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heard of his intended marriage, and the mind. Under this conviction, his his malignant spirit joys in the recol- malimuty found pleasure in dwelllection. 'Tis as if he had said, “ And ing for a moment on the idei, that why is this fellow thus put over me? Cassio was about to be damn'i in a A great arithmetician forsooth.” Then, fair wife-that he was all but rruin the bitterness of his hatred, he exe- ried. It would be cause of rather crates him, “D-n the fellow !” more exultation to him, that he was Then, recollecting the report of his on the point of marrying
a custommarriage, he consoles himself with the er,” because Cassio had not the credit reflection—but he is “ almost damn'd even of saving appearances; but whomin a fair wife.” To understand this soever he was about to marry, he was, perfectly, it is necessary again to turn in lago's opiñion, about to damn himour attention to the sentiments and self;—"almost damn'd,” almost inaropinions we may expect to find in a ried. The word fair, I consider more character like lago. Completely de- as a term of derision probably in this praved himself, he seems scarcely to place, than any thing else. Had Iago believe in the existence of goodness in said of Othello, that he was almost others; nor can we expect that he damn’d in a fair wife, I should have should think more highly of the fe- considered his meaning to have been, male sex than he does of his own. that his wife's uncommon beauty Many parts of the play will bear me would have so endangered her honour, out in the assertion, that he looks up- that the preserving it would be a task on them as most despicable. His con- of such difficulty as to render her a solation of Roderigo on his first as- curse to Othello ; and so applied, I surance of the marriage of Othello and should have laid the emphasis on the Desdemona, beginning, “ It is mere- word fair ;-applied to Cassio, I place ly a lust,” &c. ;-the passage in which it on the word almost—“ A fellow ale he tells Roderigo that Desdemona is most damn'd in a fair wife.” in love with Cassio;-his suspicion Such appears to me the meaning of of his wife's criminality with Othello, this controverted passage ; and so rewhich appears not to have excited in ceived, I think it perfectly intelligihim any other sentiment than that of ble as it has been handed down to us. revenge-no sorrow-no doubt-not All readers of Shakspeare, I fancy, one feeling that would have had place must meet with occasional difficulties in a better heart ;-the boldness with —with passages hard to be understood; which he at once declares his doubts of but let us not muke difficulties; and Desdemona, as a Venetian, to her huse when they do occur, let us maintain band ;-the fiend-like cruelty of his and explain the integrity of the text, conduct towards his wife, in making fixed by a collection of the most auher instrumental to the murder of a thentic copies. Let us endeavour to mistress whoin she loved; and, lastly, dive into his real meaning, clothed his murder of his wife without one ex- in such language as we find it, before pression of remorse or feeling ;-all we give the reins to our fancy in conprove in what estimation he held the jecturing his meaning, and then altersex. In his opinion, any wife would ing his language in order to adapt it be a curse necessary one, perhaps, to our own conjectures.
T. he might think ; but not the less a Leeds, 10th March 1818. curse on that account. He would consider her as a commodity difficult to keep, and not worth the trouble of keeping; the more difficult to pre- ON THE POOR LAWS OF ENGLAND; serve from falling if fair, for her beau- AND ANSWERS TO QUERIES TRANSty would increase her danger ; but, fair or not, still “ at heart a rake.”
MENT, WITH A VIEW TO ASCERThe occasional and momentary distrust of the whole sex, by which the noble-minded Hamlet wounded the
MR EDITOR, gentle Ophelia, and which was forced The laws of England, for regulating upon him by a conviction of the worth the support of the poor, are acknowlessness of one of the sex nearly allied ledged, on all hands, to be framed on to himself, was, in the depraved lago, principles that are not only hostile to a settled and rooted conviction of the public welfare, but detrimental to VOL. III.
