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manner, being partly carried into execution ; but the latter, I am afraid I may too boldly assert, hath been utterly neglected and disregarded. Surely this
a most scandalous perversion of the design of the legislature, which through the whole statute seems to have had the employment of the able poor chiefly under their consideration; for to this purpose only almost every power in it is established, and every clause very manifestly directed. To say the truth, as this law hath been perverted in the execution, it were, perhaps, to be wished it had never been made. Not because it is not our duty to relieve real objects of distress; but because it is so much the duty of every man, and I may add, so much the inclination of most Englishmen, that it might have been safely left to private charity; or a public provision might surely have been made for it in a much cheaper and more effectual manner.
To prove the abuse of this law, my lord Hale appeals to all the populous parishes in England (he might, I believe, have included some which are not over populous). Indeed,' says he, there are rates • made for the relief of the impotent poor; and, it s may be, the same relief is also given in a narrow "measure unto some others that have great families, ' and upon this they live miserably, and at best from
hand to mouth; and if they cannot get work to make out their livelihood, they and their children set up a trade of begging at best ; but it is rare to see any provision of a stock in any parish for the relief of the poor; and the reasons are principally these : 1. The generality of people that are able, are yet unwilling, to exceed the present ne
cessary charge ; they do choose to live for an hour ? rather than project for the future; and although
possibly trebling their exhibition in one gross sum at the beginning of the year, to raise a stock, might in all probability render their future yearly payments, for seven years together, less by half, or
two thirds, than what must be without it; yet they had rather continue on their yearly payments, year after year, though it exhaust them in time,
and make the poor nothing the better at the year's • end. 2. Because those places, where there are most poor, consist for the most part of tradesmen, whose estates lie principally in their stocks, which they will not endure to be searched into, to make them contributary to raise any considerable stock for the poor, nor indeed so much as to the ordinary con• tributions; but they lay all the rates to the poor upon the rents of lands and houses, which alone, without the help of the stocks, are not able to raise a stock for the poor, although it is very plain that stocks are as well by law rateable as lands, both to • the relief and raising a stock for the poor. 3. Be• cause the churchwardens and overseers, to whom
this power is given, are inhabitants of the same * parish, and are either unwilling to charge them
selves, or to displease their neighbours in charging more than they needs must towards the poor; and although it were to be wished and hoped that the justices of the peace would be forward to enforcé them if they might, though it may concern them
also in point of present profit; yet if they would . do any thing herein, they are not empowered to
compel the churchwardens and overseers to do it, • who, most certainly, will never go about it to bur
den, as they think, themselves, and displease their neighbours, unless some compulsory power were • not only lodged by law, but also executed by some * that may have a power over them to enforce it;
or to do it, if they do it either partially or too
sparingly; 4. Because people do not consider the • inconvenience that will in time grow to themselves * by this neglect, and the benefit that would in a lite i tle time accrue to them by putting it in practice, • if they would have but a little patience.'
To these I will add a fifth reason; because the churchwardens and overseers are too apt to consider their office as a matter of private emolument. To waste part of the money raised for the use of the poor in feasting and riot, and too often to pervert the power given them by the statute to foreign, and sometimes to the very worst of purposes.
The above considerations bring my lord Hale to complain of several defects in the law itself; ' in * which,' says · he, there is no power from the justices of the peace, nor any superintendent power,
to compel the raising of a stock where the church• wardens and overseers neglect it.
• The act chargeth every parish apart, where it may be they are liable to do little towards it; neither would it be so effectual as if three, four, five, or more contiguous parishes did contribute towards the raising of a stock proportionably to their respectively.
• There is no power for hiring or crecting a common house, or place, for their common workhouse ; which may be, in some respects, and upon some occasions, useful and necessary.'
As to the first of these, I do not find any altera- . tion hath been made, nor if there was, might it possibly produce any desired effect. The consequence, as it appears, would be only making churchwardens of the justices of peace, which many of them are already, not highly to the satisfaction of their parishes; too much power vested in one man being too apt perhaps to beget envy.
The second and third do pretty near amount to one and the same defect ; and this, I think, is at present totally removed. Indeed, in my lord Hale's own time, though probably after he had written this treatise, a workhouse was erected in London under the powers given by the statute made in the 13 and 14 of Charles II. *, and I believe with very good success.
* Chap. xii.
Since that time other corporations have followed the example, as the city of Bristol in the reign of King William *, and that of Worcester in the reign of Queen Anne to, and in other places.
And now by a late statute, made in the reign of King George L. 1, the power of erecting workhouses is made general over the kingdom.
Now either this method, proposed by lord Hale, is inadequate to the purpose ; or this act of parliament hath been grossly perverted; for certain it is that the evil is not removed, if indeed it be lessened, by the erection of work houses. Perhaps, indeed, one objection which my lord Hale makes to the statute of Eliz, may here recur, seeing that there is nothing, compulsory, but all left to the will and direction of the inhabitants.
But in truth the method itself will never produce the desired effect, as the excellent sir Josiah Child well observes 5,-. It may be objected,' says he,
that this work (the provision for the poor) may as s well be done in distinct parishes, if all parishes were
obliged to build workhouses, and employ their
poor therein, as Dorchester and some others have • done with good success.' I answer, “That such
attempts have been made in many places, to my
knowledge, with very good intents and strenuous ' endeavours ; but all that I ever heard of proved 6 vain and ineffectual.' For the truth of which, I believe, we may appeal to common experience.
And, perhaps, no less ineffectual would be tlie scheine proposed by this worthy gentleman, though it seems to promise fairer than that of the learned chief justice; yet neither of them seem to strike at the root of the evil. Before I deliver any sentiments of my own, I shall briefly take a view of the
many subsequent provisions with which the legislature
have, from time to time, enforced and strengthened the foregoing statute of Elizabeth.
The power of putting out children * apprentices is enforced by the third of pfo Charles I. which enacts, • That all persons to whom the overseers
shall bind children by virtue of the statute of Eliz. may
receive and keep them as apprentices. But there yet wanted, as lord Hale says, a sufficient compulsory for persons to take them ; wherefore it is enacted, by 8 and 9.5 Will. III. That all persons
to whom apprentices are appointed to be bound by the overseers, with the consent of the justices, shall receive them and execute the other part of the in
denture, under the penalty of 10l. for refusing, to . be recovered before two justices, on the oath of one of the churchwardens or overseers.'
The power of setting the poor to work is enlarged by $ 3 Charles I. This act gives the churchwardens and overseers of the poor a power, with the consent of two justices, or of one, if no more justices shall be within their limits, to set up and occupy any trade for the setting the poor to work.
The power of relieving the impotent poor (i. e. of distributing the public money) the only one which hath much exercised the mind of the parish officers, the legislature seems to think rather wanted restraining than enlarging; accordingly, in the reign of king || William they made an act to limit the power of the officers in this respect. As the act contains the sense of parliament of the horrid abuse of the statute of Elizabeth, I will transcribe part of a paragraph from it verbatim.
* See 7 Jac. I. c. iii. which directs the manner of putting out apprentices, in pursuance of any gifts made to corporations, &c. for that purpose.
f Chap. iv. sect. 22. p. 8; the same clause is in 21 Jac, c. xxviii. par. 33.
# Chap. xxx. sect. 6. § Chap. iv. sect. 22. ubi sapra. U 3 & 4 W. & M. c. xi. sect. II.