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By the 8th clause of 3 and 4 Vic:, c. 99, it was enacted "That the Commissioners shall cause Abstracts to be made of the said Returns in such form and manner as shall be decided upon by the said Commissioners, with the approval of one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State; and such Abstracts shall be printed and laid before both Houses of Parliament within twelve calendar months next after the first day of September, in the year 1841; or if Parliament be not then sitting, within the first fourteen days of the Session then next ensuing."

On the llth December, 1840, the Commission was appointed, leaving one year and eight months for completing the work. It was foreseen that this clause of the Act could not be complied with, the information required being unprecedented, and none of the persons enjoined by law to give their assistance having ever been engaged in a similar operation.

The country was to be divided into minute districts, and thirty-five thousand persons engaged to enumerate the people on a stated day.

On the arrival of the enumerators' schedules in London, each individual, of whichever sex, was presented to us with five distinct propositions attached to each name, making upwards of one hundred millions of separate facts to be reduced into tabular statements by copying, and the results to be formed into geographical districts by means of more than three hundred and thirty thousand separate calculations, all of which were to be tested by a system of checks, in order to prevent error. This work was to be accomplished by the aid of an establishment which was to be collected together for the express purpose, remunerated with the lowest salaries, and without prospect of employment from Government beyond the continuance of the office.

For many months the clerks worked twelve hours a day; and, but for the ready willingness displayed by them on all occasions to devote their time to our necessities, a much longer period must have elapsed before the work could have been printed.

Under these circumstances no apology is considered necessary; but it is right to explain that the Act of Parliament contemplated a result which could not be effected with the means placed at our command,, and that great efforts have been made to present the work previous to the close of the present Session of Parliament.


London , 10th August 1843.

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