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various offices of labour as little irksome as may be practicable, and by approximating by all possible means the direct wages of labour to the cost of labour, pauperism and crime might be very considerably reduced.


The hope of an immediate and adequate reward, and the certainty of the secure enjoyment of it, are indispensably necessary to obtain labour at the lowest price, and however high that price may be, still it is the lowest possible. By a law of nature the slave is the dearest of labourers, and the man whose heart is in his work the cheapest-nay, even the brute, who is going home in the hope of eating his corn in comfort, is able to accomplish more than by any urging that can be inflicted upon him. Heart, kept constant by prudence, constitutes the perfection of a labourer." It is to be observed, that the immense quantity of crime and pauperism that springs directly and indirectly from the present want of moral cultivation amongst sailors, is to be paid for by the public in addition to their wages; and that if they were prudent, though their wages might be somewhat higher, those wages would constitute the whole cost of their labour, instead of, as now, being only one part. If any labourer by his improvidence becomes a pauper, or causes any of those who ought to be dependent upon him, to become paupers, the expense of that pauperism is to be added to his wages, to make up the whole cost of his labour; and, in the same manner, if he is guilty of crime, or tempts others to be guilty, the expense incident to that crime is likewise to be reckoned part of the cost of his labour, though it is not paid by his employers, but by the public. I believe there are now in the maritime districts of this metropolis a great many respectable lodging-houses for seafaring men, and a great many prudent characters amongst them; but there is a vast number who are quite the reverse, and who are the cause of great public detriment. It is very desirable that there should be some systematic provision for the protection of sailors, so as to give them a fair chance of

becoming prudent, by having facilities afforded them for escaping bad company, and for placing in safety such part of their wages as they would not wish to spend. It seems to me that it would answer extremely well as a speculation for respectable persons, acquainted with the habits of seamen, to establish comfortable places for their reception, and to manage their affairs for them from their arrival till their departure. There could be no risk with proper caution; and the sailors, the public, and, I doubt not, the shipping interest, would be great gainers by the consequent improvement in morals.


The principle of Poor Laws, however modified, is this—that the number of persons, incapable of maintaining themselves, necessarily exceeds the means of duly providing for them, except by a compulsory tax. If it is not true that the number of persons does so exceed, then the principle is fase, and its operation, like that of every other false principle, must be pernicious. The proposition must be taken in its fullest sense; the number of persons incapable of maintaining themselves, must not only actually, but necessarily, exceed the means of duly providing for them, except by a compulsory tax. This supposes government, both general and local, to be of the best form, and in the most efficient order, and that, after all, prudence aided by charity is insufficient for individual support, and therefore that the addition of a compulsory tax is necessary. If all these suppositions are not real, then Poor Laws are not founded on sound principle, but are in the nature of an expedient to bolster up some defect, or defects, which ought to be sought out and thoroughly remedied. Their tendency would be only to cover and perpetuate abuse, whether that abuse existed in the general or the local government, in a de

ficiency of prudence, or in a want of charity. Till government, both general and local, should be put into the most efficient order, till every encouragement should be given to prudence, and till charity should be excited by all possible means, it would be too much to say that any other resources would be necessary; and recurring to any other resources prematurely, would be to retard improvement in the right quarters. Expedients are easy modes of supplying defects, and they often look specious, and for a time produce apparent benefit, but it is only on the slow operation of sound principles that reliance can safely be placed. Those who maintain the principle of Poor Laws, maintain it as a permanent principle, to be kept in operation under all circumstances; because they say all property in civilized countries being appropriated, they who are born into the world and have not the means of providing for themselves, have a right to a maintenance from the property of others. This position is maintained chiefly on the assumption that any one born into the world, where all property is appropriated, has greater difficulty in providing for himself than in a savage state; but the direct contrary is the fact. In any given country a man capable of labour can more easily command the necessaries of life, when it is civilized, than he could have done when it was in a savage state; but it will be objected that he cannot, under all circumstances, obtain employment. I will consider that objection by-and-bye.

With respect to persons incapable of labour, whether from infancy, or age, or from inability, physical or mental, their natural rights cannot be greater in a civilized than in an uncivilized state, though in the former their chances of provision, independently of any compulsory maintenance, are much better than in the latter. The advocates for the principle of Poor Laws assert, that children, whose parents are unable to maintain them, have a natural right to a maintenance from the property of others.

If by a natural right is meant the

right they would have had in a state of nature, of what value is it, or how is it to be enforced? Being destitute, how are they in a worse condition where property is appropriated, than where it is not? and in the latter case parents are exposed to inability to maintain their children. If then those children are not in a worse condition, they are not entitled to any new right by way of compensation. They could have had no advantages in a state of nature, which give them a right to compulsory provision in a state of civilisation. The truth is, their claims are of a higher nature than any that laws can enforce, and in a well-ordered society arc sure to be attended to without compulsion. The same reasoning applies to the destitute aged and impotent. In a state of nature, where property is not appropriated, there can be no compulsory provision for them, and their chances of voluntary provision are much less than in a state of civilisation. Now as to those who are capable of labour, and who, it is said, are entitled to have employment found them, if they cannot get it themselves, or to subsistence because all property is appropriated, I answer, that in a civilized state there should be no such class, unless created or permitted by defective government. Where political regulations are such as to give all men fair play, and not to place any unnecessary temptations to improvidence in their way, the same exertion and the same prudence that would enable the savage to exist, would enable the civilized labourer to live well, and to find employment for himself under all circumstances; whereas the savage, with only the pauper standard of shifting for himself, would be starved to death. Whatever quantity of destitution there may be, in this country or in Ireland, for want of employment, it may be traced to removable causes; but to provide for that destitution by the adoption of a permanent principle, is the surest way to prevent the causes from being removed.

Whenever government is carried on upon the principle,

that "whatever is morally wrong, cannot be politically right," the standard of morals, individually, will soon be raised too high to admit of any thing like a class of paupers, and there will be no destitution, for the relief of which the funds of private charity will not be far more than sufficient. My conclusion is, that Poor Laws are not founded on any natural right, but that they merely involve a question of expediency; and I think that no system of management will be ultimately productive of benefit, unless it has for its object the total abolition of the principle. There is another point of view in which I would put the principle of Poor Laws, and that is, that they can only be an expedient to supply the deficiencies of wages, or the waste of improvidence. If wages are high enough to support the whole class of labourers, Poor Laws would only encourage improvidence; if wages are not high enough, Poor Laws would operate to prevent their becoming so. Temporary want of employment is no argument for the adoption of a permanent principle, and permanent want of employment argues an over-population, which can only be the result of improvidence, for which the Poor Laws are not the cure.

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