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tain funds for defraying the expence of each, which produce annually much about the fame fum. In imitation of Paris, hospitals of the fame kind were erected in every great town of the kingdom.

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The English began more early to think of their poor; and in a country without industry, the neceffity probably arose more early. The first English statute bears daté in the year 1496, directing, "That every beggar unable to work, fhall refort to "the hundred where he laft dwelt or was "born; and there shall remain, upon pain of being fet in the ftocks three days " and three nights, with only bread and water, and then fhall be put out of "town.' This was a law against vagrants, for the fake of order. There was little occafion, at that period, to provide for the innocent poor; their maintenance being a a burden upon monafteries. But monafteries being put down by Henry VIII. a ftatute, 22d year of his reign, cap. 12. empowered the juftices of every county, to licenfe poor aged and impotent perfons to beg within a certain diftrict; thofe who beg without it, to be whipt, or fet in the stocks. In the


first year of Edward VI. cap. 3. a statute was made in favour of impotent, maimed, and aged perfons, that they shall have convenient houses provided for them, in the cities or towns where they were born, or where they refided for three years, to be relieved by the willing and charitable difpofition of the parishioners. By 2d and 3d Philip and Mary, cap. 5. the former ftatutes of Henry VIII. and Edward VI. were confirmed, of gathering weekly relief for the poor by charitable collections.

"A man licensed to beg, fhall wear a badge “ on his breast and back openly."

The first compulfory ftatute was 5° Elifab. cap. 3. empowering juftices of peace to raise a weekly fum for the poor, by taxing fuch perfons as obftinately refuse to contribute, after repeated admonitions from the pulpit. In the next statute, 14° Elifab. cap. 5. a bolder ftep was made, empowering justices to tax the inhabitants of every parish, in a weekly fum for their poor. And taxations for the poor being now in fome degree familiar, the remarkable ftatutes, 39° Elifab. cap. 3. and 43° Elifab. cap. 2. were enacted, which are the ground-work of all the fubfequent


statutes concerning the poor. By these ftatutes, certain householders, named by the juftices, are, in conjunction with the church-wardens, appointed overseers for the poor; and these overseers, with confent of two juftices, are empowered to tax the parish in what fums they think proper, for maintaining the poor.

Among a people fo tenacious of liberty as the English are, and fo impatient of oppreffion, is it not furprifing, to find a law, that without ceremony fubjects individuals to be taxed at the arbitrary will of men, who feldom either by birth or education deserve that important trust; and without even providing any effectual check against embezzlement? At prefent, a British parliament would reject with scorn fuch an abfurd plan; and yet, being familiarized to it, they never feriously have attempted a repeal. We have been always on the watch to prevent the fovereign's encroachments, especially with regard to taxes but as parifh-officers are low perfons who infpire no dread, we fubmit to have our pockets pick'd by them, almost without repining. There is provided, it is true, an appeal to the general feffions


for redreffing inequalities in taxing the parifhioners But it is no effectual remedy : artful overfeers will not over-rate any man fo grofsly as to make it his interest to complain, confidering that these overseers have the poor's money to defend themfelves with. Nor will the general feffions readily listen to a complaint, that cannot be verified but with much time and trouble. If the appeal have any effect, it makes a still greater inequality, by relieving men of figure at the expence of their inferiors; who must submit, having little interest to obtain redress.

The English plan, befide being oppreffive, is grossly unjuft. If it should be reported of fome distant nation, that the burden of maintaining the idle and profligate, is laid upon the frugal and industrious, who work hard for a maintenance to themselves; what would one think of fuch a nation? Yet this is literally the cafe of England. I fay more: the plan is not only oppreffive and unjust, but miferably defective in the checking of maladminiftration. In fact, great fums are levied beyond what the poor receive: it requires briguing to be named a church-warden ;


the nomination, in London efpecially, gives him credit at once; and however meagre at the commencement of his office, he is round and plu:up before it ends. To:wax fat and rich by robbing the poor! Let us turn our eyes from a fcene fo horrid*.

Inequality in taxing, and embezzlement of the money levied, which are notorious, poifon the minds of the people; and imprefs them with a notion, that all taxes raised by public authority are ill ma naged.

These evils are great, and yet are but flight compared with what follow. As the number of poor in England, as well as

In the parish of St George, Hanover Square, a great reform was made fome years ago. Inhabitants of figure, not excepting men of the highest rank, take it in turn to be church- wardens; which has reduced the poor-rates in that parish to a trifle. But people, after acquiring a name, foon tire of drudging for others. The drudgery will be left to low people as formerly, and the tax will again rife as high in that parish as in others. The poor rates in Dr Davenant's time, were about L. 700,000 yearly. In the year 1764, they amounted to L. 2,200,000. In the year 1773, they amounted to L. 3,000,000, equal to fix fhillings in the pound land-tax.


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