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But we have experience enough of these results to make us quite sure that they are not fictions. It is to be considered also, in this connection, that every addition to the number so supported, exerts some influence in breaking down the sense of shame in regard to this kind of support, in those who are in the same, or in a similar outward condition. Thus circle has gradually been added to circle ; and the whirling eddy has extended, till it has engulfed multitudes who once thought themselves, and were thought, even far from its brink. “I am every week astonished,” says an overseer of one of the parishes in England, “ by seeing persons come for relief, whom I never thought would have come. Among them are respectable mechanics, whose work and means are tolerably good. The greater number of out-door paupers are worthless people. But still the number of decent people, who ought to make provision for themselves, and who come, is very great and increasing. Indeed, the malady of pauperism has not only got among respectable mechanics. We find even persons who may be considered as the middle classes, such as petty masters, who have never before been seen making applications to parish officers, now applying. ' My opinion is, that they apply in consequence of witnessing the ease with which others, who might have provided for themselves, obtain relief."'* Here, also, is the great secret of the pauperism of very many among ourselves. They might have provided for their own necessities. But they have seen that others obtain relief under their wants simply by asking for it, and thus they also have been led to ask for it. “I know that you have assisted those who require aid less than I do, and there
* Report of Commissioners upon the Poor Laws, p. 45.
fore I ought to be assisted,” is language which has probably often been addressed to each one of us. And if we proceed one step further, and take into account the peculiar pressure for aid, which always has been, and always will be incidental to seasons of scarcity, and to those fluctuations of commercial and manufacturing interest by which many for a time are thrown out of employment, and the wages of labor are reduced to those who may still be employed, while the price of food may even be considerably enhanced, the whole mystery of the danger of permanent provisions for the relief of want, and of all other than purely moral provisions for these exigencies, will be dispelled. It is in these emergencies that the greatest accessions are made to the number of recognised, and permanent dependents upon poor laws, and upon charitable societies. The difficulties, it may be the actual sufferings of the poor, but independent laborer, are then often very great. A strong sense of character, it may be a strong sense of duty is then required, for the maintenance of his independence. It may ever be his duty to receive temporary assistance, because he may not be able to live without it. But even in this case, are not the principles to be respected, and most seriously regarded, by which he would even to the last maintain his independence? And are they respected, or regarded as they should be, when he is brought under provisions for aid, in receiving which he is classed with recognised paupers ? Are they respected, when, under the weakness of a temporary necessity, he is aided, not from private sympathy which might stir his heart, and call forth all his energies, but from funds dispensed by others than their owners, and in receiving which he is made to feel himself a pauper? Many thouBands, we believe, have thus been brought to pauperism,
who, respected and aided as they should have been, might have obviated the temporary difficulties of their conditions by their own exertions, have gained strength to principle and character from these very difficulties, and ultimately have stood higher in the world through the very circumstances, which, thus rudely interfered with, have brought them to degradation and ruin.*
* Words are things; and in treating of great interests, no small importance should be attached to a right use of words. We would, therefore, be distinctly understood in our use of the terms, the poor, and paupers ; poverty and pauperism.
By the poor, then, we mean those who depend upon charity or alms, for the means of subsistence. Every one who is thus dependent is for the time poor; and no one, in the strict sense of the word, is poor, who is not thus dependent. We may even bring individuals to a willingness to receive alms, who otherwise would shrink from them, by classing them among the poor. Yet every poor person is not to be accounted, or called, a pauper, for the very simple reason, that the term pauper is now, by common consent, used to designate the abject, degraded, debased among the poor. The term pauperism, also, is referable only to the poverty which is accompanied with abjectness and debasement. These distinctions are to a considerable extent maintained in recent English publications respecting poverty and the poor, and we earnestly wish that they might universally be adopted. The maintenance of these distinctions is required by that justice which we owe to the poor. Nor is it less required for right views of the means of remedying, and of preventing pauperism. Great injustice is sometimes done to those who are simply poor, — poor by the act of God, and virtuous in their poverty, by confounding their poverty with pauperism, and by ranking them with paupers. Yet surely no great observation is required to convince any fair mind, that poverty does not necessarily, or always, imply debasement. On the contrary, every grace and excellence of character may accompany poverty. Every grace and excellence of the soul is within the attainment of the poor, and the poorest, Even the Great Lord and Master of Christians was poor. He had no home. He was sometimes sustained by alms. And so have been multitudes who have entered with him into his glory. The poor, therefore, may be worthy of all the
We have thus borrowed a lesson from England. Let us look for one also in Scotland.
