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ART. XI.-A Familiar Treatise on Life Assurances and Annuities, com
prising a Historical Sketch of the Science, and of Life Assurance Offices, &c.; to which are appended Original Tables of the Probabilities and Expectations of Life in the City of Bristol. By Robert Rankin, Secretary to the Bristol Union Fire and Life Insurance Com. pany. 8vo. pp. 99. London : Simpkin and Marshall—and Bristol :
W. Browne. 1830, If we mistake not, the profound views and the logical precision which distinguish the present dissertation on a subject of the most vital interest, will obtain for it universal attention. It is not as a mere actuary, expert in the science of Arithmetic, and supple in the evolutions of Algebra, that Mr. Rankin comes before the public. His work will, we have no doubt, be allowed to be capable of
. serving far more exalted purposes than the schemes of the counting-house. His reasonings and his suggestions--his researches, too, though conducted on a limited scale--are worthy of the consideration of the statesman and the philosopher, as guiding them to a knowledge of the true principles of population. To general readers this unpretending volume offers a clear and intelligible account of the abstruse elements of a science, which, however desirable to be known, have been hitherto far too forbidding in their aspect to invite popular attention. Mr. Rankin avows this to be one of the leading objects of his publication, as he is persuaded that the more extended an acquaintance with the subject becomes, the greater will be the co-operation of the public towards maturing a science which, as yet, has only approximated to perfection.
Mr. Rankin has, with great perspicuity, gone through the various problems that constitute what may be called the mathematical basis of the science of Life Assurances; shewing how important it is that those principles should have the most authentic statistical details for their application. This part of the work we think of extreme interest. The calculations proceed upon the assumption of the correctness of certain data, and therefore it becomes a matter of the first consequence to trace the minute history of the manner in which those data are supplied. Weguess at the probability of particular persons living to a given age, by referring to the average number of persons in similar circumstances who have survived that
be obtained but on the observation and authority of perhaps numerous individuals ? Mr. Rankin points out some of the errors of the common modes of calculating the rate of mortality, and says, that until some general standard is adopted, there is no great encouragement to any person to calculate or publish tables.
Of all the principal tables of mortality which we possess, Mr. Rankin believes that only four, namely, Deparcieux’s, the Swedish, the Carlisle observations, and possibly Kerseboom's, present
any thing like satisfactory data, and even these only approximate to the point of certainty. The opinions of this gentleman, as to the constituents of a proper standard, merit attention.
• The most satisfactory and authoritative table of mortality, would evidently be, one actually compiled from observations extending to the whole population of the country; and the best means of compiling and verifying such a table, would be, by taking the results of a general registry of births and deaths, and comparing them with the enumerations and returns of ages under the population act.
* The baptisnis and burials which the parish registers record, are known to be much inferior to the number of births and deaths which the kingdom furnishes; but the amount of the deficiency is quite unascertained, and so vaguely conjectured that I will not hazard an estimate; I will barely mention, that if the sum of registered baptisms from 1801 to 1810 inclusive, according to the parliamentary returns, be added to the resident population of 1801, and the sum of the registered burials during the same period be deducted, the result will fall short of the ascertained resident population of 1811 by 348,918; though the number employed in naval and military occupations had been greatly increased out of the former population, and the inultitudes who perished by the sea and the sword in the interval, replaced.
- The plan of a general registry, was in the year 1824 brought before the House of Commons by a Mr. Kemp, but was not matured.
If such a measure could be accomplished without any burdensome regulations, it would be an important benefit to the country in other respects than that of science: it is to be hoped, therefore, that the suggestion of Mr. Kemp will be renewed in parliament, and the measure be adopted by the legislature.
' I cannot close this chapter more appropriately than with the following sensible remarks in the Edinburgh Review of March 1829, which bear immediately on the subject before us.'---pp. 39, 40.
In his remarks on the practical application of the science, Mr. Rankin gives some very curious historical details of Life Assurance Offices; and then he proceeds to consider some very striking phenomena that are observed in the rate of mortality at different ages.
He carries his inquiries to the minutest point of the subject, and incontestably shows how difficult it is to arrive at a settled standard, except by means of the most persevering industry, and the most vigilant and judicious observation. His concluding remarks are very just and striking.
