H́nh ảnh trang

Obfervations on Bills of Mortality.

THE following may ferve as a text for another leffon in the art of reafoning. It is extracted from the Giornale Encyclopedica d'Italia.

"With regard to the augmentation or diminution of population in cities and towns, the refult of a great many obfervations prove how much the first are unfavourable to the human fpecies. Man, who, by an inftinct of nature, is a fociable being, finds deftruction in fociety itself, or, to fpeak more truly, in the abuse of fociety. In Paris, Vienna, Amfterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin, the lifts of births is always inferior to that of deaths. From thence it happens that in this Jaft city, in a determined time, there were only 3855 births, while the deaths amounted to 5054. On the contrary, in the country, where the air is more pure, where agriculture flourishes, where the manners of the people are more fimple, the propagation augments in a manner still more rapidly."

Thus far the text; and the conclufions feem to be very fairly deducible from the facts; yet it will be no difficult matter to fhew that thefe conclufions are extremely unjust. Not to mention here the difficulty of getting at a fair state of facts, refpecting births or burials in any one place, which has been often remarked, and which greatly invalidates the force of any conclu fions, I mean here to fhew, that supposing these regis ters had been kept with the greateft poffible accuracy, nothing like the conclufions above specified could be inferred from the facts here ftated, unless many other particulars had been carefully marked, that have never been adverted to in any of these calculations.

It is, for example, inferred, that fince the deaths in Berlin have regularly exceeded the births in that city

by near 1200 a year, that therefore Berlin must be a very unwholesome place, and greatly prejudicial to the increase of the human fpecies; and that because in some country places the births always exceed the deaths in a great proportion, thefe muft be proportionally favourable to it. But from this fact confidered alone, it might have been quite the reverse. The town might perhaps be far more wholesome than the country.

Berlin, notwithstanding this amazing mortality, has been found to increase in population during the period above named. Hence our political calculators have justly inferred, that this augmentation must have been occafioned by an influx of inhabitants from fome other part of the world. But here they have ftopt. They had only to advance a single step farther; and then they must have seen, that of all those inhabitants who have come to Berlin from other parts, no one of their births could enter into the registers of that place, though all their deaths must be there recorded. Now, if 1200 people flocked to that town annually, and there took up their abode, it must of neceffity happen, that on an average the deaths must exceed the births by that num ber, let the place be as favourable for the human race as you can fuppofe. In like manner, if these 1200 went from the country into the town, all their births must have appeared in the registers there, and none of their deaths; fo that it would appear by these regifters that the country was as furprisingly favourable, as the town was unfavourable for the human race. This, it is plain, is a mere fallacy; an argument that may tend to mislead, because the error is not extremely obvious, but which never ought to be employed by any one who pretends to philofophic precision.

The fact is, that in every fituation, whether favourable for the human race, or the reverse, where the influx of strangers from other places is confiderable, the deaths must be more numerous in proportion to the births, if the regifters be accurate, than they would

have been, if no fuch influx had happened; and the greater that influx is, the greater must be that difpropor


Hence it must neceffarily happen, that if we are to judge of the increase or decrease of population from the bill of mortality only, our conclufion will be always exactly the reverfe of what it would be, if we take an actual enumeration: For wherever, from an a&ual enumeration, we find that the population is augmenting in a very rapid manner, we would conclude from the bills of mortality, that they were decreasing very


In like manner, if people are emigrating faft from any country, could we obtain an accurate lift of the births and the deaths, we should say that the births fo far exceeded the deaths, as to afford the cleareft proof of a rapid increafing population; whereas, were we to take an actual enumeration, we would be forced to draw a conclufion directly the reverse.

These few obfervations may ferve to fhew how little reliance is to be had on those general and vague declamations that have been often repeated with fo much confidence on this fubject. Many other fources of fallacy respecting this fubject, might be pointed out; but this might tend to perplex fome. It is enough at this time to have developed this fingle particular, as it may serve to infpire those with a small degree of diffidence, who begin to fpeculate upon fuch matters.

I fhall only add, that it is not here intended to infinuate that the occupations of a country life are not more favourable to the augmentation of the human fpecies, than thofe of large towns; but merely that the proof of this fact arifing from a comparative view of the bills of mortality is entirely fallacious. Much false reasoning, and many erroneous conclufions have been founded on thefe data by political writers, within the prefent century.


To the Editor of the Bee.

HAVING an opportunity of sending you a letter, I offer you a little morfel for your Bee. 'Tis an Arabian tale I never faw in print; at least it has not been hackneyed about in periodical publications.


Arabian Anecdote.

Three Arabs, brethren of a noble family, who "were travelling together for the improvement of their minds, were accidentally met by a camel driver, who "asked them, if they had not seen a camel, which had "ftrayed from him in the night. • Was not the ca

“mel blind of an eye?' faid the eldeft.

"the man.


'Yes,' faid

'It had a tooth out before,' said the fe

"cond. It is very true,' he replied. Was it not 66 little lame?' added the third. 6 Why really it was, "returned the owner. Taking it for granted then, "that they had seen his beast, he befought them to "tell him which way it went. Follow us, friend,' "faid they. He did fo, and had not gone far, till he "happened to fay, that the camel was loaden with 66 corn. And it had, continued the Arabians, a veffel "of oil on one fide, and a veffel of honey on the other. "It had fo, faid the driver; therefore let me conjure you to tell me where you met it. Met it! cried the eldest of the brethren, why we never faw your ca"mel at all. The man lofing patience at this, began to load them with reproaches; and as they were 66 paffing through a village, he raised the people, and "caufed them to be apprehended. The Cadi or





If this story was a fact, it is not improbable, that from this circumftance arose that oriental proverb; If any one afk you, if you "have seen the camel, anfwer no!" i. e. do not, by impertinent converfation, involve yourself in difficulties.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Judge of the town, before whom they were brought, "not being able to determine the cause, sent them to the


[ocr errors]


prince of the country, who, perceiving by their be"haviour, that they were perfons of diftinction, set "them at liberty, lodged them in his palace, and treat"ed them with all imaginable refpect. After fome days, " he took an occafion of politely requesting, that they "would clear up the mystery of the camel, and ex"plain how they could poffibly hit upon fo many par"ticulars, without ever having feen it. The young "men smiled at the importunity of the prince; and after having returned him abundance of thanks for the "civilities they had received, the fenior of the bre"thren thus fpoke: We are neither deceivers nor ne66 cromancers; neither did we ufe any other inftruments "of divination than our fenfes and reafon : for my part, "I judged it was blind, because, as we went along, I "obferved the grafs eaten up on one fide of the road, "and not on the other. And I, faid the fecond, gueffed "it had loft a tooth before, as where the grafs was "cropped clofeft, there was conftantly a little tuft left "behind. And I, added the third, concluded it was "lame, because the prints of three feet were distinct in "the road, whereas the impreffion of the fourth was blur"red; whence I concluded, that the animal bad dragged “it, and did not fet it to the ground. All this I appre"hend, faid the King; but how in the name of won"der, could you difcover that oil and honey made a "part of its loading? Why, rejoined the travellers; "This, upon finding our first furmife was right, we "afterwards conjectured, from remembering we had "feen, on one fide of the path, little troops of ants "ferreting the grafs; and on the other, the flies "affembled here and there in groups, infomuch that "few or none were on the wing."

Whether, Sir, this eaftern anecdote be true or falfe, matters not much, fince, in either case, it exactly reprefents what it was meant to exprefs, the quick

« TrướcTiếp tục »