I particularly remarked, that the sons of housemen and the farmers' boys were fatter, larger, and had better calves to their legs, than boys of the same age and in similar situations in England.
It is also without doubt owing to the prevalence of the preventive check to population, as much as to any peculiar healthiness of the air, that the mortality in Norway is so small. There is nothing in the climate or the soil, that would lead to the supposition of its being in any extraordinary manner favourable to the general health of the inhabitants; but as in every country the principal mortality takes place among very young children, the smaller number of these in Norway, in proportion to the whole population, will naturally occasion a smaller mortality than in other countries, supposing the climate to be equally healthy.
It may be said, perhaps, and with truth, that one of the principal reasons of the small mortality in Norway is, that the towns are inconsiderable and few, and that few people are employed in unwholesome manufactories. In many of the agricultural villages of other countries, where the preventive check to population does not prevail in the same degree, the mortality is as small as in Norway. But it should be recollected, that the calculation in this case is for those particular villages alone; whereas in Norway the calculation of one in forty-eight is for the whole country. The redundant population of these villages is disposed of by constant emigrations to the towns, and the deaths of a great part of those that are born in the parish do not appear in the registers. But in Norway all the deaths are within the calculation, and it is clear, that, if more were born than the country could support, a great mortality must take place in some form or other. If the people were not destroyed by disease, they would be destroyed by famine. It is indeed well known, that bad and insufficient food will produce disease and death in the purest air and the finest climate. Supposing therefore no great foreign emigration, and no extraordinary increase in the resources of the country, nothing but the more extensive prevalence of the preventive check to population in Norway can secure to her a smaller mortality than in other countries, however pure her air may be, or however healthy the employments of her people.
Norway seems to have been anciently divided into large estates or farms, called Gores; and as, according to the law of succession, all the brothers divide the property equally, it is a matter of surprise, and a proof how slowly the population has hitherto increased, that these estates have not been more subdivided. Many of them are indeed now divided into half gores and quarter gores, and some still lower; but it has in general been the custom, on the death of the father, for a commission to value the estate at a low rate, and if the eldest son can pay his brothers' and sisters'6 shares, according to this valuation, by mortgaging his estate or otherwise, the whole is awarded to him: and the force of habit and natural indolence too frequently prompt him to conduct the farm after the manner of his forefathers, with few or no efforts at improvement.
Another great obstacle to the improvement of farms in Norway is a law, which is called Odel's right, by which any lineal descendant can repurchase an estate, which had been sold out of the family, by paying the original purchase-money. Formerly collateral as well as lineal descendants had this power, and the time was absolutely unlimited, so that the purchaser could never consider himself as secure from claims. Afterwards the time was limited to twenty years, and in 1771, it was still further limited to ten years, and all the collateral branches were excluded. It must however be an uninterrupted possession of ten years; for if, before the expiration of this term, a person who has a right to claim under the law give notice to the possessor, that he does not forego his claim, though he is not then in a condition to make the purchase, the possessor is obliged to wait six years more, before he is perfectly secure. And as in addition to this the eldest in the lineal descent may reclaim an estate, that had been repurchased by a younger brother, the law, even in its present amended state, must be considered as a very great bar to improvement; and in its former state, when the time was unlimited and the sale of estates in this way was more frequent, it seems as if it must have been a most complete obstacle to the melioration of farms, and obviously accounts for the very slow increase of population in Norway for many centuries.
A further difficulty in the way of clearing and cultivating the land arises from the fears of the great timber merchants respecting the woods. When a farm has been divided among children and grandchildren, as each proprietor has a certain right in the woods, each in general endeavours to cut as much as he can; and the timber is thus felled before it is fit, and the woods spoiled. To prevent this, the merchants buy large tracts of woods of the farmers, who enter into a contract, that the farm shall not be any further subdivided or more housemen placed upon it; at least that, if the number of families be increased, they should have no right in the woods. It is said, that the merchants who make these purchases are not very strict, provided the smaller farmers and housemen do not take timber for their houses. The farmers who sell these tracts of wood are obliged by law, to reserve to themselves the right of pasturing their cattle, and of cutting timber sufficient for their houses, repairs, and firing.
A piece of ground round a houseman's dwelling cannot be enclosed for cultivation, without an application, first, to the proprietors of the woods, declaring, that the spot is not fit for timber; and afterwards to a magistrate of the district, whose leave on this occasion is also necessary, probably for the purpose of ascertaining, whether the leave of the proprietor had been duly obtained.
In addition to these obstacles to improved cultivation, which may be considered as artificial, the nature of the country presents an insuperable obstacle to a cultivation and population in any respect proportioned to the surface of the soil. The Norwegians, though not in a nomadic state, are still in a considerable degree in the pastoral state, and depend very much upon their cattle. The high grounds that border on the mountains, are absolutely unfit to bear corn; and the only use, to which they can be put, is to pasture cattle upon them for three or four months during the summer. The farmers accordingly send all their cattle to these grounds at this time of the year, under the care of a part of their families; and it is here, that they make all their butter and cheese for sale, or for their own consumption. The great difficulty is to support their cattle during the long winter, and for this purpose it is necessary, that a considerable proportion of the most fertile land in the vallies should be mowed for hay. If too much of it were taken into tillage, the number of cattle must be proportionably diminished, and the greatest part of the higher grounds would become absolutely useless; and it might be a question in that case, whether the country upon the whole would support a greater population.
Notwithstanding, however, all these obstacles, there is a very considerable capacity of improvement in Norway, and of late years it had been called into action. I heard it remarked by a professor at Copenhagen, that the reason why the agriculture of Norway had advanced so slowly was, that there were no gentlemen farmers to set examples of improved cultivation, and break the routine of ignorance and prejudice in the conduct of farms, that had been handed down from father to son for successive ages. From what I saw of Norway I should say, that this want is now in some degree supplied. Many intelligent merchants, and well informed general officers, are at present engaged in farming. In the country round Christiana, very great improvements have taken place in the system of agriculture; and even in the neighbourhood of Drontheim the culture of artificial grasses has been introduced, which, in a country where so much winter feed is necessary for cattle, is a point of the highest importance. Almost every where the cultivation of potatoes has succeeded, and they are growing more and more into general use, though in the distant parts of the country they are not yet relished by the common people.
It has been more the custom of late years than formerly to divide farms; and as the vent for commodities in Norway is not perhaps sufficient to encourage the complete cultivation of large farms, this division of them has probably contributed to the improvement of the land. It seems indeed to be universally agreed, among those who are in a situation to be competent judges, that the agriculture of Norway in general has advanced considerably of late years; and the registers show, that the population has followed with more than equal pace. On an average of ten years, from 1775 to 1784, the proportion of births to deaths was 141 to 100.7 But this seems to have been rather too rapid an increase; as the following year, 1785, was a year of scarcity and sickness, in which the deaths considerably exceeded the births; and for four years afterwards, particularly in 1789, the excess of births was great. But in five years from 1789 to 1794, proportion of births and deaths was nearly to 100.8
Many of the most thinking and best informed persons express their apprehensions on this subject, and on the probable result of the new regulations respecting the enrolments of the army, and the apparent intention of the court of Denmark to encourage at all events the population. No very unfavourable season has occurred in Norway since 1785; but it is feared that, in the event of such a season, the most severe distress might be felt from the rapid increase that has of late taken place.
Norway is, I believe, almost the only country in Europe where a traveller will hear any apprehensions expressed of a redundant population, and where the danger to the happiness of the lower classes of people from this cause is in some degree seen and understood. This obviously arises from the smallness of the population altogether, and the consequent narrowness of the subject. If our attention were confined to one parish, and there were no power of emigrating from it, the most careless observer could not fail to remark that, if all married at twenty, it would be perfectly impossible for the farmers, however carefully they might improve their land, to find employment and food for those that would grow up; but when a great number of these parishes are added together in a populous kingdom, the largeness of the subject, and the power of moving from place to place, obscure and confuse our view. We lose sight of a truth, which before appeared completely obvious; and in a most unaccountable manner, attribute to the aggregate quantity of land a power of supporting people beyond comparison greater than the sum of all its parts.
Book II, Chapter II
Of the Checks to Population in Sweden.
Sweden, in many respects, in a state similar to that of Norway. A very large proportion of its population is in the same manner employed in agriculture; and in most parts of the country the married labourers who work for the farmers, like the housemen of Norway, have a certain portion of land for their principal maintenance; while the young men and women that are unmarried live as servants in the farmers' families. This state of things however is not so complete and general as in Norway; and from this cause, added to the greater extent and population of the country, the superior size of the towns and the greater variety of employment, it has not occasioned in the same degree the prevalence of the preventive check to population; and consequently the positive check has operated with more force, or the mortality has been greater.
According to a paper published by M. Wargentin in the Mémoires abrégés de l'Académie Royale des Sciences de Stockholm,9 the yearly average mortality in all Sweden, for nine years ending in 1663, was to the population as 1 to 34¾.10 M. Wargentin furnished Dr. Price with a continuation of these tables; and an average of 21 years gives a result of 1 to 34 3/5; nearly the same.11 This is undoubtedly a very great mortality, considering the large proportion of the population in Sweden which is employed in agriculture. It appears, from some calculations in Cantzlaer's account of Sweden, that the inhabitants of the towns are to the inhabitants of the country only as 1 to 13;12 whereas in well-peopled countries, the proportion is often as 1 to 3, or above.13 The superior mortality of towns therefore cannot much affect the general proportion of deaths in Sweden.
The average mortality of villages according to Sussmilch is 1 in 40.14 In Prussia and Pomerania, which include a number of great and unhealthy towns, and where the inhabitants of the towns are to the inhabitants of the country as 1 to 4, the mortality is less than 1 in 37.15 The mortality in Norway, as has been mentioned before, is 1 in 48, which is in a very extraordinary degree less than in Sweden, though the inhabitants of the towns in Norway bear a greater proportion to the inhabitants of the country than in Sweden.16 The towns in Sweden are indeed larger and more unhealthy than in Norway; but there is no reason to think that the country is naturally more unfavourable to the duration of human life. The mountains of Norway are in general not habitable. The only peopled parts of the country are the valleys. Many of these valleys are deep and narrow clefts in the mountains; and the cultivated spots in the bottom, surrounded as they are by almost perpendicular cliffs of a prodigious height,17 which intercept the rays of the sun for many hours, do not seem as if they could be so healthy as the more exposed and drier soil of Sweden.
It is difficult therefore entirely to account for the mortality of Sweden, without supposing that the habits of the people, and the continual cry of the government for an increase of subjects, tend to press the population too hard against the limits of subsistence, and consequently to produce diseases, which are the necessary effect of poverty and bad nourishment; and this, from observation, appears to be really the case.
Sweden does not produce food sufficient for its population. Its annual want in the article of grain, according to a calculation made from the years 1768 and 1772, is 440,000 tuns.18 This quantity or near it, has in general been imported from foreign countries, besides pork, butter and cheese to a considerable amount.19
The distillation of spirits in Sweden is supposed to consume above 400,000 tuns of grain; and when this distillation has been prohibited by government, a variation in defect appears in the tables of importations;20 but no great variations in excess are observable to supply the deficiencies in years of scanty harvests, which it is well known occur frequently. In years the most abundant, when the distillation has been free, it is asserted that 388,000 tuns have in general been imported.21 It follows therefore that the Swedes consume all the produce of their best years, and nearly 400,000 more; and that in their worst years their consumption must be diminished by nearly the whole deficiency in their crops. The mass of the people appears to be too poor to purchase nearly the same quantity of corn at a very advanced price. There is no adequate encouragement therefore to corn merchants to import in great abundance; and the effect of a deficiency of one-fourth or one-third in the crops is, to oblige the labourer to content himself with nearly three-fourths or two-thirds of the corn which he used before, and to supply the rest by the use of any substitutes, which Necessity, the mother of Invention, may suggest. I have said nearly; because it is difficult to suppose that the importations should not be something greater in years of scarcity than in common years, though no marked difference of this kind appears in the tables published by Cantzlaer. The greatest importation, according to these; tables, was in the year 1768, when it amounted to 590,265 tuns of grain;22 but even this greatest importation is only 150,000 tuns above the average wants of the country; and what is this, to supply a deficiency of one-fourth or one-third of a crop? The whole importation is indeed in this respect trifling.
The population of Sweden, at the time when Cantzlaer wrote, was about two millions and a half.23 He allows four tuns of grain to a man.24 Upon this supposition the annual wants of Sweden would be ten millions of tuns, and four or five hundred thousand would go but a little way in supplying a deficiency of two millions and a half or three millions; and if we take only the difference from the average importation it will appear that the assistance which the Swedes receive from importation in a year of scarcity is perfectly futile.
The consequence of this state of things is, that the population of Sweden is in a peculiar manner affected by every variation of the seasons; and we cannot be surprised at a very curious and instructive remark of M. Wargentin, that the registers of Sweden shew that the births, marriages and deaths increase and decrease according to the state of the harvests. From the nine years of which he had given tables, he instances the following:
Here it appears that in the year 1760 the births were to the deaths as 15 to 10; but in the year 1758 only as 11 to 10. By referring to the enumerations of the population in 1757 and 1760,26 which M. Wargentin has given, it appears that the number of marriages in the year 1760 in proportion to the whole population was as 1 to 101; in the year 1757, only as 1 to about 124. The deaths in 1760 were to the whole population as 1 to 39, in 1757 as 1 to 32, and in 1758 as 1 to 31.
In some observations on the Swedish registers, M. Wargentin says that in the unhealthy years about 1 in 29 have died annually, and in the healthy years one in 39; and that taking a middle term the average mortality might be considered at 1 in 36.27 But this inference does not appear to be just; as a mean between 29 and 39 would give 34; and indeed the tables, which he has himself brought forward, contradict an average mortality of 1 in 36, and prove that it is about 1 in 34¾.
The proportion of yearly marriages to the whole population appears to be on an average nearly as 1 to 112, and to vary between the extremes of 1 to 101, and 1 to 124, according to the temporary prospect of a support for a family. Probably indeed it varies between much greater extremes, as the period from which these calculations are made is merely for nine years.
In another paper which M. Wargentin published in the same collection, he again remarks that in Sweden the years, which are the most fruitful in produce, are the most fruitful in children.28
If accurate observations were made in other countries, it is highly probable that differences of the same kind would appear, though not to the same extent.29 With regard to Sweden, they clearly prove that its population has a very strong tendency to increase; and that it is not only always ready to follow with the greatest alertness any average increase in the means of subsistence, but that it makes a start forwards at every temporary and occasional increase of food; by which means it is continually going beyond the average increase, and is repressed by the periodical returns of severe want, and the diseases arising from it.
Yet notwithstanding this constant and striking tendency to overflowing numbers, strange to say! the government and the political economists of Sweden are continually calling, out for population! population! Cantzlaer observes, that the government, not having the power of inducing strangers to settle in the country, or of augmenting at pleasure the number of births, has occupied itself since 1748 in every measure which appeared proper to increase the population of the country.30 But suppose that the government really possessed the power of inducing strangers to settle, or of increasing the number of births at pleasure, what would be the consequence? If the strangers were not such as to introduce a better system of agriculture they would either be starved themselves, or cause more of the Swedes to be starved; and if the yearly number of births were considerably increased, it appears to me perfectly clear, from the tables of M. Wargentin, that the principal effect would be merely an increase of mortality. The actual population might perhaps even be diminished by it; as, when epidemics have once been generated by bad nourishment and crowded houses, they do not always stop when they have taken off the redundant population, but take off with a part, and sometimes a very considerable part, of that which the country might be able properly to support.
In all very northern climates, in which the principal business of agriculture must necessarily be compressed into the small space of a few summer months, it will almost inevitably happen that during this period a want of hands is felt; but, this temporary want should be carefully distinguished from a real, and effectual demand for labour, which includes the power of giving employment and support through the whole year, and not merely for two or three months. The population of Sweden in the natural course of its increase will always be ready fully to answer this effectual demand; and a supply beyond it, whether from strangers or an additional number of births, can only be productive of misery.
It is asserted by Swedish authors that a given number of men and of days produces in Sweden only a third part of what is produced by the same number of each in some other countries;31 and heavy accusations are in consequence brought against the national industry. Of the general grounds for such accusations, a stranger cannot be a competent judge; but in the present instance it appears to me that more ought to be attributed to the climate and soil than to an actual want of industry in the natives. For a large portion of the year their exertions are necessarily cramped by the severity of the climate; and during the time when they are able to engage in agricultural operations, the natural indifference of the soil and the extent of surface required for a given produce, inevitably employ a greater proportional quantity of labour. It is well known in England that a farm of large extent, consisting of a poor soil, is worked at a much greater expense for the same produce than a small one of rich land. The natural poverty of the soil in Sweden, generally speaking, cannot be denied.32
In a journey up the western side of the country, and afterwards in crossing it from Norway to Stockholm, and thence up the eastern coast to the passage over to Finland, I confess that I saw fewer marks of a want of national industry than I should have expected: As far as I could judge, I very seldom saw any land uncultivated, which would have been cultivated in England; and I certainly saw many spots of land in tillage, which never would have been touched with a plough here. These were lands in which every five or ten yards there were large stones or rocks, round which the plough must necessarily be turned, or be lifted over them; and the one or the other is generally done according to their size. The plough is very light, and drawn by one horse; and in ploughing among the stumps of the trees when they are low, the general practice is to lift it over them. The man who holds the plough does this very nimbly, with little or no stop to the horse:
Of the value of those lands for tillage, which are at present covered with immense forests, I could be no judge; but both the Swedes and the Norwegians are accused of clearing these woods away too precipitately, and without previously considering what is likely to be the real value of the land when cleared. The consequence is, that for the sake of one good crop of rye; which may always be obtained from the manure afforded by the ashes of the burnt trees, much growing timber is sometimes spoiled, and the land perhaps afterwards becomes almost entirely useless. After the crop of rye has been obtained, the common practice is to turn cattle in upon the grass, which may accidentally grow up. If the land be naturally good, the feeding of the cattle prevents fresh firs from rising; but if it be bad, the cattle of course, cannot remain long in it, and the seeds, with which, every wind is surcharged, sow the ground again thickly with firs.
On observing many spots of this kind both in Norway and Sweden, I could not help being struck with the idea, that, though for other reasons it was very little probable, such appearances certainly made it seem possible that these countries might have been better peopled formerly than at present; and that lands, which are now covered with forests, might have produced corn a thousand years ago. Wars, plagues, or that greater depopulator than either, a tyrannical government, might have suddenly destroyed or expelled the greatest part of the inhabitants; and a neglect of the land for twenty or thirty years in Norway or Sweden would produce a very strange difference in the face of the country. But this is merely an idea which I could not help mentioning, but which the reader already knows has not had weight enough with me to make me suppose the fact in any degree probable.
To return to the agriculture of Sweden. Independently of any deficiency in the national industry, there are certainly some circumstances in the political regulations of the country which tend to impede the natural progress of its cultivation. There are still some burdensome Corvées remaining, which the possessors of certain lands are obliged to perform for the domains of the crown.33 The posting of the country is undoubtedly very cheap and convenient to the traveller; but it is conducted in a manner to occasion a great waste of labour to the farmer, both in men and horses. It is calculated by the Swedish economists that the labour, which would be saved by the abolition of this system alone, would produce annually 300,000 tuns of grain.34 The very great distance of the markets in Sweden, and the very incomplete division of labour, which is almost a necessary consequence of it, occasion also a great waste of time and exertion. And if there be no marked want of diligence and activity among the Swedish peasants, there is certainly a want of knowledge as to the best modes of regulating the rotation of their crops, and of manuring and improving their lands.35
If the government were employed in removing these impediments, and in endeavours to encourage and direct the industry of the farmers, and to circulate the best information on agricultural subjects, it would do much more for the population of the country than by the establishment of five hundred foundling hospitals.
According to Cantzlaer, the principal measures in which the government had been engaged for the encouragement of the population, were the establishment of colleges of medicine, and of lying-in and foundling hospitals.36 The establishment of colleges of medicine for the cure of the poor gratis, may, in many cases, be extremely beneficial, and was so probably in the particular circumstances of Sweden; but the example of the hospitals of France, which have the same object, may create a doubt whether even such establishments are universally to be recommended. Lying-in hospitals, as far as they have an effect, are probably rather prejudicial than otherwise; as, according to the principle on which they are generally conducted, their tendency is certainly to encourage vice. Foundling hospitals, whether they attain their professed and immediate object or not, are in every view hurtful to the state; but the mode in which they operate I shall have occasion to discuss more particularly in another chapter.
The Swedish government, however, has not been exclusively employed in measures of this nature. By an edict in 1776, the commerce of grain was rendered completely free throughout the whole interior of the country; and with regard to the province of Scania, which grows more than its consumption, exportation free of every duty was allowed.37 Till this period the agriculture of the southern provinces had been checked by the want of vent for their grain, on account of the difficulty of transport, and the absolute prohibition of selling it to foreigners at any price. The northern provinces are still under some difficulties in this respect; though, as they never grow a quantity sufficient for their consumption, these difficulties are not so much felt.38 It may be observed however, in general, that there is no check more fatal to improving cultivation than any difficulty in the vent of its produce, which prevents the farmer from being able to obtain in good years a price for his corn not much below the general average.
But what perhaps has contributed more than any other cause to the increasing population of Sweden is the abolition of a law in 1748, which limited the number of persons to each henman or farm.39 The object of this law appears to have been, to force the children of the proprietors to undertake the clearing and cultivation of fresh lands, by which it was thought that the whole country would be sooner improved. But it appears from experience that these children, being without sufficient funds for such undertakings, were obliged to seek their fortune in some other way; and great numbers, in consequence, are said to have emigrated. A father may now, however, not only divide his landed property into as many shares as he thinks proper, but these divisions are particularly recommended by the government; and considering the immense size of the Swedish henmans, and the impossibility of their being cultivated completely by one family, such divisions must in every point of view be highly useful.
The population of Sweden in 1751 was 2,229,661.40 In 1799, according to an account which I received in Stockholm from Professor Nicander, the successor to M. Wargentin, it was 3,043,731. This is a very considerable addition to the permanent population of the country, which has followed a proportional increase in the produce of the soil, as the imports of corn are not greater than they were formerly, and there is no reason to think that the condition of the people is, on an average, worse.
This increase, however, has not gone forwards without periodical checks, which, if they have not for a time entirely stopped its progress, have always retarded the rate of it. How often these checks have recurred during the last fifty years, I am not furnished with sufficient data to be able to say; but I can mention some of them. From the paper of M. Wargentin,41 already quoted in this chapter, it appears that the years 1757 and 1758 were barren, and comparatively mortal years. If we were to judge from the increased importation of 1768,42 this would also appear to be an unproductive year. According to the additional tables with which M. Wargentin furnished Dr. Price, the years 1771, 1772 and 1773, were particularly mortal.43 The year 1759 must have been very highly so, as in the accounts which received from Professor Nicander, this year alone materially affected the average proportion of births to deaths for the twenty years ending in 1795. This proportion, including the year 1789, was 100 to 77; but abstracting it, was 100 to 75; which is a great difference for one year to make in an average of twenty. To conclude the catalogue, the year 1799, when I was in Sweden must have been a very fatal one. In the provinces bordering on Norway, the peasants called it the worst that they had ever remembered. The cattle had all suffered extremely during the winter, from the drought of the preceding year; and in July, about a month before the harvest, a considerable portion of the people was living upon bread made of the inner bark of the fir, and of dried sorrel, absolutely without any mixture of meal to make it more palatable and nourishing. The sallow looks and melancholy countenances of the peasants betrayed the unwholesomeness of their nourishment. Many had died; but the full effects of such a diet had not then been felt. They would probably appear afterwards in the form of some epidemic sickness.
The patience, with which the lower classes of people in Sweden bear these severe pressures is perfectly astonishing, and can only arise from their being left entirely to their own resources, and from the belief that they are submitting to the great law of necessity, and not to the caprices of their rulers. Most of the married labourers, as has before been observed, cultivate a small portion of land; and when, from an unfavourable season, their crops fail, or their cattle die, they see the cause of their want, and bear it as the visitation of Providence. Every man will submit with becoming patience to evils which he believes to arise from the general laws of nature; but when the vanity and mistaken benevolence of the government and the higher classes of society have, by a perpetual interference with the concerns of the lower classes, endeavoured to persuade them, that all the good which they enjoy is conferred upon them by their rulers and rich benefactors, it is very natural that they should attribute all the evil which they suffer to the same sources; and patience under such circumstances cannot reasonably be expected. Though to avoid still greater evils, we may be allowed to repress this impatience by force, if it shew itself in overt acts; yet the impatience itself appears to be clearly justified in this case: and those are in a great degree answerable for its consequences, whose conduct has tended evidently to encourage it.
Though the Swedes had supported the severe dearth of 1799 with extraordinary resignation; yet afterwards, on an edict of the government to prohibit the distillation of spirits, it is said that there were considerable commotions in the country. The measure itself was certainly calculated to benefit the people; and the manner in which it was received, affords a curious proof of the different temper with which people bear an evil arising from the laws of nature, or a privation caused by the edicts of a government.
The sickly periods in Sweden, which have retarded the rate of its increase in population, appear in general to have arisen from the unwholesome nourishment occasioned by severe want. And this want has been caused by unfavourable seasons, falling upon a country which was without any reserved store, either in its general exports or in the liberal division of food to the labourer in common years; and which was therefore peopled fully up to its produce, before the occurrence of the scanty harvest. Such a state of things is a clear proof that, if, as some of the Swedish economists assert, their country ought to have a population of nine or ten millions,44 they have nothing further to do than to make it produce food sufficient for such a number; and they may rest perfectly assured that they will not want mouths to eat it, without the assistance of lying-in and foundling hospitals.
Notwithstanding the mortal year of 1789, it appeared from the accounts which I received from professor Nicander, that the general healthiness of the country had increased. The average mortality for the twenty years ending 1795 was 1 in 37, instead of 1 in less than 35, which had been the average of the preceding twenty years. As the rate of increase had not been accelerated in the twenty years ending in 1795, the diminished mortality must have been occasioned by the increased operation of the preventive check. Another calculation which I received from the professor seemed to confirm this supposition. According to M. Wargentin, as quoted by Sussmilch,45 5 standing marriages produced yearly 1 child; but in the latter period; the proportion of standing marriages to annual births was as 5 1/10, and subtracting illegitimate children, as 5 3/10 to 1; a proof that in the latter period the marriages had not been quite so early and so prolific.
From subsequent accounts it appears that the healthiness of Sweden has continued to increase, from which we may fairly infer that the condition, of the mass of the people has been improving.
In all Sweden and Finland during the five years ending with 1805, the mean number of the living at all ages was, males 1,564,611; females 1,683,457; both, 2,348,068. Annual average deaths of males 40,147; of females 39,266; that is, the annual mortality of males was 1 of 38.97 38.97; of females 1 of 42.87; mean, 1 of 40.92.46
The annual average births of males were 55,119; of females 52,762; both, 107,882; that is, the proportion of male births to the male population was 1 of 28.38; of female births to the female population 1 of 31.92; mean, 1 of 30.15.
From a valuable table formed by Mr. Milne on these and other data, it appears that, according to the law of mortality which prevailed in Sweden during the five years ending with 1805, the expectation of life at birth would be for males 37.820, for females 41.019; both, 39.385: and that half of the males would live to very nearly 43 years of age, half of the females nearly to 48 years of age, and half of all the births taken together to 45 years.
A proportion of births as 1 to 30.15, and of deaths as 1 to 40.92, would give a yearly excess of births to the population, as 1 to 114.5, which, if continued, would (according to Table II. at the end of Ch. xi. Bk. ii.) give a rate of increase such as to double the population in less than 80 years.
In the Revue Encyclopédique for March, 1825, a short account is given of the result of a commission to inquire into the progress of population in Sweden since 1748, from which it appears, that Sweden properly so called, exclusive of Finland, contained then 1,736,483 inhabitants; in 1773, 1,958,797; in 1798, 2,352,298; and in 1823, 2,687,457. In 1823, there had been 56,054 deaths, and 98,259 births. The excess of the births in that year alone was therefore 42,205, and it is stated that, supposing the same excess in the next year, 1824, the average annual excess of the last fifteen years would be 23,333. This would be in the proportion of 1 to 108 of the average population, an excess which, if continued, would double the population in about 75 years. According to the foregoing numbers, the proportion of the births to the population was in 1823 as 1 to 27.3, of the deaths as 1 to 47.9. The healthiness of the country, therefore, and the rate of its increase in population, has continued to advance since 1805. This increase is attributed to the progress of agriculture and industry, and the practice of vaccination.
The gradual diminution of mortality since the middle of the last century is very striking.
Book II, Chapter III
Of the Checks to Population in Russia.
The lists of births, deaths and marriages in Russia, present such extraordinary results that it is impossible not to receive them with a considerable degree of suspicion; at the same time the regular manner in which they have been collected, and their agreement with each other in different years, entitle them to attention.
In a paper presented in 1768, by B. F. Herman, to the academy of Petersburg, and published in the Nova Acta Academiæ, tom. iv., a comparison is made of the births, deaths and marriages in the different provinces and towns of the empire, and the following proportions are given:
Some of these proportions it will be observed are extraordinarily high. In Veronesch, for instance, the births are to the deaths nearly as 3 to 1, which is as great a proportion, I believe, as ever was known in America. The average result however of these proportions has been, in some degree, confirmed by subsequent observations. Mr. Tooke, in his View of the Russian Empire, makes the general proportion of births to burials throughout the whole country, as 225 to 100,47 which is 2¼ to 1; and this proportion is taken from the lists of 1793.48
From the number of yearly marriages, and yearly births, M. Herman draws the following conclusions:
M. Herman observes that the fruitfulness of marriages in Russia does not exceed that of other countries, though the mortality is much less, as appears from the following proportions drawn from a rough calculation of the number of inhabitants in, each government:
It may be concluded, M. Herman says, that in the greatest number of the Russian provinces the yearly mortality is 1 in 60.49
This average number is so high, and some of the proportions in the particular provinces are so extraordinary, that it is impossible to believe them accurate. They have been nearly confirmed, however, by subsequent lists, which, according to Mr. Tooke, make the general mortality in all Russia 1 in 58.50 But Mr. Tooke himself seems to doubt the accuracy of this particular department of the registers; and I have since heard, from good authority, that there is reason to believe that the omissions in the burials are in all the provinces much greater than the omissions in the births; and consequently that the very great excess of births, and very small mortality, are more apparent than real. It is supposed that many children, particularly in the Ukraine, are privately interred by their fathers without information to the priest. The numerous and repeated levies of recruits take off great numbers, whose deaths are not recorded. From the frequent emigrations of whole families to different parts of the empire and the transportation of malefactors to Siberia, great numbers necessarily die on journeys or in parts where no regular lists are kept; and some omissions are attributed to the neglect of the parish priests, who have an interest in recording the births but not the deaths.
To these reasons I should add, that the population of each province is probably estimated by the number of boors belonging to each estate in it; but it is well known that a great part of them have leave to reside in the towns. Their births therefore appear in the province, but their deaths do not. The apparent mortality of the towns is not proportionably increased by this emigration, because it is estimated according to actual enumeration. The bills of mortality in the towns express correctly the numbers dying out of a certain number known to be actually present in these towns; but the bills of mortality in the provinces, purporting to express the numbers dying out of the estimated population of the province, do really only express the numbers dying out of a much smaller population, because a considerable part of the estimated population is absent.
In Petersburg, it appeared by an enumeration in 1784, that the number of males was 126,827, and of females only 65,619.51 The proportion of males was therefore very nearly double, arising from the numbers who came to the town to earn their capitation tax, leaving their families in the country, and from the custom among the nobles of retaining a prodigious number of their boors as household servants in Petersburg and Moscow.
The number of births in proportion to the whole population in Russia is not different from a common average in other countries, being about 1 in 26.52
According to the paper of M. Herman already quoted, the proportion of boys dying within the first year is at Petersburg 1/5, in the government of Tobolsk 1/10, in the town of Tobolsk 1/3, in the Archbishopric of Vologda 1/14, in Novogorod 3/31, in Voronesch 1/24, in Archangel 1/5. The very small mortality of infants in some of these provinces, particularly as the calculation does not seem to be liable to much error, makes the smallness of the general mortality more credible. In Sweden throughout the whole country, the proportion of infants which die within the first year is 1/5 or more.53
The proportion of yearly marriages in Russia to the whole population is, according to M. Herman, in the towns, about 1 in 100, and in the provinces about 1 in 70 or 80. According to Mr. Tooke, in the fifteen governments of which he had lists, the proportion was 1 in 92.54
This is not very different from other countries. In Petersburg indeed the proportion was 1 in 140;55 but this is clearly accounted for by what has already been said of the extraordinary number of the males in comparison of the females.
The registers for the city of Petersburg are supposed to be such as can be entirely depended upon; and these tend to prove the general salubrity of the climate. But there is one fact recorded in them, which is directly contrary to what has been observed in all other countries. This is a much greater mortality of female children than of male. In the period from 1781 to 1785, of 1000 boys born 147 only died within the first year, but of the same number of girls 310.56 The proportion is as 10 to 21, which is inconceivable, and must indeed have been in some measure accidental, as in the preceding periods the proportion was only as 10 to 14; but even this is very extraordinary, as it has been generally remarked, that in every stage of life, except during the period of childbearing, the mortality among females is less than among males. The climate of Sweden does not appear to be very different from that of Russia; and M. Wargentin observes, with respect to the Swedish tables, that it appears from them that the smaller mortality of females is not merely owing to a more regular and less laborious life, but is a natural law, which operates constantly from infancy to old age.57
According to M. Krafft,58 the half of all that are born at Petersburg live to 25; which shews a degree of healthiness in early life very unusual for so large a town; but after twenty, a mortality much greater than in any other town in Europe takes place, which is justly attributed to the immoderate use of brandy.59 The mortality between 10 and 15 is so small, that only 1 in 47 males, and 1 in 29 females, die during this period. From 20 to 25 the mortality is so great, that 1 in 9 males and 1 in 13 females die. The tables show that this extraordinary mortality is occasioned principally by pleurisies, high fevers, and consumptions. Pleurisies destroy ¼, high fevers 1/3, and consumptions 1/6, of the whole population. The three together take off 5/7 of all that die.
