1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Charity and Charities
CHARITY AND CHARITIES. The word “charity,” or love, represents the principle of the good life. It stands for a mood or habit of mind and an endeavour. From it, as a habit of mind, springs the social and personal endeavour which in the widest sense we may call charity. The two correspond. Where the habit of mind has not been gained, the endeavour fluctuates and is relatively purposeless. In so far as it has been gained, the endeavour is founded on an intelligent scrutiny of social conditions and guided by a definite purpose. In the one case it is realized that some social theory must be found by us, if our action is to be right and consistent; in the other case no need of such a theory is felt. This article is based on the assumption that there are principles in charity or charitable work, and that these can be ascertained by a study of the development of social conditions, and their relation to prevalent social aims and religious or philosophic conceptions. It is assumed also that the charity of the religious life, if rightly understood, cannot be inconsistent with that of the social life.
Perhaps some closer definition of charity is necessary. The words that signify goodwill towards the community and its members are primarily words expressive of the affections of family life in the relations existing between parents, and between parent and child. As will be seen, the analogies underlying such phrases as “God the Father,” “children of God,” “brethren,” have played a great part in the development of charitable thought in pre-Christian as well as in Christian days. The germ, if we may say so, of the words φιλία, ἀγάπη, amor, love; amicitia, friendship, is the sexual or the parental relation. With the realization of the larger life in man the meaning of the word expands. Caritas, or charity, strikes another note—high price, and thus dearness. It is charity, indeed, expressed in mercantile metaphor; and it would seem that it was associated in thought with the word χάρις, which has also a commercial meaning, but signifies as well favour, gratitude, grace, kindness. Partly thus, perhaps, it assumed and suggested a nobler conception; and sometimes, as, for instance, in English ecclesiastical documents, it was spelt charitas. Άγάπη, which in the Authorized Version of the Bible is translated charity, was used by St Paul as a translation of the Hebrew word hēsēd, which in the Old Testament is in the same version translated “mercy”—as in Hosea vi. 6, “I desired mercy, and not sacrifice.” This word represents the charity of kindness and goodness, as distinguished from almsgiving. Almsgiving, şedāqāh, is translated by the word ἐλεημοσύνη in the Septuagint, and in the Authorized Version by the word “righteousness.” It represents the deed or the gift which is due—done or made, not spontaneously, but under a sense of religious obligation. In the earlier Christian period the word almsgiving has this meaning, and was in that sense applied to a wide range of actions and contracts, from a gift to a beggar at a church door to a grant and a tenure of land. It also, in the word almoner, represented the fulfilment of the religious obligation with the aid of an agent or delegate. The words charity or love (caritas or ἀγάπη), on the other hand, without losing the tone with which the thought of parental or family love inspires them, assume a higher meaning. In religious thought they imply an ideal life, as represented by such expressions as “love (agape) of God.” This on the one side; and on the other an ideal social relation, in such words as “love of man.” Thus in the word “charity” religious and social associations meet; and thus regarded the word means a disciplined and habitual mood in which the mind is considerate of the welfare of others individually and generally, and devises what is for their real good, and in which the intelligence and the will strive to fulfil the mind’s purpose. Charity thus has no necessary relation to relief or alms. To give a lecture, or to nurse a sick man who is not in want or “poor,” may be equally a deed of charity; though in fact charity concerns itself largely with the classes usually called “the poor,” and with problems of distress and relief. Relief, however, is not an essential part of charity or charitable work. It is one of many means at its disposal. If the world were so poor that no one could make a gift, or so wealthy that no one needed it, charity—the charity of life and of deeds—would remain.
The history of charity is a history of many social and religious theories, influences and endeavours, that have left their mark alike upon the popular and the cultivated thought of the present day. The inconsistencies of charitable effort and argument may thus in part be accounted for. To understand the problem of charity we have therefore (1) to consider the stages of charitable thought—the primitive, pagan, Greek and Roman, Jewish and Christian elements, that make up the modern consciousness in regard to charity, and also the growth of the habit of “charity” as representing a gradually educated social instinct. (2) We have also to consider in their relation to charity the results of recent investigations of the conditions of social life. (3) At each stage we have to note the corresponding stage of practical administration in public relief and private effort—for the division between public or “poor-law” relief and charity which prevails in England is, comparatively speaking, a novelty, and, generally speaking, the work of charity can hardly be appreciated or understood if it be considered without reference to public relief. (4) As to the present day, we have to consider practical suggestions in regard to such subjects as charity and economic thought, charity organization, friendly visiting and almonership, co-operation with the poor-law, charity and thrift, parochial management, hospitals and medical relief, exceptional distress and the “unemployed,” the utilization of endowments and their supervision, and their adaptation to new needs and emergencies. (5) We have also throughout to consider charitable help in relation to classes of dependants, who appear early in the history of the question—widows and orphans, the sick and the aged, vagrants and wayfarers.
First in the series come the charities of the family and of hospitality; then the wider charities of religion, the charities of the community, and of individual donors and of mutual help. These gradually assumed importance in communities which consisted originally of self-supporting classes, within which widows and orphans, for instance, would be rather provided for, in accordance with recognized class obligations, than relieved. Then come habitual almsgiving, the charitable endowment, and the modern charitable institution and association. But throughout the test of progress or decadence appears to be the condition of the family. The family is the source, the home and the hearthstone of charity. It has been created but slowly, and there is naturally a constant tendency to break away from its obligations and to ignore and depreciate its utility. Yet the family, as we now have it, is itself the outcome of infinite thought working through social instinct, and has at each stage of its development indicated a general advance. To it, therefore, constant reference must be made.
Part I.—Primitive Charity
The study of early communities has brought to light the history of the development of the family. “Marriage in its lowest phases is by no means a matter of affection or companionship”; and only very slowly has the position of both parents been recognized as implying different but correlative responsibilities towards their child. Only very slowly, also, has the morality necessary to the making of the family been won. Charity at earlier stages is hardly recognized as a virtue, nor infanticide as an evil. Hospitality—the beginning of a larger social life—is non-existent. The self-support of the community is secured by marriage, and when relations fail marriage becomes a provision against poverty. Then by the tribal system is created another safeguard against want. But apart also from these methods of maintenance, at a very early stage there is charitable relief. The festivals of the solstices and equinoxes, and of the seasons, are the occasions for sacrifice and relief; and, as Christmas customs prove, the instinct to give help or alms at such festival periods still remains. Charity is concerned primarily with certain elemental forces of social life: the relation between these primitive instincts and impulses that still influence charity should not, therefore, be overlooked. The basis of social life is also the basis of charitable thought and action.