"The connexion of the science with political economy, must immediately strike every one; its bearing on the subject of population has been anticipated, but there is one important point of view in which it remains to be considered. “ The number of the population--the balance of trade--the wages
of labour--and, more recently and ably, the profits of stock, have been held forth by their respective advocates as tests of national prosperity ; but perhaps the duration of human life is a still better barometer than any of the foregoing, for measuring the sum total of enjoyment attained by the bulk of a people at diffent periods.
"It does not seem properly to be applicable to the comparison of different
nations with each other; for there may exist, and in most cases probably does exist, a permanent difference in bodily constitution, but an ascertained increase or diminution in the mortality of the same nation, must certainly be attributed to a variation in the quantity of physical suffering to which the inhabitants are exposed, either immediately or through the well known influence of the mind over the body.
We may therefore indulge a hope, that notwithstanding the severe trials to which the poorer clases have been at times exposed, and the reduced value of that labour which is their only wealth, their share of comfort has, upon the whole, received some addition, though apparently not commensurate with the exertions wbich have been made purposely to promote it, and the general advancement of the arts which might be expected indirectly to contribute to it; yet, if good has been visibly done, and evil still more conspicuously prevented, it is a proof of the efficacy of human exertions, which ought to weigh with the legislature, as well as with the private philanthropist.
* The lives, as well as the happiness of our fellow-creatures, may be increased through human instrumentality; and among the most important of the means are, the abolition of all impediments to industry, the encouragement of persevering economy by appropriate institutions, and that portion of education which will enable the poor to discern and pursue their true interest, generate in them habits of self-restraint, and qualify them for bearing prosperity with moderation, and adversity with fortitude.'--pp. 68–71.
The tables which accompany this Treatise, seem to us of very great value : along with having the qualities of use for the learned, they possess some points of interest for the gratification of the
We pretend to do no more than indicate the contents of this volume, as, perhaps, we shall have an opportunity in our next number of showing with better effect the importance of some of Mr. Rankin's views. In the meantime, we recommend this work with the fullest confidence that we shall obtain the gratitude of those who are induced to read it on our advice.
Art. XII.-On Commercial Economy. In Six Essays. By E. S. Cayley,
Esq. 8vo. pp. 266. London: Ridgway. 1830. Mr. CAYLEY, in this volume, considers the whole commercial economy of this country under six branches--viz. Machinery, Accumulation of Capital, Production, Consumption, Currency, and Free Trade. "To each branch, we must admit that he brings a great deal of knowledge; but we fear, also, some of the stubborn prejudices that form part of the tillage of every agricultural gentleman. Hence he, with the greatest facility, has satisfied himself of the truth of these propositions--namely, that we have a great deal too much machinery, and that not only have we more productions than we want, but that the average rate of consumption is on the decrease. But there is infinitely more practical sense in his facts and reasonings than there is in his remedies, which appear to us to consist of rather a fantastical combination. The first and principal (it would seem) measure which he begs of Parliament to adopt, is a sudden depreciation of the standard of the precious metals,-silver to 8s. 6d. the oz., and gold to 61. the oz. The supplemental remedies are, to gradually abolish the poor laws; to tax the marriages of the poor, allowing free marriages only where the united ages of the parties amounted to seventy or eighty years (!); to make experiments for preserving corn—in siloes (!!); to lay new taxes on Ireland, and prevent the importation of her agricultural produce into England. That such treatment as this would effect a radical cure of most of the little ailments with which this nation is troubled, we should be very bold indeed to deny. It would certainly be a sovereign remedy, but somewhat in the way that decapitation is a powerful specific for the tooth-ache.