The general mortality during the period from 1781 to 1785 was, according to M. Krafft, 1 in 37. In a former period it had been 1 in 35, and in a subsequent period, when epidemic diseases prevailed, it was 1 in 29.60 This average mortality is small for a large town; but there is reason to think, from a passage in M. Krafft's memoir,61 that the deaths in the hospitals, the prisons, and in the Maison des Enfans trouvés, are either entirely omitted, or not given with correctness; and undoubtedly the insertion of these deaths might make a great difference in the apparent healthiness of the town.
In the Maison des Enfans trouvés alone the mortality is prodigious. No regular lists are published, and verbal communications are always liable to some uncertainty. I cannot therefore rely upon the information which I collected on the subject; but from the most careful inquiries which I could make of the attendants at the house in Petersburg, I understood that 100 a month was the common average. In the preceding winter, which was the winter of 1788, it had not been uncommon to bury 18 a day. The average number received in the day is about 10; and though they are all sent into the country to be nursed three days after they have been in the house, yet, as many of them are brought in a dying state, the mortality must necessarily be great. The number said to be received appears, indeed, almost incredible; but from what I saw myself, I should be inclined to believe, that both this and the mortality before mentioned might not be far from the truth. I was at the house about noon, and four children had been just received, one of which was evidently dying, and another did not seem as if it would long survive.
A part of the house is destined to the purpose of a lying-in hospital, where every woman that comes is received, and no questions are asked. The children thus born are brought up by nurses in the house, and are not sent into the country like the others. A mother, if she choose it, may perform the office of nurse to her own child in the house, but is not permitted to take it away with her. A child brought to the house may at any time be reclaimed by its parents, if they can prove themselves able to support it; and all the children are marked and numbered on being received, that they may be known and produced to, the parents when required, who, if they cannot reclaim them, are permitted to visit them.
The country nurses receive only two roubles a month, which, as the current paper rouble is seldom worth more than half a crown, is only about fifteen pence a week; yet the general expenses are said to be 100,000 roubles a month. The regular revenues belonging to the institution are not nearly equal to this sum; but the government takes on itself the management of the whole affair, and consequently bears all the additional expenses. As children are received without any limit, it is absolutely necessary that the expenses should also be unlimited. It is evident that the most dreadful evils must result from an unlimited reception of children, and only a limited fund to support then. Such institutions, therefore, if managed properly, that is, if the extraordinary mortality do not prevent the rapid accumulation of expense, cannot exist long except under the protection of a very rich government; and even under such protection the period of their failure cannot be very distant.
At six or seven years old the children who have been sent into the country return to the house, where they are taught all sorts of trades and manual operations. The common hours of working are from 6 to 12, and from 2 till 4. The girls leave the house at 18, and the boys at 20 or 21. When the house is too full, some of those which have been sent into the country are not brought back.
The principal mortality, of course, takes place among the infants who are just received, and the children which are brought up in the house; but there is a considerable mortality amongst those who are returned from the country, and are in the firmest stages of life. I was in some degree surprised at hearing this, after having been particularly struck with the extraordinary degree of neatness, cleanliness and sweetness, which appeared to prevail in every department. The house itself had been a palace, and all the rooms were large, airy, and even elegant. I was present while 180 boys were dining. They were all dressed very neatly; the table-cloth was clean, and each had a separate napkin to himself. The provisions appeared to be extremely good, and, there was not the smallest disagreeable smell in the room. In the dormitories there was a separate bed for each child; the bedsteads were of iron without tester or curtains, and the coverlids and sheets particularly clean.
This degree of neatness, almost inconceivable in a large institution, was to be attributed principally to the present Empress Dowager, who interested herself in all the details of the management and, when at Petersburg, seldom passed a week without inspecting them in person. The mortality which takes place in spite of all these attentions, is a clear proof, that the constitution in early youth cannot support confinement and work for eight hours in the day. The children had all rather a pale and sickly countenance, and if a judgment had been formed of the national beauty from the girls and boys in this establishment, it would have been most unfavourable.
It is evident, that, if the deaths belonging to this institution be omitted, the bills of mortality for Petersburg cannot give a representation in any degree near the truth of the real state of the city with respect to healthiness. At the same time it should be recollected, that some of the observations which attest its healthiness, such as the number dying in a thousand, 8c., are not influenced by this circumstance; unless indeed we say, what is perhaps true, that nearly all those who would find any difficulty in rearing their children send them to the foundling hospital; and the mortality among the children of those who are in easy circumstances, and live in comfortable houses and airy situations, will of course be much less than a general average taken from all that are born.
The Maison des Enfans trouvés at Moscow is conducted exactly upon the same principle as that at Petersburg; and Mr. Tooke gives an account of the surprising loss of children, which it had sustained in twenty years, from the time of its first establishment to the year 1786. On this occasion he observes that if we knew precisely the number of those who died immediately after reception, or who brought in with them the germ of dissolution, a small part only of the mortality would probably appear to be fairly attributable to the foundling hospital; as none would be so unreasonable as to lay the loss of these certain victims to death to the account of a philanthropic institution, which enriches the country from year to year with an ever-increasing number of healthy, active, and industrious burghers.62
It appears to me, however, that the greatest part of this premature mortality is clearly to be attributed to these institutions, miscalled philanthropic. If any reliance can be placed on the accounts which are given of the infant mortality in the Russian towns and provinces, it would appear to be unusually small. The greatness of it, therefore, at the foundling hospitals, may justly be laid to the account of institutions which encourage a mother to desert her child, at the very time when of all others it stands most in need of her fostering care. The frail tenure by which an infant holds its life will not allow of a remitted attention, even for a few hours.
The surprising mortality which takes place at these two foundling hospitals of Petersburg and Moscow, which are managed in the best possible manner, (as all who have seen them with one consent assert,) appears to me incontrovertibly to prove, that the nature of these institutions is not calculated to answer the immediate end that they have in view; which I conceive to be the preservation of a certain number of citizens to the state who might otherwise perhaps perish from poverty or false shame. It is not to be doubted that if the children received into these hospitals had been left to the management of their parents, taking the chance of all the difficulties in which they might be involved, a much greater proportion of them would have reached the age of manhood, and have become useful members of the state.
When we look a little deeper into this subject, it will appear that these institutions not only fail in their immediate object, but by encouraging in the most marked manner habits of licentiousness, discourage marriage, and thus weaken the main spring of population. All the well-informed men, with whom I conversed on this subject at Petersburg, agreed invariably that the institution had produced this effect in a surprising degree. To have a child was considered as one of the most trifling faults which a girl could commit. An English merchant at Petersburg told me, that a Russian girl living in his family, under a mistress who was considered as very strict, had sent six children to the foundling hospital without the loss of her place.
It should be observed, however, that generally speaking six children are not common in this kind of intercourse. Where habits of licentiousness prevail, the births are never in the same proportion to the number of people as in the married state; and therefore the discouragement to marriage, arising from this licentiousness, and the diminished number of births, which is the consequence of it, will much more than counterbalance any encouragement to marriage from the prospect held out to parents of disposing of the children which they cannot support.
Considering the extraordinary mortality which occurs in these institutions, and the habits of licentiousness which they have an evident tendency to create, it may perhaps be truly said, that, if a person wished to check population, and were not solicitous about the means, he could not propose a more effectual measure, than the establishment of a sufficient number of foundling hospitals, unlimited as to their reception of children. And with regard to the moral feelings of a nation, it is difficult to conceive that they must not be sensibly impaired by encouraging mothers to desert their offspring, and endeavouring to teach them that their love for their new-born infants is a prejudice which it is the interest of their country to eradicate. An occasional child-murder from false shame, is saved at a very high price, if it can only be done by the sacrifice of some of the best and most useful feelings of the human heart in a great part of the nation.
On the supposition that foundling hospitals attained their proposed end, the state of slavery in Russia would perhaps render them more justifiable in that country than in any other; because every child brought up at the foundling hospitals becomes a free citizen, and in this capacity is likely to be more useful to the state than if it had merely increased the number of slaves belonging to an individual proprietor. But in countries not similarly circumstanced, the most complete success in institutions of this kind would be a glaring injustice to other parts of the society. The true encouragement to marriage is the high price of labour, and an increase of employments which require to be supplied with proper hands; but if the principal part of these employments, apprenticeships, 8c., be filled up by foundlings, the demand for labour among the legitimate part of the society must be proportionally diminished, the difficulty of supporting a family increased, and the best encouragement to marriage removed.
Russia has great natural resources. Its produce is, in its present state, above its consumption; and, it wants nothing but greater freedom of industrious exertion, and an adequate vent for its commodities in the interior parts of the country, to occasion an increase of population astonishingly rapid. The principal obstacle to this, is the vassalage, or rather slavery, of the peasants, and the ignorance and indolence which almost necessarily accompany such a state. The fortune of a Russian nobleman is measured by the number of boors that he possesses, which in general are saleable like cattle, and not adscripti glebæ. His revenue arises from a capitation tax on all the males. When the boors upon an estate are increasing, new divisions of land are made at certain intervals; and either more is taken into cultivation, or the old shares are subdivided. Each family is awarded such a portion of land as it can properly cultivate, and will enable it to pay the tax. It is evidently the interest of the boor not to improve his lands much, and appear to get considerably more than is necessary to support his family and pay the polltax; because the natural consequence will be, that in the next division which takes place, the farm which he before possessed will be considered as capable of supporting two families, and he will be deprived of the half of it. The indolent cultivation that such a state of things must produce is easily conceivable. When a boor is deprived of much of the land which he had before used, he makes complaints of inability to pay his tax, and demands permission for himself or his sons to go and earn it in the towns. This permission is in general eagerly sought after, and is granted without much difficulty by the Seigneurs, in consideration of a small increase of the poll-tax. The consequence is, that the lands in the country are left half cultivated, and the genuine spring of population impaired in its source.
A Russian nobleman at Petersburg, of whom I asked some questions respecting the management of his estate, told me, that he never troubled himself to inquire whether it was properly cultivated or not, which he seemed to consider as a matter in which he was not in the smallest degree concerned. Cela m'est égal, says he, cela me fait ni bien ni mal. He gave his boors permission to earn their tax how and where they liked, and as long as he received it he was satisfied. But it is evident that by this kind of conduct he sacrificed the future population of his estate, and the consequent future increase of his revenues, to considerations of indolence and present convenience.
It is certain, however, that of late years many noblemen have attended more to the improvement and population of their estates, instigated principally by the precepts and example of the empress Catharine, who made the greatest exertions to advance the cultivation of the country. Her immense importations of German settlers not only contributed to people her state with free citizens instead of slaves, but, what was perhaps of still more importance, to set an example of industry, and of modes of directing that industry, totally unknown to the Russian peasants.
These exertions have been attended, upon the whole, with great success; and it is not to be doubted that, during the reign of the late empress and since, a very considerable increase of cultivation and of population has been going forward in almost every part of the Russian empire.
In the year 1763, an enumeration of the people, estimated by the poll-tax, gave a population of 14,726,696; and the same kind of enumeration in 1783 gave a population of 25,677,000, which, if correct, shews a very extraordinary increase; but it is supposed that the enumeration in 1783 was more correct and complete than the one in 1763. Including the provinces not subject to the poll-tax, the general calculation for 1763 was 20,000,000, and for 1796, 36,000,000.63
In a subsequent edition of Mr. Tooke's View of the Russian Empire, a table of the births, deaths and marriages in the Greek church, is given for the year 1799, taken from a respectable German periodical publication, and faithfully extracted from the general returns received by the synod. It contains all the eparchies except Bruzlaw, which, from the peculiar difficulties attending a correct list of mortality in that eparchy, could not be inserted. The general results are,
To estimate the population Mr. Tooke multiplies the deaths by 58. But as this table has the appearance of being more correct than those which preceded it, and as the proportion of deaths compared with the births is greater in this table than in the others, it is probable that 58 is too great a multiplier. It may be observed, that in this table the births are to the deaths nearly as 183 to 100, the births to marriages as 385 to 100, and the deaths to the marriages as 210 to 100.
These are all more probable proportions than the results of the former tables.
The population of Russia, including the wandering tribes, and the acquired territories, was in 1822 estimated at 54,476,931. But the most interesting part of the population to examine, is that where lists of the births, deaths and marriages can be obtained.
The following table, which is given in the Encyclopædia Britannica, under the head of Russia, is formed from the reports published by the Synod, including only the members of the Orthodox Greek Church, the most numerous body of the people.
The population belonging to the Greek Church is estimated at 40,351,000.
If the average excess of the births above the deaths be applied to the 14 years ending with 1820, it will appear that, from this excess alone, the population had increased in that period, 8,064,616; and if the population in 1820 were 40,351,000, the population in 1806 was 32,286,384. Comparing the average excess of births with the average population during the 14 years, it will be found that the proportion is as 1 to 63, which (according to Table II. at the end of the 11th Chapter of this Book) would double the population in less than 44 years; a most rapid rate of increase.
The proportion of births to marriages is a little above 4½ to 1; of births to deaths, as 5 to 3; of marriages to the population, as 1 to 114; of births to the population as 1 to 25.2; and of deaths to the population, or the mortality, as 1 to 41.9.
Most of these proportions are essentially different from those mentioned in the earlier part of this chapter; but there is good reason to believe that they are more accurate; and they certainly accord better with the very rapid increase of population which is known to be going on in Russia.
The apparent increase of mortality is to be attributed rather to the former inaccuracy of the registers, than to increased unhealthiness. It is now allowed that the registers before 1796 were very imperfectly kept.
Book II, Chapter IV
Of the Checks to Population in the Middle Parts of Europe.
I have dwelt longer on the northern states of Europe than their relative importance might to some appear to demand, because their internal economy is in many respects essentially different from our own, and a personal though slight acquaintance with these countries has enabled me to mention a few particulars which have not yet been before the public. In the middle parts of Europe the division of labour, the distribution of employments and the proportion of the inhabitants of the country, differ so little from what is observable in England, that it would be in vain to seek for the checks to their population in any peculiarity of habits and manners sufficiently marked to admit of description. I shall therefore endeavour to direct the reader's attention principally to some inferences drawn from the lists of births, marriages and deaths in different countries; and these data will, in many important points, give us more information respecting their internal economy than we could receive from the most observing traveller.
One of the most curious and instructive points of view, in which we can consider lists of this kind, appears to me to be the dependence of the marriages on the deaths. It has been justly observed by Montesquieu, that, wherever there is a place for two persons to live comfortably, a marriage will certainly ensue:64 but in most of the countries in Europe, in the present state of their population, experience will not allow us to expect any sudden and great increase in the means of supporting a family. The place therefore for the new marriage must, in general, be made by the dissolution of an old one; and we find in consequence, that, except after some great mortality, from whatever cause it may have proceeded, or some sudden change of policy peculiarly favourable to cultivation and trade, the number of annual marriages is regulated principally by the number of annual deaths. They reciprocally influence each other. There are few countries in which the common people have so much foresight, as to defer marriage till they have a fair prospect of being able to support properly all their children. Some of the mortality therefore, in almost every country, is forced by the too great frequency of marriage; and in every country a great mortality, whether arising principally from this cause or occasioned by the number of great towns and manufactories and the natural unhealthiness of the situation, will necessarily produce a great frequency of marriage.
A most striking exemplification of this observation occurs in the case of some villages in Holland. Sussmilch has calculated the mean proportion of annual marriages compared with the number of inhabitants as between 1 in 107 and 1 in 113, in countries which have not been thinned by plagues or wars, or in which there is no sudden increase in the means of subsistence.65 And Crome, a later statistical writer, taking a mean between 1 in 92 and 1 in 122, estimates the average proportion of marriages to inhabitants as 1 to 108.66 But in the registers of 22 Dutch villages, the accuracy of which, according to Sussmilch, there is no reason to doubt, it appears that out of 64 persons there is 1 annual marriage.67 This is a most extraordinary deviation from the mean proportion. When I first saw this number mentioned, not having then adverted to the mortality in these villages, I was much astonished; and very little satisfied with Sussmilch's attempt to account for it, by talking of the great number of trades, and the various means of getting a livelihood in Holland;68 as it is evident that, the country having been long in the same state, there would be no reason to expect any great accession of new trades and new means of subsistence, and the old ones would of course all be full. But the difficulty was in a great measure solved, when it appeared that the mortality was between 1 in 22 and 1 in 23,69 instead of being 1 in 36, as is usual when the marriages are in the proportion of 1 to 108. The births and deaths were nearly equal. The extraordinary number of marriages was not caused by the opening of any new sources of subsistence, and therefore produced no increase of population. It was merely occasioned by the rapid dissolution of the old marriages by death, and the consequent vacancy of some employment by which a family could be supported.
It might be a question, in this case, whether the too great frequency of marriage, that is, the pressure of the population too hard against the limits of subsistence, contributed most to produce the mortality; or the mortality, occasioned naturally by the employments of the people and unhealthiness of the country, the frequency of marriage. In the present instance I should, without doubt, incline to the latter supposition; particularly as it seems to be generally agreed, that the common people in Holland before the Revolution were, upon the whole, in a good state. The great mortality probably arose partly from the natural marshiness of the soil and the number of canals, and partly from the very great proportion of the people engaged in sedentary occupations, and the very small number in the healthy employments of agriculture.
A very curious and striking contrast to these Dutch villages, tending to illustrate the present subject, will be recollected in what was said respecting the state of Norway. In Norway the mortality is 1 in 48, and the marriages are 1 in 130. In the Dutch villages the mortality 1 in 23, and the marriages 1 in 64. The difference both in the marriages and deaths is above double. They maintain their relative proportions in a very exact manner, and shew how much the deaths and marriages mutually depend upon each other; and that, except where some sudden start in the agriculture of a country enlarges the means of subsistence, an increase of marriages must be accompanied by an increase of mortality, and vice versâ.
In Russia this sudden start in agriculture has in a great measure taken place; and consequently, though the mortality is very small, yet the proportion of marriages is not so. But in the progress of the population of Russia, if the proportion of marriages remain the same as at present, the mortality will inevitably increase; or if the mortality remain nearly the same, the proportion of marriages will diminish.
Sussmilch has produced some striking instances of this gradual decrease in the proportional number of marriages, in the progress of a country to a greater degree of cleanliness, healthiness and population, and a more complete occupation of all the means of gaining a livelihood.
In the town of Halle, in the year 1700, the number of annual marriages was to the whole population as 1 to 77. During the course of the 55 following years, this proportion changed gradually, according to Sussmilch's calculation, to 1 in 167.70 This is a most extraordinary difference, and, if the calculation were quite accurate, would prove to what a degree the check to marriage had operated, and how completely it had measured itself to the means of subsistence. As however the number of people is estimated by calculation and not taken from enumerations, this very great difference in the proportions may not be perfectly correct, or may be occasioned in part by other causes.
In the town of Leipsic, in the year 1620, the annual marriages were to the population as 1 to 82; from the year 1741 to 1756 they were as 1 to 120.71
In Augsburg, in 1510, the proportion of marriages to the population was 1 to 86; in 1750 as 1 to 123.72
In Dantzic, in the year 1705, the proportion was as 1 to 89; in 1745 as 1 to 118.73
In the dukedom of Magdeburgh, in 1700, the proportion was as 1 to 87; from 1752 to 1755 as 1 to 125.
In the principality of Halberstadt in 1690, the proportion was as 1 to 88; in 1756 as 1 to 112.
In the dukedom of Cleves, in 1705, the proportion was 1 to 83; in 1755, 1 to 100.
In the Churmark of Brandenburgh, in 1700; the proportion was 1 to 76; in 1755, 1 to 108.74
More instances of this kind might be produced; but these are sufficient to shew that in countries, where from a sudden increase in the means of subsistence, arising either from a great previous mortality or from improving cultivation and trade, room has been made for a great proportion of marriages, this proportion will annually decrease as the new employments are filled up, and there is no further room for an increasing population.
But in countries which have long been fully peopled, in which the mortality continues the same, and in which no new sources of subsistence are opening, the marriages being regulated principally by the deaths, will generally bear nearly the same proportion to the whole population at one period as at another. And the same constancy will take place even in countries where there is an annual increase in the means of subsistence, provided this increase be uniform and permanent. Supposing it to be such, as for half a century to allow every year of a fixed proportion of marriages beyond those dissolved by death, the population would then be increasing, and perhaps rapidly; but it is evident, that the proportion of marriages to the whole population might remain the same during the whole period.
This proportion Sussmilch has endeavoured to ascertain in different countries and different situations. In the villages of the Churmark of Brandenburgh, one marriage out of 109 persons takes place annually:75 and the general proportion for agricultural villages he thinks may be taken at between 1 in 108 and 1 in 115.76 In the small towns of the Churmark, where the mortality is greater, the proportion is 1 to 98;77 in the Dutch villages mentioned before, 1 to 64; in Berlin 1 to 110;78 in Paris 1 to 137.79 According to Crome, in the unmarrying cities of Paris and Rome the proportion is only 1 to 60.80
All general proportions however of every kind should be applied with considerable caution, as it seldom happens that the increase of food and of population is uniform; and when the circumstances of a country are varying, either from this cause or from any change in the habits of the people with respect to prudence and cleanliness, it is evident that a proportion which is true at one period will not be so at another.
Nothing is more difficult than to lay down rules on these subjects that do not admit of exceptions. Generally speaking, it might be taken for granted that an increased facility in the means of gaining a livelihood, either from a great previous mortality or from improving cultivation and trade, would produce a greater proportion of annual marriages; but this effect might not perhaps follow. Supposing the people to have been before in a very depressed state, and much of the mortality to have arisen from the want of foresight which usually accompanies such a state, it is possible that the sudden improvement of their condition might give them more of a decent and proper pride; and the consequence would be, that the proportional number of marriages might remain nearly the same, but they would all rear more of their children, and the additional population that was wanted would be supplied by a diminished mortality, instead of an increased number of births.
In the same manner, if the population of any country had been long stationary, and would not easily admit of an increase, it is possible that a change in the habits of the people, from improved education or any other cause, might diminish the proportional number of marriages; but as fewer children would be lost in infancy from the diseases consequent on poverty, the diminution in the number of marriages would be balanced by the diminished mortality, and the population would be kept up to its proper level by a smaller number of births.
Such changes therefore in the habits of a people should evidently be taken into consideration.
The most general rule that can be laid down on this subject is, perhaps, that any direct encouragements to marriage must be accompanied by an increased mortality. The natural tendency to marriage is in every country so great, that without any encouragements whatever a proper place for a marriage will always be filled up. Such encouragements therefore must either be perfectly futile, or produce a marriage where there is not a proper place for one; and the consequence must necessarily be increased poverty and mortality. Montesquieu, in his Lettres Persannes, says, that, in the past wars of France, the fear of being enrolled in the militia tempted a great number of young men to marry without the proper means of supporting a family, and the effect was the birth of a crowd of children, "que l'on cherche encore en France, et que la misère, la famine et les maladies en out fait disparoître."81
After so striking an illustration of the necessary effects of direct encouragements to marriage, it is perfectly astonishing that, in his Esprit des Loix he should say that Europe is still in a state to require laws, which favour the propagation of the human species.82
Sussmilch adopts the same ideas; and though he contemplates the case of the number of marriages coming necessarily to a stand when the food is not capable of further increase, and examines some countries in which the number of contracted marriages is exactly measured by the number dissolved by death, yet he still thinks that it is one of the principal duties of government to attend to the number of marriages. He cites the examples of Augustus and Trajan, and thinks that a prince or a statesman would really merit the name of father of his people, if, from the proportion of 1 to 120 or 125, he could increase the marriages to the proportion of 1 to 80 or 90:83 But as it clearly appears, from the instances which he himself produces, that, in countries which have been long tolerably well peopled, death is the most powerful of all the encouragements to marriage; the prince or statesman, who should succeed in thus greatly increasing the number of marriages, might, perhaps, deserve much more justly the title of destroyer, than father, of his people.
The proportion of yearly births to the whole population must evidently depend principally upon the proportion of the people marrying annually; and therefore, in countries which will not admit of a great increase of population, must, like the marriages, depend principally on the deaths. Where an actual decrease of population is not taking place, the births will always supply the vacancies made by death, and exactly so much more as the increasing resources of the country will admit. In almost every part of Europe, during the intervals of the great plagues, epidemics or destructive wars, with which it is occasionally visited, the births exceed the deaths; but as the mortality varies very much in different countries and situations, the births will be found to vary in the same manner, though from the excess of births above deaths which most countries can admit, not in the same degree.
In 39 villages of Holland, where the deaths are about 1 in 23, the births are also about l in 23.84 In 15 villages round Paris, the births bear the same, or even a greater, proportion to the whole population, on account of a still greater mortality; the births are 1 in 22 7/10, and the deaths the same.85 In the small towns of Brandenburgh which are in an increasing state, the mortality is 1 in 29, and the births 1 in 24 7/16.86 In Sweden, where the mortality is about 1 in 35, the births are 1 in 28.87 In 1056 villages of Brandenburgh in which the mortality is about 1 in 39 or 40, the births are about 1 in 30.88 In Norway, where the mortality is 1 in 48, the births are 1 in 34.89 In all these instances, the births are evidently measured by the deaths, after making a proper allowance for the excess of births which the state of each country will admit.
Statistical writers have endeavoured to obtain a general measure of mortality for all countries taken together; but, if such a measure could be obtained, I do not see what good purpose it could answer. It would be but of little use in ascertaining the population of Europe, or of the world; and it is evident, that in applying it to particular countries or particular places, we might be led into the grossest errors. When the mortality of the human race in different countries and different situations, varies so much as from 1 in 20 to 1 in 60, no general average could be used with safety in a particular case, without such a knowledge of the circumstances of the country, with respect to the number of towns, the habits of the people and the healthiness of the situation, as would probably supersede the necessity of resorting to any general proportion, by the knowledge of the particular proportion suited to the country.
There is one leading circumstance, however, affecting the mortality of countries, which may be considered as very general, and which is, at the same time, completely open to observation. This is the number of towns, and the proportion of town to country inhabitants. The unfavourable effects of close habitations and sedentary employments on the health are universal; and therefore on the number of people living in this manner, compared with the number employed in agriculture, will much depend the general mortality of the state.
Upon this principle it has been calculated that when the proportion of the people in the towns to those in the country is as 1 to 3, then the mortality is about 1 in 36: which rises to 1 in 35, or 1 in 33, when the proportion of townsmen to villagers is 2 to 5, or 3 to 7; and falls below 1 in 36, when this proportion is 2 to 7, or 1 to 4. On these grounds the mortality in Prussia is 1 in 38; in Pomerania, 1 in 37½; in the Neumark 1 in 37; in the Churmark 1 in 35; according to the lists for 1756.90
The nearest average measure of mortality for all countries, taking towns and villages together, is, according to Sussmilch, 1 in 36.91 But Crome thinks that this measure, though it might possibly have suited the time at which Sussmilch wrote, is not correct at present, when in most of the states of Europe both the number and size of the towns have increased.92 He seems to be of opinion indeed, that this mortality was rather below the truth in Sussmilch's time, and that now 1 in 30 would be found to be nearer the average measure. It is not improbable that Sussmilch's proportion is too small, as he had a little tendency, with many other statistical writers, to throw out of his calculations epidemic years; but Crome has not advanced proofs sufficient to establish a general measure of mortality, in opposition to that proposed by Sussmilch. He quotes Busching, who states the mortality of the whole Prussian monarchy to be 1 in 30.93 But it appears that this inference was drawn from lists for only three years, a period much too short to determine any general average. This proportion, for the Prussian monarchy, is indeed completely contradicted by subsequent observations mentioned by Crome. According to lists for five years, ending in 1784, the mortality was only 1 in 37.94 During the same periods, the births were to the deaths as 131 to 100. In Silesia the mortality from 1781 to 1784 was 1 in 30; and the births to deaths as 128 to 100. In Gelderland the mortality from 1776 to 1781 was 1 in 27, and the births 1 in 26. These are the two provinces of the monarchy, in which the mortality is the greatest. In some others it is very small. From 1781 to 1784 the average mortality in Neufchatel and Ballengin was only 1 in 44, and the births 1 in 31. In the principality of Halberstadtz, from 1778 to 1784, the mortality was still less, being only 1 in 45 or 46, and the proportion of births to deaths 137 to 100.95
The general conclusion which Crome draws is, that the states of Europe may be divided into three classes, to which a different measure of mortality ought to be applied. In the richest and most populous states, where the inhabitants of the towns are to the inhabitants of the country in so high a proportion as 1 to 3, the mortality may be taken as 1 in 30. In those countries which are in a middle state with regard to population and cultivation, the mortality may be considered as 1 in 32. And in the thinly-peopled northern states, Sussmilch's proportion of 1 in 36 may be applied.96
These proportions seem to make the general mortality too great, even after allowing epidemic years to have their full effect in the calculations. The improved habits of cleanliness, which appear to have prevailed of late years in most of the towns of Europe, have probably, in point of salubrity, more than counterbalanced their increased size.
In a census which was made in 1817, of the population of Prussia in its present enlarged state, the number of inhabitants was found to be 10,536,571, of which 5,244,308 were males, and 5,320,535 were females. The births were 454,031, the deaths 306,484, and the marriages 112,034. Of the births 53,576, or 1/8.4 were illegitimate. The proportion of males to females born was as 20 to 19. Of the illegitimate children 3 out of every 10 died in the first year after birth; of the legitimate 2 out of 10.97
The numbers here stated give a proportion of births to deaths, as 149 to 100; of births to marriages as 4 to 1; of births to the population as 1 to 23.2; of deaths to the population, of males, as 1 to 33; of females, as 1 to 36; of both together, as 1 to 34½; and of marriages to the population as 1 to 94. The proportion of the excess of the births above the deaths to the population is as 1 to 62; an excess which, if continued, would double the population in about 43 years. As it is not however stated how long these proportions have continued, no very certain conclusions can be drawn from them; but there is little, doubt that the population is proceeding with great rapidity.
Book II, Chapter V
Of the Checks to Population in Switzerland.
The situation of Switzerland is in many respects so different from the other states of Europe, and some of the facts that have been collected respecting it are so curious, and tend so strongly to illustrate the general principles of this work, that it seems to merit a separate consideration.
About 35 or 40 years ago, a great and sudden alarm appears to have prevailed in Switzerland respecting the depopulation of the country; and the transactions of the Economical Society of Berne, which had been established some years before, were crowded with papers deploring the decay of industry, arts, agriculture and manufactures, and the imminent danger of a total want of people. The greater part of these writers considered the depopulation of the country as a fact so obvious, as not to require proof. They employed themselves, therefore, chiefly in proposing remedies, and, among others, the importation of midwives, the establishment of foundling hospitals, the portioning of young virgins, the prevention of emigration, and the encouragement of foreign settlers.1
A paper containing very valuable materials was, however, about this time published by M. Muret, minister of Vevay, who, before he proceeded to point out remedies, thought it necessary to substantiate the existence of the evil. He made a very laborious and careful research into the registers of the different parishes, up to the time of their first establishment, and compared the number of births which had taken place during three different periods of 70 years each, the first ending in 1620, the second in 1690, and the third in 1760.2 Finding upon this comparison, that the number of births was rather less in the second than in the first period, (and by the help of supposing some omissions in the second period, and, some redundances in the third,) that the number of births in the third was also less than in the second, he considered the evidence for a continued depopulation of the country from the year 1550 as incontrovertible.
Admitting all the premises, the conclusion is not perhaps so certain as he imagined it to be and from other facts which appear in his memoir, I am strongly disposed to believe, that Switzerland, during this period, came under the case supposed in the last chapter; and that the improving habits of the people with respect to prudence, cleanliness 8c., had increased gradually the general healthiness of the country, and, by enabling them to rear up to manhood a greater proportion of their children, had furnished the requisite population with a smaller number of births. Of course, the proportion of annual births to the whole population, in the latter period, would be less than in the former.
From accurate calculations of M. Muret, it appears, that during the last period the mortality was extraordinarily small, and the proportion of children reared from infancy to puberty extraordinarily great.3 In the former periods this could not have been the case in the same degree. M. Muret himself observes, that "the ancient depopulation of the country was to be attributed to the frequent plagues which, in former times, desolated it;" and adds, "if it could support itself, notwithstanding the frequency of so dreadful an evil, it is a proof of the goodness of the climate, and of the certain resources which the country could furnish, for a prompt recovery of its population."4 He neglects to apply this observation as he ought, and forgets that such a prompt repeopling could not take place without an unusual increase of births, and that, to enable a country to support itself against such a source of destruction, a greater proportion of births to the whole population would be necessary than at other times.
In one of his tables he gives a list of all the plagues that have prevailed in Switzerland since the year 1312, from which it appears that this dreadful scourge desolated the country, at short intervals, during the whole of the first period, and extended its occasional ravages to within 22 years of the termination of the second.5
It would be contrary to every rule of probability to suppose that, during the frequent prevalence of this disorder, the country could be particularly healthy, and the general mortality extremely small. Let us suppose it to have been such as at present takes place in many other countries, which are exempt from this calamity, about 1 in 32, instead of 1 in 45, as in the last period. The births would of course keep their relative proportion, and instead of 1 in 36,6 be about 1 in 26. In estimating the population of the country by the births, we should thus have two very different multipliers for the different periods; and though the absolute number of births might be greater in the first period, yet the fact would by no means imply a greater population.
In the present instance, the sum of the births in 17 parishes, during the first 70 years, is given as 49,860, which annually would be about 712. This, multiplied by 26, would indicate a population of 18,512. In the last period the sum of the births is given as 43,910,7 which will be about 626 annually. This, multiplied by 36, will indicate a population of 22,536; and if the multipliers be just, it will thus appear, that instead of the decrease which was intended to be proved, there had been a considerable increase.
That I have not estimated the mortality too high during the first period, I have many reasons for supposing, particularly a calculation respecting the neighbouring town of Geneva, in which it appears that, in the 16th century, the probability of life, or the age to which half of the born live, was only 4.883, rather less than four years and 9/10ths; and the mean life 18.511, about 18 years and a half. In the 17th century, the probability of life was 11.607, above 11 years and a half; the mean life 23.358. In the 18th century the probability of life had increased to 27.183, 27 years and nearly a fifth, and the mean life to 32 years and a fifth.8
It is highly probable that a diminution of mortality, of the same kind, though perhaps not in the same degree, should have taken place in Switzerland; and we know from the registers of other countries which have been already noticed, that a greater mortality naturally produces a greater proportion of births.
