Page images
PDF

Great Britain.

than 7639, or more than one half of the whole births. At present, the number of births exceed that of deaths. This must be owing to the different mode of living, and the improvements in the width of the streets, and in cleanliness. The same improvements having taken place in every part of Great Britain, it is probable that the value of human life is rather increased in this island.

We had no very accurate means of estimating the population of Great Bri- ^r°epaut^tion *f tain, previous to the late returns made to Parliament, in the years 1802 and 1811, so that the estimates made are probably incorrect. But there can be no doubt that the population of the island has been constantly on the increase, at least since the revolution, and probably for a long period before it. In the year 1755, Brakenridge reckoned the whole inhabitants of England at 6 millions ;* while Forster reckoned them at millions.f The last, notwithstanding the plausible arguments of Brakenridge to the contrary, was probably nearest the truth. At present, the population is above 10 millions. It has increased (at least the population of Great Britain) 1,600,000 within the last 10 years. And supposing the whole population of Great Britain to be 12 millions, which is not very far from the truth, then it follows that, at the present rate of increase, the number of inhabitants doubles in 70 years. This is a degree of rapidity which n > body was aware of before the late parliamentary returns. It ought to check that spirit of despondency which some of our political writers are apt to indulge. Great Britain is at present in such a state that, with frugality and wisdom, we could continue a contest with all Europe for 50 years to come, without any material injury to the nation. Indeed, in some points of view, the present state of exclusion from the continent maybe considered as advantageous. To those politicians indeed, who consider money as the only article of value in a nation, nothing can be said: but, to those wiser men, who regard the moral principles and spirit of a nation as of more consequence than wealth, it may afford consolation to consider that, by this exclusion, our young men of fortune are prevented from imbibing the profligate principles which are so common on the continent, and which they were imbibing with such eagerness, that a few years of peace would have brought Great Britain to the state of profligacy so glaring in France; or to the state of imbecility and meanness so deplorable among the higher ranks in Spain.

Between the years 1740 and 1750, the number of inhabitants in Bristol, as ascertained with a good deal of accuracy by Mr. Browning, was 43,692.$ Since that period the population has increased considerably, but not in the same proportion as that of several other towns in Great Britain, Various causes have checked the rapid increase of trade in Bristol; the chief probably is, that the trade of the town has got into the hands of a few rich merchants, who do not encourage the adventurous spirit of young men destitute of fortune, upon whom the increase of most places in trade and wealth, and consequently in population, depends. Bristol was formerly the second town in Great Britain, in point of population; now it is exceeded by nine or ten. Two of the most remarkable examples of increase of papulation are Liverpool and Sheffield% Liverpool, in Queen Elizabeth's time, was hardly inhabited at all: at present its population is not much short of 100,000, Sheffield, in Queen Elizabeth's time, did not contain more than 2000 inhabitants: its present population exceeds 53,000. In the year 1773, the number of inhabitants in Manchester, from an actual survey, was 27,246. By the returns made to Parliament, in 1811, they amount to about 100,000.; aud if we include Salford, which in reality constitutes a part of the town, as much as Southwark does of London, the present population of Manchester is about 128,000.

* Phil. Trans. 1755. Vol. XLIX. p. <26S. f Phil- Trans- 175T' VoL L'P' *57'

t Phil. Trans. 1753. Vol. XLVIII. p. 217.

Chester is one of the oldest towns in Great Britain. From the name, and from many other circumstances, there can be no doubt that it was a Roman station. It has long been resorted to as an agreeable retirement for persons of small incomes, both on account of the comparative cheapness of the place, and the agreeableness of the country. There is another inducement of no less importance, of which perhaps people in general are not aware. From a comparison of the bills of mortality at Chester with those in other places, Dr. Haygarth has shown that it is one of the healthiest spots in Great Britain.*