MITTED BY A MEMBER OF PARLIA
TAIN THE SCOTTISH SYSTEM.
the real interest of that class of people er degree than at first sight may be for whose benefit they were originally expected. passed. The fruits of them serve to In the first place, -Let all the laws encourage idleness among the lower in force for regulating settlements be ranks, and to repress every desire to instantly repealed ; it being enacted secure a provision for themselves when at the same time, that paupers should sickness and old age arrive ; whilst in future be assisted and supported by the rates, levied in consequence of these the parish in which they were domilaws, amount to a sum which far ex- ciliated, when public aid was solicited. ceeds that of the whole revenue of In this way, labour would at once be Great Britain about the middle of the set free, and left to find its own level, last century. To remedy these evils, which is not the case at present; and the attention of the Legislature has long the workman who could not procure been excited, though hitherto without employment in his own parish, would the slightest avail, nor does it appear be at liberty to remove to any other that any good can be done by parlia- without any dread of the consequence. mentary regulation, unless it goes, in Besides, by an enactment of this kind, some measure, to the bottom of the the immense sums expended in litigaevil, and introduces a gradual, but tions, concerning settlements, and in radical change of system. In this removing the poor froin one parish to way, the evils of the prescnt laws another, would we wholly saved. might be alleviated, though the exist- Secondly, As the evils of the
present ing generation must be removed from system chiefly arise from the payers the stage, before the full benefits of of the rates having no control over any regulation can be enjoyed. their expenditure, let it be enacted,
Several English members of Parlia- that the management of the poor in ment, sensible that the law, or at least each parish shall in future be committhe practice, of Scotland, with respect ted to the clergyman, church-wardens, to the poor, is infinitely preferable to landholders, and tenants, together with the system adopted in England for such householders as are assessed to more than two centuries, have of late the rates. The utility of such an made inquiries concerning the Scot- enactment is evident; as, whilst the tish system ; and queries were last rates would be kept as low as possible, year circulated, by a respectable gen- care would always be used that the tleman, with a view of ascertaining sum given to paupers should not be so the mode adopted in this country for great as to tempt them to remain in supporting the poor. These queries idleness. are subjoined, together with the sub- Thirdly, As the poor-rates at prestance of the answers which were sent are chiefly paid by the occupiers given by me to them; and should of land, a measure which serves no they be viewed as worthy of a place useful purpose, but, on the contrary, in your Magazine, you are at full causes proprietors to be careless and liberty to insert them.
inattentive with respect to the admiBefore detailing the queries and an- nistration of the funds, let it be enactswers, it may not be improper to offer ed, that from and after a fixed period, a few desultory thoughts concerning the rates falling upon land, should, in the measures that ought to be taken every case, be paid by the proprietor for renovating and reforming the laws and tenant in equal proportion, as of England which relate to the sup- is customary in those Scottish counport of the poor. To do away all the ties where poor-rates are collected. evils which arise from these laws is To secure the interest of the proprieimpracticable; because inveterate prac- tor, let it also be enacted, that the tice has given them such a deep root, proprietor's share of rates shall be that no attempt of the legislature to levied as additional rent, during the remove them can at once be attended currency of existing leases; or, which with success. Still, after all, I am is the same thing, the tenant may be morally certain, were the following held responsible for the whole rate i, measures adopted, that the system for till these leases are at an end. supporting the poor would not only Fourthly, The amount of rates bebe considerably improved, but that ing, in numerous cases, greatly augthe amount of the rates would be mented by giving aid to working peogradually lessened, and that in a great- ple, whose wages are supposed un
equal to the maintenance of their fa- Queries respecting the Maintenance of milies, let it be enacted, that no per
the Poor in Scotland. son shall be considered as a pauper 1. What have been the laws or who is capable of working ; under usages, relative to the maintenance of which enactment, assistance would be the poor, prior to the Union ? restricted to those who, from age, sick- A. The law or usages of Scotland, ness, and bodily infirmities, are in- relative to the maintenance of the capable of supporting themselves. By poor, prior to the Union, were irrea such an enactment, the amount of gular and indistinct, and rather repoor-rates would at least be reduced lated to common beggars than to the one-half, whilst, after all, the case of industrious poor; as under them the every person who really stood in need poor who were in distress had seldom of public aid might be attended to as any other resource than the funds of well as formerly. No doubt the rate the kirk session. These funds chiefly of wages would be effected by the pro- arose from the weekly collections made posed regulation ; but this is just what at the church-doors; and whilst their should be, it being no more than fair amount in country parishes served, and reasonable, that the whole expen- in some measure, to keep the poor ses of labour should fall upon the per- from starving, no temptation was fure son for whose benefit it is performed, nished to apply for assistance unless without subjecting the public to pay a it was required by imperious necessity. part of it, as is the case under existing Previous to putting any person upon circumstances.
