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heard of his intended marriage, and his malignant spirit joys in the recollection. 'Tis as if he had said, "And why is this fellow thus put over me? A great arithmetician forsooth." Then, in the bitterness of his hatred, he execrates him, "D-n the fellow!" Then, recollecting the report of his marriage, he consoles himself with the reflection-but he is "almost damn'd in a fair wife." To understand this perfectly, it is necessary again to turn our attention to the sentiments and opinions we may expect to find in a character like lago. Completely depraved himself, he seems scarcely to believe in the existence of goodness in others; nor can we expect that he should think more highly of the female sex than he does of his own. Many parts of the play will bear me out in the assertion, that he looks upon them as most despicable. His consolation of Roderigo on his first assurance of the marriage of Othello and Desdemona, beginning, "It is merely a lust," &c. ;-the passage in which he tells Roderigo that Desdemona is in love with Cassio;-his suspicion of his wife's criminality with Othello, which appears not to have excited in him any other sentiment than that of revenge-no sorrow-no doubt-not one feeling that would have had place in a better heart;-the boldness with which he at once declares his doubts of Desdemona, as a Venetian, to her husband; the fiend-like cruelty of his conduct towards his wife, in making her instrumental to the murder of a mistress whom she loved; and, lastly, his murder of his wife without one expression of remorse or feeling;-all prove in what estimation he held the sex. In his opinion, any wife would be a curse a necessary one, perhaps, he might think; but not the less a curse on that account. He would consider her as a commodity difficult to keep, and not worth the trouble of keeping; the more difficult to preserve from falling if fair, for her beauty would increase her danger; but, fair or not, still "at heart a rake." The occasional and momentary distrust of the whole sex, by which the noble-minded Hamlet wounded the gentle Ophelia, and which was forced upon him by a conviction of the worthlessness of one of the sex nearly allied to himself, was, in the depraved Iago, a settled and rooted conviction of VOL. III.
the mind. Under this conviction, his malignity found pleasure in dwelling for a moment on the idea, that Cassio was about to be damn'd in a fair wife-that he was all but warried. It would be cause of rather more exultation to him, that he was on the point of marrying 66 a customer," because Cassio had not the credit even of saving appearances; but whomsoever he was about to marry, he was, in Iago's opinion, about to dainn himself;" almost damn'd," almost married. The word fair, I consider more as a term of derision probably in this place, than any thing else. Had Iago said of Othello, that he was almost damn'd in a fair wife, I should have considered his meaning to have been, that his wife's uncommon beauty would have so endangered her honour, that the preserving it would be a task of such difficulty as to render her a curse to Othello; and so applied, I should have laid the emphasis on the word fair;-applied to Cassio, I place it on the word almost-" A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife.”
Such appears to me the meaning of this controverted passage; and so received, I think it perfectly intelligible as it has been handed down to us. All readers of Shakspeare, I fancy, must meet with occasional difficulties -with passages hard to be understood; but let us not make difficulties; and when they do occur, let us maintain and explain the integrity of the text, fixed by a collection of the most authentic copies. Let us endeavour to dive into his real meaning, clothed in such language as we find it, before we give the reins to our fancy in conjecturing his meaning, and then altering his language in order to adapt it to our own conjectures.
Leeds, 10th March 1818.
the real interest of that class of people for whose benefit they were originally passed. The fruits of them serve to encourage idleness among the lower ranks, and to repress every desire to secure a provision for themselves when sickness and old age arrive; whilst the rates, levied in consequence of these laws, amount to a sum which far exceeds that of the whole revenue of Great Britain about the middle of the last century. To remedy these evils, the attention of the Legislature has long been excited, though hitherto without the slightest avail, nor does it appear that any good can be done by parliamentary regulation, unless it goes, in some measure, to the bottom of the evil, and introduces a gradual, but radical change of system. In this way, the evils of the prescnt laws might be alleviated, though the existing generation must be removed from the stage, before the full benefits of any regulation can be enjoyed.
