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ment of the immense supplies allowed by that generous country to the wants of her poor.'


Shrewsbury and Glasgow' have shown what advantages may obtained, even by a partial deviation from the plans usually followed in both parts of the island. The similarity of the principles they had adopted, with those to which we in Hamburgh owe our success, was striking, and induced you to desire me to give you a more circumstantial account of our institutions,


It is certainly a duty in me, to give you back the little I can give, for the much I have received. The reason why I do not think it unworthy of your notice is, that it is not an ideal scheme, easily formed by a warm heart and a lively fancy; but a real experiment, tried for these six years past, in a population of one hundred and ten thousand inhabitants, who have the misfortune to feed above seven thousand poor, besides two thousand five hundred in their different hospitals. Give me leave, before I proceed, to offer a few general observations, of which the following sheets will contain the application.


Nature seems to have destined all her children for a state of continual exertion and their perfectibility perhaps depends on the unceasing exercise of their powers for ends never completely attainable. These objects increase in number with the more enlarged sphere of our ideas. In the most numerous classes of men, bodily wants are the main object of their toil, and they struggle only to preserve life. In this contest with necessity all are not equally successful, not equally attentive, assiduous, sober, saving, orderly, honest, and prudent. We generally blame them for it, as if those qualities were so very common in the higher classes, and as if corruption did not always spread from the higher to the lower orders.


Among these poor there are not only victims of incapacity,

The poor rates are allowed to amount to two millions and a half sterling. It is certainly under the truth to state at a million more, the sums expended through the island in hospitals of all kinds, and in workhouses: if to this are added those large sums distributed annually by the beneficence of the noblemen and gentlemen at their country residences, and numberless subscriptions for immediate relief, &c. I make no doubt, that the sum of British charities amounts to near five millions a year. This is certainly too much. Supposing the extravagant proposition of one inan in ten wanting support: in a population of nine millions, 51. sterling would fall to the share of each pauper, out of which undoubtedly onefourth part is able to perform some work, and the half capable of doing a fourth towards earning their subsistence.


2 Vide Mr. Wood's account of the Shrewsbury House of Industry, 1792. Dr. Porteus's Letter on the Management of the Poor Funds in Glasgow.

Now, in 1817, upwards of eight millions, and private and public bene factions have increased in the same ratio.

folly, and vice, to whom public justice owes instruction and correction: I am afraid by far the greatest number of poor in Europe are of a very different description.


Through a concurrence of numerous circumstances, the price of labor and of the necessaries of life are in a very unfavourable proportion for the poor in most countries of Europe. A man who lives by labor, but requires nothing but bodily strength, has still a right to expect such wages as may enable him to live comfortably this, in Britain, is to live in dry and healthy lodgings, eat sound provisions, sufficient to support his labor, to be covered against the inclemency of the weather, and to appear with a certain cleanliness on Sundays; to rear his children decently, and lay by something to live upon when age has deprived him of his strength. This is indeed the situation of the laboring poor in all new societies of men: there he earns even beyond this, till augmenting population lowers the price of labor, and raises the necessaries of life. Hard labor then procures him no more than a small pittance, upon which he barely lives; little for comfort, less for the education of his children, and nothing to depend upon in those times when labor is wanting, when sickness confines him, or a rigorous season requires more food, more clothing, and more firing; then he sells or pawns his bed, his tools, his every thing, till despair takes from him sobriety, order, assiduity, and economy: he first is tempted into drunkenness by his misery, and, by a fatal circle, is miserable for ever by the habit of drinking. Sloth, beggary, and all the train of vices that attend them, completely destroy his industry; and if this situation has lasted for some time, he is irrecoverably lost to order and regularity.

In the south of Europe, where the climate is mild, and men want but little food, less clothing, and hardly any shed, numbers live the life of a savage in the midst of civilization, reconciled to it by habits of security and independence, and by the indulgence of libertinism and idleness. Thousands throng at the gates of the monasteries in Spain for some soup, which they receive as a tribute; and in Naples forty thousand lazaroni are dreaded by despotism itself.

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In those countries, adultery and prostitution are common, the sources of life are tainted by dreadful disease, spies are easily obtained, and assassinations are cheap.

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In northern latitudes, where more food, more clothing, and a house are wanted, the effects of misery are more severely felt. Many, many fall a slow sacrifice to chill penury, and starve for months or years. But here the remedy is much easier. Pity prompts to relieve obvious distresses, and the sharpness of want urges men to its antidote, labor. In repairing, however, those

evils, which society did not, or could not prevent, it ought to be careful not to counteract the wise purposes of nature, but give the poor a fair chance to work for themselves. The present distress must be relieved, the sick and the aged provided for; but the children must be instructed; and labor, not alms, offered to those who have some ability to work, however small that ability may be...

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In all the west of Europe, there is hardly a country where the sums which public and private benevolence bestows upon the poor, are not more than adequate to those purposes; but mismanagement has employed them, with very few exceptions, as a reward to sloth, idleness, impudence, and untruth; and has reared new generations of poor wretches, brought up to a life of disgusting profligacy.

