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History of the National progress during the last twenty years

Population of the United Kingdom - Great Decrease in Ireland since the Census of 1841 - Large Increase in England and Wales and in Scotland -Emigration - Foreign Immigrants - Movement of the Population within the United Kingdom - The British Empire: its Extent and Population in 1851 and 1871 - Sir C. Dilke on the Future of the Anglo-Saxon Race - Gravitation of Population to Towns - Urban and Rural Population of England and Wales in 1851 and 1871 - Reverse Current - Occupations of the People- Decrease in the Agricultural, and Increase in the Manufacturing and Commercial Districts - England an increasingly Manufacturing and Commercial Country - Numbers employed in the Great Trades and Occupations of England.
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In the recent history of the United Kingdom, there are few more striking phenomena than the rapidity with which the inhabitants have been adding to their numbers. In the year 1801 Great Britain and Ireland, with the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, contained a population of rather less than sixteen millions of souls (15,795,287). So rapid has been the increase since that date that, at the census of 1871, the aggregate population was found to number upwards of thirty-one and a half millions (31,629,299). Since the beginning of the present century, therefore, the population has more than doubled its numbers, having received an addition of 15,834,012 souls in that period. During the whole of the eighteenth century, on the other hand, less than half this number of persons were added to the population, the inhabitants in 1700 being estimated to have numbered about eight millions; and in 1801, as above stated, 15,795,287. The larger population of the nineteenth century has, in fact, been increasing half as fast again as the smaller population of the eighteenth.

Great Britain and Ireland are no new and undeveloped countries. Their area, moreover, is very limited, covering, in fact, less than 122,000 square miles. Yet within the first seventy years of the nineteenth century their population doubled itself. Nor is this all. Within the! period under consideration, emigration was carried on I upon a scale to which no parallel can be found in history. Within these seventy years, seven millions of emigrants left their native shores - some to lay the foundation of new colonies, others seeking a home in the old ones. Nor is the fact without significance that, of these seven million emigrants, more than half (3,729,172) left the old country in the first twenty years of the second half of this century - that is, between the years 1851 and 1871 - those who emigrated between 1851 and 1861 numbering 2,054,578, and those between 1861 and 1871, 1,674,594. Between 1861 and 1871 the population of the United Kingdom was increasing at the rate of 1,173 persons a day. Of these, 468 emigrated abroad, leaving behind 705 of each day's increase to swell the population at home. In describing the increase of the population of the United Kingdom, it is, therefore, not sufficient to say that in the first seven decades of the nineteenth century its numbers were doubled. It must be added that, besides this increase at home, a vast host of the sons and daughters of Britain and Ireland, almost as numerous as the entire nation at the commencement of the century, had within the same period removed to new homes beyond the seas.

This wholesale emigration has, indeed, affected the population of one portion of the United Kingdom very seriously. Ever since the terrible famine of 1847, described in its proper place in a former volume of this History, the inhabitants of Ireland, so far from increasing, have been rapidly diminishing in number. In the year 1841 the population of that portion of the United Kingdom numbered 8,196,597. Between that year and 1851 not less than 1,240,737 Irishmen emigrated abroad; and, owing to this and other circumstances, the population in 1851 was found to be reduced to 6,574,278. Between 1851 and 1861 the number of Irish emigrants was 1,231,308, and by the latter year the population of that island had sunk to 5,798,967. In the following ten years, from 1861 to 1871, the rate of emigration fell off 30 per cent., the number of emigrants being 866,626, and the population in 1871 numbering 5,412,377. Though in the course of the last ten years the tide of Irish emigration has thus been rapidly ebbing, the inhabitants were within that interval of time reduced by 386,590, or 6J per cent. In the thirty years from 1841 to 1871 there was an aggregate reduction of no less than 30 per cent, in the population, the inhabitants being fewer by 2,784,220 at the later date than at the earlier. The population of Ireland in 1871 differed, in fact, very little from the number at which it stood at the commencement of the century, when it is estimated to have been 5,216,331.

