Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

trees grow in full luxuriance ; while those on the opposite side partake of the nature of northern countries.

The position of a town or district should be considered with regard to its healthiness, security, and facility of communication. Peter the Great committed a statistical error in building his capital in the swamps of Ingria, exposed to frequent inundations of the Neva. Petersburgh has been overflowed no less than six times since its foundation in 1709. The last inundation, in 1824, cost the lives of about 11,000 people. It was an error of statistics that led Napoleon to remain too long at Moscow; and through a similar error, the Russian army suffered considerably last autumn, by attempting to keep the field in the low plains of Bulgaria, after the rains had set in.

The facility of communication between the various points of a province, ought to form a very essential consideration in its administrative jurisdiction ; whether civil, military, judiciary, or ecclesiastical. The central seat of authority ought to be, as much as possible, at equal travelling distances from the extreme points. Our author observes, that the French, in their organization of foreign countries annexed to the empire, often erred in this particular from want of local knowledge; they often fixed the chef lieu of a department or district, in a spot too remote from the mass of the popula. tion. It is not geometrical distance alone that ought to regulate the position of capitals, but the relative distance from market towns, the direction and intersection of the principal roads, and the level or mountainous surface of the land.

It seems an unquestionable fact, that the shape of a country influences the political destinies of its inhabitants. Of this, the Italian peninsula affords a striking evidence. Long and narrow, with an immense line of coasts, it is vulnerable on innumerable points from the sea ; whilst, on the land side, the line of defence formed by the Alps, is rendered weak by the crescent form of the range of mountains, affording numerous passes to an invader. Again, the disproportionate length of the peninsula, intersected throughout by the Apennines, is an obstacle to its unity, by preventing the formation of a common central capital. If Italy were shorter and broader, its strength of adhesion would be much greater.

Rivers are a much less durable and secure line of frontier, than mountains. One of the advantages of the latter is derived from the principle, that the social and commercial relations of nations generally follow the direction of the waters that flow from either side of a chain, Thence similarity of interest, sympathy, and mutual defence.

The temperature or climate of a country, may be the result of the following causes : latitude , elevation of the soil, situation with regard to some great chain of mountains, configuration of the surface of the land, nature of the soil, volume of the water, whether of rivers or lakes, insular situation, action of prevailing winds, state of the population, and agriculture. The effects of the latitude aré often modified or counteracted by the other circumstances just mentioned ; and it was from ignorance or neglect of this truth, that the ancients fancied the torrid zone to be uninhabitable. Bogota, Quito, and other places in South America, enjoy a temperate climate; while many valleys in Switzerland, and even in much higher latitudes, are exposed in summer to an almost tropical heat. The clime of Tripolizza, in the Morea, is cold and foggy; while the plain of Argos, at one day's distance, is parched by an ardent sun. The eastern parts of Europe; the plains of Poland ; the Steppes of Southern Russia, exposed to the cold winds from the frozen Arctic regions, or from the high bleak plateau of Tartary, are subject to a much greater severity of winter, than countries in a parallel latitude in the west of Europe. On the other side, the effects of the hot and suffocating scirocco, on the otherwise temperate regions of Italy and Spain, are too well known to require illustration.

The temperature of peculiar districts may be materially affected, in course of time, by local circumstances, such as the increase or decrease of population, and, consequently, of fires; by the cutting down of forests; the draining of marshes; by volcanic agents, &c. It seems proved, that the climate of Rome was colder and healthier in the times of Horace and of Juvenal, than it is at present. But, in general, the average temperature of countries and towns in a given number of years is not found to alter considerably.

The knowledge of atmospheric topography, as our author calls it, is essential to the good administration of colleges, hospitals, prisons, and barracks; to the establishment of police regulations and sanitary laws: it is important to the physician, the architect, the traveller, the soldier, the merchant. Were mercantile men better acquainted with the climate of distant countries, they would avoid ruinous speculations and expensive blunders; such as sending consignments of stoves and thick woollen cloths to South America, and even skates to Buenos Ayres. The want of knowledge of localities has also occasioned fatal mistakes in the miaing speculations of Englishmen with South America. Steam-engines have been sent to be worked in places alınost inaccessible, and where there was no fuel to put them in motion.