Art. XIII.-L'Istronomie, Poeme en Six Chants. Par P. Daru, de l'Aca
demie Francaise. 8vo. pp. 300. Paris : Didot. 1830. ALTHOUGH for a long time we in England have been accustomed to the “ Music of the Spheres,” and to “ heavenly harmonies, and so forth, yet we never imagined certainly such an anomaly as “ Astronomy, a Poem!"
a French ingenuity is alone equal to such a conceit. The author is the late Count Daru, and this is a posthumous publication, edited and sent forth to the world under the pious superintendence of his son. A stroke of the true gallic pathos is to be found in the private history of this poem ; it was revised by the Count dans ses derniers momens ! An Invocation, according to the Homeric example, opens the solemn scene, which is followed by an exposition of the system of the universe--the supposed formation of the planets, and the laws of light, including the phenomena of refraction. After noticing a variety of collateral matters, the author closes the first canto with a very happy passage on Astrology. The antient state of Astronomy is next depicted—and the achievements of Thales, Pythagoras, Pytheas, Plato, and Aristotle, &c. are duly commemorated. The author then traces the history of astronomy down to our own times, and adequately praises the chief lights of the science to Newton inclusive. The last of the six cantos is devoted to the moon and earth--to comets and clouds--and the description of the measurement of an arch of the meridian.
ART. XIV.— The Book of the Priesthood. An Argument in Three Parts.
By Thomas Stratten. 8vo. pp. 320. London: Holdsworth and Ball.
1830. An examination of the history and nature of Christianity seems to have satisfied Mr. Stratten that the existence of a hierarchy, or priesthood, such as the Roman Catholic, or that of the Established Church, is in contradiction to the spirit of the Founder of that great and beneficent institution. We do not propose to follow the gentleman's arguments, as such a course would divert us from the proper objects of this Journal. We can only say, that widely differing from his conclusions, we are impressed with every degree of respect for the motives which induce him to appear before the public, and as his advocacy of his peculiar cause involves no violations of charity, or of decorum, and as he writes under the conviction that it is possible for him to err, we think him entitled to a full and impartial hearing by the world.
ART. XV.--Introduction to the Study of the Greek Classic Poets,
designed principally for the use of Young Persons at School and College. By Henry Nelson Coleridge. Part 1. 8vo.
London: Murray. 1830. The execution of this work, so far as it goes, is as excellent as the object of it is admirable. The man who amidst the toils and troubles of a profession, the least calculated for the cultivation of fancy and feeling, can find time to plunge occasionally into the refreshing recollections of his youth, and luxuriate over the happy hours which he spent when a boy in elevated communion with all the great master minds of ancient literature, gives, we think, the most undeniable pledge of his capacity fully to appreciate their beauties, and to imbue others with the same power. The volume before us is the first of a series, in which Mr. Coleridge proposes to lay before the scholar such information and advice as will help him to form a due estimate of the peculiar merits of the Greek poets, and thereby to guide him to a knowledge of those elements which constitute the tri standard of perfection in writing. Never was enthusiasm more happily regulated by good taste, than in the composition before us, which, in unfolding the principles that secured to the Greek poets an enduring fame, becomes itself no mean example of the excellence it draws.
We do not envy the man whose course of education has opened to him the stores of Greek and Roman literature, who does not thrill with sympathy as he reads the follawing eloquent passage, descriptive of that holiest enjoyment which a scholar only can know :
* He has not failed, in the sweet and silent studies of his youth, to drink deep at those sacred fountains of all that is just and beautiful in human language. The thoughts and the words of the master spirits of Greece and Rome are inseparably blended in his memory: a sense of their marvellous harmonies, their exquisite fitness, their consummate polish has sunken for ever in his heart, and thence thrown out light and fragrancy upon the gloom and the annoyances of his maturer years. No avocations of professional labour will make him abandon their wholesome study; in the midst of a thousand cares lie will find an hour to recur to his boyish lessons: to re-peruse them in the pleasureable consciousness of old associations, and in the clearness of manly judgment, and to apply them to himself and to the world with superior profit. The more extended his sphere of learning in the literature of modern Europe, the more deeply, though the more widely, will he reverence that of classical antiquity. -pp. 35, 36.
ART. XVI.- The Christian Expositor : or Practical Guide to the Study
of the New Testament. Intended for the use of general readers. By
the Rev. George Holden, M.A. 8vo. pp. 660. As a practical expositor of the New Testament, convenient for ready and we may add satisfactory reference, this is one of the most useful works that has for some time appeared connected with biblical literature. Mr. Holden, like a man of sense, gives us instead of philology-the results of philology-two exceedingly distinct things—and such words and passages