The savage is the civilized man in the rough. “The lowest races have,” Lord Avebury writes, “no institution of marriage.” Many have no word for “dear” or “beloved.” The child belongs to the tribe rather than to the parent. In these circumstances a problem of charity such as the following may arise:—“Am I to starve, while my sister has children whom she can sell?” a question asked of Burton by a negro. From the point of view of the tribe, an able-bodied man would be more valuable than dependent children, and the relationship of the larger family of brothers and sisters would be a truer claim to help than that of mother and child. Subsequently the child is recognized as related, not to the father, but to the mother, and there is “a kind of bond which lasts for life between mother and child, although the father is a stranger to it.” Slowly only is the relative position of both parents, with different but correlative responsibilities, recognized. The first two steps of charity have then been made: the social value of the bond between the mother, and then between the father, and the child has been recognized. Until this point is reached the morality necessary to the making of the family is wanting, and for a long time afterwards it is hardly won. The virtue of chastity—the condition precedent to the higher family life—is unrecognized. Indeed, the set of such religious thought as there may be is against it. Abstract conceptions, even in the nobler races, are lacking. The religion of life is vaguely struggling with its animality, and that which it at last learns to rule it at first worships. In these circumstances there is little charity for the child and little for the stranger. “There is,” Dr Schweinfurth wrote in his Heart of Africa, “an utter want of wholesome intercourse between race and race. For any member of a tribe that speaks one dialect to cross the borders of a tribe that speaks another is to make a venture at the hazard of his life.” The religious obligations that fostered and sanctified family life among the Greeks and Romans and Jews are unknown. Much later in development comes charity for the child, with the abhorrence of infanticide—against which the Jewish-Christian charity of 2000 years ago uttered its most vigorous protests. If the child belonged primarily to the tribe or state, its maintenance or destruction was a common concern. This motive influenced the Greeks, who are historically nearer the earlier forms of social life than ourselves. For the common good they exposed the deformed child; but also “where there were too many, for in our state population has a limit,” as Aristotle says, “the babe or unborn child was destroyed.” And so, to lighten their own responsibilities, parents were wont to do in the slow years of the degradation of the Roman empire, though the interest of the state then required a contrary policy. The transition to our present feeling of responsibility for child-life has been very gradual and uncertain, through the middle ages and even till the 18th century. Strictly it may be said that all penitentiaries and other similar institutions are concrete protests on behalf of a better family life. The movement for the care of children in the 18th century naturally and instinctively allied itself with the penitentiary movement. The want of regard for child-life, when the rearing of children becomes a source of economic pressure, suggests why in earlier stages of civilization all that charitable apparatus which we now think necessary for the assistance of children is wanting, even if the need, so far as it does arise, is not adequately met by the recognized obligations of the clan-family or brotherhood.
In the case of barbarous races charity and self-support may be considered from some other points of view. Self-support is secured in two ways—by marriage and by slavery. “For a man or woman to be unmarried after the age of thirty is unheard of” (T. H. Lewin, Wild Races of South-East India). On the other hand, if any one is without a father, mother or other relative, and destitute of the necessaries of life, he may sell himself and become a slave. Thus slavery becomes a provision for poverty when relations fail. The clan-family may serve the same purpose. David Livingstone describes the formation of the clan-family among the Bakuena. “Each man, by virtue of paternity, is chief of his own children. They build huts round his. . . . Near the centre of each circle of huts is a spot called a ‘kotla,’ with a fireplace; here they work, eat, &c. A poor man attaches himself to the ‘kotla’ of a rich one, and is considered a child of the latter.” Thus the clan-family is also a poor-relief association.
Studies in folklore bring to light many relations between the charity of the old world and that of our own day.
In regard to the charity of the early community, we may take the 8th century B.C. as the point of departure. The Odyssey (about 800 B.C.) and Hesiod (about 700 B.C.) are roughly parallel with Amos (816–775), and represent two streams of thought that meet in the early Christian The early community.period. The period covered by the Odyssey seems to merge into that of Hesiod. We take the former first, dealing with the clan-family and the phratry, which are together the self-maintaining unit of society, with the general relief of the poor, with hospitality, and with vagrancy. In Hesiod we find the customary law of charity in the earlier community definitely stated, and also indications of the normal methods of neighbourly help which were in force in country districts. First of the family and brotherhood, or phratry. The family (Od. viii. 582) included alike the wife’s father and the daughter’s husband. It was thus a clanlike family. Out of this was developed the phratry or brotherhood, in which were included alike noble families, peasants and craftsmen, united by a common worship and responsibilities and a common customary law (themis). Zeus, the god of social life, was worshipped by the phratry. He was the father of the law (themis). He was god of host and guest. Society was thus based on law, the brotherhood and the family. The irresponsible man, the man worthy of no respect or consideration, was one who belonged to no brotherhood, was subject to no customary law, and had no hearth or family. The phratry was, and became afterwards still more, “a natural gild.” Outside the self-sustaining phratry was the stranger, including the wayfarer and the vagrant; and partly merged in these classes was the beggar, the recognized recipient of the alms of the community. To change one’s abode and to travel was assumed to be a cause of reproach (Il. ix. 648). The “land-louper” was naturally suspected. On the other hand, a stranger’s first thought in a new country was whether the inhabitants were wild or social (δίκαιοι), hospitable and God-fearing (Od. xiii. 201). Hospitality thus became the first public charity; Zeus sent all strangers and beggars, and it was against all law (θέμις) to slight them. Out of this feeling—a kind of glorified almsgiving—grew up the system of hospitality in Greek states and also in the Roman world. The host greeted the stranger (or the suppliant). An oath of friendship was taken by the stranger, who was then received with the greeting, Welcome (χαῖρε), and water was provided for ablution, and food and shelter. In the larger house there was a guests’ table. In the hut he shared the peasant’s meal. The custom bound alike the rich and the poor. On parting presents were given, usually food for the onward journey, sometimes costly gifts. The obligation was mutual, that the host should give hospitality, and that the guest should not abuse it. From early times tallies were exchanged between them as evidence of this formal relationship, which each could claim again of the other by the production of the token. And further, the relationship on either side became hereditary. Thus individuals and families and tribes remained linked in friendship and in the interchange of hospitalities.