Very different is the case with the rest of the United Kingdom. There, too, emigration has been very large, but the additions to the population have nevertheless been still larger. Comparing the years 1871 and 1841, we find that Scotland has maintained a steady increase at the rate of about 10 per cent, every decade, while in England and Wales the decennial rate of increase has been still higher, varying from rather less than 12 per cent, to rather more than 13 per cent. The population of Scotland in 1841 was only 2,620,184. Between four and five hundred thousand Scotchmen emigrated abroad between that year and 1871, and yet at the latter date the inhabitants of that portion of the United Kingdom numbered 3,360,018, showing an addition of 739,834 souls in the thirty years. At the intermediate dates, 1851 and 1861, the population of Scotland was found to be respectively 2,888,742 and 3,062,294.

Remarkable as has been the progress of population in Scotland, the increase in England and Wales has been even more extraordinary. In 1801 the population of this part of Great Britain was no more than 8,892,536. In 1871 it was 22,712,266, showing an addition in the seventy years of 13,819,730 souls, or more than 155 per cent. In 1841 the inhabitants of England and Wales numbered 15,914,148, so that in the last thirty years their numbers have been increased by 6,798,118. Within the same period of thirty years nearly two millions of persons born in England and Wales emigrated abroad. In 1851 the inhabitants of England and Wales numbered 17,927,609, or 2,013,461 more than in 1841. In 1861 they numbered 20,066,224, or 2,138,615 more than in 1851; while in 1871 their numbers, as above mentioned, being 22,712,266, were greater by 2,646,042 than in 1861. So great, indeed, has been the increase in this part of Britain, that it has not only made up for the gigantic losses in Ireland, but, combined with the steady increment in Scotland, it has overlapped them to such an extent that the aggregate population of the United Kingdom has never failed at each of the decennial censuses to show a more or less considerable increase over the numbers of each preceding period. Between the years 1841 and 1851 the inhabitants of the United Kingdom, including the army, navy, and merchant service at home and abroad, show an increase of 688,026; between 1851 and 1861, an increase of 1,575,339; and between 1861 and 1871, an increase of 2,524,091.

Nor was this large advance in numbers in any very considerable degree due to immigration from abroad. Whether as settlers or as visitors, the number of foreigners in this country has at all times been comparatively insignificant. In the year 1871 it was found that in England and Wales they barely exceeded a hundred thousand - the exact number being 100,638; and the census of that year was taken at a time when, owing to the war between France and Germany, a larger number of foreigners were staying in this country than, according to all probability, would otherwise have been the case. In 1861 the number of foreigners in England and Wales did not exceed 84,090. The greater half of the alien element of the population was German and French; the Germans numbering 28,644 in 1861, and 32,823 in 1871; while the French, who are little more than half as numerous as the Germans, mustered 12,989 in 1861, and 17,906 in 1871. In the latter year, then, when, owing to extraordinary circumstances, the number of foreigners in England and Wales was unusually high, there was only one alien out of every 226 persons in the country; and in Scotland and Ireland the proportion was even less than in South Britain. In connection with this subject, it may be added that according to the returns, incomplete as they have always been, respecting British subjects visiting or residing in foreign countries, their number in 1861, independently of 2,476,132 settled or travelling in the United States, was not less than 67,969; while in 1871 it was 59,376, those settled in the United States at the latter date numbering more than three millions (3,122,823).

On the other hand, there is a considerable movement of the population within the limits of the United Kingdom itself. Thus in 1871 no fewer than 213,254 natives of Scotland, and 566,540 natives of Ireland, were found residing in England and Wales. In this portion of the United Kingdom, therefore, there was one Irishman in every forty of the population, and one Scotchman in about every hundred. At the same time, there were enumerated in England and Wales 25,655 persons born in the Channel Islands; 70,812 born in the British Colonies or the East Indies; 38,807 British subjects born in foreign countries; and 4,395 persons who first saw the light of day at sea. Altogether, therefore, out of the 22,712,266 persons enumerated in South Britain in 1871, the number of those who were not natives of that part of the United Kingdom was 919,463; so that Englishmen and Welshmen in their own country still outnumbered immigrants of every description in the comparatively high proportion of twenty-one to one. The immigrant element in the population was, however, a growing one. In 1841, with a population of 15,914,148, it numbered but 432,974; so that at that date there was but one person out of every thirty-five not born in the country, as against one out of every twenty-two in 1871. And the immigrants who have increased at the most rapid rate are not, as might very readily be supposed, those of Scotch or Irish origin, but the foreigners and the British subjects born in foreign countries, who together numbered no more than 39,244 in 1841, but whose numbers in 1871 had risen to 139,445; the latter, therefore, having increased three and a half fold, while the former had scarcely doubled their numbers.

