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happiness and their wealth to that salutary feeling. The very person who, in the decline of life, is removed from the spot where he has spent so great a part of his time, would perhaps have been a pauper half a century before if he had been afflicted with the right of asking alms in the place where he lived.
It has been objected that this plan of abolishing all settlements but those of birth, would send a man, the labour of whose youth had benefited some other parish, to pass the useless part of his life in a place for which he existed only as a burthen. Supposing that this were the case, it would be quite sufficient to answer, that any given parish would probably send away as many useless old men as it received; and, after all, little inequalities must be borne for the general good. But, in truth, it is rather ridiculous to talk of a parish not having benefited by the labour of the man who is returned upon their hands in his old age. If such parish resemble most of those in England, the absence of a man for thirty or forty years has been a great good instead of an evil; they have had many more labourers than they could employ; and the very man whom they are complaining of supporting for his last few years, would, in all probability, have been a beggar forty years before, if he had remained among them ; or, by pushing him out of work, would have made some other man a beggar. Are the benefits derived from prosperous manufactures limited to the parishes which contain them? The industry of Halifax, Huddersfield, or Leeds is felt across the kingdom as far as the Eastern Sea. The prices of meat and corn at the markets of York and Malton are instantly affected by any increase of demand and rise of wages in the manufacturing districts to the west. They have benefited these distant places, and found labour for their superfluous hands by the prosperity of their manufactures. Where, then, would be the injustice if the manufacturers, in the time of stagnation and poverty, were returned to their birth-settlements? But as the law now stands, population tumours, of the most dangerous nature, may spring up in any parish :-a manufacturer, concealing his intention, may settle there, take 200 or 300 apprentices, fail, and half ruin the parish which has been the scene of his operations. For these reasons, we strongly recommend to Mr. Bourne to narrow as much as possible, in all his future bills, the means of acquiring settlements, and to reduce them ultimately to parentage, birth, and marriage-convinced that by so doing, he will, in furtherance of the great object of abolishing the Poor-Laws, be only limiting the right of begging, and preventing the resident and almsman from being (as they now commonly are) one and the same person. But before we dismiss this part of the subject we must say a few words upon the methods by which settlements are now gained.
In the settlement by hiring it is held that a man has a claim upon the parish for support where he has laboured for a year : and yet another, who has laboured there for twenty years by short hirings, gains no settlement at all. When a man was not allowed to live where he was not settled it was wise to lay hold of any plan for extending settlements. But the whole question is now completely changed, and the only point which remains is to find out what mode of conferring settlements produces the least possible mischief. We are convinced it is by throwing every possible difficulty in the way of acquiring them. If a settlement hereafter should not be obtained in that parish in which labourers have worked for many years, it will be because it contributes materially to their happiness that they should not gain a settlement there, and this is a full answer to the apparent injustice.
Then, upon what plea of common sense should a man gain a power of taxing a parish to keep him, because he has rented a tenement of ten pounds a year there? or because he has served the office of clerk, or sexton, or hog-ringer, or bought an estate of thirty pounds value ? However good these various pleas might be for conferring settlements, if it were desirable to increase the facility of obtaining them, they are totally inefficacious if it can be shown that the means of gaining new settlements should be confined to the limits of the strictest necessity.
These observations (if they have the honour of attracting his attention) will show Mr. Bourne our opinion of his bill, for giving the privilege of settlement only to a certain length of residence. In the first place such a bill would be the cause of endless vexation to the poor, from the certainty of their being turned out of their cottages, before they pushed their legal taproot into the parish; and, secondly, it would rapidly extend all the evils of the Poor-Laws, by identifying, much more than they are at present identified, the resident and the settled man—the very opposite of the policy which ought to be pursued.