Under the same patronage of Zeus and the same laws of hospitality were vagrants and beggars. The vagrant and loafer are sketched in the Odyssey—the vagrant who lies glibly that he may get entertainment, and the loafer who prefers begging to work on a farm. These and the winter idlers, whom Hesiod pictures—a group known to modern life—prefer at that season to spend their time in the warmth of the village smithy, or at a house of common resort (λέσχη)—a common lodging-house, we might say—where they would pass the night. Apparently, as in modern times, the vagrants had organized their own system of entertainment, and, supported by the public, were a class for whom it was worth while to cater. The local or public beggars formed a still more definite class. Their begging was a recognized means of maintenance; it was a part of the method of poor relief. Thus of Penelope it was said that, if Odysseus’ tale were true, she would give him better clothes, and then he might beg his bread throughout the country-side. Feasts, too, and almsgiving were nearly allied, and feasts have always been one resource for the relief of the poor. Thus naturally the beggars frequented feasts, and were apparently a recognized and yet inevitable nuisance. They wore, as part of their dress, scrips or wallets in which they carried away the food they received, as later Roman clients carried away portions of food in baskets (sportula) from their patron’s dinner. Odysseus, when he dresses up as a beggar, puts on a wallet as part of his costume. Thus we find a system of voluntary relief in force based on a recognition of the duty of almsgiving as complete and peremptory as that which we shall notice later among the Jews and the early Christians. We are concerned with country districts, and not with towns, and, as social conditions that are similar produce similar methods of administration, so we find here a general plan of relief similar to that which was in vogue in Scotland till the Scottish Poor Law Act of 1845.
In Hesiod the fundamental conceptions of charity are more clearly expressed. He has, if not his ten, at least his four commandments, for disobedience to which Zeus will punish the offender. They are: Thou shalt do no evil to suppliant or guest; thou shalt not dishonour any woman of the family; thou shalt not sin against the orphan; thou shalt not be unkind to aged parents.
The laws of social life are thus duty to one’s guest and duty to one’s family; and chastity has its true place in that relation, as the later Greeks, who so often quote Hesiod (cf. the so-called Economics of Aristotle), fully realized. Also the family charities due to the orphan, whose lot is deplored in the Iliad (xxii. 490), and to the aged are now clearly enunciated. But there is also in Hesiod the duty to one’s neighbour, not according to the “perfection” of “Cristes lore,” but according to a law of honourable reciprocity in act and intent. “Love him who loves thee, and cleave to him who cleaveth to thee: to him who would have given, give; to him who would not have given, give not.” The groundwork of Hesiod’s charity outside the family is neighbourly help (such as formed no small part of old Scottish charity in the country districts); and he put his argument thus: Competition, which is a kind of strife, “lies in the roots of the world and in men.” It is good, and rouses the idle “handless” man to work. On one side are social duty (δίκη) and work, done briskly at the right season of the year, which brings a full barn. On the other side are unthrift and hunger, and relief with the disgrace of begging; and the relief, when the family can do no more, must come from neighbours, to whose house the beggar has to go with his wife and children to ask for victual. Once they may be helped, or twice, and then they will be refused. It is better, Hesiod tells his brother, to work and so pay off his debts and avoid hunger (see Erga, 391, &c., and elsewhere). Here indeed is a problem of to-day as it appeared to an early Greek. The alternatives before the idler—so far as his own community is concerned—are labour with neighbourly help to a limited extent, or hunger.
Hesiod was a farmer in Boeotia. Some 530 years afterwards a pupil of Aristotle thus describes the district and its community of farmers. “They are,” he says, “well to do, but simple in their way of life. They practise justice, good faith, and hospitality. To needy townsmen and vagabonds they give freely of their substance; for meanness and covetousness are unknown to them.” The charitable method of Homeric and Hesiodic days still continued.
Part II.—Charity among the Greeks
Society in a Greek state was divided into two parts, citizens and slaves. The citizens required leisure for education, war and government. The slaves were their ministers and servants to enable them to secure this leisure. We have therefore to consider, on the one hand,The Greek state. the position of the family and the clan-family, and the maintenance of the citizen from public funds and by public and private charities; and on the other hand the condition of the slaves, and the relation between slavery and charity.
The slaves formed the larger part of the population. The census of Attica, made between 317 and 307 B.C., gives their numbers at 400,000 out of a population of about 500,000; and even if this be considered excessive, the proportion of slaves to citizens would certainly be very large. The citizens with their wives and children formed some 12% of the community. Thus, apart from the resident aliens, returned in the census at 10,000, and their wives and children, we have two divisions of society: the citizens, with their own organization of relief and charities; and the slaves, permanently maintained by reason of their dependence on individual members of the civic class. Thus, there is no poverty but that of the poor citizens. Poverty is limited to them. The slaves—that is to say, the bulk of the labouring population—are provided for.
From times relatively near to Hesiod’s we may trace the growth and influence of the clan-family as the centre of customary charity within the community, the gradual increase of a class of poor either outside the clan-family or eventually independent of it, and the development of a new organization of relief introduced by the state to meet newer demands. We picture the early state as a group of families, each of which tends to form in time a separate group or clan. At each expansion from the family to the clan the members of the clan retain rights and have to fulfil duties which are the same as, or similar to, those which prevailed in the family. Thus, in Attica the clan-families (genos) and the brotherhoods (phratria) were “the only basis of legal rights and obligations over and above the natural family.” The clan-family was “a natural guild,” consisting of rich and poor members—the well-born or noble and the craftsman alike. Originally it would seem that the land was divided among the families of the clan by lot and was inalienable. Thus with the family was combined the means of supporting the family. On the other hand, every youth was registered in his phratry, and the phratry remained till the reforms of Cleisthenes (509 B.C.) a political, and even after that time a social, organization of importance.
First, as to the family—the mother and wife, and the father. Already before the age of Plato and Xenophon (450–350 B.C.) we find that the family has suffered a slow decline. The wife, according to later Greek usage, was married as a child, hardly educated, and confined to the house, except at some festival or funeral. But with the decline came criticism and a nobler conception of family life. “First, then, come laws regarding the wife,” writes the author of the so-called Economics of Aristotle, and the law, “thou shalt do no wrong; for, if we do no wrong, we shall not be wronged.” This is the “common law,” as the Pythagoreans say, “and it implies that we must not wrong the wife in the least, but treat her with the reverence due to a suppliant, or one taken from the altar.” The sanctity of marriage is thus placed among the “commandments” of Hesiod, beside the duty towards the stranger and the orphan. These and other references to the Pythagoreans suggest that they, possibly in common with other mystics, preached the higher religion of marriage and social life, and thus inspired a deeper social feeling, which eventually allied itself with the Christian movement.
Next, as to parents and children: the son was under an obligation to support his father, subject, after Solon’s time, to the condition that he had taught him a trade; and after Solon’s time the father had no claim for support from an illegitimate son. “The possession of children,” it was said (Arist. Econ.), “is not by nature for the public good only, but also for private advantage. For what the strong may gain by their toil for the weak, the weak in their old age receive from the strong . . . Thus is the nature of each, the man and the woman, prearranged by the Divine Being for a life in common.” Honour to parents is “the first and greatest and oldest of all debts” (Plato, Laws, 717). The child has to care for the parent in his old age. “Nemesis, the minister of justice (δίκη), is appointed to watch over all these things.” And “if a man fail to adorn the sepulchre of his dead parents, the magistrates take note of it and inquire” (Xen. Mem. ii. 14). The heightened conception of marriage implies a fuller interpretation of the mutual relations of parent and child as well; both become sacred.
