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enduring the deprivations of penury in a land of plenty and opulence. To mitigate the sufferings necessarily attendant on that state of civilisation from which poverty results, is a duty connected with the cultivation and refinement produced by civilisation : to cure à radical evil, or rather a necessary consequence attendant on the present state of society, is impossible ; but there are means by which even necessary suffering may be diminished, and to have recourse to these is surely the characteristic of superior intelligence.
To promote the greatest possible sum of human happiness, with the least possible portion of attendant evil, is an object worthy the attention of the enlightened philosopher and benevolent patriot. Should the suggested Plan be considered deserving the attention of such characters, the writer's aim will be fully accomplished, and the study and reflection of years be amply recompensed.
That the aggregate of evil produced by the present system of parochial taxation preponderates over the good, is a fact which observation and experience incontestably establish. To ameliorate the sufferings of afflicted humanity—to chase the tear from the eye of the fatherless, and calm the agitations of the widow's sorrows, when helpless, friendless, and destitute, they are cast on a pityless world, a prey to anguish, suffering, and want, is surely an indispensable duty of the Christian legislator; but to burden the active and industrious members of a community with the support of the idle and licentious to take the hard-earned produce of labor, to maintain those whose self-abasement has destroyed the moral independence of the mind, is not the means of benefiting individuals, or effecting the general good of society.
To obviate some of the innumerable evils which result from the dependance of one class of society upon another, to afford employment to the indigent and industrious, to support the aged, to instruct the young, and give to the necessitous that energy and moral independence which is the soul of virtue, is the object of the following pages.
The evils which result from the existing system of parochial taxation have been so ably discussed, particularly by Mr. W. D. Bailey of the Inner Temple, that to descant on them here is unnecessary. To suggest means for their redress, which are not only tangible in theory, but capable of exemplification by practice, either extensively or limitedly, and calculated to produce a considerable accession to the sum of individual happiness and the general good of society, is surely a subject the utility and importance of which must mitigate censure, if not insure indulgence. In every county there is more or less uncultivated land, or land
See a pamphlet on the Poor Laws, by W. D. Bailey, Esq,
not appropriated to agricultural purposes. It is suggested that such, or any other portion of land, be appropriated in every county for the general reception, support, and occupation of all the poor of the county.
That in every county an association should be formed of the benevolent and patriotic gentlemen of the county.
That money should be subscribed, or advanced, for the formation of a fund for the purposes of the said association.
That in every county three hundred acres, or any other portion of land, should be appropriated for the purpose of erecting suitable tenements for the reception of all the poor of the county.
That a church, school houses, manufactories, and a hospital for the sick, should be erected in the middle of the spot selected for the purpose, surrounded with cottages for the reception of the poor, and to each cottage should be annexed garden-ground sufficient to supply the family with potatoes and vegetables. .
That at the commencement of the establishment of county as. sociations, the poor be employed, first in erecting the cottages, afterwards the manufactories, &c. &c. That food and raiment be provided, and little or no wages given until the completion of the habitations, &c. &c.
That meal, milk, and soup be provided and distributed by the association.
That the children be employed part of the day in occupations suited to their strength and years, and the other part in receiving instruction.
That every able housekeeper and landholder in the county contribute a suitable sum, in money, or value in useful commodities, for the establishment and support of the county association in lieu of parochial rates.
That these rates be diminished or abolished as soon as the association shall be able to support itself; which it is conjectured it might do in about three years from the establishment of the association.
That care should be taken to preserve the strictest harmony and peace, and promote industry and general good conduct, amongst the individuals received by the association.
That the good effects of the establishment of such associations would be most beneficial to England, is obvious from the following considerations:
First, they would be effectual in abolishing the existing evils attending the present system of parochial laws.
That instead of several places of reception for the poor in a county, and their being transferred from parish to parish, one general place of concentration would unite the whole.
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That by employment being provided for all the indigent, men.dicity would be effectually repressed.
That by the suppression of idleness, vice and folly would be diminished, and by the preservation of the mental and moral independence of the poor, aided by proper instruction, virtue and happiness would necessarily increase, and the sum of vice and misery be proportionably diminished.
That as labor is money, by the reservation of part of the labor of the poor, the expenses of the association, after its proper establishment, might by degrees be defrayed, or interest afforded for the money advanced by the BenEVOLENT PATRIOTs, who, effectually to relieve their country from its present distress, promoted the institution of COỤNTY ASSOCIATIONS.
OBJECTIONS. 1. It may be objected to the suggested Plan, that a suitable spot could not be selected in many counties.
2. That the concentration of so many of the lower class of so. ciety in one particular spot, might be productive of evil, by the probable insubordination that might ensue from a greater body of men to a lesser one.
3. That it would be impossible to raise money for establishing such associations; or, if established, to effect their permanent and continual support.
