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down, that parishes were united, in more than two thousand instances, and when we know from the returns now before Parliament, that, out of 11,761 parishes, in England and Wales, there are upwards of a thousand which do not contain a hundred persons each, men, women, and children. Then again, the size of the churches. They were manifestly built, in general, to hold three, four, five, or ten times the number of their present parishioners, including all the sectarians. What should men have built such large churches for ? told of their “piety and zeal”; yes, but there must have been men to raise the buildings. The Lord might favor the work; but there must have been hands as well as prayers. And, what motive could there have been for putting together such large quantities of stone and mortar, and to make walls four feet thick, and towers and steeple, if there had not been people to fill the buildings ? And how could the labor have been performed ? There must have been men to perform the labor; and, can any one believe, that this labor would have been performed, if there had not been a necessity for it? We now see large and most costly ancient churches, and these in great numbers too, with only a few mud-huts to hold the thirty or a hundred of parishioners. Our forefathers built forever, little thinking of the devastation that we were to behold! Next come the lands, which they cultivated, and which we do not, amounting to millions of acres. This any one may verify, who will go into Sussex, Hampshire, Dorsetshire, Devonshire, and Cornwall. They grew corn on the sides of hills, which we now never attempt to stir. They made the hill into the form of steps of a stairs, in order to plough and sow the flat parts. These flats, or steps, still remain, and are, in some cases, still cultivated; but, in nine cases out of ten, they are not. Why should they have performed this prodigious labor, if they had not had mouths to eat the corn? And how could they have performed such labor without numerous hands? On the high lands of Hampshire and Dorsetshire, there are spots of a thousand acres together, which still bear the ineffaceable marks of the plough, and which now never feel that implement. The modern writings on the subject of ancient population are mere romances; or they have been put forth with a view of paying court to the government of the day. George Chalmers, a placeman, a pensioner, and a Scotchman, has been one of the most conspicuous in this species of deception. He, in what he calls an "Estimate," states the population of England and Wales, in 1377,
at 2,092,978. The half of these were, of course, females. The males, then, were 1,046,486.
The children, the aged, the infirm, the sick, made a half of these ; so that there were 523,243 left of able-bodied men in this whole kingdom! Now, the churches and the religious houses amounted, at that time, to upwards of 16,000 in number. There was one Priest to every church, and these Priests, together with the Monks and Friars, must have amounted to about 40,000 able men, leaving 483,243 able men. So that, as there were more than 14,000 parish churches, there were not quite twelve able-bodied men to each! Hume says, vol. iii., p. 9, that Wat Tyler had, in 1381 (four years after Chalmers' date), “a hundred thousand men assembled on Blackheath"; so that, to say nothing of the numerous bodies of insurgents, assembled, at the same time, “in Hertford, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, and Lincoln”; 'to say nothing of the King's army of 40,000 (Hume, vol. iii., p. 8); and, to say nothing of all the nobility, gentry, and rich people, here Wat Tyler had got together, on Blackheath, more than one-fifth of all the able-bodied men in England and Wales ! And he had, too, collected them together in the space of about six days. Do we want, can we want, anything more than this, in answer, in refutation of these writers
on the ancient population of the country? Let it be observed, that, in these days there were, as Hume himself relates, and his authorities relate also, frequently 100,000 pilgrims at a time assembled at Canterbury, to do penance, or make offerings at the shrine of Thomas à Becket. There must, then, have been 50,000 men here at once; so that, if we were to believe this pensioned Scotch writer, we must believe that more than a tenth of all the able-bodied men of England and Wales were frequently assembled, at one and the same time, in one city, in an extreme corner of the island, to kneel at the tomb of one single saint. Monstrous lie! And yet it has been sucked down by “enlightened Protestants,” as if it had been a part of the Gospel. But, if Canterbury could give entertainment to 100,000 strangers at a time, what must Canterbury itself have heen ? A grand, a noble, a renowned city it was, venerated, and even visited, by no small part of the Kings, Princes, and Nobles of all Europe. It is now a beggarly, gloomy-looking town, with about 12,000 inhabitants, and, as the public accounts say, with 3,000 of those inhabitants paupers, and with a part of the site of its ancient and splendid churches, convents, and streets, covered with barracks, the Cathedral only remaining, for the purpose, as it were, of
keeping the people in mind of the height from which they have fallen. The best criterion of the population is, however, to be found in the number and size of the churches, and that of the religious houses. There was one parish church to every four square miles, throughout the kingdom ; and one religious house (including all the kinds) to every thirty square miles. That is to say, one parish church to every piece of land two miles each way; and one religious house to every piece of land five miles long and six miles wide. These are facts that nobody can deny. The geography tells us the number of square miles in the country, and as to the number of parishes and religious houses, it is too well known to admit of dispute, being recorded in books without number. Well, then, if the father of lies himself were to come, and endeavor to persuade us that England was not more populous before the “Reformation” than it is now, he must fail with all but downright idiots. The same may be said with regard to Ireland, where there were, according to Archdall, 742 religious houses in the reign of Henry VIII. ; and, of course, one of these to every piece of land six miles each way; and where there was a parish church to every piece of land a little more than two miles and a half each way. Why these