Natural and Political Observations Made upon the Bills of Mortality (Graunt 1676)/Dedicatory

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JOHN   Lord   ROBERTS [1],
Baron of Truro,   Lord Privy Seal,
and one of His Majesties most Honourable
Privy Council.


My Lord,

AS the favours I have received from your Lordship oblige me to present you with some token of my gratitude: so the especial Honour I have || for your Lordship hath made me solicitous in the choice of the Present. For, if I could have given your Lordship any choice Excerptions out of the Greek or Latin Learning, I should (according to our English Proverb) thereby but carry Coals to Newcastle, and but give your Lordship Puddle-water, who, by your own eminent Knowledge in those learned Languages, can drink out of the very Fountains yourself.

Moreover, to present your Lordship with tedious Nar-||rations, were but to speak my own Ignorance of the Value, which His Majesty, and the Publick, have of your Lordship's Time. And in brief, to offer any thing like what is already in other Books, were but to derogate from your Lordships learning, which the world knows to be universal, and unacquainted with few useful things contained in any of them.

Now having (I know not by what accident) engaged my thoughts upon the Bills of Mortality, and so far succeed-||ed therein, as to have reduced several great confused Volumes into a few perspicuous Tables, and abridged such Observations as naturally flowed from them, into a few succinct Paragraphs, without any long Series of multiloquious Deductions, I have presumed to sacrifice these my small, but first publish'd, Labours unto your Lordship, as unto whose benign acceptance of some other of my Papers[2] even the birth of these is due; hoping (if I may without vanity say it) they may be of as much use || to persons in your Lordships place, as they are of little or none to me, which is no more than the fairest Diamonds are to the Journeymen Jeweller that works them, or the poor Labourer that first digg'd them from the Earth. For, with all humble submission to your Lordship, I conceive, That it doth not ill become a Peer of the Parliament or Member of his Majesties Council, to consider how few starve of the many that beg: That the irreligious Proposals of some, to multiply people || by Polygamy, is withal irrational, and fruitless: That the troublesome seclusions in the Plague-time are not a remedy to be purchased at vast inconveniences[3]: That the greatest Plagues of the City are equally, and quickly repaired from the Country: That the wasting of Males by Wars and Colonies do not prejudice the due proportion between them and Females: That the opinions of Plagues accompanying the Entrance of Kings, is false, and seditious: That London, the Metropolis of England, || is perhaps a Head too big for the Body [4], and possibly too strong: That this Head grows three times as fast as the Body unto which it belongs; that is, It doubles its People in a third part of the time: That our Parishes are now grown madly disproportionable: That our Temples are not sutable to our Religion: That the Trade, and very City of London, removes Westward: That the walled City is but a fifth of the whole Pyle: That the old Streets are unfit for the present frequency of Coaches: || That the passage of Ludgate is a throat too streight for the Body: That the fighting men about London are able to make three as great Armies as can be of use in this Island: That the number of Heads is such, as hath certainly much deceived some of our Senators in their appointments of Poll-money [5] , &c. Now, although your Lordship's most excellent Discourses Have well informed me, That your Lordship is no stranger to these Positions; yet because I knew not, that your Lordship had ever deduced || them from the Bills of Mortality, I hoped it might not be ungrateful to your Lordship, to see unto how much profit that one Talent might be improved, besides the many curiosities concerning the waxing and waning of Diseases, the relation between healthful and fruitful Seasons, the difference between the City and the Country Air, &c. All which being new, to the best of my knowledge, and the whole Pamphlet not two hours reading, I did make bold to trouble your Lordship with a per-||usal of it, and by this humble Dedication of it, let your Lordship and the world see the Wisdom of our City, in appointing and keeping these Accompts, and with how much affection and success, I am,

My Lord,
25 January,
Your Lordships most obedient,
and most faithful Servant,

John Graunt.

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To the Honourable


Sr Robert Moray [6], Knight, One of His
Majestie's Privy Council for His Kingdom
of Scotland, and President of the Royal
Society of Philosophers meeting at Gresham-
, and to the rest of that honourable


THE Observations which I happened to make (for I designed them not) upon the Bills of Mortality, have faln out to be both Political and Natural, some concerning Trade and Government, others concerning the Air, || Countries, Seasons, Fruitfulness, Health, Diseases, Longevity, and the proportions between the Sex and Ages of Mankind. All which (because Sir Francis Bacon reckons his Discourses of Life and Death to be Natural History[7]; and because I understand your selves are also appointing means, how to measure the Degrees of Heat, Wetness, and Windiness in the several Parts of His Majesties Dominions) I am humbly bold to think Natural History also, and consequently that I am obliged to cast in this small Mite into your great Treasury of that kind.

His Majesty being not only by ancient Right supreamly concerned in matters of Government and Trade, but also by happy accident Prince of Philosophers, and of Physico-Mathematical Learning, not called so by Flatterers and Parasites, || but really so, as well by his own personal Abilities, as Affection concerning those matters; upon which account I should have humbly dedicated both sorts of my Observations unto His most Sacred Majesty: but, to be short, I knew neither my Work nor my Person fit to bear His Name, nor to deserve His Patronage. Nevertheless, as I have presumed to present this Pamphlet, so far as it relates to Government and Trade, to one of His Majestie's Peers, and eminent Ministers of State: so I do desire your leave to present the same unto You also, as it relates to Natural History, and as it depends upon the Mathematicks of my Shop-Arithmetick. For You are not only His Majestie's Privy Council for Philosophy, but also His Great Council. You are the three Estates, viz. the Mathematical, Mechanical, || and Physical. You are his Parliament of Nature; and it is no less disparagement to the meanest of your number, to say there may be Commoners as well as Peers in Philosophy amongst you. For my own part, I count it happiness enough to my self, that there is such a Council of Nature, as your Society is, in Being; and I do with as much earnestness enquire after your Expeditions against the Impediments of Science, as to know what Armies and Navies the several Princes of the World are setting forth. I concern my self as much to know who are Curatours of this or the other Experiment as to know who are Mareschals of France, or Chancellor of Sweden. I am as well pleased to hear you are satisfied in a luciferous Experiment, as that a breach hath been made in the Enemies Works: and || your ingenious arguings immediately from sense, and fact, are as pleasant to me as the noise of victorious Guns and Trumpets.

Moreover, as I contend for the Decent Rights and Ceremonies of the Church, so I also contend against the envious Schismaticks of your Society (who think you do nothing unless you presently transmute Metals, make Butter and Cheese without Milk; and (as their own Ballad hath it) make Leather without Hides [8]) by asserting the usefulness of even all your preparatory and luciferous Experiments, being not the Ceremonies, but the substance and principles of useful Arts. For, I find in Trade the want of an universal measure, and have heard Musicians wrangle about the just and uniform keeping of time in their Consorts, || and therefore cannot with patience hear, that your Labours about Vibrations, eminently conducing to both, should be slighted, nor your Pendula [9] called Swingswangs with scorn. Nor can I better endure, that your Exercitations about Air should be termed fit imployment only for Airy Fancies, and not adequate Tasks for the most solid and piercing heads. This is my Opinion concerning you: and although I am none of your number, nor have the least ambition to be so, otherwise than to become able

The first, fifteenth and seventeenth stanzas are:

If to bee rich, & to be learnd
Be every nations chiefest glory,
How much are Englishmen concerned
Gresham to celebrate in story
Who built th' Exchange t' inrich the Citty
And Colledge founded for the Witty.
A second hath described at full
The Philosophy of making Cloth
Tells you, what Grass doth make course Wooll
And what it is that breedes the Moth
Great learning is 'ith art of Clothing
Though vulgar People think it nothing.
A new designe how to make Leather
A third Collegiate is now scanning
The question's most debated whether
Since without Barke there may be Tanning
Some cheaper way may not be tryed
Of making Leather without a Hyde.

for your service, and worthy of your Trust; yet I am covetous to have the right of being represented by you: to which end I desire, that this little Exhibition of mine may be looked upon as a Free-holder's Vote for the choosing of Knights and Burgesses to sit in the Parliament of Nature, meaning thereby, || that as the Parliament owns a Free-holder, though he hath but forty shillings a year; to be one of them; so in the same manner and degree, I also desire to be owned as one of you, and that no longer than I continue a faithful Friend and Servant of your Designs and Persons.

J. G.


  1. John Lord Roberts (or Robartes) was born in 1606. He was two years a student of Exeter College, Oxford, where, Wood intimates, he acquired from Prideaux those prepossessions which led him into the Army of the Commonwealth. At the Restoration, however, he received a number of honours and was made Lord Privy Seal in 1661. He became a member of the Royal Society in 1666 and in 1669 he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to succeed Ormond, but was recalled in 1670. He was four times Speaker of the House of Lords and in 1679 he became Earl Radnor and Lord President of the Council, an office which he held almost until his death 17 July, 1685. He was uniformly considered an able but morose man. Wood, Athenae Oxon. 11. 787; Doyle, Official Baronage, 111. 91; Carte, Ormond, II . 378.
  2. Wood says that Graunt also wrote "Observations on the advance of excise, and something about religion, but these two are not yet published. " Athenæ Oxon. i. 311.
  3. The contagion being in the air, p. 350.
  4. Sir Thomas Roe applied the same figure to London in a speech in Parliament in 1641. Harl. Misc; IV. 433, 436.
  5. See Treatise of Taxes, note on p. 62.
  6. Sir Robert Moray (or Murray) was born about the beginning of the seventeenth century. He was educated at St Andrews and in France, and, being devoted to the royal cause, lived chiefly on the continent until the Restoration. He was one of the founders of the Royal Society and presided over its meetings from March 1661 to July 1662. Moray died 4 July, 1673.
  7. The History of Life and Death, or the second Title in natural and experimental History for the Foundation of Philosophy: being the third Part of the Instauratio magna. Works, x. 9-176.
  8. A ballad of twenty-eight stanzas, "In praise of the choice Company of Philosophers and Wittes who meet on Wednesdaies weekely at Gresham Colledge," is in Ashmole MS. 36, 37, f. 310-312.
  9. Petty was among those interested in the experiments upon pendulums which were made in January, 1662. Birch, i. 70, 74, also 46, 53.