the poor's roll, the case of the appliFifthly, As the overseers of the cant was strictly investigated by the poor, like the magistrates of our Scot- members of the kirk session, and it tish burghs, are not easily made ac- was the general practice to take an countable for their intromissions, it assignation to the furniture of paupers would be highly beneficial were re- before admitting them to a share of turns made annually to the Quarter the funds. From these circumstances, Sessions of the county in which the it rarely occurred that an improper parish is situated, of the sums assess- person was placed upon the poor's roll. ed and expended for supporting the Indeed, the relief bestowed was repoor. An enactment of that nature ceived as charity, in the real sense of should not be neglected in any bill the word, and the funds from which that may be brought forward to amend it proceeded were considered as sacred, the poor-laws. The Quarter Sessions therefore as inapplicable to any other should also be invested with powers than charitable purposes. to investigate the accounts, and to fine 2. Have there been any legislative or censure those persons who are con- acts on this subject since the Union, victed of mal-practices ; likewise, to as affecting Scotland? Or any munireceive appeals from persons who con- cipal and local regulations independGive themselves aggrieved by the de- ently of parliamentary authority ? cisions of the parochial meetings. To A. There have been no legislative save litigation, the judgment of that acts concerning the management of court should be final in every case. the poor in Scotland since the Union,
I might have illustrated these seven though some decisions of the civil ral heads had a lengthened discussion courts have, to a certain extent, inbeen necessary, but, considering that troduced a new system of administrain doing so I'might have been led to tion. The decisions alluded to have repeat some of the sentiments urged been given upon the principle of the when answering the querits that fol- poor being entitled to support, and low, any thing of that nature seems that if their state is neglected by the unnecessary, at least in the present kirk session, the Judge Ordinary of instance. Under these impressions, the county may place them upon the it remains only to add, that the ad- poor's roll, leaving the kirk session to vantages which would attend the mea- apply to the heritors of the parish for sures recommended, are stated in such necessary supply. From this cause terins that no person can be at a loss many parishes have been obliged to to comprehend them, even though levy money by assessment for supthey are presented in an abbreviated porting the poor; and one half of that shape. I am, yours, &c.
assessment being charged against the A POLITICAL ECONOMIST. farmers, has occasioned the weekly collections to fall off, and of course to passing a declaratory law concerning increase the necessity of making as the Scottish system of supporting the sessments. But these assessments, in poor. Is already said, there seems country parishes, are rarely of any no distinct or precise law upon the consequence. In the parish' to which subject, the whole system being rathe writer of these answers belongs, ther built upon use and custom, than the amount of assessment has never upon the enactments of the legislaexceeded twopence in the pound of ture. Nay, doubts are entertained rent, and being frugally administered, whether assessments could be legally the whole destitute poor receive that enforced were there any disposition quota of assistance sufficient to pre- to resist them, as may be seen by serve them from want and beggary. looking into the periodical paper callIndeed, the principle of the Scottish ed “ The Bee," written by the late system is to aid the endeavours of the Dr James Anderson. Even with repoor, and never to furnish such a sup- gard to the right of a pauper to claim ply as may induce them to refrain relief, the decisions of the courts have from working, except in extreme cases. by no means been uniorm. A de The benefit of this system excites the claratory law, wherein all these matlower ranks to industry and frugality ters were placed in a distinct light, in the days of health and strength. would therefore be of great advantage. Acting from these motives, consider. And in such a law the management able numbers lay by small sums in of the poor should be lett to the memtheir early days, as a resource or pro- bers of the kirk session, who are the vision for supporting them when un- only persons qualified for discharging able to work; though these motives that duty in a prudent and frugal would not opcrate were it understood manner, being intimately acquainted that the parish were bound to main- with the condition of those who stand tain them.
in need of public assistance. But It ought to have been mentioned, whilst the acting management was that many parishes are possessed of thus left to the kirk session, it would funds, consisting of mortifications be useful and expedient to reserve made to them, and the accumulated a controlling power to the heritors, balances of the weekly collections of that is, power to examine and audit former times, when the poor were the acccunts of the kirk session annot so numerous, and the collections nually; to lay on assessments, if such more abundant, than they have been are necessary; to delete from the roll of late years. The annual interest of of poor the name of any person who these funds, added to the weekly col- in their opinion did not stand in need lections, are, in numerous instances, of assistance; and to place upon the sufficient to support the poor without roll the name of any person refused assessing landed property. In other assistance by the session, if his or her parishes, where there are neither mor- case was considered to be such as tified funds nor assessments, the week-. to merit relief. A control of that naly collections are divided among the ture seems absolutely necessary, otherpoor. And from all these circum- wise kirk sessions might fall into many stances it will evidently appear, that errors; and, as the chief burden of whatever defects may attend the Scots supporting the poor falls upon the tish system for supporting the poor, heritors, there would be small risk of the same charge cannot be made a- any danger from assessments, seeing gainst it as has often been brought that those who laid them on were the against the English system, viz. of very persons who had to pay them. encouraging idleness and immorality. 3. What are the resources at preNo; in Scotland, if a man wishes to sent in Scotland, for such persons as be comfortable in his old days, he must are incapable of labour, and absolutely be thrifty and industrious in the days destitute? of his youth ; as, should his conduct A. There is no other resource at be different whilst health and strength present in Scotland for persons inremain, he is morally certain of suf- capable of labour, but the funds of fering in one way or another when the kirk session, unless some of their age and its accompanying evils arrive. friends are disposed to assist them.