In his examination before “the Select Committee on the State of the Poor in Ireland,” Dr. Chalmers said, that the total number of parishes in Scotland is between nine and ten hundred. Public assessments for the poor have been introduced into one hundred and fifty-two of these
respect which we can pay to them. By treating them with the respect which Christianity demands for them, and to which they have a fair claim, we may do much to save them from falling into pauperism. Nor should we fail highly to respect every one, who is faithful to all his means and opportunities of avoiding even poverty, or any dependence upon alms.-We feel bound indeed to say, that much of the guilt which we associate with pauperism, and with the pauper, belongs quite as much to others than the pauper, as to himself. The causes of pauperism are, indeed, to a small extent within the control of the pauper. But they are within the control of the intelligent and affluent around him. Let us not even attempt, therefore, to throw off the burden of our own responsibility for this guilt. Both as an Association, and in our private capacity, we should adopt such precautions as we may, that our alms shall not minister to pauperism. But it should not be forgotten, that there are other ways of ministering to it than by alms. Nay, the misdirection of alms has not done a hundredth part so much to produce, and to perpetuate pauperism, and to extend to it its most dreadful forms of debasement, as has been done by the moral neglect of the poor, and especially of the children of the poor. Add to this the excitements and encouragements to idleness, to waste and recklessDess, which are found in the bar-rooms and grog-shops, in which the poor are first seduced to intemperance, and then carried as fast as vitiated appetites, with all the accompaniments of the most vitiated society, can carry them to pauperism, and the secret of their degradation and misery is explained. And where lies respon. sibility for the moral neglect of the poor? Where lies accountableness for the facilities and encouragements to intemperance, by which the poor of our cities, of the country, and of Christendom, are everywhere surrounded ?
parishes; the principle of assessment having first been applied in those parts which are contiguous to Eng, land. In the unassessed parishes, the chief fund for the relief of the poor is derived from collections at the church door. There are occasionally other funds, however, ag interest upon small sums of money left to the Kirk Sessions. In the great majority of these parishes, the administration of the funds thus obtained for the poor may be said to lie solely with the ministers and elders. From a comparison of nine parishes which are under the operation of poor laws, and containing twenty-four thousand seven hundred and forty-three souls, with nine in which no compulsory provisions are made for the support or relief of the poor, and containing twenty-four thousand two hundred and forty-two souls, it appears that the ascertained public expenditures for the poor in the last named class, -- that is, of unassessed parishes, was £464, 14s. ld.; and in the first named, or the assessed parishes, £4920, 10s. 6d. In other words, the population of these assessed parishes was only five hundred and one more than that of the unassessed ; and the difference of public cost for the poor in the assessed was £4455, 16s. 4d. more that in the unassessed parishes. The question arises, and was proposed to Dr. Chalmers, “how is this great difference to be accounted for ?." His reply was, " there is no other circumstance I can assign for it, than the mere existence in one set of parishes, and the non-existence in the other, of a compulsory provi. sion.” He adds, "the relative affections seem to be in much more powerful exercise in the unassessed, than in the assessed parishes ; as also the kindness of neighbors to each other, and the spontaneous generosity of the rich to the poor. There is a great deal of relief going on in the unassessed parishes; perhaps as much in point of