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of only two parties*,--the possessor of property, and the indigent person ; forgetting, that as property must imply sovereign power to protect it, there must exist a third party, in general reasoning, denominated the state, whose intervention will, perhaps, tend to reconcile these anomalies. · In that state of society where property has once taken place, as all cannot be possessors, some must of necessity be without it, and therefore indigent. But all the subjects of a state have equally a right to its protection : those who have property, to the protection of property; those who have nothing but life, to the preservation of it. And I so far agree with Grotius, that, in submitting to the restraints of civil society, the tendency of which is the amelioration of his condition, man did not resign the great right of self-preservation ; which Burlamaqui calls unalienable. The state is, therefore, justified in applying its revenues to the preservation of the life of its indigent subjects. But the revenues of the state, as such, can be only derived from the possessors of property; and therefore I conclude, that, through the intervention of the state, the INDIGENT have a RIGHT to relief from the possessors of property*.
*“Doslinages solos hay en el mundo, como decia una agüela mia, que son el tener y el no tener, aunque ella al del tener se atenia.”—Don Quixote, iii. 252.
“ The world (says Sancho Panza) is divided into only two families, The Have-somethings, and The Have-nothings. My old Grandmother, who gave me this piece of information, always stuck to the Have-somethings."
Thus some of the principles of the Modern Philosophy are neither new in their origin, nor, perhaps, in their application. Do Modern Philosophers prefer making their doctrines palatable to the Have-somethings at the expense of the Have-nothings?
Puffendorf, in another of his works, seems to admit this right of the indigent to relief from the statem; and, indeed, in the passage of his larger work, above quoted, he subjoins, that the mode of remedy is by application to the magistrate : and in times of scarcity, when the number of the indigent must naturally be augmented in a state, he justifies a recourse to violent measures on the part of the indigent against property for the preservation of life, only on the supposition that the magistrate has neglected his duty in making proper provision for this exigency *.
Right and duty,” says one of the best writers on the subject, “are, as the logicians speak, correlative terins. One of these ideas necessarily supposes the other; and it is impossible to conceive a right, without at the same time conceiving a correspondent duty*." “Some men dislike all discussion of competency and rights : I cannot agree with them ; right and obligation are correlative terms, and unless we understand what is right, how can we understand our obligation not to do wrongt. To guard my proposition as much as possible from a confusion of terms, I refer to the definition of indigence in a former page; and the result of my view of this theory may be thus expressed, “ That the IndiGENT have a right to relief from the state, in civilized society.”
* See the extracts from the Discourses of Nicolę. Poulle : Sermon sur l'Aumone. Bossuet-Panegyrique de St. François, in Levizac, Bibliotheque Portative, vol. i. p. 164–169.
+ "Quanquam autem summi imperantes subditos alere non teneantur, nisi quod eorum qui per immeritam aliquam calamitatem seipsos sustentare non possunt, peculiarem curam agere caritas jubet."-De Officio Hominis, 1. 2. c. 11. “Si summa urgeat necessitas .
adeatur magistratus." -Lib. 3. c. 6.
In strict conformity to this principle, which I hold to be founded on the great law of nature, when applied to a state of civil society, is that clause of the 43d Eliz. c. 2, “ which directs that a tax be raised to provide competent sums for and toward the necessary relief of the lame, impotent, old, blind, and such other among them, being poor
and not able to work;" and on this clause, which reduces the general principle into municipal law, I rest as a landmark in English legislation. There are two other purposes, towards which the sums to be raised are directed to be applied, which I shall notice, after I have discussed the objections which have been made to this now under consideration.
* Burlamaqui, chap. 7. p. 6. to Bishop Watson's Life, ii. 73.
That the administration of this part of the law has been attended with abuses, I am as ready to admit as the most zealous opposers of the law itself can be ; but certainly with less abuses than the other part of it, which will come afterwards under consideration.
The law of settlement brought on a train of evils, because it opened a door to litigation. Yet, admitting the principle, that the poor ought to be supported by the state, the abolishing the law of settlement, which would necessarily throw the general administration of the poor into the hands of Government, would be an evil much greater than the present system of parochial administration. The general law of settlement is now pretty well understood, and the application of it to the particular case is now become comparatively an easy task. But still it would be desirable to simplify it, and it is probable this will be effected. With all its present imperfections, it has a tendency to effect an equalization of the burthen of supporting the poor,
for some of its defects. From the very nature of property, land, which is visible and tangible, must always be more burthened with
other species of property; and would be more so, if the population which is born and bred in the country did not fly to and obtain settlements in towns. In consequence of this, the active pro
perty of towns takes a larger share of the contribution towards the relief of the poor, than would be the case if the indigent, after their work was done, were to be returned to the places of their birth. Nor do we find that the towns are depopulated in consequence of this pressure of taxation ; so far from it, it is in them that building and population seem most to have increased.
Another source of abuse, especially in great towns, has arisen from the description of persons appointed to the office of Overseer. They are very generally inferior tradesmen, who are thrust by the ill-will and jealousy of their neighbours into the office; or they are persons who undertake it in the place of others who are appointed, and act as their deputies. Those of the former description are incompetent from their general habits, and neither over anxious to execute with fidelity, or even with common attention, an office into which they have been forced, or to be very careful in the administration of a revenue, to which their own contribution is generally very small; and those of the latter description are aware of the advantages to be derived, directly or indirectly, from the commission of the grossest acts of peculation. To these cases there are, doubtless, frequent and honourable exceptions : but when these exceptions do occur, the reduction of the rates, and the better administration of