In treating of the atmosphere, Gioia refers to the observations by the hygrometer, which he considers as the best criterion of the salubrity of a country. Not only the quantity of rain, but also the average number of rainy days, ought to be taken into consideration.

er the head of hydrography we notice the following remarks: “Many rivers raise their own bed by the deposition of the soil they carry along, especially if restrained by dykes. It is owing to this progress that the level of the water of the Po has become higher than the roofs of the houses of the city of Ferrara. The mud which rivers discharge at their mouths, assisted by the action of the winds, slowly encroaches upon the sea. Ravenna, under the Roman empire, was a maritime city; it stood in the midst of Lagoons, like Venice now, while at present Ravenna is three miles inland. The same will happen to Venice, unless the continued efforts of man prevents it.”

The velocity of a current affords a facility for exportation from the upper banks, and a corresponding difficulty and delay in the importa

tion of returns. This may be now, however, counteracted by the power of steam.

The quantity of water which issues out of the emissary of a marshy tract, if compared to the quantity of rain, will show whether there exists any internal influx of water; and will serve in the direction of the works for draining and recovering the land.

In the second part our author treats of population, of the influence of topographical causes on the forms and size of the people, on their temperament and habits, on longevity, and on the periods of puberty and of senility. In some mountainous and poor regions the young men migrate at the approach of winter, to seek employment in the towns of the neighbouring countries; and return home in the spring, when their own fields are free from snow. This is a regular practice in several of the high valleys of the Alps, on the Italian and Savoy sides. Speaking of the comparative density of the population, our author observes, that from the proportion of deaths, inferences may be drawn concerning the wisdom of the institutions and the comforts of the people. The mortality in different trades and professions should be separately considered, in order to ascertain the effects of each on the human frame. With regard to marriages, it appears that they are most numerous in unwholesome countries; but then a great proportion of these alliances are contracted by widowers and widows.

In the old continental states, the population employed in agriculture undergoes little numerical variation, except when a new method of cultivation is introduced, which increases the quantity of the produce.

It is generally supposed that northern people are stronger than those of the southern countries. This, however, is not universally true. The Fellahs of Egypt, some of the black races, the Indians employed in the mines of South America, and even the common porters of the maritime towns of Italy, carry with ease burdens which few Englishmen would attempt to lift.

Our author proceeds to treat of the various produce of countries, game, fisheries, mines, &c. In speaking of fisheries, he notices a frequent error of legislation, through which enactments are made against the destruction of fish, as if the spawning season were the same on the different coasts of the same country; while the fact is, that the epoch varies in consequence of local or topographical influences.

The important chapter of agriculture follows, in which Gioia notices those agrarian facts which are invariable, or nearly so, in each respective country, because they result from climate and the nature of the soil, and which might be therefore called statistical axioms. Certain countries will never rear certain plants in the open air. Particular plants will also grow to better perfection in some districts than in others. Here, our author observes that improvement in the methods of cultivation can do much; but that experience has till now shown, that of all the arts agriculture is perhaps the one whose progress is slowest. The adoption of new methods in husbandry in Europe has been calculated by some to

spread in the ratio of one league in ten years. Although such an assere tion appears somewhat hazarded, yet our author thinks it not far from truth.

The arts and industry of each country are considered by Gioia as influenced by the following causes : abundance or scarcity of prime materials-excessive heat or cold-prosperity or misery of the inhabitants—civil and religious habits of the people. He then treats of governments, of laws, and institutions ; of the greater or less facility of improvement, in consequence of statistical influences; and, lastly, he examines the habits of the different nations and races, which he classes in intellectual, economical, moral, and religious habits, noticing their various degrees of tenacity and duration. All these subjects are illustrated with copious and interesting facts and phenomena.

