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an important consequence, which immediately followed from working classes. We extract from the Report of Mr. 'Henit, was undoubtedly the removal of much of the destitution derson,
one of the Poor-Law Commissioners :which had previously existed, and of the lawlessness to “ The sound condition of Oldham is not attributable to which that destitution led.
uninterrupted prosperity. In the year 1826, in consequence The length of time, in the second place, during which a of the failure of Saddleworth bank, the accidental burning legal provision for the poor has now been established in of the Priory mills, and many of the factories ceasing to England, and the extent to which the habits of the labouring work, a large portion of the population was thrown out of classes have become moulded to an accordance with that employment and reduced to want. The poor-rates were system, will be admitted, we believe, by all reflecting persons, doubled ; and the select vestry made great efforts to meet to oppose an insuperable obstacle in the way of any attempt the evil, sometimes assembling at twelve o'clock in the day, to effect its abolition except by the most gradual process. and sitting until three or four o'clock the following mornNo such scheme can be entertained by any one who is not ing; and it was remarked that the relief administered by prepared to see society thrown into entire confusion. We the select vestry was far more efficient than the subscription must plainly lay our account, therefore, with the existing of funds sent from London, and distributed through other the poor-laws for a long time to come. Indeed, the period hands. A well-organized system of relief has peculiar value of their abolition, if ever it should arrive, must be determined in fluctuations such as these, to which manufacturing towns by the extent of the moral and intellectual advancement of are extremely liable. The expenditure of the township was the great mass of the working people. They must perceive gradually reduced to its usual limits, as the difficulties of themselves, that the poor-laws interfere with their advance- the times were surmounted. The poor-rate last year was ment, and keep them down in the scale of society, before 2s. in the pound, on a valuation of three-fourths of the rackthe removal of these laws can be safely, or even justly, set rent." about. The only mitigation of the evil, which can be 2. The Poor-Laws put it in the power of society to check prudently attempted at present, is a reform of the adminis- the rate of increase in population. tration of the law, and of such of its provisions as may be The very opposite of the advantage here pointed out is amended without its principle being interfered with. This often, indeed, justly laid to the charge of poor-laws; for it being the case, it may not be amiss for us, before we proceed is said that these laws, by making a parent sure that his further, to notice shortly a few of the incidental advantages child will be provided for, act as a premium to improvident which seem to belong to a poor-law, that we may be the marriages. better disposed to submit to the pressure which, whatever The fact is, that almost anything, however excellent in its may be its amount, we cannot all at once shake off.
nature, may be perverted into an engine of mischief. As
Bentham says, à loaf, shot from the mouth of a cannon, INCIDENTAL ADVANTAGES OF A POOR-LAW.
becomes an instrument of death. So, in the present case, 1. A Poor-Law seems to create a strong motive in the if pauper parents are put under no discipline, and no part wealthy classes to attend to the welfare of the poor. of the burden of the child is thrown on to their shoulders,
The state of Ireland may serve as an illustration of the they will surround themselves with families, without making complete separation that will sometimes take place between any provision for their maintenance; and not only disprothe landholders and the labourers of a country, and of the portionately increase the number of labourers, but exhaust dreadful condition in which the latter may be consequently the labour-fund in the shape of relief for want. In whole left, when the misgovernment which has created the causes districts in this country, too, the restraint upon encumbering of the division is not met and counteracted by this corrective. society with illegitimate children is very small. The moThe following is an extract from Mr. Scrope's able work on ther is allowed to continue at large, and positively to rethat country :
ceive more money every week for the support of the child “ A servile war has, indeed, been for some time raging than the child costs. in Ireland : a convulsed and desperate struggle of thousands But suppose that principle of the poor-laws, which gives for existence. Those who have undertaken the task of to society the control of those it is called upon to support, pacifying and improving that country are much mistaken if to be carried into full effect in all parts of the country-as they think that the remission of church-rates, or the conces- it is to a certain extent in the best-regulated parishes-and sions they have made of a part of the Protestant church then how do matters stand ? Parents, who are giving birth establishment, will go any way towards effecting their object. to children they are unable to support, would be removed The tithe question—the church-the grand-jury laws--the to a well-disciplined workhouse, separated, and made to more or fewer Catholics appointed to the sheriffalty or magis- work hard, until they had shown that they can be returned tracy,—these are all topics for political agitation among idle to society without becoming a burthen to it, either as mobs; but the midnight massacre--the daily plunder-the regards themselves or their children. If this plan were frequent insurrection—the insecurity of life and property always adopted, those who, without considering their means throughout the agricultural districts of Ireland,—these are of providing for a family, would run headlong into marriage, neither caused by agitation nor can be put down by agitation. thinking to throw the support of their children on their They are the desperate efforts at revenge of a people goaded more prudent and industrious neighbours, would soon be by want and misery to madness: they are the necessary and stopped in their career, and made to feel the consequences natural results of a state of the law, which allows the land of their attempt to defraud society. owners of a country at one time to encourage an excessive In illustration of the better course of things in a wellgrowth of the population on their estates, and at another, regulated English parish, we will give an extract from the when the caprice seizes them, to dispossess all this popula- evidence of John Grey, Esq., before the Committee of the tion, and turn them out on the highways, without food, House of Lords appointed two years ago to inquire into the home, or shelter !
