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of large towns thus tends to cure itself by the development of a species of centrifugal force. Inhabitants from the centre migrate to the outskirts; those on the outskirts move further away to purely rural districts. When a town is made, it is pleasant for a merchant or a professional man to live near his work; not much more than a generation ago, great lawyers met their clients in consultation at their private residences in the neighbourhood of the Inns of Court, or gave evening appointments at the chambers where they lived as well as worked. Then comes the next stage, when a spacious suburban residence, within easy access to the place of business, becomes the general rule. And then, in a capital like London, which is a city of pleasure as well as of work, comes the day when the successful man wants to combine the pleasures of town and country life, and to have one pied-à-terre in the residential quarters of the town, and another, by way of contrast, in some quite rural district. The need of quiet, fresh air, and the sights and sounds of nature, combines with the ever-increasing value of land in the centre of a town to spread its inhabitants outwards further and further from the important business quarters which supply the motive of the town's growth.
This tendency is abundantly proved by figures. In the twenty years from 1881 to 1901, no fewer than 244 urban districts were created. This means two things. It means that, in classifying population as urban and rural, it must be remembered that 244 urban districts have only just ceased to be nominally rural, and are in fact considerable tracts of country with one or two centres around which population is grouped. In other words, the increase in urban population represented by the transfer of the inhabitants of these districts from one side to the other is nominal, not real. It also indicates that in many cases, whether of recent or of older growth, urban districts are not really towns. In the words of the Registrar-General, ' a considerable number of urban districts, though technically urban, are distinctly rural in character, being in many cases small towns in the midst of agricultural areas on which they are dependent for their maintenance as business centres. At the recent Census (1901) there were as many as 215 urban districts with populations below 3000 ; 211 with populations between 3000 and 5000; and 260 with populations between 5000 and 10,000'-or nearly 700, out of a total of 1122, with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants. Obviously, in none of these districts does town life, in the sense of life in a densely peopled district, exist. In the 260 districts of 10,000 inhabitants there are on the average fewer than 1500 persons to a square mile, whereas in really large towns, those of more than 250,000 people, there are over 18,000, and in the County of London nearly 39,000. So far as the urban population has increased by the addition of urban districts, the result has been merely to spread the population of the country over a wider area, and thus to people rural districts—not to surfeit towns,
Again, the tendency of large towns to expand rather than to thicken is shown by the rate of increase in towns of different sizes. Thus towns of 20,000 inhabitants increase faster than towns of 10,000, but towns of 250,000 increase much less rapidly. Up to the limit of 100,000, the more populous the district the higher the rate of growth, both during the last and the preceding inter-censal decade. But above the limit of 100,000 the greater the population the lower the rate of growth. In the group of towns with populations between 50,000 and 100,000, the rate is 23-2 per cent. But in towns between 100,000 and 250,000 it is only 17-7 per cent. ; in still larger towns it is only 12.1, and in the County of London only 7.3. In the words of the Registrar-General, the figures suggest that 'the slower rate of growth in the larger towns is due to the high degree of density of their population, which would cause an overflow of the population to adjoining areas outside their administrative boundaries.'