Dr. White, by comparing the births in York, between 1728 and 1735, with those between 1770 and 1776, has shown that the city has increased prodigiously in healthiness. At the former period the burials exceeded the births by 98 annually. The average number of burials being 408. At the latter period the births exceeded the burials by 51-f annually. The decrease of burials had amounted to 44>f annually, and the increase of births to 74*- annually. He sliows that at the period when he wrote, York rather exceeded the healthiness of any great town of which registers had been published, the deaths being only 1 in 28^-, while in Vienna they were 1 in 19-^, and in London 1 in 20-}. Liverpool and Manchester approached nearest to York in point of healthiness; the deaths in the former being 1 in 27-^, and the latter 1 in 28.f

It appears, from a paper by Mr. Panton, that the population in the Isle of Anglesey had increased in the year 1773. But his statements are not sufficient to give us any exact data on the subject. He conceives that the increase may be owing to the substitution of potatoes for herrings as an article of food, a notion too vague to merit any serious attention.J

* Phil. Trans. lt74. Vol.LXIV. p. 67; Vol. LXV. p.'85; and Vol. LXVIII. p. 131. | Phil. Trans. 1782. Vol. LXXIL p. 35. % Phil Trans. 1773. Vol. LXIIL p. 180.

We-have a very exact account of the population of Madeira in the year 1767, Population of by Dr. Thomas Heberden, from an actual survey which he caused to be made, on purpose to ascertain the point The result was as follows :—In the year 1743, the number of inhabitants amounted to 53,057, in the year 1767 to 64,614. Hence it follows that the increase is 1.0082 per cent, per annum, and the numbers in the island double every 84 years.*

In the year 1738, a curious book was published by Mr. Kersseboom on the Population of number of people in Holland and West Friesland, as also in Haarlem, Gauda, and the Hague; a particular account of which is given in several papers in the Philosophical Transactions. We shall give the number of inhabitants in Holland and West Friesland, and in different cities, according to this author.f

Inhabitants. Inhabitants.

[ocr errors]

Holland and West Friesland 980,000

Amsterdam 241,000

Haarlem 50,500

Gauda 20,000

Hague 41,500

London 653,GOO

He is at much pains to prove that the number of inhabitants in Paris is greater than in London. But his proofs are unsatisfactory, and were triumphantly refuted by Mr. Maitlani^ At present the number of inhabitants in London approaches to double the number of the inhabitants in Paris. In travelling through Britain and France, the state of the towns is no less strikingly different than that of the country. In Britain every town abounds with new houses, and buildings are every where rising in great abundance: in France the houses in every towrn are old, and hardly such a thing as a new house is any where to be seen. More new houses have been built in London alone within these 12 years than in all France for 50 years back.

Dr. Price, in a curious paper which he published in the Philosophical Transactions for the year 1775, gives strong reasons for believing that there is a prodigious preponderancy in favour of the country above the most healthy cities. In Manchester, for example, the number of deaths is one in 28; but in the neighbouring country only one in 56 dies. He has brought evidence that nearly the same disproportion holds in other cases. From a pretty long table given by Dr. Price, iu this paper, it appears that the number of male births to that of females is as 20 to 19 very nearly. But, in some measure to counteract this, the chance of life in females is greater than in males.§ It mar be supposed perhaps that the risk which females run from parturition counterbalances this greater chance of life. But from the observations of Dr. Bland,

* Phil. Trans. 1767. Vol. LVII. p. 461. f Phil- Trans. 1738. Vol. XL. p. M)l

% Phil. Trans, 1738. Vol. XL. p. 407. § Phil Trans. 1775. Vol. LXV. p. m>

made at the Westminster Dispensatory, it appears that the deaths from parturition amount only to one in 270.*

We shall finish this part of our subject with noticing a curious paper by Dr. Arbuthnot, the celebrated satirical writer, and associate of Swift and Pope, in which he demonstrates, that the constant equality kept up between the sexes is an unanswerable argument in favour of the existence of a Divine Providence, For the chances are so much against this equality, that it could not be supposed to take place unless it were so ordered by the will of the Divine Being, for the express purpose of preventing the possibility of the extinction of the human species.f

CHAP. III.
OF ANTIQUITIES.