Wonderful as has been the progress as regards population of the United Kingdom itself, it is even surpassed in this respect by the numerous British colonies and dependencies abroad. The population of the British Empire, as a whole, stood in the year 1851 at about 159,000,000 souls. In 1871 the grand total had increased to nearly 235,000,000, showing an increase of 76,000,000 in the interval of twenty years. In the East Indies and other Asiatic possessions alone, the subjects of the British crown had increased within that period from less than 126,000,000 to more than 194,000,000; the increment being, however, in part due to the annexation of additional provinces. The Australian colonies had but 437,000 inhabitants in 1850; in 1871 their population had increased more than fourfold, their aggregate numbers being close upon 2,000,000. The population of Cape Colony, Natal, and the rest of the British territories in Africa, was little more than 600,000 in 1850; by 1871 it had considerably more than doubled itself, its numbers being nearly 1,500,000. The colonies of North America were peopled by 2,500,000 in 1850, and by 3,750,000 in 1871, showing an increase of as much as 50 per cent, in the twenty years. The West Indies, with the Bermudas, Honduras, and British Guiana, had rather less than 500,000 inhabitants in 1850; they had 1,300,000 in 1871. And even the small possessions in Europe - Gibraltar, Malta, and Heligoland - show an increase in their population from 70,000 in 1850, to 176,000 in 1871; this increase being, however, partly due to the military not having been included in the earlier returns. The British Empire in 1871 covered a surface twice as large as that of all Europe, its aggregate area in round numbers having, at that date, reached the huge total of 7,500,000 square miles. The East Indian and other Asiatic possessions alone comprise an area of little less than 1,000,000 square miles. Of the rest of the colonies, which cover 6,500,000 square miles of the earth's surface, by far the greater portion has been colonised by settlers mainly of British and Irish origin - a fact pregnant with the most momentous consequences for the future of the Anglo-Saxon race.

In his work entitled " Greater Britain," Sir Charles Dilke, who in the years 1866 and 1867 travelled through all the English-speaking countries of the globe, in depicting " the grandeur of our race, already girdling the earth, which it is destined, perhaps, eventually to overspread," remarked that "the countries ruled by a race whose very scum and outcasts have founded empires in every portion of the globe, even now consist of nine and a half millions of square miles, and contain a population of three hundred millions of people. Their surface," he continues, " is five times as great as that of the empire of Darius, and four and a half times as great as the Roman Empire at its greatest extent. It is no exaggeration to say that, in power, the English countries would be more than a match for the remaining nations of the world, whom, in the intelligence of their people and in the extent and wealth of their dominions, they already considerably surpass. Russia gains ground steadily, we are told, but so da we. If we take the maps of the English-governed countries and of the Russian countries of fifty years ago, and compare them with the English and Russian countries of to-day, we find that the Saxon has outstripped the Muscovite both in conquest and in colonisation. The extensions of the United States alone are equal to all those of Russia. Chili, La Plata, and Peru must eventually become English; the Red Indian race that now occupies those countries cannot stand against our colonists; and the future of the table-lands of Africa and that of Japan and of China is equally clear. Even in the tropical plains, the negroes alone seem able to withstand us. No possible series of events can prevent the English race itself in 1970 numbering three hundred millions of beings, of one national character and one tongue. Italy, Spain, France, Russia become pigmies by the side of such a people.

" Many who are well aware of the power of the English nations are nevertheless disposed to believe that our own is morally, as well as physically, the least powerful of the sections of the race, or, in other words, that we are overshadowed by America and Australia. The rise to power of our southern colonies is, however, distant, and an alliance between ourselves and America is still one to be made on equal terms. Although we are forced to contemplate the speedy loss of our manufacturing supremacy as coal becomes cheaper in America, and dearer in Old England, we have, nevertheless, as much to bestow on America as she has to confer on us. The possession of India offers to ourselves that element of vastness of dominion which, in this age, is needed to secure width of thought and nobility of purpose; but to the English race, our possession of India, of the coasts of Africa, and of the ports of China, offers the possibility of planting free institutions among the dark-skinned races of the world.

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