THE CENSUS MDCCCXLL
THE returns of the Census lately completed, we are informed, will show an increase of upwards of 30 per cent. on the population of 1831 in the great manufacturing districts, and a decrease of about 21 per cent. in the agricultural districts. The rate of in- crease on the whole nation is about 12 per cent. The most rapid increase has taken place in Lancashire, Lanarkshire, and Forfar- shire. These facts suggest two observations, which we address to the serious attention of all who have it in their power to influence the measures of Government or the Legislature.
The first regards the bearing of the facts upon the Free Trade controversy. The rapid increase of population in the manufac- turing and slight decrease in the agricultural districts, have been mainly caused by the migration of labourers from the latter to the former. Creteris paribus it will be found, that the ratio of children born in the country to the population there is at least as great as that of the children born in towns, and that the proportion of children who survive is not less. The population of the manufacturing districts has been increased by families flocking into them in search of employment and food • the popu- lation of the agricultural districts has been diminished because numbers who could not find there the means of subsistence have gone to seeklit in the manufacturing districts. The number of in- dividuals who can support themselves within the compass of Great Britain by cultivating the soil has passed its maximum ; all future additions to the population must earn their support by manufac- turing industry, or they must starve. But, owing to the restrictions imposed upon trade, narrowing our markets, the present field for manufacturing industry is already over-filled ; there are more peo- ple willing to work in the manufacturing districts than can find sufficient employment and wages to provide them adequately with the necessaries of life. There is only one way to relieve our already superabundant population and provide for inevitable in- crease—that is, to extend our markets by removing every restriction which prevents men from trading to any place where a profitable return is to be had. The produce of our soil can feed, clothe, and otherwise maintain, a certain number of human beings; the e the into which our native mineral and other raw products, with those we import from abroad, can be worked up, will buy food and the other means of maintenance from foreign countries for a certain number more : the field of agricultural employment is filled up and running over; • the only resource for the surplus is to leave the country, or to add to the numbers of those already employed in manufactures. The restrictions on commerce, which narrow the field of manufacturing industry, are neither more nor less than laws for keeping down the people to a limited number by starving them.
Our second remark relates to the bearing of the facts stated above on the question of Parliamentary Representation. At present the Representatives returned by the influence of the land- owners constitute the majority of the House of Commons. How long will this be tolerated, seeing that a process is going on by which the population of the manufacturing districts is rapidly increasing and that of the agricultural districts gradually diminish- ing ? The returns of the three former censuses gave the following comparative proportions of families, in centesimal parts—
Engaged in Engaged in Engaged Total.
Agriculture. Trade, &c. otherwise.
1811 35 44 21 100 1821 33 46 21 100 1831 28 42 30 100
The seeming addition to the proportion of families not engaged either in trade or agriculture, in 1831, was owing to an improved mode of classification. On the two former occasions, labourers in the agri- cultural districts employed in mines, road-making, and the fisheries, had been classed as agriculturists, wherever they were accustomed to cultivate their own gardens or work in the fields during harvest ; in the manufacturing districts, all persons engaged in road-making, in- land navigation, cartage, &c., had been classed as engaged in manu- factures. In 1831, the families of all such individuals were re-
moved to the third column. Now, from 1811 to 1831 there had been a steady increase in the number of persons employed in _transporting goods, making roads, and the management of inland navigation in the manufacturing districts ; while the class of half- manufacturers half-labourers had gradually been diminishing in the agricultural districts, from the greater development of the factory-system. The progressive decrease, therefore, of the number of families dependent for support upon agriculture, as compared with the number dependent on trade and manufactures, must be if any thing underrated in the table quoted above from the Population-returns. It appears, then, that the number of families dependent for support upon trade and manufactures, had for twenty years previous to 1831 exceeded that of the families dependent upon agriculture ; and since 1831 the population of' the manufacturing districts has increased 30 per cent., while that of the agricultural districts has experienced a positive diminution. By a steady and uniform process, the agriculturists are becoming a smaller and smaller minority. The majority in this case is not a mere indigent and ignorant majotity ; the minority does not embrace exclusively the wealthy and in- telligent. The value of the mines, machinery, and buildings, and moneyed capital invested in trade, at least equal the value of the agricultural capital of the country ; and the former is increasing while the latter seems nearly to have reached its utmost limit. The unskilled labourers of the manufacturing districts are quite equal in intelligence to the agricultural labourers ; while in the skilled artisans there will be found a class to which the agri- culturists can produce no parallel. The upper and middle classes of the manufacturing interest are in point of natural abilities and acquirements quite equal to those of the agricultural interest. Even in point of mere physical strength, it is a mistake to suppose that the agriculturists as a class excel the manufacturing labourers. In every other respect the manufacturing classes are at least equal to the agricultural, and in aptitude of combined operation they surpass them as much as they do in numbers. Under these cir- cumstances, it is not in the nature of things that the " landed pre- ponderancy" in the House of Commons should much longer be tolerated.
We merely state facts : the application is left to be made by the parties interested. Where the wealth, numbers, and intelligence of a nation reside, there will the power be also. The transfer of power from a retrograding to a growing interest cannot be averted either by declamation or logic.