52. To refute lies is not, at present, my business; but it is my business to give you, in as small a compass as possible, one striking proof that they are lies; and thereby to put you well upon your guard for the whole of the rest of your life. The opinion sedulously inculcated by these ‘historians’ is this; that, before the Protestant times came, England was, comparatively, an insignificant country, having few people in it, and those few wretchedly poor and miserable. Now, take the following undeniable facts. All the parishes in England are now (except where they have been united, and two, three, or four, have been made into one) in point of size, what they were a thousand years ago. The county of Norfolk is the best cultivated of any one in England. This county has now 731 parishes; and the number was formerly greater. Of these parishes 22 have now no churches at all; 74 contain less than 100 souls each: and 268 have no parsonage-houses. Now, observe, every parish had, in old times, a church and a parsonage-house. The county contains 2,092 square miles; that is to say, something less than 3 square miles to each parish, and that is 1,920 statute acres of land; and the size of each parish is, on an average, that of a piece of ground about one mile and a half each way; so that the churches are, even now, on an average, only about a mile and a half from each other. Now, the questions for you to put to yourself are these: Were churches formerly built and kept up without being wanted, and especially by a poor and miserable people? Did these miserable people build 74 churches out of 731, each of which 74 had not a hundred souls belonging to it? Is it a sign of an augmented population, that 22 churches out of 731 have tumbled down and been effaced? Was it a country thinly inhabited by miserable people that could build and keep a church in every piece of ground a mile and a half each way, besides having, in this same county, 77 monastic establishments and 142 free chapels? Is it a sign of augmented population, ease and plenty, that, out of 731 parishes, 268 have suffered the parsonage houses to fall into ruins, and their sites to become patches of nettles and of brambles? Put these questions calmly to yourself: common sense will dictate the answers; and truth will call for an expression of your indignation against the lying historians and the still more lying population-mongers.
TO A YOUNG MAN
53. In the foregoing Letter, I have given my advice to a Youth. In addressing myself to you, I am to presume that you have entered upon your present stage of life, having acted upon the precepts contained in that letter; and that, of course, you are a sober, abstinent, industrious and well-informed young man. In the succeeding letters, which will be addressed to the Lover, the Husband, the Father and the Citizen, I shall, of course, have to include my notion of your duties as a master, and as a person employed by another. In the present letter, therefore, I shall confine myself principally to the conduct of a young man with regard to the management of his means, or money.