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John o' Groat's, there is no such individual to be found as a male musical instrument maker! England, it would seem, has only one seal engraver, and Scotland three; and there are only 19 soap-boilers in the former, and one in the latter!
These blunders, and many more of the same sort, which carry absurdity on their face, no doubt originated, as already remarked, in the overseers and others employed in taking the census, having included large numbers of those who ought to have been enrolled under different specified businesses, under the general head of manufacturers. The table is, however, printed without one word of caution or of explanation; as if it were as much to be depended on as any other of the returns. It has, we observe, been already reprinted at Paris; and we presume the German Statisticians will regard it as quite authentic. It will not lead them farther wrong than their favourite English authority, Dr Colquhoun.
When another census is taken, a new plan will, we trust, be adopted. It should not be left to those engaged in taking it, to say who are, and who are not manufacturers. Manufacture is,
besides, much too comprehensive a term to be used in such investigations, except for the purpose of confounding them, and rendering them useless. Weavers and iron-founders, steam-engine makers and boat-builders, plough-makers and muff-makers, are all manufacturers; but where is the sense or advantage of throwing together large classes whose employments are so radically different; at the same time that the overseers are directed to specify separately the numbers of bricklayers, masons or wallers, saddlers, harness-makers, and so forth? The last census neglected some matters of much importance, to dwell on mere minutiæ. It would, for example, be very desirable on many accounts to know the number of individuals employed as hand-loom weavers; and the value of the return would be much increased, were those employed in the weaving of cotton, of wool, of silk, and of linen, separately specified. This important information might have been obtained with very little difficulty; but whilst we put specific queries as to the number of toymen and turners, of pastry-cooks and patten-makers, &c. we wholly overlooked theformer, and allowed hand-loom weavers and power-loom weavers, anchor smiths and needle makers, and other such kindred artists, to be huddled together in the same class ! * We think better of
There are notices at the end of most counties, though not of all, in the Returns, giving an account of the number of men employed in the principal branches of industry; but they are not sufficiently discrimi
Parliament than to suppose, that any thing so absurd will ever be repeated. The asking of too much would, however, be quite as likely to do mischief as the asking of too little; and we should be quite satisfied were the numbers contained in about a dozen or twenty of the principal businesses carried on in the country, ascertained with sufficient accuracy. An error of a few hundreds in estimating the number of the occupiers of land, or of those engaged in any other great business, such as hand or power-loom weavers, machine-makers, shoemakers, sailors, tailors, &c. would not be of much consequence; but when an attempt is made to estimate the numbers engaged in businesses that furnish employment only for a few hands, any inaccuracy materially affects the result; and unless machinery adequate to ensure correct returns be set in motion, the attempt to investigate such minutiæ is sure to fail, and serves to throw discredit on results as to important matters that may be sufficiently accurate for practical purposes.
It would really be very easy, were those employed to take the census subjected to the control of persons appointed by the quarter-sessions in each county, or other competent authority, to see that they did their duty, to obtain, by their means, a vast body of the most valuable information of which we are at present wholly destitute. To do this we should merely have to circulate among the overseers, &c., a few plain questions, stripped of all ambiguity, and involving no discretion, and to order them to be answered. This may not enable us to discover the number of rule-makers, reed-makers, and rake-makers in the country; but it will enable us to learn the numbers engaged in all the leading and well-defined employments carried on in it; and that is all any reasonable man cares for. It will not be to the credit of the Government, the Parliament, or the Public, if measures be not taken, previously to 1841, for making the census to be then taken as accurate and complete as can be desired for practical and useful purposes.
It might have been supposed, considering the importance and interest of the numerous questions at issue between the Church of England and the Dissenters, that steps would long since have been taken to learn the respective members of each; and, also, the numbers in the subordinate classes into which the Dissenters are divided. This might have been very easily learned, with sufficient accuracy for all practical purposes, by instructing those
nated (in Lancashire they are not discriminated at all) to be of any material use; and no general conclusion either is, or can be, drawn from them.
engaged in taking the census to ascertain and set down to what religious body each individual belonged. Few would have declined answering such a question; and it is not easy to see what motive any one could have to induce him to answer it incorrectly. But, singular as it may appear, nothing of the sort has been attempted; and nothing can be more marvellously discordant than the accounts given of the number of those attached to different systems by their friends and opponents. Nothing but an actual enumeration can get rid of this perplexing uncertainty, and inform us of the numbers that really belong to each sect or denomination. Had such an enumeration been made when the different censuses were taken, it would have served to clear up many difficult questions on which Parliament must now legislate; at the same time that it would have shown whether, and under what circumstances, dissent was gaining ground; and the relation which the different classes of Dissenters had borne at different. periods to each other as well as to the Church. Measures should be adopted, when the next census is taken, to get this important desideratum supplied.
