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to America."* In another passage, the same writer expresses himself thus:-"The desire of laying up is so strong, that the poor-rate has not yet, and probably never will, extinguish it. A spirit of independence pervades the people; they feel the humiliation of receiving alms; they discern the difference betwixt having of their own, and trusting to what is given."†

Notwithstanding, however, these very strong statements, which cannot fail to have great weight with all who know the worth and talents of the author, I cannot help (probably from the circumstance of having lived chiefly in those parts of the country where poor-rates are unknown) feeling a decided partiality, more especially in a moral view, in favour of the old practice of supporting the poor by voluntary contributions, wherever imperious circumstances do not render this impracticable. Where the case is otherwise, the question no longer admits of discussion, and a compulsory law is the only expedient which can supply an effectual remedy. In favour of the moral effects of our good old practice, I shall only observe farther, that where a tax is imposed for relief of the poor, and whère, of course, the only aid received by them is extorted from the rich without their consent, it is impossible for the objects of this compulsory beneficence to feel themselves indebted for that which is given without charity, or to consider it in the same light with that which is bestowed from generous motives. As soon as it is thought that the assistance given them is their right, the relief conceded is considered as only what is due, and the least hardship to which they may be exposed is viewed as injustice.

Independently, therefore, of all other considerations, there is intrinsically a material difference between the moral effects of voluntary contributions, and those that may be expected to result from legal assessments, however wisely regulated, and however ably and honourably administered. It ought to be carefully considered by the advocates of a compulsory assessment, whether the evils complained of in England have not

* [Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland, Vol. XV. pp. 641, 642.] † [Ibid. p. 642.]

been the natural and necessary, though, perhaps, slow consequences of the legal provision. While such checks, indeed, exist, as those in Scotland, it is difficult to conceive how any very gross abuses can take place in country parishes. But in great towns, the experiment is infinitely more hazardous. It does not seem to be possible, indeed, to contrive any system, which is not likely, sooner or later, to degenerate into such a state as that which we find prevalent in England. Even in country parishes, the result of past experience furnishes but too much ground for serious alarm. It is asserted by Mr. Findlater, in his very judicious and able Survey of the County of Peebles, that where poor-rates have been regularly established in Scotland, the poor have been continually on the increase. Of this assertion, he has produced some proofs well entitled to the consideration of those who take an interest in the decision of this question, as a matter of local expediency, (for, in truth, it is nothing more,) in those parts of the country with which they may be connected.

[Chap. XV. sect. vii. p. 226.]



To the historical sketch which has already been given concerning the Poor-laws in both parts of the United Kingdom, I think it may be useful for me to add a few remarks on certain Subsidiary Measures, for the attainment of the same ends, which have either been sanctioned by the authority of the Legislature, or have been carried into execution by the act of private individuals.


Among these measures, one of the most plausible is that of Charity Workhouses, a plan proposed more than a century ago by Sir Matthew Hale, and warmly defended by many respectable writers of a later date. The scheme proposed is, in general, this:-That after a list has been taken of all the poor in any one populous parish, or in two or more smaller parishes, a house should be built for their accommodation; that materials for work of various kinds should be provided for them; that this house should be under the direction of a few respectable individuals, who should appoint one or more superintendents to regulate and inspect the management, &c. It cannot be denied that this plan promises, in theory, some very important advantages. In the first place, It leaves no opportunities for common beggary. The loathsome objects which fill our streets will be taken care of: the lame, diseased, and aged will be provided for. Secondly, It leaves no excuse for idleness: work will be given to all who are willing to labour. And in

the third place, this appears to be the most frugal and profitable plan: a number of persons living together, will be more easily provided for, and their united work will be more productive, than when they live in separate houses.

It is not surprising that this plan, so plausible in itself, and so warmly recommended by many writers, should have met with considerable success; and that in the course of the last century, it should have been actually carried into execution in many great towns in England and Scotland. But its effects are now ascertained by experience, and it may be shown, from undoubted evidence, that Charity workhouses, in general, have been so far from answering the many excellent excellent purposes which were expected to arise from them; that, in fact, they have proved the worst of all the methods that could have been devised for remedying the evil in question. Poor-houses, during the first years of their institution, may have proved useful, an effect which may have been partly owing to the greater zeal of the managers during the first enthusiasm of their beneficent exertions, but chiefly because the poor were then unwilling to be admitted into them. As long as this continues to be the case, the terror of being sent to a workhouse diminishes the burden of the poor-tax, in proportion to the number of indigent persons who dread poverty less than the loss of character. It is, in fact, a virtual repeal, as far as it extends, of those laws which should have, long since, given way to better regulations. But, unfortunately, it is the most worthy objects who suffer most from this institution, the effect of which is, to hinder those from receiving support who dread the confinement, or the noise and nastiness, even more than the confinement, of workhouses, and consider the security which they afford against the evils of want, as dearly purchased by the sacrifice of that serenity and peace, which can scarcely be expected to exist where an indiscriminate mixture of individuals of all different habits and tempers are collected together. The dread of involving themselves in this misery, can hardly fail to keep many poor struggling with poverty, till they sink entirely under its pressure. A most affecting statement of this nature has been


given by Mr. Morton Pitt, in his Address to the Landed Interest on the Deficiency of Habitations and Fuel for the use of the Poor, published a few years ago, [1798.]

Nor are these institutions attended with the advantages which they promise in point of economy. Even in parochial workhouses, and in those which are under the best regulations, the poor do so little work, that the produce of their labour almost. escapes notice, while they are maintained at a most enormous expense. Instead of doing more work under one roof, and being fed more cheaply than when dispersed in their several cottages, the reverse appears clearly to be the fact. And, indeed, this is no more than might have been expected from a candid examination of the general principles of human nature. It is not reasonable, surely, to suppose, that men deprived of their liberty will work with the same cheerful activity for others, as they would do for themselves, and be contented with the same hard and homely fare which they would eat with thankfulness at home. It is hope which must sweeten all our labours; nor will any abundance of the means of subsistence relieve us from that despondency at our state, which must necessarily ensue, where we have no object of pursuit, and no room for fears and doubts. It is chiefly owing to this very circumstance, that the services of slaves are so much more expensive than those of freemen.

In Mr. Morton Pitt's Address, some observations are introduced on the comparative expense of maintaining the poor, in their own houses and in workhouses. They are quoted from a letter to the author by Mr. Davies, of L * whose ex

tensive and practical acquaintance with subjects of this nature seems to be universally acknowledged. The result, we are told, of his elaborate and minute inquiry, was, that every individual in a workhouse cost the parish a considerably greater sum weekly, than when supported out of the house during the same period. The cause of this inequality he attributes chiefly to the difference in their food. . . .

Against County Workhouses the objections are much stronger; [As the Editor has been unable to procure Mr. M. Pitt's Address, he can


neither supply this name, nor give any quotations from the pamphlet.]

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