Let us suppose, then, that we have got rid of all the means of gaining a settlement, or right to become a beggar, except by birth, parentage, and marriage ; for the wife, of course, must fall into the settlement of the husband, and the children, till emancipated, must be removed, if their parents are removed. This point gained, the task of regulating the law expenses of the Poor-Laws would be nearly accomplished : for the most fertile causes of dispute would be removed. Every first settlement is an inexhaustible source of litigation and expense to the miserable rustics. Upon the simple fact, for example, of a farmer hiring a ploughman for a year, arise the following afflicting questions :-Was it an expressed contract ? Was it an implied contract ? Was it an implied hiring of the ploughman, rebutted by circumstances ? Was the ploughman's contract for a year's prospective service? Was it a customary hiring of the ploughman? Was it a retrospective hiring of the ploughman? Was it a conditional hiring ? Was it a general hiring? Was it a special, or a special yearly hiring, or a special hiring with wages reserved weekly? Did the farmer make it a special conditional hiring with warning, or an exceptive hiring ? Was the service of the ploughman actual or constructive? Was there any dispensation expressed or implied ?-or was there a dissolution implied ?-by new agreement?-or by mutual consent ?-or by Justices ?-or by any other of the ten thousand means which the ingenuity of lawyers has created ? Can any one be surprised, after this, to learn, that the amount of appeals for removals, in the four Quarter Sessions ending Midsummer, 1817, were four thousand seven hundred ? * Can any man doubt that it is necessary to reduce the hydra to as few heads as possible ? or can any other objection be stated to such reduction, than the number of attorneys and provincial counsel whom it will bring into the poorhouse ?--Mr. Nicol says, that the great number of modes of settlement do not increase litigation. He may just as well say that the number of streets in Seven Dials does not increase the difficulty of finding the way. The modes of settlement we have are by far the simplest, and the evidence is assisted by registers.
Under the head of law expenses we are convinced a great deal may be done, by making some slight alteration in the law of removals. At present removals are made without any warning to the parties to whom the pauper is removed, and the first intimation which the defendant parish receives of the projected increase of their population is by the arrival of the father, mother, and eight or nine children at the overseer's door-where they are tumbled out, with the justice's order about their necks, and left as a spectacle to the assembled and indignant parishioners. No sooner have the poor wretches become a little familiarised to their new parish than the order is appealed against, and they ere recarted with the same precipitate indecency-Quo fata' trahunt, retrahuntque.
No removal should ever take place without due notice to the parish to which the pauper is to be removed, nor till the time in which it may be appealed against is passed by. Notice to be according to the distance-either by letter or personally ; and the decision should be made by the Justices at their petty sessions, with as much care and attention as if there were no appeal from their decision. An absurd notion prevails among Magistrates, that they need not take much trouble in the investigation of removals, because their errors may be corrected by a superior court : whereas it is an object of great importance, by a fair and diligent investigation in the nearest and cheapest court, to convince the country people which party is right and which is wrong; and in this manner to prevent them from becoming the prey of Law Vermin. We are convinced that this subject of the removal of poor is well worthy a short and separate bill. Mr. Bourne thinks it would be very difficult to draw up such a bill. We are quite satisfied we could draw up one in ten minntes that would completely answer the end proposed, and cure the evil complained of.
We proceed to a number of small details, which are well worth the attention of the Legislature.--Overseers' accounts should be given in quarterly, and passed by the Justices, as they now are, annually. The office of Overseer should be triennial. The accounts which have nothing to do with the poor, such as the Constable's account, should be kept and passed separately from them; and the vestry should have the power of ordering a certain portion of the superfluous poor upon the roads. But we beseech all speculators in Poor-Laws to remember that the machinery they must work with is of a very coarse description.
* Commons' Report, 1817
An overseer must always be a limited, uneducated person, but little interested in what he is about, and with much business of his own on his hands. The extensive interference of gentlemen with those matters is quite visionary and impossible. If gentlemen were tide-waiters, the Custom-house would be better served ; if gentlemen would become petty constables, the police would be improved ; if bridges were made of gold, instead of iron, they would not rust. But there are not enough of these articles for such purposes.
A great part of the evils of the Poor-Laws has been occasioned by the large powers entrusted to individual Justices. Everybody is full of humanity and good-nature when he can relieve misfortune by putting his hand-in his neighbour's pocket. Who can bear to see a fellowcreature suffering pain and poverty, when he can order other fellowcreatures to relieve him? Is it in human nature, that A should see B in tears and misery, and not order C to assist him ? Such a power must, of course, be liable to every degree of abuse; and the sooner the power of ordering relief can be taken out of the hands of Magistrates, the sooner shall we begin to experience some mitigation of the evils of the Poor-Laws. The Special-Vestry Bill is good for this purpose, as far as it goes ! but goes a very little way; and we much doubt if it will operate as any sort of abridgment to the power of Magistrates in granting relief. A single Magistrate must not act under this bill, but in cases of special emergency; and the double Magistrates, holding their petty sessions at some little alehouse, and overwhelmed with all the monthly business of the hundred, cannot possibly give to the pleadings of the overseer and pauper half the attention they would be able to afford them at their own houses.
