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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 managed.

These evils are great, and yet are but flight compared with what follow. As the number of poor in England, as well as the expence of maintenance, are increasing daily, proprietors of land, in order to be relieved of a burden fo grievous, drive the poor out of the parish, and prevent all perfons from fettling in it who are likely to become a burden: cottages are demolished, and marriage obftructed. Influenced by the present evil, they look not forward to depopulation, nor to the downfall of husbandry and manufactures by scarcity of hands. Every parish is in a state of war with every other parish, concerning pauper settlements and removals.

The price of labour is generally the fame in the different fhires of Scotland, and in the different parishes. A few exceptions are occafioned by the neighbourhood of a great town, or by fome extenfive manufacture that requires many hands. In Scotland, the price of labour resembles water, which always levels itself: if high in any one corner, an influx of hands brings it down. The price of labour varies in every parish of England. A labourer who has gain'd a fettlement in a parish, on which he depends for bread when he inclines to be idle, dares not remove to another parish where wages are higher, fearing to be cut out of a fettlement altogether. England is in the fame condition with respect to labour, that France lately was with refpect to corn; which, however plentiful in one province, could not be exported to fupply the wants of another. The pernicious effects of the latter with refpect to food, are not more obvious, than of the former with refpect to manufactures.

English manufactures labour under a still greater hardship than inequality of wages. In a country where there is no fund for the


poor but what nature provides, the labourer must be fatisfied with fuch wages as are cuftomary: he has no refource; for pity is not moved by idlenefs. In England, the labourers command the market: if not fatisfied with customary wages, they have an excellent refource; which is, to abandon work altogether, and to put themselves on the parish. Labour is much cheaper in France than in England: I have heard feveral plaufible reafons; but in my opinion, the difference arifes from the poor-laws. In England, every man is entitled to be idle; and every idler is entitled to a maintenance. In France, the funds appropriated to the poor, yield the fame fum annually: that fum is always preoccupied; and France, with refpect to all but those on the lift, approaches to the state of a nation, that has no fund provided by law for the poor.

Depopulation, inequality in the price of labour, and extravagant wages, are deplorable evils. But the English poor-laws are productive of evils ftill more deplorable; they are fubverfive both of morality and induftry. This is a heavy charge, but no less true than heavy. Fear of want is the only effectual motive to industry with the labouring poor remove that fear, and they ceafe to be industrious. The ruling paflion of those who live by bodily labour, is to fave a pittance for their children, and for fupporting themselves in old age: ftimulated, by defire of accomplishing thefe ends, they are frugal and induftrious; and the profpect of fuccefs is to them a continual feaft. Now what worfe can malice invent againft fuch a man, under colour of friendship, than to fecure bread to him and his children whenever he takes a diflike to work; which effectually deadens his fole ambition, and with it his honest induftry? Relying on the certainty of a provifion against want, he relaxes gradually till he fink into idleness: idlenefs leads to profligacy: profligacy begets difeafes: and the wretch becomes an object of public charity, before he has run half his courfe, Such are the genuine effects of the English tax for the poor, unVOL. II.



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der a mistaken notion of charity. There never was known in any country, a fcheme for the poor more contradictory to found policy. Might it not have been foreseen, that to a groveling creature, who has no fenfe of honour, and fcarce any of fhame, the certainty of maintenance would prove an irresistible temptation to idleness and debauchery? The poor-house at Lyons contained originally but forty beds, of which twenty only were occupied. The eight hundred beds it contains at present, are not fufficient for the poor who demand admittance. A premium is not more fuccessful in any cafe, than where it is given to promote idleness. A houfe for the poor was erected in a French village, the revenue of which, by economy, became confiderable. Upon a reprefentation by the curate of the parish, that more beds were neceffary, the proprietor undertook the management. He fold the house, with the furniture; and to every proper object of charity, he ordered a moderate proportion of bread and beef, The poor and fick were more comfortably lodged at home, than formerly in the poor-house. And by that plan of management, the parish-poor decreased, instead of increasing, as at Lyons. How few English manufacturers labour the whole week, if the work of four or five days afford them maintenance? Is not this a demonstration, that the malady of idleness is widely fpred? In Bristol, the parifh-poor twenty years ago did not exceed four thousand: at prefent, they amount to more than ten thousand. But as a malady, when left to itself, commonly effectuates its own cure; fo it will happen in this cafe: when, by prevailing idleness, every one without fhame claims parish-charity, the burden will become intolerable, and the poor will be left to their fhifts.