Then as to orphans. Before Solon’s time (594 B.C.) the property of any member of the clan-family who died without children went to the clan; and after his time, when citizens were permitted to leave their property by will, the property of an intestate fell to the clan. This arrangement carried with it corresponding duties. Through the clan-family provision was made for orphans. Any member of the clan had the legal right to claim an orphan member in marriage; and, if the nearest agnate did not marry her, he had to give her a dowry proportionate to the amount of his own property. Later, there is evidence of a growing sense of responsibility in regard to orphans. Hippodamus (about 443 B.C.), in his scheme of the perfected state (Arist. Pol. 1268), suggested that there should be public magistrates to deal with the affairs of orphans (and strangers); and Plato, his contemporary, writes of the duty of the state and of the guardian towards them very fully. Orphans, he proposes (Laws, 927), should be placed under the care of public guardians. “Men should have a fear of the loneliness of orphans . . . and of the souls of the departed, who by nature take a special care of their own children. . . . A man should love the unfortunate orphan (boy or girl) of whom he is guardian as if he were his own child; he should be as careful and diligent in the management of the orphan’s property as of his own—or even more careful still.”
To relieve the poverty of citizens and to preserve the citizen-hood were objects of public policy and of charity. In Crete and Sparta the citizens were wholly supported out of the public resources. In Attica the system was different. The citizens were aided in various ways, in which, as often happens, legal or official and voluntary or private methods worked on parallel lines. The means were (1) legal enactment for release of debts; (2) emigration; (3) the supply of corn; (4) poor relief for the infirm, and relief for the children of those fallen in war; (5) emoluments; (6) voluntary public service, separate gifts and liberality; (7) loan societies.
(1) In 594 B.C. the labouring class in Attica were overwhelmed with debts and mortgages, and their persons pledged as security. Only by a sharp reform was it possible to preserve them from slavery. This Solon effected. He annulled their obligations, abolished the pledge of the person, and gave the labourers the franchise (but see under Solon). Besides the laws above mentioned, he gave power to the Areopagus to inquire from what sources each man obtained the necessaries of life, and to punish those who did not work. His action and that of his successor, Peisistratus (560 B.C.), suggest that the class of poor (ἄποροι) was increasing, and that by the efforts of these two men the social decline of the people was avoided or at least postponed. Peisistratus lent the poor money that they might maintain themselves in husbandry. He wished, it is said (Arist. Ath. Pol. xvi.), to enable them to earn a moderate living, that they might be occupied with their own affairs, instead of spending their time in the city or neglecting their work in order to visit it. As rent for their land they paid a tenth of the produce.
(2) Akin to this policy was that of emigration. Athenians, selected in some instances from the two lowest political classes, emigrated, though still retaining their rights of citizenship. In 570–565 B.C. Salamis was annexed and divided into lots and settled, and later Pericles settled more than 2750 citizens in the Chersonese and elsewhere—practically a considerable section of the whole body of citizens. “By this means,” says Plutarch, “he relieved the state of numerous idle agitators and assisted the necessitous.” In other states this expedient was frequently adopted.
(3) A third method was the supply of corn at reduced rates—a method similar to that adopted, as we shall see, at Rome, Constantinople and elsewhere. The maintenance of the mass of the people depended on the corn fleets. There were public granaries, where large stores were laid up at the public expense. A portion of all cargoes of corn was retained at Athens and in other ways importation was promoted. Exportation was forbidden. Public donations and distributions of corn were frequent, and in times of scarcity rich citizens made large contributions with that object. The distributions were made to adult citizens of eighteen years of age and upwards whose names were on the registers.
(4) In addition to this there was a system of public relief for those who were unable to earn a livelihood on account of bodily defects and infirmities. The qualification was a property test. The property of the applicant had to be shown to be of a value of not more than three minae (say £12). Socrates, it may be noted, adopts the same method of estimating his comparative poverty (Xen. Econ. 2. 6), saying that his goods would realize about five minae (or about twenty guineas). The senate examined the case, and the ecclesia awarded the bounty, which amounted to 1 or 2 obols a day, rather more than 112d. or 3d.—out-door relief, as we might say, amounting at most to about 1s. 9d. a week. There was also a fund for the maintenance of the children of those who had fallen in war, up to the age of eighteen.
(5) But the main source of support was the receipt of emoluments for various public services. This was not relief, though it produced in the course of time the effect of relief. It was rather the Athenian method of supporting a governing class of citizens.
The inner political history of Athens is the history of the extension of the franchise to the lower classes of citizens, with the privileges of holding office and receiving emoluments. In early times, either by Solon (q.v.) or previously, the citizens were classified on the basis of property. The rich retained the franchise and the right of holding office; the middle classes obtained the franchise; the fourth or lowest class gained neither. By the reforms of Cleisthenes (509 B.C.) the clan-family and the phratry were set aside for the deme or parish, a geographical division superseding the social. Finally, about 478 B.C., when all had acquired the franchise, the right to hold office also was obtained by the third class. These changes coincided with a period of economic progress. The rate of interest was high, usually 12%; and in trading and bottomry the returns were much higher. A small capital at this interest soon produced comparative wealth; and simultaneously prices were falling. Then came the reaction. “After the Peloponnesian war” (432–404 B.C.), writes Professor Jebb, “the wealth of the country ceased to grow, as population had ceased to grow about 50 years sooner. The rich went on accumulating: the poor, having no means of enriching themselves by enterprise, were for the most part occupied in watching for some chance of snatching a larger share of the stationary total.” Thus the poorer classes in a time of prosperity had won the power which they were able to turn to their own account afterwards. A period of economic pressure followed, coupled with a decline in the population; no return to the land was feasible, nor was emigration; the people had become town-folk inadaptable to new uses; decreasing vitality and energy were marked by a new temper, the “pauper” temper, unsettled, idle and grasping, and political power was utilized to obtain relief. The relief was forthcoming, but it was of no avail to stop the general decline. The state, it might almost be said, in giving scope to the assertion of the spirit of dependence, had ruined the self-regarding energy on which both family and state alike depended. The emoluments were diverse. The number of citizens was not large; the functions in which citizens could take part were numerous; and when payment was forthcoming the poorer citizens pressed in to exercise their rights (cf. Arist. Pol. 1293 a). All Athenian citizens could attend the public assembly or ecclesia. Probably the attendance at it varied from a few hundred to 5000 persons. In 395 B.C. the payment for attendance was fixed at 3 obols, or little more than 412d. a day—for the system of payment had probably been introduced a few years before (but see Ecclesia and refs.). A juror or dicast would receive the same sum for attendance, and the courts or juries often consisted of 500 persons. If the estimate (Böckh, Public Economy of Athens, Eng. trans. pp. 109, 117) holds good that in the age of Demosthenes (384–323 B.C.) the member of a poor family of four free persons could live (including rent) on about 3.3d. or between 2 and 3 obols a day, the pay of the citizen attending the assembly or the court would at least cover the expenses of subsistence. On the other hand, it would be less than the pay of a day labourer, which was probably about 4 obols or 6d. a day. In any case many citizens—they numbered in all about 20,000—in return for their participation in political duties would receive considerable pecuniary assistance. Attending a great public festival also, the citizen would receive 2 obols or 3d. a day during the festival days; and there were besides frequent public sacrifices, with the meal or feast which accompanied them. But besides this there were confiscations of private property, which produced a surplus revenue divisible among the poorer citizens. (Some hold that there were confiscations in other Greek states, but not in Athens.) In these circumstances it is not to be wondered that men like Isocrates should regret that the influence of the Areopagus, the old court of morals and justice in Athens, had disappeared, for it “maintained a sort of censorial police over the lives and habits of the citizens; and it professed to enforce a tutelary and paternal discipline, beyond that which the strict letter of the law could mark out, over the indolent, the prodigal, the undutiful, and the deserters of old rite and custom.”
