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as the great objects of desire. In that direction lie slavery and irresponsibility, whether to God or man. To the cry of “cheap food,” nevertheless, it was due, that the corn laws were repealed, and yet slight examination would have been required for obtaining evidence of the fact, that the quantity of labor required for producing food in Ireland and England was really less than that required for its mere transportation from the heart of Russia or America. * The effect of the repeal was precisely such as might have been anticipated — that of almost annihilating the demand for labor in Ireland, and forcing hundreds of thousands of Irishmen to seek in England and elsewhere a market for their commodity. Increased competition for its sale in England produced, of course, a flood of emigration towards distant lands— agricultural laborers being among the first to move. For a short period, the price of food fell, to rise, however, again, and to remain at a higher point than had been known for many years— the result being shown in the following figures representing the proportion born by deaths to population in the first five years of the last and present decades : —
1841 ............ 1 to 46 1851 ............ 1 to 45
This is an extraordinary change, but what renders it far more so, is that the period from 1841 to 1845 embraces years of distress more remarkable, perhaps, than any recorded in British history—years that paved the way for the repeal of the corn laws in 1846—the mass of destitution having almost exceeded belief.f The proportion borne to population by marriages and births in the two periods above referred to has been as follows:–
* Of the price that is paid, in England, for a bushel of corn that is raised in Iowa, four-fifths are, in ordinary seasons, absorbed by the persons through whose hands it passes on its road from the producer to the consumer. With the people of the heart of Russia it must be worse, even, than this.
# We could easily fill our pages with narratives of suffering which would move the hardest heart to tears; we might tell how skilled workmen, capable now of earning at the regular rate of wages paid in their trade, from 18s. to 25s. a week, and withal sober, honest, and religious, were driven to subsist on mere vegetable refuse; how many a family, reduced and brokenhearted, sunk in misery from which they could not flee, wasted away to the grave, leaving one, perhaps beloved, the helpless spectator of all their sufferings, who had often bitterly cursed the hour that awoke within his bosom the fond emotions of a parent, and had found in madness a sad asylum for all his woes.” DuNckley: Charter of the Nations. This work is the Prize Essay on the advantages of the Free Trade in Corn, established by the passage of Sir Robert Peel's law in 1846. See also, ante, vol. i. p. 388.
Marriages. Births. Marriages. Births. 1841 ... 1 in 130 1 to 31 1851 ... 1 in 117 1 to 29 1842 ... 1 in 136 1 to 31 1852 ... 1 in 115 1 to 29 1843 ... 1 in 132 1 to 31 1853 ... 1 in 112 1 to 30 1844 ... 1 in 125 1 to 31 1854 ... 1 in 117 1 to 29 1845 ... 1 in 116 1 to 31 1855 ... 1 in 123 1 to 30 Average, 1 in 127-80 1 in 31 1 in 116-80 1 in 29-40
The phenomena presented for consideration by Ireland are being thus reproduced in England—extensive emigration being accompanied by reckless marriages, great increase of births, and corresponding increase of mortality — thus furnishing further evidence of the adaptability of the procreative tendencies to the particular circumstances in which a community is placed.
That the general tendency is towards a diminution of the duration of life, is shown by the following table representing the proportion of deaths to 10,000 persons living : —
1813 to 1830. 1838 to 1842. 1855. Under 5 years ............... 8,451 ............... 8,967 ...... ...... 3,894 5 to 10.......... ---- ... 505 ... ... 419 10 to 15 .... ------- 268 ... 234 15 to 20 847 668 20 to 30 772 660 30 to 40 660 ... 653 40 to 50.... 611 .. 643 50 to 60 619 ............ 780 60 to 70 .... - ... 802 ............ 958 J 70 to 80 .... ..... 1,049 ... 855 ............ 835 80 to 90 ......... -- - 511 ......... 240 90 and upwards ......... 83 ... 16 10,000 10,000 10,000+
Under 20................... 4,483 5,087 5,215
Steadiness and regularity are as much to be desired in the societary movement, as in that of a steam engine, or a watch. These obtained, there is a constant tendency toward acceleration of the circulation, with corresponding increase in the growth of wealth, in the proportion of the laborer, in the development of individuality, in the power of association and combination, and in that feeling of responsibility by which man is distinguished from all the other animals that walk the face of earth. That they may be obtained, it is indispensable that employments become diversified—society then gradually assuming its natural form, and agriculture becoming more a science, with constant increase in the productiveness of the labor given to developing the powers of the earth. For almost a century past, all the efforts of the British people have been given to an effort at preventing the diversification of employments in other communities — the result being seen in the exhaustion of Turkey, Portugal, Ireland, India, Jamaica, and all other countries that have not protected themselves against a “warfare” carried on for the purpose of “stifling in the cradle” the infant manufactures of the world; and in the production, in Britain herself, of a state of things corresponding precisely with that foretold by Adam Smith, as certain to result from the maintenance of a system denounced by him, as “a manifest violation of the most sacred rights of mankind.”” In studying the facts presented for consideration by various nations, it is indispensable that allowance be made for the conditions in which they have been placed. Greece having, for centuries, been the prey of Venetians and Turks—Italy having been the theatre of war for Austria, France, and Spain—both should present for examination phenomena totally different from those of Britain. Belgium, ravaged as it has been by contending armies, has had a life that has been widely different from that of England —the one having been made a constant scene of war, while the other has enjoyed the profoundest internal peace. Nowhere has man enjoyed the opportunity that has been afforded in this latter, for fitting himself to become nature's master. Nowhere has so great a mastery been obtained, and if it has failed to bring with it increased production—great power of accumulation—equitable distribution—and growing tendency towards harmony in the relations of man with nature, and of man with his fellow-man — the cause of this must be found in human error, and not in Providential blunders. Those who seek it in the former will be sure to * See ante, vol. i., p. 415.
