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London society, about half a century since, being at Bath, was accustomed to converse familiarly with a sort of small gentleman, who frequented the same bookseller's shop. Some time after his return to town, he was accosted in St. James's Street by his watering-place acquaintance. “I beg your pardon, sir,” he replied, “but really I do not recollect tohave seen you before.” “Oh yes, you saw me at Bath.” “ I shall be most happy to see you at Bath again."
ADDRESS TO LABOURERS.
(Continued.) Now let us return to the other parish, where the labourer receives for his wages only 1s. 6d. a day of his 2s., and where the 6d. is put into a fund, and suppose the conditions upon which he is to receive any thing from the fund to be, 1st. He must not have saved any thing for himself, or if he has, he must have spent it all before he can have any claim; 2dly. He must be unable to get work; or he must be unable to perform it from sickness, accident, or old age; or 3dly. He must have a larger family than he can possibly keep upon his slender wages. How will a man live then? He will begin by saying, what is the use of my saving ?-besides, how can I save out of 1s. 6d. a day? So if he gets more by any chance he will spend it all, because he has given up all thoughts of saving. As he knowthat if he cannot get work, the fund must keep him, he will not so much mind getting a constant place, or giving satisfaction in any place. As whilst he is young, he does not see much cause why he should be steady, having the fund to look to, he will take little care of himself; and as he knows that he can manage to keep a small family somehow or other, and that if he has a large one he shall have help, he will marry without thought, and perhaps repent as soon as he is married. Then he must work hard, and live poorly ; sickness comes
upon himself and his family; he applies to the fund, and gets his pittance. Having once begun, he is ever after contriving how to keep on, by throwing himself out of work, pretending to be ill, or wasting his means. His claims are disputed ; he goes backward and forward, loses his time, drinks for vexation, and is a ruined man to the end of his life. His example ruins his children, who follow the same course of improvidence, marry without thought, and spend their whole lives in misery. This course makes people increase faster than they are wanted; less money is paid in wages, and more into the fund, and things grow. worse and worse. The few who are inclined to be industrious and saving are discouraged, and at last find it impossible. Their wages are taken from them, and given to the worthless, and they see they have no chance of getting any part back, but by doing as others do. And is not parish relief just this ? Not money, as you supposed, all taken out of the pockets of the rich to be given to the poor, but, in a great measure, a tax upon the wages of the labouring classes themselves, of which the most undeserving get the most, and the very meritorious get nothing at all, and of which a great deal is spent in law, or wasted in mismanagement. I am sure that in many parishes the occupiers of the land could better afford to give one-third more wages to good workmen, than to pay their poors' rates; and that here 12s. a week for daily labour to steady labourers would be cheaper to the farmers than 9s. in the present state of things. Now, I will put it to you-Would it be better to start in life with 12s, a week, and manage your own concerns, or have 3s. a week kept back to be given to you only if you fall into want, and if you have any luck in life never to be given to you at all? A hale man, who takes care of himself, may well earn full wages for forty years of his time. Now, 38 a week for forty years amounts to 3121., which large sum the Poor Laws take from the man who honestly earns it, and give it to the overseer-to distribute to whom? To the idle and improvident, to destitute children,
or to those who are sick, or infirm, or old, or who are unable to get work, or who have large families. But you will say, are destitute children, are the sick, the infirm, the old, or those who cannot get work, or who have more children than they can keep-are all these to be left without assistance ? Certainly not; there they are, and as long as they are there must be assisted: but I tell you, it is the Poor Laws, it is having a parish to look to, that makes destitute children, by making improvident parents. It is the same cause that makes the greatest part of sickness and infirmity in a class of men, who, of all others, might be most easily strong and healthy-I mean farming labourers. It is the want of steadiness on the one hand, and the want of means on the other, both produced by the Poor Laws; it is to these causes that we may trace almost all the sickness and infirmity which unfortunately are so common amongst you. It is to the Poor Laws that we may attribute so many labourers without work, and such large families without sufficient provision. Improvident marriages are the cause of both these evils, and the Poor Laws are decidedly the chief cause of improvident marriages. In other countries there are other causes, which produce these bad effects; but in England, which possesses so many advantages, it is to the Poor Laws almost alone that we may attribute the evils of pauperism. I do not mean to say, that with the best plan and the best management, there would not be particular cases of distress ; now and then a destitute childan individual reduced to poverty by long sickness or unexpected infirmity—an extreme old age, not sufficiently provided for--a partial scarcity of work, or a family larger than common prudence could maintain. Such accidents must happen more or less frequently; but where the generality were well provided for, what would a few instances the other way signify? Is there not private charity enough ?-Would not you, yourselves, if you were well off, be willing to contribute to the assistance of the few unfortunate persons about you !--I am sure you would: I am sure there would be no need of laws to provide for distress, if there were no laws to produce it. Now, do not forget, that the poors' rates are a tax upon your wages, of which the most hard-working and prudent pay the most, and receive the least ; and the most idle and spendthrift pay the least, and receive the most.