(6) In addition to public emoluments and relief there was much private liberality and charity. Many expensive public services were undertaken honorarily by the citizens under a kind of civic compulsion. Thus in a trial about 425 B.C. (Lysias, Or. 19. 57) a citizen submitted evidence that his father expended more than £2000 during his life in paying the expenses of choruses at festivals, fitting out seven triremes for the navy, and meeting levies of income tax to meet emergencies. Besides this he had helped poor citizens by portioning their daughters and sisters, had ransomed some, and paid the funeral expenses of others (cf. for other instances Plutarch’s Cimon, Theophrastus, Eth., and Xen. Econ.).
(7) There were also mutual help societies (ἔρανοι). Those for relief would appear to have been loan societies (cf. Theoph. Eth.), one of whose members would beat up contributions to help a friend, who would afterwards repay the advance.
The criticisms of Aristotle (384–321 B.C.) suggest the direction to which he looked for reform. He (Pol. 1320 a) passes a very unfavourable judgment on the distribution of public money to the poorer citizens. The demagogues (he does not speak of Athens particularly) distributed the surplus revenues to the poor, who received them all at the same time; and then they were in want again. It was only, he argued, like pouring water through a sieve. It were better to see to it that the greater number were not so entirely destitute, for the depravity of a democratic government was due to this. The problem was to contrive how plenty (εὐπορία, not poverty, ἀπορία) should become permanent. His proposals are adequate aid and voluntary charity. Public relief should, he urges, be given in large amounts so as to help people to acquire small farms or start in business, and the well-to-do (εὔποροι) should in the meantime subscribe to pay the poor for their attendance at the public assemblies. (This proves, indeed, how the payments had become poor relief.) He mentions also how the Carthaginian notables divided the destitute amongst them and gave them the means of setting to work, and the Tarentines (κοινὰ ποιοῦντες) shared their property with the poor. (The Rhodians also may be mentioned (Strabo xiv. c. 652), amongst whom the well-to-do undertook the relief of the poor voluntarily.) The later word for charitable distribution was a sharing (κοινωνία, Ep. Rom. xv. 26), which would seem to indicate that after Aristotle’s time popular thought had turned in that direction. But the chief service rendered by Aristotle—a service which covered indeed the whole ground of social progress—was to show that unless the purpose of civil and social life was carefully considered and clearly realized by those who desired to improve its conditions, no change for the better could result from individual or associated action.
Two forms of charity have still to be mentioned: charity to the stranger and to the sick. It will be convenient to consider both in relation to the whole classical period.
With the growth of towns the administration of hospitality was elaborated.
(1) There was hospitality between members of families bound by the rites of host and guest. The guest received as a right only shelter and fire. Usually he dined with the host the first day, and if afterwards he was fed provisions were supplied The stranger. to him. There were large guest-chambers (ξενών) or small guest-houses, completely isolated on the right or left of the principal house; and here the guest was lodged. (2) There were also, e.g. at Hierapolis (Sir W. M. Ramsay’s Phrygia, ii. 97), brotherhoods of hospitality (ξένοι τεκμηρεῖοι, bearers of the sign), which made hospitality a duty, and had a common chest and Apollo as their tutelary god. (3) There were inns or resting-places (καταγώγια) for strangers at temples (Thuc. iii. 68; Plato, Laws, 953 A) and places of resort (λέσχη) at or near the temples for the entertainment of strangers—for instance, at a temple of Asclepius at Epidaurus (Pausanias ii. 174); and Pausanias argues that they were common throughout the country. Probably also at the temples hospitable provision was made for strangers. The evidence at present is not perhaps sufficiently complete, but, so far as it goes, it tends to the conclusion that in pre-Christian times hospitality was provided to passers-by and strangers in the temple buildings, as later it was furnished in the monasteries and churches. (4) There were also in towns houses for strangers (ξενών) provided at the public cost. This was so at Megara; and in Crete strangers had a place at the public meals and a dormitory. Xenophon suggested that it would be profitable for the Athenian state to establish inns for traders (καταγώγια δημόσια) at Athens. Thus, apart from the official hospitality of the proxenus or “consul,” who had charge of the affairs of foreigners, and the hospitality which was shown to persons of distinction by states or private individuals, there was in Greece a large provision for strangers, wayfarers and vagrants based on the charitable sentiment of hospitality. Among the Romans similar customs of private and public hospitality prevailed; and throughout the empire the older system was altered, probably very slowly. In Christian times (cf. Ramsay above) Pagan temples were (about A.D. 408) utilized for other purposes, including that of hospitality to strangers.
Round the temples, at first probably village temples, the organization of medical relief grew up. Primitive medicine is connected with dreams, worship, and liturgical “pollution,” punishment and penitence, and an experimental practice. Finally, systematic observation The sick. and science (with no knowledge of chemistry and little of physiology) assert themselves, and a secular administration is created by the side of the older religious organization.