The statistics of the growth of London illustrate this process in a very remarkable way. The County of London, formerly the metropolis, is, as we all know, a very wide area extending from Woolwich to Putney, and from Hampstead to Penge. Throughout the last century, until 1881, the population of this area bore a continually increasing proportion to the population of the country at large. Between 1881 and 1891 the proportion for the first time began to fall, and between 1891 and 1901 it fell more rapidly. Thus, while in 1881, 14.75 per cent. of the inhabitants of England and Wales resided in London, in 1901 the proportion was only 13.95. To put the matter in another way, while the rate of increase in the whole country during the last inter-censal decade was 12.2 per cent., in London it was only 7-3. But this diminished rate of increase by no means shows that London is beginning to decline in importance relatively to the rest of the country. It merely shows that London is peopling a wider area. For while in the last decade the County of London only grew by 7.3 per cent., the vast district around it which goes to make up the Metropolitan Police District, or the Greater London of the RegistrarGeneral—an area of some 400 square miles—grew by 45.5 per cent. This district is very roughly described by a radius of fifteen miles round Charing Cross ; it comprises, in addition to the county, no fewer than 149 parishes. It numbered in 1901 over two million inhabitants, and, extending into five counties, might be thought to represent the whole area influenced by London. This, however, is not so. The population of London is now overflowing even this outer ring. The rapidity with which this ring has been peopled is shown by the fact that its inhabitants have doubled in each ten years between 1861 and 1881. In the last ten years of the century the rate of increase abated; it was only just over 45 per cent. But during the same period the whole County of Surrey, the outlying parts of which are perbaps most in favour with London for residence, increased by 25 per
cent. and the rural districts, which are almost entirely outside Greater London, increased by 20 per cent. On the other hand, the ten metropolitan boroughs which, in the view of the Registrar-General, form the central area of London, have been steadily decreasing in population for the last thirty years, while boroughs on the edge of the county, like Wandsworth and Fulham, have been rapidly filling up. Everything points to a movement from the centre towards the nearer suburbs, from the nearer suburbs towards the Outer Ring, and even from the Outer Ring towards parts which, untillately, have been completely rural.
It is not suggested that the set of population from purely agricultural districts has ceased. Even here, indeed, the figures are somewhat reassuring. The population of the purely rural districts of England and Wales—those which contain no urban population, even technically so called-diminished steadily from 1861 to 1891, but increased by nearly 2 per cent. in the subsequent decade. This increase is said to have taken place mainly in a few districts where mining is the principal industry, and there are undoubtedly some counties where there has been an absolute decrease of population both in the rural districts technically so-called and in the rural parts which comprise urban districts of fewer than 10,000 inhabitants. But if rural England and Wales is taken as made up broadly of the whole of these districts, the gain of population during the decade has been no less than 5•28 per cent., a figure which may be contrasted without alarm with the 7 per cent. which represents the growth of the County of London. What all the figures tend to show, and what it is the object of the present paper to suggest, is that England is not becoming a country of huge overcrowded towns, surrounded by deserted fields, but of many centres of life round which is grouped a population spreading over wide areas. The loss in the rural districts, where it occurs, is not counterbalanced by a gain in Whitechapel or the slums of Liverpool, but in suburbs like Wimbledon, small towns like Guildford, and rural places like Hindhead. These are the spots which are absorbing the population which ceases to till the fields. And whatever may be thought of the economic effects of the change, it is erroneous to assume that such a shifting of population tends to a deterioration in the health and physique of the race. For good sanitation, good drainage, good roads, and many other incidents of a growing neighbourhood more than outweigh any deleterious effect from a small increase in human beings and human habitations.