4. That such associations, if established, might not be effectual in suppressing mendicity; and that the expense attending their support, when instituted, would be equal to that which is incurred by the present system of parochial taxation.
5. That from the agricultural distress of the country, it would be impolitic to increase the number of agricultural laborers; and that a market could not be easily found for manufactured commo-dities ;-or, if found, might injure the sale of articles manufactured at private manufactories.
5. That the Plan suggested is founded on that of Mr. Owen; or is a mere chimera, that could not be reduced to practice.
7. That if practicable, the good supposed likely to result might not accrue, either from the indolence, the insubordination, or vicious propensities, of the people ; or the inattention or want of energy of the proprietors, directors, or overseers.
8. That every county does not possess a sufficient number of enlightened public-spirited and patriotic persons, willing to promote the establishment of such associations.
OBJECTIONS ANSWERED. 1. To the first of these objections I reply, that government might appropriate, or the association be authorised to purchase, any such portion of land in every county as should be considered suitable to the purpose ; and that as the good of the whole is the grand object of legislation, the minor interest of individuals should be subservient to the promotion of so desirable an end. That individuals possessing or holding land suitable to the purposes of the association, should have ample compensation made them for the purchase or use of the land so appropriated.
2. That the evils likely to result from the concentration of so many of the lower orders of society to one particular spot might be prevented or obviated by wise and suitable regulations :-By attention on the part of the overseers and directors to the promotion of their comfort and moral improvement; by the proper instruction of the people, and by the irresistible power of superior and enlightened intellect.
3. That it would be impossible to raise money for establishing such associations : or if established, to effect their support. This objection may be obviated by considering the vast sums subscribed for the service of the poor of other countries, without any expectation of return; whereas, by subscribing for the establishment of such associations, interest, in time, might be afforded for the money so advanced and appropriated; and the philanthropic patriot who had not the means of advancing money, might equally benefit the institution by presenting to the association materials for the erection of the habitations, manufactories, &c. or articles of food, or accommodation for the inhabitants. That “as labor is the basis upon which all property exists,' the produce of labor must be money; and this produce being augmentative in nearly a geometrical ratio, must in time increase sufficiently at least to afford adequate interest for the money so advanced.
4. That such associations, if established, might not be effectual in suppressing mendicity, and that the expense attending their support would be equal to that which is incurred by the present system of parochial taxation. The suppression of mendicity is an object desirable in every legislation : that this object has never been effected is no proof that mendicity in civil society is incapable of suppression :' we have seen its extinction amongst sectaries whose social government is under wise and prudent regulations, as amongst the Quakers. The moral good that can exist in a smaller, is certainly capable of existing in a greater degree, if equally influential measures are adopted. Vast sums are annually collected from parochial taxation, and subscriptions to benevolent institutions, for the support of the poor; but amongst the money raised expressly for their use, how little is exclusively appropriated to the sole purpose of providing for the poor :-parish officers, vestry clerks, vestry feasts, wine purchased for economy by the pipe, pau. pers transferred from parish to parish, &c. &c. consume large portions of the money so collected ; and if the poor of a nation collectively are to be supported, their maintenance in the interior of a county, where, besides their present means of occupation, they may labor at agriculture, or in manufactories established to afford them employment, is not likely to be attended with greater expense, than from the present system; and how much moral evil might be prevented by indigent youths of both sexes being assured of finding employment adequate to their maintenance, on the spot appropriated in their own county to the reception, support, and employment of the unoccupied poor.
i See the 3:1 Volume of the Politician's Creci, on the E-sablishinent for the Poor at Munich.
5. That from the agricultural distress of the country, it would be impolitic. to increase the number of agricultural laborers; and that a market could not be easily found for manufactured commodities; or if found, might injure the sale of articles manufactured at private manufactories. From the present depressed state of the agricultural interest, this objection is of considerable import : but agriculture has ever been the source of wealth, and in the nature of things must constitute the solid and important basis of political revenue. The interest of commerce is connected with, and indeed greatly dependant on, agriculture.
By the adoption of the suggested Plan, the number of laborers could not consistently be said to be increased---not one additional member would be added to society - the number of needy poor would not be augmented: on the contrary, as labor is wealth, and numbers the grand source of the wealth and power of a nation, by the wise appropriation of the labor of the poor, additional wealth mụst accrue to the mass of society unitedly, either by the accumu. lation of commodities, the increase of property conjointly considered, or by the extension of the means of commerce,
The second clause of the objection, that a market could not be easily procured for articles so manufactured, is of equal weight with the former ; but it is an incontrovertible axiom that what has been done may be done, and as a market has hitherto been found for manufactured commodities, it is but reasonable to infer that it would still be found, and the association might fit up vessels to