Of this dependence of the births on the deaths M. Muret himself produces many instances; but not being aware of the true principle of population, they only serve to astonish him, and he does not apply them.
Speaking of the want of fruitfulness in the Swiss women, he says, that Prussia, Brandenburgh, Sweden, France, and indeed every country, the registers of which he had seen, give a greater proportion of baptisms to the number of inhabitants, than the Pays de Vaud, where this proportion is only as 1 to 36.9 He adds, that from calculations lately made in the Lyonois, it appeared, that in Lyons itself the proportion of baptisms was 1 in 28, in the small towns 1 in 25, and in the parishes 1 in 23 or 24. What a prodigious difference, he exclaims, between the Lyonois and the Pays de Vaud, where the most favourable proportion, and that only in two small parishes of extraordinary fecundity, is not above 1 in 26, and in many parishes it is considerably less than 1 in 40!10The same difference, he remarks, takes place in the mean life. In the Lyonois it is a little above 25 years, while in the Pays de Vaud the lowest mean life, and that only in a single marshy and unhealthy parish, is 29½ years, and in many places it is above 45 years.11
"But whence comes it," he says, "that the country where children escape the best from the dangers of infancy, and where the mean life, in whatever way the calculation is made, is higher than in any other, should be precisely that in which the fecundity is the smallest? How comes it again that, of all our parishes, the one which gives the mean life the highest, should also be the one where the tendency to increase is the smallest?
"To resolve this question, I will hazard a conjecture, which, however, I give only as such. Is it not, that in order to maintain in all places the proper equilibrium of population, God has wisely ordered things in such a manner, as that the force of life in each country should be in the inverse ratio of its fecundity?12
"In fact, experience verifies my conjecture. Leyzin, a village in the Alps, with a population of 400 persons, produces but a little above eight children a year. The Pays de Vaud, in general, in proportion to the same number of inhabitants, produces 11, and the Lyonois 16. But if it happen, that at the age of 20 years, the 8, the 11, and the 16, are reduced to the same number, it will appear that the force of life gives in one place what fecundity does in another. And thus the most healthy countries, having less fecundity, will not overpeople themselves, and the unhealthy countries, by their extraordinary fecundity, will be able to sustain their population."
We may judge of the surprize of M. Muret, at finding from the registers, that the most healthy people were the least prolific, by his betaking himself to a miracle in order to account for it. But the difficulty does not seem, in the present instance, to be worthy of such an interference. The fact may be accounted for, without resorting to so strange a supposition as that the fruitfulness of women should vary inversely as their health.
There is certainly a considerable difference in the healthiness of different countries, arising partly from the soil and situation, and partly from the habits and employment of the people. When, from these or any other causes whatever, a great mortality takes place, a proportional number of births immediately ensues, owing both to the greater number of yearly marriages from the increased demand for labour, and the greater fecundity of each marriage from being contracted at an earlier, and naturally a more prolific age.
On the contrary, when from opposite causes the healthiness of any country or parish is extraordinarily great; if, from the habits of the people, no vent for an overflowing population be found in emigration, the absolute necessity of the preventive check will be forced so strongly on their attention, that they must adopt it or starve; and consequently the marriages being very late, the number annually contracted will not only be small in proportion to the population, but each individual marriage will naturally be less prolific.
In the parish of Leyzin, noticed by M. Muret, all these circumstances appear to have been combined in an unusual degree. Its situation in the Alps, but yet not too high, gave it probably the most pure and salubrious air; and the employment of the people, being all pastoral, were consequently of the most healthy nature. From the calculations of M. Muret, the accuracy of which there is no reason to doubt, the probability of life in this parish appeared to be so extraordinarily high as 61 years.13 And the average number of the births being for a period of 30 years almost accurately equal to the number of deaths,14 clearly proved that the habits of the people had not led them to emigrate, and that the resources of the parish for the support of population had remained nearly stationary. We are warranted therefore in concluding, that the pastures were limited, and could not easily be increased either in quantity or quality. The number of cattle, which could be kept upon them, would of course be limited; and in the same manner the number of persons required for the care of these cattle.
Under such circumstances, how would it be possible for the young men who had reached the age of puberty, to leave their fathers' houses and marry, till an employment of herdsman, dairyman, or something of the kind, became vacant by death? And as, from the extreme healthiness of the people, this must happen very slowly, it is evident that the majority of them must wait during a great part of their youth in their bachelor state, or run the most obvious risk of starving themselves and their families. The case is still stronger than in Norway, and receives a particular precision from the circumstance of the births and deaths being so nearly equal.
If a father had unfortunately a larger family than usual, the tendency of it would be rather to decrease than increase the number of marriages. He might perhaps with economy be just able to support them all at home, though he could not probably find adequate employment for them on his small property; but it would evidently be long before they could quit him, and the first marriage among the sons would probably be after the death of the father; whereas, if he had had only two children, one of them might perhaps have married without leaving the parental roof, and the other on the death of the father. It may be said perhaps in general, that the absence or presence of four grown-up unmarried people will make the difference of there being room or not, for the establishment of another marriage and a fresh family.
As the marriages in this parish would, with few exceptions, be very late, and yet from the extreme healthiness of the situation be very slowly dissolved by the death of either of the parties, it is evident that a very large proportion of the subsisting marriages would be among persons so far advanced in life, that most of the women would have ceased to bear children; and in consequence the whole number of subsisting marriages was found to be to the number of annual births in the very unusual proportion of 12 to 1. The births were only about a 49th part of the population; and the number of persons above sixteen was to the number below that age nearly as 3 to 1.15
As a contrast to this parish, and a proof how little the number of births can be depended upon for an estimate of population, M. Muret produces the parish of St. Cergue in the Jura, in which the subsisting marriages were to the annual births only in the proportion of 4 to 1, the births were a 26th part of the population, and the number of persons above and below sixteen just equal.16
Judging of the population of these parishes from the proportion of their annual births, it would appear, he says, that Leyzin did not exceed St. Cergue by above one-fifth at most; whereas, from actual enumeration, the population of the former turned out to be 405, and of the latter only 171.17
I have chosen, he observes, the parishes where the contrast is the most striking; but though the difference be not so remarkable in the rest, yet it will always be found true that from one place to another, even at very small distances, and in situations apparently similar, the proportions will vary considerably.18
It is strange that, after making these observations, and others of the same tendency, which I have not produced, he should rest the whole proof of the depopulation of the Pays de Vaud on the proportion of births. There is no good reason for supposing that this proportion should not be different at different periods, as well as in different situations. The extraordinary contrast in the fecundity of the two parishes of Leyzin and St. Cergue depends upon causes within the power of time and circumstances to alter. From the great proportion of infants which was found to grow up to maturity in St. Cergue, it appeared that its natural healthiness was not much inferior to that of Leyzin.19 The proportion of its births to deaths was 7 to 4;20 but as the whole number of its inhabitants did not exceed 171, it is evident that this great excess of births could not have been regularly added to the population during the last two centuries. It must have arisen therefore either from a sudden increase of late years in the agriculture or trade of the parish, or from a habit of emigration. The latter supposition I conceive to be the true one; and it seems to be confirmed by the small proportion of adults which has already been noticed. The parish is situated in the Jura, by the side of the high road from Paris to Geneva, a situation which would evidently tend to facilitate emigration; and in fact, it seems to have acted the part of a breeding parish for the towns and flat countries; and the annual drain of a certain portion of the adults made room for all the rest to marry, and to rear a numerous offspring.
A habit of emigration in a particular parish, will not only depend on situation, but probably often on accident. I have little doubt that three or four very successful emigrations have frequently given a spirit of enterprise to a whole village; and three or four unsuccessful ones a contrary spirit. If a habit of emigration were introduced into the village of Leyzin, it is not to be doubted that the proportion of births would be immediately changed; and at the end of twenty years an examination of its registers might give results as different from those at the time of M. Muret's calculations, as they were then from the contrasted parish of St. Cergue. It will hence appear that other causes besides a greater mortality will concur, to make an estimate of population, at different periods, from the proportion of births, liable to great uncertainty.
The facts which M. Muret has collected are all valuable, though his inferences cannot always be considered in the same light. He made some calculations at Vevay, of a nature really to ascertain the question respecting the fecundity of marriages, and to shew the incorrectness of the usual mode of estimating it, though without this particular object in view at the time. He found that 375 mothers had yielded 2,093 children, all born alive; from which it followed, that each mother had produced 5 10/12, or nearly six children.21 These, however, were all actually mothers, which every wife is not; but allowing for the usual proportion of barren wives at Vevay, which he had found to be 20 out of 478, it will still appear that the married women one with another produced above 5 1/3 children.22 And yet this was in a town, the inhabitants of which he seems to accuse of not entering into the marriage state at the period when nature calls them, and, when married, of not having all the children which they might have.23 The general proportion of the annual marriages to the annual births in the Pays de Vaud is as 1 to 3.9,24 and of course, according to the common mode of calculation, the marriages would appear to yield 3.9 children each.
In a division of the Pays de Vaud into eight different districts, M. Muret found, that in seven towns the mean life was 36 years; and the probability of life, or the age to which half of the born live, 37. In 36 villages, the mean life was 37, and the probability of life 42. In nine parishes of the Alps the mean life was 40, and the probability of life 47. In seven parishes of the Jura these two proportions were 38 and 42: in 12 corn parishes, 37 and 40; in 18 parishes among the great vineyards, 34 and 37; in six parishes of mixed vines and hills, 33 9/10 and 36; and in one marshy parish, 29 and 24.25
From another table it appears, that the number of persons dying under the age of 15 was less than 1/5 in the extraordinary parish of Leyzin; and less than ¼ in many other parishes of the Alps and the Jura. For the whole of the Pays de Vaud it was less than 1/3.26
In some of the largest towns, such as Lausanne and Vevay, on account of the number of strangers settling in them, the proportion of adults to those under 16 was nearly as great as in the parish of Leyzin, and not far from 3 to 1. In the parishes from which there were not many emigrations, this proportion was about 2 to 1. And in those which furnished inhabitants for other countries, it approached more towards an equality.27
The whole population of the Pays de Vaud, M. Muret estimated at 113,000, of which 76,000 were adults. The proportion of adults therefore to those under the age of sixteen, for the whole country, was 2 to 1. Among these 76,000 adults, there were 19,000 subsisting marriages, and consequently 38,000 married persons; and the same number of persons unmarried, though of the latter number 9,000, according to M. Muret, would probably be widows or widowers.28 With such an average store of unmarried persons, notwithstanding the acknowledged emigrations, there was little ground for the supposition that these emigrations had essentially affected the number of annual marriages, and checked the progress of population.
The proportion of annual marriages to inhabitants in the Pays de Vaud, according to M. Muret's tables, was only 1 to 140,29 which is even less than in Norway.
All these calculations of M. Muret imply the operation of the preventive check to population in a considerable degree, throughout the whole of the district which he considered; and there is reason to believe, that the same habits prevail in other parts of Switzerland, though varying considerably from place to place, according as the situation or the employments of the people render them more or less healthy, or the resources of the country make room or not for an increase.
In the town of Berne, from the year 1583 to 1654, the sovereign council had admitted into the Bourgeoisie 487 families, of which 379 became extinct in the space of two centuries, and in 1783 only 108 of them remained. During the hundred years from 1684 to 1784, 207 Bernoise families became extinct. From 1624 to 1712, the Bourgeoisie was given to 80 families. In 1623, the sovereign council united the members of 112 different families, of which 58 only remain.30
The proportion of unmarried persons in Berne, including widows and widowers, is considerably above the half of the adults; and the proportion of those below sixteen to those above, is not far from 1 to 3.31 These are strong, proofs of the powerful operation of the preventive check.
The peasants in the canton of Berne have always had the reputation of being rich, and without doubt it is greatly to be attributed to this cause. A law has for some time prevailed, which makes it necessary for every peasant to prove himself in possession of the arms and accoutrements necessary for the militia, before he can obtain permission to marry. This at once excludes the very poorest from marriage; and a very favourable turn may be given to the habits of many others, from a knowledge that they cannot accomplish the object of their wishes, without a certain portion of industry and economy. A young man who, with this end in view, had engaged in service either at home or in a foreign country, when he had gained the necessary sum, might feel his pride rather raised, and not be contented merely with what would obtain him permission to marry, but go on till he could obtain something like a provision for a family.
I was much disappointed, when in Switzerland, at not being able to procure any details respecting the smaller cantons; but the disturbed state of the country made it impossible. It is to be presumed, however, that as they are almost entirely in pasture, they must resemble in a great measure the alpine parishes of the Pays de Vaud in the extraordinary health of the people, and the absolute necessity of the preventive check; except where these circumstances may have been altered by a more than usual habit of emigration, or by the introduction of manufactures.32
The limits to the population of a country strictly pastoral are strikingly obvious. There are no grounds less susceptible of improvement than mountainous pastures. They must necessarily be left chiefly to nature; and when they have been adequately stocked with cattle, little more can be done. The great difficulty in these parts of Switzerland, as in Norway, is to procure a sufficient quantity of fodder for the winter support of the cattle which have been fed on the mountains in the summer. For this purpose grass is collected with the greatest care. In places inaccessible to cattle, the peasant sometimes makes hay with crampons on his feet; in some places grass not three inches high is cut three times a year; and in the valleys, the fields are seen shaven as close as a bowling-green, and all the inequalities clipped as with a pair of scissors. In Switzerland as in Norway, for the same reasons, the art of mowing seems to be carried to its highest pitch of perfection. As, however, the improvement of the lands in the valleys must depend principally upon the manure arising from the stock, it is evident that the quantity of hay and the number of cattle will be mutually limited by each other; and as the population will of course be limited by the produce of the stock, it does not seem possible to increase it beyond a certain point, and that at no great distance. Though the population, therefore, in the flat parts of Switzerland, has increased during the last century, there is reason to believe that it has been stationary in the mountainous parts. According to M. Muret it has decreased very considerably in the Alps of the Pays de Vaud; but his proofs of this fact have been noticed as extremely uncertain. It is not probable, that the Alps are less stocked with cattle than they were formerly; and if the inhabitants be really rather fewer in number, it is probably owing to the smaller proportion of children, and to the improvement which has taken place in the mode of living.
In some of the smaller cantons, manufactures have been introduced, which, by furnishing a greater quantity of employment, and at the same time a greater quantity of exports for the purchase of corn, have of course considerably increased their population. But the Swiss writers seem generally to agree, that the districts where they have been established, have upon the whole suffered in point of health, morals and happiness.
It is the nature of pasturage to produce food for a much greater number of people than it can employ. In countries strictly pastoral, therefore, many persons will be idle, or at most be very inadequately occupied. This state of things naturally disposes to emigration, and the principal reason why the Swiss have been so much engaged in foreign service. When a father has more than one son, those who are not wanted on the farm are powerfully tempted to enrol themselves as soldiers, or to emigrate in some other way, as the only chance of enabling them to marry.
It is possible, though not probable, that a more than usual spirit of emigration, operating upon a country, in which, as it has appeared, the preventive check prevailed to a very considerable degree, might have produced a temporary check to increase at the period when there was such an universal cry about depopulation. If this were so, it without doubt contributed to improve the condition of the lower classes of people. All the foreign travellers in Switzerland, soon after this time, invariably take notice of the state of the Swiss peasantry as superior to that of other countries. In a late excursion to Switzerland, I was rather disappointed not to find it so superior as I had been taught to expect. The greatest part of the unfavourable change might justly be attributed to the losses and sufferings of the people during the late troubles; but a part perhaps to the ill-directed efforts of the different governments to increase the population, and to the ultimate consequences even of efforts well directed, and for a time calculated to advance the comforts and happiness of the people.
I was very much struck with an effect of this last kind, in an expedition to the Lac de Joux in the Jura. The party had scarcely arrived at a little inn at the end of the lake, when the mistress of the house began to complain of the poverty and misery of all the parishes in the neighbourhood. She said that the country produced little, and yet was full of inhabitants; that boys and girls were marrying who ought still to be at school; and that, while this habit of early marriages continued, they should always be wretched and distressed for subsistence.
The peasant, who afterwards conducted us to the source of the Orbe, entered more fully into the subject, and appeared to understand the principle of population almost as well as any man I ever met with. He said, that the women were prolific, and the air of the mountains so pure and healthy, that very few children died, except from the consequences of absolute want; that the soil, being barren, was inadequate to yield employment and food for the numbers that were yearly growing up to manhood; that the wages of labour were consequently very low, and totally insufficient for the decent support of a family; but that the misery and starving condition of the greater part of the society did not operate properly as a warning to others, who still continued to marry; and to produce a numerous offspring which they could not support. This habit of early marriages might really, he said, be called le vice du pays; and he was so strongly impressed with the necessary and unavoidable wretchedness that must result from it, that he thought a law ought to be made, restricting men from entering into the marriage state before they were forty years of age, and then allowing it only with "des vieilles files," who might bear them two or three children instead of six or eight.
I could not help being diverted with the earnestness of his oratory on this subject, and particularly with his concluding proposition. He must have seen and felt the misery arising from a redundant population most forcibly, to have proposed so violent a remedy. I found upon inquiry that he had himself married very young.
The only point in which he failed, as to his philosophical knowledge of the subject, was in confining his reasonings too much to barren and mountainous countries, and not extending them to the plains. In fertile situations, he thought, perhaps, that the plenty of corn and employment might remove the difficulty, and allow of early marriages. Not having lived much in the plains, it was natural for him to fall into this error; particularly, as in such situations the difficulty is not only more concealed from the extensiveness of the subject; but is in reality less, from the greater mortality naturally occasioned by low grounds, towns, and manufactories.
On inquiring into the principal cause of what he had named the predominant vice of his country, he explained it with great philosophical precision. He said, that a manufacture for the polishing of stones had been established some years ago, which for a time had been in a very thriving state, and had furnished high wages and employment to all the neighbourhood; that the facility of providing for a family, and of finding early employment for children, had greatly encouraged early marriages; and that the same habit had continued, when, from a change of fashion, accident, and other causes, the manufacture was almost at an end. Very great emigrations, he said, had of late years taken place; but the breeding system went on so fast, that they were not sufficient to relieve the country of its superabundant mouths, and the effect was such as he had described to me, and as I had in part seen.
In other conversations which I had with the lower classes of people in different parts of Switzerland and Savoy, I found many, who, though not sufficiently skilled in the principle of population to see its effects on society, like my friend of the Lac de Joux, yet saw them clearly enough as affecting their own individual interests; and were perfectly aware of the evils which they should probably bring upon themselves by marrying before they could have a tolerable prospect of being able to maintain a family. From the general ideas which I have found to prevail on these subjects, I should by no means say that it would be a difficult task to make the common people comprehend the principle of population, and its effect in producing low wages and poverty.
Though there is no absolute provision for the poor in Switzerland, yet each parish generally possesses some seignioral rights and property in land for the public use, and is expected to maintain its own poor. These funds, however, being limited, will of course often be totally insufficient; and occasionally voluntary collections are made for this purpose. But, the whole of the supply being comparatively scanty and uncertain, it has not the same bad effects as the parish-rates of England. Of late years much of the common lands belonging to parishes have been parcelled out to individuals, which has of course tended to improve the soil, and increase the number of people; but from the manner in which it has been conducted, it has operated perhaps too much as a systematic encouragement of marriage, and has contributed to increase the number of poor. In the neighbourhood of the richest communes, I often observed the greatest number of beggars.
There is reason to believe, however, that the efforts of the Economical Society of Berne to promote agriculture were crowned with some success; and that the increasing resources of the country have made room for an additional population, and furnished an adequate support for the greatest part, if not the whole, of that increase which has of late taken place.
In 1764 the population of the whole canton of Berne, including the Pays de Vaud, was estimated at 336,689. In 1791, it had increased to 414,420. From 1764 to 1777, its increase proceeded at the rate of 2,000 each year; and, from 1778 to 1791, at the rate of 3,109 each year.33
Book II, Chapter VI
Of the Checks to Population in France.
As the parochial registers in France, before the revolution, were not kept with particular care nor for any great length of time, and as the few which have been produced exhibit no very extraordinary results, I should not have made this country the subject of a distinct chapter, but for a circumstance attending the revolution, which has excited considerable surprise. This is, the undiminished state of the population in spite of the losses sustained during so long and destructive a contest.34
A great national work, founded on the reports of the prefects in the different departments, is at present in some state of forwardness at Paris, and when completed may reasonably be expected to form a very valuable accession to the materials of statistical science in general. The returns of all the prefects are not however yet complete; but I was positively assured by the person who has the principal superintendence of them, that enough is already known to be certain that the population of the old territory of France has rather increased than diminished during the revolution.
Such an event, if true, very strongly confirms the general principles of this work; and assuming it for the present as a fact, it may tend to throw some light on the subject, to trace a little in detail the manner in which such an event might happen.
In every country there is always a considerable body of unmarried persons, formed by the gradual accumulation of the excess of the number rising annually to the age of puberty above the number of persons annually married. The stop to the further accumulation of this body is when its number is such, that the yearly mortality equals the yearly accessions that are made to it. In the Pays de Vaud, as appeared in the last chapter, this body, including widows and widowers, persons who are not actually in the state of marriage, equals the whole number of married persons. But in a country like France, where both the mortality and the tendency to marriage are much greater than in Switzerland, this body does not bear so large a proportion to the population.
According to a calculation in an Essai d'une Statistique Générale, published at Paris in 1800, by M. Peuchet, the number of unmarried males in France between 18 and 50 is estimated at 1,451,063; and the number of males, whether married or not, between the same ages, at 5,000,000.35 It does not appear at what period exactly this calculation was made; but as the author uses the expression en tems ordinaire, it is probable that he refers to the period before the revolution. Let us suppose, then, that this number of 1,451,063 expresses the collective body of unmarried males of a military age at the commencement of the revolution.
The population of France before the beginning of the war was estimated by the Constituent Assembly at 26,363,074;36 and there is no reason to believe that this calculation was too high. Necker, though he mentions the number of 24,800,000, expresses his firm belief that the yearly births at that time amounted to above a million, and consequently, according to his multiplier of 25¾, the whole population was nearly 26 millions;37 and this calculation was made ten years previous to the estimate of the Constituent Assembly.
Taking then the annual births at rather above a million, and estimating that rather above 2/5 would die under 18, which appears to be the case from some calculations of M. Peuchet,38 it will follow, that above 600,000 persons will annually arrive at the age of 18.
The annual marriages, according to Necker, are 213,774;39 but as this number is an average of ten years, taken while the population was increasing, it is probably too low. If we take 220,000, then 440,000 persons will be supposed to marry out of the 600,000 rising to a marriageable age; and, consequently; the excess of those rising to the age of 18 above the number wanted to complete the usual proportion of annual marriages, will be 160,000, or 80,000 males. It is evident, therefore, that the accumulated body of 1,451,063 unmarried males, of a military age, and the annual supply of 80,000 youths of 18, might be taken for the service of the state, without affecting in any degree the number of annual marriages. But we cannot suppose that the 1,451,063 should be taken all at once; and many soldiers are married, and in a situation not to be entirely useless to the population. Let us suppose 600,000 of the corps of unmarried males to be embodied at once; and this number to be kept up by the annual supply of 150,000 persons, taken partly from the 80,000, rising annually to the age of 18, and not wanted to complete the number of annual marriages, and partly from the 851,063 remaining of the body of unmarried males, which existed at the beginning of the war: it is evident, that from these two sources 150,000 might be supplied each year, for ten years, and yet allow of an increase in the usual number of annual marriages of above 10,000.
It is true that in the course of the ten years many of the original body of unmarried males will have passed the military age; but this will be balanced, and indeed much more than balanced, by their utility in the married life. From the beginning it should be taken into consideration, that though a man of fifty be generally considered as past the military age, yet, if he marry a fruitful subject, he may by no means be useless to the population; and in fact the supply of 150,000 recruits each year would be taken principally from the 300,000 males rising annually to 18; and the annual marriages would be supplied in a great measure from the remaining part of the original body of unmarried persons. Widowers and bachelors of forty and fifty, who in the common state of things might have found it difficult to obtain an agreeable partner, would probably see these difficulties removed in such a scarcity of husbands; and the absence of 600,000 persons would of course make room for a very considerable addition to the number of annual marriages. This addition in all probability took place. Many among the remaining part of the original body of bachelors, who might otherwise have continued single, would marry under this change of circumstances; and it is known that a very considerable portion of youths under 18, in order to avoid the military conscriptions, entered prematurely into the married state. This was so much the case, and contributed so much to diminish the number of unmarried persons, that in the beginning of the year 1798 it was found necessary to repeal the law, which had exempted married persons from conscriptions; and those who married subsequently to this new regulation were taken indiscriminately with the unmarried. And though after this the levies fell in part upon those who were actually engaged in the peopling of the country; yet the number of marriages untouched by these levies might still remain greater than the usual number of marriages before the revolution; and the marriages which were broken by the removal of the husband to the armies would not probably have been entirely barren.
Sir Francis d'Ivernois, who had certainly a tendency to exaggerate, and probably has exaggerated considerably, the losses of the French nation, estimates the total loss of the troops of France, both by land and sea, up to the year 1799, at a million and a half.40 The round numbers which I have allowed for the sake of illustrating the subject, exceed Sir Francis d'Ivernois's estimate by six hundred thousand. He calculates however a loss of a million of persons more, from the other causes of destruction attendant on the revolution; but as this loss fell indiscriminately on all ages and both sexes, it would not affect the population in the same degree, and will be much more than covered by the 600,000 men in the full vigour of life, which remain above Sir Francis's calculation. It should be observed also, that in the latter part of the revolutionary war the military conscriptions were probably enforced with still more severity in the newly-acquired territories than in the old state; and as the population of these new acquisitions is estimated at five or six millions, it would bear a considerable proportion of the million and a half supposed to be destroyed in the armies.
The law which facilitated divorces to so great a degree in the early part of the revolution was radically bad both in a moral and political view, yet, under the circumstance of a great scarcity of men, it would operate a little like the custom of polygamy, and increase the number of children in proportion to the number of husbands. In addition to this, the women without husbands do not appear all to have been barren; as the proportion of illegitimate births is now raised to 1/11 of the whole number of births, from 1/47,41 which it was before the revolution; and though this be a melancholy proof of the depravation of morals, yet it would certainly contribute to increase the number of births; and as the female peasants in France were enabled to earn more than usual during the revolution, on account of the scarcity of hands, it is probable that a considerable portion of these children would survive.
Under all these circumstances, it cannot appear impossible, and scarcely even improbable, that the population of France should remain undiminished, in spite of all the causes of destruction which have operated upon it during the course of the revolution, provided the agriculture of the country has been such as to continue the means of subsistence unimpaired. And it seems now to be generally acknowledged that, however severely the manufactures of France may have suffered, her agriculture has rather increased than diminished. At no period of the war can we suppose that the number of embodied troops exceeded the number of men employed before the revolution in manufactures. Those who were thrown out of work by the destruction of these manufactures, and who did not go to the armies, would of course betake themselves to the labours of agriculture; and it was always the custom in France for the women to work much in the fields, which custom was probably increased during the revolution. At the same time, the absence of a large portion of the best and most vigorous hands would raise the price of labour; and as, from the new land brought into cultivation, and the absence of a considerable part of the greatest consumers42 in foreign countries, the price of provisions would not rise in proportion, this advance in the real price of labour would not only operate as a powerful encouragement to marriage, but would enable the peasants to live better, and to rear a greater number of their children.
At all times the number of small farmers and proprietors in France was great; and though such a state of things is by no means favourable to the clear surplus produce or disposable wealth of a nation; yet sometimes it is not unfavourable to the absolute produce, and it has always a strong tendency to encourage population. From the sale and division of many of the large domains of the nobles and clergy, the number of landed proprietors has considerably increased during the revolution; and as a part of these domains consisted of parks and chases, new territory has been given to the plough. It is true that the land-tax has been not only too heavy, but injudiciously imposed. It is probable, however, that this disadvantage has been nearly counterbalanced by the removal of the former oppressions, under which the cultivator laboured; and that the sale and division of the great domains may be considered as a clear advantage on the side of agriculture, or at any rate of the gross produce, which is the principal point with regard to mere population.
These considerations make it appear probable that the means of subsistence have at least remained unimpaired, if they have not increased, during the revolution; and a view of the cultivation of France in its present state certainly rather tends to confirm this supposition.
We shall not therefore be inclined to agree with Sir Francis d'Ivernois in his conjecture that the annual births in France have diminished by one-seventh during the revolution.43 On the contrary, it is more probable that they have increased by this number. The average proportion of births to the population in all France, before the revolution, was, according to Necker, as 1 to 25¾.44 It has appeared in the reports of some of the prefects which have been returned, that the proportion in many country places was raised to 1 to 21, 22, 22½, and 23;45 and though these proportions might, in some degree, be caused by the absence of a part of the population in the armies, yet I have little doubt that they are principally to be attributed to the birth of a greater number of children than usual. If, when the reports of all the prefects are put together, it should appear, that the number of births has not increased in proportion to the population, and yet that the population is undiminished; it will follow, either that Necker's multiplier for the births was too small, which is extremely probable, as from this cause he appears to have calculated the population too low; or that the mortality, among those not exposed to violent deaths has been less than usual; which, from the high price of labour and the desertion of the towns for the country, is not unlikely.
According to Necker and Moheau; the mortality in France, before, the revolution, was 1 in 30 or 31 1/8.46 Considering that the proportion of the population which lives in the country is to that in the towns as 3½ to 1,47 this mortality is extraordinarily great, caused probably by the misery arising from an excess of population; and from the remarks of Arthur Young on the state of the peasantry in France,48 which are completely sanctioned by Necker,49 this appears to have been really the case. If we suppose that, from the removal of a part of this redundant population, the mortality has decreased from 1 in 30 to 1 in 35, this favourable change would go a considerable way in repairing the breaches made by war on the frontiers.
The probability is, that both the causes mentioned have operated in part. The births have increased, and the deaths of those remaining in the country have diminished; so that, putting the two circumstances together, it will probably appear, when the results of all the reports of the prefects are known; that, including those who have fallen in the armies and by violent means, the deaths have not exceeded the births in the course of the revolution.
The returns of the prefects are to be given for the year IX. of the republic, and to be compared with the year 1789; but if the proportion of births to the population be given merely for the individual year IX. it will not skew the average proportion of births to the population during the course of the revolution. In the confusion occasioned by this event, it is not probable that any very exact registers should have been kept; but from theory I should be inclined to expect that soon after the beginning of the war, and at other periods during the course of it, the proportion of births to the whole population would be greater than in 1800 and 1801.50 If it should appear by the returns, that the number of annual marriages has not increased during the revolution, the circumstance will be obviously accounted for by the extraordinary increase in the illegitimate births mentioned before in this chapter, which amount at present to one-eleventh of all the births, instead of one-forty-seventh, according to the calculation of Necker before the revolution.51
Sir Francis d'Ivernois observes, "that those have yet to learn the first principles of political arithmetic, who imagine that it is in the field of battle and the hospitals that an account can be taken of the lives which a revolution or a war has cost. The number of men it has killed is of much less importance than the number of children which it has prevented, and will still prevent, from coming into the world. This is the deepest wound which the population of France has received."—"Supposing," he says, "that, of the whole number of men destroyed, only two millions had been united to as many females: according to the calculation of Buffon, these two millions of couples ought to bring into the world twelve millions of children, in order to supply, at the age of thirty-nine, a number equal to that of their parents. This is a point of view, in which the consequences of such a destruction of men become almost incalculable; because they have much more effect with regard to the twelve millions of children, which they prevent from coming into existence, than with regard to the actual loss of the two millions and a half of men for whom France mourns. It is not till a future period that she will be able to estimate this dreadful breach."52
And yet, if the foregoing reasonings are well-founded, France may not have lost a single birth by the revolution. She has the most just reason to mourn the two millions and a half of individuals which she may have lost, but not their posterity; because; if these individuals had remained in the country, a proportionate number of children, born of other parents, which are now living in France, would not have come into existence. If, in the best governed country in Europe, we were to mourn the posterity which is prevented from coming into being, we should always wear the habit of grief.
It is evident that the constant tendency of the births in every country to supply the vacancies made by death, cannot, in a moral point of view, afford the slightest shadow of excuse for the wanton sacrifice of men. The positive evil that is committed in this case, the pain, misery, and widespreading desolation and sorrow, that are occasioned to the existing inhabitants, can by no means be counterbalanced by the consideration, that the numerical breach in the population will be rapidly repaired. We can have no other right, moral or political, except that of the most urgent necessity, to exchange the lives of beings in the full vigour of their enjoyments, for an equal number of helpless infants.
It should also be remarked that, though the numerical population of France may not have suffered by the revolution, yet, if her losses have been in any degree equal to the conjectures on the subject, her military strength cannot be unimpaired. Her population at present must consist of a much greater proportion than usual of women and children; and the body of unmarried persons, of a military age, must be diminished in a very striking manner. This indeed is known to be the case, from the returns of the prefects which have already been received.
It has appeared that the point at which the drains of men will begin essentially to affect the population of a country is, when the original body of unmarried persons is exhausted, and the annual demands are greater than the excess of the number of males, rising annually to the age of puberty, above the number wanted to complete the usual proportion of annual marriages. France was probably at some distance from this point at the conclusion of the war; but in the present state of her population, with an increased proportion of women and children, and a great diminution of males of a military age, she could not make the same gigantic exertions, which were made at one period, without trenching on the sources of her population.