“The result of all this,” and we conclude with our author, “is that the chief elements or principles of the statistical science are distinguishable into two classes—the first consisting of invariable prin. ciples, which are mostly deduced from topographical causes over which man has little or no control—the second, of facts which are subject to change; some after a period of several generations, others in a lesser space of time. To this second class belong the vicissitudes of population, those in the arts and commerce, and in the habits of men. From these variable quantities we can deduce middle ones, applicable to the existing generation. The principles of statistics ought to be distinguished from annual tables and documents, which are useful only by comparison with the former. The economical description of a nation cannot be restricted within a few pages, containing lists of births, deaths, marriages, and other detached facts, which serve only to satisfy curiosity for a moment, and from which no lasting and useful inference can be drawn. Models of statistical reports, framed on a more intelligent plan, begin to be adopted now in France in the various departments; they were executed in the kingdom of Italy as early as 1808. That kingdom would have been the first to have its statistics complete, had the minister of the day known how to appreciate the utility of the undertaking."

In addition, we may mention the following Works that have lately appeared on the Continent upon the same subject. • Statistics and National Economy, or Materials for the Statistics of Europe, by Baron de Mascus, Stutgard, 1826.' History of Statistics from its origin to the end of the Eighteenth Century, by A. Quadri, Secretary to the Imperial Government, Venice, 1826. A Dictionary of European Statistics, by Dr. Lanzani, Padua, 1826.' "Topographical

, and Statistical Description of the Province of Pomerania, by M. de Reslorf, Berlin, 1827. Notices on the Public Economy of the Prussian States, by M. de Krug, Councillor of State. Berlin, 1826.',

[ocr errors]

THE CATHOLIC QUESTION.

When, in February, we took a brief view of the state and prospects of this country, as regards its connexion with Ireland, we said that the nation would watch with intense anxiety the first demonstrations of opinion on the part of its Ministers,—that a crisis was approaching such as had never before awakened the hopes and fears of the enlightened portion of the community,—that the mingled prayers and denunciations of a whole people must at last be either listened to or silenced. In what manner the struggle between intolerance and liberality would be carried on, it was difficult to guess; how it would close, it was vain to anticipate. It was possible that after another session of animosity and recrimination, we might once more have the Commons at variance with the Lords, and the Cabinet divided against itself; the Church in ill-omened triumph, and Ireland in open rebellion. It was possible that the members of administration, unable to maintain their ground against an opposition comprising in its ranks, with a solitary exception, all the influential members of the House of Commons, and supported without the walls of parliament by an almost unprecedented unanimity of sentiment among the educated classes, might surrender their situations to successors who, with the most upright intentions, and the clearest views, had yet been found, from their lack of concert, and their disregard of those things which compose mere party strength, powerless to effect reform or remedy abuse. It was possible again that those individuals, in whom error had grown with their growth, and strengthened with their strength, might retire from their official stations; and that those who could with less inconsistency be right, might join with the leaders of the liberal party in the introduction of a measure of great and necessary justice.

If we called the crisis a momentous one, the events of a few days certainly confirmed and justified our expressions. If the conjectures of the public mind were various and many, assuredly the wildest of them never shaped out for Destiny so marvellous a course as that by which she is proceeding.

His Majesty recommends to his parliament to take into consideration the civil disabilities under which his Catholic subjects labour, with a view to their removal or relaxation : and a bill for Catholic Emancipation is accordingly to be introduced to the House of Lords by the Duke of Wellington, and to the House of Commons by Mr. Peel; it is to be sanctioned by all the authority of Government, and supported by all the influence of the Crown. “Oh day and night, but this is wondrous strange!" Now, indeed, nothing shall henceforth surprise us. We will expect honesty from a Greek, humility from a Spaniard, generosity from a Jew. We will dream of water springing from the dry rocks, and herbage blooming on the barren sands. In process of time, if no untoward event check the advance of this blessed reformation, even Winchilsea may grow moderate--even Knatchbull may become enlightened.

Seriously, however, we rejoice most heartily in a victory which, by whatever arms achieved, is at once rightful, certain, and immediate.

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »