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weak beverage of the country; and the women half a bottle daily.
In case of sickness they are removed to a particular part of the house, which is used as an infirmary; where they are provided with medical assistance, and experience every possible attention. In case of their decease, they are decently interred in the neighbouring church, at the expense of the society; or elsewhere, if desired, at the expense of their friends.
Their time is at their own disposal. They may employ themselves in any profitable occupation, provided it does not interfere with the general rules and government of the house. Several females are engaged in needle work for their friends and families. What little pecuniary emoluments they acquire by their industry, supply them with pocket money,
There is no unreasonable restriction on their amusements; they are entirely their
own masters. They are all, more or less, engaged in religious exercises. There was a charm in this retreat, which imagination only can picture to the mind. At that period of life, when both mind and body require repose, when it is necessary that old age should abstract itself from the busy hum of men, and "walk pensive on the silent solemn shore, of that vast ocean it must sail so soon," what can be more consolatory than the consciousness of having a retreat, where in consequence of the exertions of former industry, infirmities are relieved, wants are supplied, and religious duties provided?
The benefits of this institution are open to every one as a matter of compact and purchase, and not of favour or solicitation. It offers the means whereby, after the attainment of seventy years, or in case of infirmity at an earlier period of life, the industrious and prudent may secure a peaceful and comfortable asylum; always acceptable to them, because it is of their own acquirement; and at the same time beneficial to the
public, because it is the prize of that prudence and that industry which, while they confirm and reward the good habits of the possessor, afford example and inducement to other persons in similar situations.
The tendency of this institution is to encourage prospective prudence in the poor; habituating the subscribers to apply in a provision for old age, that portion of their earnings, which might otherwise be wasted and lost. It differs from the constitution of almshouses and hospitals, for the aged and unfortunate, in this respect, that the party is not indebted to the compassion or liberality of others; but purchases the possession of this freehold interest for the close of life, by his own industry and economy in the active part of it. The acquirement is the act of the individual, and the result of his own care and foresight. Instead of checking or paralysing, it has the effect of encouraging industry. It offers the sure means N
of providing against that species of adversity, from which old age, which is destitute of any certain provision, can seldom hope to be exempt.
There is probably no country in the world, where provisions of this kind would be so practicable, and so useful, and yet at the same time when it would require so much arrangement and management, as in England. In manufactures, in some instances in agriculture, in domestic service, and in the and army navy with that increase of pay which has been so well merited, individuals are enabled in the early and middle stages of life to do much for themselves. Those who do not contract early marriages, have it generally in their power to make a prospective provision for old age. And if inducement and means were supplied them, they would make this prudential application of their weekly surplus, instead of consigning it to the alehouse or spirit shop. I am not unaware that friendly societies are directed to the same end; but it is too
obvious that many of them are deficient in security, and that others are perverted and abused, and must be perpetually liable to perversion and abuse, in the hands in which the government of them is placed.
To prevent intricacy and confusion in the plan, it would be expedient to confine the different establishments to the limits of parishes, or at least of united districts: and to give security to it, it would be necessary to make the parochial funds responsible for any deficiency, at the same time that they should be intitled to the surplus arising from the funds. And in order to make it practicable, the general list of persons receiving an allowance out of the house, should be considered as out-pensioners, receiving a certain annuity, and intitled to come into the domestic establishment whenever vacancies should occur.
In fact, this retreat for age and infirmity, would not much differ from that,* which has
* See Appendix to 25th Report, p. 4.