ACOMMON ANACHRONISM in current appraisals of Malthus is to underestimate the difficulty in obtaining at that time the most elementary and —by modern Western standards—most routine facts about population. The state control of the economy that mercantilism connotes did include, it is true, the intention of keeping track of the state’s subjects; but in the few scattered instances when this was done at all competently, the results were regarded as state secrets. Austria, for example, had a census in 1754, but the enumeration lay buried in the archives until this century, when it was rediscovered. There were eighteenth-century censuses in France also, and in 1694 a head count was ordered and a questionnaire distributed; returns from three districts are extant, but whether the forms were completed throughout the country and have since been lost is not clear. 1 The first enumeration of a total population may have been in the colony of New France (present-day Quebec) in 1665, and sixteen censuses were completed there over the next century. The earliest counts that any country made of its own population were probably in Scandinavia; like clergy elsewhere, Sweden’s Lutheran ministers had long been keeping records of their parishioners, and at five-year intervals from 1749 on the government required the pastors to submit data from which population totals could be calculated. Gradually a similar secularization of ecclesiastical records was effected in Denmark and Iceland. These bits and pieces, however 136one appraises them individually, are seldom enough to lay a basis for a satisfactory record of even one country, and for the entire Western world we must make do with rather rough guesses.