Several English members of Parliament, sensible that the law, or at least the practice, of Scotland, with respect to the poor, is infinitely preferable to the system adopted in England for more than two centuries, have of late made inquiries concerning the Scottish system; and queries were last year circulated, by a respectable gentleman, with a view of ascertaining the mode adopted in this country for supporting the poor. These queries are subjoined, together with the substance of the answers which were given by me to them; and should they be viewed as worthy of a place in your Magazine, you are at full liberty to insert them.
Before detailing the queries and answers, it may not be improper to offer a few desultory thoughts concerning the measures that ought to be taken for renovating and reforming the laws of England which relate to the support of the poor. To do away all the evils which arise from these laws is impracticable; because inveterate practice has given them such a deep root, that no attempt of the legislature to remove them can at once be attended with success. Still, after all, I am morally certain, were the following measures adopted, that the system for supporting the poor would not only be considerably improved, but that the amount of the rates would be gradually lessened, and that in a great
er degree than at first sight may be [April expected.
in force for regulating settlements be In the first place,-Let all the laws instantly repealed; it being enacted in future be assisted and supported by at the same time, that paupers should the parish in which they were domiciliated, when public aid was solicited. In this way, labour would at once be set free, and left to find its own level, which is not the case at present; and the workman who could not procure employment in his own parish, would be at liberty to remove to any other without any dread of the consequence. Besides, by an enactment of this kind, the immense sums expended in litigations, concerning settlements, and in removing the poor from one parish to another, would we wholly saved.
Secondly, As the evils of the present system chiefly arise from the of the rates having no control over their expenditure, let it be enacted, that the management of the poor in each parish shall in future be committed to the clergyman, church-wardens, landholders, and tenants, together with such householders as are assessed to the rates.
The utility of such an enactment is evident; as, whilst the rates would be kept as low as possible, care would always be used that the sum given to paupers should not be so great as to tempt them to remain in idleness.
Thirdly, As the poor-rates at preof land, a measure which serves no sent are chiefly paid by the occupiers useful purpose, but, on the contrary, causes proprietors to be careless and inattentive with respect to the administration of the funds, let it be enacted, that from and after a fixed period, the rates falling upon land, should, in every case, be paid by the proprietor and tenant in equal proportion, as is customary in those Scottish counties where poor-rates are collected. To secure the interest of the proprietor, let it also be enacted, that the proprietor's share of rates shall be levied as additional rent, during the currency of existing leases; or, which is the same thing, the tenant may be held responsible for the whole rate, till these leases are at an end.
ing, in numerous cases, greatly augFourthly, The amount of rates bemented by giving aid to working people, whose wages are supposed un
equal to the maintenance of their families, let it be enacted, that no person shall be considered as a pauper who is capable of working; under which enactment, assistance would be restricted to those who, from age, sickness, and bodily infirmities, are incapable of supporting themselves. By such an enactment, the amount of poor-rates would at least be reduced one-half, whilst, after all, the case of every person who really stood in need of public aid might be attended to as well as formerly. No doubt the rate of wages would be effected by the proposed regulation; but this is just what should be, it being no more than fair and reasonable, that the whole expenses of labour should fall upon the person for whose benefit it is performed, without subjecting the public to pay a part of it, as is the case under existing circumstances.
Fifthly, As the overseers of the poor, like the magistrates of our Scottish burghs, are not easily made accountable for their intromissions, it would be highly beneficial were returns made annually to the Quarter Sessions of the county in which the parish is situated, of the sums assessed and expended for supporting the poor. An enactment of that nature should not be neglected in any bill that may be brought forward to amend the poor-laws. The Quarter Sessions should also be invested with powers to investigate the accounts, and to fine or censure those persons who are convicted of mal-practices; likewise, to receive appeals from persons who conceive themselves aggrieved by the decisions of the parochial meetings. To save litigation, the judgment of that court should be final in every case.
I might have illustrated these several heads had a lengthened discussion been necessary, but, considering that in doing so I might have been led to repeat some of the sentiments urged when answering the queries that follow, any thing of that nature seems unnecessary, at least in the present instance. Under these impressions, it remains only to add, that the advantages which would attend the measures recommended, are stated in such terms that no person can be at a loss to comprehend them, even though they are presented in an abbreviated shape. I am, yours, &c.