working of the poor-laws --" Do marriages take place " That this is the true source of the horrible outrages generally at a very early period ?-Not very early. There which are now in almost daily perpetration in Ireland is is one check which I think is very salutary, the custom of proved beyond a possibility of doubt by an examination of being possessed of a cow.
It is not considered a very the nature of these offences. Against whom are these san- reputable thing for a young man to marry, unless he can guinary attacks and threats of attack for the most part be so independent as to furnish a house and obtain a cow : levelled? The tithe-owners or their proctors ? The magis- when they are able to purchase a cow and furnish a house, trates and gentry? Excisemen or travellers ? No! But they have a degree of independence which enables them to against the · land-takers,' as they are called—the incoming face the world and set up for themselves. It certainly does tenants of farms, whose former occupiers have been turned happen sometimes that there are early and improvident out to make room for them. Against those who, in the des- marriages, especially if there is a child in the way; that perate competition for the occupation of land, as the only commonly ends in a marriage; but in such cases it is means of existence, outbid the herd of houseless wretches, not unfrequent that there is that connexion between the and excite in them the same rabid jealousy as rouses a pack master and servant, that the master may either lend him of gaunt and starving wolves against the one who may get a cow of his own until he is able to get one, or give him possession of the morsel for which they are contending. a little assistance in purchasing it till he is able to work
As a pleasing contrast to the conduct of many Irish land- it out. I have done that, and prefer that mode, because owners, we will lay before our readers a statement of the it is desirable to let a man have a feeling of having a proc. truly benevolent exertions of the parish-officers of Oldham perty of his own, for by so doing you encourage a spirit of. in Lancashire, on an occasion of unforeseen calamity to the independence.".
3. The Poor-Laws, rightly applied, afford an additional Mr. Brown, one of the present overseers of Bethnal Green, motive to the exercise of foresight and prudence, by making stated that the reward of good conduct certain.
It is quite common for the officers from the policeHere again, as in the case of increase of population, the offices to come to our parish to inquire for bad characters very opposite effect is often brought about by the unwise against whom charges are made. The police-officers are proceedings of parish officers and magistrates. In many well acquainted with their characters. It is the worst parts of England, as we shall presently see more fully, a characters who generally raise tumults. They repeatedly plan has been introduced, which, for its absurdity and de- tell me, that, by being sent to Bridewell, they are sure of moralizing tendency, stands perhaps unrivalled. We refer getting plenty of food, and shall be sent out with clothes. to what is called the allowance system ; which simply means I do not know what clothes are given to them there : but an arrangement devised by certain country magistrates for I have frequently seen them better dressed when they came securing to a pauper regular fixed wages every week, with out of prison, than they were when they were sent in. They out the slightest regard to the man's character, his industry, frequently dare me to send them to Bridewell. There is or the value of his work. A pauper applies to the overseer no difference between the girls and the men; except that, for relief, and this is the kind of proceeding—" Have you a of the two, the girls are the worst." wife ?-Yes. And how many children?—Five. Let me Mr. Charles Mott, the present contractor for the support see: a man and his wife is nine shillings, and five children of the poor of Lambeth parish, and who formerly contracted is seven shillings: that makes sixteen shillings. What for the poor of Gosport, gave the following evidence : wages are you getting ?-Seven shillings a week, sir. “I am sure, from conversations which I have had on the Seven shillings? Hum! Seven from sixteen, leaves nine. subject with the superintendent of convicts, that the conThere's your money. (Gives the man nine shillings.)" vict receives more bread a-day than the pauper. Indeed,
This is no exaggeration of what takes place hundreds of it is notorious at Gosport, where I have heard it descanted times every week. But it is no more in the true spirit of upon by many of the inhabitants, that the convicts receive the poor-laws to act in this way, or to treat all paupers one ounce of meat per day more than the soldiers set to alike, whatever be the cause of their poverty, than it might guard them. I heard at Gosport, that the convicts being be to subject all criminals to the same punishment, what- told to do something which they did not like, one of them ever be the nature of their offence.
