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cise of a people's sympathies. Accidents will still supply victims on whom generosity may be legitimately expended. Men thrown off the track by unforeseen events, men who have failed for want of knowledge inaccessible to them, men ruined by the dishonesty of others, and men in whom hope long delayed has made the heart sick, may, with advantage to all parties, be assisted. Even the prodigal, after severe hardship has branded his memory with the unbending conditions of social life to which he must submit, may properly have another trial afforded him. And, although by these ameliorations the process of adaptation must be remotely interfered with, yet, in the majority of cases, it will not be so much retarded in one direction as it will be advanced in another.
Objectionable as we find a poor-law to be, even under the supposition that it does what it is intended to do-diminish present suffering—how shall we regard it on finding that in reality it does no such thing-cannot do any such thing? Yet, paradoxical as the assertion looks, this is absolutely the fact. Let but the observer cease to contemplate so fixedly one side of the phenomenon--pauperism and its relief, and begin to examine the other side-rates and the ultimate contributors of them, and he will discover that to suppose
the sum-total of distress diminishable by act-of-parliament bounty is a delusion.
Here, at any specified period, is a given quantity of food and things exchangeable for food, in the hands or at the command of the middle and upper classes. A certain portion of this food is needed by these classes themselves, and is consumed by them at the same rate, or very near it, be there scarcity or abundance. Whatever variation occurs in the sum-total of food and its equivalents, must therefore affect the remaining portion, not used by these classes for personal sustenance. This remaining portion is paid by them to the people in return for their labour, which is partly expended in the production of a further supply of necessaries, and partly in the production of luxuries. Hence, by how much this
, portion is deficient, by so much must the people come short. A re-distribntion by legislative or other agency cannot make that sufficient for them which was previously insufficient. It can do nothing but change the parties by whom the insufficiency is felt. If it gives enough to some who else would not have enough, it must inevitably reduce certain others to the condition of not having enough.
Should there be any to whom this abstract reasoning is unsatisfactory, a concrete statement of the case will, perhaps, remove their doubts. A poors’-rate collector takes from the citizen a sum of money equivalent to bread and clothing for one or more paupers. Had not this sum been so taken, it would either have been used to purchase superfluities, which the citizen now does without, or it would have been paid by him into a bank, and lent by the banker to a manufacturer, merchant, or tradesman; that is, it would ultimately have been given in wages either to the producer of the superfluities or to an operative paid out of the banker's loan. But this sum having been carried off as poors'-rate, whoever would have received it as wages must now to that extent go
without wages. The food which it represented having been taken to sustain a pauper, the artizan to whom that food would have been given in return for work done, must now to that extent lack food. And thus, as at first said, the transaction is simply a change of the parties by whom the insufficiency of food is felt.
Nay, the case is even worse. Already it has been pointed out that, by suspending the process of adaptation, a poor-law increases the distress to be borne at some future day; and here we shall find that it also increases the distress to be borne now.
For be it remembered that of the sum taken in any year to support paupers, a large portion would otherwise have gone to support labourers employed in new reproductive works-and-drainage, machine-building, &c. An additional stock of commodities would by-and-by have been produced, and the number of those who go short would consequently have been diminished. Thus the astonishment expressed by some that so much misery should exist, notwithstanding the distribution of fifteen millions a year by endowed charities, benevolent societies, and poor-law unions, is quite uncalled for; seeing that the larger the sum gratuitously administered, the more intense will shortly become the suffering. Manifestly, ont of a given population, the greater the number living on the bounty of others, the smaller must be the number living by labour; and the smaller the number living by labour, the smaller must be the production of food and other necessaries; and the sinaller the production of food and other necessaries, the greater must be the distress.
In the same way that our definition of State-duty forbids the State to administer religion or charity, so likewise does it forbid the State to administer education. Inasmuch as the taking away, by Government, of more of a man's property than is needful for maintaining his rights, is an infringement of his rights, and therefore a reversal of the Government's function towards him; and inasmuch as the taking away of his property to educate his own or other people's children is not needful for the maintaining of his rights; the taking away of his property for such a purpose is wrong.
Should it be said that the rights of the children are involved, and that State-interposition is required to maintain these, the reply is that no cause for such interposition can be shown until the children's rights have been violated, and that their rights are not violated by a neglect of their education. For, as repeatedly explained, what we call rights are merely arbitrary subdivisions of the general liberty to exercise the faculties; and that only can be called an infringement of rights which actually diminishes this liberty-cuts off a previously existing power to pursue the objects of desire. Now the parent who is careless of a child's education does not do this. The liberty to exercise the faculties is left intact. Omitting instruction in no way takes from a child's freedom to do whatsoever it wills in the best way it can; and this freedom is all that equity demands. Every aggression, be it remembered-every infraction of rights, is necessarily active; whilst every neglect, carelessness, omission, is as necessarily passive. Consequently, however wrong the nonperformance of a parental duty may be, it does not amount to a breach of the law of equal freedom, and cannot therefore be taken cognizance of by the State.
Were there no direct disproof of the frequently-alleged right to education at the hands of the State, the absurdities in which it entangles its assertors would sufficiently show its invalidity. Conceding for a moment that the Government is bound to educate a man's children, then, what kind of logic will demonstrate that it is not bound to feed and clothe them? If there should be an act-of-parliament provision for the development of their minds, why should there not be an act-of-parliament provision for the development of their bodies ? The reasoning which is held to establish the right to intellectual food will equally well establish the right to material food : nay, will do more—will prove that children should be altogether cared for by Government. For if the benefit, importance, or necessity, of education, be assigned as a sufficient reason why Governinent should educate, then may the benefit, importance, or necessity, of food, clothing, shelter, and warmth be assigned as a sufficient reason why Government should administer these also. So that the alleged right cannot be established without annulling all parental responsibility whatever.
Should further refutation be needful, there is the ordeal of a definition. We lately found this ordeal fatal to the assumed right to a maintenance; we shall find it equally fatal to this assumed right to an education. For what is an education ? Where, between the teaching of a dame-school and the most comprehensive university curriculum, can be drawn the line separating that portion of mental culture which may be justly claimed of the State, from that which may not be so claimed ? What peculiar quality is there in reading, writing, and arithmetic which gives the embryo citizen the right to have them