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states, Frankfort, Austria, Venice, Greece, and Turkey. We will take them in the order in which they have been named.
NORWAY.—The Report from Norway is not so precise as could be desired, and in particular is silent on the date of the original institution. It appears that some discrepancy exists in the practice of different districts, and especially of the towns and the country; and a project of a poor-law code has been proposed by a government commission, appointed in 1829, for consolidating and assimilating the law on the subject for the whole kingdom. It is not clear whether or no this consolidation has yet taken effect. The ancient laws, however, are in principle alike, and differ very little from our own. The settlement is parochial. There are workhouses in the diocesan towns, and poor-houses in the market-towns, where the indolent poor are put to forced labour. Those willing to work, as well as the aged and helpless poor, are billeted out among the landholders in the country and the householders in the towns, who have the benefit of whatever they can do. The sick poor are either maintained in hospitals and district poor-houses, or relieved at home with food, clothing, medicine, or money. The children are educated at parish-schools. Every bailiwick has its medical officer appointed and paid by government. The poor-fund is derived partly from endowment, but chiefly from the produce of taxes locally levied for the purpose. Both the parents of illegitimate children are bound to maintain them. Mendicancy is prohibited under penalties, and vagrancy prevented by a passport system.
Sweden.-A full statement of the Swedish law is given by M. de Hartmansdorff, the Secretary of State for Ecclesiastical Affairs, and it appears to be similar in most points to that of Norway. Its principle is declared to be a compulsory assessment' on all property for the relief of the infirm and helpless poor, and the employment of all that are able to work—the idle in workhouses, the willing by a billeting system. Settlement depends on residence, and strangers may be prevented from settling, and noticed to quit a parish, by the vestry. Every parish has its almshouse for the aged, sick, and intirm; and food, clothing, and money are distributed to out-door paupers. The incurably sick, and those afflicted with contagious diseases, are supported in public hospitals at the cost of their parish. The parish overseers are elected by the rate-payers. The clergyman presides at the board or vestry which administers the fund. The poor have an appeal from the vestry to the governor of the province, and thence to the king. Beggars are arrested and brought back to their parishes at the cost of the latter. Vagrants are employed on public works, or pressed
into certain corps of the army, or set to work in houses of correction. Every one is considered a vagrant who cannot prove that he is earning an independent livelihood, or give security for a moderate time, during which he is allowed to seek for work. As in Norway, a reform of the poor-law seems to be contemplated in Sweden, with a view to the correction of several vices which have insensibly crept into its administration, and to securing a uniformity of system by means of a central superintending board.
DeNMARK.-It appears that ordinances existed in Denmark from the beginning of the last century, requiring those in easy circumstances to provide for the indigent; but the existing law dates only from 1799. The kingdom is divided into poor districts, consisting of separate parishes in the country, in which relief is administered by a board consisting of the minister, magistrate, and a few respectable inhabitants elected to the office. A general board of directors presides over all. The curate examines into the wants of paupers. An overseer, serving for three years, acts as the relieving officer and agent of the board. The infirm and helpless poor are supplied with food, clothing, lodging, fuel, and medical attendance. Such as are capable of work are made to perform it in or out of workhouses. The children are educated until they can be apprenticed or provided for. The funds are chiefly levied by assessment. But while the Danish poor-law establishes the principle that the country is under the obligation to afford relief to its poor, it justly requires a return in labour from all those who are capable of work. The property of a pauper receiving relief is also put under sequestration for the benefit of the parish, until he shall have repaid the amount of relief advanced to him by way of loan. And paupers who shall subsequently to their relief acquire property, are held bound to repay whatever they may have received. The poor having been thus effectually provided for, and all excuse for mendicancy removed, begging is made punishable by confinement in the house of correction.
The poor-law system of Denmark being of comparatively recent origin, it becomes interesting to ascertain its results after the lapse of about a third of a century. Mr. Macgregor states the administration of the law to be defective, and to require amendment; but, in spite of this, the system itself, he says, • has answered an important object--that of checking the growth of pauperism. .... There is a slight improvement in the value of land; idle persons are seldom found; and there is sufficient work in which to employ the labouring population. .... Relief, or the expectation of it, has not been found to produce any sensible effect on the industry
of the labourers generally, nor upon their frugality. Nor are the poor-laws instrumental in producing early marriages among the peasants.'
Another witness, the author of a very detailed account of the existing law, states, that • before its introduction, the distress was much greater, and begging of the most importunate and rapacious kind was quite common: the beggars, when their demands were not satisfied, had recourse to insolence and threats, nay, even to acts of criminal vengeance.' [How accurate a picture of the present state of Ireland !] “This is no longer the case. It is a fact, that poverty now appears in less striking fea. tures than it did before the introduction of the poor-law system.'Senior's Statement, p. 41.
The laws of MECKLENBURGH grant to every inhabitant a legal claim for assistance; to the able-bodied, for work and a dwelling—to the impotent poor, a dwelling, fuel, and a maintenance, in return for which ihey must give such work as they are capable of. Every inhabitant is rated to the relief of the poor.