* That the growing mortality is due, in part at least, to increased intemperance, would seem to be proved by the fact, that the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, in their last report, have called attention to the large in crease in the consumption of spirits, the duties on which, in 1857–8, were no less than £9,230,963=$44,308,000; or about $1.50 perhead, of the total population.
find it—taking for theoguide, in their inquiries, the author of the Wealth of Nations.
7. Pioneer life, where property and person are reasonably secure, is, as has been shown, favorable to increase of numbers— isolated men having little occasion for the exercise of any faculties but those by which the physical powers are stimulated, leaving the mental ones in a great degree undeveloped. Reasoning d priori, therefore, it is to the former provinces, and present States, of North America, we should look for the most rapid growth of numbers, and there it is we find it. In the natural course of affairs, however, this should change—the real"MAN becoming more stimulated into action — foresight taking the place of recklessness—care, economy, thoughtfulness, and a desire for the higher enjoyments of life, becoming the characteristics of the people. Such, too, would be the change observed under a system which tended towards facilitating the growth of the power of combination, and consequent development of the intellectual man; one that looked to the creation of a scientific agriculture. Unhappily, however, that which has been pursued is the reverse of this— it being only a continuation of that colonial one, under which the soil was being then exhausted, and men were driven towards the wilderness to seek new lands, and thus perpetuate the pioneer life, as the condition of American existence.*
Examine it where we may, the system is one of contrasts—local action being the theory on which it stands, and centralization being the practice. The one would tend to the production of steadiness in the societary movement—development of individuality in the people—increase of that feeling of responsibility which leads to temperance and moderation in all the pursuits of life — and to harmony among both individuals and States. The other looks in a direction entirely the reverse of this—or the societary action becoming more unstable from year to year—individuality diminishing as human pursuits become more limited to those of trade and cultivation—and the feeling of responsibility steadily declining; with correspondent growth of intemperance in the indulgence of the passions—whether those leading to increase of numbers, or to the destruction of adult life.* Of vital statistics for the Union at large, there are none—there being no general provision for the record of the movement of population. The census returns show that the proportion of persons living to an advanced age is great, but beyond that we have little that is of general application.t Of the States, Massachusetts is the only one that has presented us with statistics that are entirely reliable—the example she has set, contrasting favorably with the neglect that prevails elsewhere. From them, we now learn how excessive is the proportion borne by foreign marriages, births, and deaths, to the total number. Of 2536 men who were married in the city of Boston, in 1856, no less than 1503 were foreigners—more than half of the women being also foreign. Here, accordingly, we find an extraordinary destruction of infant life —the phenomena of Ireland being reproduced on the western coast of the Atlantic. Of all the deaths in the State, more than a fifth occur in the first year of life—those occurring in the first five years being more than 40 per cent. of the whole. In Boston, the chance of death, in the first five years, is greater than in all the rest of life. How far the facts here observed, can be applied to the Union at large, there are no means of knowing, but when we look to New York city we find that, whereas, in 1817, the deaths under 5, were but a third of the whole, their proportion had grown, in 1857, to seven-tenths! In the last ten years, those of adults
* Kalm, the Swedish traveller, writing in 1749, says of the people of the then provinces: “They make scarce any manure for their corn-fields; but when one piece of ground has been exhausted by constant cropping, they clear and cultivate another piece of fresh land; and, when that is exhausted, proceed to a third. Their cattle are allowed to wander through the woods and other uncultivated grounds, where they are half-starved—having long ago extirpated almost all the annual grasses by cropping them too early in the spring, before they had time to form their flowers, or to shed their seeds.”—Quoted by SM1th : Wealth of Nations, Part 1, chap. xi. The picture here presented of the 2,000,000 of people then existing, is almost equally accurate when applied to the 30,000,000 of 1858.
* An estimate, founded on the Reports of the mercantile agencies of New York, gives one store and store-keeper for every 123 persons, of all ages, in the Union. This would give one family to be supported by every 24– leaving wholly out of view the mass of small traders, transporters, and other middlemen. It may be doubted if, in any other country, this class presents such large proportions.
# In 1850, there were 2,555 persons over 100 years of age; in France, there were only 102, though the population was nearly 36,000,000.
1 See ante, p. 264.
& Of 100 children born in Massachusetts, more than 184 died in the first year. In London and Paris, more than 16.