exclaimed, in the presence of the military guard, 'What 4. The Poor-Laws withdraw temptation to crime, and next, I wonder ! d-n it, we shall soon be as bad off as give security to property.
soldiers. The convicts ridicule the soldiers ; and I have What we have said about the great decrease of crime in myself seen a convict hold up some food to the guard, saythis country since the introduction of poor-laws, is here ing, “Soldier, will you have a bit?" Yet the operation of applicable; as are also our remarks on the vast amount of this system in gaols and workhouses was pointed out years crime in Ireland at the present time.
ago, and it still continues. The convict's labour is proporWhen, in carrying forward the principle of the poor-laws, tionably slight. a good system of national education shall be established Do
you find this state of things, as to punishment, rein this country, we may hope to see even the present act upon the workhouse ? amount of crime in England greatly reduced. The im- Decidedly so; and most mischievously as to discipline provement in the public morals effected by education in and management. The paupers are well aware that there some of the American states is most gratifying. It is is, in fact, no punishment for them. From the conversathe province of the poor-laws to step in, when, from any tion I have had with convicts, it is clear, that confinement cause, whether from inevitable calamity or from sheer mis- in a prison, or even transportation to the hulks, is not much conduct, a man is reduced to that state of destitution in dreaded. We are better fed,' I have heard them say, which he is placed under great temptations to commit have better clothes, and more comfortable lodging, than crime. For its own sake (to say nothing of the unhappy we could obtain from our labour;' and the greatest, in fact individual) society should take charge of any one of its almost only, punishment they appear to dread, is being demembers who has arrived at this point, unless the doing prived of female intercourse. Some months since, three so is likely to bring others into the same situation.
young women (well-known prostitutes) applied for relief at There is much evidence in favour of the belief that the Lambeth workhouse; and, upon being refused, two of them number of thieves is not very great. The person at the immediately broke the windows. On the moment, the head of the police of the town of Birmingham informs us three were given into custody to the police ; but recollectthat the same set of offenders come through his hands ing that only two were guilty of breaking the windows, the time after time. He mentioned one case, in which a beadle was sent to state the fact, and request from the overyoung woman had been committed to the county gaol nine seer, that the innocent person might be discharged: she, times in one year. A cunning rogue, however, will not, he however, declared that she would not be separated from her says, venture on more than two convictions in the same companions, and immediately returned to the house and county—a third conviction being too frequently followed by demolished two or three more windows to accomplish her transportation, a punishment not at all popular among desire.”. thieves; after a second conviction, therefore, he generally Nothing can be clearer than that the actual condition of moves his quarters to a neighbouring county.
the labouring man, who maintains himself and his family The tax which society is silently paying in consequence without assistance from the parish, ought always to be kept of the existence of but a comparatively small number of in view in regulating the allowance of food, and the different thieves is enormous. How many thousands are there in comforts, of criminals and of paupers. The quantity of food this country who would gladly pay a yearly tax of ten, given to the pauper ought always to be less than that obtwenty, or fifty pounds, to be freed from the necessity of tained by the independent labourer, and of a coarser kind ; guarding against robbery! How much, too, would most he should also be required to work harder than the free kinds of property be increased in value, and how greatly labourer, and in every other respect he ought to be in a would the daily transactions of life be facilitated, by any worse condition. So again the prisoner, the man who has arrangement by which those who are likely to commit de- committed a moral offence, ought to be in a lower state of predations should be placed under control !
comfort than the pauper. All this, one would think, is as 5. Mild punishments can be of little avail, unless either plain as possible ; yet as we have seen, and as we shall have there is but little poverty in the country, or there is a provi- occasion to point out again, this order of things is frequently sion for relieving the poor.
