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up to 1891 would be very nearly regular but for the reaction 1861-71. But since 1891 no further improvement can be traced.
As to the old, we have a very regular series except for 1861-71, but the rate of improvement seems to be checked before 1891, and since 1891 there has been a slight increase in the ratio. So long as there was improvement to share, the old shared it to some extent; but they always drag behind, and now, improvement having ceased for those from 16-65, we find the disadvantage of the old taking the shape of a positive increase of the proportion of paupers amongst them. Such are the conclusions to be drawn from a careful study of the official statistics of not-able-bodied pauperism.
Local Government. By WILLIAM BLAKE
London: Macmillan. 1899.
MR. BLAKE ODGERS has undertaken a useful, tedious and unambitious task. He has rewritten and brought up to date that excellent little book which Mr. M. D. Chalmers compiled in 1883 for the English Citizen Series. I am not certain that the rewriting is quite so successful as the bringing up to date. But of this readers must judge for themselves. One example may, however, be produced. Mr. Chalmers wrote the first sentence of his introductory chapter as follows :—" The object of the present volume is to describe the existing machinery of Local Government in England, and to give a short account of those matters locally administered which do not form the subject of separate volumes of the English Citizen Series.” Mr. Blake Odgers rewrites :-" The object .... matters which are administered locally but which do not form the subject of separate volumes in the English Citizen Series."
Admiration for a great publishing house need not blind one to the weakness of the antithesis in the new version. But it would be ungracious to qualify in any serious degree the satisfaction with which the new book will be generally welcomed. The Acts of 1888 and 1894 have changed the appearance of our local government system so completely that Mr. Odgers has been able to preserve comparatively little of Mr. Chalmers. The new book is nearly twice as large as the old. The new book has a good index whereas the old had none.
A few criticisms of varying importance may be offered. The second paragraph of page 6 (which ends with an ungrammatical sentence) contains a remark that in small areas it might have been anticipated that the democracy would not be influenced by rank and wealth ; whereas in the political sphere “it seems only natural " that the rights of the individual should often yield to rank, wealth, etc. Is there any theoretical ground for a theoretical antithesis which, as Mr. Odgers sees, is flatly contradicted by experience ? On p. 10 there is another antithesis which depends in part upon the statement that “the masses elect as their representatives in Parliament men of firstrate education and intelligence.” This again is a hazardous generalisation. On the following page we are told that “a man is rated in proportion to the visible real property which he owns or occupies in the shape of land and houses.” Here perhaps the wish is father to the statement. At any rate the statement seems to be very remote from the truth. The English law does not rate for ownership, nor even for occupation, but for beneficial occupation. Mr. Odgers' views about the reforın of local taxation (p. 12) would probably be revised and amended if he realised that the owners of real property who derive the permanent benefit from local expenditure do not, except by accident, contribute directly to local expenditure. On p. 30 Mr. Odgers speaks of the “alarming” rate at which local taxes and local debts are increasing. Surely there is nothing in this increase which need alarm economists, philosophers or politicians. The elected representatives of an existing municipality have as legitimate a title to raise and spend money as the self-appointed directors of a nonexistent African goldfield. If Mr. Odgers compared the ratio at which during the last five years remunerative local expenditure has increased with that at which in the same period unremunerative imperial expenditure has increased, he would have better but different grounds for alarm.
Little fault can be found with the summary of the constitution of local authorities under the Acts of 1882, 1888 and 1894. The chapter on London Government is poor and scrappy, though the “outline” of its history from King Arthur to King Alfred and from King Alfred to Lord Rosebery (pp. 216–220) will appeal to the imagination of some. Mr. Odgers seldom loses himself in the forest of authorities or even in the jungle of areas. He does, however, make the mistake, natural to a pure lawyer, of trying to deal with Urban and Rural District Councils together. Subtract the Mayor and his chain and add (a more useful appendage) the Local Government Board's auditor, and you have in the council of an Urban District a body practically identical with that of a non-county borough. But the Rural District Council is a mere ghost of a body which employs itself upon the leavings of the county and the parish authorities. Here indeed we are touching on the weakest side of the book; it presents to the reader absolutely no idea of the psychology of the different bodies or of their real relations to one another- a grievous omission which could not be supplied from books or statutes. This consideration may explain why Mr. Odgers is not a reformer, a point in which he successfully contrasts himself with his predecessor Mr. Chalmers. The theme may be illustrated by two citations, one positive, the other negative. The first occurs on p. 45:-“It would be a valuable reform if the Local Government Board and the Church of England could jointly consider the division of the land into parishes.” The second example is of a negative kind. On p. 219 we are told that the City of London is “a small but compact town, well organised and well governed.” Seven pages
No. 34.-VOL IX.