At all times the number of males of a military age in France was small in proportion to the population, on account of the tendency to marriage,53 and the great number of children. Necker takes particular notice of this circumstance. He observes, that the effect of the very great misery of the peasantry is to produce a dreadful mortality of infants under three or four years of age; and the consequence is, that the number of young children will always be in too great a proportion to the number of grown-up people. A million of individuals, he justly observes, will in this case neither present the same military force nor the same capacity of labour, as an equal number of individuals in a country where the people are less miserable.54
Switzerland, before the revolution, could have brought into the field, or have employed in labour appropriate to grown-up persons, a much greater proportion of her population than France at the same period.55
For the state of population in Spain, I refer the reader to the valuable and entertaining travels of Mr. Townsend in that country, in which he will often find the principle of population very happily illustrated. I should have made it the subject of a distinct chapter, but was fearful of extending this part of the work too much, and of falling almost unavoidably into too many repetitions, from the necessity of drawing the same kind of inference from so many different countries. I could expect, besides, to add very little to what has been so well done by Mr. Townsend.
Book II, Chapter VII
Of the Checks to Population in France (continued).
I have not thought it advisable to alter the conjectural calculations and suppositions of the preceding chapter, on account of the returns of the prefects for the year IX., as well as some returns published since by the government in 1813, having given a smaller proportion of births than I had thought probable; first, because these returns do not contain the early years of the revolution, when the encouragement to marriage and the proportion of births might be expected to be the greatest; and secondly, because they still seem fully to establish the main fact, which it was the object of the chapter to account for, namely, the undiminished population of France, notwithstanding the losses sustained during the revolution; although it may have been effected rather by a decreased proportion of deaths than an increased proportion of births.
According to the returns of the year IX., the proportions of the births, deaths, and marriages, to the whole population, are as follows:—
But these are in fact only the proportions of one year, from which no certain inference can be drawn. They are also applied to a population between three and four millions greater than was contained in ancient France, which population may have always had a smaller proportion of births, deaths, and marriages; and further, it appears highly probable from some of the statements in the Analyse des Procès Verbaux, that the registers had not been very carefully kept. Under these circumstances, they cannot be considered as proving what the numbers imply.
In the year XI., according to the Statistique Elémentaire by Peuchet, published subsequently to his Essai, an inquiry was instituted under the orders of M. Chaptal for the express purpose of ascertaining the average proportion of births to the population;57 and such an inquiry, so soon after the returns of the year IX., affords a clear proof that these returns were not considered by the minister as correct. In order to accomplish the object in view, choice was made of those communes in 30 departments distributed over the whole surface of prance, which were likely to afford the most accurate returns. And these returns for the year VIII., IX., and, X., gave a proportion of births as 1 in 28.35; of deaths, as 1 in 30.09; and of marriages, as 1 in 132.078.
It is observed by M. Peuchet that the proportion of population to the births is here much greater than had been formerly assumed, but he thinks that, as this calculation had been made from actual enumerations, it should be adopted in preference.
The returns published by the government in 1813 make the population of ancient France 28,786,911, which, compared with 28,000,000, the estimated population of the year IX., shew an increase of about 800,000 in the 11 years, from 1802 to 1813.
No returns of marriages are given, and the returns of births and deaths are given only for fifty departments.
In these fifty departments, during the ten years beginning with 1802 and ending with 1811, the whole number of births amounted to 5,478,669, and of deaths to 9,696,857, which, on a population of 16,710,719, indicates a proportion of births, as 1 in 30½, and of deaths as 1 in 35½.
It is natural to suppose that these fifty departments were chosen on account of their shewing the greatest increase. They contain indeed nearly the whole increase that had taken place in all the departments from the time of the enumeration in the year IX.; and consequently the population of the other departments must have been almost stationary. It may further be reasonably conjectured that the returns of marriages were not published on account of their being considered as unsatisfactory, and shewing a diminution of marriages, and an increased proportion of illegitimate births.
From these returns, and the circumstances accompanying them, it may be concluded, that whatever might have been the real proportion of births before the revolution, and for six or seven subsequent years, when the mariages prématurés are alluded to in the Procès Verbaux, and proportions of births as 1 in 21, 22, and 23, are mentioned in the Statistique Générale, the proportions of births, deaths, and marriages, are now all considerably less than they were formerly supposed to be.58
It has been asked, whether, if this fact be allowed, it does not clearly follow that the population was incorrectly estimated before the revolution, and that it has been diminished rather than increased since 1792? To this question I should distinctly answer, that it does not follow. It has been seen, in many of the preceding chapters, that the proportions of births, deaths, and marriages, are extremely different in different countries, and there is the strongest reason for believing that they are very different in the same country at different periods, and under different circumstances.
That changes of this kind have taken place in Switzerland has appeared to be almost certain. A similar effect from increased healthiness in our own country may be considered as an established fact. And if we give any credit to the best authorities that can be collected on the subject, it can scarcely be doubted that the rate of mortality has diminished, during the last one or two hundred years, in almost every country in Europe. There is nothing therefore that ought to surprise us in the mere fact of the same population being kept up, or even a decided increase taking place, under a smaller proportion of births, deaths and marriages. And the only question is, whether the actual circumstances of France seem to render such a change probable.
Now it is generally agreed that the condition of the lower classes of people in France before the revolution was very wretched. The wages of labour were about 20 sous, or ten pence a day, at a time when the wages of labour in England were nearly seventeen pence, and the price of wheat of the same quality in the two countries was not very different Accordingly Arthur Young represents the labouring classes of France, just at the commencement of the revolution, as "76 per cent. worse fed, worse clothed, and worse supported, both in sickness and health, than the same classes in England."59 And though this statement is perhaps rather too strong, and sufficient allowance is not made for the real difference of prices, yet his work every where abounds with observations which shew the depressed condition of the labouring classes in France at that time, and imply the pressure of the population very hard against the limits of subsistence.
On the other hand, it is universally allowed that the condition of the French peasantry has been decidedly improved by the revolution and the division of the national domains. All the writers who advert to the subject notice a considerable rise in the price of labour, partly occasioned by the extension of cultivation, and partly by the demands of the army. In the Statistique Elémentaire of Peuchet, common labour is stated to have risen from 20 to 30 sous,60 while the price of provisions appears to have remained nearly the same; and Mr. Birbeck, in his late Agricultural Tour in France,61 says that the price of labour without board is twenty pence a day, and that provisions of all kinds are full as cheap again as in England. This would give the French labourer the same command of subsistence as an English labourer would have with three shillings and four pence a day. But at no time were the wages of common day-labour in England so high as three shillings and four pence.
Allowing for some errors in these statements, they are evidently sufficient to establish a very marked improvement in the condition of the lower classes of people in France. But it is next to a physical impossibility that such a relief from the pressure of distress should take place without a diminution in the rate of mortality; and if this diminution in the rate of mortality has not been accompanied by a rapid increase of population, it must necessarily have been accompanied by a smaller proportion of births. In the interval between 1802 and 1813 the population seems to have increased, but to have increased slowly. Consequently a smaller proportion of births, deaths, and marriages, or the more general operation of prudential restraint, is exactly what the circumstances would have led us to expect. There is perhaps no proposition more incontrovertible than this, that, in two countries, in which the rate of increase, the natural healthiness of climate, and the state of towns and manufactures are supposed to be nearly the same, the one in which the pressure of poverty is the greatest will have the greatest proportion of births, deaths, and marriages.
It does not then by any means follow, as has been supposed, that because since 1802 the proportion of births in France has been as 1 in 30, Necker ought to have used 30 as his multiplier instead of 25¾. If the representations given of the state of the labouring classes in France before and since the revolution be in any degree near the truth, as the march of the population in both periods seems to have been nearly the same, the present proportion of births could not have been applicable at the period when Necker wrote. At the same time it is by no means improbable that he took too low a multiplier. It is hardly credible under all circumstances that the population of France should have increased in the interval between 1785 and 1802 so much as from 25½ millions to 28. But if we allow that the multiplier might at that time have been 27 instead of 25¾, it will be allowing as much as is in any degree probable, and yet this will imply an increase of nearly two millions from 1785 to 1813; an increase far short of the rate that has taken place in England, but still sufficient amply to shew the force of the principle of population in overcoming obstacles apparently the most powerful.
With regard to the question of the increase of births in the six or seven first years after the commencement of the revolution, there is no probability of its ever being determined.
In the confusion of the times, it is scarcely possible to suppose that the registers should have been regularly kept; and as they were not collected in the year IX., there is no chance of their being brought forward in a correct state at a subsequent period.
Subsequent to the last edition of this work, further details have appeared respecting the population of France.
Since 1817, regular returns have been made of the annual births, deaths, and marriages, over the whole of the territory comprised in the limits of France, as settled in 1814 and 1815; and an enumeration was made of the population in 1820.
In the Annuaire of the Bureau des Longitudes for 1825, the numbers of births, deaths, and marriages are given for six years ending with 1822. The sum of these are,
The annual average:
The population in 1820, according to an enumeration in each department, was 30,451,187.
From these numbers it appears that the proportion of annual births to the population is as 1 to 31.79; or nearly 1/32; the annual mortality as 1 to 39.81, or nearly 1/40; the proportion of annual marriages to the population is as 1 to 139; the proportion of births to deaths as 125.23 to 100, or very nearly as 5 to 4; and the proportion of marriages to births as 1 to 4.37. The proportion of illegitimate to legitimate births is as 1 to 14.6; the proportion of male to female births as 16 to 15; and the proportion of the annual excess of the births above the deaths to the whole population, which, if the returns are accurate, determines the rate of increase as 1 to 157.
To what degree the returns of the births, deaths, and marriages in the 6 years ending with 1822 are accurate, it is impossible to say. There is a regularity in them which has a favourable appearance. We well know, however, that with the same appearance of regularity there are great omissions in the births and deaths of our own registers. This is at once proved by the circumstance of the excess of the births above the deaths in the interval between two enumerations falling considerably short of the increase of population which appears by such enumerations to have taken place. The enumerations in France during the last twenty-five years have not been so regular, or so much to be depended upon, as those in England. The one in 1813, before noticed, may, however, be compared with that in 1820, and if they are both equally near the truth, it will appear that the population of France during the seven years from 1813 to 1820 must have increased considerably faster than during the six years ending with 1822, as determined by the excess of the births above the deaths. The whole of this excess during these six years, as above stated, was 1,158,160, the annual average of which is 193,027, which, compared with the mean population, or the population of 1820, reduced by the increase of a year, will give a proportion of annual increase to the population, as 1 to about 156; and this proportion of the annual excess of the births above the deaths, to the population, will, according to Table II. at the end of Ch. xi. Book ii, give a rate of increase which would double the population in about 108 years.
On the other hand, as the population of old France in 1813 was 28,786,911, and in 1820 30,451,187, the difference or the increase of population during the seven years being 1,664,276, the annual average increase will be 237,753, instead of 193,026; and this greater annual increase, compared with the mean population of the seven years, will be as 1 to 124, instead of 1 to 156, and the rate of increase will be such as would double the population in about 86 years, instead of 108, showing the probability of considerable omissions in the returns of births and deaths in the 6 years ending with 1822. If, indeed, the two enumerations can be considered as equally near the truth, as there is no reason for supposing that any great difference in the proportion of births could have occurred in the three years preceding 1817, it follows that the French registers require the same kind of correction, though not to the same extent, as our own. In a subsequent chapter I have supposed that the returns of the births for England and Wales are deficient 1/6, and of the burials 1/12. This correction applied to the French returns would exceed what is necessary to account for the increase between 1813 and 1820. But if we suppose the births to be deficient 1/10, and the deaths 1/20, the proportion of the births to the population will then be 1/29.1, and the proportion of the deaths 1/38.1. These proportions will make the annual excess of the births above the deaths, compared with the population, as 1 to a little above 123, which, after a slight allowance for deaths abroad, will give the same period of doubling, or the same rate of increase as that which took place in France between 1813 and 1820, supposing both enumerations to be equally hear the truth.
It is worthy of remark, that, after making the above allowances for omissions in the returns of births and deaths, the proportion of deaths appears to be smaller than in any of the registers before collected; and as the proportion of the births is also smaller than either before the revolution or in the returns from the 30 departments in the years VIII., IX. and X. before noticed; and as there is every reason to believe that there were great omissions in the general returns of the year IX. and that the omissions in the returns from the 50 departments in 1813, were not fewer than in the later registers, it may fairly be presumed that the proportion of births has diminished notwithstanding the increased rate at which the population has been proceeding of late years. This increased rate appears to be owing to a diminished mortality, occasioned by the improved situation of the labouring classes since the revolution, and aided probably by the introduction of vaccination. It shews that an acceleration in the rate of increase is quite consistent with a diminution in the proportion of births, and that such a diminution is likely to take place under a diminished mortality from whatever cause or causes arising.
As a curious and striking proof of the error into which we should fall, in estimating the population of countries at different periods by the increase of births, it may be remarked that, according to Necker, the annual births in France on an average of six years, ending with 1780, were 958,586. The births for the same number of years ending with 1822, were, as above stated, 957,875. Estimating therefore the population by the births, it would appear that in 42 years it had rather diminished than increased, whereas, by enumerations, there is every reason to believe that it has increased in that time nearly four millions.
Book II, Chapter VIII
Of the Checks to Population in England.
The most cursory view of society in this country must convince us, that throughout all ranks the preventive check to population prevails in a considerable degree. Those among the higher classes, who live principally in towns, often want the inclination to marry, from the facility with which they can indulge themselves in an illicit intercourse with the sex. And others are deterred from marrying by the idea of the expenses that they must retrench, and the pleasures of which they must deprive themselves, on the supposition of having a family. When the fortune is large, these considerations are certainly trivial; but a preventive foresight of this kind has objects of much greater weight for its contemplation as we go lower.
A man of liberal education, with an income only just sufficient to enable him to associate in the rank of gentlemen, must feel absolutely certain that, if he marry and have a family, he shall be obliged to give up all his former connexions. The woman, whom a man of education would naturally make the object of his choice, is one brought up in the same habits and sentiments with himself, and used to the familiar intercourse of a society totally different from that to which she must be reduced by marriage. Can a man easily consent to place the object of his affection in a situation so discordant, probably, to her habits and inclinations? Two or three steps of descent in society, particularly at this round of the ladder, where education ends and ignorance begins, will not be considered by the generality of people as a chimerical, but a real evil. If society be desirable, it surely must be free, equal and reciprocal society, where benefits are conferred as well as received, and not such as the dependent finds with his patron, or the poor with the rich.
These considerations certainly prevent many in this rank of life from following the bent of their inclinations in an early attachment. Others, influenced either by a stronger passion or a weaker judgment, disregard these considerations; and it would be hard, indeed, if the gratification of so delightful a passion as virtuous love did not sometimes more than counterbalance all its attendant evils. But I fear it must be acknowledged that the more general consequences of such marriages are rather calculated to justify than disappoint the forebodings of the prudent.
The sons of tradesmen and farmers are exhorted not to marry, and generally find it necessary to comply with this advice, till they are settled in some business or farm, which may enable them to support a family. These events may not perhaps occur till they are far advanced in life. The scarcity of farms is a very general complaint; and the competition in every kind of business is so great, that it is not possible that all should be successful. Among the clerks in counting-houses, and the competitors for all kinds of mercantile and professional employment, it is probable that the preventive check to population prevails more than in any other department of society.
The labourer who earns eighteen pence or two shillings a day, and lives at his ease as a single man, will hesitate a little before he divides that pittance among four or five, which seems to be not more than sufficient for one. Harder fare and harder labour he would perhaps be willing to submit to for the sake of living with the woman he loves; but he must feel conscious, that, should he have a large family and any ill fortune whatever, no degree of frugality, no possible exertion of his manual strength, would preserve him from the heart-rending sensation of seeing his children starve, or of being obliged to the parish for their support. The love of independence is a sentiment that surely none would wish to see eradicated; though the poor-laws of England, it must be confessed, are a system of all others the most calculated gradually to weaken this sentiment, and in the end will probably destroy it completely.
The servants who live in the families of the rich have restraints yet stronger to break through in venturing upon marriage. They possess the necessaries, and even the comforts of life, almost in as great plenty as their masters. Their work is easy and their food luxurious, compared with the work and food of the class of labourers; and their sense of dependence is weakened by the conscious power of changing their masters if they feel themselves offended. Thus comfortably situated at present, what are their prospects if they marry? Without knowledge or capital, either for business or farming, and unused and therefore unable to earn a subsistence by daily labour, their only refuge seems to be a miserable alehouse, which certainly offers no very enchanting prospect of a happy evening to their lives. The greater number of them, therefore, deterred by this uninviting view of their future situation, content themselves with remaining single where they are.
If this sketch of the state of society in England be near the truth, it will be allowed that the preventive check to population operates with considerable force throughout all the classes of the community. And this observation is further confirmed by the abstracts from the registers returned in consequence of the Population Act62 passed in 1800.
The results of these abstracts shew, that the annual marriages in England and Wales are to the whole population as 1 to 123 1/5,63 a smaller proportion of marriages than is to be found in any of the countries which have been examined, except Norway and Switzerland.
In the earlier part of the last century, Dr. Short estimated this proportion at about 1 to 115.64 It is probable that this calculation was then correct; and the present diminution in the proportion of marriages, notwithstanding an increase of population more rapid than formerly, owing to the more rapid progress of commerce and agriculture, is partly a cause, and partly a consequence, of the diminished mortality observed of late years.
The returns of the marriages, pursuant to the late act, are supposed to be less liable to the suspicion of inaccuracy than any other parts of the registers.
Dr. Short, in his New Observations on Town and Country Bills of Mortality, says, he will "conclude with the observation of an eminent Judge of this nation, that the growth and increase of mankind is more stinted from the cautious difficulty people make to enter on marriage, from the prospect of the trouble and expenses in providing for a family, than from any thing in the nature of the species." And, in conformity to this idea, Dr. Short proposes to lay heavy taxes and fines on those who live single, for the support of the married poor.65
The observation of the eminent Judge is, with regard to the numbers which are prevented from being born, perfectly just; but the inference, that the unmarried ought to be punished, does not appear to be equally so. The prolific power of nature is very far indeed from being called fully into action in this country. And yet when we contemplate the insufficiency of the price of labour to maintain a large family, and the amount of mortality which arises directly and indirectly from poverty; and add to this the crowds of children, which are cut off prematurely in our great towns, our manufactories and our workhouses; we shall be compelled to acknowledge, that, if the number born annually were not greatly thinned by this premature mortality, the funds for the maintenance of labour must increase with much greater rapidity than they have ever done hitherto in this country, in order to find work and food for the additional numbers that would then grow up to manhood.
Those, therefore, who live single, or marry late, do not by such conduct contribute in any degree to diminish the actual population; but merely to diminish the proportion of premature mortality, which would otherwise be excessive; and consequently in this point of view do not seem to deserve any very severe reprobation or punishment.
The returns of the births and deaths are supposed, on good grounds, to be deficient; and it will therefore be difficult to estimate, with any degree of accuracy, the proportion which they bear to the whole population.
If we divide the existing population of England and Wales by the average of burials for the five years ending in 1800, it would appear, that the mortality was only 1 in 49;66 but this is a proportion so extraordinarily small, considering the number of our great towns and manufactories, that it cannot be considered as approaching to the truth.
Whatever may be the exact proportion of the inhabitants of the towns to the inhabitants of the country, the southern part of this island certainly ranks in that class of states, where this proportion is greater than 1 to 3; indeed there is ample reason to believe, that it is greater than 1 to 2. According to the rule laid down by Crome, the mortality ought consequently to be above 1 in 30;67 according to Sussmilch, above 1 in 33.68 In the Observations on the Results of the Population Act,69 many probable causes of deficiency in the registry of the burials are pointed out; but no calculation is offered respecting the sum of these deficiencies, and I have no data whatever to supply such a calculation. I will only observe, therefore, that if we suppose them altogether to amount to such a number as will make the present annual mortality about 1 in 40, this must appear to be the lowest proportion of deaths that can well be supposed, considering the circumstances of the country; and, if true, would indicate a most astonishing superiority over the generality of other states, either in the habits of the people with respect to prudence and cleanliness, or in natural healthiness of situation.70 Indeed, it seems to be nearly ascertained that both these causes, which tend to diminish mortality, operate in this country to a considerable degree. The small proportion of annual marriages before mentioned indicates that habits of prudence, extremely favourable to happiness, prevail through a large part of the community in spite of the poor-laws; and it appears from the clearest evidence, that the generality of our country parishes are very healthy. Dr. Price quotes an account of Dr. Percival, collected from the ministers of different parishes and taken from positive enumerations, according to which, in some villages, only a 45th, a 50th, a 60th, a 66th, and even a 75th, part dies annually. In many of these parishes the births are to the deaths above 2 to 1, and 4n a single parish above 3 to 1.71 These however are particular instances, and cannot be applied to the agricultural part of the country in general. In some of the flat situations, and particularly those near marshes, the proportions are found very different, and in a few the deaths exceed the births. In the 54 country parishes, the registers of which Dr. Short collected, choosing them purposely in a great variety of situations, the average mortality was as high as 1 in 37.72 This is certainly much above the present mortality of our agricultural parishes in general. The period which Dr. Short took, included some considerable epidemics, which may possibly have been above the usual proportion. But sickly seasons should always be included, or we shall fall into great errors. In 1056 villages of Brandenburgh, which Sussmilch examined, the mortality for six good years was 1 in 43; for 10 mixed years about 1 in 38½.73 In the villages of England which Sir F. M. Eden mentions, the mortality seems to be about 1 in 47 or 48;74 and in the late returns pursuant to the Population Act, a still greater degree of healthiness appears. Combining these observations together, if we take 1 in 46 or 1 in 48, as the average mortality of the agricultural part of the country, including sickly seasons, this will be the lowest that can be supposed with any degree of probability. But this proportion will certainly be raised to 1 in 40, when we blend it with the mortality of the towns and the manufacturing part of the community, in order to obtain the average for the whole kingdom.
The mortality in London, which includes so considerable a part of the inhabitants of this country, was, according to Dr. Price, at the time he made his calculations, 1 in 20¾; in Norwich 1 in 24; in Northampton 1 in 26½; in Newbury 1 in 27½;75 in Manchester 1 in 28; in Liverpool 1 in 27½,76 8c. He observes that the number dying annually in towns is seldom so low as 1 in 28, except in consequence of a rapid increase produced by an influx of people at those periods of life when the fewest die, which is the case with Manchester and Liverpool,77 and other very flourishing manufacturing towns. In general he thinks that the mortality in great towns may be stated at from 1 in 1978 to 1 in 22 and 23; in moderate towns, from 1 in 24 to 1 in 28; and in the country villages, from 1 in 40 to 1 in 50.79
The tendency of Dr. Price to exaggerate the unhealthiness of towns may perhaps be objected to these statements; but the objection seems to be only of weight with regard to London. The accounts from the other towns, which are given, are from documents which his particular opinions could not influence.80 It should be remarked; however, that there is good reason to believe, that not only London, but the other towns in England, and probably also country villages, were at the time of these calculations less healthy than at present. Dr. William Heberden observes, that the registers of the ten years from 1759 to 1768,81 , from which Dr. Price calculated the probabilities of life in London, indicate a much greater degree of unhealthiness than the registers of late years. And the returns pursuant to the Population Act, even after allowing for great omissions in the burials, exhibit in all our provincial towns, and in the country, a degree of healthiness much greater than had before been calculated. At the same time I cannot but think that 1 in 31, the proportion of mortality for London mentioned in the Observations on the Results of the Population Act,82 is smaller than the truth. Five thousand are not probably enough to allow for the omissions in the burials; and the absentees in the employments of war and commerce are not sufficiently adverted to. In estimating the proportional mortality the resident population alone should be considered.
There certainly seems to be something in great towns, and even in moderate towns, peculiarly unfavourable to the very early stages of life; and the part of the community, on which the mortality principally falls, seems to indicate that it arises more from the closeness and foulness of the air, which may be supposed to be unfavourable to the tender lungs of children, and the greater confinement which they almost necessarily experience, than from the superior degree of luxury and debauchery usually and justly attributed to towns. A married pair with the best constitutions, who lead the most regular and quiet life, seldom find that their children enjoy the same health in towns as in the country.
In London, according to former calculations, one half of the born died under three years of age; in Vienna and Stockholm under two; in Manchester under five; in Norwich under five: in Northampton under ten.83 In country villages, on the contrary, half of the born live till thirty, thirty-five, forty, forty-six, and above. In the parish of Ackworth, in Yorkshire, it appears, from a very exact account kept by Dr. Lee of the ages at which all died there for 20 years, that half of the inhabitants live to the age of 46;84 and there is little doubt, that, if the same kind of account had been kept in some of those parishes before mentioned, in which the mortality is so small as 1 in 60, 1 in 66, and even 1 in 75, half of the born would be found to have lived to 50 or 55.
As the calculations respecting the ages to which half of the born live in towns depend more upon the births and deaths which appear in the registers, than upon any estimates of the number of people, they are on this account less liable to uncertainty, than the calculations respecting the proportion of the inhabitants of any place which dies annually.
To fill up the void occasioned by this mortality in towns, and to answer all further demands for population, it is evident that a constant supply of recruits from the country is necessary; and this supply appears in fact to be always flowing in from the redundant births of the country. Even in those towns where the births exceed the deaths, this effect is produced by the marriages of persons not born in the place. At a time when our provincial towns were increasing much less rapidly than at present, Dr. Short calculated that 9/19 of the married were strangers.85 Of 1618 married men, and 1618 married women, examined at the Westminster infirmary, only 329 of the men and 495 of the women had been born in London.86
Dr. Price supposes that London with its neighbouring parishes, where the deaths exceed the births, requires a supply of 10,000 persons annually. Graunt, in his time, estimated the supply for London alone at 6,000;87 and he further observes, that, let the mortality of the city be what it will, arising from plague, or any other great cause of destruction, it always fully repairs its loss in two years.88
As all these demands, therefore, are supplied from the country, it is evident that we should fall into a very great error, if we were to estimate the proportion of births to deaths for the whole kingdom, by the proportion observed in country parishes, from which there must be such numerous emigrations.
We need not, however, accompany Dr. Price in his apprehensions that the country will be depopulated by these emigrations, at least as long as the funds for the maintenance of agricultural labour remain unimpaired. The proportion of births, as well as the proportion of marriages, clearly proves, that, in spite of our increasing towns and manufactories, the demand on the country for people is by no means very pressing.
If we divide the present population of England and Wales by the average number of baptisms for the last five years,89 it will appear, that the baptisms are to the population as 1 to very nearly 36;90 but it is supposed, with reason, that there are great omissions in the baptisms.
Dr. Short estimated the proportion of births to the population of England as one to 28.91 In the agricultural report of Suffolk, the proportion of births to the population was calculated at 1 to 30. For the whole of Suffolk, according to the late returns, this proportion is not much less than 1 to 33.92 According to a correct account of thirteen villages from actual enumerations, produced by Sir F. M. Eden, the proportion of births to the population was as 1 to 33; and according to another account on the same authority; taken from towns and manufacturing parishes, as 1 to 27¾.93 If, combining all these circumstances, and adverting at the same time to the acknowledged deficiency in the registry of births, and the known increase of our population of late years, we suppose the true proportion of the births to the population to be as 1 to 30; then assuming the present mortality to be 1 in 40, as before suggested, we shall nearly keep the proportion of baptisms to burials which appears in the late returns. The births will be to the deaths as 4 to 3 or 13 1/3 to 10, a proportion more than sufficient to account for the increase of population which has taken place since the American war, after allowing for those who may be supposed to have died abroad.
In the Observations on the Results of the Population Act it is remarked that the average duration of life in England appears to have increased in the proportion of 117 to 100,94 since the year 1780. So great a change, in so short a time, if true, would be a most striking phenomenon. But I am inclined to suspect that the whole of this proportional diminution of burials does not arise from increased healthiness, but is occasioned, in part, by the greater number of deaths which must necessarily have taken place abroad, owing to the very rapid increase of our foreign commerce since this period; and to the great number of persons absent on naval and military employments, and the constant supply of fresh recruits necessary to maintain undiminished so great a force. A perpetual drain of this kind would certainly have a tendency to produce the effect observed in the returns, and might keep the burials stationary, while the births and marriages were increasing with some rapidity. At the same time, as the increase of population since 1780 is incontrovertible, and the present mortality extraordinarily small, I should still be disposed to believe, that much the greater part of the effect is to be attributed to increased healthiness.
A mortality of 1 in 36 is perhaps too small a proportion of deaths for the average of the whole century; but a proportion of births to deaths as 12 to 10, calculated on a mortality of 1 in 36, would double the population of a country in 125 years, and is therefore as great a proportion of births to deaths, as can be true for the average of the whole century. None of the late calculations imply a more rapid increase than this.
We must not suppose, however, that this proportion of births to deaths, or any assumed proportion of births and deaths to the whole population, has continued nearly uniform throughout the century. It appears from the registers of every country which have been kept for any length of time, that considerable variations occur at different periods. Dr. Short, about the middle of the century, estimated the proportion of births to deaths as 11 to 10;95 and if the births were at the same time a twenty-eighth part of the population, the mortality was then as high as 1 in 30 4/5. We now suppose that the proportion of births to deaths is above 13 to 10; but if we were to assume this proportion as a criterion by which to estimate the increase of population for the next hundred years, we should probably fall into a very gross error. We cannot reasonably suppose that the resources of this country should increase for any long continuance with such rapidity as to allow of a permanent proportion of births to deaths as 13 to 10, unless indeed this proportion were principally caused by great foreign drains.
From all the data that could be collected, the proportion of births to the whole population of England and Wales, has been assumed to be as 1 to 30; but this is a smaller proportion of births than has appeared in the course of this review to take place in any other country except Norway and Switzerland; and it has been hitherto usual with political calculators, to consider a great proportion of births as the surest sign of a vigorous and flourishing state. It is to be hoped, however, that this prejudice will not last long. In countries circumstanced like America or Russia, or in other countries after any great mortality, a large proportion of births is a favourable symptom; but in the average state of a well-peopled territory there cannot well be a worse sign than a large proportion of births, nor can there well be a better sign than a small proportion.
Sir Francis d'Ivernois very justly observes, that, "if the various states of Europe kept and published annually an exact account of their population, noting carefully in a second column the exact age at which the children die, this second column would shew the relative merit of the governments, and the comparative happiness of their subjects. A simple arithmetical statement would then perhaps be more conclusive than all the arguments that could be adduced."96 In the importance of the inferences to be drawn from such tables, I fully agree with him; and to make these inferences, it is evident, that we should attend less to the column expressing the number of children born, than to the column expressing the number which survived the age of infancy and reached manhood; and this number will almost invariably be the greatest, where the proportion of the births to the whole population is the least. In this point, we rank next after Norway and Switzerland, which, considering the number of our great towns and manufactories, is certainly a very extraordinary fact. As nothing can be more clear, than that all our demands for population are fully supplied, if this be done with a small proportion of births, it is a decided proof of a very small mortality, a distinction on which we may justly pride ourselves. Should it appear from future investigations that I have made too great an allowance for omissions both in the births and in the burials, I shall be extremely happy to find that this distinction, which, other circumstances being the same, I consider as the surest test of happiness and good government, is even greater than I have supposed it to be. In despotic, miserable, or naturally unhealthy countries, the proportion of births to the whole population will generally be found very great.
On an average of the five years ending in 1800, the proportion of births to marriages is 347 to 100. In 1760, it was 362 to 100, from which an inference is drawn, that the registers of births, however deficient, were certainly not more deficient formerly than at present.97 But a change of this nature, in the appearance of the registers, might arise from causes totally unconnected with deficiencies. If from the acknowledged greater healthiness of the latter part of the century, compared with the middle of it, a greater number of children survived the age of infancy, a greater proportion of the born would of course live to marry, and this circumstance would produce a greater present proportion of marriages compared with the births. On the other hand, if the marriages were rather more prolific formerly than at present, owing to their being contracted at an earlier age, the effect would be a greater proportion of births compared with the marriages. The operation of either or both of these causes would produce exactly the effect observed in the registers: and consequently from the existence of such an effect no inference can justly be drawn against the supposed increasing accuracy of the registers. The influence of the two causes just mentioned on the proportions of annual births to marriages will be explained in a subsequent chapter.
With regard to the general question, whether we have just grounds for supposing that the registry of births and deaths was more deficient in the former part of the century than in the latter part; I should say, that the late returns tend to confirm the suspicion of former inaccuracy, and to shew that the registers of the earlier part of the century, in every point of view, afford very uncertain data on which to ground any estimates of past population. In the years 1710, 1720, and 1730, it appears from the returns that the deaths exceeded the births; and taking the six periods ending in 1750,98 including the first half of the century, if we compare the sum of the births with the sum of the deaths, the excess of the births is so small, as to be perfectly inadequate to account for the increase of a million, which, upon a calculation from the births alone, is supposed to have taken place in that time.99 Consequently, either the registers are very inaccurate, and the deficiencies in the births greater than in the deaths; or these periods, each at the distance of ten years, do not express the just average. These particular years may have been more unfavourable with respect to the proportion of births to deaths than the rest; indeed one of them, 1710, is known to have been a year of great scarcity and distress. But if this suspicion, which is very probable, be admitted, so as to affect the six first periods, we may justly suspect the contrary accident to have happened with regard to the three following periods ending with 1780; in which thirty years it would seem, by the same mode of calculation, that an increase of a million and a half had taken place.100 At any rate it must be allowed, that the three separate years, taken in this manner, can by no means be considered as sufficient to establish a just average; and what rather encourages the suspicion, that these particular years might be more than usually favourable with regard to births is, that the increase of births from 1780 to 1785 is unusually small,101 which would naturally be the case without supposing a slower progress than before, if the births in 1780 had been accidentally above the average.
On the whole, therefore, considering the probable inaccuracy of the earlier registers, and the very great danger of fallacy in drawing general inferences from a few detached years, I do not think that we can depend upon any estimates of past population, founded on a calculation from the births, till after the year 1780, when every following year is given; and a just average of the births may be obtained. As a further confirmation of this remark I will just observe, that in the final summary of the abstracts from the registers of England and Wales it appears, that in the year 1790, the total number of births was 248,774, in the year 1795, 247,218, and in 1800, 247,147.102 Consequently if we had been estimating the population from the births, taken at three separate periods of five years, it would have appeared, that the population during the last ten years had been regularly decreasing, though we have very good reason to believe, that it has increased considerably.