positively reversed. The root of the evil is the want of an It is evident that to a starving man, a prison in which he uniform system, as well for those receiving parochial relief, would be fed, clothed, and lodged, and required to work as for prisoners. As regards both classes, there is the but moderately hard, would be anything but an object of widest difference in different parts of the country, fear. He would wish for admittance; and if he were not 6. The Poor-Laws, if fully administered, may be made to allowed to enter without going through the ceremony of supersede the necessity of other charitable institutions of breaking a law, the breach would soon be made. As it is, almost every kind. and even with an asylum provided for the poor, the dread There is unhappily no doubt that the effect produced by of being placed in an English gaol, or of being sent to the many of the numerous charities of this country is by no hulks as a convict, is not always very great, as the following means one of unmixed good. extracts from Mr. Chadwick's Report (pages 241–243) will Charitable relief injudiciously applied acts as a reward to show
imposture, distracts the attention of the working man from
his own means of bettering his condition, creates discontent, Mr. Thorn, assistant-overseer of St. Giles', Cripplegate, and is in every way hurtful to society at large. It has been examined : remarked by some traveller in Spain, that the convents at “ Have you any monies to dispense in charities within which alms are doled out without regard to the real merits your parish ?"_“We have about 16001. per annum availof the applicants are always the centres of wretchedness. able to be given to the poor in our charities, according to There is no doubt that the same effect is produced, to a the directions of donors. For the most part, the donations certain extent, by some of the charities of this country. consist of bread, fuel, and clothing." Some evidence relating to this matter appears in the report " What is the effect produced by the distribution of these of the Lords' committee before referred to ; and a good deal donations ?"—“ We find that, a few weeks previous to the more has been met with by the present Poor-laws Commis-gifts being distributed, the people leave their work in search sioners.
of them. There are always a great many more seekers of The fact is that, unless there exists some ready test of a gifts than finders. Most of them by leaving their work person's necessities, such as his willingness to enter a well- neglect their families, and become really necessitous: those disciplined workhouse, and submit to hard work and spare who are disappointed are irritated, and then demand relief diet, it is no easy matter to administer charity in a way that as a right, the parish being called upon to make good their shall really promote the general welfare of the community. loss. Even those who have received relief always say, when To perform the task of judiciously administering charity, it they come to us afterwards, ‘that, though it was very true often demands a high degree of intelligence, a power of fore- they had received the gift, yet it had done them no good; seeing distant effects, a capability of weighing evidence they had lost so much time, and they had got into debt. and sifting the truth, and lastly the power of keeping the We employ some of the out-door paupers in carrying home feelings under the control of the judgment. Without these the gifts of coals, and pay them liberally for doing so. These qualities in the dispenser of charity, there is great danger men, when they apply for relief, and are told, Why, we gave that he will be doing positive mischief. Some institutions, you money the other day !' say, ' It is very true ; but then such as those for the blind, and the deaf and dumb, hos- we were in debt to our landlord, or the chandler-shopkeeper, pitals for the reception of the maimed, or those who are suf- and we were compelled to pay him when we returned from fering from acute illness, together with schools for education labour; so they always calculate on the relief. After every without maintenance, are but little exposed to imposture ; season for the distribution of the gifts the applications for and are doubtless productive of great good. There are, parochial relief are more numerous.” however, many other kinds of charitable institutions, which, “ During the time when the gifts are distributed, are the though highly' honourable to the benevolent feelings of the demands on the poor-rate reduced ?" — “Not at all: in supporters, and showing the greatest desire on their parts fact, when the effects of these charities are examined, as to do good, are nevertheless productive, we fear, of more shown in our parish, it will be admitted by the most prejuevil than benefit.
diced person that they are a curse rather than a benefit. The thing to be specially guarded against in relieving the They were a great deal worse formerly, when settlements misfortunes of others is so acting as to turn that which was were to be obtained by forty days' residence in the parish, a misfortune, really into a source of advantage. It is un- as it led numbers to endeavour to obtain settlements with necessary to point out the mischief to which a departure from us. I am sure that our parish has been considerably inthis rule is sure to give rise.