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Unthinking pity has rashly stopped that natural course of things, by which want leads to labor, labor to comfort, the knowledge of comfort to industry, and to all those virtues by which the toiling multitude so incalculably add to the strength and happiness of a country; and while it neglects that respectable poverty which shrinks from public sight, it encourages, by profuse and indiscriminate charities, all those abominable arts which make beggary a better trade than can be found in a work-shop.


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The greatness of the evil must at last carry a remedy along with it. It was intolerable in Hamburgh, when the public, disposed by some speculative discussions on the subject, and encouraged by some private successful exertions, resolved to make it the object of their serious consideration. They largely contributed the money that was requisite; and what was a still greater sacrifice, many of them gave their personal assistance in guiding the benevolence of their fellow citizens into a proper channel. Two hundred of our most respectable inhabitants have been thus employed for the last seven years, and, during that period, hardly a beggar has been seen in Hamburgh."


The following general account will, I flatter myself, show, thatwe not only did much towards the relief of the poor, but that we gained some steps towards the more desirable, yet but slowly attainable end, the preventing some of the causes of poverty.

As a still more minute detail, however, may be desirable for those who actually engage in such an undertaking, I must refer to a volume of laws and bye-laws, printed at Hamburgh, 1788; and to a volume containing sixteen reports, given successively to the public from 1788 to 1794. They are deposited, along with all other papers concerning this establishment, with Mr. Creech at

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This fact is corroborated by many merchants of the city of London, who witnessed this extraordinary effect.

Edinburgh, who will be so good as to communicate them to any of those to whom this letter is addressed.

To the general causes of poverty, in Hamburgh, we have to: add, the inclemency of our winters; the fluctuation of several branches of trade on which the poor depend for their subsistence; the number of people attracted out of the poorer adjacent countries, by the expectation, often disappointed, of finding employment or support in a large commercial town, whose inhabitants have ever deserved the reputation of generous benevolence; and lastly, the extraordinary low wages and number of female servants, whose: wages on an average do not exceed 21., and whose number is computed to be near fifteen thousand, and I am sorry to add, that meat and bread pay from 15 to 25 per cent., and beer several taxes exceeding 60 per cent.



It is evident that a number of women must remain unprovided for, when their age renders them unfit for services and the excise? being limited within the walls of the town, our Holsatian and Hanoverian neighbours have aoigreat advantage in carrying on manufactures in competition with our poor.


Some years previous to 1788, a society had united for giving relief to the indigent sick. Another society had procured flax and spinning-wheels, established a spinning-school, and given work to all those who chose to work: their number yet was comparatively small.

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Some other humane gentlemen made personal visits among the poor, and, by giving their history to the public, awakened its attention to the sufferings of this numerous class, showing, at the same time, the necessity of a general measure.n I SEP 2

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I lay some stress upon these preliminary essays; partly from myconviction, that the success of such an undertaking depends wholly on the degree in which the public at large is satisfied of its necessity; and partly, because I think that no man is entitled to recommend the execution of any important plan, till it has been already tried. upon a smaller scale, and till its parts are in some measure organised for immediate use. Cyhm The magistrates took up the business with a zeal adequate to its importance; the outlines of a plan were agreed upon; it was decided, that such revenues as had till then been expended in alms by the several church-wardens, and those whose administration had been connected with the work-house, should be united under one administration, with those sums that could be collected from private benevolence. The representatives of the citizens went round through all the houses in the different parishes to solicit annual subscriptions,




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Every inhabitant in rotation went round weekly, collecting among his neighbours; and the most respectable of our inhabitants made it a point to collect in person.

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The town, after an average calculation of the number of poor in the several parts, was divided into sixty districts, containing each a nearly equal number of poor.


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To each district three citizens were chosen for three years; and the number of wealthy and respectable men who offered themselves for the severe task they were to undergo, will forever furnish a bright page in the annals of civic virtue in Hamburgh,bgek, Five senators presided at the board of a committee, composed of ten members (whom I shall call directors), and who were chosen for life. 128 * 1829 2008 JÚL 4 l väg to bad an In their meetings, to which (analogous to the organization of those boards by which public business is conducted at Hamburgh), several other members of the commonwealth were added for the most important decisions, the whole of the plan was, during six months, fully prepared for execution. 92ut



For the use of the above-named one hundred and eighty gentlemen, whom I shall call overseers, very ample instructions were published.

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Actual relief was the first object; for we all were convinced of the barbarity of preventing beggary, when provision for real want is not previously prepared; but at the very moment that this provision was secured, measures were taken to prevent any man from receiving a shilling which he was able to earn for himself.


This is the basis of every solid provision for the poor; with it every establishment must stand or fall, become the blessing or the bane of the lower classes of society. Į k 28 fol

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Our overseers had printed interrogatories, which they were to propose to each poor family. The answers were written upon the white column of the page, and verified by a personal visitation, and the evidence of their neighbours, and many queries were formed to discover the average earning of each member of the family; but this was not a point easily settled to m


Few answers were sincere and it being the interest of the poor to make their capacity for work appear small, all the tricks were employed which the habits of beggary had rendered but too familiar. The state of health was determined by a visit from a physician and a surgeon.bu ed omone Jarung kv

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We now began to make an exact calculation of what each pau per wanted for bare subsistence; we went down as far as 28. a week but in the course of our investigation respecting the earnings of 3500 families, we were astonished to find that we were

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