Sickness among primitive races is conceived to be a material substance to be extracted, or an evil spirit to be driven away by incantation. Religion and medicine are thus at the beginning almost one and the same thing. In Anatolia, in the groups of villages (cf. Ramsay as above, i. 101) under the theocratic government of a central ἱερόν or temple, the god Men Karou was the physician and saviour (σωτήρ and σώζων) of his people. Priests, prophets and physicians were his ministers. He punished wrong-doing by diseases which he taught the penitent to cure. So elsewhere pollution, physical or moral, was chastened by disease and loss of property or children, and further ills were avoided by sacrifice and expiation and public warning. In the temple and out of this phase of thought grew up schools of medicine, in whose practice dreams and religious ritual retained a place. The newer gods, Asclepius and Apollo, succeeded the older local divinities; and the “sons” of Asclepius became a profession, and the temple with its adjacent buildings a kind of hospital. There were many temples of Asclepius in Greece and elsewhere, placed generally in high and salubrious positions. After ablution the patient offered sacrifices, repeating himself the words of the hymn that was chanted. Then, when night came on, he slept in the temple. In the early dawn he was to dream “the heavenly dream” which would suggest his cure; but if he did not dream, relations and others—officials at the temple—might dream for him. At dawn the priests or sons of Asclepius came into the temple and visited the sick, so that, in a kind of drama, where reality and appearance seemed to meet, the patients believed that they saw the god himself. The next morning the prescription and treatment were settled. At hand in the inn or guest-chambers of the temple the patient could remain, sleeping again in the temple, if necessary, and carrying out the required regimen. In the temple were votive tablets of cases, popular and awe-inspiring, and records and prescriptions, which later found their way into the medical works of Galen and others. At the temple of Asclepius at Epidaurus was an inn (καταγώγιον) with four courts and colonnades, and in all 160 rooms. (Cf. Pausanias ii. 171; and Report, Archaeol. in Greece, R. C. Bosanquet, 1899, 1900.)
At three centres more particularly, Rhodes, Cnidos and Cos, were the medical schools of the Asclepiads. If one may judge from an inscription at Athens, priests of Asclepius attended the poor gratuitously. And years afterwards, in the 11th century, when there was a revival of medicine, we find (Daremberg, La Médecine: histoire et doctrines) at Salerno the Christian priest as doctor, a simple and less palatable pharmacy for the poor than for the rich, and gratuitous medical relief.
Besides the temple schools and hospitals there was a secular organization of medical aid and relief. States appointed trained medical men as physicians, and provided for them medical establishments (ἰατρεῖα, “large houses with large doors full of light”) for the reception of the sick, and for operations there were provided beds, instruments, medicines, &c. At these places also pupils were taught. A lower degree of medical establishment was to be found at the barbers’ shops. Out-patients were seen at the iatreia. They were also visited at home. There were doctors’ assistants and slave doctors. The latter, apparently, attended only slaves (Plato, Laws, 720); they do “a great service to the master of the house, who in this manner is relieved of the care of his slaves.” It was a precept of Hippocrates that if a physician came to a town where there were sick poor, he should make it his first duty to attend to them; and the state physician attended gratuitously any one who applied to him. There were also travelling physicians going rounds to heal children and the poor. These methods continued, probably all of them, to Christian times.
It has been argued that medical practice was introduced into Italy by the Greeks. But the evidence seems to show that there was a quite independent Latin tradition and school of medicine (René Brian, “Médecine dans le Latium et à Rome,” Rev. Archéol., 1885). In Rome there were consulting-rooms and dispensaries, and houses in which the sick were received. Hospitals are mentioned by Roman writers in the 1st century A.D. There were infirmaries—detached buildings—for sick slaves; and in Rome, as at Athens, there were slaves skilled in medicine. In Rome also for each regio there was a chief physician who attended to the poorer people.
Slavery was so large a factor in pre-Christian and early Christian society that a word should be said on its relation to charity. Indirectly it was a cause of poverty and social degradation. Thus in the case of Athens, with the achievement of maritime supremacy the number of Slavery.slaves increased greatly. Manual arts were despised as unbecoming to a citizen, and the slaves carried on the larger part of the agricultural and industrial work of the community; and for a time—until after the Peloponnesian War (404 B.C.)—slavery was an economic success. But by degrees the slave, it would seem, dispossessed the citizen and rendered him unfit for competition. The position of the free artisan thus became akin to that of the slave (Arist. Pol. 1260 a, &c.), and slavery became the industrial method of the country. Though Greeks, Romans, Jews and Christians spent money in ransoming individual slaves and also enfranchised many, no general abolition of slavery was possible. At last through economic changes the new status of coloni, who paid as rent part of the produce of the land they tilled, superseded the status of slavery (cf. above; the system turned to account by Peisistratus). But this result was only achieved much later, when a new society was being created, when the slaves from the slave prisons (ergastula) of Italy joined its invaders, and the slave-owner or master, as one may suppose, unable any longer to work the gangs, let them become coloni.
In Greece the feeling towards the slave became constantly more humane. Real slavery, Aristotle said, was a cast of mind, not a condition of life. The slave was not to be ordered about, but to be commanded and persuaded like a child. The master was under the strongest obligation to promote his welfare. In Rome, on the other hand, slavery continued to the end a massive, brutal, industrial force—a standing danger to the state. But alike in Greece and Rome the influence of slavery on the family was pernicious. The pompous array of domestic slaves, the transfer of motherly duties to slave nurses, the loss of that homely education which for most people comes only from the practical details of life—all this in later Greece and Italy, and far into Christian times, prevented that permanent invigoration and reform of family life which Jewish and Christian influences might otherwise have produced.
Part III.—Charity in Roman Times
The words that suggest most clearly the Roman attitude towards what we call charity are liberalitas, beneficentia and pietas. The two former are almost synonymous (Cicero, De Offic. i. 7, 14). Liberality lays stress on the mood—that of the liber, the freeborn, and so in a sense the independent and superior; beneficence on the deed and its purpose (Seneca, De Benef. vi. 10). The conditions laid down by Cicero, following Panaetius the Stoic (185–112 B.C.) are three: not to do harm to him whom one would benefit, not to exceed one’s means, and to have regard to merit. The character of the person whom we would benefit should be considered, his feelings towards us, the interest of the community, our social relations in life, and services rendered in the past. The utility of the deed or gift graded according to social relationship and estimated largely from the point of view of ultimate advantage to the doer or donor seems to predominate in the general thought of the book, though (cf. Aristotle, Eth. viii. 3) the idea culminates in the completeness of friendship where “all things are in common.” Pietas has the religious note which the other words lack, loving dutifulness to gods and home and country. Not “piety” only but “pity” derive from it: thus it comes near to our “charity.” Both books, the De Officiis and the De Beneficiis, represent a Roman and Stoical revision of the problem of charity and, as in Stoicism generally, there seems to be a half-conscious attempt to feel the way to a new social standpoint from this side.