jured by them. I have long been of opinion that it would Now such institutions as we have mentioned are not ex- be of great advantage to have the funds of these charities posed to this evil. No one will poke out his eyes or cut off applied directly in aid of the poor-rates. his leg for the sake of getting into a blind asylum or an The above evidence, and much more that might be given, hospital. So with a well-regulated workhouse : if the diet goes to prove the importance of introducing a better system is sparer and the work harder than that of the independent in the management of our charities. The fact is, that the labourer, no one will covet admittance. But if
, in conse- only way in which frauds of this kind can be prevented, quence of a little illness, a lying-in, or a difficulty of finding is by establishing a connexion between institutions of vowork, a person gets money from one institution, clothes from luntary charity and those for regular and parochial relief; another, and food from a third, besides perhaps small the whole being to a certain extent under the guidance of one amounts of relief from ten or twenty private individuals, central body. With a regulation of this kind, the assistance each ignorant of what the others have done, the object of all of those whose humane feelings prompt them to take part this charity may be much better off than if no illness had in the administration of charity, and who can command occurred, and there had been plenty of work to get for time for that purpose, might still be taken advantage of; asking. The lesson thus taught is never forgotten. If and the public might be certain that every shilling subonce a man can “live by his misfortunes," misfortunes will scribed for the relief of the unfortunate was wisely applied : come down
upon him as thick as hail-stones; and in a won- they might also feel assured that an asylum was provided derfully short time his neighbours will be found in a similar for every one who was really in destitute circumstances; plight, and clamouring for the same “relief."
and that, therefore, every person who attempted to obtain The following is taken from Mr. Chadwick's Report (pages charitable relief on the plea of helpless misery must neces291 and 295.) The first extract consists of a reply to a sarily be an impostor. question from Mr. Chadwick from the Rev. William Stone, Wherever there is a provision for the destitute we should rector of Spitalfields: a gentleman who appears to have be- say, “ Clear the streets and roads of beggars, of drunkards, come practically familiar with the administering of charity, and of prostitutes; and place them, whether they wished it and with all that relates to the welfare of his parishioners : or not, in a place where they can neither annoy nor disgust:
many of the visiters competent to form a where they may be kindly treated, but where they shall be correct judgment as to the real wants of the poorer of the subjected to a discipline of labour and spare diet.“ Under labouring classes ?-I think that visiters are frequently mis- such a system these miserable beings would in many cases taken ; they are too apt to take into the houses of the poor change their character, and endeavour so to conduct their own standard of the value of money, and apply their themselves as to show that they might safely be restored to own scale of personal and domestic comfort to their con- society. dition. I have known a visiter of our charities give an order for four bushels of coals, as the lowest proper amount of The remainder of our subject we shall consider under the relief to a person of a class in which they obtain their own following heads :supplies only in pecks, or even in half-pecks."
1st. The Provisions of the English poor-laws. Mr. Hewitt, the master of the workhouse of St. Andrew, 2nd. Defects in the English poor-laws, as well in their Holborn, and St. George the Martyr, stated, “I am satisfied construction as in their administration; with the evils that the in and out-door paupers of this metropolis get by arising therefrom. far the greater share of the charities in and about London, 3rd. Tabular accounts showing the cost of the poor of or else the greater part of them could not consume so much England and Wales at several different periods; also, the tobacco and other things, and return home intoxicated, and comparative state of different parts of the country as remoney in pocket."
What evidence have you that they gards pressure of poor-rates, &c. obtain money from the charities ?"—“I have searched them, and found not only money but charity-passes showing from PROVISIONS OF THE ENGLISH POOR-Laws. whence they came, and tickets and other things belonging The object of the poor-laws, as expressed in the act of to the different voluntary charities."
1601, (43rd of Elizabeth,) is “ to set the poor to work: to
relieve the lame, impotent, old, and blind, and to put out overseer or assistant-overseer refuse to grant relief to a their children as apprentices." To attain this object, the pauper applying for it, any neighbouring magistrate may, inhabitants of every parish in the country are required to on the application of the pauper, summon the overseer raise a fund sufficient to maintain their own poor; and a to appear before him, and state his reasons for refusing way is open to a pauper by which he can compel the parish- relief: if the magistrate be not satisfied with these reasons, officers to relieve him.