In the Observations on the Results of the Population Act,103 a table is given of the population of England and Wales throughout the last century, calculated from the births; but for the reasons given above, little reliance can be placed upon it; and for the population at the revolution, I should be inclined to place more dependence on the old calculations from the number of houses.
It is possible, indeed, though not probable, that these estimates of the population at the different periods of the century may not be very far from the truth, because opposite errors may have corrected each other; but the assumption of the uniform proportion of births on which they are founded is false on the face of the calculations themselves. According to these calculations, the increase of population was more rapid in the period from 1760 to 1780, than from 1780 to 1800; yet it appears, that the proportion of deaths about the year 1780 was greater than in 1800 in the ratio of 117 to 100. Consequently the proportion of births before 1780 must have been much greater than in 1800, or the population in that period could not possibly have increased faster. This overthrows at once the supposition of any thing like uniformity in the proportion of births.
I should indeed have supposed from the analogy of other countries, and the calculations of Mr. King and Dr. Short, that the proportion of births at the beginning and in the middle of the century was greater than at the end. But this supposition would, in a calculation from the births, give a smaller population in the early part of the century than is given in the Results of the Population Act, though there are strong reasons for supposing that the population there given is too small. According to Davenant, the number of houses in 1690 was 1,319,215, and there is no reason to think that this calculation erred on the side of excess. Allowing only five to a house instead of 5 3/5, which is supposed to be the proportion at present, this would give a population of above six millions and a half, and it is perfectly incredible, that from this time to the year 1710, the population should have diminished nearly a million and a half. It is far more probable that the omissions in the births should have been much greater than at present, and greater than in the deaths; and this is further confirmed by the observation before alluded to, that in the first half of the century the increase of population, as calculated from the births, is much greater than is warranted by the proportion of births to deaths. In every point of view, therefore, the calculations from the births are little to be depended on.
It must indeed have appeared to the reader, in the course of this work, that registers of births or deaths, excluding any suspicion of deficiencies, must at all times afford very uncertain data for an estimate of population. On account of the varying circumstances of every country, they are both precarious guides. From the greater apparent regularity of the births, political calculators have generally adopted them as the ground of their estimates in preference to the deaths. Necker, in estimating the population of France, observes, that an epidemic disease, or an emigration, may occasion temporary differences in the deaths, and that therefore the number of births is the most certain criterion.104 But the very circumstance of the apparent regularity of the births in the registers will now and then lead into great errors. If in any country we can obtain registers of burials for two or three years together, a plague or mortal epidemic will always shew itself, from the very sudden increase of the deaths during its operation, and the still greater diminution of them afterwards. From these appearances, we should of course be directed, not to include the whole of a great mortality in any very short term of years. But there would be nothing of this kind to guide us in the registers of births; and after a country had lost an eighth part of its population by a plague, an average of the five or six subsequent years might shew an increase in the number of births, and our calculations would give the population the highest at the very time that it was the lowest. This appears very strikingly in many of Sussmilch's tables, and most particularly in a table for Prussia and Lithuania, which I shall insert in a subsequent chapter; where, in the year following to the loss of one third of the population, the births were considerably increased, and in an average of five years but very little diminished; and this at a time when, of course, the country could have made but a very small progress towards recovering its former population.
We do not know indeed of any extraordinary mortality which has occurred in England since 1700; and there are reasons for supposing that the proportions of the births and deaths to the population during the last century have not experienced such great variations as in many countries on the continent; at the same time it is certain that the sickly seasons which are known to have occurred, would, in proportion to the degree of their fatality, produce similar effects; and the change which has been observed in the mortality of late years, should dispose us to believe, that similar changes might formerly have taken place respecting the births, and should instruct us to be extremely cautious in applying the proportions, which are observed to be true at present, to past or future periods.
Book II, Chapter IX
Of the Checks to Population in England (continued).
The returns of the Population Act in 1811 undoubtedly presented extraordinary results. They shewed a greatly accelerated rate of progress, and a greatly improved healthiness of the people, notwithstanding the increase of the towns and the increased proportion of the population engaged in manufacturing employments. They thus furnished another striking instance of the readiness with which population starts forwards, under almost any weight, when the resources of a country are rapidly increasing.
The amount of the population in 1800, together with the proportions of births, deaths and marriages, given in the registers, had made it appear that the population had been for some time increasing at a rate rather exceeding what would result from a proportion of births to deaths as 4 to 3, with a mortality of 1 in 40.
These proportions would add to the population of a country every year 120th part; and if they were to continue, would, according to table ii., ch. xi. double the population in every successive period of 83½ years. This is a rate of progress which in a rich and well-peopled country might reasonably be expected to diminish rather than to increase. But instead of any such diminution, it appears that as far as 1810 it had been considerably accelerated.
In 1810, according to the returns from each parish, with the additions of 1/30 for the soldiers, sailors, 8c., the population of England and Wales was estimated at 10,488,000,1 which, compared with 9,168,000, the population of 1800, estimated in a similar manner, shews an increase in the ten years of 1,320,000.
The registered baptisms during ten years were 2,878,906, and the registered burials 1,950,189. The excess of the births is therefore 928,717, which falls very considerably short of the increase shewn by the two enumerations. This deficiency could only be occasioned either by the enumeration in 1800 being below the truth, or by the inaccuracy of the registers of births and burials, or by the operation of these two causes combined; as it is obvious that, if the population in 1800 were estimated correctly, and the registers contained all the births and burials, the difference must exceed rather than fall short of the real addition to the population; that is, it would exceed it exactly by the number of persons dying abroad in the army, navy, 8c.
There is reason to believe that both causes had a share in producing the effect observed, though the latter, that is, the inaccuracy of the registers, in much the greatest degree.
In estimating the population throughout the century,2 the births have been assumed to bear the same proportion at all times to the number of people. It has been seen that such an assumption might often lead to a very incorrect estimate of the population of a country at different and distant periods. As the population however is known to have increased with great rapidity from 1800 to 1810, it is probable that the proportion of births did not essentially diminish during that period. But if, taking the last enumeration as correct, we compare the births of 1810 with the births of 1800, the result will imply a larger population in 1800 than is given in the enumeration for that year.
Thus the average of the last five years' births to 1810 is 297,000, and the average of the five years' births to 1800 is 263,000. But 297,000 is to 263,000 as 10,488,000, the population of 1810, to 9,287,000, which must therefore have been the population in 1800, if the proportion of births be assumed to be the same, instead of 9,198,000, the result of the enumeration. It is further to be observed that the increase of population from 1795 to 1800 is according to the table unusually small, compared with most of the preceding periods of five years. And a slight inspection of the registers will shew that the proportion of births for five years from 1795, including the diminished numbers of 1796 and 1800, was more likely to be below than above the general average. For these reasons, together with the general impression on the subject, it is probable that the enumeration in 1800 was short of the truth, and perhaps the population at that time may be safely taken at as much as 9,287,000 at the least, or about 119,000 greater than the returns gave it.
But even upon this supposition, neither the excess of births above the deaths in the whole of the ten years, nor the proportion of births to deaths, as given in the registers, will account for an increase from 9,287,000, to 10,488,000. Yet it is not probable that the increase has been much less than is shewn by the proportion of the births at the two periods. Some allowance must therefore necessarily be made for omissions in the registers of births and deaths, which are known to be very far from correct, particularly the registers of births.
There is reason to believe that there are few or no omissions in the register of marriages; and if we suppose the omissions in the births to be one-6th, this will preserve a proportion of the births to the marriages as 4 to 1, a proportion which appears to be satisfactorily established upon other grounds;3 but if we are warranted in this supposition, it will be fair to take the omissions in the deaths at such a number as will make the excess of the births above the deaths in the ten years accord with the increase of population estimated by the increase of the births.
The registered births in the ten years, as was mentioned before, are 2,878,906, which increased by one-6th will be 3,358,723. The registered burials are 1,950,189, which increased by one-12th will be 2,112,704. The latter subtracted from the former will give 1,246,019 for the excess of births, and the increase of population in the ten years, which number added to 9,287,000, the corrected population of 1800, will give 10,533,019, forty-five thousand above the enumeration of 1810, leaving almost exactly the number which in the course of the ten years appears to have died abroad. This number has been calculated generally at about 4¼, per cent. on the male births; but in the present case there are the means of ascertaining more accurately the number of males dying abroad during the period in question. In the last population returns the male and female births and deaths are separated; and from the excess of the male births above the female births, compared with the male and female deaths, it appears that forty-five thousand males died abroad.4
The assumed omissions therefore in the births and burials seem to answer so far very well.
It remains to see whether the same suppositions will give such a proportion of births to deaths, with such a rate of mortality, as will also account for an increase of numbers in ten years from 9,287,000 to 10,488,000.
If we divide the population of 1810 by the average births of the preceding five years, with the addition of one-6th, it will appear that the proportion of births to the population is as 1 to 30. But it is obvious that if the population be increasing with some rapidity, the average of births for five years, compared with the population at the end of such period, must give the proportion of births too small. And further, there is always a probability that a proportion which is correct for five years may not be correct for ten years. In order to obtain the true proportion applicable to the progress of population during the period in question, we must compare the annual average of the births, for the whole term, with the average or mean population of the whole term.
The whole number of births, with the addition of 1/6, is, as before stated, 3,358,723, and the annual average during the ten years 335,872. The mean population, or the mean between 10,488,000 (the population of 1810) and 9,287,000 (the corrected population of 1800) is 9,887,000; and the latter number divided by the average of the births will give a proportion of births to the population as 1 to rather less than 29½, instead of 30, which will make a considerable difference.
In the same manner, if we divide the population of 1810 by the average of the burials for the preceding five years, with the addition of one-12th, the mortality will appear to be as 1 in nearly 50; but upon the same grounds as with regard to the births, an average of the burials for five years, compared with the population at the end of such term, must give the proportion of burials too small; and further, it is known, in the present case, that the proportion of burials to the population by no means continued the same during the whole time. In fact the registers clearly shew an improvement in the healthiness of the country, and a diminution of mortality progressively through the ten years; and while the average number of annual births increased from 263,000 to 287,000, or more than one-8th, the burials increased only from 192,000 to 196,000 or one-48th. It is obviously necessary then for the purpose in view to compare the average mortality with the average or mean population.
The whole number of burials in the ten years, with the addition of one-12th, is, as was before stated, 2,112,704, and the mean population 9,887,000. The latter, divided by the former, gives the annual average of burials compared with the population as 1 to rather less than 47. But a proportion of births as 1 to 29½, with a proportion of deaths as 1 to 47, will add yearly to the numbers of a country one-79th of the whole, and in ten years will increase the population from 9,287,000 to 10,531,000, leaving 43,000 for the deaths abroad, and agreeing very nearly with the calculation founded on the excess of births.5
We may presume therefore that the assumed omissions in the births and deaths from 1800 to 1810 are not far from the truth.
But if these omissions of one-6th for the births, and one-12th for the burials, may be considered as nearly right for the period between 1800 and 1810, it is probable that they may be applied without much danger of error to the period between 1780 and 1800, and may serve to correct some of the conclusions founded on the births alone. Next to an accurate enumeration, a calculation from the excess of births above the deaths is the most to be depended upon. Indeed when the registers contain all the births and deaths, and there are the means of setting out from a known population, it is obviously the same as an actual enumeration; and where a nearly correct allowance can be made for the omissions in the registers, and for the deaths abroad, a much nearer approximation to it may be obtained in this way than from the proportion of births to the whole population, which is known to be liable to such frequent variations.
The whole number of births returned in the twenty years, from 1780 to 1800, is 5,014,899, and of the burials 3,840,455. If we add one-6th to the former, and one-12th to the latter, the two numbers will be 5,850,715, and 4,160,492; and subtracting the latter from the former, the excess of the births above the deaths will be 1,690,223. Adding this excess to the population of 1780, as calculated in Mr. Rickman's tables, from the births, which is 7,953,000, the result will be 9,643,000, a number which, after making a proper allowance for the deaths abroad, is very much above the population of 1800, as before corrected, and still more above the number which is given in the table as of the enumeration.
But if we proceed upon the safer ground just suggested, and, taking the corrected population of 1800 as established, subtract from it the excess of the births during the twenty years, diminished by the probable number of deaths abroad, which in this case will be about 124,000, we shall have the number 7,721,000 for the population of 1780, instead of 7,953,000; and there is good reason to believe that this is nearer the truth;6 and that not only in 1780, but in many of the intermediate periods, the estimate from the births has represented the population as greater, and increasing more irregularly, than would be found to be true, if recourse could be had to enumerations. This has arisen from the proportion of births to the population being variable, and, on the whole, greater in 1780, and at other periods during the course of the twenty years, than it was in 1800.
In 1795, for instance, the population is represented to be 9,055,000, and in 1800, 9,168,000;7 but if we suppose the first number to be correct, and add the excess of the births above the deaths in the five intervening years, even without making any allowance for omissions in the registers, we shall find that the population in 1800 ought to have been 9,398,000, instead of 9,168,000; or if we take the number returned for 1800 as correct, it will appear, by subtracting from it the excess of births during the five preceding years, that the population in 1795 ought to have been 8,825,000, instead of 9,055,000. Hence it follows, that the estimate from the births in 1795 cannot be correct.
To obtain the population at that period, the safest way is to apply the before-mentioned corrections to the registers, and, having made the allowance of 4¼ per cent. on the male births for the deaths abroad, subtract the remaining excess of the births from the corrected returns of 1800. The result in this case will be 8,831,086 for the population of 1795, implying an increase in the five years of 455,914, instead of only 1,13,000, as shewn by the table calculated from the births.
If we proceed in the same manner with the period from 1790 to 1795, we shall find that the excess of births above the deaths (after the foregoing corrections have been applied, and an allowance has been made of 4¼ per cent. upon the male births for the deaths abroad), will be 415,669, which, subtracted from 8,831,086, the population of 1795, as above estimated, leaves 8,415,417 for the population of 1790.
Upon the same principle, the excess of the births above the deaths in the interval between 1785 and 1790 will turn out to be 416,776. The population in 1785 will therefore be 7,998,641. And in like manner the excess of the births above the deaths in the interval between 1780 and 1785 will be 277,544, and the population in 1780 7,721,097.
The two tables therefore, of the population, from 1780 to 1810, will stand thus:
In the first table, or table calculated from the births alone, the additions made to the population in each period of five years are as follow;—
In the second table, or table calculated from the excess of the births above the deaths, after the proposed corrections have been applied, the additions made to the population in each period of five years will stand thus:—
The progress of the population, according to this latter table, appears much more natural and probable than according to the former.
It is in no respect likely that, in the interval between 1780 and 1785, the increase of the population should only have been 63,000, and in the next period 659,000; or that, in the interval between 1795 and 1800, it should have been only 113,000, and in the next period 660,000. But it is not necessary to dwell on probabilities; the most distinct proofs may be brought to shew that, whether the new table be right or not, the old table must be wrong. Without any allowances being made for omissions in the registers, the excess of the births above the deaths, in the period from 1780 to 1785, shews an increase of 193,000, instead of 63,000. And, on the other hand, no allowances for omissions in the registers, that could with the slightest degree of probability be supposed, would make the excess of births above the deaths in the period from 1785 to 1790 equal to 659,000. Making no allowance for omissions, this excess only amounts to 317,306; and if we were to suppose the omissions in the births one-4th, instead of one-6th, and that there were no omissions in the registers of burials, and that no one died abroad, the excess would still fall short of the number stated by many thousands.
The same results would follow, if we were to estimate the progress of population during these periods by the proportion of births to deaths, and the rate of mortality. In the first period the increase would turn out to be very much greater than the increase stated, and in the other very much less.
Similar observations may be made with regard to some of the other periods in the old table, particularly that between 1795 and 1800, which has been already noticed.
It will be found on the other hand, that, if the proportion of births to deaths during each period be estimated with tolerable accuracy and compared with the mean population, the rate of the progress of the population determined by this criterion will, in every period, agree very nearly with the rate of progress determined by the excess of the births above the deaths, after applying the proposed corrections. And it is further worthy of remark that, if the corrections proposed should be in some degree inaccurate, as is probable, the errors arising from any such inaccuracies are likely to be very much less considerable than those which must necessarily arise from the assumption on which the old table is founded; namely, that the births bear at all times the same proportion to the population.
Of course I do not mean to reject any estimates of population formed in this way, when no better materials are to be found; but, in the present case, the registers of the burials as well as baptisms are given every year, as far back as 1780, and these registers, with the firm ground of the last enumeration to stand upon, afford the means of giving a more correct table of the population from 1780 than was before furnished, and of shewing at the same time the uncertainty of estimates from the births alone, particularly with a view to the progress of population during particular periods. In estimating the whole population of a large country, two or three hundred thousand are not of much importance; but, in estimating the rate of increase during a period of five or ten years, an error to this amount is quite fatal. It will be allowed, I conceive, to make an essential difference in our conclusions respecting the rate of increase for any five years which we may fix upon, whether the addition made to the population during the term in question is 63,000 or 277,000, 115,000 or 456,000, 659,000 or 417,000.
With regard to the period of the century previous to 1780, as the registers of the baptisms and burials are not returned for every year, it is not possible to apply the same corrections. And it will be obvious that, in the table calculated from the births previous to this period, when the registers are only given for insulated years at some distance from each other, very considerable errors may arise, not merely from the varying proportion of the births to the population, on averages of five years, but from the individual years produced not representing with tolerable correctness these averages.8 A very slight glance at the valuable table of baptisms, burials and marriages, given in the Preliminary Observations to the Population Abstracts,9 will shew how very little dependence ought to be placed upon inferences respecting the population drawn from the number of births, deaths or marriages in individual years. If, for instance, we were estimating the population in the two years 1800 and 1801, compared with the two following years 1802 and 1803, from the proportion of marriages to the population, assuming this proportion to be always the same, it would appear that, if the population in the first two years were nine millions, in the second two years immediately succeeding it would be considerably above twelve millions, and thus it would seem to have increased above three millions, or more than one-third, in this short interval. Nor would the result of an estimate, formed from the births for the two years 1800 and 1801, compared with the two years 1803 and 1804, be materially different; at least such an estimate would indicate an increase of two millions six hundred thousand in three years.
The reader can hardly be surprised at these results, if he recollects that the births, deaths and marriages bear but a small proportion to the whole population; and that consequently variations in either of these, which may take place from temporary causes, cannot possibly be accompanied by similar variations in, the whole mass of the population. An increase in the births of one-third, which might occur in a single year, instead of increasing the population one-third, would only perhaps increase it one-eightieth or ninetieth.
It follows therefore, as I stated in the last chapter, that the table of the population for the century previous to 1780, calculated from the returns of the births alone, at the distance of ten years each, can only be considered as a very rough approximation towards the truth, in the absence of better materials, and can scarcely in any degree be depended upon for the comparative rate of increase at particular periods.
The population in 1810, compared with that of 1800, corrected as proposed in this chapter, implies a less rapid increase than the difference between the two enumerations; and it has further appeared that the assumed proportion of births to deaths as 47 to 29½ is rather below than above the truth. Yet this proportion is quite extraordinary for a rich and well-peopled territory. It would add to the population of a country one-79th every year, and, were it to continue, would, according to table ii. ch. xi. of this book, double the number of inhabitants in less than fifty-five years.
This is a rate of increase, which in the nature of things cannot be permanent. It has been occasioned by the stimulus of a greatly-increased demand for labour, combined with a greatly-increased power of production, both in agriculture and manufactures. These are the two elements which form the most effective encouragement to a rapid increase of population. What has taken place is a striking illustration of the principle of population, and a proof that in spite of great towns, manufacturing occupations, and the gradually-acquired habits of an opulent anti luxuriant people, if the resources of a country will admit of a rapid increase, anal if these resources are so advantageously distributed as to occasion a constantly-increasing demand for labour, the population will not fail to keep pace with them.
Since the publication of the last edition of this work in 1817, a third census of the population has taken place, and the results are highly worthy of our attention.
According to the enumeration in 1821, and the corrected returns of 1811, and 1801, as given in the preliminary observations to the published account by Mr. Rickman, the population of Great Britain was, in 1801, 10,942,646; in 1811, 12,596,803, and in 1821, 14,391,631.
These numbers taken as first stated, and including the very large numbers of males added in 1811 for the army and navy, give an increase of 15 per cent. in the ten years, from 1800 to 1811, and only 14¼ per cent. from 1810 to 1821.10 But it is calculated that out of the 640,500 males added for the army, navy, and merchant service, above one-third must have been Irish and foreigners. Adding therefore only 1/30 to the resident population in 1801 and 1811, and on account of the peace allowing only 1/50 for the absent males in 1821, the population of England and Wales at the three different periods, without reference to any supposed deficiency in the first enumeration, will stand thus: in 1801, 9,168,000; in 1811, 10,502,500; and in 1821, 12,218,500, giving an increase in the interval between 1800 and 1811 of 14¼ per cent. and in the interval between 1810 and 1821, of 16 1/3 percent. The first of these two rates of increase would double the population in 51 and the other in 46 years. As, however, there must always be some uncertainty respecting the proportion of the persons employed in the army, navy and merchant service, properly belonging to the resident population, and as the male population is on other accounts more frequently on the move than the female, it has been judiciously proposed to estimate the rate of increase by the female population alone. The number of females in Great Britain was in 1801, 5,492,354; in 1811, 6,262,716; and in 1821, 7,253,728, giving an increase in the first period of 14.02 per cent. and in the second of 15.82.11
The increase of Scotland taken by itself was in the first period 13 per cent. and in the second 14½. The increase of England and Wales exclusive of Scotland appears to be almost exactly the same; particularly in the second period, whether we estimate it from the females alone, or from the whole population, with the proposed allowances for the army and navy, 8c. a proof that these allowances are not far from the truth. At the same time, it should perhaps be remarked, that if, on account of the war, during the greater part of the period from 1800 to 1821, there must have been a greater portion of the male population destroyed than usual, the increase of the whole population ought not to be so great in proportion as the increase of the females; and that if such an increase appears, it is probably owing to too great a number of males having been added to the resident population for the army and navy, or to an influx from Scotland and Ireland.
The numbers above-mentioned, and the rates of increase, have been stated as given by Mr. Rickman in the Preliminary Observations to the Population Abstracts. But in the former part of this chapter, I assumed on what appeared to me to be sufficient grounds that the first enumeration was not so correct as that of 1811, and it is probable that the enumeration of 1811 is not quite so correct as that of 1821. In this case the rates of increase in the two periods will not be so great as above stated, but still they will appear to be very extraordinary.
According to the assumed estimate the population, as given in the enumeration of 1801, was about 119,000 short of the truth; and if on this ground we take the female population of the census in 1801 as deficient 60,000, and suppose that in 1811 it was deficient 30,000, the numbers of females in England and Wales at the different periods will stand thus: In 1801, 4,687,867; in 1811, 5,313,219; and in 1821, 6,144,709; giving an increase of 13.3 per cent. in the period from 1800 to 1811, and of 15.6 per cent. in the period from 1800 to 1821; making the rate of increase in the former period such as, if continued, would double the population in about 55 years, and in the latter, such as would double it in 48 years. Taking the whole 20 years together, the rate of increase would be such as, if continued, would double the population in about 51 years.
This is no doubt a most extraordinary rate of increase, considering the actual population of the country compared with its territory, and the number of its great towns and manufactories. It is less however than that which is stated in the Preliminary Observations to the Population Abstracts. Yet even according to this slower rate of increase it is necessary to suppose that the omissions in the parish registers, particularly in regard to the births, have latterly rather increased than diminished; and this is rendered probable by a statement of Mr. Rickman in the Preliminary Observations. He says, "the question respecting unentered baptisms and burials showed a difference of nearly four to one in the degree of deficiency in the year 1811, the annual average number of unentered baptisms (as stated at the end of the several counties) having been 14,860; of burials, (setting aside London) 3,899; at present the proportion is five to one in the degree of deficiency; the annual average number of unentered baptisms (as stated at the end of the several counties) being 23,066; of burials, (setting aside London) 4,657." And he goes on to say, "Nor does this represent the full amount or proportion of unentered baptisms, the clergy of the most populous places, especially where many of the inhabitants are dissenters, usually declining to hazard an estimate." A burial ground, on the contrary, is a visible object, and among the persons connected with it, the clergyman can usually procure an account (more or less accurate) of the number of interments.
On these grounds it would appear probable that, owing to the increasing number of dissenters, or other causes, the omissions in the registers of births had been lately increasing, rather than diminishing. Yet it has been thought that since the Act of 1812 the registers of births have been more carefully kept; and it is certain that, in the 10 years ending with 1820, the proportion of births to marriages is greater, though the proportions of births and marriages to the whole population are both less than they were either in 1800, or in the ten years ending with 1810. Under these circumstances, it may be advisable to wait for further documents before any fresh conclusion is drawn respecting the probable amount of omissions in the births and burials. What may be considered as certain is, that, whereas the supposed admissions of one sixth in the births and one twelfth in the burials, with a proper allowance for the deaths abroad, are more than sufficient to account for the increase of population during the twenty years from 1781 to 1801, according to the numbers stated by Mr. Rickman, they are not sufficient to account for the increase of population in the 20 years from 1801 to 1821, according to the enumerations.
I have heard it surmised that the enumerations, particularly the two last, may by possibility exceed rather than fall short of the truth, owing to persons being reckoned more than once, from their having different places of residence. It must be allowed, that this supposition would account for the fact of the diminished proportions of births and marriages to the whole population, notwithstanding the apparent increase of that population with extraordinary rapidity. But the same diminished proportions would take place owing to a diminished mortality; and as a diminished mortality has been satisfactorily established on other grounds, it will fairly account for much of what appears. And if anything can justly be attributed to over enumerations, it must be of trifling amount.
That there are great omissions both in the births and burials, and greater in the former than in the latter, it is quite impossible to doubt. The testimony of all the clergy concerned in making the returns was, according to Mr. Rickman, uniform in this respect. And if we suppose only the same proportion of omissions from 1801 to 1821 as we supposed from 1781 to 1801, and commence with the census of 1801, on the presumption that the number of double entries in that enumeration would be balanced probably by the number of deficiencies, it will appear that the excess of the births alone, excluding the deaths abroad, would bring the population to within 184,404 of the enumeration of 1821, and including the allowance for deaths abroad, (which, in this case, from a comparison of the excess of male births with the male and female deaths, appears to be 128,651,) to within 313,055.
On the supposition of such an amount of double entries unbalanced by deficiencies in the two last returns, the enumerations would still shew a very extraordinary increase of population. The rate of increase in the period from 1801 to 1811 would be nearly 13 per cent. (12.88) which would double the population in about 57 years; and in the period from 1811 to 1821, it would be very nearly 15 per cent. (14.95), which would double the population in 50 years.
Under the uncertainty in which we must remain at present as to whether the enumerations partially err in defect or in excess, I have not thought it advisable to alter the amended table of the population from 1781 to 1811, given in the former part of this chapter. It is founded on a principle so very much safer than an estimate for the births alone, that it must at any rate shew the progress of the population more correctly than that given in the Preliminary Observations.
The more indeed the population returns are considered, the more uncertain will appear all estimates of the past population founded on the assumptions that the proportion of the births will always be nearly the same. If the population since the year 1801 were to be estimated in the same way as Mr. Rickman has estimated it before that year, it would appear that the population in 1821, instead of being, according to the enumeration, 12,218,500, would only be 11,625,334, that is, 593,166 or nearly 600,000 short of the enumeration of 1821. And the reason is, that the proportion of births to the population, which, estimated in the way suggested by Mr. Rickman, and without allowing for omissions, was, in 1821, only as 1 to 36.58, was, in 1801, as much as 1 to 34.8.
Supposing the enumerations to be correct, the varying proportions of the births (without allowance for omissions, and comparing the population at the end of each term with the average births for the five preceding years,) would be for 1801 as 1 to 34.8, for 1811 as 1 to 35.3, and for 1821 as 1 to 36.58.
Similar and even greater variations will be found to take place in regard to the proportions of the marriages to the population.
In 1801, the proportion was 1 to 122.2, in 1811, 1 to 126.6, in 1821, 1 to 131.1; and if, assuming that, for the 20 years ending with 1820, the marriages, in which it is supposed that there are very few omissions, would remain in the same proportion to the population as in 1801, we had estimated the population by the marriages, the numbers in 1821, instead of being 12,218,500, would only have been 11,377,548, that is, 840,952 short of the enumeration of 1821.
It appears, then, that if we can put any trust in our enumerations,12 no reliance can be placed on an estimate of past population founded on the proportions of the births, deaths, or marriages: The same causes which have operated to alter so essentially these proportions during the 20 years for which we have enumerations may have operated in an equal degree before; and it will be generally found true, that the increasing healthiness of a country will not only diminish the proportions of deaths, but the proportions of births and marriages.
Book II, Chapter X
Of the Checks to Population in Scotland and Ireland.
An examination, in detail, of the statistical account of Scotland, would furnish numerous illustrations of the principle of population; but I have already extended this part of the work so much, that I am fearful of tiring the patience of my readers; and shall therefore confine my remarks in the present instance to a few circumstances which have happened to strike me.
On account of the acknowledged omissions in the registers of births, deaths and marriages in most of the parishes of Scotland, few just inferences can be drawn from them. Many give extraordinary results. In the parish of Crossmichael13 in Kircudbright, the mortality appears to be only 1 in 98, and the yearly marriages 1 in 192. These proportions would imply the most unheard-of healthiness, and the most extraordinary operation of the preventive check; but there can be but little doubt that they are principally occasioned by the omissions in the registry of burials, and the celebration of a part of the marriages in other parishes.
In general, however, it appears, from registers which are supposed to be accurate, that in the country parishes the mortality is small; and that the proportions of 1 in 45, 1 in 50, and 1 in 55, are not uncommon. According to a table of the probabilities of life, calculated from the bills of mortality in the parish of Kettle by Mr. Wilkie, the expectation of an infant's life is 46.6,14 which is very high, and the proportion which dies in the first year is only one 10th. Mr. Wilkie further adds, that from 36 parish accounts, published in the first volume, the expectation of an infant's life appears to be 40.3. But in a table which he has produced in the last volume, calculated for the whole of Scotland from Dr. Webster's survey, the expectation at birth appears to be only 31 years.15 This, however, he thinks, must be too low, as it exceeds but little the calculations for the town of Edinburgh.
The Scotch registers appeared to be in general so incomplete, that the returns of 99 parishes only are published in the Population Abstracts of 1801; and, if any judgment can be formed from these, they shew a very extraordinary degree of healthiness, and a very small proportion of births. The sum of the population of these parishes in 1801 was 217,873;16 the average of burials, for five years ending in 1800, was about 3,815; and of births 4,928:17 from which it would appear that the mortality in these parishes was only 1 in 56, and the proportion of births 1 in 44. But these proportions are so extraordinary that it is difficult to conceive that they approach near the truth. Combining them with the calculations of Mr. Wilkie, it will not appear probable that the proportion of deaths and births in Scotland should be smaller than what has been allowed for England and Wales; namely, 1 in 40 for the deaths, and 1 in 30 for the births; and it seems to be generally agreed that the proportion of births to deaths is 4 to 3.18
With respect to the marriages, it will be still more difficult to form a conjecture. They are registered so irregularly, that no returns of them are given in the Population Abstract. I should naturally have thought, from the Statistical Account, that the tendency to marriage in Scotland was upon the whole greater than in England; but if it be true that the births and deaths bear the same proportion to each other, and to the whole population, in both countries, the proportion of marriages cannot be very different. It should be remarked, however, that supposing the operation of the preventive check to be exactly the same in both countries, and the climates to be equally salubrious, a greater degree of want and poverty would take place in Scotland, before the same mortality was produced as in England, owing to the smaller proportion of towns and manufactories in the former country than in the latter.
From a general view of the statistical accounts the result seems clearly to be, that the condition of the lower classes of people in Scotland has been considerably improved of late years. The price of provisions has risen, but almost invariably the price of labour has risen, in a greater proportion; and it is remarked in most parishes, that more butcher's meat is consumed among the common people than formerly; that they are both better lodged and better clothed; and that their habits with respect to cleanliness are decidedly improved.
A part of this improvement is probably to be attributed to the increase of the preventive check. In some parishes a habit of later marriages is noticed; and in many places, where it is not mentioned, it may be fairly inferred from the proportion of births and marriages and other circumstances. The writer of the account of the parish of Elgin,19 in enumerating the general causes of depopulation in Scotland, speaks of the discouragement of marriage from the union of farms, and the consequent emigration of the flower of their young men, of every class and description, very few of whom ever return. Another cause that he mentions is the discouragement to marriage from luxury; at least, he observes, till people are advanced in years, and then a puny race of children are produced. "Hence how many men of every description remain single? and how many young women of every rank are never married, who in the beginning of this century, or even so late as 1745, would have been the parents of a numerous and healthy progeny?"
In those parts of the country where the population has been rather diminished by the introduction of grazing, or an improved system. of husbandry which requires fewer hands, this effect has chiefly taken place; and I have little doubt that in estimating the decrease of the population since the end of the last, or the beginning of the present century, by the proportion of births at the different periods, they have fallen into the error which has been particularly noticed, with regard to Switzerland and France, and have in consequence made the difference greater than it really is.20
The general inference on this subject which I should draw from the different accounts is, that the marriages are rather later than formerly. There are however some decided exceptions. In those parishes where manufactures have been introduced, which afford employment to children as soon as they have reached their 6th or 7th year, a habit of marrying early naturally follows; and while the manufacture continues to flourish and increase, the evil arising from it is not very perceptible; though humanity must confess with a sigh, that one of the reasons why it is not so perceptible is, that room is made for fresh families by the unnatural mortality which takes place among the children so employed.
There are other parts of Scotland however, particularly the Western Isles, and some parts of the Highlands, where population has considerably increased from the subdivision of possessions; and where perhaps the marriages may be earlier than they were formerly, though not caused by the introduction of manufactures. Here the poverty which follows is but too conspicuous: In the account of Delting in Shetland,21 it is remarked that the people marry very young, and are encouraged to do this by their landlords, who wish to have as many men on their grounds as possible, to prosecute the ling fishery; but that they generally involve themselves in debt and large families. The writer further observes, that formerly there were some old regulations called country acts, by one of which it was enacted, that no pair should marry unless possessed of 40l. Scots of free gear. This regulation is not now enforced. It is said that these regulations were approved and confirmed by the parliament of Scotland in the reign of Queen Mary or James VI.