A POLITICAL ECONOMIST.
Queries respecting the Maintenance of the Poor in Scotland.
1. What have been the laws or usages, relative to the maintenance of the poor, prior to the Union?
A. The law or usages of Scotland, relative to the maintenance of the poor, prior to the Union, were irregular and indistinct, and rather related to common beggars than to the industrious poor; as under them the poor who were in distress had seldom any other resource than the funds of the kirk session. These funds chiefly arose from the weekly collections made at the church-doors; and whilst their amount in country parishes served, in some measure, to keep the poor from starving, no temptation was furnished to apply for assistance unless it was required by imperious necessity. Previous to putting any person upon the poor's roll, the case of the applicant was strictly investigated by the members of the kirk session, and it was the general practice to take an assignation to the furniture of paupers before admitting them to a share of the funds. From these circumstances, it rarely occurred that an improper person was placed upon the poor's roll. Indeed, the relief bestowed was received as charity, in the real sense of the word, and the funds from which it proceeded were considered as sacred, therefore as inapplicable to any other than charitable purposes.
2. Have there been any legislative acts on this subject since the Union, as affecting Scotland? Or any municipal and local regulations independ ently of parliamentary authority?
A. There have been no legislative acts concerning the management of the poor in Scotland since the Union, though some decisions of the civil courts have, to a certain extent, introduced a new system of administration. The decisions alluded to have been given upon the principle of the poor being entitled to support, and that if their state is neglected by the kirk session, the Judge Ordinary of the county may place them upon the poor's roll, leaving the kirk session to apply to the heritors of the parish for necessary supply. From this cause many parishes have been obliged to levy money by assessment for supporting the poor; and one half of that assessment being charged against the farmers, has occasioned the weekly
collections to fall off, and of course to increase the necessity of making assessments. But these assessments, in country parishes, are rarely of any consequence. In the parish to which the writer of these answers belongs, the amount of assessment has never exceeded twopence in the pound of rent, and being frugally administered, the whole destitute poor receive that quota of assistance sufficient to preserve them from want and beggary. Indeed, the principle of the Scottish system is to aid the endeavours of the poor, and never to furnish such a supply as may induce them to refrain from working, except in extreme cases. The benefit of this system excites the lower ranks to industry and frugality in the days of health and strength. Acting from these motives, considerable numbers lay by small sums in their early days, as a resource or provision for supporting them when unable to work; though these motives would not operate were it understood that the parish were bound to maintain them.
It ought to have been mentioned, that many parishes are possessed of funds, consisting of mortifications made to them, and the accumulated balances of the weekly collections of former times, when the poor were not so numerous, and the collections more abundant, than they have been of late years. The annual interest of these funds, added to the weekly collections, are, in numerous instances, sufficient to support the poor without assessing landed property. In other parishes, where there are neither mortified funds nor assessments, the week-. ly collections are divided among the poor. And from all these circumstances it will evidently appear, that whatever defects may attend the Scottish system for supporting the poor, the same charge cannot be made against it as has often been brought against the English system, viz. of encouraging idleness and immorality. No; in Scotland, if a man wishes to be comfortable in his old days, he must be thrifty and industrious in the days of his youth; as, should his conduct be different whilst health and strength remain, he is morally certain of suffering in one way or another when age and its accompanying evils arrive. Before leaving this query, it cannot be amiss to notice the expediency of
passing a declaratory law concerning the Scottish system of supporting the poor. As already said, there seems no distinct or precise law upon the subject, the whole system being rather built upon use and custom, than upon the enactments of the legislature. Nay, doubts are entertained whether assessments could be legally enforced were there any disposition to resist them, as may be seen by looking into the periodical paper called "The Bee," written by the late Dr James Anderson. Even with regard to the right of a pauper to claim relief, the decisions of the courts have by no means been uniform. A declaratory law, wherein all these matters were placed in a distinct light, would therefore be of great advantage. And in such a law the management of the poor should be left to the members of the kirk session, who are the only persons qualified for discharging that duty in a prudent and frugal manner, being intimately acquainted with the condition of those who stand in need of public assistance. whilst the acting management was thus left to the kirk session, it would be useful and expedient to reserve a controlling power to the heritors, that is, power to examine and audit the accounts of the kirk session annually; to lay on assessments, if such are necessary; to delete from the roll of poor the name of any person who in their opinion did not stand in need of assistance; and to place upon the roll the name of any person refused assistance by the session, if his or her case was considered to be such as to merit relief. A control of that nature seems absolutely necessary, otherwise kirk sessions might fall into many errors; and, as the chief burden of supporting the poor falls upon the heritors, there would be small risk of any danger from assessments, seeing that those who laid them on were the very persons who had to pay them.