Further, it may be questioned whether this is not the natural mode of growth in such a country as England, and whether it is worth while to fight against it. Everything which artificially depopulates the country should no doubt be resisted. It may be that the system of land tenure in England, which has kept estates in few hands, and sometimes in the hands of those who had not the means of doing their best by the land, has been one cause of stagnation in
purely agricultural quarters. The increased powers which the law now gives of dealing with settled estates have supplied a remedy for the worst abuses of this system, and with the advent of the colossal commercial fortunes of the present day the rage for acquiring territory, and with it social position and power, has probably been tempered; money rather than land is now the great moving power. It may be -it probably is the case—that a certain hopelessness attending the lot of the labourers in a purely farming district, the prospect of a long life of work, with little change or advancement from early youth to old age, and a not improbable dependence at the close on the goodness of relations or the bounty of the State, has sent many a young man from the plough to the railway or the town. The inclosure of commons, which the cottager regarded as more or less his own, and from which he gained many small advantages contributing to make life more pleasant, has probably done something to destroy in the labourer the hereditary affection for his country; and the passion for large farms, which in the best days of agriculture influenced land agents and landowners, no doubt destroyed the ladder by which previously the industrious and clever man sometimes rose from day wages to a small property, and so enhanced the monotony of the country-side. By all means let any of these causes of rural depopulation be removed, and the labourer be won back to the soil by every legitimate means. But when all is said and done, it may be questioned whether England has the same advantages for agriculture as she has for mining, manufactures, and commerce. The farmer has to contend against a sunless and capricious climate. It may be a climate which, as someone has said, allows a man to take outdoor exercise with comfort on a maximum number of days in the year; it is temperate beyond a doubt. But it is deficient in sun, and it is absolutely uncertain; and these drawbacks seriously handicap the farmer, and especially the small farmer, who depends on continually turning over his little capital, and cannot conveniently set off bad years against good. The best intelligence and most persistent industry may find themselves defeated by an unkind turn of the seasons, and the energy and ability which may reckon on success in other pursuits are discouraged by the action of forces beyond control. England's magnificent seaboard, her position as an outpost of Europe, her mineral wealth, and the enterprise and activity of her inhabitants place at her command more certain conquests than those of the soil of this little island, and it is probably the play of economic forces which has in the main led to the gradual application of the energies of her sons to other pursuits than those of agriculture.'
" The advocates of the Garden City movement recognise that for the establishment of a successful colony something more than agriculture is necessary. It is a leading feature of their scheme that manufactures should find their bome amid fields and gardens.
But the land which ceases to be sought after as a productive machine comes into request again as a place of residence. The free interchange of commodities which England has been wise enough to encourage has given a strong impetus to trade, commerce, and mining, and has produced large aggregations of men and women. For a time the towns thus produced grew rankly and without order; but the progress
of education, the awakening of a sense of civic responsibility, the growth of a love of the beautiful in nature and in art, have led to a determination on the part of those who spend their working lives in towns at once to improve their surroundings and to escape for at least the leisure hours of their existence into gardens and fields. Hence the movement now on foot, which is re-peopling the country in a natural way, and covering it with houses in place of farms.
The future of such a movement depends largely upon the way in which it is conducted. The proper cultivation of suburbs is perhaps one of the most urgent needs of the present day. Everyone knows how appallingly mean and even squalid a suburb may be. At this moment the suburbs of London are in many places faring badly. The large houses of fifty years ago—often ugly enough in themselves, no doubt-and their ample gardens are being replaced by rows of cottages with no gardens at all. More new houses and new roads were, we believe, built and laid out in the suburbs of London in 1903 than in any preceding year. Trees, green fields, hedgerows are giving way to bricks and mortar. Monotonous streets, with scarcely a suggestion of nature, receive the clerk or the artisan after his hour's journey from his place of work. There is great danger that the unsightliness and squalor of the heart of the town, which everyone now condemns, may be reproduced on a larger scale on the outskirts. The suburbs were formerly the resort, in the main, of well-to-do citizens who could take care of themselves. They might make a dull neighbourhood, but they would not overcrowd. Now that workers of all kinds are being taken out of town by suburban railways and electric trams, it is necessary to see that they are not merely moved over four or five miles to find a repetition of what they have left behind. Good sanitation in their new homes they will doubtless get. Local authorities are now alive to this need; their officers are intelligent and zealous. Good drainage, good water, forty-foot roads, electric light—all these advantages will no doubt be found in most places within ten miles of Charing Cross. But more than this is necessary. As fields and gardens disappear, public open spaces should take their place—not merely a formal playing-field here and there, with its border of shrubs and flowers, though this is valuable enough, but an admixture of trees and greensward with streets and houses throughout the whole colony, trees along the footpaths, sometimes a strip of garden down the middle of a road, small garden sitting-places at the junction of roads, larger open spaces where possible. That one large