In the account of Bressay Burra and Quarff in Shetland,22 it is observed that the farms are very small, and few have a plough. The object of the proprietors is to have as many fishermen on their lands as possible—a great obstacle to improvements in agriculture. They fish for their masters, who either give them a fee totally inadequate, or take their fish at a low rate. The writer remarks, that "in most countries the increase of population is reckoned an advantage, and justly. It is however the reverse in the present state of Shetland. The farms are split. The young men are encouraged to marry without having any stock. The consequence is poverty and distress. It is believed that there is at present in these islands double the number of people that they can properly maintain."
The writer of the account of Auchterderran,23 in the county of Fife, says, that the meagre food of the labouring man is unequal to oppose the effects of incessant hard labour upon his constitution, and by this means his frame is worn down before the time of nature's appointment; and adds, "That people continuing voluntarily to enter upon such a hard situation by marrying, shews how far the union of the sexes and the love of independence are principles of human nature." In this observation, perhaps the love of independence had better have been changed for the love of progeny.
The island of Jura24 appears to be absolutely overflowing with inhabitants in spite of constant and numerous emigrations. There are sometimes 50 or 60 on a farm. The writer observes, that such a swarm of inhabitants, where manufactures and many other branches of industry are unknown, are a very great load upon the proprietors, and useless to the state.
Another writer25 is astonished at the rapid increase of population, in spite of a considerable emigration to America in 1770, and a large drain of young men during the late war. He thinks it difficult to assign adequate causes for it; and observes, that, if the population continue to increase in this manner, unless some employment be found for the people, the country will soon be unable to support them. And in the account of the parish of Callander,26 the writer says, that the villages of this place, and other villages in similar situations, are filled with naked and starving crowds of people, who are pouring down for shelter or for bread; and then observes, that whenever the population of a town or village exceeds the industry of its inhabitants, from that moment the place must decline.
A very extraordinary instance of a tendency to rapid increase occurs in the register of the parish of Duthil,27 in the county of Elgin; and as errors of excess are not so probable as errors of omission, it seems to be worthy of attention. The proportion of annual births to the whole population is as 1 to 12, of marriages as 1 to 55, and of deaths the same. The births are to the deaths as 70 to 15, or 4 2/3 to 1. We may suppose some inaccuracy respecting the number of deaths, which seems to err on the side of defect; but the very extraordinary proportion of the annual births, amounting to 1/12 of the whole population, seems not to be easily liable to error; and the other circumstances respecting the parish tend to confirm the statement. Out of a population of 830, there were only three bachelors, and each marriage yielded seven children. Yet with all this, the population is supposed to have decreased considerably since 1745; and it appears that this excessive tendency to increase, had been occasioned by an excessive tendency to emigrate. The writer mentions very great emigrations; and observes, that whole tribes, who enjoyed the comforts of life in a reasonable degree, had of late years emigrated from different parts of Scotland, from mere humour, and a fantastical idea of becoming their own masters and freeholders.
Such an extraordinary proportion of births, caused evidently by habits of emigration, shews the extreme difficulty of depopulating a country merely by taking away a part of its people. Take but away its industry, and the sources of its subsistence, and it is done at once.
It may be observed that in this parish the average number of children to a marriage is said to be seven, though from the proportion of annual births to annual marriages it would appear to be only 4 2/3. This difference occurs in many other parishes, from which we may conclude that the writers of these accounts very judiciously adopted some other mode of calculation, than the mere uncorrected proportion of annual births to marriages; and probably founded the results they give, either on personal inquiries, or researches into their registers, to find the number of children, which had been born to each mother in the course of her marriage.
The women of Scotland appear to be prolific. The average of 6 children to a marriage is frequent; and of 7, and even 7½, not very uncommon. One instance is very curious, as it appears as if this number was actually living to each marriage, which would of course imply, that a much greater number had been and would be born. In the parish of Nigg,28 in the county of Kincardine, the account says, that there are 57 land families, and 405 children, which gives nearly 7 1/9 each; 42 fisher families, and 314 children, nearly 7½ each. Of the land families which have had no children there were 7; of the fishers, none. If this statement be just, I should conceive that each marriage must have yielded, or would yield, in the course of its duration, as many as 9 or 10 births.
When from any actual survey it appears, that there are about 3 living children to each marriage, or 5 persons, or, only 4½ to a house, which are very common proportions, we must not infer that the average number of births to a marriage is not much above 3. We must recollect, that all the marriages or establishments of the present year are of course without children, all of the year before have only one, all of the year before that can hardly be expected to have as many as two, and all of the fourth year will certainly, in the natural course of things, have less than three. One out of five children is a very unusually small proportion to lose in the course of ten years; and after ten years, it may be supposed that the eldest begin to leave their parents; so that if each marriage be supposed accurately to yield 5 births in the course of its duration, the families which had increased to their full complement would only have four children; and a very large proportion of those which were in the earlier stages of increase would have less than three;29 and consequently, taking into consideration the number of families where one of the parents may be supposed to be dead, I much doubt whether in this case a survey would give 4½ to a family. In the parish of Duthil,30 already noticed, the number of children to a marriage is mentioned as 7, and the number of persons to a house as only 5.
The poor of Scotland are in general supported by voluntary contributions, distributed under the inspection of the minister of the parish; and it appears, upon the whole, that they have been conducted with considerable judgment. Having no claim of right to relief,31 and the supplies, from the mode of their collection, being necessarily uncertain, and never abundant, the poor have considered them merely as a last resource in cases of extreme distress, and not as a fund on which they might safely rely, and an adequate portion of which belonged to them by the laws of their country in all difficulties.
The consequence of this is, that the common people make very considerable exertions to avoid the necessity of applying for such a scanty and precarious relief. It is observed, in many of the accounts, that they seldom fail of making a provision for sickness and for age; and, in general, the grown-up children and relations of persons, who are in danger of falling upon the parish, step forward, if they are in any way able, to prevent such a degradation, which is universally considered as a disgrace to the family.
The writers of the accounts of the different parishes frequently reprobate in very strong terms the system of English assessments for the poor, and give a decided preference to the Scotch mode of relief. In the account of Paisley,32 though a manufacturing town, and with a numerous poor, the author still reprobates the English system, and makes an observation on this subject, in which perhaps he goes too far. He says, that, though there are in no country such large contributions for the poor as in England, yet there is no where so great a number of them; and their condition, in comparison of the poor of other countries, is truly most miserable.
In the account of Caerlaverock,33 in answer to the question, How ought the poor to be supplied? it is most judiciously remarked, "that distress and poverty multiply in proportion to the funds created to relieve them; that the measures of charity ought to remain invisible, till the moment when it is necessary that they should be distributed; that in the country parishes of Scotland in general, small occasional voluntary collections are sufficient; that the legislature has no occasion to interfere to augment the stream, which is already copious enough; in fine, that the establishment of a poor's rate would not only be unnecessary but hurtful, as it would tend to oppress the landholder, without bringing relief on the poor."
These, upon the whole, appear to be the prevailing opinions of the clergy of Scotland. There are, however, some exceptions; and the system of assessments is sometimes approved, and the establishment of it recommended. But this is not to be wondered at. In many of these parishes the experiment had never been made; and without being thoroughly aware of the principle of population from theory, or having fully seen the evils of poor-laws in practice, nothing seems, on a first view of the subject, more natural than the proposal of an assessment, to which the uncharitable, as well as the charitable, should be made to contribute according to their abilities, and which might be increased or diminished, according to the wants of the moment.
The endemic and epidemic diseases in Scotland fall chiefly, as is usual, on the poor. The scurvy is in some places extremely troublesome and inveterate; and in others it arises to a contagious leprosy, the effects of which are always dreadful, and not unfrequently mortal. One writer calls it the scourge and bane of human nature.34 It is generally attributed to cold and wet situations, meagre, and unwholesome food, impure air from damp and crowded houses, indolent habits, and the want of attention to cleanliness.
To the same causes, in a great measure, are attributed the rheumatisms which are general, and the consumptions which are frequent among the common people. Whenever, in any place, from particular circumstances, the condition of the poor has been rendered worse, these disorders, particularly the latter, have been observed to prevail with greater force.
Low nervous fevers, and others of a more violent and fatal nature, are frequently epidemic, and sometimes take off considerable numbers; but the most fatal epidemic, since the extinction of the plague which formerly visited Scotland, is the small-pox, the returns of which are, in many places, at regular intervals; in others, irregular, but seldom at a greater distance than 7 or 8 years. Its ravages are dreadful, though in some parishes not so fatal as they were some time ago. The prejudices against inoculation are still great; and as the mode of treatment must almost necessarily be bad in small and crowded houses, and the custom of visiting each other during the disorder still subsists in many places, it may be imagined that the mortality must be considerable, and the children of the poor the principal sufferers. In some parishes of the Western Isles and the Highlands, the number of persons to a house has increased from 4½ and 5, to 6½ and 7. It is evident, that if such a considerable increase, without the proper accommodations for it, cannot generate the disease, it must give to its devastations tenfold force when it arrives.
Scotland has at all times been subject to years of scarcity, and occasionally even to dreadful famines. The years 1635, 1680; 1688, the concluding years of the 16th century, the years 1740, 1756, 1766, 1778, 1782, and 1783, are all mentioned, in different places, as years of very great sufferings from want. In the year 1680, so many families perished from this cause, that for six miles, in a well-inhabited extent, there was not a smoke remaining.35 The seven years at the end of the 16th century were called the ill years. The writer of the account of the parish, of Montquhitter36 says, that of 16 families, on a farm in that neighbourhood, 13 were extinguished; and on another, out of 169 individuals, only 3 families (the proprietors included) survived. Extensive farms, now containing a hundred souls, being entirely desolated, were converted into a sheepwalk. The inhabitants of the parish in general were diminished by death to one-half, or, as some affirm, to one-fourth of the preceding number. Until 1709 many farms were waste. In 1740, another season of scarcity occurred; and the utmost misery was felt by the poor, though it fell short of death. Many offered in vain to serve for their bread. Stout men accepted thankfully two pence a-day in full for their work. Great distress was also suffered in 1782 and 1783, but none died. "If at this critical period," the author says, "the American war had not ceased; if the copious magazines, particularly of pease, provided for the navy, had not been brought to sale, what a scene of desolation and horror would have been exhibited in this country!"
Many similar descriptions occur in different parts of the Statistical Account; but these will be sufficient to shew the nature and intensity of the distress which has been occasionally felt from want.
The year 1783 depopulated some parts of the Highlands, and is mentioned as the reason why in these places the number of people was found to have diminished since Dr. Webster's survey. Most of the small farmers in general, as might be expected, were absolutely ruined by the scarcity; those of this description in the Highlands were obliged to emigrate to the Lowlands as common labourers,37 in search of a precarious support. In some parishes, at the time of the last survey, the effect of the ruin of the farmers, during this bad year, was still visible in their depressed condition, and the increased poverty and misery of the common people, which is a necessary consequence of it.
In the account of the parish of Grange,38 in the county of Banff, it is observed, that the year 1783 put a stop to all improvements by green crops, and made the farmers think of nothing but raising grain. Tenants were most of them ruined. Before this period, consumptions were not near so frequent as they have been since. This may be justly attributed to the effects of the scarcity and bad victual in the year 1783, to the long inclement harvests in 1782 and 1787, in both which seasons the labourers were exposed to much cold and wet during the three months that the harvests continued; but principally to the change that has taken place in the manner of living among the lower ranks. Formerly every householder could command a draught of small beer, and killed a sheep now and then out of his own little flock; but now the case is different. The frequent want of the necessaries of life among the poor, their damp and stinking houses, and dejection of mind among the middling classes, appear to be the principal causes of the prevailing distempers and mortality of this parish. Young people are cut off by consumptions, and the more advanced by dropsies and nervous fevers.
The state of this parish, which, though there are others like it, may be considered as an exception to the average state of Scotland, was, without doubt, occasioned by the ruin of the tenants; and the effect is not to be wondered at; as no greater evil can easily happen to a country, than the loss of agricultural stock and capital.
We may observe that the diseases of this parish are said to have increased, in consequence of the scarcity and bad victual of 1783. The same circumstance is noticed in many other parishes; and it is remarked, that though few people died of absolute famine, yet that mortal diseases almost universally followed.
It is remarked also, in some parishes, that the number of the births and marriages is affected by years of scarcity and plenty.
Of the parish of Dingwall,39 in the county of Ross, it is observed that, after the scarcity of 1783, the births were 16 below the average, and 14 below the lowest number of late years. The year 1787 was a year of plenty; and the following year the births increased in a similar proportion, and were 17 above the average, and 11 above the highest of the other years.
In the account of Dunrossness,40 in Orkney, the writer says that the annual number of marriages depends much on the seasons. In good years they may amount to thirty or upwards; but, when crops fail, will hardly come up to the half of that number.
The whole increase of Scotland, since the time of Dr. Webster's survey in 1755, is about 260,000,41 for which a proportionate provision has been made in the improved state of agriculture and manufactures, and in the increased cultivation of potatoes, which in some places form two-thirds of the diet of the common people. It has been calculated that the half of the surplus of births in Scotland is drawn off in emigrations; and it cannot be doubted that this drain tends greatly to relieve the country, and to improve the condition of those which remain. Scotland is certainly still overpeopled, but not so much as it was a century or half a century ago, when it contained fewer inhabitants.
The details of the population of Ireland are but little known. I shall only observe therefore, that the extended use of potatoes has allowed of a very rapid increase of it during the last century. But the cheapness of this nourishing root, and the small piece of ground which, under this kind of cultivation, will in average years produce the food for a family, joined to the ignorance and depressed state of the people, which have prompted them to follow their inclinations with no other prospect than an immediate bare subsistence, have encouraged marriage to such a degree, that the population is pushed much beyond the industry and present resources of the country; and the consequence naturally is, that the lower classes of people are in the most impoverished and miserable state. The checks to the population are of course chiefly of the positive kind, and arise from the diseases occasioned by squalid poverty, by damp and wretched cabins, by bad and insufficient clothing, and occasional want. To these positive checks have, of late years, been added the vice and misery of intestine commotion, of civil war, and of martial law.
According to the late enumeration in 1821, the population of Ireland amounted to 6,801,827, and in 1695 it was estimated only at 1,034,000. If these numbers be correct it affords an example of continued increase for 125 years together, at such a rate as to double the population in about 45 years—a more rapid increase than has probably taken place in any other country of Europe, during the same length of time.
In the peculiar circumstances of Ireland, it would be very interesting to know the average mortality, and the proportions of births and marriages to the population. But unfortunately no correct parochial registers have been kept, and the information, however much to be desired, is unattainable.
Book II, Chapter XI
On the Fruitfulness of Marriages.
It would be extremely desirable to be able to deduce from the registers of births, deaths and marriages in different countries, and the actual population with the rate of increase, the real prolifickness of marriages, and the true proportion of the born which lives to marry. Perhaps the problem may not be capable of an accurate solution; but we shall make some approximation towards it, and be able to account for some of the difficulties which appear in many registers, if we attend to the following considerations.
It should be premised, however, that in the registers of most countries there is reason to believe that the omissions in the births and deaths are greater than in the marriages; and consequently, that the proportion of marriages is almost always given too great. In the enumerations which have lately taken place in this country, while it is supposed with reason that the registry of marriages is nearly correct, it is known with certainty that there are very great omissions in the births and deaths; and it is probable that similar omissions, though not perhaps to the same extent, prevail in other countries.
If we suppose a country where the population is stationary, where there are no emigrations, immigrations, or illegitimate children, and where the registers of births deaths and marriages are accurate, and continue always in the same proportion to the population, then the proportion of the annual births to the annual marriages will express the number of children born to each marriage, including second and third marriages, and when corrected for second and third marriages, it will also express the proportion of the born which lives to marry, once or oftener; while the annual mortality will accurately express the expectation of life.
But if the population be either increasing or decreasing, and the births, deaths and marriages increasing or decreasing in the same ratio, such a movement will necessarily disturb all the proportions, because the events which are contemporary in the registers are not contemporary in the order of nature, and an increase or decrease must have been taking place in the interval.
In the first place, the births of any year cannot in the order of nature have come from the contemporary marriages, but must have been derived principally from the marriages of preceding years.
To form a judgment then of the prolifickness of marriages taken as they occur, including second and third marriages, let us cut off a certain period of the registers of any country (30 years for instance) and inquire what is the number of births which has been produced by all the marriages included in the period cut off. It is evident, that with the marriages at the beginning of the period will be arranged a number of births proceeding from marriages not included in the period; and at the end, a number of births produced by the marriages included in the period will be found arranged with the marriages of a succeeding period. Now, if we could subtract the former number, and add the latter, we should obtain exactly all the births produced by the marriages of the period, and of course the real prolifickness of those marriages. If the population be stationary, the number of births to be added would exactly equal the number to be subtracted, and the proportion of births to marriages, as found in the registers, would exactly represent the real prolifickness of marriages. But if the population be either increasing or decreasing, the number to be added would never be equal to the number to be subtracted, and the proportion of births to marriages in the registers would never truly represent the prolifickness of marriages. In an increasing population the number to be added would evidently be greater than the number to be subtracted, and of course the proportion of births to marriages as found in the registers would always be too small to represent the true prolifickness of marriages. And the contrary effect would take place in a decreasing population. The question therefore is, what we are to add, and what to subtract, when the births and deaths are not equal.
The average proportion of births to marriages in Europe is about 4 to 1. Let us suppose, for the sake of illustration, that each marriage yields four children, one every other year.42 In this case it is evident that, wherever we begin the period in the registers, the marriages of the preceding eight years will only have produced half of their births, and the other half will be arranged with the marriages included in the period, and ought to be subtracted from them. In the same spanner the marriages of the last eight years of the period will only have produced half of their births, and the other half ought to be added. But half of the births of any eight years may be considered as nearly equal to all the births of the succeeding 3¾ years. In instances of the most rapid increase it will rather exceed the births of the next 3½ years, and, in cases of slow increase, approach towards the births of the next 4 years. The mean therefore may be taken at 3¾ years.43 Consequently, if we subtract the births of the first 3¾ years of the period, and add the births of the 3¾ years subsequent to the period, we shall have a number of births nearly equal to the births produced by all the marriages included in the period, and of course the prolifickness of these marriages. But if the population of a country be increasing regularly, and the births, deaths and marriages continue always to bear the same proportion to each other, and to the whole population, it is evident that all the births of any period will bear the same proportion to all the births of any other period of the same extent, taken a certain number of years later, as the births of any single year, or an average of five years, to the births of a single year, or an average of five years, taken the same number of years later; and the same will be true with regard to the marriages. And consequently, to estimate the prolifickness of marriages, we have only to compare the marriages of the present year, or average of five years, with the births of a subsequent year, or average of five years, taken 3¾ years later.
We have supposed, in the present instance, that each marriage yields four births; but the average proportion of births to marriages in Europe is 4 to 1;44 and as the population of Europe is known to be increasing at present, the prolifickness of marriages must be greater than 4. If, allowing for this circumstance, we take the distance of 4 years instead of 3¾ years, we may not be far from the truth. And though undoubtedly the period will differ in different countries, yet it will not differ so much as we might at first imagine; because in countries where the marriages are more prolific, the births generally follow at shorter intervals, and where they are less prolific, at longer intervals; and with different degrees of prolifickness, the length of the period might still remain the same.45
It will follow from these observations, that the more rapid is the increase of population, the more will the real prolifickness of marriages exceed the proportion of births to marriages in the registers.
The rule which has been here laid down attempts to estimate the prolifickness of marriages taken as they occur; but this prolifickness should be carefully distinguished from the prolifickness of first marriages or of married women, and still more from the natural prolifickness of women in general taken at the most favourable age. It is probable, that the natural prolifickness of women is nearly the same in most parts of the world; but the prolifickness of marriages is liable to be affected by a variety of circumstances peculiar to each country, and particularly by the number of late marriages. In all countries the second and third marriages alone form a most important consideration, and materially influence the average proportions. According to Sussmilch, in all Pomerania, from 1748 to 1756 both included, the number of persons who married were 56,956, and of these 10,586 were widows and widowers.46 According to Busching, in Prussia and Silesia, for the year 1781, out of 29,308 persons who married, 4,841, were widows and widowers,47 and consequently the proportion of marriages will be given full one sixth too much. In estimating the prolifickness of married women, the number of illegitimate births48 would tend, though in a slight degree, to counterbalance the overplus of marriages; and as it is found that the number of widowers who marry again, is greater than the number of widows, the whole of the correction should not on this account be applied; but in estimating the proportion of the born which lives to marry from a comparison of the marriages with the births or deaths, which is what we are now about to proceed to, the whole of this correction is always necessary.
It is obvious, in the second place, that the marriages of any year can never be contemporary with the births from which they have resulted, but must always be at such a distance from them as is equal to the average age of marriage. If the population be increasing, the marriages of the present year have resulted from a smaller number of births than the births of the present year, and of course the marriages, compared with the contemporary births, will always be too few to represent the proportion of the born which lives to marry; and the contrary will take place if the population be decreasing; and, to find this proportion, we must compare the marriages of any year with the births of a previous year at the distance of the average age of marriage.
But on account of the distance of this period, it may be often more convenient, though it is not essentially so correct, to compare the marriages with the contemporary deaths. The average age of marriage will almost always be much nearer to the average age of death than marriage is to birth; and consequently the annual marriages compared with the contemporary annual deaths will much more nearly represent the true proportion of the born living to marry, than the marriages compared with the births.49 The marriages compared with the births, after a proper allowance has been made for second and third marriages, can never represent the true proportion of the born living to marry, unless when the population is absolutely stationary; but although the population be increasing or decreasing, the average age of marriage may still be equal to the average of death; and in this case the marriages in the registers compared with the contemporary deaths, (after the correction for second or third marriages,) will nearly represent the true proportion of the born living to marry.50 Generally, however, when an increase of population is going forwards, the average age of marriage is less than the average of death, and then the proportion of marriages, compared with the contemporary deaths, will be too great to represent the true proportion of the born living to marry; and, to find this proportion, we must compare the marriages of any particular year with the deaths of a subsequent year at such a distance from it in the registers, as is equal to the difference between the average age of marriage and the average age of death.
There is no necessary connection between the average age of marriage and the average age of death. In a country, the resources of which will allow of a rapid increase of population, the expectation of life or the average age of death may be extremely high, and yet the age of marriage be very early; and the marriages then, compared with the contemporary deaths in the registers, would (even after the correction for second and third marriages) be very much too great to represent the true proportion of the born living to marry. In such a country we might suppose the average age of death to be 40, and the age of marriage only 20; and in this case, which however would be a rare one, the distance between marriage and death would be the same as between birth and marriage.
If we apply these observations to registers in general, though we shall seldom be able to obtain the true proportion of the born living to marry on account of the proportions of births, deaths, and marriages not remaining the same, and of our not knowing the average age of marriage, yet we may draw many useful inferences from the information which they contain, and reconcile some apparent contradictions; and it will generally be found that, in those countries where the marriages bear a very large proportion to the deaths, we shall see reason to believe that the age of marriage is much earlier than the average age of death.
In the Russian table for the year 1799, produced by Mr. Tooke, and referred to, p. 317, the proportion of marriages to deaths appeared to be as 100 to 210. When corrected for second and third marriages, by subtracting one sixth from the marriages, it will be as 100 to 252. From which it would seem to follow, that out of 252 births 200 of them had lived to marry; but we cannot conceive any country to be so healthy as that 200 out of 252 should live to marry. If however we suppose, what seems to be probable, that the age of marriage in Russia is 15 years earlier than the expectation of life or the average age of death, then, in order to find the proportion which lives to marry, we must compare the marriages of the present year with the deaths 15 years later. Supposing the births to deaths to be (as stated p. 317) 183 to 100, and the mortality 1 in 50, the yearly increase will be about 1/60 of the population; and consequently in 15 years the deaths will have increased a little above .28; and the result will be, that the marriages, compared with the deaths 15 years later will be as 100 to 322. Out of 322 births it will appear that 200 live to marry, which, from the known healthiness of children in Russia, and the early age of marriage, is a possible proportion. The proportion of marriages to births, being as 100 to 385, the prolifickness of marriages, according to the rule laid down, will be as 100 to 411; or each marriage will on an average, including second and third marriages, produce 4.11 births.
The lists given in the earlier part of the chapter on Russia are probably not correct. It is suspected with reason, that there are considerable omissions both in the births and deaths, but particularly in the deaths; and consequently the proportion of marriages is given too great. There may also be a further reason for this large proportion of marriages in Russia. The Empress Catherine, in her instructions for a new code of laws, notices a custom prevalent among the peasants, of parents obliging their sons, while actually children, to marry full-grown women, in order to save the expense of buying female slaves. These women, it is said, generally become the mistresses of the father; and the custom is particularly reprobated by the Empress as prejudicial to population. This practice would naturally occasion a more than usual number of second and third marriages, and of course more than usually increase the proportion of marriages to births in the registers.
In the Transactions of the Society at Philadelphia (vol. iii. No. vii. p. 25,) there is a paper by Mr. Barton, entitled Observations on the Probability of Life in the United States, in which it appears, that the proportion of marriages to births is as 1 to 4½. He mentions indeed 6½, but his numbers give only 4½. As however this proportion was taken principally from towns, it is probable that the births are given too low; and I think we may very safely take as many as five for the average of towns and country. According to the same authority the mortality is about 1 in 45; and if the population doubles every 25 years, the births would be about 1 in 20. The proportion of marriages to deaths would on these suppositions be as 1 to 2 2/9; and, corrected for second and third marriages, as 1 to 2.7 nearly. But we cannot suppose, that out of 27 births 20 should live to marry. If however the age of marriage be ten years earlier than the mean age of death, which is highly probable, we must compare the marriages of the present year with the deaths ten years later, in order to obtain the true proportion of the born which lives to marry. According to the progress of population here stated, the increase of the deaths in ten years would be a little above .3, and the result will be, that 200 out of 351, or about 20 out of 35, instead of twenty out of 27, will live to marry.51 The marriages compared with the births 4 years later, according to the rule laid down, will in this case give 5.58 for the prolifickness of marriages. The calculations of Mr. Barton respecting the age to which half of the born live, cannot possibly be applicable to America in general. The registers, on which they are founded, are taken from Philidelphia and one or two small towns and villages, which do not appear to be so healthy as the moderate towns of Europe, and therefore can form no criterion for the country in general.
In England the average proportion of marriages to births appears of late years to have been about 100 to 350. If we add 1/7 to the births instead of 1/6, which in the chapter on the Checks to Population in England, I conjectured might be nearly the amount of the omissions in the births and deaths, this will allow for the circumstance of illegitimate births; and the marriages will then be to the births as 1 to 4, to the deaths as 1 to 3.52 Corrected for second and third marriages, the proportion of marriages to deaths will be as 1 to 3.6. Supposing the age of marriage in England about 7 years earlier than the mean age of death, the increase in these 7 years, according to the present progress of population of 1/120 yearly, would be .06, and the proportion living to marry would be 200 out of 381, or rather more than half.53 The marriages compared with the births four years later will give 4.136 for the prolifickness of marriages.
These instances will be sufficient to shew the mode of applying the rules which have been given, in order to form a judgment, from registers, of the prolifickness of marriages, and the proportion of the born which lives to marry; but it must still be remembered that they are only approximations, and intended rather to explain apparent difficulties, than to obtain results which can be depended upon as correct.
It will be observed how very important the correction for second and third marriages is. Supposing each marriage to yield four births, and the births and deaths to be equal, it would at first appear necessary that, in order to produce this effect, exactly half of the born should live to marry; but if, on account of the second and third marriages, we subtract 1/6 from the marriages, and then compare them with the deaths, the proportion will be as 1 to 4 4/5; and it will appear that, instead of one half, it will only be necessary that 2 children out of 4 4/5 should live to marry. Upon the same principle, if the births were to the marriages as 4 to 1, and exactly half of the born live to marry, it might be supposed at first that the population would be stationary; but if we subtract 1/6 from the marriages; and then take the proportion of deaths to marriages as 4 to 1, we shall find that the deaths in the registers, compared with the marriages, would only be as 3 1/3 to 1; and the births would be to the deaths as 4 to 3 1/3, or 12 to 10, which is a tolerably fast rate of increase.
It should be further observed, that as a much greater number of widowers marry again than of widows, if we wish to know the proportion of males which lives to marry, we must subtract full 1/5 from the marriages instead of 1/6.54 According to this correction, if each marriage yielded 4 births, it would only be necessary that two male children out of 5 should live to marry in order to keep up the population; and if each marriage yielded 5 births, less than one third would be necessary for this purpose; and so for the other calculations. In estimating the proportion of males living to marry, some allowance ought also to be made for the greater proportion of male births.
Three causes appear to operate in producing an excess of the births above the deaths: 1. the prolifickness of marriages; 2. the proportion of the born which lives to marry; and 3. the earliness of these marriages compared with the expectation of life, or the shortness of a generation by marriage and birth, compared with the passing away of a generation by death. This latter cause Dr. Price seems to have omitted to consider. For though he very justly says that the rate of increase, supposing the prolific powers the same, depends upon the encouragement to marriage, and the expectation of a child just born; yet in explaining himself, he seems to consider an increase in the expectation of life, merely as it affects the increase of the number of persons who reach maturity and marry, and not as it affects, besides, the distance between the age of marriage and the age of death. But it is evident that, if there be any principle of increase, that is, if one marriage in the present generation yields more than one in the next, including second and third marriages, the quicker these generations are repeated, compared with the passing away of a generation by death, the more rapid will be the increase.
A favourable change in either of these three causes, the other two remaining the same, will clearly produce an effect upon population, and occasion a greater excess of the births above the deaths in the registers. With regard to the two first causes, though an increase in either of them will produce the same kind of effect on the proportion of births to deaths, yet their effects on the proportion of marriages to births will be in opposite directions. The greater is the prolifickness of marriages, the greater will be the proportion of births to marriages; and the greater is the number of the born which lives to be married, the less will be the proportion of births to marriages.55 Consequently, if within certain limits, the prolificness of marriages and the number of the born living to marry increase at the same time, the proportion of births to marriages in the registers may still remain unaltered. And this is the reason why the registers of different countries, with respect to births and marriages, are often found the same under very different rates of increase.
The proportion of births to marriages, indeed, forms no criterion whatever, by which to judge of the rate of increase. The population of a country may be stationary or declining with a proportion of 5 to 1, and may be increasing with some rapidity with a proportion of 4 to 1. But given the rate of increase, which may be obtained from other sources, it is clearly desirable to find in the registers a small rather than a large proportion of births to marriages; because the smaller this proportion is, the greater must be the proportion of the born which lives to marry, and of course the more healthy must be the country.
Crome56 observes that, when the marriages of a country yield less than 4 births, the population is in a very precarious state; and he estimates the prolifickness of marriages by the proportion of yearly births to marriages. If this observation were just, the population of many countries of Europe would be in a precarious state, as in many countries the proportion of births to marriages in the registers is rather below than above 4 to 1. It has been shown in what manner this proportion in the registers should be corrected, in order to make it a just representation of the prolifickness of marriages; and if a large part of the born live to marry, and the age of marriage be considerably earlier than the expectation of life, such a proportion in the registers is by no means inconsistent with a rapid increase. In Russia it has appeared that the proportion of births to marriages is less than 4 to 1; and yet its population increases faster than that of any other nation in Europe. In England the population increases more rapidly than in France; and yet in England the proportion of births to marriages, when allowance has been made for omissions, is about 4 to 1; in France 4 4/5 to 1. To occasion so rapid a progress as that which has taken place in America, it will indeed be necessary that all the causes of increase should be called into action; and if the prolifickness of marriages be very great, the proportion of births to marriages will certainly be above 4 to 1: but in all ordinary cases, where the whole power of procreation has not room to expand itself, it is surely better that the actual increase should arise from that degree of healthiness in the early stages of life which causes a great proportion of the born to live to maturity and to marry, than from a great degree of prolifickness accompanied by a great mortality. And consequently in all ordinary cases a proportion of births to marriages as 4, or less than 4, to 1 cannot be considered as an unfavourable sign.
It should be observed that it does not follow that the marriages of a country are early, or that the preventive check to population does not prevail, because the greater part of the born lives to marry. In such countries as Norway and Switzerland, where half of the born live to above 40, it is evident that, though rather more than half live to marry, a large portion of the people between the ages of 20 and 40 would be living in an unmarried state, and the preventive check would appear to prevail to a great degree. In England it is probable that half of the born live to above 35;57 and though rather more than half live to marry, the preventive check might prevail considerably (as we know it does), though not to the same extent as in Norway and Switzerland.
The preventive check is perhaps best measured by the smallness of the proportion of yearly births to the whole population. The proportion of yearly marriages to the population is only a just criterion in countries similarly circumstanced, but is incorrect where there is a difference in the prolifickness of marriages or in the proportion of the population under the age of puberty, and in the rate of increase. If all the marriages of a country, be they few or many, take place young, and be consequently prolific, it is evident that, to produce the same proportion of births, a smaller proportion of marriages will be necessary; or with the same proportion of marriages a greater proportion of births will be produced. This latter case seems to be applicable to France, where both the births and deaths are greater than in Sweden, though the proportion of marriages is nearly the same, or rather less. And when, in two countries compared, one of them has a much greater part of its population under the age of puberty than the other, it is evident that any general proportion of the yearly marriages to the whole population will not imply the same operation of the preventive check among those of a marriageable age.
It is, in part, the small proportion of the population under the age of puberty, as well as the influx of strangers, that occasions in towns a greater proportion of marriages than in the country, although there can be little doubt that the preventive check prevails most in towns. The converse of this will also be true; and consequently in such a country as America, where half of the population is under sixteen, the proportion of yearly marriages will not accurately express how little the preventive check really operates.
But on the supposition of nearly the same natural prolifickness in the women of most countries, the smallness of the proportion of births will generally indicate, with tolerable exactness, the degree in which the preventive check prevails, whether arising principally from late, and consequently unprolific, marriages, or from a large proportion of the population above the age of puberty dying unmarried.
