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The ideas of The Select Committee on this important subject have been adopted by Lord Chief Justice BEST, and were emphatically urged by His Lordship in his Charge to the Grand Jury of the County of Wilts, in August 1827.
In further corroboration of these arguments, we have also the testimony of THOMAS G. B. ESTCOURT, Esq., one of the Representatives for The University of Oxford, and who, as Chairman of the Wiltshire Quarter Sessions, in a late address to
The Grand Jury, upon the gross misapplication of the principle of the Poor Laws, most sensibly observed, "Is it reasonable "to expect it can be otherwise, if, in de"fiance of the dictates of Wisdom, and in
opposition to every principle of Justice, "a system shall be pursued which will "not only elevate the immoral to a level "with the moral, but which will actually "tend to depress the moral to the standard "of the worthless? Is it credible, that a
system so indisputably pernicious should, "in civilized Society, find existence?—
"Yet it is my painful duty to remind you, "that in England,—in moral, honest, hu
mane, charitable England,—a practice "does prevail, and is unhappily familiar "in this as well as in many other Counties, "which tends in an eminent degree to
produce the fatal consequences to which "I have adverted; and that practice con"sists in the payment of a portion of the "wages of Labour out of the Poor Rate."
Whence then, although it was the original intention of the Legislators for the Poor, that none should obtain relief but such as by age, sickness, or other infirmity, are incapacitated from earning their own livelihood, and that such as were able to work, but could obtain no employment, should have work found for them by the Overseers, yet as the Poor Laws are, in many places, now administered, the idle and dissolute fly to them as to a refuge from the unpleasant duties of honest labour, and consume the means provided for the infirm poor, in a state of voluntary Morning Herald Newspaper, 19th Dec. 1827.
degradation and laziness. This state of things causes others to be improvident about their wages, knowing that if their vices bring them into utter want, they must be maintained in idleness at last.3
Ill fares the land, to hast'ning ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates, and men decay: Princes and Lords may flourish, or may fade; A breath can make them, as a breath has made: But a bold Peasantry, their Country's pride, When once destroy'd, can never be supplied. The Deserted Village.
Repeated animadversions of The Commissioners will be found, on the demoralizing effects of appropriating Charities in aid of the Poor Rates,-which it is manifest, are so strongly opposed to the interests of Industry and of Virtue, and the prescribed injunctions of the Donors.*
Morning Herald Newspaper, 7th Sept. 1827.Parliamentary Debates, vol. xxxv. p. 908.
Rep. vi. p. 183.-Rep. xiv. pp. 579, 584.
THERE are various benefactions in the County of Somerset, for the "Second Poor," -a denomination which implies those poor persons, who do not receive Parochial relief.
In 1728, JOHN CARD, by his Will, gave all his lands and hereditaments, to the use of the Second Poor of the hamlet of Draycott, the annual rents of which, in 1818, amounted to 3227. 15s. A species of beneficence, which might have been appropriated to nobler purposes,-and so true it is, that Charity, like other virtues, may be improperly and unseasonably exerted.
It has been found by the Trustees, that the appropriation of so large an annual income to persons presenting themselves for relief, as coming under the description of Second Poor, has attracted a great number of idle and undeserving persons to the neighbourhood, and operated as an
encouragement to Vice and Indolence,and the Trustees are, therefore, of opinion, that the appropriation of the major part of the funds in building and establishing one or more Schools, for male and female children, in a neighbourhood in which it is so much wanted as in the Mendip District, where there is not at present (in 1819) a single School, would be eminently useful. The Trustees also conceive, that the binding out the Scholars as Apprentices, would also be a very valuable addition to the advantage which they would derive from education, inasmuch as there is not sufficient work in Agriculture for the persons who reside in the place.
They further express themselves to be unanimously of opinion, that the present mode of applying the Funds is most prejudicial to the best interests of those who are the objects of the Charity, and that no means would be so likely to be permanently advantageous to the Second Poor themselves, as the establishing of Schools for the education of their children, and