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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 But the very circumstance of the apparent regularity of the births in the registers will now and then lead into great
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 thc population the highest at the
• De l'Administration des Finances, tom. i. c. ix. p. 252. 12mo. 1785.
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 following chapter; where, in the year subsequent 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.
CHAP. CHAP. 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 1th part; and if they were to continue, would according to table ii., page 168, double the population in every successive period of 834 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
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 it for the soldiers, sailors, &c., the population of England and Wales was estimated at 10,488,000", 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
a See the Population Abstracts published in 1811, and the valuable Preliminary Observations by Mr. Rickman. VOL. II.