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As the second previous question has been very generally assumed as a fact, and particularly by some landholders in Ireland, with whom the writer has conversed, from the high opinion entertained of the deserved merit of Mr. Malthus's book, in which it was first strongly asserted that the Poor Laws tended to encourage an excessive population; in addition to the observations in p. 60 of the present Essay, which comprehend the remarks of Mr. Rickman on the last population returns, the writer calls attention to the following extracts from Mr. Malthus's own works.
After proposing the abolition of the Poor Laws, he adds :
« The abolition of them is not of itself sufficient; and the obvious answer to those who lay so much stress upon this system, is to desire them to look at the state of the
in some other countries where such laws do not prevail, and to compare it with their condition in England.” But after having made this challenge as to the comparative state (p.190) of the poor in England and in other countries, he immediately retracts it : 66 But this comparison, it must be acknowledged, is in
many respects unfair, and would by no means decide the question of the utility or inutility of such a system.
The writer of the present Essay, who has tried to bring the question exactly to this issue, by making this comparison, is of opinion that all facts are decidedly against this theory. Mr. Malthus is of the same opinion ; for he gives as a reason, why the facts differ from his theory, Because they “ are generated by the constitution of the English government, and the excellence of its laws, which secure to every individual the produce of his industry.”
In what respect have the constitution of the Irish Government and the excellence of its laws differed, ever since the abolition of Poyning's Law, from that of England, as to the security of every individual with respect to the produce of his industry, except in having no Poor Laws? And will not the Irish consider the manner in which Mr. Malthus gets rid of these stubborn facts as something worse than illogical and unphilosophical?..“ If, as in Ireland,” says he, “ the people are in so degraded a state as to propagate their species
without regard to consequences, it matters little whether they have Poor Laws or not*.”
But Ireland, with every advantage of the English constitution and laws, is exactly in that beau-ideal state which Mr. Malthus contemplates in England, if his system of abolishing the Poor Laws should be adopted: “A system which, if pursued, we need be under no apprehension that the number of persons in extreme want would be beyond the power and will of the benevolent to supply t.”. Is this the state of Ireland now? Was it the state of Ireland in 1822-23 ?
“ In France," says he, “the Committee de Mendicité, at the beginning of the Revolution, very properly and judiciously rejected the establishment of a system of Poor Laws I.” The judgement and propriety, and the consequences of them, have been very fully entered into in pages 84, 85, of this Essay, from the facts stated by the most recent French writers: and the latest accounts from thence inform us, that there are five millions of paupers out of a population of thirtytwo millions; 130,000 thieves or depredators; and that besides man ytliousands in hospitals, there are three millions who have not a certainty of a month's subsistence *.
* Page 196.
| Page 182.
| Page 194.
Coincidence of opinion in persons totally unconnected, adds strength to a general arguinent. An able writer in the Monthly Review t, preceded, ha a gentleman who has paid much attention to the subject, has followed in point of time the present writer in a similar view of the subject I. The facts collected by Mr. Sadler differ from those produced in the present pamphlet, but still tend to confirm them; and the present writer feels gratified in availing himself of the testimony of that gentleman, who quotes him with approbation, as baving had the benefit of personal experience with respect to the administration of the Poor Laws g. A very strong reason indeed for the republication of this Essay by the writer was, that he might have an opportunity of bearing testimony, by a further experience of seven years, to the value of the legislative enactments of the 59th Geo. III. c. 59, and proving how effective they were in practice.
* Monthly Review, January 1829.
+ Monthly Review, May 1818. The present writer had never seen that Review previous to the first publication of his pamphlet.
| Ireland, its Evils and their Remedies, by M. T. Sadler, Esq. M.P. §
Ibid. p. 203.
If it may be said, that improvements in the administration and reduction in the rates are the consequences of every considerable legislative change in the Poor Laws, and that the adoption of the Workhouse System and of the Incorporation of the Hundreds had the same effect on their first establishment, and that the Select Vestry Act will have the same fate with those,-to become obsolete and ineffective,--the writer can only make one observation, which he thinks decisive ; namely, that the poor-rates cannot be considered as very oppressive, when those who are to contribute to them will not give up so small a portion of their time as the duties of a Select Vestry require to their administration ; when the sacrifice of that time is not attended with any expense or any outlay of capital ; and if not effective, may be abandoned without any pecuniary loss,which has not been the case in the instances of the Workhouse System and the Incorporated Hundreds.