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milar practice, but beginning at different points. In Scotland, the administration is perfect ; the equal local assessment is just commencing*. In England, the equal local assessment is, perhaps, as complete as the varied nature of property will admit: the ameliorated administration is as yet in its infancy. All three nations practically recognize the theory of the right of indigence to relief by the State, which I have attempted to prove in the present Essay. That theory is, I know, contrary to the received opinion; and therefore, when it was suggested to me that it would be dangerous to promulgate it, even if true, because it raised that claim into a right, which had hitherto rested on weaker grounds, in deference to the opinion of the excellent person who made the suggestion, I reviewed the theory, with reference to all the historical facts I could collect, and in all the moral and political writers whose opinions appeared to be grounded on the principles of experience. But this revision confirmed my opinion of its truth ; and I owe it to myself again to say, that when my
* The Magistrates of Glasgow in 1774 for the first time elected assessors under the Act of 1579, and directed them to assess the inhabitants in the sum of £1305 10s. 10d. for the maintenance of the ordinary and extraordinary poor for that year. Since that period, an annual assessment has been regufarly laid on by fifteen honourable men, appointed by, but not connected with, the town council......
It has been the custom for a considerable time past to assess every person within the burgh who is supposed, from his property or business, to be worth £300.
In 1822 the assessors for the maintenance of the poor, in estimating the property of each individual liable to pay poorrates, made the aggregate valuation amount to £5,264,700. The assessment is made on the inhabitant in respect to his whole property. The average sum raised annually for the ten years ending 1822 was £10,764.
(Extracted from Statistical Table relative to the city of Glasgow, by James Cleland, p. 111, 112, 126.)
mind was first turned to the inquiry, the hypothesis with which I started was totally different from the conclusion to which I arrived. Experience, conversation, inquiry and discussion, for the last seven years, since the first publication of this Essay, have further confirmed my opinion,-yet I hope I have ever been open to conviction.
If the theory be true, it cannot be dangerous, nor can it be useless ; for it is a landmark in
political science, and sets at rest a question hitherto the subject of contest,- I mean, the justness of the general principle on which they are founded, and, consequently, the propriety of the continuance or abolition of the laws for the relief of the poor.
The power of discrimination which may be exerted under the improved administration is one of its leading advantages, as to the application of the funds raised by the public compulsory assessment. The intimate acquaintance which, through its means, the rich may obtain with the situation and characters of the poor, renders it no less advantageous towards the discriminative exercise of private charity. To this, as a help to the poor laws, Mr. Davison has called the public attention; and I fully coincide with him as to its utility. The constitution of the Select Vestry realizes the idea of that public trust for voluntary stated parochial contributions, which he has contemplated *. Some inclement winters have called forth the active charity and exertions of opulent individuals resident in the parish of Speen, beyond the legal claims of the Poor Rates; and in such distributions of the necessaries of life or provision of labour, as the several circumstances rendered necessary, the discrimination with which they were administered arose from the information constantly registered in the books of the Select Vestry. Indeed, in every case where private charity has been called into action, no method of obtaining information respecting the characters of individuals, and to render that charity discriminate, has been found so effective. But charity, although frequently confounded with almsgiving, embraces more extended objects ; it may even consist, in some instances, with withholding alms; it may be, and it ought to be, exercised towards those who are not only indigent, but vicious and profligate ;
towards all, whether just or unjust, on whom God causes his sun to shine, and his rain to fall.
Indigence in its varied forms must always exist under the present constitution of society and dispensation of Providence. Humanly speaking, division of property is the necessary consequence of the principle of population, and indigence the necessary consequence of the division of property. They follow in that order, which the wisdom of the ALMIGHTY seems to have appointed for the preservation of Civil Society. But from the actual constitution of Civil Society, arise duties which, properly performed, appear capable of preventing indigence from degenerating into misery or into crime, from that cause only.
The distinction which must always continue between rich and poor, was revealed previous to the Christian dispensation, and confirmed by it. Without this distinction, there would be no place for those virtues enforced by the leading precepts of the Gospel, which imply that our present existence is a state of moral probation*.
“ The ends of goodness require that there should be in the universe creatures of all orders, and that there should be a dependence of their states upon one another: for without this there would be no sphere of agency for beings; no
* See Paley's Natural Theology, p. 525.
room for the exercise of benevolence, by doing good to our fellow-creatures ; nor, consequently, any possibility of the practice of virtue in that instance of it which brings us nearest to the perfection of the Deity. A variety, therefore, of orders of beings ; a dependence of them upon one another ; and, in general, imperfections and subordinations among them, and a precariousness of state,-are necessary to render that happiness possible which consists in the exercise of the rational and moral powers of beings. But it is obvious that from hence must arise a liability to calamities; and, in many circumstances, the distress of individuals, and sometimes of a whole species. In short, exclude from the world that liberty which we often see so dreadfully abused; exclude from it all wants and subordinations, and dangers, and losses ; set all beings on a level, and emancipate them entirely from the influence of one another's agency,—and you will leave no creature any thing to do. You will lay the whole rational creation asleep, and exclude from it all, that happiness which is most worth producing*.”
* Sermons by R. Price, D.D. L.L.D.F.R.S. second edition,