3. What are the resources at present in Scotland, for such persons as are incapable of labour, and absolutely destitute?
A. There is no other resource at present in Scotland for persons incapable of labour, but the funds of the kirk session, unless some of their friends are disposed to assist them. But when persons of that description have long resided with a farmer, it is
not uncommon for him to supply them with food during their lifetime. In country parishes the wants of the poor are better attended to than in large towns, chiefly because these are better known in the former than in the latter situation.
4. Is it probable that the want of certain legislative resources against poverty, has the effect of rendering the labouring classes in Scotland more industrious, sober, provident, and respectful to their superiors?
A. There can be no doubt that the want of certain legislative measures against poverty has had the effect of rendering the labouring classes in Scotland more industrious, sober, provident, and respectful to their superiors, than the same classes are in England. In Scotland, charity, generally speaking, is dispensed as a favour, whereas in England it is claimed as a right which cannot be withheld, even though the poor's rate was to swallow up the value of the land. Again, in Scotland, no person in health can, upon any account, receive relief from the poor's funds, even though it can be shewn, in the clearest manner, that he cannot obtain work. If work is not to be got in one place, he may go to another and seek it, there being no foolish law respecting settlement to prevent him. When provisions are very high, such as they are at present, then a measure is sometimes resorted to, of furnishing labourers with meal at reduced prices, and the loss thereby sustained, is either defrayed by an assessment on the parish, or by the voluntary subscription of individuals. In Edinburgh and other places, where labourers at this time cannot get work, money has been raised by subscription to furnish them with employment, and various works are carrying on at the expense of the subscribers. But these are extraordinary measures, and quite unconnected with the management of the ordinary poor, therefore it is unnecessary to insist upon them.
5. What is the usual mode of providing habitations for the common labourers, and for the absolutely indigent?
A. Every farm in Scotland is provided with a sufficient number of cottages for lodging the labourers required to cultivate it; and in the neighbouring towns and villages there is al
ways plenty of houses to be got by those who are labourers of a different description, and also for those who are absolutely indigent. The rent of houses occupied by the indigent is generally paid by the kirk-session.
6. What is the usual beverage of the common people? do they generally drink beer? and how do they procure it?
A. The usual beverage of the common people is milk, failing that useful article, water, or small beer not much better than water, is their beverage. The small beer is usually procured from public houses.
7. What may be the number of alchouses, in reference to the population of districts?
A. There are ten public-houses in this parish, few of them of extensive business, and the population thereof is 1700 souls or thereby.
8. Is it customary for labourers to resort to such houses?
A. It is not common for country labourers to resort to public-houses, except when they have received some money from their masters for extra services, or when they are delivering grain or other articles, on which occa sions an allowance in money is always given them. The inhabitants of towns and villages are better customers to the publican than the country labour
9. Is it usual for common brewers to become owners of such houses, and serve them exclusively with their own manufacture? or do the tenants brew their own beer?
A. The brewers in Scotland are very seldom owners of public-houses, the sale of ale and small beer being too inconsiderable to make it any object for them to rent houses with a view of procuring the exclusive consumption of customers. The tenants of publichouses rarely brew their own beer; indeed that is quite unnecessary, for one common brewer can with ease supply all the beer that is wanted in four or five parishes. Private brewing is not customary in Scotland, except in the harvest months, when many of the large farmers brew beer for the use of their reapers-bread and beer being almost in every case the only articles for dinner.
10. Are saving banks, or similar institutions, multiplying in Scotland? A. Saving banks are pretty numerous