Imágenes de páginas


growing ratio of excess of births above deaths, to the whole population, has yet received no check ; and that the augmentation, of the people is increasing with a rapidity as great in the second as in the first decade of the century.”

The general improvement in the condition of society; the greater attention, at present, paid to cleanliness, and the removal of sources of vitiated air, in towns; the more rational methods of 'nursing children ; the better general treatment of diseases, particularly in the office of nursing; the measures practised to prevent the spread of contagion, and the extensive influence of vaccination, all, obviously, tend to keep up population, and seem likely, not only in continued, but in progressively increased operation, more and more to reduce the positive checks to it.

Every advance, moreover, in civilization; every amelioration in morals; the march of science; the progress of arts; multiplied inventions ; every new discovery; every new application of a principle; the researches made into the laws and economy of nature, &c. all tend to improve the condition, to increase the security, and, as a consequence, to multiply the numbers of the human

And are not all our energies employed, and all our efforts uniformly and constantly directed to promote these ? Is it not the



See a well-written paper on the increasing populousness of England, in the Journal of Science and Arts, No. X. page 307.

Among the various facts adduced to prove the power of vaccination in securing human life, and its consequent influence on population, none is more striking than the following extract from the Essai politique sur les ** Probabilitès, by the Count Laplace, noticed sometime ago in the Edinburgh Review, and which cannot be too much known:

“ The ratio of the population, to the number of births, would be increased if we could diminish or destroy any disease that is dangerous and common, This has been done, happily, in the case of the small pox,—first by the common inoculation for the disease itself, and afterwards in a much more complete manner, by the vaccine inoculation, the inestimable discovery of JENNER, who has rendered himself, by that ineans, one of the greatest benefactors of the human race.

“ The most simple way of calculating the advantage which the extinction of a disease would produce, consists in determining, from observation, the number of individuals, of a given age, who die of it yearly, and in subtracting the amount from the total number of deaths of persons at that same age. The ratio of the difference, to the total number alive at the same age, would be the probability of dying at that age, if the disease did not exist, By summing up all these probabilities, from the beginning of life to a given time, and taking the sum from unity, the remainder will be the probability of living to that age, on the hypothesis of the disease in question being extinguished.-From the series of these probabilities, the mean duration of life, on the same supposition, may be computed according to rules that are well known. M. DUVILARD has found that the mean duration of human life is increased, at least, three years by the vaccine inoculation."

[ocr errors]

object of every human action and occupation to better the condition of man? Next to the strong principle of self-preservation, next to the desire of promoting individual interest, do we not constantly combine in all our public acts, to promote the general welfare? are they not, indeed, inseparable ? and are not our sympathies, our affections, our best moral feelings, given us for this express purpose?

And shall we then, under such circumstances, under a proved actually and rapidly increasing population, lightly appreciate the exertions directed to the increased population of human food, which can alone meet it? Shall we lightly estimate those who are improving and successfully practising the only art which can create it? Shall we think little of agriculture, which, as Hume states, “is not only that species of industry, which is chiefly requisite to the subsistence of multitudes, but which is, in fact, the sole species, by which multitudes can exist ?"

And shall we, moreover, withhold the meed of respect and gratitude to the distinguished individual, who has so unremittingly, during the whole active period of his life, “ devoted his time, his talent, and his ample fortune, not only to improve the principles of agriculture, but to meliorate the condition of the farmer?' as the surest means of securing his continued exertions, and laying the foundation of an extensive and permanent improvement in agriculture; so as by a gradually increasing productiveness, to meet, as before observed, the more pressing wants of an increasing population, and prevent the recurrence of scarcity and its attendant distress.

The essay on the right of property in land is an ingenious and benevolent speculation, but it is merely a speculation. The author considers the public happiness as the true primary object which ought to claim the attention of


state. He considers agriculture as indispensable to the general support of man, and to the prosperity of nations; as the natural employment of man, and that, of all others, the best calculated to produce individual and public benefit. He thinks, therefore, that every effort should be made for the more extended cultivation of the earth; but he is of opinion, that this can never be adequately effected, unless he who cultivates it has a greater interest in the soil, unless, indeed, he be the proprietor; and he carries this conviction so far, as to suggest that every individual inclined to employ himself in cultivating

the ground, for his own subsistence and that of his family, should be entitled to claim, in full property, a reasonable share of the soil of his country.

