Page images
[ocr errors]

might be therefore supplied with a far more ac-
ceptable maintainance, than her pauper's pension.
I do not mean, that these parish schools would
require no care and attention. But each of these
little seminaries would find patronesses, who
would make their superintendance a subject of
amusement: and, in a world like this, if care
and attention of this kind are to be entirely
dispensed with, where are the active and social
faculties of man to find exercise and employ-

10th. To enquire into the state of parochial Chari-
ties, with a view to apply them so as to encourage
the good habits of the Poor.

To make the poor better and happier, we may safely conclude was the intention of the founders of parochial charities for the poor. No measures can therefore be adopted, more conformable to the real objects of the donors, than those which may tend to increase the virtue and happiness of the objects of their benevolence. How little this principle has been attended to, and how many of these "charitable donations have been "lost; and how many others, from neglect of payment and the inattention of those persons


[ocr errors]

"who ought to superintend them, are in danger


of being lost, and are now rendered very "difficult to be recovered," is stated in the report of the Committee of the House of Commons, of the 10th of June, 1788. The annual rental of them is not trifling or inconsiderable; being upon those charities, which were returned in 1787, £258,710. 19s. 3d. per annum. This was only a part: had all the returns been duly made, they would have amounted to a much larger annual rental. If these charitable funds were invested in national securities, their trusts registered,* and their income duly applied, near a million of money would be annually applicable to a most beneficial object,—the promotion of industry, prudence, and good habits, among the poor.

11th To appropriate a Fund, to the amount of Sixpence in the pound on the Parish Rates, to be applied, in addition to the parochial Charities, for the encouragement of the good habits of the


If this small proportion of one fortieth part of

See two notes of 3d of Feb. 1798, in Vol. I. and No. XX. of the Reports.

the parochial rates thus applied, would not do more service, than it would in the ordinary course, this measure ought not to be adopted; but if it should, on the other hand, appear that such an application might produce many times the effect, which it would do in the common mode, there will remain, it is hoped, no objection to it. That its effect, in exciting exertion on the part of the poor, would be ten times more than what it could produce in any other mode, hardly any one practically experienced in the subject would doubt.-Several of the different modes, in which this fund might be advantageously applied, to promote the exertions and good habits of the poor, are stated in the preceding numbers of the Reports. There is only one additional object which I will notice at present ;—and that is the encouraging of young persons to make a prošpective provision against marriage. This might be attained by liberal premiums, periodically given to each young couple, who could prove that they had saved and laid up of their earings, to a certain amount, during the six years preceding their marriage. The poor laws have, at present, a tendency to promote wasteful youth, and thoughtless marriages, among the poor.

12th. To make a more complete provision for the religious duties of the Poor.

This may be effected by giving them proper accommodation in our churches; by having evening services in London and the other great towns; and by building new churches, where they are wanted -All these objects, if we desire religious habits in the poor, should be attended to.-If we wish the poor of the established church to be as regular in their religious duties, as those of the Sectaries usually are, we should make as acceptable and favourable a provision for the poor in our churches, as is made in the Sectarian chapels. If we offer the poor no accommodation in our churches, we must not be surprised, that in some instances they attend other chapels, and in others neglect their religious duties entirely. The poor in great towns are more able to attend an evening than a morning service, and such attendance is more likely to keep them from improper habits and connections. The alehouse and the spirit shop may be, in some degree, depopulated thereby; as it would afford satisfactory occupation to the poor for time which they might otherwise

have been induced to devote to tippling and idleness. The example of hundreds who, instead of spending a druken evening at the public house, do now regularly attend the evening service at the Free Chapel in St. Giles's, might contributeto decide the general opinion on the subject.

13th. To allow certain examinations of the Poor to be taken without oath.

In the course of the execution of the poorlaws, the repetition of oaths is an evil of no small magnitude; not only when considered with a view to the general sanction of an oath, and the moral sentiment existing on the subject; but also as to the object, for which the oath is administered. The pauper who is examined, has no apprehension of a conviction for perjury; as there is little probability, even where perjury is apparent, that the magistrate should be at the expense and trouble of a criminal prosecution, merely to bring down the vengeance of the law on indigence and misery. If, on the contrary, the pauper's examination were by a solemn averment, the wilful falsehood of which should subject the culprit, upon a summary

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »