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Under the term “ Hopital” are comprehended the receptacles for sickness and casualties ; under that of “ Hospice,” places of reception for the poor and impotent. The “ Depôts de Mendicité" are intended to prevent beggary*.
The funds by which these establishments are supported, are derived from the fixed property, which remained after confiscation and sale; from the “octrois municipaux et de bienfaisancet," or taxes on provisions, &c. entering the large towns, granted for this purpose ; from fines imposed for certain crimes; from à proportionate tax on tickets of admission to public entertainments; from voluntary donations and legacies ; from the “ quétes," or solicitations in the churches, and from house to house; and, in aid of all these, from the direct assistance of the state, out of the public revenues.
- But although the “ hôpital” and “ hospice” have reached the cases of the inhabitants of the cities in some degree, yet those who languish in want and distress in their own houses have appealed, and not in vain, to the humanity of the French people and of its government. In fact, ten years after the promulgation of the statute 27th
There were Depôts de Mendicité established in 68 departments, between 25th April 1808, and 19th December 1811.
+ In the official style of 1800, bienfaisance was substituted for churité : the last word was too christian.
Henry VIII. c. 25, above mentioned, Francis I. issued an ordonnance in 1536, directing “ that the impotent poor should be relieved in the parishe's in which they dwelt; that reasonable alms should be distributed to them, according to rolls made out by the curés, the vicars, and the marguilliers, (a lay officer connected with the church analogous to our churchwarden ;) which alms were to arise from the quêtes, solicitations, and alms given daily, and collected in the churches.” This custom appears to have been a revival of a plan proposed or adopted by St. Louis. In 1816 a system of domiciliary relief for the city of Paris was organized and promulgated by the French king, to which it appears that the labours of M. de Gerando principally contributed ; and of which the leading arrangements are as follow:
“ There are twelve offices (bureaux), under the direction of the Prefect of the Seine and the General Council of the Hospitals ; each office consists of the Mayor of the arrondissement ; of the Clergy of all descriptions, Catholic and Protestant; and twelve other administrators named by Government. Each arrondissement is divided into twelve quarters ; and the administrators, assisted by the Sisters of Charity, take charge each specially of the several quarters. They meet in a central situation, and on a given day weekly. Attached to each office are medical men, midwives, Sisters of Charity, schoolmasters and mistresses, and” (what may appear ludicrous in the eyes of English readers,) “lawyers to give gratuitoús advice. The poor receiving relief are divided into classes, according to their several wants, and relieved as much as possible in kind, and labour provided for those out of employment. The funds are derived from quétes, and collections in and out of churches, and from the general revenues of the state, distributed through the hands of the Council General of Hospitals *.
Legislation must originate in, and be directed by, circumstances which arise in the progress of society; and I think I can perceive, by the practice existing in the two last-mentioned countries of France and Scotland, that a rapid progress is making towards the complete adoption of a measure relative to the relief of the indigent; on the subject of which there prevails in England, where the law of the land on it has a long time been fully carried into practice, a great difference of opinion.
I allude to the system of laws, which, after the abolition of legalized mendicity, commencing with godly exhortation, (1 Edward VI. c. 3.) asking and demanding by the clergyman, proceeded to inducing and persuading by the ordinary, (5 and 6 Edward VI. c. 2); then to taxation
* De Gerando, Visiteur du Pauvre, p. 145.
by the Justices, (5 Eliz. c. 3.); and commitment in case of refusal, (14 Eliz. c. 5.); and finally, to weekly taxation by the overseers, according to ability, (39 Eliz. c. 3.); which system on this point was confirmed by the 43 Eliz. c. 2. ... Whether this very important step in the legis: lation on this subject is or is not founded in just principles of natural and divine law, will presently be considered; that it is one which must have taken place in the natural progress of society, is indisputable. “, “ It hath been generally supposed,” says Burn, « that the statute 43 Eliz. established a new plan. And from the known abilities of Cecil and Walsingham, and other great men of that age, arguments have been framed in favour of the excellence of that scheme. But the matter lies still deeper; for that statute was not a sudden unpremeditated project of Queen Elizabeth's ministers, but had been the work of ages before, dictated by necessity and experience." —Burn's History of the Poor Laws, chap. 5, page 104.
The present practice in Scotland, and the French ordonnances of 1536 and 1816 combined, bear a great resemblance to the enactments of the statute of 27th Henry VIII. c. 25, which led to the compulsory parochial assessment in England.
In fact, a law of this kind had been enacted in
Scotland in the sixth Parliament of James VI. act 71, enabling the magistrates of burghs, and subsequently the heritors, ministers, and elders, “ to tax and stent the haill inhabitans within the parochins," for the “needful sustentation" of the aged poor and impotent, and to enable them to " live unbeggand." The operation of this law has been retarded by the continuance of prædial servitude in its most exalted form, under the name of clanship, and in its most degraded form* of compulsory attachment to the soil, longer than in England; by the migration of its superfluoüs population, especially to its more rich' neighbour ; and by licensed mendicity.
But the two great cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow early adopted the provisions of this
It is not, perhaps, generally known, that some years after the decision of the negro cause in England, the following words in the preamble of an English Act of Parliament were justified
by facts :
“Whereas, by the statute law of Scotland, as explained by the Judges of the Courts of Law there, many colliers, and coal-bearers, and salters, are in a state of slavery and bondage, bound to the collieries and salt-works, where they work for life, transferable with the collieries and salt-works, when their original masters have no further use for them..... and whereas the emancipation and setting free the colliers, &c. in Scotland, who are now in a state of servitude, would remove the reproach of allowing such a state of servitude to exist in a free country.” -15 Geo. III. c. 28. See also Pennant's Tour in Scotland, ed. 1766, vol. ii. page 203. See Monthly Review, N. S. vol. xii. page 155
an extract from Buchanan's Travels in the Western Hebrides, relative to the" Scallag."