[ocr errors]

The right of property in land, he contends, should be founded in public utility; and he thinks the exorbitant right of property in land, as he calls it, which the municipal laws of Europe have established, have been productive of evil consequences; that by exacting exorbitant rents, proprietors exercise a pernicious usury, and that by granting only short leases, they stifle and prevent the exertion of that industry, which is ready, at all times, to spring up, were the cultivation of the soil laid open upon equitable terms.

So much does he think society has suffered by an inadequate cultivation of the earth, that he proposes various regulations, by which greater numbers may be employed in this necessary art; ard repeats, that


one who cultivates the soil should be its possessor, extending this principle so far as even to suggest the.. establishment of a progressive agrarian law; and he adds, that, at least, the experiment might be attempted by allotting escheated and forfeited estates to soldiers, on their return from service and disbandment."

He attributes the restraint on marriage among the poor, and a deficient population, both which he seems to lament, to the too limited cultivation of the earth. But so little does he conceive the possibility of a deficient supply of food, that he believes even in the sterile and ungenial climate of Siberia, the whole inhabitants of Europe might be maintained, even more at their ease, than in their present habitations. And so entirely, is he free from any apprehension on the subject of a too fast increasing and superabundant population, that he considers the supposed state of a colony of men, settled in a small island, where the land, aided by the highest cultivation, is but just sufficient to support its inhabitants, as that to which every nation should aspire as to its niost perfect state.


This experiment has been actually made in Scotlaud, and its want of success, unfortunately, overturns this benevolent but visionary speculation,

At the conclusion of the last war, says Dr. M‘Farlan, in his Enquiries concerning the Poor, published in 1782, when a great part of the army was disbanded, the trustees, for the forfeited estates in Scotland, thought they could not better dispose of a part of these uncultivated grounds, than by giving to soldiers, retired from the service, three or more acres each; and, to encourage them to settle, they agreed to build them houses on the grounds allotted. As many of these men came from those parts of the country, where the forfeited estates lay, it was expected that they would readily accept of the offer. The scheme was, accordingly, executed; portions of land were assigned to numbers of them, and the sum of six thousand pounds was expended in building their houses. No design could be more plausible, or promise greater success. Here a seemingly comfortable retirement was provided for those brave men, who have served their country, while, at the same time, the scheme tended to people and fertilise waste and uninhabited grounds. It has, however, been since found, that it very imperfectly answered the purpose intended. In a few years the most of them deserted their houses.- MFARLAN'S ENQUIRIES, Page 424.

He notices other evils, which, in his opinion, can only be relieved by a more extended agriculture. Some of these, he thinks, have been unjustly attributed to the influence of the English system of poor laws, which he advocates as the most generous and the most respectable establishment of which the jurisprudence of nations can boast ; and he contends, that even the abuses which may have crept into it, ought not to be alleged against its utility, for, even in the most perverted state of the institution, he believes the abuses are fully compensated by equivalent advantages. He pursues the subject still more in detail,

with much ingenuity and power of argument, advancing opinions indeed, much at variance with those commonly received on subjects of political economy, and certainly directly in opposition to those of Mr. Malthus, before adverted to.

But whatever the reader may think of his various speculations, there is a spirit of benevolence pervading them, that cannot fail to excite his respect for the author. Two of his propositions may, also, be considered as unquestionable, that a more perfect and a much more extended cultivation of the earth is necessary to individual comfort and rational prosperity; and that the soil cannot be adequately cultivated, but by individuals who have such an interest in it, and are secure in the possession of it, for such a period, as shall call forth the requisite exertions for its due cultivation.

But for this purpose, the reader will, probably, not think it requisite to have recourse to the extreme measures proposed by the author, measures which must necessarily so change the present constitution of society, as to risk its entire disorganization ; and he will probably also think, that Mr. Coke has already, virtually, met both his propositions by the extraordinary improvement he has effected in agriculture; by the great encouragement which, by his long leases and moderate rents, he has afforded his tenants to exert themselves in the adequate cultivation of their farms; by the general interest he has excited to agriculture, and more especially by the example he has set in cultivating a portion of his estate himself; and by which he has most strikingly exemplified the truth of the whole sentence from which my motto is taken:

Omnium rerum ex quibus aliquid exquiritur, nihil est agriculturà meļiųs, uberius, homine libero digirius,




The anniversary





JUNE, 19, 1817.









2 L

« AnteriorContinuar »