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The immoral effects of public charity are not confined to thofe who depend on it, but extend to their children. The constant anxiety of a labouring man to provide for his children, endears them to him. Being relieved of that anxiety by the tax for the


poor, his affection cools gradually, and he turns at laft perfectly indifferent about them. Their independence, on the other hand, weans them from their duty to him. And thus, affection between parent and child, which is the corner-ftone of society, is in a great measure obliterated among the labouring poor. In a plan published by the Earl of Hilfborough, there is an article, obliging parents to maintain their indigent children, and children to maintain their indigent parents. Natural affection must indeed be at a low ebb, where fuch a regulation is neceffary: but it is neceffary, at least in London, where it is common to see men in good business neglecting their aged and diseased parents, for no better reason, than that the parish is bound to find them bread: Prob tempora, prob mores!

The immoral effects of public charity fpread ftill wider. It fails not to extinguish the virtue of charity among the rich; who never think of giving charity, when the public undertakes for all. In a fcheme published by Mr Hay, one article is, to raifera ftock for the poor by voluntary contributions, and to make up the deficiency by a parish-tax. Will individuals ever contribute, when it is not to relieve the poor, but to relieve the parish? Every hofpital has a poor-box, which feldom produces any thing *. The great comfort of fociety is affiftance in time of need; and its firmeft cement is, the bestowing and receiving kindly offices, efpecially in distress. Now to unhinge or fufpend the exercise of charity, by rendering it unneceffary, relaxes every focial virtue, by fupplanting the chief of them. The confequence is difinal: exercife of benevolence to the diftreffed is our fureft guard against

* One exception I am fond to mention. The poor-box of the Edinburgh infirmary was neglected two or three years, little being expected from it. When ópened, L. 74 was found in it; befide a few fhillings and halfpence, contributed pro bably by the lower fort, who were afhamed to give their mite publicly.

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the encroachments of felfishness: if that guard be withdrawn, felfifhnefs will prevail, and become the ruling paffion. In fact, the tax for the poor has contributed greatly to the growth of that groveling paffion, fo confpicuous at present in England.

English authors who turn their thoughts to the poor, make heavy complaints of decaying charity, and increafing poverty: never once dreaming, that these are the genuine effects of a legal provifion for the poor; which on the one hand eradicates the virtue of charity, and on the other is a violent temptation to idleness. Wonderfully ill contrived must the English charitylaws be, when their confequences are to fap the foundation of voluntary charity; to deprive the labouring poor of their chief comfort, that of providing for themselves and children; to relax mutual affection between parent and child; and to reward, instead of punishing, idleness and vice. Confider whether a legal provifion for the poor, be fufficient to atone for fo many evils.

No man had better opportunity than Fielding to be acquainted with the state of the poor: let us listen to him. "That the poor

are a very great burden, and even a nuifance to the kingdom; "that the laws for relieving their diftreffes, and restraining their vices, have not anfwered; and that they are at present very ill provided for, and much worse governed, are truths which every one will acknowledge. Every person who hath property, "muft feel the weight of the tax that is levied for the poor; and

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every person of understanding, must see how abfurdly it is applied. So ufelefs indeed is this heavy tax, and so wretched its difpofition, that it is a question, whether the poor or rich are actually more diflatisfied, fince the plunder of the one ferves fo little

to the real advantage of the other: for while a million yearly is "raised among the rich, many the rich, many of the poor are ftarved; many more


languish in want and mifery; of the reft, numbers are found

begging or pilfering in the streets to-day, and to-morrow are: "locked

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