If any of you still think that the poors' rates are not principally raised out of your wages, I will explain it to you in another way. Suppose two farmers to hire five labourers each—and suppose one of the farmers to say to his labourers, “I shall only pay you wages when you work, and you must take care of your money, and provide for yourselves.” And suppose the other farmer to say, “I will allow you pay when I have no work for you, or when you are sick, or old, or if you have large families.” Would not he pay lower wages than the farmer who only paid according to the work done ?Just so it is in parishes; the farmers are obliged by law to pay those who cannot work ; and so they are obliged to give less wages to those who can. I do not mean to say that all the money which is paid in poors' rates would be paid in wages, if there were no puors' rates ; but a great part of it would; perhaps all that is now paid to the poor ; and the rest, such as the expenses of the overseers, and law expenses, would remain in the pockets of the farmers and the landlords; besides which, steady labourers, well paid, would do more work, and do it better, and be altogether better servants. If for the last seventy years what has been paid in poors' rates in this parish had been paid in wages, and the labourers had been as careful as they ought to have been, the old would now be living comfortably on their own savings, instead of being dependent on the parish ; those who have larger families than they can keep, would have most likely waited a little before they had married, and there would be less sickness, and less infirmity. The best part of 1000l. a year which is paid in poors’ rates would be paid in wages; the farmer would be better served, and the labourer better off; but remeniber, that to bring about this change depends
upon yourselves. High wages would bring ruin upon the farmers, unless the labourers were prudent; they cannot now pay you when you work, as if they were not obliged to keep you when you cannot work; but it would be better for them and better for you, if there were no such laws as the Poor Laws, and the sooner they can be done without, the better for all parties.
LETTERS FROM THE CONTINENT.
Florence, June 2, 1822. We returned from Rome May 30th. The weather is unusually hot. Every thing is in florid beauty. This country, which is better governed than any other part of ill-fated Italy, is cultivated every inch, and now presents one brilliant green. The corn grows in fields planted with figs, mulberries, and vines--the latter most delicately fragrant; though, in general, I do not think the flowers are quite so sweet as with us, but of brighter colours. In coming from Rome we passed through á wild and mountainous district near Radicofani, large tracts of which were entirely covered with high broom, loaded with flowers as thickly as any branch of laburnum you ever saw. The flowers are larger, and of a more golden hue than ours, and, when waved by the wind and heightened by a glowing Italian sky, they presented a softer, richer scene than I could have conceived. The scent too was delightful. By the way, if you wish to spend winter comfortably, you cannot do better than stay in England. If you wish to enjoy spring, come to fair Italy. We think of being in Paris by September. Nothing like Paris after all, for a residence abroad. You may thank your stars you have lived there.
We are obliged here to sit down always to two courses of five dishes each, besides soup. Our only resource is, now and then to order one dish by way of luncheon, and to pretend to dine out. I objected at first to the mode of dinner ; but the