« ForrigeFortsett »
proaches to its ne plus ultra of cultivation, about half of the population is incapable of reproducing its own number of individuals, from moral and physical causes of universal and spontaneous operation, unalterable, (to any material extent,) by human means. It is evident, also, that with every step it takes in the same progress,—or the nearer it advances towards a fulness of people and the end of its resources in culo tivation, the part of the community reproducing its own numbers will still farther diminish its proportion to the whole. The towns will increase, and all those artificial wants and debilitating customs engendered by wealth, civilization, and the progress of intellectual endowments, will act with accelerated force.
This exposition of the natural tendency of population in the more advanced stages of society seems to be consistent with experience, and with the actual observation of those countries which are passing through them. In all prosperous or (as Sir James Steuart calls them) growing countries, towns have been universally found to increase both in number and size. Witness London and Paris, Manchester and Lyons, Liverpool and Petersburgh or Odessa, Glasgow and Amsterdam. Their effects on population are so universally acknowledged, that they have been proverbially called “the graves of the human race.” Neither are the other causes of abatement which have been recited less obvious to common observation in all civilized communities. So that although the population of every growing country is actually on the inerease, yet such is the conservative principle inherent in the natural causes displayed in this chapter, that it is not possible to point out one instance, where it has surpassed the powers of the soil to produce a
further supply of food for its support; * (except indeed in those states, which consist exclusively of one great commercial city included in a narrow territory, and habitually supported on foreign produce, which is a case evidently without the scope of a general argument). Moreover, it is universally found that in proportion as a country is in a growing condition, or as its population is in fact increasing, in such will it ever be preserved within the limits of its actual supply of food; because the freedom and industry, necessary to place a country in a growing condition, will lead to the diversion of capital to the soil, before the demand for food presses against the bare necessities of the people : while in a declining country, whose population is actually decreasing, it will press the more severely against the supply of food, because in such a state of society industry is universally observed to decline still faster than population. In proof of these assertions let us look to the condition of England as compared with Spain ; of the more civilized parts of Russia as compared with Turkey; of Scotland as compared with Sicily. I have purposely placed these countries in opposition to each other, because the natural advantages are entirely on the side of the less flourishing countries, and the mind is led at once to the moral and political phenomena which alone have made them to differ. Doubtless, the soil and climate of Spain, of Turkey, and of Sicily, are by nature more capable of fostering a rapid increase of population and production, than those of England, Russia, and Scotland. Yet in the
* If the reader should be tempted to suppose that China is in that state, I would beg him to suspend his judgment till he has perused the eighth chapter of this book.
three former a population diminishing in number presses severely against a scanty supply of foodwhile in the three latter a rapidly increasing population is amply supported on the produce of its own soil and labour. Such is the fair result of the natural and unrestrained progress of society.
In Great Britain the laws and constitution of the country have (comparatively speaking) very little interfered with the industry and spontaneous distribution of the inhabitants:--and in the more civilized parts of Russia, notwithstanding the despotic form of the government, so much attention has of late years been paid by the Sovereigns to the internal welfare of the country, that, for many of the practical purposes of political improvement, the effects have approached nearly to those of a free and liberal constitution. Of the three countries placed in opposition to them I have already said enough with respect to Spain. The causes of the misery and degradation of Turkey are sufficiently known to be of a inoral nature. The following details, upon the authority of the latest travellers, may not however be altogether uninteresting to the reader. Mr. De Chateaubriand, in his Itinerary through Greece and Palestine, among many similar pictures, gives the following account of what occurred on his ride towards Sparta. “ At noon we discovered a khan as poor as that in which we rested the night before, although it was decorated with the Ottoman flag. In a space of twenty-two leagues they were the only houses we saw. Hunger and fatigue obliged us to continue here longer than we wished. The master of the place, an old wretched looking Turk, was seated in a loft over the stables surrounded by goats, and in the midst of their dung. He received us
without rising from his dunghill, or deigning to offer any refreshment to the Christian dogs. At length he called a poor naked Greek boy, whose body was all swelled with the stripes he had received, who brought us some sheep's milk in a dirty and disgusting vessel. I was obliged to descend from the loft to drink it at my ease, for the goats and their kids besieged me on every side, in hopes of partaking of the biscuit which I held in my hand. I had eaten bear's-flesh and the sacred dog with the savages,-I had shared in the meals of the Bedouin Arabs,but never had I met with any thing so wretched as this Lacedemonian khan.” (Tom. i. p. 70, 71.) On quitting Corinth he passed the Turkish guard at the Isthmus, and showing the order of the Pacha, the commandant invited him to smoke a pipe and drink coffee at the barrack. As they were seated together, the guard perceived a Greek countryman climbing the mountain at the side of the road, and ordered him to come down. Being at the time probably out of hearing, he did not obey, and the commandant seizing his carbine watched his opportunity and shot at the peasant, who then came down wounded and bleeding. The Turk, as our traveller expresses it, ordered him fifty strokes of the bastinado to cure his wounds. “ If I had ever thought” (he adds, as a general reflection on his journey,)
“ that an absolute government was the best, a few months residence in Turkey would have cured me of that opinion.”
The amount of Mr. Hobhouse's observations on the Turkish character and government show them to be a compound of indolence, cruelty, and oppression, depopulating or depressing the cultivation of whole districts of a country, which the Greek
natives would soon replace in its ancient state of productiveness, were their industry fostered instead of oppressed by their conquerors. But some strong excitement is wanted to produce this change, and in the present state of religion and manners among the Turks, it is not easy to anticipate whence the impulse is to be given. In the mean time we may cite the authority of a still more recent traveller for the consequences of the present system. Dr. Holland, although he does not enter largely into the internal polity and condition of the Turkish empire, is significant enough when these subjects cross his path. Describing the very singular aërial monasteries at Meteora in Thessaly, he writes—“ The monks received us with civility, and we remained with them more than an hour in their extraordinary habitation. The buildings are spread irregularly over the whole summit of the rock. They have no splendour either external or internal, and exhibit but the appearances of wretchedness and decay. Nevertheless the monks conducted us through every one of their dark and dilapidated rooms, and seemed to require a tribute of admiration, which indeed might conscientiously be given to the magni. ficent natural scenery around and beneath their monastery.'
"_“ Even their insulated and almost inaccessible situation has not secured these poor people from plunder and outrage. The property belonging to them is in the valleys below, and the inhabitants of a small village underneath the rocks supply food to these aërial inhabitants. The Albanian soldiers have frequently plundered this village, and either depending on the mandate of their superiors, or on other less licensed means, occasionally compel an entrance into the monasteries themselves,