The common people have been so much accustomed to resort to Magistrates for relief, that it is certainly a delicate business to wean them from this bad habit; but it is essential to the great objects which the Poor-Committee have in view, that the power of Magistrates of ordering relief should be gradually taken away. When this is once done, half the difficulties of the abolition are accomplished. We will suggest a few hints as to the means by which this desirable end may be promoted.
A poor man now comes to a Magistrate any day in the week, and any hour in any day, to complain of the Overscers, or of the select Committee. Suppose he were to be made to wait a little, and to feel for a short time the bitterness of that poverty which, by idleness, extravagance, and hasty marriage, he has probably brought upon himself. To effect this object, we would prohibit all orders for relief, by Justices, between the ist and ioth day of the month ; and leave the poor entirely in the hands of the Overseers, or of the Select Vestry for that pericd. Here is a beginning,-a gradual abolition of one of the first features of the Poor-Laws. And it is without risk of tumult ; for no one will run the risk of breaking the laws for an evil to which he anticipates so speedy a termination. This Decameron of overseers' despotism, and paupers suffering, is the very thing wanted. It will teach the parishes to administer their own charity responsibly, and to depend upon
their own judgment. It will teach the poor the miseries of pauperism and dependence; and will be a warning to unmarried young men not hastily and rashly to place themselves, their wives and children, in the same miserable situation ; and it will effect all these objects gradually, and without danger. It would of course be the same thing on principle, if relief were confined to three days between the ist and the roth of each month ; three between the roth and 20th; three between the 20th and the end of the month ;-or in any other manner that would gradually crumble away the power, and check the gratuitous munificence, of Justices,--give authority over their own affairs to the heads of the parish, and teach the poor, by little and little, that they must suffer if they are imprudent. It is understood in all these observations, that the Overseers are bound to support their poor without any order of Justices ; and that death arising from absolute want should expose those officers to very severe punishments, if it could be traced to their inhumanity and neglect. The time must come when we must do without this ; but we are not got so far yet-and are at present only getting rid of Justices, not of Overseers.
Mr. Davison seems to think that the plea of old age stands upon a different footing, with respect to the Poor-Laws, from all other pleas. But why should this plea be more favoured than that of sickness ? why more than losses in trade, incurred by no imprudence? In reality, this plea is less entitled to indulgence. Every man knows he is exposed to the helplessness of age ; but sickness and sudden ruin are very often escaped-comparatively seldom happen. Why is a man exclusively to be protected against that evil which he must have foreseen longer than any other, and has had the longest time to guard against ? Mr. Davison's objections to a limited expenditure are much more satisfactory. These we shall lay before our readers; and we recommend them to the attention of the Committee.
“I shall advert next to the plan of a limitation upon the amount of rates to be assessed in future. This limitation, as it is a pledge of some protection to the property now subjected to the maintenance of the poor against the indefinite encroachment which otherwise threatens it, is, in that light, certainly a benefit; and supposing it were rigorously adhered to, the very knowledge, among the parish expectants, that there was some limit to their range of expectation, some barrier which they could not pass, might incline , them to turn their thoughts homeward again to the care of themselves. But it is an expedient, at the best, far from being satisfactory. In the first place, there is much reason to fear that such a limitation would not eventually be maintained after the example of a similar one having failed before, and considering that the urgency of the applicants, as long as they retain the principle of dependence upon the parish unqualified in any one of its main articles, would probably overbear a mere barrier of figures in the parish account. Then there would be much real difficulty in the proceedings, to be governed by such a limiting rule. For the use of the limitation would be chiefly or solely, in cases where there is some struggle between the ordinary supplies of the parish rates and the exigencies of the poor, or a kind of run and pressure upon the parish by a mass of indigence : and in circumstances of this kind it would be hard to know how to distribute the supplies under a fair proportion to the applicants,