Russia.-In Russia proper the peasants on each estate are the property of its lord, but he is under obligation to provide them with the means of support, and in times of distress to relieve them. On the estates belonging to the Crown, which are enormous, and every day increasing, a methodical system of parochial relief is established, each parish being compelled to supply its destitute poor, in poor-houses, with fuel, food, and clothing. In Courland, Esthonia, and Livonia, a similar compulsory system is established, the landowners and farmers contributing in proportion to their occupations or rental, and the overseer's being elected by the rate-payers. Public begging is forbidden, and vagrants set to work by the overseers. Even in Siberia * the authorities are under legal obligation to prevent any individual of the people committed to their charge from suffering want, or remaining without assistance when in distress!' In the Russo-Polish provinces a similar system prevails as in Russia proper.
In Prussia it is the duty of the police to see that every person in distress be supplied with needful assistance-if a stranger, from the provincial poor-fund'-if a native, by the commune, or lord of the estate io which he belongs. Repayment is required where it is possible, and work in all cases from those capable of it. Every province has a poor and workhouse. All children are compelled to attend the parish-school. In the towns the expense is defrayed out of the municipal funds, and the administration confided to a board. In the country the
village village authorities levy a contribution from the inhabitants, as well as the owner of the estate. The occasional sick are relieved on the same plan as the impotent through infirmity, children, and orphans. Settlement is acquired by residence, but unsettled poor are removable to their last place of settlement. The system is described as working well, and particularly as securing the constant industry of all the able-bodied inhabitants.
In SAXONY relief is administered by each parish to its poor through overseers. It would seem that the system of making up wages prevails there, for it is stated that a sum is fixed as necessary to support a man; if he cannot earn the whole, the difference is given him as relief. House-rents, too, are sometimes paid. Relations are compelled to assist, if they have the means. The report from this country is not very clear, but the system seems generally to coincide with that of Denmark.
WURTEMBURG.--The account from Wurtemburg is full and precise. Each parish is bound to support its own poor. The administration rests with the mayor and magistrates, who are elective. Settlement is hereditary or gained by birth. The aged and infirm alone are entitled to relief, there being ample work for all who are able and willing to labour. Every parish has its school, which every child is compelled to attend. The children of a labourer with a large family are taken from him if he cannot maintain them, and brought up by the parish or apprenticed. Sometimes, however, allowances are made on account of them to the parents. There is a regular scale of allowance in use for the purpose. Loans are made to deserving individuals, upon the parish security, from institutions of the nature of our savings-banks. The principle of the law is briefly summed up by Sir E. Disbrowe: It is this—no man can starve-but, if able to work, he must do so. He will be remunerated according to his work. If idle and dissolute, he finds his way to a poor-house, not to live there on clover, but where he is compelled to work, and from which he can be delivered by good conduct and industry alone.' The government, in times of general distress, assists the communes in finding work for their unemployed poor. These laws are represented as being of considerable antiquity. “The kingdom of Wurtemburg,' Mr. Senior observes, appears to have been, as yet, eminently successful in reconciling a recognition of the right to relief with economy in its distribution.
The law of BAVARIA requires each town, market-place, and village to support its poor. But villages may form unions for the purpose. The administration is confided to elective officers. Work is found for such as are in want of it. Relief is afforded
in poor-houses to the helpless, in money to those who are in need of occasional help. The poor are also quartered among the householders as in Norway and Sweden. Severe restraints are imposed on the marriage of paupers, and the habits and character of the poor in general are closely scrutinized. Voluntary contributions, endowments, fines, and collections ou various occasions go to the poor-fund, which is made up to the required amount by compulsory assessment. Lord Erskine, who furnishes the report from Bavaria, concludes it in language of distinct and sober approba
SwitzerLAND.—Every Canton of Switzerland appears to have its peculiar law with respect to the maintenance of the poor, and Mr. Morier has furnished the Commission with a report only as far as regards that of Berne. The institution dates, at least, from the sixteenth century. Its fundamental principle is the obligation imposed on every commune to support its poor, either from the public funds, or, if they are insufficient, from a taxation of land revenues and personal property. The administration seems to be unfortunately contided to an hereditary bourgeoisie, and abuses are the result, which bear a remarkable similarity to those of the English poor-law. Indeed, the very words employed in the official statement of Mr. Morier are precisely de. scriptive of the most prominent of the evils which the English Poor-Law Conmission brought' so glaringly into notice in our own system. The imperfect auditing of accounts—incapable or jobbing officers-profuse money-relief to non-resident paupers~ want of co-operation between parishes—badly regulated poorhouses, without classification or superintendence- the roundsman system, and the auctioning of the poor to the lowest bidder-are all features in the poor-law practice of Berne, as in that of Sussex. No wonder that, as in Sussex, the rates have been continually on the increase, and that the government bas taken alarm at the growing evil. A reform has consequently been commenced, and these vices, like our own, being purely those of mismanagement, and in no degree inherent in the principle of the law, there can be no reason to doubt that an active system of regulation and superintendence by some central authority will soon set matters to right there as it is rapidly doing here.
We have now gone through the list of those States of Europe in which a compulsory poor-law exists precisely similar in character to that of England, embodying its three great principles, namely, the relief of the infirm, the employment of the able-bodied, and the suppression of mendicancy and vagrancy. It will be observed, that these States comprehend the far larger half of Europe.