he may compel the overseer to grant the relief applied for, The poor-rates are raised by a tax on all the real property during one month from that time; and if at the end of the (as it is improperly called) in the parish.* Real property month the overseer should again refuse, the magistrate may is defined to mean land, and every thing attached to the grant a new order, and so on. The exercise of this right land, as houses, canals, &c. The yearly value of such of magistrates to interfere with the parish officers has, in property being assessed, the occupier or tenant is required country parishes, been carried to a very great extent; and, to contribute towards the support of the poor in proportion as we shall presently see, has been productive of endless to the amount.
mischief. The parish officers, whose business it is to make the as- There are many other provisions in the English poorsessment, to collect the rates, and to take the charge of the laws, such as that for obliging parents to support their poor, are chosen in part by the rate-payers, and in part by pauper children, and children their pauper parents, &c.; the magistrates of the parish. The appointment of the but the clauses we have mentioned are the most important. overseer, who is nominally at the head of the parish, as regards the administration of the poor-laws, always rests with the magistrates, excepting in cases where, by the pro
DEFECTS IN THE ENGLISH POOR-Laws. visions of a local act, the power has been taken out of their Without disputing the soundness of the general prinhands.
ciple of compulsory relief to the poor, the questions to be In the best managed parishes, the rate-payers place the considered are, what description of persons ought to be repowers entrusted to them in the hands of a small body, lieved ? what should be the nature and extent of such relief? chosen by them from their own number and called sometimes how ought the necessary funds to be raised ? and under the Select Vestry, and sometimes the Guardians of the whose control should they be disbursed? In examining Poor. This body appoints the assistant overseers and other each of these points, we find much in the English system standing officers, fixes their salaries, and holds them to of poor-laws that cries aloud for amendment. We shall responsibility for the performance of their duties.
consider the two first questions together. In other parishes there is an open vestry; by which is What description of persons ought to be relieved ? and meant that the management of the concerns of the parish, what should be the nature and extent of such relief ? instead of being put into the hands of a chosen body, is We have already intimated our opinion, that a regimen left to the great body of rate-payers, each đoing as much of hard work and coarse food should be provided for all or as little as he likes. The affairs of such parishes are who choose to accept it; and not only for these, but for all generally wretchedly managed ; and when, as is often the who cannot show that they are earning an honest livelihood, case, even the assistant overseer is not a paid and permanent whether they are inclined to submit to the discipline or officer, the whole business is usually a scene of confusion. not. Such men are not safe members of society; they are
It remains to point out how it is determined to what par- constantly exposed to strong temptation to crime; and it ticular parish a pauper belongs, and what are his means of must always be borne in mind, that by some means or other, enforcing relief. The law of settlement is one which gives either by begging or stealing, such persons are, in fact, living rise to endless disputes. By the enactments regulating on society. Society does not and cannot escape from the this matter, every person is made to belong to that parish cost of their maintenance : and the only question is, how in which he was born, unless he has subsequently served can they be maintained with the least cost to society, and an apprenticeship in another parish, or been hired in ser- with the best prospect of their own reform ? : vice for a whole year, or has occupied a house rated at not In answer to this question we reply, and we think most less than 101. a-year. Either of these gives a settlement; of our readers will agree with us, that this object can be but a man cannot have two settlements at the same time; best attained by subjecting the destitute to strict, but kind by acquiring a new one, he always loses his former settle treatment—by enforcing the regular performance of hard ment. When a pauper applies to the officers of a parish for bodily labour—by withdrawing stimulating food of every relief, and it appears that he does not belong to that parti- kind-by the adoption of a judicious system of encouragecular parish, the officers apply to the magistrates of the ment and advice as soon as amendment begins to show district for an order of removal to the parish in which the itself. This we maintain to be the best and the cheapest pauper was last settled. Should this order be disputed by way for society to go to work with the idle, the drunken, the officers of the other parish, the question is carried and all who are destitute in consequence of their own misbefore the next quarter-sessions for revision.
