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selves can be raised either generally or locally, yet their application can only be local. The system of taxation for the relief of indigence in England commences with the local divisions, is applied there, and ends there.
Scotland prides itself on the wise precaution of its practice, which “ invests the very persons who pay the tax with the right to enroll the paupers and modify the allowance *.”
In France, a system exactly the reverse is followed. Had the Revolution not taken place, the tendency of its municipal institutions, emanating from the ancient common feudal manners of Europe, would probably by degrees have introduced the same system as that in use in England. In fact, at Paris in 1544, under Francis I. there was a commission (bureau) composed of thirteen citizens named by the Prevôt des Marchands, and of four Counsellors of Parliament. This Commission had a right to levy annually upon all property a tax of alms for the poor; and it had a jurisdiction to enforce the payment. This tax continued to be levied at the epoch of the Revolution t.
The principle that the support of the poor ought to be by a local charge was recognised by the
* Hutcheson's Justice of Peace, quoted in Ewing's Report. Glasgow : page 13.
+ Dupin, page 361. Mercier : Tableau de Paris.
elder French Councils *, and by repeated ordonnances of the sixteenth century; and in cases of extraordinary emergency, it was extended into a form precisely analogous to that of the English and Scotch legal assessment. In the distress of 1740, the Parliament of Paris fixed this assessment on that city at the rate of one sous per livre, or one-twentieth, on a valuation of twothirds of the property in each parish, and placed it under parochial administration t.
But at the Revolution, France was to be governed by abstract principles; and the example of ages and the course of civilization were to be rejected. There was laid before the Legislative Assembly a detailed report on the subject of mendicity, which contained the enunciation of a new principle, “ that the public relief to be applied to indigence ought to be national, and not local or municipal.” Yet, although the funds appropriated for relief were to be derived from the general revenue of the State, the objects must be local; and of all the details and minute ramifications into which the laws founded on this principle were extended, nothing now remains
* It was directed in a canon of the second Council of Tours, Ut unaquæque civitas
pauperes et egenos incolas alimentis congruentibus pascat secundum vires, ut tam presbyteri quam cives omnes suum pauperem pascant; quo fiet, ut ipsi pauperes per alienas civitates non fatigentur."
+ Dupin, page 367.
but that which fixes the domiciliary settlement in the first instance to the place of birth until twenty-one years
and to six months' residence after that period. But the system of domiciliary relief, to which those who obtained a claim by the law of settlement just mentioned, was to depend upon voluntary alms; and although the Directorial Government organized a most perfect plan with officers of the canton and auxiliary commissions, and although the members composing them are named at full length in the almanacks and annual statistical accounts, they frequently have none of them a crown to dispose of in the course of the year; and as for the larger establishments of hospitals, &c. in the cities, it is probable that the situation of administrator of them has lost few of its advantages * ; and that if a second Le Sage were to arise, he would find originals sufficient from whence to draw the picture of another fictitious Manuel Ordonnez, who “ made himself rich in managing the affairs of the poorf!"
In those early ages, when the traveller had no shelter but the hospitable roof, and domestic misery and poverty had no settled provision for their relief, the stranger and the beggar were sacred characters, and equally under the immediate protection of Heaven *.
* Dupin Histoire de l'Administration des Secours Publics, page
But in the same degree as the State provides regular relief, mendicity is venial or culpable; and where the state provides no relief, it is the crime of the State, and not of the individual. The punishment of mendicity in England and in Scotland by several statutes previous to the establishment of the compulsory assessment, and in France by a series of ordonnances from 1693 to 1784, may in this view be considered as cruelty.
The licenses granted for mendicity in France are an acknowledgement of the defect of their provision for the relief of indigence. The De. pôts de Mendicité have not diminished the number of beggars. “In the towns," says the Baron Dupin,“ mendicity may be imputed to idleness and relaxed manners; but in the country, in the dead season, there exist want and misery, and no means of relief op” The mendicants who take advantage of the license are not comprehended under any enumeration of the indigent in France, nor are those of the rural population who are driven to mendicity for want of regular provision. Yet in the country in general the indigent amount to one-fourteenth, in the towns in France to one
tenth of the whole population*, and in Paris to one-seventhuf; and in the latter city, one-third of those who die annually are buried at the public expense. In England it appears, that the average number of persons relieved for three years previous to 1818, was permanently 516,963, and occasionally 423,663; total 940,626, out of a population of 10,150,615; being 94 in each hundred of the population f; which is less than the enumerated indigency in France, exclusive of that not enumerated §. In that country, the extre
* De Gerando, Visiteur du Pauvre, pages 50, 51. + Dupin, page 425.
| In the Edinburgh Review, No. 51, page 300, from the figures quoted in the text, the writer, by an unaccountable mistake, infers, that the number of persons relieved from the poors’-rates appears to have been 94 in each 10 of the population; and in the following page he reasons upon
gross error as an authentic fact. “ Such is the extraordinary picture, exhibited on the highest authority, of the richest, the most industrious, and most moral population that probably ever existed. More than nine-tenths of its whole amount occasionally subsisting on public charity."
I searched the subsequent Numbers in vain for a retraction of this error, which the deserved celebrity of the Journal would tend to spread among the numerous class of its readers, who are too apt to take such assertions on trust. But I have since 1822 learnt that it has been corrected by a notice in a Glasgow newspaper !!!
§ An inquiry expressly made in the several parishes sur. rounding and including the large market-town of Newbury in Berkshire-a county almost exclusively agricultural-produced, on the 17th of November, 1821, a result of a fourteenth of the population as then receiving parochial relief.