« PreviousContinue »
for rebuilding decayed farm houses, and maintaining tillage against too much inclosing: Parliamentary Hist. Vol. III. p. 247. În the year 1638, there was a special commis→ sion from Charles I. for enforcing the statute of the 30th of Elizabeth, by which no cottage was allowed in any country place, without at least four acres of land to it, to prevent the increase of the poor, by securing to them a maintenance; nor were any inmates allowed in any cottage, to secure the full cultivation of the land, by diffusing the people more over it. See Rymer's Foed. 20, 256, and 340.-By an Act in Cromwell's time, no new house was to be built within ten miles of LONDON, unless there were four acres of land occupied by the tenant. Parliamentary History, Vol. XXI.
Such was the policy of former times.— Modern policy is, indeed, more favourable to the higher classes of people; and the consequence of it may in time prove, that the whole kingdom will consist of only gentry and beggars, or of grandees and slaves.
I cannot conclude this Supplement without adding one farther observation which has struck me on the present subject. As in former times the number of the occupiers of land was greater, and all had more opportunities of working for themselves, it is reasonable to conclude, that the number of people willing to work for others, must have been smaller, and the price of day-labour
higher. This is now the case in our American colonies; and this likewise, upon enquiry, I find to have been the case in this country formerly.--The nominal price of day-labour is at present no more than about four times, or at most five times higher than it was in the year 1514. But the price of corn is seven times, and of flesh-meat and raiment about fifteen times higher. See the Note, p. 149.-So far, therefore, has the price of labour been from advancing in proportion to the increase in the expences of living, that it does not appear that it bears now half the proportion to those expences that it did bear formerly '.
Upon the whole. The circumstances of the lower ranks of men are altered in almost every respect for the worse. From little oc cupiers of land, they are reduced to the state
See Chronicon Pretiosum, Chap. V. From whence, compared with the account in Chap. IV. of the price of corn and other commodities, for the last 600 years, abundant evidence for what I have here observed, may he collected.
"The balance at present is considerably against the "labourer; and yet the landlord and tenant derive ulti"mately no advantage from hence.-The great increase "in the poor rates may be accounted for in a few words. "The rise upon land and its produce, is at least 60 per "cent.; the rise upon labour not above 20 per cent. "The difference is of course against the working hands; "and when their earnings are insufficient for the ab❝solute necessaries of life, they must inevitably fall upon "the parish." Hints to Gentlemen of Landed Property, p. 273.
of day-labourers and hirelings; and at the same time their subsistence in that state is become more difficult, in consequence of the cause just assigned; and also of luxury, which has extended its influence even to them, though starving, and rendered tea, fine wheaten bread, and other delicacies, necessary to them, which were formerly unknown among them.-Such a change cannot but draw after it important consequences. They are the lower people chiefly who pay the taxes of a state, fight its battles, carry on its commerce, and maintain its splendor. In every country, the higher ranks are a very small body, compared with them. Even in this country, where their numbers are probably much lessened, they are still more the majority than is commonly imagined; for, from the returns made by the surveyors of the house and window-duties, it appears, that near THREE-FOURTHSs of all the houses in the kingdom are houses not having more than seven windows..
If the Survey in 1801 be correct, FIVE SIXTHS nearly of all the houses in the kingdom are of this description.
A Review of the Controversy relating to the State of Population in England and Wales since the Revolution.
THE observations, in the preceding Supplement, on the population of this kingdom, are the same with those which have been published in the former editions of this work. A more particular account of the evidence which seems to prove a progressive decrease in our population, has been given in an ESSAY on this subject first published at the end of Mr. Morgan's Treatise on the Doctrine of Annuities and Assurances on Lives and Survivorships, and since republished with the addition of an Appendix, containing remarks on Mr. EDEN's objections in his fifth letter to Lord CARLISLE. These publications have been lately followed by others on the same subject; particularly, Mr. Wales's Enquiry into the present State of the Population of ENGLAND and WALES; and Mr. Howlett's Examination of Dr. Price's Essay on the Population of England; and a pamphlet entitled The Uncertainty of M
the present Population of this Kingdom, deduced from a candid Review of the Accounts lately given of it by Dr. PRICE on the one Hand, and Mr. EDEN, Mr. WALES, and Mr. HOWLETT, on the other.
In the Preface to the ESSAY just mentioned, fearing that I might have expressed my conviction too strongly, I referred myself to the candour of the Public, and desired that my assertions might not be regarded any farther than they were supported by undeniable facts. The prospect of an increasing depopulation is so discouraging, that nothing but the fairest overbalance of evidence should engage us to admit it. I thought such evidence did exist, and, therefore, stated it; believing that satisfaction ought never to be founded on imposition, and that by endeavouring to apprize the kingdom of its true state, I might be doing it an important service.--The ingenious Author of the pamphlet last mentioned, writes in the character of one who doubts, and wishes only to know how things are; but Mr. Wales and Mr. Howlett zealously maintain, in opposition to the arguments have produced, that our population is increasing fast. My intention in this Postscript is to give as fair and yet as brief an account as I can of the present state of this dispute, by reciting the evidence offered on both sides, and making such remarks upon it as shall appear to me necessary.