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visit the houses in each district, and explain to the poor the system upon which it was proposed to act. The names of such as were desirous of subscribing were entered into a book, and handed over to the secretary. A few days after the project was started, the visits of the ladies had been concluded; and in the beginning of the following week a trustworthy person had been appointed to go round to each contributor, and give a printed ticket, whereon was stated the amount deposited (simply 2d., 6d., or as it might be.) The total amount was brought to the secretary, who deposited it in the Savings' Bank.
This has been the system acted upon up to the present time. The number of contributors is about 500, and the sum already (that is, since May) collected amounts to nearly 2001. At Christmas, a ticket, to the amount of his subscription, will be given to each contributor, and he will be permitted to purchase useful articles, such as shoes, calico, worsted stockings, check aprons, &c. at any shop he pleases in the place, the bill will be sent in to the secretary by the tradesman and immediately. discharged. The expense of employing a weekly collector is defrayed by a subscription (limited to 5s.) from the gentry and principal tradesmen,-the time occupied in collecting is two days in the beginning of each week. I should add, that we do not expect our poor to contribute either regularly or a stated amount in each week; we do not limit the sum which they are to lay by; sometimes a person will give one single penny upon one occasion, who may contribute a shilling or more, or perhaps nothing, at another time. I am persuaded that already the poor are thankful for the opportunity thus afforded them of providing, in some degree, against the distresses of the winter season; and I look forward with confidence to another year to see these benefits even yet farther extended, as they shall become more extensively and generally known.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
Employment of the Poor at Saffron Walden. 75 Most clothing societies give considerable additions to the sums deposited; and in some parishes this may be done, and is perhaps one of the best methods of assisting the industrious and frugal poor. But where this cannot be done, a return of the small sums deposited,-in-one payment,—with no addition, besides the interest, and the advantage of having clothing at the wholesale price, will be of itself a very considerable benefit, and will secure the continuance of the club; and this method our correspondent prefers, as tending to give a feeling of greater independence to the poor. Where the number of contributors is small, an additional gratuity may perhaps generally be procured ; but this cannot be depended on in all cases.
A benevolent lady in a village in Surrey, takes a penny a week from the children who come to school, and adds a halfpenny to each penny: and at the end of the year, gives the value of the whole in cloth or other useful articles; merely cutting off the required portion from a piece of cloth, and leaving the subscribers themselves to make the article. The poor are exceedingly grateful; they well may be. Industry is encouraged, and there is no person in the village badly clothed. Stuff for waistcoats, corderoy for trousers, flannel, and strong material for smock frocks, are in the greatest demand.
EMPLOYMENT OF THE POOR AT SAFFRON WALDEN. The number of labourers in most of the parishes in the kingdom is now so great, that it is difficult to find profitable employment for them all. In the neighbourhood of Saffron Walden, Lord Braybrooke, and other benevolent possessors of land, have tried the experiment of letting small portions of land to labourers who should cultivate their portions entirely with the spade. It will not be for a moment supposed, by intelligent persons, that the benevolent patrons of this scheme are of opinion, that, by the use of the spade, they desire to set aside the use of the plough. Both are machines; and that machine is the best which will do a certain quantity of work in the best manner, and at the least expense,
-although some ignorant people have been deceived by a cry against machinery, which, indeed, is injurious to some persons, whilst it is of the highest advantage to the greater number, and to the country in general. In the case of the Walden labourers, there was much profit from the cultivation by the spade; and therefore the spade, in this instance, was an excellent machine. This effort to employ the poor seems to have been productive of great benefit; and a report has been printed, containing a detailed statement of the plan and of its success. The report is too extended for our small limits,—but we make the following extracts;
On Thursday, the 17th of December, 1829, a general meeting of the inhabitants of Saffron Walden was held, for the purpose of taking into consideration the state of the parish, arising from the great number of labourers then out of employ, and of determining upon the expediency of engaging them in spade-husbandry, or of hiring land for their occupation, or upon such other means of finding them work as should appear eligible. The meeting, at which the Right Honourable Lord Braybrooke presided, was attended by the mayor (Samuel Fiske, Esq.), several members of the corporation, and a great proportion of the most respectable parishioners.
The committee commenced their proceedings by issuing public notice, that they were desirous of receiving applications from those inhabitants who might wish to have land dug, (in lieu of being ploughed,) on the terms stated; and also that they were ready to hire portions of land, not exceeding in the whole twenty acres, under the provisions of the Act 59 Geo. III. c. 12., with a view to letting out allotments to the poor.
The produce of several fields so dug, has been very satisfactory to the proprietors. The spade husbandry,
Employment of the Poor at Saffron Walden. 177 though introduced on a very limited scale, has already proved beneficial to the labouring classes.
Every occupier of an allotment is to observe that it is held on the following conditions :
1. That he is to cultivate the land by manual labour alone, and with his best skill and diligence.
2. Not to plant potatoes, unless the ground be first I properly manured *.
3. Half the land only to be cultivated with potatoes in any one year, and no crop to occupy more than one half the allotment.
4. In case the land be given up, the occupier to be paid for digging or planting, according to custom
5. The holders of these allotments must agree to prevent depredations on each other's property.
6. Every sort of encroachment to be strictly avoided; and should any individual be guilty of theft or other misdemeanor, he will be subject to an immediate ejectment, without the slightest remuneration for labour or planting.
7. He is to assist in convicting persons who destroy or injure fences, fruit trees, or crops of every description.
8. No allotment, nor any part of an allotment, shall be under-let.
9. The rent apportioned by agreement is to be paid to the vestry clerk, or such person as shall be appointed by him to receive it, within one week after the 29th of September in every year.”
The number of applicants for allotments amounted, in the first instance, to eighty-five, varying in their requests from one hundred and twenty to twelve rods; and after due consideration, the committee came to the
* This rule cannot be too strictly enforced ; and the occupiers themselves will shortly discover how essential it is to their own interests. The children may also be employed in collecting road scrapings, &c. and if possible, every cottager should be furnished with a sty, and encouragement to keep one pig at the least.
conclusion, that no portion of land ought, under existing circumstances, to exceed forty rods, and that, for the sake of uniformity, the smaller ones should be either twenty or thirty rods each. Preference was given to those labourers residing nearest the spot, all of whom cheerfully took possession of the allotments offered to them.
The largest portions were assigned to the poor men having the most numerous families; in no case consisting of fewer than seven. The others were appointed according to their respective cases and applications, several of whom had more than four children; and every class was fixed in their portions by lot. The holders commenced their operations with a degree of spirit and energy highly pleasing to the committee. : Lord Braybrooke was shortly afterwards enabled to offer the committee the larger portion of the field between Audley End Park and the town, which, from its situation, was deemed extremely eligible.
The plan attracted more general notice. The Walden Horticultural Society announced their intention of giving prizes for the best cultivated allotments.
The aggregate number of the occupiers and their families appeared to be four hundred and fifty, forming a considerable portion of the labouring classes in the town; and this accommodation was actually afforded by the appropriation of only fifteen acres, out of seven thousand two hundred and ninety-six, which the parish contains.
The committee have next the pleasing task of reporting, that at the conclusion of the first season, the result had exceeded their most sanguine expectations. The whole of the rent was paid at the time appointed, and every individual occupier expressed himself satisfied with the produce which he had obtained. The occupiers were not called upon to state the amount of the benefit derived from the land ; but some of them voluntarily admitted, that the produce of twenty rods of ground more than doubled their rent, leaving the remaining twenty planted with potatoes out of the question, and consequently clear gain.