Page images

conviction, to a fine or to corporal punishment, he might be deterred by a penal law, which he knew would be enforced. In any event the principles and moral character of the poor man will not be deteriorated, and the sanctity of religion profaned, by frequent and familiar appeals to the ALMIGHTY, upon the truth of facts which the party solemnly declares upon his oath, in the confidence of their never being enquired into.

* The DEPRAVITY of the poor, and indeed of the other ranks, has been greatly increased by the frequent and unnecessary repetition of formal oaths, directed by every modern Act of Parliament.—In every matter relating to the poor-laws, -in every concern of property,-and in the innumerable variety of financial regulations,-this solemn appeal to the DEITY is not only repeated beyond all pretence of object, but with a species of levity and inattention, and frequently with a degree of ignorance and indifference as to the truth of what is so solemnly averred, which must be shocking to every thinking and considerate mind.—While we carefully guard against perjury in our courts of law, and exclude in all instances the evidence of a PARTY INTERESTED, however slight that interest may be, is it not extraordinary, that, in the poor-laws and in financial regulations, the only evidence required should be that of the party most interested. In the first instance, the poor man is taught to consider an oath, as the form and mode appointed by law, in which he is to claim relief. His wife and family are in distress, and, whatever compunction he may have, he goes as an act of duty, to swear what is necessary to obtain them relief.—In financial regulations, an attempt to specify the unnecessary oaths prescribed by law, would be as difficult as to number the sands of the sea.

14th. To enact that, in case of incorporated workhouses, each Parish shall contribute weekly and rateably, for every Pauper sent into the Workhouse by such Parish.

Incorporated districs have this disadvantage, that their quota of allowance toward the general fund, has been fixed originally, by their proportion at the time of incorporation ;* and that thereby the inducement has been greatly diminished, for any parish to endeavour to improve the situation of its own poor, or to check the progress of pauperism and profligacy within their parochial limit. The difference of expense to any parish, from the particular expense


* Upon this subject the reader is referred to the account of the Montgomery and Pool House of Industry, where the inconvenience is stated, and the remedy proposed. Vol. IV. p. 151.-This remedy made a material part of Sir Richard Lloyd's plan, in 1753. See Appendix to Vol. IV. p. 113. "Mr. Rose observes that it is quite evident, on an attentive inspection of the returns, that the largest parishes pay consi"derably the highest rates."-This he imputes partly to" an "indifference in inhabitants, about persons gaining settlements; "by which from many persons contributing, each will be but "little affected by an eventual charge."-This indifference "about the poor in large parishes also extends to their employment and improvement; and in incorporated districts produces still greater and more pernicious effects.

of their own poor, is so trifling and dispropor tionate, when paid out of the general fund, that it hardly supplies a motive or inducement to conduct. This is a national and an important evil: its effects are extremely pernicious. It tends generally, and throughout the kingdom, to deteriorate the condition, and to increase the burthen of the poor. For this, the proposed regulation will leave the general arrangements of the house in their original state; and will only vary a part of the detail of expense, so as to prevent injury to the community at large. The difference will probably be trifling and immaterial at present; but the consequences in preventing the future increase of parochial burthens will be great and important.

28 March, 1805,


No. II.

The following Report has been made to the Ladies Society for the Education and Employment of the female Poor, by the Sub-Committee of the Society.

THE Sub-Committee have endeavoured to càrry into execution the intentions of the Ladies Committee as far as the opportunities they have had have enabled them, and beg leave to lay before them the following statement of their proceedings.

The Ladies Committee having furnished them with no detailed instructions, and having by no means adopted any fixed system of regulations for its own formation and conduct in the few meetings which took place previous to the summer adjournment, they thought the services which it might be in their power to perform during the interval, were necessarily confined to the collecting of such information as might contribute to supply the Ladies Committee with the foundation and materials of more active proceedings when they should

[blocks in formation]

resume their meetings during the winter. It appeared to them particularly necessary to direct their enquiries to the following objects.

First, To collect general information respecting the circumstances and employment of the female poor, by as extensive a circulation. of the printed Queries as they had the means of effecting.

Secondly, To ascertain as far as they were able, the disposition of ladies in different parts of the country to co-operate with the Society; to learn the extent of the assistance it might expect to receive; and to collect the observations which might be offered them respecting its proposed plans and regulations.

Thirdly, To give such encouragement, and assistance as might be in their power to the formation of District Committees-and in all these proceedings they hoped for the active assistance of the other Ladies of the Committee in their different places of summer residence, conformably to their resolutions of the 5th of June, 1804.

In stating the result of these enquires they beg leave to confine themselves to a general summary, apprehending it would occupy too much of the time of the Committee to enter

« PreviousContinue »