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strict adherence to the legal provisions of the Act in the minutest particular. There are so many who profit by the abuses of the present administration of the poor-laws, who will be ready to take advantage of a deviation from this attention, that it is a necessary duty, especially on the first establishment of it.
With the above-named officers, and an attentic. lairuan, the business of the select vestry may be well managed; but it will in my opinion be facilitated by considering the following arrangements.
The causes of indigence may be comprised under the three following heads *:
I. Inability to Labour.
Indigence arising from the two first of these causes is contemplated in the clause of the 43rd Elizabeth, which describes those subject to it under the character of “the lame, impotent, old, blind, and such other, being poor, and not able to work.” And it is this kind of indigence that I shall first consider. I. Inability to labour is, 1. Temporary with the sick.
with lying-in women. 2. Permanent with the old and incurable.
* De Gerando, Visiteur du Pauvre, p. 19.
It may also be divided into total and partial.
1. Total with the bed-ridden, the paralytic,
the decrepid, and in all cases of idiotcy,
insanity, and helpless infancy. 2. Partial in all other cases, even that of the
blind. II. Under the head of indigence, arising from the insufficiency of the produce of labour, are comprehended all those cases occasioned by age or infirmity, where strength is reduced below the average rate of exertion, or where it has not yet attained to it; and those cases, such as widows with families, where the strength, from the laws of nature, is inadequate to the average of exertion ; and where even the average exertion of the able-bodied, from the excess of family above an average number, will be insufficient for their support *.
On the state of indigence arising from the above two causes, no difference of opinion, I believe, exists in this country, or in
—that, in some manner, it should be relieved from the abundance of the wealthy. To the relief of it, however, the great rule of political economy most powerfully applies, Do not interfere too much. Let not the dispensers of
* This species of indigence, and its claim on public relief, is recognized by Dupin, p. 444.
the public charity undertake the whole system of management ; let them not provide the detail of lodging and diet, and clothing and fuel. Feelings implanted by the Wise Author of our being in the human breast will most generally induce their natural relations to receive them into their houses, especially, provided they are under no apprehension of actual want. And in these instances policy is combined with charity, as their maintenance, in a pecuniary point of view, will be less than in any public establishment. Nor should the enforcement of the existing law, which compels relatives, in certain degrees, to relieve their indigent connexions, be omitted. This is also said to be the law in France *. If they have no relations, such an allowance should be given them as may induce friends or connexions to receive them. The kindly feelings of the poor towards each other, where nothing but such feelings are expected or required, have been subjects of frequent observation. It is the only mode in which they are justified in exercising the great Christian virtue of charity; but it is perhaps the noblest, and ought to be encouraged. I cannot refrain here from quoting the observation of a female writer, because it is probable that it is founded on actual experience, derived from her particular connexions.
* De Gerando, p. 42.
“ The humanity, the sympathy for sufferings, the sacrifices which the poor make to relieve each other's distresses, are known only to those who enter into their domestic concerns. This has been frequently observed by medical men, who attend the lower classes of people in sickness at their own houses.' '_-Conversations on Political Economy, 3rd edit. page 85.
The next resource is a public receptacle, which must be provided in all parishes of any
considerable extent, and which should be provided by the combination of smaller parishes at a joint expense. The size and arrangements of these establishments must depend on circumstances, of which each parish or district is the most competent judge. This house should be under the direction of some proper person; but either or both of the two former offices may be combined with it, according to the extent of the parish.
The allowance for the sustenance of all conditions of
maintained in these public receptacles should be the same as for those resident out of it. The allowance for those who, from various causes, are incompetent to expend the money granted them by the parish, should be expended for them by the master, or relief in provisions may be administered to the extent of that allowance. By these means, the immediate supervision and minutely laborious investigation,
which occupy so much time in several parishes, is reduced to the mere inspection of the healthy or unhealthy appearance of the subjects. Thus that great source of fraud and mismanagement, the expenditure of what is called, and was originally built for, a parish workhouse, is reduced into the smallest possible compass, and the real comforts of the deserving indigent increased.
It is a natural inference from the above observations, that I advise the abolition of what are called workhouses, or places where forced labour is expected to be productive ; being fully convinced, from repeated experience, of the folly of such expectations. The employment of public or parochial capital is only justifiable in the cases of orphan or illegitimate children, growing up to maturity under parochial care. These should be formed to habits of early industry, and to these especially should the care of the legalized administration be directed. Fortunately, the systems of early education, so generally introduced within late years, have anticipated this object in a great degree ; but it should be provided from parochial funds, if voluntary charity be wanting. But with respect to all other cases, the quantity and mode of relief must depend on the previous character of the indigent person. It is impossible to define the infinite variety of human characters, so as to apply parti