conduct-hard work and spare diet for the body, and for Bastardy.—In cases of bastardy, the law of settlement is the mind, the alternate use of remonstrance, friendly counfrequently very mischievous in its operations, as we shall sel, and sympathizing interest. presently see. A bastard child, like any other, obtains its Such is the treatment which experience has shown to be first settlement in the parish in which it was born; but the the best for the idle and the vicious. But for the poor of parish officers may obtain an order of removal for any wo- another class—for those who have been struck down by a man, not belonging to their parish, who is in a state of power beyond their own control, or against which no compregnancy. If the woman does belong to the parish, then mon prudence or foresight could have protected them --their interest is to hunt out the man, and if he belongs to a very different management should be adopted. These another parish, to frighten him or bribe him into marrying latter should, wherever it is practicable, be kept quite sethe woman. If they succeed in this, they can then get rid parate from the idle, the vicious, and the drunken; not of the woman, (for the husband's settlement always extends only is it desirable that they should occupy distinct rooms, to his wife,) and be secure against being burthened with but, if possible, they should live in separate buildings, and the child. Parish officers have been known to go to the in different quarters of the town. Every regard, consistent expense of a license, when time would not admit of the with economy, should be paid to their feelings. The huspublication of banns, or when they feared the man would band and wife should not be kept apart, nor should they escape.
be debarred from the occasional society of their children. In many parts of the country the oath of the woman is Relief may, indeed, often be safely given to paupers of this considered sufficient evidence of the identity of the father. class at their own homes, or work provided at which they This regulation gives rise to the grossest perjury and in- may, without degradation, earn sufficient wages to procure justice. Cases will be cited presently.
the necessaries of life. In all arrangements, however, even Enforcement of Relief.—If, for any cause whatever, an for this class of the poor, the condition of the independent * By law some kinds of moveable or personal property are sub- labourer must be steadily kept in view. To whatever deject to the poor-rate. But in practice such property is seldom if gree our sympathies may be excited, it is unwise, nay, it is ever assessed.
unjust to the independent labourer, to raise beyond a cer+ Much misunderstanding has arisen from the terms select ves tain point the condition of the helpless. try being used, not only in the sense just applied, but also to desig
The standard of the comfort of the man who earns his own nate self-elected bodies like those at the head of some of the bread, ought always to be in advance of that dependent on London parishes.
others. Before society ventures to increase the comforts of
the latter class, let it first see that the independent labourer The amount of rates, 39701., and of charities about 12001, has risen in the scale of comfort and happiness.
per annum. We will now see how far the principles just laid down are “The bench of magistrates meet once a year at Michaelabided by in granting relief to paupers in many parts of mas, and call before them all the overseers, and say to this country.
this effect: We have considered the price of things, and In the first place it is notorious, that numbers of beggars shall recommend 1s. 6d. for a child, &c. We shall make and prostitutes are to be found in most of our roads and order according to this scale, and we think it may save streets; it is also tolerably certain that many of them would trouble to you and ourselves to tell you so at once. Mr. not, if allowed the choice, accept of a permission to enter a Bishop and I examined eight or ten persons, being overwell-regulated workhouse, and that the mere knowledge seers and vestrymen. They described themselves as having that they should be placed there, if they did not change no chance whatever against a pauper before a magistrate; their mode of life and look out for honest work, would of declared unanimously that they were disgusted with applyitself greatly reduce their number. However numerous ing to magistrates in any case, however flagrant; and as the remainder might be, it would be better to support finding it, by experience, to be the best way to settle as well them in a house than allow them to remain at large : as they could with a pauper claimant, without permitting in other words, it would be better to maintain them in him to summon them. a cheap way than in a dear way. But is this the usual “ They pay the parish paupers every Wednesday, from mode of proceeding? On the contrary, are not our streets six to nine o'clock in the evening, who are so turbulent and and roads allowed to harbour beggars, drunkards, and violent, that they are obliged to have a constable always harlots, to the injury of public morals, the encourage- present for their personal protection. Relief is independent ment of impostors, and to the restriction of the personal of character, and they make no inquiry as to whether the liberty of the virtuous female? No one can hesitate in the wants of the applicants are real or simulated; guiding reply, and few we hope can differ from us as to the remedy themselves, in giving or withholding relief, in every partito be applied.