That the reader may see at once the rate of increase, and the period of doubling, which would result from any observed proportion of births to deaths, and of these to the whole population, I subjoin two tables from Sussmilch, calculated by Euler, which I believe are very correct. The first is confined to the supposition of a mortality of 1 in 36, and therefore can only be applied to countries where such a mortality is known to take place. The other is general, depending solely upon the proportion which the excess of the births above the burials bears to the whole population, and therefore may be applied universally to all countries, whatever may be the degree of their mortality. I have now also (1825) added a third table as convenient on account of the custom of decennial enumerations in this and some other countries. It is calculated by the Rev. B. Bridge, of Peter House, Cambridge, and shows the rate of increase, or period of doubling, from the observed per-centage increase of any ten years, supposing such rate of increase to continue.
It will be observed that, when the proportion between the births and burials is given, the period of doubling will be shorter, the greater the mortality; because the births as well as deaths are increased by this supposition, and they both bear a greater proportion to the whole population than if the mortality were smaller, and there were a greater number of people in advanced life.
The mortality of Russia, according to Mr. Tooke, is 1 in 58, and the proportion of births 1 in 26. Allowing for the omissions in the burials, if we assume the mortality to be 1 in 52, then the births will be to the deaths as 2 to 1, and the proportion which the excess of births bears to the whole population will be 1/52.58
According to Table II. the period of doubling will, in this case, be about 36 years. But if we were to keep the proportion of births to deaths as 2 to 1, and suppose a mortality of 1 in 36, as in Table I., the excess of births above the burials would be 1/36 of the whole population, and the period of doubling would be only 25 years.
Book II, Chapter XII
Effects of Epidemics on Registers of Births, Deaths, and Marriages.
It appears clearly from the very valuable tables of mortality, which Sussmilch has collected, and which include periods of 50 or 60 years, that all the countries of Europe are subject to periodical sickly seasons, which check their increase; and very few are exempt from those great and wasting plagues which, once or twice perhaps in a century, sweep off the third or fourth part of their inhabitants. The way in which these periods of mortality affect all the general proportions of births, deaths, and marriages, is strikingly illustrated in the tables for Prussia and Lithuania, from the year 1692 to the year 1757.59
The table, from which this is copied, contains the marriages, births and deaths for every particular year during the whole period; but to bring it into a smaller compass, I have retained only the general average drawn from the shorter periods of five and four years, except where the numbers for the individual years presented any fact worthy of particular observation. The year 1711, immediately succeeding the great plague, is not included by Sussmilch in any general average; but he has given the particular numbers, and if they be accurate they shew the very sudden and prodigious effect of a great mortality on the number of marriages.
Sussmilch calculates that above one third of the people was destroyed by the plague; and yet, notwithstanding this great diminution of the population, it will appear by a reference to the table, that the number of marriages in the year 1711 was very nearly double the average of the six years preceding the plague.60 To produce this effect, we may suppose that almost all who were at the age of puberty were induced, from the demand for labour and the number of vacant employments, immediately to marry. This immense number of marriages in the year could not possibly be accompanied by a great proportional number of births, because we cannot suppose that the new marriages could each yield more than one birth in the year, and the rest must come from the marriages which had continued unbroken through the plague. We cannot therefore be surprised that the proportion of births to marriages in this year should be only 2.7 to 1, or 27 to 10. But though the proportion of births to marriages could not be great; yet, on account of the extraordinary number of marriages, the absolute number of births must be great; and as the number of deaths would naturally be small, the proportion of births to deaths is prodigious, being 320 to 100; an excess of births as great, perhaps, as has ever been known in America.
In the next year, 1712, the number of marriages must of course diminish exceedingly; because, nearly all who were at the age of puberty having married the year before, the marriages of this year would be supplied principally by those who had arrived at this age, subsequent to the plague. Still, however, as all who were marriageable had not probably married the year before, the number of marriages in the year 1712 is great in proportion to the population; and, though not much more than half of the number which took place during the preceding year, is greater than the average number in the last period before the plague. The proportion of births to marriages in 1712, though greater than in the preceding year, on account of the smaller comparative number of marriages, is, with reference to other countries, not great, being as 3.6 to 1, or 3.6 to 10. But the proportion of births to deaths, though less than in the preceding year, when so very large a proportion of the people married, is, with reference to other countries, still unusually great, being as 220 to 100; an excess of births, which, calculated on a mortality of 1 in 36, would double the population of a country (according to Table I. page 496) in 21 1/8 years.
From this period the number of annual marriages begins to be regulated by the diminished population, and of course to sink considerably below the average number of marriages before the plague, depending principally on the number of persons rising annually to a marriageable state. In the year 1720, about nine or ten years after the plague, the number of annual marriages, either from accident, or the beginning operation of the preventive check, is the smallest; and it is at this time that the proportion of births to marriages rises very high. In the period from 1717 to 1721 the proportion, as appears by the table, is 49 to 10; and in the particular years 1719 and 1720, it is 50 to 10 and 55 to 10.
Sussmilch draws the attention of his readers to the fruitfulness of marriages in Prussia after the plague, and mentions the proportion of 50 annual births to 10 annual marriages as a proof of it. There are the best reasons from the general average for supposing that the marriages in Prussia at this time were very fruitful; but certainly the proportion of this individual year, or even period, is not a sufficient proof of it, being evidently caused by a smaller number of marriages taking place in the year, and not by a greater number of births.61 In the two years immediately succeeding the plague, when the excess of births above the deaths was so astonishing, the births bore a small proportion to the marriages; and according to the usual mode of calculation, it would have followed that each marriage yielded only 2.7 or 3.6 children. In the last period of the table, (from 1752 to 1756,) the births are to the marriages as 5 to 1, and in the individual year 1756, as 6.1 to 1: and yet during this period the births are to the deaths only as 148 to 100, which could not have been the case, if the high proportion of births to marriages had indicated a much greater number of births than usual, instead of a smaller number of marriages.
The variations in the proportion of births to deaths, in the different periods of 64 years included in the table, deserve particular attention. If we were to take an average of the four years immediately succeeding the plague, the births would be to the deaths in the proportion of above 22 to 10, which, supposing the mortality to be 1 in 36, would double the population in twenty-one years. If we take the twenty years from 1711 to 1731, the average proportion of the births to deaths will appear to be about 17 to 10, a proportion which (according to Table I. page 496) would double the population in about thirty-five years. But if, instead of 20 years, we were to take the whole period of 64 years, the average proportion of births to deaths turns out to be but a little more than 12 to 10; a proportion which would not double the population in less than 125 years. If we were to include the mortality of the plague, or even of the epidemic years 1736 and 1737, in too short a period, the deaths might exceed the births, and the population would appear to be decreasing.
Sussmilch thinks that, instead of 1 in 36, the mortality in Prussia, after the plague, might be 1 in 38; and it may appear perhaps to some of my readers, that the plenty occasioned by such an event ought to make a still greater difference. Dr. Short has particularly remarked that an extraordinary healthiness generally succeeds any very great mortality;62 and I have no doubt that the observation is just, comparing similar ages together. But, under the most favourable circumstances, infants under three years are more subject to death than at other ages; and the extraordinary proportion of children which usually follows a very great mortality, counterbalances at first the natural healthiness of the period, and prevents it from making much difference in the general mortality.
If we divide the population of Prussia after the plague, by the number of deaths in the year 1711, it will appear, that the mortality was nearly 1 in 31, and was therefore increased rather than diminished, owing to the prodigious number of children born in that year. But this greater mortality would certainly cease, as soon as these children began to rise into the firmer stages of life, and then probably Sussmilch's observations would be just. In general, however, we shall observe that a great previous mortality produces a more sensible effect on the births than on the deaths. By referring to the table it will appear, that the number of annual deaths regularly increases with the increasing population, and nearly keeps up the same relative proportion all the way through. But the number of annual births is not very different during the whole period, though in this time the population had more than doubled itself; and therefore the proportion of births to the whole population, at first and at last, must have changed in an extraordinary degree.
It will appear therefore how liable we should be to err in assuming a given proportion of births, for the purpose of estimating the past population of any country. In the present instance, it would have led to the conclusion, that the population was scarcely diminished by the plague, although from the number of deaths it was known to be diminished one third.
Variations of the same kind, though not in the same degree, appear in the proportions of births, deaths and marriages, in all the tables which Sussmilch has collected; and as writers on these subjects have been too apt to form calculations for past and future times from the proportions of a few years, it may be useful to draw the attention of the reader to a few more instances of such variations.
In the Churmark of Brandenburgh,63 during 15 years, ending with 1712, the proportion of births to deaths was nearly 17 to 10. For 6 years, ending with 1718, the proportion sunk to 13 to 10; for 4 years, ending with 1752, it was only 11 to 10; and for 4 years, ending with 1756, 12 to 10. For 3 years, ending with 1759, the deaths very greatly exceeded the births. The proportion of the births to the whole population is not given; but it is not probable that the great variations observable in the proportion of births to deaths should have arisen solely from the variations in the deaths. The proportion of births to marriages is tolerably uniform, the extremes being only 38 to 10 and 35 to 10, and the mean about 37 to 10. In this table no very great epidemics occur till the 3 years beginning with 1757, and beyond this period the lists are not continued.
In the dukedom of Pomerania,64 the average proportion of births to deaths for 60 years (from 1694 to 1756 both included) was 138 to 100; but in some of the periods of six years it was as high as 177 to 100, and 155 to 100. In others it sunk as low as 124 to 100, and 130 to 100. The extremes in the proportions of births to marriages of the different periods of 5 and 6 years, were 36 to 10 and 43 to 10, and the mean of the 60 years about 38 to 10. Epidemic years appear to have occurred occasionally, in three of which the deaths exceeded the births; but this temporary diminution of population produced no corresponding diminution of births, and the two individual years which contain the greatest proportion of marriages in the whole table occur, one in the year after, and the other two years after epidemics. The excess of deaths however was not great till the three years ending with 1759, with which the table concludes.
In the Neumark of Brandenburgh,65 for 60 years, from 1695 to 1756 both included, the average proportion of births to deaths in the first 30 years was 148 to 100, in the last 30 years 127 to 100, in the whole 60 years 136 to 100. In some periods of 5 years it was as high as 171 and 167 to 100. In others as low as 118 and 128 to 100. For 5 years ending with 1726, the yearly average of births was 7012; for 5 years ending with 1746, it was 6927, from which, judging by the births, we might infer that the population had decreased in this interval of 20 years; but it appears from the average proportion of births and deaths during this period, that it must have considerably increased, notwithstanding the intervention of some epidemic years. The proportion of births to the whole population must therefore have decidedly changed. Another interval of 20 years in the same tables gives a similar result, both with regard to the births and marriages. The extremes of the proportion of births to marriages are 34 to 10, and 42 to 10, the mean about 38 to 10. The 3 years beginning with 1757, were, as in the other tables, very fatal years.
In the dukedom of Magdeburgh,66 during 64 years ending with 1756, the average proportion of births to deaths was 123 to 100; in the first 28 years of the period 142 to 100, and in the last 34 years only 112 to 100; during one period of 5 years it was as high as 170 to 100; and in two periods the deaths exceeded the births. Slight epidemics appear to be interspersed rather thickly throughout the table. In the two instances, where three or four occur in successive years and diminish the population, they are followed by an increase of marriages and births. The extremes of the proportions of births to marriages are 42 to 10 and 34 to 10, and the mean of the 64 years 39 to 10. On this table Sussmilch remarks, that though the average number of deaths shews an increased population of one third from 1715 or 1720, yet the births and marriages would prove it to be stationary, or even declining. In drawing this conclusion however, he adds the three epidemic years ending with 1759, during which both the marriages and births seem to have diminished.
In the principality of Halberstadt,67 the average proportion of births to deaths for 68 years, ending with 1756, was 124 to 100; but in some periods of 5 years it was as high as 160 to 100, and in others as low as 110 to 100. The increase in the whole 68 years was considerable, and yet for 5 years ending with 1723, the average number of births was 2818; and for 4 years ending with 1750, 2628, from which it would appear that the population in 27 years had considerably diminished. A similar appearance occurs with regard to the marriages during a period of 32 years. In the 5 years ending with 1718, they were 727; in the 5 years ending with 1750, 689. During both these periods the proportion of deaths would have shewn a considerable increase. Epidemics seem to have occurred frequently; and in almost all the instances, in which they were such as for the deaths to exceed the births, they were immediately succeeded by a more than usual proportion of marriages, and in a few years by an increased proportion of births. The greatest number of marriages in the whole table occurs in the year 1751, after an epidemic in the year 1750, in which the deaths had exceeded the births above one third, and the four or five following years contain the largest proportion of births. The extremes of the proportions of births to marriages are 42 to 10 and 34 to 10; the mean of the 68 years 38 to 10.
The remaining tables contain similar results; but these will be sufficient to shew the variations which are continually occurring in the proportions of the births and marriages, as well as of the deaths, to the whole population.
It will be observed that the least variable of the proportions is that which the births and marriages bear to each other; and the obvious reason is, that this proportion is principally influenced by the prolifickness of marriages, which will not of course be subject to great changes. We can hardly indeed suppose, that the prolifickness of marriages should vary so much as the different proportions of births to marriages in the tables. Nor is it necessary that it should, as another cause will contribute to produce the same effect. The births which are contemporary with the marriages of any particular year, belong principally to marriages which had taken place some years before; and therefore, if for four or five years a large proportion of marriages were to take place; and then accidentally for one or two years a small proportion, the effect would be a large proportion of births to marriages in the registers during these one or two years; and on the contrary, if for four or five years few marriages comparatively were to take place, and then for one or two years a great number, the effect would be a small proportion of births to marriages in the registers. This was strikingly illustrated in the table for Prussia and Lithuania, and would be confirmed by an inspection of all the other tables collected by Sussmilch; in which it appears that the extreme proportions of births to marriages are generally more affected by the number of marriages than the number of births, and consequently arise more from the variations in the disposition or encouragement to matrimony, than from the variations in the prolifickness of marriages.
The common epidemical years which are interspersed throughout these tables, will not of course have the same effects on the marriages and births as the great plague in the table for Prussia; but in proportion to their magnitude, their operation will in general be found to be similar. From the registers of many other countries, and particularly of towns, it appears that the visitations of the plague were frequent at the latter end of the 17th, and the beginning of the 18th centuries.
In contemplating the plagues and sickly seasons which occur in these tables after a period of rapid increase, it is impossible not to be impressed with the idea, that the number of inhabitants had in these instances exceeded the food and the accommodations necessary to preserve them in health. The mass of the people would, upon this supposition, be obliged to live worse, and a greater number of them would be crowded together in one house; and these natural causes would evidently contribute to produce sickness, even though the country, absolutely considered, might not be crowded and populous. In a country even thinly inhabited, if an increase of population take place before more food is raised, and more houses are built, the inhabitants must be distressed for room and subsistence. If in the Highlands of Scotland, for the next ten or twelve years, the marriages were to be either more frequent or more prolific, and no emigration were to take place, instead of five to a cottage, there might be seven; and this, added to the necessity of worse living, would evidently have a most unfavourable effect on the health of the common people.
Book II, Chapter XIII
General Deductions from the preceding View of Society.
That the checks which have been mentioned are the immediate causes of the slow increase of population, and that these checks result principally from an insufficiency of subsistence, will be evident from the comparatively rapid increase which has invariably taken place, whenever, by some sudden enlargement in the means of subsistence, these checks have in any considerable degree been removed.
It has been universally remarked that all new colonies settled in healthy countries, where room and food were abundant, have constantly made a rapid progress in population. Many of the colonies from ancient Greece, in the course of one or two centuries, appear to have rivalled, and even surpassed, their mother cities. Syracuse and Agrigentum in Sicily, Tarentum and Locri in Italy, Ephesus and Miletus in Lesser Asia, were, by all accounts, at least equal to any of the cities of ancient Greece. All these colonies had established themselves in countries inhabited by savage and barbarous nations, which easily gave place to the new settlers, who had of course plenty of good land. It is calculated that the Israelites, though they increased very slowly while they were wandering in the land of Canaan, on settling in a fertile district of Egypt, doubled their numbers every fifteen years during the whole period of their stay.68 But not to dwell on remote instances, the European settlements in America bear ample testimony to the truth of a remark, that has never I believe been doubted. Plenty of rich land to be had for little or nothing, is so powerful a cause of population, as generally to overcome all obstacles.
No settlements could easily have been worse managed than those of Spain, in Mexico, Peru, and Quito. The tyranny, superstition, and vices of the mother country were introduced in ample quantities among her children. Exorbitant taxes were exacted by the crown; the most arbitrary restrictions were imposed on their trade; and the governors were not behind hand in rapacity and extortion for themselves as well as their masters. Yet under all these difficulties, the colonies made a quick progress in population. The city of Quito, which was but a hamlet of Indians, is represented by Ulloa as containing fifty or sixty thousand inhabitants above fifty years ago.69 Lima, which was founded since the conquest, is mentioned by the same author as equally or more populous before the fatal earthquake in 1746. Mexico is said to contain a hundred thousand inhabitants; which, notwithstanding the exaggerations of the Spanish writers, is supposed to be five times greater than what it contained in the time of Montezuma.70
In the Portuguese colony of Brazil, governed with almost equal tyranny, there were supposed to be, above thirty years ago, six hundred thousand inhabitants of European extraction.71
The Dutch and French colonies, though under the government of exclusive companies of merchants, still persisted in thriving under every disadvantage.72
But the English North-American colonies, now the powerful people of the United States of America, far outstripped all the others in the progress of their population. To the quantity of rich land which they possessed in common with the Spanish and Portuguese colonies, they added a greater degree of liberty of liberty and equality. Though not without some restrictions on their foreign commerce, they were allowed the liberty of managing their own internal affairs. The political institutions which prevailed were favourable to the alienation and division of property. Lands which were not cultivated by the proprietor within a limited time, were declared grantable to any other person. In Pennsylvania there was no right of primogeniture; and in the provinces of New England, the eldest son had only a double share. There were no tithes in any of the States, and scarcely any taxes.
And on account of the extreme cheapness of good land, and a situation favourable to the exportation of grain, a capital could not be more advantageously employed than in agriculture; which, at the same time that it affords the greatest quantity of healthy work, supplies the most valuable produce to the society.
The consequence of these favourable circumstances united, was a rapidity of increase almost without parallel in history. Throughout all the northern provinces the population was found to double itself in 25 years. The original number of persons which had settled in the four provinces of New England in 1643, was 21,200. Afterwards it was calculated that more left them than went to them. In the year 1760 they were increased to half a million. They had, therefore, all along doubled their number in 25 years. In New Jersey the period of doubling appeared to be 22 years, and in Rhode Island still less. In the back settlements, where the inhabitants applied themselves solely to agriculture, and luxury was not known, they were supposed to double their number in fifteen years. Along the sea-coast, which would naturally be first inhabited, the period of doubling was about 35 years, and in some of the maritime towns the population was absolutely at a stand.73 From the late census made in America, it appears that, taking all the States together, they have still continued to double their numbers within 25 years;74 and as the whole population is now so great as not to be materially affected by the emigrations from Europe, and as it is known that, in some of the towns and districts near the sea-coast, the progress of population has been comparatively slow; it is evident, that in the interior of the country in general, the period of doubling from procreation only must have been considerably less than 25 years.
The population of the United States of America, according to the fourth census, in 1820, was 7,861,710. We have no reason to believe that Great Britain is less populous at present, for the emigration of the small parent stock which produced these numbers. On the contrary, a certain degree of emigration is known to be favourable to the population of the mother country. It has been particularly remarked that the two Spanish provinces, from which the greatest number of people emigrated to America, became in consequence more populous.
Whatever was the original number of British emigrants which increased so fast in North America, let us ask, Why does not an equal number produce an equal increase in the same time in Great Britain? The obvious reason to be assigned is the want of food; and that this want is the most efficient cause of the three immediate checks to population, which have been observed to prevail in all societies; is evident from the rapidity with which even old states recover the desolations of war, pestilence, famine, and the convulsions of nature. They are then for a short time placed a little in the situation of new colonies; and the effect is always answerable to what might be expected. If the industry of the inhabitants be not destroyed, subsistence will soon increase beyond the wants of the reduced numbers; and the invariable consequence will be, that population, which before perhaps was nearly stationary, will begin immediately to increase, and will continue its progress till the former population is recovered.
The fertile province of Flanders, which has been so often the seat of the most destructive wars, after a respite of a few years has always appeared as rich and populous as ever. The undiminished population of France, which has before been noticed, is an instance very strongly in point. The tables of Sussmilch afford continual proofs of a very rapid increase after great mortalities; and the table for Prussia and Lithuania, which I have inserted,75 is particularly striking in this respect. The effects of the dreadful plague in London, in 1666, were not perceptible 15 or 20 years afterwards. It may even be doubted whether Turkey and Egypt are upon an average much less populous for the plagues which periodically lay them waste. If the number of people which they contain be considerably less now than formerly, it is rather to be attributed to the tyranny and oppression of the governments under which they groan, and the consequent discouragements to agriculture, than to the losses which they sustain by the plague. The traces of the most destructive famines in China, Indostan, Egypt, and other countries, are by all accounts very soon obliterated; and the most tremendous convulsions of nature, such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, if they do not happen so frequently as to drive away the inhabitants or destroy their spirit of industry, have been found to produce but a trifling effect on the average population of any state.
It has appeared from the registers of different countries, which have already been produced, that the progress of their population is checked by the periodical, though irregular, returns of plagues and sickly seasons. Dr. Short, in his curious researches into bills of mortality, often uses the expression—"terrible correctives of the redundance of mankind;"76 and in a table of all the plagues, pestilences and famines, of which he could collect accounts, shews the constancy and universality of their operation.
The epidemical years in his table, or the years in which the plague or some great and wasting epidemic prevailed, (for smaller sickly seasons seem not to be included;) are 431,77 of which 32 were before the Christian æra.78 If we divide therefore the years of the present æra by 399, it will appear, that the periodical returns of such epidemics, to some countries that we are acquainted with, have been on an average only at the interval of about 4½ years.
Of the 254 great famines and dearths enumerated in the table, 15 were before the Christian æra,79 beginning with that which occurred in Palestine, in the time of Abraham. If, subtracting these 15, we divide the years of the present æra by the remainder, it will appear that the average interval between the visits of this dreadful scourge has been only about 7½ years.
How far these "terrible correctives to the redundance of mankind" have been occasioned by the too rapid increase of population, is a point which it would be very difficult to determine with any degree of precision. The causes of most of our diseases appear to us to be so mysterious, and probably are really so various, that it would be rashness to lay too much stress on any single one; but it will not perhaps be too much to say, that among these causes we ought certainly to rank crowded houses and insufficient or unwholesome food, which are the natural consequences of an increase of population faster than the accommodations of a country with respect to habitations and food will allow.
Almost all the histories of epidemics, which we possess, tend to confirm this supposition, by describing them in general as making their principal ravages among the lower classes of people. In Dr. Short's tables this circumstance is frequently mentioned;80 and it further appears that a very considerable proportion of the epidemic years either followed or were accompanied by seasons of dearth and bad food.81 In other places he also mentions great plagues as diminishing particularly the numbers of the lower or servile sort of people;82 and in speaking of different diseases he observes that those which are occasioned by bad and unwholesome food generally last the longest.83
We know from constant experience, that fevers are generated in our jails, our manufactories, our crowded workhouses and in the narrow and close streets of our large towns; all which situations appear to be similar in their effects to squalid poverty; and we cannot doubt that causes of this kind, aggravated in degree, contributed to the production and prevalence of those great and wasting plagues formerly so common in Europe, but which now, from the mitigation of these causes, are every where considerably abated, and in many places appear to be completely extirpated.
Of the other great scourge of mankind, famine, it may be observed that it is not in the nature of things, that the increase of population should absolutely produce one. This increase, though rapid, is necessarily gradual; and as the human frame cannot be supported, even for a very short time, without food, it is evident, that no more human beings can grow up than there is provision to maintain. But though the principle of population cannot absolutely produce a famine, it prepares the way for one; and by frequently obliging the lower classes of people to subsist nearly on the smallest quantity of food that will support life, turns even a slight deficiency from the failure of the seasons into a severe dearth; and may be fairly said, therefore, to be one of the principal causes of famine. Among the signs of an approaching dearth, Dr. Short mentions one or more years of luxuriant crops together;84 and this observation is probably just, as we know that the general effect of years of cheapness and abundance is to dispose a great number of persons to marry; and under such circumstances the return to a year merely of an average crop might produce a scarcity.
The small-pox, which may be considered as the most prevalent and fatal epidemic in Europe, is of all others, perhaps, the most difficult to account for, though the periods of its returns are in many places regular.85 Dr. Short observes, that from the histories of this disorder it seems to have very little dependence upon the past or present constitution of the weather or seasons, and that it appears epidemically at all times and in all states of the air, though not so frequently in a hard frost. We know of no instances, I believe, of its being clearly generated under any circumstances of situation. I do not mean therefore to insinuate that poverty and crowded houses ever absolutely produced it; but I may be allowed to remark, that in those places where its returns are regular, and its ravages among children, particularly among those of the lower class, are considerable, it necessarily follows that these circumstances, in a greater degree than usual, must always precede and accompany its appearance; that is, from the time of its last visit, the average number of children will be increasing, the people will, in consequence, be growing poorer, and the houses will be more crowded till another visit removes this superabundant population.
In all these cases, how little soever force we maybe disposed to attribute to the effects of the principle of population in the actual production of disorders, we cannot avoid allowing their force as predisposing causes to the reception of contagion, and as giving very great additional force to the extensiveness and fatality of its ravages.
It is observed by Dr. Short that a severe mortal epidemic is generally succeeded by an uncommon healthiness, from the late distemper having carried off most of the declining and worn out constitutions.86 It is probable, also, that another cause of it may be the greater plenty of room and food, and the consequently meliorated condition of the lower classes of the people. Sometimes, according to Dr. Short, a very fruitful year is followed by a very mortal and sickly one, and mortal ones often succeeded by very fruitful, as if Nature sought either to prevent or quickly repair the loss by death. In general the next year after sickly and mortal ones is prolific in proportion to the breeders left.87
This last effect we have seen most strikingly exemplified in the table for Prussia and Lithuania.88 And from this and other tables of Sussmilch, it also appears that, when the increasing produce of a country and the increasing demand for labour, so far meliorate the condition of the labourer as greatly to encourage marriage, the custom of early marriages is generally continued, till the population has gone beyond the increased produce, and sickly seasons appear to be the natural and necessary consequence. The continental registers exhibit many instances of rapid increase, interrupted in this manner by mortal diseases; and the inference seems to be, that those countries where subsistence is increasing sufficiently to encourage population, but not to answer all its demands, will be more subject to periodical epidemics, than those where the increase of population is more nearly accommodated to the average produce.
The converse of this will of course be true. In those countries which are subject to periodical sicknesses, the increase of population, or the excess of births above the deaths, will be greater in the intervals of these periods than is usual in countries not so much subject to these diseases. If Turkey and Egypt have been nearly stationary in their average population for the last century, in the intervals of their periodical plagues, the births must have exceeded the deaths in a much greater proportion than in such countries as France and England.
It is for these reasons that no estimates of future population or depopulation, formed from any existing rate of increase or decrease, can be depended upon. Sir William Petty calculated that in the year 1800 the city of London would contain 5,359,00089 inhabitants, instead of which it does not now contain a fifth part of that number. Mr. Eaton has lately prophesied the extinction of the population of the Turkish empire in another century,90 an event which will certainly fail of taking place. If America were to continue increasing at the same rate as at present for the next 150 years, her population would exceed the population of China; but though prophecies are dangerous, I will venture to say that such an increase will not take place in that time, though it may perhaps in five or six hundred years.
Europe was without doubt formerly more subject to plagues and wasting epidemics than at present; and this will account, in a great measure, for the greater proportion of births to deaths in former times, mentioned by many authors; as it has always been a common practice to estimate these proportions from too short periods, and generally to reject the years of plague as accidental.
The average proportion of births to deaths in England during the last century may be considered as about 12 to 10, or 120 to 100. The proportion in France for ten years, ending in 1780, was about 115 to 100.91 Though these proportions undoubtedly varied at different periods during the century, yet we have reason to think that they did not vary in any very considerable degree; and it will appear therefore, that the population of France and England had accommodated itself more nearly to the average produce of each country than many other states. The operation of the preventive check—wars—the silent though certain destruction of life in large towns and manufactories—and the close habitations and insufficient food of many of the poor—prevent population from outrunning the means of subsistence; and, if I may use an expression which certainly at first appears strange, supersede the necessity of great and ravaging epidemics to destroy what is redundant. If a wasting plague were to sweep off two millions in England, and six millions in France, it cannot be doubted that, after the inhabitants had recovered from the dreadful shock, the proportion of births to deaths would rise much above the usual average in either country during the last century.
In New Jersey the proportion of births to deaths, on an average of 7 years, ending with 1743, was 300 to 100. In France and England the average proportion cannot be reckoned at more than 120 to 100. Great and astonishing as this difference is, we ought not to be so wonder-struck at it, as to attribute it to the miraculous interposition of Heaven. The causes of it are not remote, latent and mysterious, but near us, round about us, and open to the investigation of every inquiring mind. It accords with the most liberal spirit of philosophy to believe that no stone can fall, or plant rise, without the immediate agency of divine power. But we know from experience, that these operations of what we call nature have been conducted almost invariably according to fixed laws. And since the world began, the causes of population and depopulation have been probably as constant as any of the laws of nature with which we are acquainted.
The passion between the sexes has appeared in every age to be so nearly the same, that it may always be considered, in algebraic language, as a given quantity. The great law of necessity, which prevents population from increasing in any country beyond the food which it can either produce or acquire, is a law so open to our view, so obvious and evident to our understandings, that we cannot for a moment doubt it. The different modes which nature takes to repress a redundant population, do not indeed appear to us so certain and regular; but though we cannot always predict the mode, we may with certainty predict the fact. If the proportion of the births to the deaths for a few years indicates an increase of numbers much beyond the proportional increased or acquired food of the country, we may be perfectly certain that, unless an emigration take place, the deaths will shortly exceed the births, and that the increase which had been observed for a few years cannot be the real average increase of the population of the country. If there were no other depopulating causes, and if the preventive check did not operate very strongly, every country would without doubt be subject to periodical plagues and famines.
The only true criterion of a real and permanent increase in the population of any country, is the increase of the means of subsistence. But even this criterion is subject to some slight variations, which however are completely open to our observation. In some countries population seems to have been forced; that is, the people have been habituated by degrees to live almost upon the smallest possible quantity of food. There must have been periods in such countries, when population increased permanently without an increase in the means of subsistence. China, India and the countries possessed by the Bedoween Arabs, as we have seen in the former part of this work, appear to answer to this description. The average produce of these countries seems to be but barely sufficient to support the lives of the inhabitants, and of course any deficiency from the badness of the seasons must be fatal. Nations in this state must necessarily be subject to famines.
In America, where the reward of labour is at present so liberal, the lower classes might retrench very considerably in a year of scarcity, without materially distressing themselves. A famine therefore seems to be almost impossible. It may be expected, that in the progress of the population of America, the labourers will in time be much less liberally rewarded. The numbers will in this case permanently increase, without a proportional increase in the means of subsistence.
In the different countries of Europe there must be some variations in the proportion of the number of inhabitants, and the quantity of food consumed, arising from the different habits of living which prevail in each state. The labourers in the south of England are so accustomed to eat fine wheaten bread, that they will suffer themselves to be half starved before they will submit to live like the Scotch peasants.
They might perhaps, in time, by the constant operation of the hard law of necessity, be reduced to live even like the lower classes of the Chinese, and the country would then with the same quantity of food support a greater population. But to effect this must always be a difficult, and every friend to humanity will hope, an abortive attempt.
I have mentioned some cases where population may permanently increase without a proportional increase in the means of subsistence. But it is evident that the variation in different states between the food and the numbers supported by it is restricted to a limit beyond which it cannot pass. In every country, the population of which is not absolutely decreasing, the food must be necessarily sufficient to support and continue the race of labourers.
Other circumstances being the same, it may be affirmed that countries are populous according to the quantity of human food which they produce or can acquire; and happy, according to the liberality with which this food is divided, or the quantity which a day's labour will purchase. Corn countries are more populous than pasture countries, and rice countries more populous than corn countries. But their happiness does not depend either upon their being thinly or fully inhabited, upon their poverty or their riches, their youth or their age; but on the proportion which the population and the food bear to each other.
This proportion is generally the most favourable in new colonies, where the knowledge and industry of an old state operate on the fertile unappropriated land of a new one. In other cases the youth or the age of a state is not, in this respect, of great importance. It is probable that the food of Great Britain is divided in more liberal shares to her inhabitants at the present period, than it was two thousand, three thousand, or four thousand years ago. And it has appeared that the poor and thinly-inhabited tracts of the Scotch Highlands are more distressed by a redundant population than the most populous parts of Europe.
If a country were never to be overrun by a people more advanced in arts, but left to its own natural progress in civilization; from the time that its produce might be considered as an unit, to the time that it might be considered as a million, during the lapse of many thousand years, there might not be a single period when the mass of the people could be said to be free from distress, either directly or indirectly, for want of food. In every state in Europe, since we have first had accounts of it, millions and millions of human existences have been repressed from this simple cause, though perhaps in some of these states an absolute famine may never have been known.
Must it not then be acknowledged by an attentive examiner of the histories of mankind, that, in every age and in every state in which man has existed or does now exist,
The increase of population is necessarily limited by the means of subsistence:
Population invariably increases when the means of subsistence increase,92 unless prevented by powerful and obvious checks:
These checks, and the checks which keep the population down to the level of the means of subsistence, are moral restraint, vice, and misery?
In comparing the state of society which has been considered in this second book with that which formed the subject of the first, I think it appears that in modern Europe the positive checks to population prevail less, and the preventive checks more than in past times, and in the more uncivilized parts of the world.
War, the predominant check to the population of savage nations, has certainly abated, even including the late unhappy revolutionary contests; and since the prevalence of a greater degree of personal cleanliness, of better modes of clearing and building towns, and of a more equable distribution of the products of the soil from improving knowledge in political economy, plagues, violent diseases and famines have been certainly mitigated, and have become less frequent.
