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to the outdoor department, where it would be most valuable in discovering and checking imposture, as well as in softening the harsh treatment of the relieving officers towards the decent poor. We care not what name be given to such an association of workers, so that the work done be a reality. The fact of several women combining to carry out a task, obviously impossible to one person, need not imply any adherence to particular opinions or to a party ; and we believe that it would prove attractive to many who do not wish to devote themselves exclusively either to the care of the sick or to the education of the young. We admit, however, that no such work could be carried out or sustained without it was supported by a strong religious devotion and zeal.
Until some such plan as this which we have attempted to sketch out is adopted, we shall not wonder if our great palace or prison-like unions continue to be regarded with scorn by those who see our ostentatious displays of charity, made without a comprehension of the only true principles on which they can be successfully carried out. And let us observe that these abodes of poverty are regarded with hatred and dread, not by the idle and vicious, whom we might wish to deter from partaking of the charity of the nation, but by the decent, the helpless and afflicted poor, who have no other refuge than that which is offered them within the dreary walls of the union.
Let there be justice, stern and uncompromising, for the offender and those who will not work, but let there be discrimination between such and the large class of applicants on whose claims we have dealt in the preceding pages. At all events, let it not be made for any a de
grading and deteriorating system ; and to prevent this we must enforce a complete classification and an efficient superintendence.* The subject has been little thought of hitherto, for it has been considered one of the settled facts that the system worked well enough and needed no improvement. Now we have no longer the excuse that its defects are unknown, for at the present day all our social faults and miseries are dragged forth to light; we regard it as a hopeful sign of increasing interest that a sub-committee has been appointed in the Social Economy Department of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science, for the special consideration of the subject of workhouse management; and when once we are convinced of an error, and have in due time attempted to apply a remedy, we do not often relapse into it. A step once made is a step gained, and from it we may hope to advance to another. In this instance, the first step may be considered to be the appointment of lady
* We have hardly left ourselves space to enter on the subject of the employment of inmates of workhouses. The object was treated in a paper sent to the Meeting for Social Science at Birmingham, by Mrs. de Morgan. The plans suggested are partly carried out in some workhouses, where tailors and shoemakers are employed to superintend the work of the inmates, and where the making of bread for the establishment is done in the house ; wood-chopping is also provided as an occupation. Mrs. de Morgan also suggests the practicability of slightly remunerative employment, and especially urges industrial training for the young, so that “workhouses, from being the lowest step on the downward ladder, might form the first of an ascending scale, and arrest the idle and vicious in their certain course to prison.”
visitors in a few instances, which we may hope will gradually become more numerous.
This plan may do much, but nothing but an all-pervading influence of a higher kind can fully meet the evils we have been considering. A pamphlet entitled “The Duty of Workhouse Visitation, and how to do it,"* dwells chiefly on the point of lady visitors for the purpose of spiritual instruction and consolation to the inmates ; and even this would be a great gain, but it is not all that we would aim at accomplishing in our task of reform. neglect and abuse of power as are described in the report of the St. Pancras Workhouse, drawn up by Dr. Bence Jones, call more loudly for redress than any such plan alone could offer. A perusal of this paper, or even a glance at it, will convince our readers that we have magnified none of the evils we have stated. It is indeed a disgrace to the history of a Christian country, in the nineteenth century, to leave statements like these displayed to the eyes of the world. Dr. Bence Jones concludes with these words : “Such a state of things ought not to be tolerated by the Government." The first step to be taken in the correction of evils of such magnitude must be the appointment of guardians who will see and correct abuses ; indeed, this seems to be as absolutely necessary to any improvement in the system as the selection of a better class of superintendents. If the more respectable inhabitants of a parish would interest themselves in the election of guardians, and, moreover, would become guardians themselves, the power would no longer be left in the hands of the very incompetent persons who, generally speaking, at present exercise it. And we may ask why should not gentlemen be found who would devote time to the management of workhouses as well as of hospitals and other charitable institutions ? *
We have endeavoured to point out some of the remedies which appear to be within our reach ; and in directing the attention of women to the field of work which lies before them, we would remind them that the benefit of
* Everywhere we hear of gentlemen resigning their posts as guardians, because of the opposition of the majority, whose ignorance and vulgarity cannot be tolerated by them. It is the same in the country as in towns; the ill-educated and narrowminded have the upper hand, and generally succeed in their endeavours to get rid of their opponents. The following is the description of the state of things existing in the union of a distant country town: “I can hardly conceive anything more hopeless than the management of our union. There is not one gentleman in all this country side who takes any part as guardian in the administration of affairs; some did at first, years ago, but they were defeated by the determined and systematic tactics of the farmers, who wished to get the management entirely into their own hands, and the consequence was, most unfortunately, that all the gentlemen retired in disgust. From that day to this, the farmers have had it all their own way. The chairman is a small farmer in this parish, and our guardian is a most unfit person, of bad character, but nevertheless is much thought of both by the other guardians and the Poor Law Board, because he is a capital hand at 'keeping down the rates.' We all know what this means when applied to the poor, the aged, and the infirm. It is justly asked, “What co-operation could be expected in any system of lady visitors from such persons as these ?'”
their entering it will not be for the poor only. The life spent for others will be at least as happy and as healthful as that of the solitary “old maid,” who dwells upon her own petty sorrows and ailments (and perhaps creates them) because she has no other object for her thoughts and no call for her affections. Here is work waiting for her to do. Let her come forward and claim it. Let it not be said that there are no sisters of charity” here, as in other lands, but let us prove that we also have hands and hearts willing to serve in the same cause. And there is ample variety offered for all tastes and capacities. There are young and old, sick and healthy, pious and vicious, all needing the skilful and judicious care of the well-trained and educated mind. It is a sad instance of the ignorant prejudice which is ever opposed to the introduction of change and improvement, that even where help of this kind is offered, it is still obstinately rejected, for men have not yet learnt to see that it is for their own interests to accept it. Every imaginable reason is alleged against admitting ladies to share in this work. Religious differences are brought forward in some cases as an insuperable objection; and universally, it may be said, the feeling of the guardians is against it, and in favour of closing the workhouse doors to all but official inspection and management. Whether Government will give its aid and sanction in this matter, or leave the contest with public opinion, to be fought, step by step, during a gradual process of years, remains to be seen. We have even heard of the wife of a bishop being refused admission as a visitor into a neighbouring union ; and in cases where it is permitted to a few ladies to enter, it is done as it were by stealth, and to be ignored by he