cular case, by their conjectures as to the probability of the Let us now inquire what plan is followed in the treatment magistrates ordering it or not. of the applicants for parish relief. Is it made to depend on " The following was given us as a specimen of the way the past and present conduct of the pauper, and on the in which applications were made and disposed of, condition of the independent labourer? Is the treatment “ “ I want my money.' in all cases such as to make a man earnestly desire to cease “ • How much have you earned ?-_Four shillings,' to be a pauper, and maintain himself and his family by his " How many children have you ?' — Six.' own efforts? Is it such as to correct the habits of the idle, " • Well, here are six eighteen-pences for you.' the drunken, and the vicious? To all these questions we “We inquired what, if the man had said he earned are compelled to answer in the negative, as regards the nothing, instead of 4s., they should have given him.-138. greater part of the country. A most absurd and mischievous instead of 9$. We inquired if they could assign any reason arrangement has been adopted in the whole of the south of why the man earned or acknowledged earning 48.- None. the island, in many of the midland counties, and in some “ Publishing the names of paupers is rather detrimental districts in the north, by which the question of character is than otherwise. Those who are not receiving relief, read altogether set aside; the idle and the industrious, the vir- the names of those who are, and come immediately and tuous woman and the prostitute, the rogue and the honest apply for their money; and if they do not receive it, abuse man-all are treated alike; except, indeed, that the most the overseers, and say they will have them up before their insolent and turbulent are generally best served.
betters. The Allowance System.--The most disastrous system, to " There is quite work enough in the parish for all the which we have already referred, and which is called the al population; the labour of which, however, under the syslowance system, originated in an order published by the ma- tem above described, is insufficient, and recourse is had to gistrates of Berkshire in the year 1795. It is very probable ex-parishioners, whose wages are half as much again as that the error made by these magistrates sprang from good those of the native population, owing to their superior conmotives; but it betokened, it must be confessed, a most pro- duct, accounted for by their having no dependence except found ignorance of the principles of sound government. The on character and ability. order was to this effect :-every labourer who received wages “ A pauper named Sutton returned to the parish with below a certain scale (drawn out by the magistrates) might his wife and child, having been away some time, and
aprequire the overseers of his parish to make them up to that plied for relief and clothes for himself and family. The scale, on his showing that he had nothing but his wages to overseers, suspecting that he possessed clothes, managed to live on. It may readily be conceived what evils must have get him and his wife out of the room, keeping his little girl been created by this plan of laying down a rule of relief, to in, and then asked the child where her Sunday frock was. be abided by without regard to the character of the appli- She answered, that it was locked up in a box at Cambridge cant, or the means of the rate-payer. It is evident in the with other things. Here the mother came in to call the first place, that, under this system, unless a man does work girl out, but the overseers would not let her go, whereupon enough to get higher wages than those on the allowance the father Sutton came in with a bludgeon, and seized the scale, he may (as regards the amount of wages) just as well child by the arm. The overseers held her, but the father do no work at all; for all that he gets will be deducted from pulling her so as to hurt her, they let her go, and he took his allowance; whereas every hour's hard work ought to her out and beat her violently. He then returned, demandbetter a man's condition.
ing relief, which they refused. He abused them dreadfully, In some places the scale of allowance is so high, and threatening to rip up one, burn the town, &c. and behaved consequently the inducement to work so low,
with such violence that hey were compelled to have him greater part of the parishioners are positively living in idle-handcuffed' and his legs tied, and he was wheeled in a ness, whilst men from other parishes are hired to do the barrow to the magistrate, where they charged him with work. A man will frequently do work by stealth, and assault. The magistrate asked whether they could swear thus get a full allowance and wages to boot; or he will get they were in bodily fear of Sutton, and they replying that a false statement of his wages from his employer; the far- they were not, he dismissed the charge, and ordered Sutton mer and pauper dividing the difference between them. relief." Sometimes he will deceive the overseers as to the number That the melancholy and demoralizing state of things of his children; for his wages, according to the allowance just described is not necessarily connected with the poorscale, increase with every additional child,—which increase laws is proved by a few simple facts. 1. Although the is, in some parishes, so large as to more than cover the cost poor-laws apply to the whole of England, there are many of the child's maintenance. In fifty different ways then is parts in which the allowance system is unknown. 2. From this absurd allowance system destructive of the morals of several parishes, into which the allowance system had been the people, to say nothing of the effect on the property of introduced, it has subsequently been driven out, and the the community at large.
people brought back to a condition worthy of the character After these introductory remarks, our readers will be pre-l of the English peasantry. 3. The poor-laws were, in their pared for the following description of the state of things at present form, introduced into England in the year 1601; Ely in Cambridgeshire, extracted from Mr. Cowell's Report, the allowance system was a device of 1795: so that of the page 386.
232 years during which the present poor-laws have existed, Ely is divided into two parishes; of which Trinity con- the allowance system has defaced them during thirty-eight tains 4325, while the total population is 6189.