later Mr. Odgers recurs to the subject and obligingly commits every body else to his own opinions :—“No one can deny the efficiency of its government within those narrow limits." We should not venture to pit the opinion of Mr. Mill against that of Mr. Odgers or to include the former in the select circle of those who are entitled to affirm or deny the efficiency of a given system of local government. But Mr. Mill is, singularly enough, almost the only theorist or writer of repute whom Mr. Odgers quotes in the course of his work; and in the very chapter, to which elsewhere Mr. Odgers refers, the earlier writer remarks that the subdivision of London“ answers no purpose but to keep up the fantastical trappings of that union of modern jobbing and antiquated foppery, the Corporation of the City of London."
It should be added that Mr. Blake Odgers' last chapter upon central control forms a useful conclusion to a careful and accurate compilation.
F. W. HIRST
Friendly Visiting among the Poor; a Handbook for Charity
Workers. By MARY E. RICHMOND, General Secretary of
To an English reader some of the most interesting points in this book arise from differences in the conditions attaching to "problems of poverty” in America. These are often slight, but enough to throw a new light upon some of the questions which are often regarded as ultimate. Take, for instance, the fact that “public out-door relief”. seems to be the deprecated exception rather than the rule in America, and that in the cities where it is given “it is often administered by politicians, and becomes a source of political corruption.” Again, we are told that elementary education is quite insufficiently provided for ; “the lack of adequate school accommodations, making it impossible to punish truancy . . . and, in some States, the absence of any compulsory education law makes the child the easy victim of trade conditions and of parental greed”; and in this context we get the significant suggestion that “ One reason that immigrants cling so closely to the great cities is that they find there far more opportunity to get money for their children's work. There is probably no one means of dispersing the disastrously growing colonies of our great cities so simple and effective as this one, of depriving the children of their immediate cash value.”
Another point important to the working classes in which America seems to be behind us, is the friendly society movement; it is startling to find an experienced worker saying of the sick benefit societies “ that it is impossible to recommend them without qualification. They have not gained the same position that the friendly societies hold in England." On the other hand, pawning, we are told, has never become general among the native population; and that being so it seems strange that the author should speak with apparent approbation of the philanthropic pawnshop. A bad habit does not become beneficial because facilities are afforded for it by philanthropists instead of tradesmen.
But differences notwithstanding, we recognise many of our old friends across the water. The visitor who pays a flying visit to a poor home, and forthwith announces “I have investigated the case myself"; the man who reaps a golden harvest by “ talking about the Bible as his best friend"; the enterprising journalist, who makes copy out of the distress of some family, which is straightway swamped in a mire of misguided sentimentality from which it can seldom struggle free again : these and many more are types common to both countries.
Friendly visiting itself is, in its technical sense, an institution of American growth, having its origin in the charity organisation societies. It aims at doing far more than the mere giving of relief, though that is not excluded ; and differs from district visiting in that it follows the case system,” while the latter follows the “
space system.” From two to four families are considered sufficient for the care of a friendly visitor, while the street undertaken by a district visitor may easily contain from fifty to a hundred. Moreover the friendly visitor is. expected to keep in touch with her families for years, and to be attached to them as a sort of outside Providence, ready with good advice at every turn in the family fortunes.
If we grant the system to be good—and no doubt in skilled hands it may achieve very good results—then this little book must be of great use to those engaged in the work. It is full of wise suggestions on such subjects as health, saving, and relief, and hardly less full of wise warnings. Relief, it should be noted, does not occupy a аprominent position in the book. Still, it is clearly contemplated that the visitor will in most cases be called to administer relief to her families; and the knowledge of this possibility in the background cannot be without its effect upon the subjects of the visitation.
One point in the author's views strikes us as fundamentally differing from what we are apt to think important, and that is the curious distinction drawn between individual and social service as appertaining respectively and exclusively to “charity workers” and “settlement workers.” It is true we are told that “they have need of each other,” that neither can afford to ignore the experience of the other; but we doubt whether both branches of work must not suffer if they are to be thus relegated to different sets of people. The best results are achieved when the “ charity worker” is also a “ social worker” ; i.e. is in touch with all local institutions and knows. how to bring them to bear in individual cases.