As from the point of view of charity the well-being of the community depends upon the vigour of the deep-laid elemental life within it, so in passing to Roman times we consider the family first. The Roman family was unique in its completeness, and by some of its conditions the world has long been bound. Roman times. The father alone had independent authority (sui juris), and so long as he lived all who were under his power—his wife, his sons, and their wives and children, and his unmarried daughters—could not acquire any property of their own. Failing father or husband, the unmarried daughters were placed under the guardianship of the nearest male members of the family. Thus the family, in the narrower sense in which we commonly use the word, as meaning descendants of a common father or grandfather, was, as it were, a single point of growth in a larger organism, the gens, which consisted of all those who shared a common ancestry.
The wife, though in law the property of her husband, held a position of honour and influence higher than that of the Greek wife, at least in historic times. She seems to come nearer to the ideal of Xenophon: “the good wife should be the mistress of everything within the house.” “A house of his own and the blessing of children appeared to the Roman citizen as the end and essence of life” (Mommsen, Hist. Rome). The obligation of the father to the sons was strongly felt. The family, past, present and future, was conceived as one and indivisible. Each succeeding generation had a right to the care of its predecessor in mind, body and estate. The training of the sons was distinctly a home and not a school training. Brought up by the father and constantly at his side, they learnt spontaneously the habits and traditions of the family. The home was their school. By their father they were introduced into public life, and though still remaining under his power during his lifetime, they became citizens, and their relation to the state was direct. The nation was a nation of yeomen. Only agriculture and warfare were considered honourable employments. The father and sons worked outdoors on the farm, employing little or no slave labour; the wife and daughters indoors at spinning and weaving. The drudgery of the household was done by domestic slaves. The father was the working head of a toiling household. Their chief gods were the same as those of early Greece—Zeus-Diovis and Hestia-Vesta, the goddess of the hearth and home. Out of this solid, compact family Roman society was built, and so long as the family was strong attachment to the service of the state was intense. The res publica, the common weal, the phrase and the thought, meet one at every turn; and never were citizens more patient and tenacious combatants on their country’s behalf. The men were soldiers in an unpaid militia and were constantly engaged in wars with the rivals of Rome, leaving home and family for their campaigns and returning to them in the winter. With a hardness and closeness inconsistent with—indeed, opposed to—the charitable spirit, they combined the strength of character and sense of justice without which charity becomes sentimental and unsocial. In the development of the family, and thus, indirectly, in the development of charity, they stand for settled obligation and unrelenting duty.
Under the protection of the head of the family “in dependent freedom” lived the clients. They were in a middle position between the freemen and the slaves. The relation between patron and client lasted for several generations; and there were many clients. Their number increased as state after state was conquered, and they formed the plebs, in Rome the plebs urbana, the lower orders of the city.
In relation to our subject the important factors are the family, the plebs and slavery.
Two processes were at work from an early date, before the first agrarian law (486 B.C.): the impoverishment of the plebs and the increase of slavery. The former led to the annona civica, or the free supply of corn to the citizens, and to the sportula or the organized food-supply for poor clients, and ultimately to the alimentarii pueri, the maintenance of children of citizens by voluntary and imperial bounty. The latter (slavery) was the standing witness that, as self-support was undermined, the task of relief became hopeless, and the impoverished citizen, as the generations passed, became in turn dependant, beggar, pauper and slave.
The great patrician families—“an oligarchy of warriors and slaveholders”—did not themselves engage in trade, but, entering on large speculations, employed as their agents their clients, libertini or freedmen, and, later, their slaves. The constant wars, for which the soldiers of a local militia were eventually retained in permanent service, broke up the yeomanry and very greatly reduced their number. Whole families of citizens became impoverished, and their lands were in consequence sold to the large patrician families, members of which had acquired lucrative posts, or prospered in their speculations, and assumed possession of the larger part of the land, the ager publicus, acquired by the state through conquest. The city had always been the centre of the patrician families, the patron of the trading libertini and other dependants. To it now flocked as well the metoeci, the resident aliens from the conquered states, and the poorer citizens, landless and unable for social reasons to turn to trade. There was thus in Rome a growing multitude of aliens, dispossessed yeomen and dependent clients. Simultaneously slavery increased very largely after the second Punic War (202 B.C.). Every conquest brought slaves into the market, for whom ready purchasers were found. The slaves took the place of the freemen upon the old family estates, and the free country people became extinct. Husbandry gave place to shepherding. The estates were thrown into large domains (latifundia), managed by bailiffs and worked by slaves, often fettered or bound by chains, lodged in cells in houses of labour (ergastula), and sometimes cared for when ill in infirmaries (valetudinaria). In Crete and Sparta the slaves toiled that the mass of citizens might have means and leisure. In Rome the slave class was organized for private and not for common ends. In Athens the citizens were paid for their services; at Rome no offices were paid. Thus the citizen at Rome was, one might almost say, forced into a dependence on the public corn, for as the large properties swallowed up the smaller, and the slave dispossessed the citizen, a population grew up unfit for rural toil, disinclined to live by methods that pride considered sordid, unstable and pleasure-loving, and yet a serious political factor, as dependent on the rich for their enjoyments as they were on their patrons or the prefect of the corn in the city for their food.
It is estimated, from extremely difficult and uncertain data, that the population of Rome in the time of Augustus was about 1,200,000 or 1,500,000. At that time the plebs urbana numbered 320,000. If this be multiplied by three, to give a low average of dependants, wives and children, this section of the population would number 960,000. The remainder of the 1,500,000, 540,000, would consist of (a) slaves, and (b) those, the comparatively few, who would be members of the great clan-families (gentes). Proportionately to Attica this seems to allow too small a population of slaves. But however this be, we may picture the population of Rome as consisting chiefly of a few patrician families ministered to by a very large number of slaves, and a populace of needy citizens, in whose ranks it was profitable for an outsider to find a place in order that he might participate in the advantages of state maintenance.
