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No. 200 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

It is generally observed, That in Countries of the greatest Plenty there is the poorest Living; like the Schoolmen’s Ass, in one of my Speculations, the People almost starve between two Meals. The Truth is, the Poor, which are the Bulk of the Nation, work only that they may live; and if with two Days Labour they can get a wretched Subsistence for a Week, they will hardly be brought to work the other four: But then with the Wages of two Days they can neither pay such Prices for their Provisions, nor such Excises to the Government.

That paradox therefore in old Hesiod [[Greek: pleon hemisu pantos], [3]] or Half is more than the Whole, is very applicable to the present Case; since nothing is more true in political Arithmetick, than that the same People with half a Country is more valuable than with the Whole. I begin to think there was nothing absurd in Sir W. Petty, when he fancied if all the Highlands of Scotland and the whole Kingdom of Ireland were sunk in the Ocean, so that the People were all saved and brought into the Lowlands of Great Britain; nay, though they were to be reimburst the Value of their Estates by the Body of the People, yet both the Sovereign and the Subjects in general would be enriched by the very Loss. [4]

If the People only make the Riches, the Father of ten Children is a greater Benefactor to his Country, than he who has added to it 10000 Acres of Land and no People. It is certain Lewis has join’d vast Tracts of Land to his Dominions: But if Philarithmus says true, that he is not now Master of so many Subjects as before; we may then account for his not being able to bring such mighty Armies into the Field, and for their being neither so well fed, nor cloathed, nor paid as formerly. The Reason is plain, Lewis must needs have been impoverished not only by his Loss of Subjects, but by his Acquisition of Lands.


[Footnote 1: Or Henry Martyn.]

[Footnote 2: In No. 180.]

[Footnote 3: [Greek: pleon haemisi panta]]

[Footnote 4: A new edition of Sir W. Petty’s ‘Essays in Political Arithmetic’ had just appeared.]