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he would loathe to contiode. The pittance he would then re ceive, he would no longer be able to demand as the fair reward of his toil, or the fulfilment of a previous agreement with his em. ployer. What he received, he would receive as alms, and it would be the fault of the local administrators of relief, if those alms exceeded in either the quantity or the quality of the provision, what he might enjoy as the fruit of his honourable earnings.
There are many districts in which, we apprehend, the transition to such a state of things would not be attended with any fatal difficulties; districts in which the practice of mixing relief with wages is less prevalent ; and in them some experiment of the kind might safely be tried. Indeed, in-almost all the cases of mal-adıninistration of the Poor Laws which call for legislative interference, it would be, perhaps, the safest way to begin with the enacting of local bills. Slow and tedious as the process of reform might be, if conducted upon this plan, we question whether any general legislative measures can be adapted to meet the very different circumstances of the Poor throughout the kingdom. We question whether the population of a manufacturing town, for instance, can ever be disposed of with the same facility, under any essential change in the present system, as the thinly scattered poor of an agricultural district. The best mode of making provision for the indigent, must always be a matter as much of detail as of general principle; apd if ibe inhabitants of a parish, of a district, or, at length, of a county, could be induced to apply to Parliament for leave and authority to make those changes which local circumstances should appear to render safe and expedient, upon their own conviction of the policy as well as practicability of the change, it would be in our view far preferable to any sweeping alterations digested in a select committee of political economists, and indiscriminately enforced upon the country at large. The failure of any experiment upon so reduced a scale, would endanger no fatal explosion; the suffering which it might inflict, would admit, if necessary, of extraordinary means of relief; and the evil, if any evil consequences ensued, might soon be repaired. - But should the plan succeed, the example of the district in which the reduction of the rate, or the melioration of the lower classes, should be proved to be the result of an improved administration of the law of relief, would speedily enough be followed by all the parishes which were so circumstanced as to be able to adopt similar measures ; by no others could we wish to see them adopted. The idea of ten thousand private Poor Bilis may be made a subject of ridicale, but no such absurdity as the separate application of every parish to the legislature, is containcd in the proposition. The number of such bills would not, it is probable, more than keep pace
with that of turnpike or inclosure acts; and long before they would become inconveniently numerous, some comprehensive law might be framed to give uniformity to the system. - The chief obstacle to such a regulation' as would cut off the labourer who was in the receipt of wages, from all claim to parish assistance, arises from the serious embarrassments which would accrue to the employer, in case of any sudden transition from the prevailing practice to so different a state of things, W here is he to look for a compensation for the immediate inconwenience of being compelled wholly to support all the labourers in his employ? How clear and certain soever, in the view of others, may be the advantage which he will eventually participate, it will be difficult to bring him to resign the license of which he has so long availed himself, that of indemnifying himself for his diminished profits, by paying wages half out of the poor's rates, In the first instance, there can be no doubt, the price of labour must rise to a height which nothing but a corresponding depression of the rate would render supportable ; and this might not immediately follow. It would be some time before things would find their level. The present race of labourers, it is to be feared, are in many districts too much in love with, pauperism and bread-money, to forego at once all its advantages, for the pleasures of honest industry and independence, and they might therefore requise as wages, too high a bribe to labour. The employer would consequently be driven to avail biinself of every expedient for lessening his consumption of the article thus enhanced in yalue, and it would be bis copstant effort to keep down the price as nearly as possible to the pittance which suttices for the bare subsistence of the pauper. . After a time, however, wages would naturally adjust themselves to a fair standard ; and the supply of labour would come to bear that adequate proportion to the demand, which would bring down the price to a mere sufficiency for the maintenance of the labourer. But what are we to include in the idea of even a mere sufficiency? Of course it must extend to the maintenance of a wife and family ; but is it to be expected that the rate of wages would, in a general way, be adequate to his support in the event of a large family, domestic affliction, or scanty employ? The multiplication of Benefit Societies affords the la. bourer the means of protecting himself from di tress under some afflictive contingencies ; but unless his earnings more than suffice for subsistence, unless he can save money from thein, what is to be his resource when he is unable to obtain work enough to maintain his family? Is he to refuse partial employment, and throw himself, with his wife and children, wholly upon the parish ?. Supposing that he is in full einploy, it is very possible that he may be unable, from the bigh price of provisions and the largeness of his family, to support himself upon bis earnings; is he in this case, because he is in the receipt of wages, to be denied relief?