There are no fewer than 120 papers in the Philosophical Transactions on the subject of antiquities. But the greater number of them consist of descriptions of coins, urns, baths, &c. which do not appear of sufficient importance to merit notice here. The papers which we shall notice are of a different kind, and deserve attention, either in a historical point of view, or as connected with the progress of science, and the improvement of human knowledge. Calf's expe- I- The first paper we shall mention is a curious one by Dr. Halley to deterBritain! ° mine the time and the place of Caesar's first landing in Britain. The only authors who treat of the subject are, Caesar himself in the 4th Book of his Commentaries, and Dion Cassius in his 39th Book. From the circumstances mentioned by Caesar, Dr. Halley shows that the day of the landing was the 26th of August in the afternoon, in the year 55, before the beginning of the Christian aera. The Portus Icius from which he sailed agrees best with Calais. From the distances between different places and the British coast, mentioned by Ptolemy and other ancient writers, Dr. Halley thinks that no other place but Calais will suit. But no great stress can be put on such determinations. Davila, who is a modern historian, and who having spent the greater part of his life in France, ought to have been better informed, says, that the distance between Britain and Calais is 30 leagues, whereas it does not exceed 26 English miles. Now if Davila, who lived almost on the spot, could fall into so great an error, what confidence can be put in Ptolemy, who lived at so great a distance as

* Phil Trans, 1781. Vol LXXI. p. 355. f PM- Trans. 1710. VoL XXVII. p. 186.

Egypt. Caesar indeed says, that the distance was 30 miles; and his determination, as he possessed a military eye, and as he sailed over the space, may be relied on as nearly exact Now the distance between Calais and Dover is just 28i Roman miles, which agrees sufficiently well with Cesar's estimate, and seems to settle the point pretty correctly. From the wind with which C^sar sailed, from the time of the day, and the direction of the tide, together with the description which he gives, it seems quite certain that he first made land at the cliffs of Dover; but that the Britons preventing him from coming on shore in that place, he sailed round the North Foreland, and landed about eight miles from Dover in the Downs. The only difficulty attending this opinion is Dion Cassius's account of the place where the Britons skirmished with Caesar, e? roc rwocyr], which is commonly translated among the marshes. Dr. Halley removes this difficulty by translating the phrase at the waters edge, which he shows satisfactorily that it will bear.*

2. We have three papers in an early volume of the Philosophical Transactions, Ruins of Pik giving an account of the ruins of Tadmor or Palmyra, a city built in a kind ofm?ra' Oasis, in the desert of Arabia, about 150 miles from Aleppo, and 60 from the river Euphrates. There is every reason to believe that it was built by Solomon, who is said (1 Kings IX. 18, and 2 Chron. VIII. 6,) to have founded a city of that name (^Din) in the desert It did not probably remain long in possession of the Jews, and doubtless fell successively under the Babylonian, the Persian, and the Grecian monarchies; till at last when the Roman conquests were stopped by the Parthians, being a kind of frontier town, it was allowed to retain its liberty; and during this period it seems to have acquired considerable wealth and grandeur. But when Trajan took possession of Ctesiphon, the capital of the Parthian empire, the inhabitants of Palmyra, being surrounded on all sides by the Roman empire, submitted themselves to the emperor Adrian about the year 130, when he made his progress through Syria into Egypt. Adrian being pleased with the situation and the place, thought proper to rebuild and adorn it, and probably presented it with some of those marble and porphyry columns, which have been so much admired by all who have visited its ruins.

From the time of Adrian to that of Aurelian, Palmyra continued to flourish and increase in wealth and power. When the Emperor Valerian was taken prisoner by Sapor, king of Persia, Odaenathus, one of the lords of Palmyra, was able, while Gallienus neglected his duty both to his father and country, to bring a powerful army into the field, to recover Mesopotamia from the Persians, and to penetrate as far as Ctesiphon. Gallienus reckoned the service thus performed so important, that he considered himself as obliged to give Ochenathus

* Phil. Trans. J691. Vol. XVII. p. 495.

« PreviousContinue »