With regard to the preventive check to population, though it must be acknowledged that that branch of it which comes under the head of moral restraint,93 does not at present prevail much among the male part of society; yet I am strongly disposed to believe that it prevails more than in those states which were first considered; and it can scarcely be doubted that in modern Europe a much larger proportion of women pass a considerable part of their lives in the exercise of this virtue, than in past times and among uncivilized nations. But however this may be, if we consider only the general term which implies principally a delay of the marriage union from prudential considerations, without reference to consequences, it may be considered in this light as the most powerful of the checks, which in modern Europe keep down the population to the level of the means of subsistence.
[1.]The registers for Russia give a smaller mortality; but it is supposed that they are defective. It appears, however, that in England and Wales during the ten years ending with 1820, the mortality was still less than in Norway.
[2.]Thaarup's Statistik der Danischen Monarchie, vol. ii. p. 4.
[3.]Id. Table ii. p. 5.
[4.]Thaarup's Statistik der Danischen Monarchie, vol. ii, p. 4. The proportion of yearly marriages to the whole population is one of the most obvious criterions of the operation of the preventive check, though not quite a correct one. Generally speaking, the preventive check is greater than might be inferred from this criterion; because in the healthy countries of Europe, where a small proportion of marriages takes place, the greater number of old people living at the time of these marriages will be more than counterbalanced by the smaller proportion of persons under the age of puberty. In such a country as Norway, the persons from 20 to 50, that is, of the most likely age to marry, bear a greater proportion to the whole population than in most of the other countries of Europe; and consequently the actual proportion of marriages in Norway, compared with that of others, will not express the full extent in which the preventive check operates.
[5.]The few particulars, which I shall mention relating to Norway, were collected during a summer excursion in that country in the year 1799.
[6.]A daughter's portion is the half of a son's portion.
[7.]Thaarupt's Statistik der Danischen Monarchie, vol. ii. p. 4.
[8.]Id. table i. p. 4. In the Tableau Statistique des Etats Danois, since published, it appears that the whole number of births for the five years subsequent to 1794, was 138,799, of deaths 94,530, of marriages 34,313. These numbers give the proportion of births to deaths as 146 to 100, of births to marriages as 4 to 1, and of deaths to marriages as 275 to 100. The average proportion of yearly births is stated to be 1/35, and of yearly deaths 1/49 of the whole population. vol. ii. ch. viii.
[9.]Vol. i. 4to. Printed at Paris, 1772.
[10.]Id. p. 27.
[11.]Price's Observ. on Revers. Paym. vol. ii. p. 126, 4th edit.
[12.]Mémoires pour servir à la connoissance des affaires politiques et économiques du Royaume de Suède, 4to. 1776, ch. vi. p. 187. This work is considered as very correct in its information, and is in great credit at Stockholm.
[13.]Sussmilch's Gottliche Ordnung, vol. i. c: ii. sect. xxxiv. edit. 1798.
[14.]Id. sect. xxxv. p. 91.
[15.]Id. vol. iii. p. 60.
[16.]Thaarup's Statistik der Danischen Monarchie, vol. ii. tab. ii. p. 5. 1765.
[17.]Some of these valleys are strikingly picturesque. The principal road from Christiana to Drontheim leads for nearly 180 English miles through a continued valley of this kind, by the side of a very fine river, which in one part stretches out into the extensive lake Miosen. I am inclined to believe that there is not any river in all Europe, the course of which, affords such a constant succession of beautiful and romantic scenery. It goes under different names in different parts. The verdure in the Norway valleys is peculiarly soft, the foliage of the trees luxuriant, and in summer no traces appear of a northern climate.
[18.]Mémoires du Royaume de Suède, table xvii. p. 174.
[19.]Id. c. vi. p. 198.
[20.]Id. table xlii. p. 418, c. vi. p. 201. I did not find out exactly the measure of the Swedish tun. It is rather less than our sack, or half-quarter.
[21.]Id. c. vi. p. 201.
[22.]Mémoires du Royaume de Suède, table xlii. p. 418.
[23.]Id. ch. vi. p. 184.
[24.]Id, p. 196.
[26.]Id. p. 21, 22.
[27.]Mémoires Abrégés de l'Académie de Stockholm, p. 29.
[28.]Id. p. 31.
[29.]This has been confirmed with regard to England, by the abstracts of parish registers which have lately been published. The years 1795 and 1800 are marked by a diminution of marriages and births, and an increase of deaths.
[30.]Mémoires du Royaume de Suède, c. vi. p. 188.
[31.]Mémoires du Royaume de Suède, ch. vi. p. 191.
[32.]Cantzlaer mentions the returns from land effectivement ensemencé as only three grains for one. ch. vi. p. 196.
[33.]Mémoires du Royaume de Suède, ch. vi. p. 202.
[34.]Mémoires du Royaume de Suede, ch. vi. p. 204.
[35.]Id. ch. vi.
[36.]Id. p. 188.
[37.]Mémoires du Royaume de Suède, ch. vi. p. 204.
[39.]Mémoires du Royaume de Suède, ch. vi. p. 177.
[40.]Mémoires du Royaume de Suède, ch. vi. p. 184.
[41.]Mémoires de l'Académie de Stockholm, p. 29.
[42.]Mémoires du Royaume de Suède, table xlii.
[43.]Price's Observ. on Revers. Pay. vol. ii, p. 125.
[44.]Mémoires du Royaume de Suède, ch. vi. p. 1 196.
[45.]Göttliche Ordnung, vol. i. C. vi. s. 120, p. 231.
[46.]Transactions of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Stockbolm for the year 1809, and Supplement to the Encyclopædia Britannica, Article, Mortality, by Mr. Milne, Actuary to the Sun Life Assurance Society. The period of five years here noticed was free from any remarkable epidemics, and vaccination had commenced in 1804.
[47.]Vol. ii. b. iii. p. 162.
[48.]Id. p. 145.
[49.]Nova Acta Academiæ, tom. iv.
[50.]View of the Russian Empire, vol. ii. b. iii. p. 148.
[51.]Mémoires par W. L. Krafft, Nova Acta Academiæ, tom. iv.
[52.]Tooke's View of the Russ. Emp. vol. ii. b. iii. p. 147.
[53.]Mémoires Abrégés dé l'Académie de Stockholm, p. 28.
[54.]View of Russ. Emp. vol. ii. b. iii. p. 146.
[55.]Mémoire par W. L. Krafft, Nova Acta Academiæ, tom. iv.
[56.]Mémoire par W. L. Krafft, Nova Acta Academiæ, tom. iv.
[57.]Mémoires Abrégés de l'Académie de Stockholm; p. 28:
[58.]Nova Acta Academiæ, tom. iv.
[59.]Tooke's View of the Russian Empire, vol. ii. b. iii. p. 155.
[60.]Id. p. 151.
[61.]Id. note, p. 150.
[62.]View of the Russian Empire, vol. ii. b. iii. p. 201.
[63.]Tooke's View of the Russian Empire, vol. ii. book iii. sect. i. p. 126, et seq.
[64.]Esprit des Loix, liv. xxii. c. x.
[65.]Sussmilch, Göttliche Ordnung, vol. i. c. iv. sect. lvi. p. 126.
[66.]Crome, ueber die Grösse and Bevölkerung der Europ. Staaten, p. 88, Leips. 1785.
[67.]Sussmilch, Göttliche Ordnung, vol. i. c. iv. sect. lviii. p. 127. Such a proportion of marriages could not, however, be supplied in a country like Holland, from the births within the territory, but must be caused principally by the influx of foreigners: and it is known that such an influx, before the Revolution, was constantly taking place. Holland, indeed, has been called the grave of Germany.
[68.]Sussmilch, Götittliche Ordnung, vol. i. c. iv, sect, lviii. p. 128.
[69.]Sussmilch, Göttliche Ordnung, vol. i, c. ii. sect. xxxvi. p. 92.
[70.]Sussmilch, Göttliche Ordnung, vol. i. c, iv. sect. lxii. p. 132.
[71.]Id. sect. lxiii. p. 134.
[72.]Id. sect. lxiv. p. 134.
[73.]Id. sect. lxv. p. 135.
[74.]Sussmilch, Göttliche Ordnung, vol. i. c. iv. sect. lxxi. p. 140.
[75.]Sussmilch, Göttliche Ordnung, vol. i. c. iv. sect. lvi. p. 125.
[76.]Id. sect. lxxv. p. 147.
[77.]Id. sect. lx. p. 129.
[79.]Id. sect. lxix. p. 137.
[80.]Crome, ueber die Grösse und Bevölkerung der Europaischen Staaten, p. 89.
[82.]Esprit des Loix, liv. xxiii. c. xxvi.
[83.]Sussmilch, Göttliche Ordnung, vol. i. c. iv. sect, lxxviii. p. 151.
[84.]Sussmilch, Göttliche Ordnung, vol. i. c. vi. s. cxvi. p. 225.
[85.]Ibid. and c. ii. s. xxvii. p. 93.
[86.]Id. c. ii. s. xxviii. p. 80, and c. vi. s. cxvi. p. 225.
[87.]Id. c. vi. s. cxvi. p. 225.
[89.]Thaarup's Statistik, vol. ii. p. 4.
[90.]Sussmilch, Göttliche Ordnung, vol. iii. p. 60.
[91.]Vol. i. c. ii. s. xxxv. p. 91.
[92.]Crome, über die Gröss und Bevölkerung der Europaischen Staaten, p. 116.
[93.]Crome, über die Bevölkerung der Europaisch. Staat. p. 118.
[94.]Id. p. 120.
[95.]Id. p. 122.
[96.]Crome's Europaiscben Staaten, p. 127.
[97.]Supplement to the Encyclopædia Britannica, Article Prussia.
[1.]See the different Memoirs for the year 1766.
[2.]Mémoires, 8c. par la Société Economique de Berne. Année 1766, première partie, p. 15 et seq. octavo. Berne.
[3.]Mémoires, 8c. par la Société Economique de Berne, table xiii. p. 120. Année 1766.
[4.]Id. p. 22.
[5.]Mémoires, 8c. par la Société Econ. de Berne. Année 1766, première partie, table iv. p. 22.
[6.]Id. table i. p. 21.
[7.]Id. table i. p. 16.
[8.]See a paper in the Bibliothèque Britannique, published at Geneva, tom. iv. p. 328.
[9.]Mémoires, 8c. par la Société Econ. de Berne. Année 1766, première partie, p. 47, 48.
[10.]Id. p. 48.
[12.]Mémoires, 8c. par la Société Econ. de Berne. Année 1766, première partie, p. 48, et seq.
[13.]Mémoires, 8c. par la Société Econ. de Berne, Année 1766, table v. p. 64.
[14.]Id. table i. p. 15.
[15.]Mémoires, 8c. par la Société Econ. de Berne. Année 1766, p. 11 and 12.
[17.]Id. p. 11.
[18.]Id. p. 13.
[19.]Mémoires, 8c. par la Société Econ. de Berne. Année 1766, table xiii. p. 120.
[20.]Id. table i. p. 11.
[21.]Mémoires, 8c. par la Société Econ. de Berne. Année 1766, p. 29, et seq.
[22.]On account of second and third marriages, the fecundity of marriages must always be less than the fecundity of married women. The mothers alone are here considered, without reference to the number of husbands.
[23.]Mémoires, 8c. par la Société Econ. de Berne. Année 1766, p. 32.
[24.]Id. table i. p. 21.
[25.]Mémoires, 8c. par la Société de Berne. Année 1766, table viii. p. 92, et seq.
[26.]Id. table xiii. p. 120.
[27.]Id. table xii.
[28.]Mémoires, 8c. par la Société de Berne. Année 1766, première partie, p. 27.
[29.]Id. première partie, tab. i.
[30.]Statistique de la Suisse, Durand, tom. iv. p. 405, 8vo. 4 vols. Lausanne, 1796.
[31.]Beschreibung von Bern, vol. ii. tab. i. p. 35, 2 vols. 8vo. Bern. 1796.
[32.]M. Prevost, of Geneva, in his translation of this work, gives some account of the small Canton of Glavis, in which the cotton-manufacture had been introduced. It appears that it had been very prosperous at first, and had occasioned a habit of early marriages, and a considerable increase of population; but subsequently wages became extremely low, and a fourth part of the population was dependent upon charity for their support. The proportions of the births and deaths to the population, instead of being 1 to 36, and 1 to 45, as in the Pays de Vaud, had become as 1 to 26, and 1 to 35. And, according to a later account in the last translation, the proportion of the births to the population, during the 14 years from 1805 to 1819, was as 1 to 24, and of the deaths as 1 to 30.
[33.]Beschreibung von Bern, vol. ii. p. 40.
[34.]This chapter was written in 1802, and refers to the state of France before the peace of Amiens.
[35.]P. 32, 8vo. 78 pages.
[36.]A. Young's Travels in France, vol. i. c. xvii. p. 466, 4to. 1792.
[37.]De l'Administration des Finances, tom. i. c. ix. p. 256, 12mo. 1785.
[38.]Essai, p. 31.
[39.]De l'Administration des Finances, tom. i. c. ix. p. 255.
[40.]Tableau des Pertes, 8c. c. ii. p. 7.—M. Garnier, in the notes to his edition of Adam Smith, calculates that only about a sixtieth part of the French population was destroyed in the armies. He supposes only 500,000 embodied at once, and that this number was supplied by 400,000 more in the course of the war; and allowing for the number which would die naturally, that the additional mortality occasioned by the war was only about 45,000 each year. Tom. v. note xxx. p. 284. If the actual loss were no more than these statements make it, a small increase of births would have easily repaired it; but I should think that these estimates are probably as much below the truth, as Sir Francis d'Ivernois's are above.
[41.]Essai de Peuchet, p. 28.
[42.]Supposing the increased number of children at any period to equal the number of men absent in the armies, yet these children, being all very young, could not be supposed to consume a quantity equal to that which would be consumed by the same number of grown-up persons.
[43.]Tableau des Pertes, 8c. c. ii. p. 14.
[44.]De l'Administration des Finances, tom. i. c. ix. p. 254.
[45.]Essai de Peuchet, p. 28.
[46.]De l'Administration des Finances, tom. i. c. ix. p. 255. Essai de Peuchet, p. 29.
[47.]Young's Travels in France, vol. i. c. xvii. p. 466.
[48.]See generally c. xvii. vol. i. and the just observations on these subjects interspersed in many other parts of his very valuable Tour.
[49.]De l'Administration des Finances, tom, i. c. ix. p. 262, et seq.
[50.]In the Statistique Générale et Particulière de la France, et de ses Colonies, lately, published, the returns of the prefects for the year IX. are given, and seem to justify this conjecture. The births are 955,450, the deaths 821,871, and the marriages 202,177. These numbers hardly equal Necker's estimates; and yet all the calculations in this work, both with respect to the whole population and its proportion to a square league, make the old territory of France more populous now than at the beginning of the revolution. The estimate of the population, at the period of the Constituent Assembly, has already been mentioned; and at this time the number of persons to a square league was reckoned 996. In the year VI. of the republic, the result of the Bureau de Cadastre gave a population of 26,048,254, and the number to a square league 1,020. In the year VII. Dépère calculated the whole population of France at 33,501,094, of which 28,810,694 belonged to ancient France; the number to a square league 1,101; but the calculations, it appears, were founded upon the first estimate made by the Constituent Assembly, which was afterwards rejected as too high. In the year IX. and X. the addition of Piedmont and the isle of Elba raised the whole population to 34,376,313; the number to a square league 1,086. The number belonging to Old France is not stated. It seems to have been about 28,000,000.
[51.]Essai de Peuchet, p. 28. It is highly probable that this increase of illegitimate births occasioned a more than usual number of children to be exposed in those dreadful receptacles, les Hôpitaux des Enfans trouvés, as noticed by Sir Francis d'Ivernois; but probably this cruel custom was confined to particular districts, and the number exposed, upon the whole, might bear no great proportion to the sum of all the births.
[52.]Tableau des Pertes, 8c. c. ii. p. 13, 14.
[53.]The proportion of marriages to the population in France, according to Necker, is 1 to 113, tom. i. c. ix. p. 255.
[54.]De l'Administration des Finances, tom, i. c. ix. p. 263.
[55.]Since I wrote this chapter, I have bad an opportunity of seeing the Analyse des Procès Verbaux des Conseils Généraux de Département, which gives a very particular and highly curious account of the internal state of France for the year VIII. With respect to the population, out of 69 departments, the reports from which are given, in 16 the population is supposed to be increased; in 42 diminished; in 9 stationary; and in 2 the active population is said to be diminished, but the numerical to remain the same. It appears, however, that most of these reports are not founded on actual enumerations; and without such positive data, the prevailing opinions on the subject of population, together with the necessary and universally acknowledged fact of a very considerable diminution in the males of a military age, would naturally dispose people to think that the numbers upon the whole must be diminished. Judging merely from appearances, the substitution of a hundred children for a hundred grown-up persons would certainly not produce the same impression with regard to population. I should not be surprised, therefore, if, when the enumerations for the year IX. are completed, it should appear that the population upon the whole has not diminished. In some of the reports l'aisance générale répandue sur le peuple, and la division des grands propriétés, are mentioned as the causes of increase; and almost universally, les mariages prématurés, and les mariages multipliés par la crainte des loix militaires, are particularly noticed.
[57.]P. 331. Paris, 1805.
[58.]In the year 1792 a law was passed extremely favourable to early marriages. This was repealed in the year XI., and a law substituted which threw great obstacles in the way of marriage, according to Peuchet (p. 234.) These two laws will assist in accounting for a small proportion of births and marriages in the ten years previous to 1813, consistently with the possibility of a large proportion in the first six or seven years after the commencement of the revolution.
[59.]Young's Travels in France, vol. i. p. 437.
[62.]This chapter was written in 1802, just after the first enumeration, the results of which were published in 1801.
[63.]Observ. on the Results of the Population Act, p. 11, printed in 1801. The answers to the Population Act have at length happily rescued the question of the population of this country from the obscurity in which it had been so long involved, and have afforded some very valuable data to the political calculator. At the same time it must be confessed that they are not so complete as entirely to exclude reasonings and conjectures respecting the inferences which are to be drawn from them. It is earnestly to be hoped that the subject may not be suffered to drop after the present effort. Now that the first difficulty is removed, an enumeration every ten years might be rendered easy and familiar; and the registers of births, deaths and marriages might be received every year, or at least every five years. I am persuaded, that more inferences are to be drawn respecting the internal state of a country from such registers than we have yet been in the habit of supposing.
[64.]New Observ. on Bills of Mortality, p. 265. 8v0. 1750.
[65.]New Observ. on Bills of Mortality, p. 247. 8vo. 1750.
[66.]The population is taken at 9,168,000, and the annual deaths at 186,000. (Obs. on the Results of Pop. Act. p. 6 and 9.)
[67.]Ueber die Bevölkerung der Europaischen Staaten, p. 127.
[68.]Sussmilch, Göttliche Ordnung, vol. iii. p. 60.
[70.]It is by no means surprising, that our population should have been underrated formerly, at least by any person who attempted to estimate it from the proportion of births or deaths. Till the late Population Act no one could have imagined that the actual returns of annual deaths, which might naturally have been expected to be as accurate in this country as in others, would turn out to be less than a 49th part of the population. If the actual returns for France, even so long ago as the ten years ending with 1780, had been multiplied by 49, she would have appeared at that time to have a population of above 40 millions. The average of annual deaths was 818,491. Necker, de l'Administration des Finances, tom. i. c. ix. p. 255. 12mo. 1785.
[71.]Price's Observ. on Revers. Paym. vol. ii. note, p. 10. First additional Essay, 4th edit. In particular parishes, private communications are perhaps more to be depended upon than public returns; because in general those clergymen only are applied to, who are in some degree interested in the subject, and of course take more pains to be accurate.
[72.]New Observations on Bills of Mortality, table ix. p. 133.
[73.]Göttliche Ordnung, vol. i. c. ii. s. xxi. p. 74.
[74.]Estimate of the Number of Inhabitants in G. Britain.
[75.]Price's Observ. on Revers. Paym. vol. i. note, p. 272.
[76.]Id. vol. ii. First additional Essay, note, p. 4.
[77.]Price's Observ. on Revers. Paym. vol. ii. First additional Essay, note, p. 4.
[78.]The mortality at Stockholm was, according to Wargentin, 1 in 19.
[79.]Observ. on Revers. Paym. vol. ii. First additional Essay, p. 4.
[80.]An estimate of the population or mortality of London, before the late enumeration, always depended much on conjecture and opinion, on account of the great acknowledged deficiencies in the registers; but this was not the case in the same degree with the other towns here named. Dr. Price, in allusion to a diminishing population, on which subject it appears that he has so widely erred, says very candidly, that perhaps he may have been insensibly influenced to maintain an opinion once advanced.
[81.]Increase and Decrease of Diseases, p. 32, 4to. 180
[83.]Price's Observ. on Revers. Paym. vol. i. p. 264-266. 4th edit.
[84.]Id. vol. i. p. 268.
[85.]New Observations on Bills of Mortality, p. 76.
[86.]Price's Observ. on Revers. Paym. vol. ii. p. 17.
[87.]Short's New Observ. Abstract from Graunt, p. 277.
[88.]Id. p. 276.
[89.]This was written before the omitted returns were added in 1810. These additions make the births in 1800 amount to 263,000, instead of 255,426, and increase the proportion of registered births to 1 in 35.—See the next chapter.
[90.]Average medium of baptisms for the last five years 255,426. Pop. 9,198,000. (Observ. on Results, p. 9.)
[91.]New Observ. p. 267.
[92.]In private inquiries, dissenters and those who do not christen their children, will not of course be reckoned in the population; consequently such inquiries, as far as they extend, will more accurately express the true proportion of births; and we are fairly justified in making use of them, in order to estimate the acknowledged deficiency of births in the public returns.
[93.]Estimate of the Number of Inhabitants in Great Britain, 8c. p. 27.
[95.]New Observ. tables ii. and iii. p. 22 and 44; Price's Observ. on Revers. Paym. vol. ii. p. 311.
[96.]Tableau des Pertes, 8c. c. ii. p. 16.
[97.]Observ. on the Results of the Population Act, p. 8.
[98.]Population Abstracts, Parish Registers. Final summary, p. 455.
[99.]Observ. on the Results of the Population Act, p. 9.
[101.]Observ. on the Results of the Population Act, p, 9.
[102.]Population Abstracts, Parish Registers, p. 455.
[104.]De l'Administration des Finances, tom. i. c. ix. p. 252. 12mo. 1783.
[1.]See the Population Abstracts published in 1811, and the valuable Preliminary Observations by Mr. Rickman.
[2.]See a table of the population throughout the century, in page xxv. of the Preliminary Observations to the Population Abstracts, printed in 1811.
[3.]See the Preliminary Observations on the Population Abstracts, p. xxvi.
[4.]See Population Abstracts, 1811, page 196 of the Parish Register Abstract.
[5.]A general formula for estimating the population of a country at any distance from a certain period, under given circumstances of births and mortality, may be found in Bridge's Elements of Algebra, p. 225.
In the present case, P = 9,287,000; n = 10; m = 47; b = 29½.
= 05460. Log. P. = 6.96787, which added to 05460 = 7.02247 the log of A, the number answering to which is 10,531,000.
[6.]The very small difference between the population of 1780 and 1785, as given in the table, seems strongly to imply that one of the two estimates is erroneous.
[7.]Population Abstracts, 1811. Preliminary View, p. xxv.
[8.]From the one or other of these causes, I have little doubt, that the numbers in the table, for 1760 and 1780, which imply so rapid an increase of population in that interval, do not bear the proper relation to each other. It is probable that the number given for 1770 is too great.
[10.]Preliminary Observations, p. viii.
[12.]The migrations into England from Ireland and Scotland may account for some portion of the excess of the enumerations above what is warranted by the excess of the births above the deaths.
[13.]Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. i. p. 167.
[14.]Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. ii. p. 407.
[15.]Id. vol. xxi. p. 383.
[16.]Population Abstracts, Parish Registers, p. 459.
[17.]Id. p. 458.
[18.]Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. xxi. p. 383. The comparison with England here, refers to the time of the first enumeration. There is little doubt that the mortality of Scotland has diminished, and the proportion of births to deaths increased since 1800.
[19.]Vol. v. p. 1.
[20.]One writer takes notice of this circumstance and observes, that formerly the births seem to have borne a greater proportion to the whole population than at present. Probably, he says, more were born, and there was a greater mortality. Parish of Montquitter, vol. vi. p. 121.
[21.]Vol. i. p. 385.
[22.]Vol. x. p. 194.
[23.]Vol. i. p. 449.
[24.]Vol. xii. p. 317.
[25.]Parish of Lochalsh, county of Ross, vol. xi. p. 422.
[26.]Vol. xi. p. 574.
[27.]Vol. iv. p. 308.
[28.]Vol. vii. p. 194.
[29.]It has been calculated that, on an average, the difference of age in the children of the same family is about two years.
[30.]Vol. iv. p. 308.
[31.]It has lately been stated in Parliament, that the poor-laws of Scotland are not materially different from those of England, though they have been very differently understood and executed; but, whatever may be the laws on the subject, the practice is generally as here represented; and it is the practice alone that concerns the present question.
[32.]Vol. vii. p. 74.
[33.]Id. vi. p. 21.
[34.]Parishes of Forbes and Kearn, County of Aberdeen, vol. xi. 189.
[35.]Parish of Duthil, vol. iv. p. 305.
[36.]Vol. vi. p. 121.
[37.]Parish of Kincardine, County of Ross, vol. iii. p. 505.
[38.]Vol. ix. P. 550.
[39.]Vol. iii. p. i.
[40.]Vol. vii. p. 391.
[41.]According to the returns in the enumeration of 1800, the whole population of Scotland was above 1,590,000, and therefore the increase up to that time was above 320,000. In 1810 the population was 1,805,688; and in 1820, 2,093,456.
[42.]In the statistical account of Scotland it is said, that the average distance between the children of the same family has been calculated to be about two years.
[43.]According to the rate of increase which has lately been taking place in England (1802,) the period by calculation would be about 3¾ years.
[44.]The true proportion will be greater, if, as before stated, there is reason to believe that in all registers the omissions in the births and deaths are more numerous than in the marriages.
[45.]In places where there are many migrations of people, the calculations will of course be disturbed. In towns, particularly, where there is a frequent change of inhabitants, and where it often happens that the marriages of the people in the neighbouring country are celebrated, the inferences from the proportion of births to marriages are not to be depended on.
[46.]Göttliche Ordnung, vol. i. tables, p. 98.
[47.]Sussmilch, vol. iii. tables, p. 95.
[48.]In France, before the revolution, the proportion of illegitimate births was 1/47 of the whole number. Probably it is less in this country.
[49.]Dr. Price very justly says (Observ. on Revers. Pay. vol. i. p. 269. 4th. edit.) "that the general effect of an increase while it is going on in a country is to render the proportion of persons marrying annually, to the annual deaths greater and to the annual births less than the true proportion marrying out of any given number born. This proportion generally lies between the other two proportions, but always nearest the first." In these observations I entirely agree with him, but in a note to this passage he appears to me to fall into an error. He says, that if the prolifickness of marriages be increased (the probabilities of life and the encouragement to marriage remaining the same) both the annual births and burials would increase in proportion to the annual weddings. That the proportion of annual births would increase is certainly true; and I here acknowledge my error in differing from Dr. Price on this point in my last edition; but I still think that the proportion of burials to weddings would not necessarily increase under the circumstances here supposed.
[50.]The reader will be aware that, as all the born must die, deaths, may in some cases be taken as synonymous with births. If we had the deaths registered of all the births which had taken place in a country during a certain period, distinguishing the married from the unmarried, it is evident that the number of those who died married, compared with the whole number of deaths, would accurately express the proportion of the births which had lived to marry.
[51.]If the proportions mentioned by Mr. Barton be just, the expectation of life in America is considerably less than in Russia, which is the reason that I have taken only ten years for the difference between the age of marriage and the age of death, instead of fifteen years, as in Russia. According to the mode adopted by Dr. Price, (vol. i. p. 272,) of estimating the expectation of life in countries the population of which is increasing, this expectation in Russia would be about 38, (births 1/26, deaths 1/50, mean 1/38), and supposing the age of marriage to be 23, the difference would be 15.
[52.]This applies to the state of population before 1800.
[53.]Births 1/30, deaths 1/40, mean 1/35; and on the supposition that the age of marriage is 28, the difference would be 7.
[54.]Of 28,473 marriages in Pomerania, 5,964 of the men were widowers. Sussmilch, vol. i. tables, p. 98. And according to Busching, of 14,759 marriages in Prussia and Silesia, 3,071 of the men were widowers. Sussmilcb, vol iii. tables, p. 95. Muret calculates that 100 men generally marry 110 women. Mémoires par la Société Economique de Berne. Année 1766, premiere partie, page 30.
[55.]Dr. Price himself has insisted strongly upon this, (vol. i. p. 270. 4th edit.) and yet he says (p. 275) that healthfulness and prolifickness are probably causes of increase seldom separated, and refers to registers of births and weddings as a proof of it. But though these causes may undoubtedly exist together, yet if Dr. Price's reasoning be just, such co-existence cannot possibly be inferred from the lists of births and weddings. Indeed the two countries, Sweden and France, to the registers of which he refers as showing the prolifickness of their marriages, are known to be by no means remarkably healthy; and the registers of towns to which be alludes, though they may show, as be intends, a want of prolifickness, yet, according, to his previous reasoning, show at the same time great healthiness, and therefore ought not to be produced as a proof of the absence of both. The general fact that Dr. Price wishes to establish may still remain true, that country situations are both more healthy and more prolific than towns: but this fact certainly cannot be inferred merely from lists of births and marriages. With regard to the different countries of Europe, it will generally be found, that those are the most healthy which are the least prolific, and those the most prolific which are the least healthy. The earlier age of marriage in unhealthy countries is the obvious reason of this fact.
[56.]Ueber die Bevölkerung der Europais. Staat. p. 91.
[57.]At present (1825), and for the last ten, or even twenty years, there is reason to believe that half of the born live to 45 years.
[58.]The proportions here mentioned are different from those which have been taken from the additional table in Mr. Tooke's second edition; but they are assumed here as more easily and clearly illustrating the subject.
[59.]Sussmilch, Göttliche Ordnung, vol. i. table xxi. p. 83 of the tables.
[60.]The number of people before the plague, according to Sussmilch's calculations, (vol. i. ch. ix. sect. 173,) was 570,000, from which if we subtract 247,733, the number dying in the plague, the remainder, 322,267, will be the population after the plague; which, divided by the number of marriages and the number of births for the year 1711, makes the marriages about one twenty-sixth part of the population, and the births about one tenth part. Such extraordinary proportions could only occur in any country in an individual year. If they were to continue, they would double the population in less than ten years. It is possible that there may be a mistake in the table, and that the births and marriages of the plague years are included in the year 1711; though as the deaths are carefully separated, it seems very strange that it should be so. It is however a matter of no great importance. The other years are sufficient to illustrate the general principle.
[61.]Sussmilch, Göttliche Ordnung, vol. i. c. v. s. lxxxvi. p. 175.
[62.]History of Air, Seasons, 8c. vol. ii. p. 344.
[63.]Sussmilch's Göttliche Ordnung, vol. i. tables, p. 88.
[64.]Sussmilch, vol. i, tables, p. 91.
[65.]Id. p. 99.
[66.]Sussmilch, vol. i. tables, p. 103.
[67.]Sussmilch, vol. i. tables, p. 108.
[68.]Short's New Observ. on Bills of Mortality, p. 259, 8vo. 1750.
[69.]Voy. d'Ulloa, tom. i. liv. v. ch. v. p. 229, 4to. 1752.
[70.]Smith's Wealth of Nations, vol. ii. b. iv. ch. viii. p. 363.
[71.]Id. p. 365.
[72.]Id. p. 368, 369.
[73.]Price' s Observ. on Revers. Paym. vol. i. p. 282, 283, and vol. ii. p. 260. I have lately had an opportunity of seeing some extracts from the sermon of Dr. Styles, from which Dr. Price has taken these facts. Speaking of Rhode Island, Dr. Styles says that, though the period of doubling for the whole colony is 25 years, yet that it is different in different parts, and within land is 20 and 15 years. The population of the five towns of Gloucester, Situate, Coventry, West Greenwich and Exeter, was 5033, A. D. 1798, and 6986, A. D. 1755; which implies a period of doubling of 15 years only. He mentions afterwards, that the county of Kent doubles in 20 years, and the county of Providence in 18 years.
[74.]See an article in the Supplement to the Encyclopædia Britannica on Population, p. 308; and a curious table, p. 310, calculated by Mr. Milne, Actuary to the Sun Life Assurance Office, which strikingly confirms and illustrates the computed rate of increase in the United States, and shews that it cannot be essentially affected by immigrations.
[75.]See p. 500.
[76.]New Observ. on Bills of Mortality, p. 96.
[77.]Hist. of Air, Seasons, 8c. vol. ii. p. 366.
[78.]Id. vol. ii. p. 202.
[79.]Hist. of Air, Seasons, 8c, vol. ii. p. 206.
[80.]Hist. of Air; Seasons, 8c. vol. ii. p. 206. et seq.
[81.]Id. vol. ii. p. 206. et seq. and 336.
[82.]New Observ. p. 125.
[83.]New Observ. p. 108.
[84.]Hist. of Air, Seasons, 8c: vol. ii. p. 367.
[85.]Id. vol. ii. p. 411.
[86.]Hist. of Air, Seasons, 8c. vol. ii. p. 344.
[87.]New Observ. p. 191.
[88.]Id. p. 500.
[89.]Political Arithmetic, p. 17.
[90.]Survey of the Turkish Empire, c. vii. p. 281.
[91.]Necker de l'Administration des Finances, tom. i. c. ix. p. 255.
[92.]By an increase in the means of subsistence, as the expression is used here, is always meant such an increase as the mass of the population can command; otherwise it can be of no avail in encouraging an increase of people.
[93.]The reader will recollect the confined sense in which I use this term.