Page images
PDF
EPUB

United States (state of

New Jersey) . . = 300 : 100 The data which we have taken for the proportion of the births to the deaths. and of both to the whole population, prove that if the order of nature were not inverted from time to time by some ext: aordinary cause, the populition of New Spain would double every nineteen years *. In a period of ten years it should have augmented 447. In the United States we have seen the population double, since 1784, every twenty or twenty-three years. The curious tables published by Mr. Samuel Blodget in his Statistical Manual for the United States of America (1806), show that in some states this l'appy cycle is only thirteen or fourteen years. In France the p pulation would double in the space of 214 years, if no war or no contagious disease were to diminish the annual ex. cedent of the births. Such is the difference between countries already very populous, and those which have yet but a nascent industry.

* Let p represent the actual population of a country, n the proportion of the population to the births, d the proportion of the deaths to the births, and k the number of years at the end of which it is wished to estimate the population, we shall have the state of the population at the epoqua k, expressed by p (1 + n(1 - d))*; so that if we would know in how many years the population doubles, this number of years k will be

log. 2 expressed by k = Tog. (1 +n (1 — «))

S.

The only true sign of a real and permanent increase of population is an increase in the means of subsistence. This increase, this augmentation of the produce of agriculture, is evident in Mexico; and appears even to indicate a much more rapid progress of population than has been supposed, in deducing the population of 1803 from the imperfect enumeration of 1793. In a catholic country, the ecclesiastical tenths are, as it were, the thermometer by which we may judge of the state of agriculture; and these tenths, as we shall after. wards state, have doubled in less than 24 years.

All these considerations suffice to prove that in admitting 5,800,000 inhabitants for the kingdom of Mexico at the end of the year 1803, I have taken a number, which, far from being exaggerated, is probably much below the existing population. No public calamity has afflicted the country since the enumeration of 1793. If we add, Ist, a tenth for the individuals not included in the enumeration, and 2d, two tenths for the progress of population in ten years, we suppose an excess of births which is less by one half than the result of the parish registers. According to this supposition the number of inhabitants would double every 36 or 40 years. Yet well informed persons who have attentively observed the progress of agriculture, increase of villages and cities, and the augmentation of all the revenues of the crown depending on the consumption of commodities, are

[ocr errors]

tempted to believe that the population of Mexico has made a much more rapid progress. I am far from pronouncing on so delicate a matter : it is enough for me to have exhibited a detail of the materials hitherto collected, which may lead to accurate results. I consider it as extremely probable, that the population of Mexico in 1808 exceeds 6,500,00. In the Russian empire, of which the political and moral state bears, in many respects, a strong analogy to the country we are describing, the increase of population from the excess of births is much more rapid than what we admit for Mexico. According to the statistical work of M. llerman, the enumeration of 1763 gave 14,726,000 souls. The result of that made in 1783 was nearly 25,677,000; and the total population of Russia in 1805 was estimated at 40,000,000. Yet what obstacles does not nature oppose to the progress of population in the most northern parts of Europe and Asia! And what a contrast between the fertility of the Mexican soil, enriched with the most precious vegetable productions of the torrid zone, and the sterility of plains for more than half the year buried under ice and snow.

as

CHAPTER V.

Halalies which periodically arrest the progress of population.

Small-por, natural and inoculated.-Cow-pox.-Matlazahuatl. -Fumine.---Health of miners.

S.

It remains for us to examine into the physical causes which almost periodically arrest the progress of Mexican population. These causes are the small-pox, the cruel malady called by the In. dians Matlacahuatl, and especially famine, of which the effects are felt for a long time.

The small-pox, introduced since 1520, appears only to exercise its ravages every seventeen or eighteen years. In the equinoxial regions it has, like the black vomiting and several other diseases, its fixed periods, to which it is very regularly subjected. We might say that in these countries the disposition for certain miasmata is only renewed in the natives at long intervals; for though the vessels from Europe frequently introduce the germ of the small-pox, it never becomes epidemical but after very marked intervals ; a sin. gular circumstance, which renders the disease so much the more dangerous for adults. The smallpox committed terrible ravages in 1763, and especially in 1779, in which year it carried off in the capital of Mexico alone more than nine

VOL. I.

thousand persons. Every evening tumbrels passed through the streets to receive the corpses, as at Philadelphia during the yellow fever. A great part of the Mexican youth was cut down that year.

The epidemic of 1797 was less destructive, chiefly owing to the zeal with which inoculation was propagated in the environs of Mexico, and in the bishopric of Mechoachan. In the capital of this bishopric the city of Valladolid, of 6800 in. dividuals inoculated only 170, or 24 per cent. died; and we must also observe, that several of those who perished were inoculated at a time when they were probably already infected in the natural manner. Fifteen in the hundred died of individuals of all ages, who without being inoculated were victims of the natural small.pox. Several individuals, particularly among the clergy, displayed at that period a very praiseworthy patriotism, in arresting the progress of the disease by inoculation. I shall merely mention the names of two enlightened men, M. de Reaño, intendant of Guanxuato, and Don Manuel Abad, penitentiary canon of the cathedral of Valladolid, whose generous and disintere ted views were constantly directed towards the public good. There were then inoculated in the kingdom between 50 and 60,000 individuals.

But in the month of January 1801, the vaccine. inoculation was even introduced at Mexico through the activity of a respectable citizen, Don Thomas

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »