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Page:Samuel Johnson (1911).djvu/171

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From these remains of ancient sanctity, which are every where to be found, it has been conjectured that, for the last two cen- turies, the inhabitants of the islands have de- creased in number. This argument, which supposes that the churches have been suffered to fall, only because they were no longer ne- cessary, would have some force, if the houses of worship still remaining were sufficient for the people. But since they have now no churches at all, these venerable fragments do not prove the people of former times to have been more numerous, but to have been more devout. If the inhabitants were doubled, with their present principles, it appears not that any provision for public worship would be made. Where the religion of a country en- forces consecrated buildings, the number of those buildings may be supposed to afford some indication, however uncertain, of the populousness of the place; but where by a change of manners a nation is contented to live without them, their decay implies no diminution of inhabitants.

��IT affords a generous and manly pleasure to conceive a little nation gathering its fruits and tending its herds with fearless confidence,

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