The United Kingdom

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The United Kingdom

England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and the Islands in the British Seas are designated by this generic name in the Census Abstracts. As the unity of the kingdom is recognized, it is well expressed in French by one word, Angleterre ; to which we have no corresponding single word, except by the extension of the word "England" to the whole kingdom.

Population in 1871

The population of the United Kingdom enumerated at the same date in 1871 was thirty-one millions eight hundred and forty-five thousand three hundred and seventy-nine .

The Males were 15,584,132, of whom 216,080 natives were in the army, navy, and merchant service abroad, leaving 15,368,052 at home.

Disparity of the sexes

The Females at home were 16,261,247; and exceeded the males at home and in the services abroad by 677,115. The corresponding males are in the Colonies and in the United States of America. The equality of the two sexes is maintained by nature: and the disparity arises almost entirely from displacement. The fact is none the less important that the mates of 893,195 women were out of the kingdom on the Census day. To 1,000 males at home there are 1,000 females, and 58 over: the excess on 1,000 is 13 in Wales, 50 in Ireland, 56 in England, 96 in Scotland, and 184 in the Islands of the British Seas.

The men more readily find employment than women where land is abundant; and there is a great demand for the services of young women in towns at home; so that emigration is one-sided, and the population of the Colonies does not go on so rapidly as it would if men and women of the marriageable age emigrated in equal numbers.

Persons to a house

The number of Inhabited Houses was 5,665,178; and the average number of inhabitants to a house was 5.6. This is the average of Ireland; Wales has 4.9 inhabitants to a house, England 5.4, Scotland 8.2; the latter number evidently swollen by the system of flats in larger houses than are found in the other parts of the kingdom.

313,994 houses are returned as uninhabited, 42,941 as building.

Increase of population

The population was 29,321,288 in the Census year 1861; and the increase in the intervening ten years, up to 1871, was 2,524,091. The population of Ireland decreased more than the population of Scotland and the Islands hi the British Seas increased; so that the increase of the population of the United Kingdom is somewhat less than the increase of the population of England and Wales. The difference is duo to emigration from Ireland. The increase of the kingdom in the last ten years was 8.61 per cent.; and the annual rate of increase 0.83 per cent.

The first Census of Ireland was taken in 1821, but we have considerable confidence in the estimates for 1801 and 1811, and hold it at least certain that the population of the United Kingdom increased at an accelerated rate up to the close of the war, when the law for imposing a high graduated duty on corn was passed,1 and remained, with some modifications, in force until the Act for its abolition came into operation in 1846-9.

The importation of corn rapidly increased in 1838, and remained high for the four following years; then the potato failure in 1847 led to large importations, and after the corn law was abolished the importations of wheat and other grain became enormous.2 As the cultivation of the potato spread the population increased, especially in Ireland, where, according to the estimate of M'Culloch, writing in 1854, potatoes had long furnished from six to eight tenths of the entire food of the people. The population, he says, on summing up the opinions of the best authorities, may become, other things being equal , from two to three times as dense in a potato-feeding country as it would be were the inhabitants fed wholly on corn. Potatoes and pigs convert inert matter into men more rapidly than any other food. But the potato is not only liable to fluctuations in crop, but is more perishable than grain; and its bulbs, feebly organized, are easily destroyed by the power of lower, self-multiplying forms of organic substances. That was felt in 1847-8, when the dreadful famine thinned the ranks, and might have destroyed half the population of Ireland had it not been for the solidarity of heart, alike in weal and woe, of the United Kingdom. Emigration to America was facilitated by British ships, and flowed in a flood. The bond of the poor law between property and the life of the people was first introduced in a feeble form into Ireland in 1838, and the English Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 had cut down the relief of able-bodied labourers. This detached them from the soil on which they were born, and English emigration began to flow more rapidly.

Increase in geometrical ratio

The Table showing the annual rate of increase of the population of the Kingdom Table 5. is full of interest, and illustrates the power the people have and exercise of increasing or diminishing their numbers in the land of their birth. It shows in what a qualified sense the principle that population increases in a geometrical ratio must be geometrical taken. It will be seen that within the 70 years over which the censuses extend there have been great changes in the annual rate of increase. It varied slightly in the first 30 years of the century, from 1.29 to 1.40, and 1.38 per cent.; from 1831 to 1841 it fell to 1.04; from 1841 to 1851 it fell still further, so that the increase of population was only 0.26; and since those fatal years the annual rate of increase ascended in the successive decenniads to 0.55, to 0.83, and then to 0.97 in the 10 years ending in 1871.

Under certain given conditions population increases rapidly, in geometrical progression; and there is always a reserve force of possible reproduction, which is the chief security any race, any type of life, has against annihilation. But to argue that because this power exists, or that because during a series of years population has increased in geometrical progression, it will go on for an indefinite time increasing at the same rate of progression, is illogical, and is confuted by conclusive experience.

Geometrical progression appears to exercise a singular fascination over some minds: under its dominion, Dr. Price calculated that a penny put out at compound interest at the birth of Christ, would amount to values which millions of globes of gold as big as the earth, alone could represent; Mr. Pitt persuaded Parliament to establish a sinking fund to extinguish the national debt; Mr. Malthus beheld the threatening over-population of the world; and recently a very able Professor of Owen's College, Manchester, assuming that the consumption of our coal-fields may increase indefinitely in geometrical progression, gave the first start to the exorbitant rise in the price of coals. The Census affords convincing evidence that the growth of population, in conjunction with subsistence, has to be watched and regulated, and that it increases or decreases cither in geometrical or arithmetical progression, according to circumstances, and to the extent to which energy of race and intelligence can turn them to account.

Density of population

The area of the United Kingdom is 121,608 square miles. The density of the population is 260 persons to a square mile. There are 46.5 inhabited houses to a square mile; 13.76 acres to a house, 2.46 acres to a person. If the inhabited houses were equally distributed over the face of the kingdom, undivided by the sea, the mean distance from house to house would be 277 yards.

In Table 2 it will be seen that the number of acres to a person being 2.46 in the kingdom, the acres to a person are 1.34 in the Islands of the British Seas, 1.52 in England, 3.85 in Ireland, 3.88 in Wales, and 5.80 in Scotland.

The questions we have discussed in detail, as far as England and Wales and the Islands in the British Seas are concerned, will be treated by our colleagues in Scotland and Ireland; and to their Report for the completion of that part of the Census we refer. So soon as their labours are concluded, it will be desirable to consolidate the principal Tables, so as to present the picture complete of the United Kingdom, with which Foreign Nations, Statists, and the Imperial Legislature are particularly concerned.

1 55 George 3, c.26, 1815.

2 M'Culloch, Commercial Dictionary, article "Corn Laws".

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