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I have heard it said (and it is easy to say so) let them learn to work ; let them subdue their pride and descend to mean employments, keep ale-houses, or coffee-houses, even sell fruit, or clean shoes for an honest livelihood. But alas! these occupations and many more like them, are overstocked already by people who know better how to follow them, than do they whom we have been talking of. Half of those who are bred in low life, and well versed in such shifts and expedients, find but a very narrow maintenance by them. As for laboring, I could almost wish that the gentleman, or merchant, who thinks that another gentleman, or merchant in want, can thresh, or dig, to the value of subsistence for his family, or even for himself; I say I could wish the person who thinks so, were obliged to make trial of it for a week, or (not to be too severe) for only a day : he would find himself to be less than the fourth part of a laborer, and that the fourth part of a laborer's wages could not maintain him. I have heard it said, that a man may learn to labor by practice; it is admitted: but it must also be admitted that before he can learn, he may starve. Suppose a gentleman were this day to begin, and with grievous toil found himself able to earn three pence, how many days, or months, are necessary to form him that he may deserve a shilling per diem ? Men, whose wants are importunate, must try such expedients as will give immediate relief. It is too late for them to begin to learn a trade when their pressing necessities call for the exexercise of it.
Having thus described (I fear, too truly) the pitiable con- ,' dition of the better sort of the indigent, an objection rises against their removal upon what is stated of their imbecility for drudgery. It may be asked, if they can't get bread here for their labor, how will their condition be mended in Georgia? The answer is easy ; part of it is well attested, and part self-evident. They have land there for nothing, and that * land is so fertile that (as is said before) they receive an hundredfold increase for taking very little pains. Give here in England ten acres of good land to one of these helpless persons, and I doubt not his ability to make it sustain him, and this by his own culture, without letting it to another: but the difference between no rent, and rack-rent, is the dif
* Descr. Abreg. p. 13.
ference between eating and starving. If I make but twenty pound of the produce of a field, and am to pay twenty pound rent for it; it is plain I must perish if I have not another fund to support me: but if I pay no rent, the produce of that field will supply the mere necessities of life.
With a view to the relief of people in the condition I have described, his majesty has this present year incorporated a considerable number of persons of quality and distinction, and vested a large tract of South Carolina in them, by the name of Georgia, in trust to be distributed among the necessitous. These Trustees not only give land to the unhappy who go thither, but are also impowered to receive the voluntary contributions of charitable persons to enable them to furnish the poor adventurers with all necessaries for the expense of the voyage, occupying the land, and supporting them till they find themselves confortably settled. So that now the unfortunate will not be obliged to bind themselves to a long servitude, to pay for their passage, for they may be carried gratis into a land of liberty and plenty ; where they immediately find themselves in possession of a competent estate, in an happier climate than they knew before, and they are unfortunate indeed if here they cannot forget their sorrows.
to a long servitunate will not
England will grow rich by sending her Poor Abroad. Of Refugees, Conversion
of Indians, small Offenders, Roman Colonies.
BESIDES the persons described in the preceding chapter, there are others whom it may be proper to send abroad for the reasons hereafter given, which reasons will also shew at whose expense these other sorts of indigent people ought to be removed. I think it may be laid down for a rule, that we may well spare all those, who having neither income, nor industry, equal to their necessities, are forced to live upon the fortunes, or labors of others; and that they who now are an heavy rent-charge upon the public, may be made an immense revenue to it, and this by an happy exchange of their poverty for an affluence. .
Believing it will be granted that the people described in
the last chapter ought in prudence to go abroad; and that we are bound in humanity and charity to send them : there arises a question, whether our aiding their departure be consistent with good policy? I raise this objection on purpose to answer it, because some who mean very well to the public have fancied that our numbers absolutely taken, without a distinction, are real wealth to a nation. Upon a little examination, this will appear to be a mistaken notion. It arises from a misapplication of Sir William Petty's Political Arithmetic, and of Sir William Temple's Observations on the united Netherlands. But when these great men esteem people as the wealth of a nation, surely they can only mean such as labor, and by their industry add yearly to the capital stock of their country, at the same time, that they provide the necessaries or comforts of life for themselves. Perhaps the rasp-houses may be reckoned part of the riches of Holland, because the drones are made to work in them : but is an infirmary of incurables wealth to a community ? Or (which is worse, because it is remediable and is not remedied) are hundreds of prisons filled with thousands of English debtors, are they a glory, or a reproach, a benefit, or a burthen, to the nation ? Who can be so absurd as to say that we should be enriched by the importation of a multitude of cripples, who might be able perhaps to earn a fourth part of what is necessary to sustain them? If ten thousand of these would be an addition to our wealth, ten millions of them must add a thousand times as much to it. Did the fire of London add to the wealth of the nation ? I am sure it gave abundance of employment to the poor, just as people are employed in trade to feed and cloth the inhabitants of prisons. But these are also a slow fire, an hectic fever to consume the vitals of the state. The true state of national wealth is like that of private wealth, it is comparative. The nation, as well as individuals, must work to save and not to spend. If I work hard all day and at night give my wages to the next cripple I see, it may be profitable to my soul, but my worldly fortune is in the same condition as if I had stood idle. If the produce of the nation be in movables, land and labor fifty millions in a year, and only forty-eight millions are expended to maintain the people : now has the nation added two millions to its capital, but if it spends fifty-one millions, then is that to be made good by sinking part of the personal estate, or mortgaging the real. And upon a par, plus a million, and minus a million in earnings and expenses will operate nothing towards increasing the national wealth, if you proceed in infinitum, it is only impoverishing the rich to maintain the poor; it seems indeed to have something of leveling in it ; to prevent which, I think our men of fortune would act wisely once for all; to put these poor people on a footing of their own, and shake off the perpetual incumbrance by a single act of prudent beneficence.
One of the gentlemen would have Scotland, Ireland and Wales sunk under water, but all the people saved and settled in England. He certainly deceived himself with a view of the * artificial strength of the Dutch, when their fishery was at the highest pitch, and when they were carriers for mankind. But they have not been able to preserve these branches of trade entire, and their numbers must decrease as do the means of maintaining them. Therefore instead of taking it for granted, that numbers of people necessarily create a traffic; we may invert the proposition, and safely hold, that an extensive traffic will infallibly be attended with sufficient numbers of people.
And yet these unhappy people, who are not able to earn above a fourth part of their sustenance at home, and as we have shown are a load on the fortunes and industry of others, may in the new province of Georgia well provide by their labor a decent maintenance, and at the same time enrich their mother country.
Upon what has been said, the reader may be desirous to see a state of the difference (with respect to the interests of the industrious and wealthy part of the nation,) between a poor person here, earning but half his sustenance, and the same person settled in a freehold, of a fertile soil without tithes or taxes: and in this computation let us remember that of the many thousands of poor debtors, who fill our prisons, few earn any thing at present; and this colony is chiefly intended for the unfortunate, there being no danger of the departure of such as are able to maintain themselves here.
A man who is equal in ability, only to the fourth part of a laborer, (and many such there are,) we will suppose to earn
* See the sixth chapter.
four-pence per diem, five pounds per annum, in London ; his wife and a child of above seven years old four-pence per diem more: upon a fair supposition (because it is the common case) he has another child too young to earn any thing. These live but wretchedly at an expense of twenty pounds per annum, to defray which they earn ten pounds; so that they are a loss to the rich and industrious part of the nation of ten pounds per annum, for there are but three general methods of supplying the defect of their ability. Whatever they consume more than they earn, must be furnished, first either by the bounty, or charity of others; or secondly, by frauds, as by running in debt to the ruin of the industrious, &c., or, thirdly, by what our law calls force and felony, as theft and robbery, &c. They must be supplied at some of these rates, therefore (as I said before, this family is a loss to the rich and industrious of ten pounds per annum, and if the particulars of their consumption, or an equivalent for them could have brought ten pounds from any foreign market, then has the whole community lost ten pounds by this family.
Now this very family in Georgia, by raising rice and corn sufficient for its occasions, and by attending the care of their cattle and land (which almost every one is able to do for himself in some tolerable degree) will easily produce in the gross value, the sum of sixty pounds per annum, nor is this to be wondered at, because of the valuable assistance it has from a fertile soil and a stock given gratis, which must always be remembered in this calculation.
The lots to be assigned to each family, as it is said, will be about fifty acres. The usual *wages of a common laborer in Carolina is three shillings per diem, English value, or twenty shillings of their money. Therefore our poor man, (who is only equal to the fourth part of a man,) at about nine pence per diem, earns about twelve pounds per annum, his care of his stock on his land in his hours of resting from labor, (amounting to one half of each day) is worth also twelve pounds per annum, his wife and eldest child may easily between them earn as much as the man; so that the sum remaining to be raised by the wealth of the soil and the stock thereon (abstracted from the care and labor of the husbandman) is only twelve pounds per annum, it must be observed that though this family, when in London, was dieted but
* Descr. Abreg. page 9.