Before leaving this query, it cannot But when persons of that description be amiss to notice the expediency of have long resided with a farmer, it is
Dot uncommon for him to supply them ways plenty of houses to be got by with food during their lifetime. In those who are labourers of a different country parishes the wants of the poor description, and also for those who are are better attended to than in large absolutely indigent. The rent of towns, chiefly because these are better houses occupied by the indigent is known in the former than in the lat- generally paid by the kirk-session. ter situation.
6. What is the usual beverage of 4. Is it probable that the want of the common people? do they generalcertain legislative resources against po- ly drink beer? and how do they proverty, has the effect of rendering the
cure it? labouring classes in Scotland more in- A. The usual beverage of the comdustrious, sober, provident, and re- mon people is milk, failing that useful spectful to their superiors ?
article, water, or small beer not much A. There can be no doubt that the better than water, is their beverage. want of certain legislative measures
The small beer is usually procured against poverty 'has had the effect of from public houses. rendering the labouring classes in 7. What may be the number of alcScotland more industrious, sober, pro- houses, in reference to the population vident, and respectful to their superi- of districts ? ors, than the same classes are in Eng- A. There are ten public-houses in land. In Scotland, charity, generally this parish, few of them of extensive speaking, is dispensed as a favour, business, and the population thereof is whereas in England it is claimed as a 1700 souls or thereby. right which cannot be withheld, even 8. Is customary for labourers to though the poor's rate was to swallow resort to such houses? up the value of the land. Again, in A. It is not common for country laScotland, no person in health can, up- bourers to resort to public-houses, exon any account, receive relief from the cept when they have received some poor's funds, even though it can be money from their masters for extra shewn, in the clearest manner, that he services, or when they are delivering cannot obtain work. If work is not to grain or other articles, on which occan be got in one place, he way go to an- sions an allowance in money is always other and seek it, there being no fools given them. The inhabitants of towns ish law respecting settlement to pre- and villages are better customers to vent him. When provisions are very the publican than the country labourhigh, such as they are at present, then a measure is sometimes resorted to, of 9. Is it usual for common brewers furnishing labourers with meal at re- to become owners of such houses, and duced prices, and the loss thereby sus- serve them exclusively with their own tained, is either detrayed by an assesse manufacture? or do the tenants brew ment on the parish, or by the volun- their own beer? tary subscription of individuals. In A. The brewers in Scotland are very Edin jurgh and other places, where seldom owners of public-houses, the labourers at this time cannot get work, sale of ale and small beer being too money has been raised by subscrip- inconsiderable to make it any object tion to furnish them with employ- for them to rent houses with a view of ment, and various works are carrying procuring the exclusive consumption on at the expense of the subscribers. of customers. The tenants of publice But these are extraordinary measures, houses rarely brew their own beer ; and quite unconnected with the man- indeed that is quite unnecessary, for agement of the ordinary poor, there- one common brewer can with ease fore it is unnecessary to insist upon supply all the beer that is wanted in them.
four or five parishes. Private brew5. What is the usual mode of pro- ing is not customary in Scotland, exviding habitations for the common la- cept in the harvest months, when bourers, and for the absolutely indi- many of the large farmers brew beer gent?
for the use of their reapers-bread and A. Every farm in Scotland is pro- beer being almost in every case the vided with a sufficient number of cote only articles for dinner. tages for lodging the labourers requir- 10. Are saving banks, or similar ined to cultivate it; and in the neigh- stitutions, multiplying in Scotland ? bouring towns and villages there is al- A. Saving banks are pretty numerous