To obviate this difficulty, the Commons' Committee recoinmend the substituting in every case, for pecuniary relief afforded to the parent, tbe separate maintenance of the children themselves. A suggestion of this nature was made in a Report, drawn up in 1697, by Mr. Locke, as one of the Lords of Trade, which the Committee quote as 'furnishing the only
remedy for the practice of defraying what should be part of • the wages of labour out of the poor's rate.' This proposition, Mr. Courtenay remarks, - is, at the first blush, offensive, on the score of humanity. We thereby disconnect, it is naturally
maid, those whom nature has made mutually dependent • for support and affection. But those wbo make this objec'tion, overlook one of the principal motives to the proposition. • It is hoped that the separation of families will be felt by the poor as an affliction, and that the wish to avoid that affliction,
will operate in inducing parents to use greater exertion to• wards supporting their children, if not to pause before they • become fathers. Tbe measure is calculated in some degree to
punish the improvident parent, without reducing the child to
the extremity of want. On the score of humanity, we think, no valid objection can be brought against a proposition' wbich would go no further than to rescue children from starving; but we confess that we feel on other grounds extremely disinclined to entertain this suggestion of the Comınittee. What they recommend, is, the establishment of parochial district schools, in which the children shouid be lodged, as well as employed and maintained. "A somewbat new combination of words,' remarks Mr. Nicoll, ‘may for a moment mislead us, but the proposition • is simply this : Let the children of all persons asking relief, • be brought up from the age of three to that of fourteen, in the • Workhouse. The building may not be precisely the one • hitherto used for the poor, and the name may be " district
school ;" the place may be better visited, and better regulated; but where the children of a parish are taught, fed, employed, 6 and lodged, there is a parish workbouse.' · The mere expense of such a plan would be a sufficient objection to it. The buildings to be erected for this purpose, could never, as Mr. Nicoll remarks, be paid out of tbe rates ; tbey would therefore add a new burthen to the country. The expense of each child in the workhouse, would be at least double wbat would wholly maintain it with its parents. In the workhouse, there is no partial relief. The father may support his family • with half-maintenance for each from the parish; in the work* house every species of expense falls exclusively on this parish
• fund.' "The children of a public institution cannot be seen in • rags; they must be regularly provided with a sufficiency of • good provisions.' To the expense of this superior mode of maintenance are to be added, the salaries of the master and mistress of the school, the gain of the contractor, where they are e kept by contract, the greater waste where they are not,' besides the interest of money expended on the establishment of the institution : against all which is to be set merely the result of the productive labour of the workhouse, which it has been abundantly proved, will rarely average much above 20s. a head per annum!
As it is, the workhouse system is sufficiently expensive. Frequently, where entering the workhouse is made the condition of relief, in the hope of deterring the poor from application, the expense of 4s. or 5s. a head per week, will be incurred by sending there the pauper and bis family, when half, or less than half that sum, given in pecuniary relief, would have kept them more comfortably at home. In establishments of the nature recommended by the Committee, the expense would be aggravated by the quality of the relief, not less than by the extensive scale on which it would soon become necessary to administer it. The children would not be regarded or treated as paupers ; they would not be farmed in the manner in which the adult population of the workHouse are herded together; it would be inhuman to consign them, for the improvidence of their parents, to the neglect and ill-treatment which are frequent in such establishments. But this lavish humanity, which would go so far beyond relieving distress, as to pamper the cast-off offspring of the pauper with comforts denied perhaps to the half-fed, half-clothed children of the virtuous cottager at home, would be as unjust and partial, as it would be costly.
The total separation of children from idle and dissolute parents, may doubtless be highly expedient, as regards the complete suc. cess of any plans for their moral education. We are aware of the powerful and discouraging counteraction to the benevolent pains bestowed on the children of the lower classes, which is supplied by the example and habits they are exposed to at home. We have notbing to say against the principle of Charity Schools, which proceed upon this plan of separation, how much soever there may be to object to in their management. But we entertain serious doubts whether the moral advantages of such a separation, would be likely to be realized in the crowded inmates of the work-house school. The worst example at home, is scarcely more to be dreaded, than what it is very conceivable they may be exposed to in such a situation. A cautious separation of the sexes, a constant vigilant inspection which would necessitate a considerable degree of restraint, and a more efficient system of moral and religious instruction than is usually to be found in
operation in similar establishments, would alone afford the chance of rendering these schools any thing better than nests of infant depravity. But there ought to be certain and definite advantages attending the scheme, to compensate for the total exclusion of whatever salutary influence upon the heart, as well as innocent enjoyment, might have been the fruit of the developnent of the social affections amid the endearments and the freedom of home, DIr. Nicoll dwells upon this objection with an amiabie warmth of feeling, and as it is a side of the subject wbich is not often beld up to view, we shall avail ourselves of a rather long extract from bis pamphlet, to which we have had so frequent occasion to refer with high satisfaction. ::• Let us,' he says, ' suppose the children of the “ district school, murtured with that superabundant care which such institutions, when supposed to be well conducted, are wont to exhibit ; they rise with the dawn; after attending to the calls of cleanliness, prayers follow; then a lesson ; then breakfast; then work, till noon liberates them for perkaps an hour, from the walls of their prison, to the walls of their prison court. Dinner follows, and then in course, work, lessons, supper, prayers; at length, after a day, dreary and dull, the counter-part of every day which has preceded, and of all that are to follow, the children are dismissed to bed,
« This system may construct a machine, but it will not form a man, Of what does it consist? of prayers parrotted without one sentiment în accord with the words uttered; of moral lectures which the under: standing does not comprehend, or the heart feel; of endless bodily constraint, intolerable to youthful vivacity, and injurious to the per fection of the human frame.
• The cottage day may not present so imposing a scene; no decent uniform ; no well trimmed locks; po glossy sķin; no united response of hundreds of conjoined voices; no lengthened procession, misnamed exercise ; but if it has less to strike the eye, it has far more to engage the heart. A trife in the way of cleanliness must suffice; the prayer is not forgot; it is perhaps imperfectly repeated, and confusedly understood; but it is not muttered as a vain sound; it is an earthly parent that tells of a heavenly one; duty, love, obedience, are not words without meaning, when repeated by a mother to her child : To God--the great unknowo Being that made all things, all thanks, all praise, ali adoration is due. The young religionist may be in some measure bewildered by all this; his notions may be obscure; but his feelings will be roused, and the foundation at least of true piety will be laid.
Of moral instruction, the child may be taught less at home than at school, but he will be taught better; that is, whatever he is taught, he will feel; he will not have abstract propositions of duty coldly presented to his mind; but precept and practice will be conjoined ; what he is told it is right to do, will be instantly done. Sometimes the operative principle on the child's mind will be love, sometimes fear,