Yearly returns of the number of deaths, specifying the numbers that died of each different disease, would, provided they embraced a considerable population, and were drawn up with proper care, be exceedingly valuable. After the lapse of a few years it would be possible, by comparing such mortality tables with authentic accounts of the weather, of the prices of food and other necessary accommodations, the rate of wages, &c., to throw a great deal of light on many most interesting questions that are now involved in darkness. Had the London Bills of Mortality been properly kept, they would have been quite invaluable. But they are a disgrace to the country, and are all but worthless. They have been made up on the same plan, without any attempt at improvement, since 1603. When a person dies, some of his friends, or more commonly the undertaker, sends an intimation of the fact to the searchers, who inspect the body, and write down the name and age of the deceased, and the disease of which he died. It is from these returns that the bills are made up. Their value may be inferred from the fact, that the searchers are not medical men, nor men at all, but ladies of a mature age, who know quite as much of Hebrew as of Medicine; and in 99 out of 100 cases, write down any statement the undertaker chooses to make. This absurd procedure has been often objected to. We raised our voice against it in a former Number (the 97th) of this Journal; and showed how, with very little trouble or expense, the metropolitan bills of mortality
might be rendered authentic and most valuable registers. But the thing continues on its old footing. The medical statistics of London are the same now that they were 232 years ago. In this respect, certainly, we have not been given to change. And, what with its antiquity and its absurdity, the existing system pleases the public so well, that we have but faint hopes of its speedy amendment.
But the defective state of statistical knowledge in this country is, after all, most apparent in what relates to the industry, wealth, and condition of the people. These are amongst the subjects as to which it is of most importance to be correctly informed; and yet they are precisely those of which we know least. For a lengthened period, the regulations relating to the corn trade have occupied a very large share of the public attention; and have been the subject of an infinity of debates and publications. Still, however, we know very little indeed of the facts of the case; and the most opposite and contradictory statements are put forth by the friends and opponents of restrictions, without its being possible to say, on sure grounds, which is right, or which is wrong. We have no information on which any reliance can be placed, as to the number of landlords or farmers, properly so called; and we know nothing of the incomes of these classes. Had the proceedings under the late income-tax act been preserved, we might, by analyzing them, have acquired a great deal of curious and valuable information. But the House of Commons, not satisfied with the abolition of the tax, ordered all the documents containing the investigations made by the commissioners, to be destroyed. And by this act, the folly of which is, we believe, without a parallel in modern times, some of the best and most authentic means ever possessed by any nation, for estimating the numbers and incomes of the different classes of its inhabitants, were annihilated. Nothing remains except the general results of the assessment; and the circumstances under which all classes are now placed, are so very different from those that prevailed during the latter years of the war, that the inferences deducible from these results as to our present situation, are necessarily very doubtful, and are entitled to but little attention.
We heard a great deal, during the period of high prices, of the extension of tillage over inferior land, and more recently, of the throwing of such inferior land out of cultivation. But, in point of fact, we have no certain knowledge of the matter; we infer what the fact should be, but whether it be really so, is more than any one can pretend to say. We have no account on which the least dependence can be placed, of the extent of land in tillage
before, during, or since the late war. Hops being subjected to a duty, we know the extent of land appropriated to their culture, and the quantity annually produced; and that is all the accurate knowledge we have of any crop raised in England. The greatest possible discrepancies exist among the estimates occasionally put forth of the land under wheat, barley, oats, turnips, &c., and of the average aggregate produce of each species of grain; and we know so little of the facts, that any one, with the least dexterity, may arrive at any conclusions, in respect of such matters, he pleases; and may prove, according as it suits his fancy or his purpose, that tillage is extending, or that it is diminishing;that we produce a third more wheat now than we did in 1815, or only half as much, and so on. We in truth know quite as much of the quantity and value of the products of America, as of those of Essex.
We sometimes find, even in the same writers, the most conflicting statements. Thus, in his Northern Tour (vol. iv. p. 345), Arthur Young estimates, from the data collected in it, the number of draught cattle (including horses) in England only at 1,170,729; cows at 1,337,976; fatting beasts at 1,003,482; young cattle at 2,229,960; and sheep, at 28,989,480. But, according to the data collected in his Eastern Tour (vol. iv. p. 456), he estimates the number of draught cattle at 684,491; cows at 741,532; fatting beasts at 513,369; young cattle at 912,656; and sheep at 22, 188,948. Mr Young has nowhere made any remarks on the extraordinary discrepancy between these estimates. the second part of his Political Arithmetic (p. 28), he gives an estimate of the stock of the country, being the average of the preceding; but this, though no doubt nearer the truth than either of those on which it is bottomed, must still, there is every reason to think, have been, even at the time, wide of the mark. And yet this estimate, constructed on such unsatisfactory data, so far back as 1779, is the last that has been formed on any thing like investigation! It would be worse than absurd, on a matter of this sort, to refer to the guesses of Dr Colquhoun: they may perhaps be entitled to as much credit as the stories in the Arabian Nights, but to very little more.
Owing to the duties which, at no distant period, were charged on all descriptions of horses, we are better informed as to the numbers of this valuable animal in Great Britain, than of any other species of live stock. We do not, however, appear to have profited much by this circumstance. In a recent Report by a Committee of the House of Commons, we are favoured with some rather curious revelations. Among others, the