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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,
CHAP. CHAP. 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. 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,
Short's New Observ. on Bills of Mortality, p. 259, vo. 1750.
superstition and vices of the mother country were introduced in ample quantities among her children. Esorbitant 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 master. 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 4. 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 6.
In the Portuguese colony of Brazil, governed with almost equal tyranny, there • Voy. d'Ulloa, tom. i. liv.v.ch. v. p. 229, 4to. 1752. Smith's Wealth of Nations, vol. ii. b. iv. ch. viii. p. 363.