« PreviousContinue »
It cannot have escaped the observation of those, who have visited Bath during the season of general resort, that the streets have generally been infested with importunate beggars. Indiscriminate benevolence held out an unceasing encouragement to idleness and vagrancy and it was too much to expect of the local poor, under the pressure of distress, that they should not join the throng of supplicants for relief; at the same time, it could not be doubted, that if all individuals would unite in the general plan, to abstain from casual alms, and to give tickets of reference to an office of inquiry, the views of the impostor would be frustrated, and the fraudulent and criminal would shrink from investigation, and abandon a place where a strict inquiry would be made into character and circumstances.
A Committee was appointed, consisting of 24 members, who in rotation attend at the office. A Committee of Ladies directs the best mode of relief in female cases. A room has been hired in a central part of Bath,
where one of the Committee attends on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 12 to 2, to receive applications, and register cases. The intermediate days are devoted to inquiry into the cases which have been registered. A beadle, employed by the Society, examines the streets of Bath twice a day, and makes an immediate report of any case of mendicity, which comes within his notice.
It has appeared, not only from respectable information, but even from the testimony of the mendicants themselves, that the houses at which they commonly procure lodgings, are so conducted as to destroy all sense of decency; men, women, and children being crowded together, passing the night in the same apartment, and exhibiting a continued scene of riot and debauchery. The cases of travellers, alleging inability to proceed on their journey, from sickness or other cause, have been inquired into; those, who have not appeared as common mendicants, have had immediate relief; and where it appeared
that they had come from a distance, with a fair expectation of obtaining employment at Bath, they have been assisted in returning home. Many have received aid in sickness and distress; and the greater part of these have surmounted their difficulties without parochial relief, cherishing at the same time the love of independence and the motive to industry.
Small sums have been advanced on loan to poor persons, in cases of sudden calamity, when repayment by instalments has appeared practicable. The benefit of the Lying-in Charity has been extended, and it is proposed to employ the methods, recommended by the London and Manchester Societies, for prevention of contagious fever; and to purify the apartments of those who are afflicted by malignant and infectious diseases. If any person receiving temporary relief from the Society, is found begging, further relief is suspended. In addition to the reward of ten shillings, granted by 17 Geo. II. to any person apprehending and conveying a rogue
where one of the Committee attends on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 12 to 2, to receive applications, and registe cases. The intermediate days are devote to inquiry into the cases which have bec registered. A beadle, employed by the S ciety, examines the streets of Bath twic day, and makes an immediate report of: case of mendicity, which comes within notice.
It has appeared, not only from resp information, but even from the testir the mendicants themselves, that the at which they commonly procure are so conducted as to destroy al' decency; men, women, and chil crowded together, passing the r same apartment, and exhibiting scene of riot and debauchery. travellers, alleging inability their journey, from sickne have been inquired int not appeared as comr had immediate relie
the remaining 80 have received small donations, which were proportioned to the apparent exigency of the case, and have been so applied, that about £17. distributed among more than go petitioners, have been perfectly adequate to the object. The visitors. have, at the same time, continued to remind those who let lodgings to vagrants, of the penalties inflicted by the 17th Geo. II. on those, by whom persons legally removed, shall be again harboured.
But the principal attention has been paid to the cases of the resident poor, whether legally settled in Bath, or resident out of their respective parishes. Where the law provides an immediate and adequate remedy, or parochial relief has been already obtained, no pecuniary contribution (except in cases of sickness) is made on the part of the Society but it has appeared that advice and assistance, with regard to the manner and ground of applying for relief, has been often greatly needed and usefully bestowed. Those