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The office of infpector-general of imports and exports for Scotland, was established only in 1755. And no diligence could procure authentic details of the Scots commerce from any other fource of genuine information. The blank, which appears in the preceding period, as to the Scots traffic, fufficiently demonftrates, that imperfect evidence, with regard to an important fubject, is preferable to none; as the glimmerings of the fainteft dawn is more invigorating than the gloom of total opacity. Connected accounts of the fhipping of Scotland cannot be given before 1759; because it is only from this year, that they have been regularly entered at the Custom-house, at leaft conftantly kept. In respect to these, the same allowance must be made for repeated voyages, and the fame augmentation for the real burden more than the registered tonnage.

It is not pretended, that the before-mentioned Customhouse books convey the certainty of mathematical demonftration. It is fufficient, that they contain the best evidence which the nature of the cafe admits. They have affuredly the credibility, which belongs to authentic hiftory, though not the conviction, that is fometimes derived from the evidence of the fenfes. He who, in such inquiries, asks for more convincing proofs, ought to be regarded as a person, who, indulging a sceptical mind, delights to walk through the mazes of uncertainty.

The fubject of population is fo intimately connected with every estimate of the ftrength of nations, that the compiler was induced to inquire into the populousness of England, at different periods, from the earliest times to the present. In this difficult difcuffion, men, at once candid and able, have spoken a language, often contradictory


to each other, and fometimes inconfiftent with their own


The Lord Chief Juftice Hale, and Gregory King, in the last century, and Doctor Campbell and Doctor Price, in the present age, maintained opinions directly the reverfe of each other, in respect to the queftion, Whether the people of this ifland have not gradually increased, during every age, or fometimes diminished, amid public convulfions and private mifery. The two firft-the one a great master of the rules of evidence, the other equally skilful in calculation-have agreed in maintaining the affirmative of that queftion. Doctor Campbel has laboured to fhew, that the inhabitants of England diminished in their numbers under the mifrule of feudal fovereigns. And Doctor Price has equally contended, that the people have decreased, fince a happier government was introduced at the Revolu tion, and that they continue to decrease,

It is propofed to review hiftorically the fentiments of each, with design rather to afcertain the authenticity of their facts, than to establish, or overturn, their several fyftems. The candid inquirer may perhaps fee cause for lamenting, in his progrefs, that the learned are fometimes too confident, and the unlettered always too credulous. And he will have an opportunity, as he advances, of liftening to the fentiments of his ancestors, on various topics of legislation, and of observing the condition of different ranks of men, previous to the period, at which THIS ESTIMATE properly begins.


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