In Rome the clan-family became the dominant political factor. As in England and elsewhere in the middle ages, and even in later times, the family, in these circumstances, assumes an influence which is out of harmony with the common good. The social advantage of the family lies in itsThe annona civica. self-maintenance, its home charities, and its moral and educational force, but if its separate interests are made supreme, it becomes uncharitable and unsocial. In Rome this was the line of development. The stronger clan-families crushed the weaker, and became the “oligarchy of warriors and slaveholders.” In the same spirit they possessed themselves of the ager publicus. The land obtained by the Romans by right of conquest was public. It belonged to the state, and to a yeoman state it was the most valuable acquisition. At first part of it was sold and part was distributed to citizens without property and destitute (cf. Plutarch, Tib. Gracchus). At a very early date, however, the patrician families acquired possession of much of it and held it at a low rental, and thus the natural outlet for a conquering farmer race was monopolized by one class, the richer clan-families. This injustice was in part remedied by the establishment of colonies, in which the emigrant citizens received sufficient portions of land. But these colonies were comparatively few, and after each conquest the rich families made large purchases, while the smaller proprietors, whose services as soldiers were constantly required, were unable to attend to their lands or to retain possession of them. To prevent this (367 B.C.) the Licinian law was passed, by which ownership in land was limited to 500 jugera, about 312 acres. This law was ignored, however, and more than two centuries later the evil, the double evil of the dispossession of the citizen farmer and of slavery, reached a crisis. The slave war broke out (134 B.C.) and (133 B.C.) Tiberius Gracchus made his attempt to re-endow the Roman citizens with the lands which they had acquired by conquest. He undertook what was essentially a charitable or philanthropic movement, which was set on foot too late. He had passed through Tuscany, and seen with resentment and pity the deserted country where the foreign slaves and barbarians were now the only shepherds and cultivators. He had been brought up under the influence of Greek Stoical thought, with which, almost in spite of itself, there was always associated an element of pity. The problem which he desired to solve, though larger in scale, was essentially the same as that with which Solon and Peisistratus had dealt successfully. At bottom the issue lay between private property, considered as the basis of family life for the great bulk of the community, with personal independence, and pauperism, with the annona or slavery. In 133 B.C. Tiberius Gracchus became tribune. To expand society on the lines of private property, he proposed the enforcement of “the Licinian Rogations”; the rich were to give up all beyond their rightful 312 acres, and the remainder was to be distributed amongst the poor. The measure was carried by the use of arbitrary powers, and followed by the death of Tiberius at the hands of the patricians, the dominant clan-families. In 132 B.C. Caius Gracchus took up his brother’s quarrel, and adopting, it would seem, a large scheme of political and social reform, proposed measures for emigration and for relief. The former failed; the latter apparently were acceptable to all parties, and continued in force long after C. Gracchus had been slain (121 B.C.). Already, at times, there had been sales of corn at cheap prices. Now, by the lex frumentaria he gave the citizens—those who had the Roman franchise—the right to purchase corn every month from the public stores at rather more than half-price, 613 asses or about 3.3d. the peck. This, the fatal alternative, was accepted, and henceforth there was no possibility of a reversion to better social conditions.
The provisioning of Rome was, like that of Athens, a public service. There were public granaries (267 B.C.), and there was a quaestor to supervise the transit of the corn from Sicily and, later, from Spain and Africa, and an elaborate administration for collecting and conveying it. The lex frumentaria of Caius was followed by the lex Octavia, restricting the monthly sale to citizens settled in Rome, and to 5 modii (114 bushels). According to Polybius, the amount required for the maintenance of a slave was 5 modii a month, and of a soldier 4. Hence the allowance, if continued at this rate, was practically a maintenance. The lex Clodia (58 B.C.) made the corn gratuitous to the plebs urbana.
Julius Caesar (5 B.C.) found the number of recipients to be 320,000, and reduced them to 150,000. In Augustus’s time they rose to 200,000. There seems, however, to be some confusion as to the numbers. From the Ancyranum Monumentum it appears that the plebs urbana who received Augustus’s dole of 60 denarii (37s. 6d.) in his eighth consulship numbered 320,000. And (Suet. Caes. 41) it seems likely that in Caesar’s time the lists of the recipients were settled by lot; further, probably only those whose property was worth less than 400,000 sesterces (£3541) were placed on the lists. It is probable, therefore, that 320,000 represents a maximum, reduced for purposes of administration to a smaller number (a) by a property test, and (b) by some kind of scrutiny. The names of those certified to receive the corn were exposed on bronze tablets. They were then called aerarii. They had tickets (tesserae) for purposes of identification, and they received the corn or bread in the time of the republic at the temple of Ceres, and afterwards at steps in the several (14) regions or wards of Rome. Hence the bread was called panis gradilis. In the middle of the 2nd century there were state bakeries, and wheaten loaves were baked for the people perhaps two or three times a week. In Aurelian’s time (A.D. 270) the flour was of the best, and the weight of the loaf (one uncia) was doubled. To the gifts of bread were added pork, oil and possibly wine; clothes also—white tunics with long sleeves—were distributed. In the period after Constantine (cf. Theod. Code, xiv. 15) three classes received the bread—the palace people (palatini), soldiers (militares), and the populace (populares). No distribution was permitted except at the steps. Each class had its own steps in the several wards. The bread at one step could not be transferred to another step. Each class had its own supply. There were arrangements for the exchange of stale loaves. Against misappropriation there were (law of Valentinian and Valens) severe penalties. If a public prosecutor (actor), a collector of the revenue (procurator), or the slave of a senator obtained bread with the cognizance of the clerk, or by bribery, the slave, if his master was not a party to the offence, had to serve in the state bakehouse in chains. If the master were involved, his house was confiscated. If others who had not the right obtained the bread, they and their property were placed at the service of the bakery (pistrini exercitio subjugari). If they were poor (pauperes) they were enslaved, and the delinquent client was to be put to death.
The right to relief was dependent on the right of citizenship. Hence it became hereditary and passed from father to son. It was thus in the nature of a continuous endowed charity, like the well-known family charity of Smith, for instance, in which a large property was left to the testator’s descendants, of whom it was said that as a result no Smith of that family could fail to be poor. But the annona civica was an endowed charity, affecting not a single family, but the whole population. Later, when Constantinople was founded, the right to relief was attached to new houses as a premium on building operations. Thus it belonged not to persons only, but also to houses, and became a species of “immovable” property, passing to the purchaser of the house or property, as would the adscript slaves. The bread followed the house (aedes sequantur annonae). If, on the transfer of a house, bread claims were lost owing to the absence of claimants, they were transferred to the treasury (fisci viribus vindicentur). But the savage law of Valentinian, referred to above, shows to what lengths such a system was pushed. Early in its history the annona civica attracted many to Rome in the hope of living there without working. For the 400 years since the lex Clodia was enacted constant injury had been done by it, and now (A.D. 364) people had to be kept off the civic bounty as if they were birds of prey, and the very poor man (pauperrimus), who had no civic title to the food, if he obtained it by fraud, was enslaved. Thus, in spite of the abundant state relief, there had grown up a class of the very poor, the Gentiles of the state, who were outside the sphere of its ministrations. The annona civica was introduced not only into Constantinople, but also into Alexandria, with baleful results, and into Antioch. When Constantinople was founded the corn-ships of Africa sailed there instead of to Rome. On charitable relief, as we shall see, the annona has had a long-continued and fatal influence.
1. If the government considers itself responsible for provisioning the people it must fix the price of necessaries, and to meet distress or popular clamour it will lower the price. It becomes thus a large relief society for the supply of corn. In a time of distress, when the corn laws were a matter of moment in England, a similar system was adopted in the well-known Speenhamland scale (1795), by which a larger or lesser allowance was given to a family according to its size and the prevailing price of corn. A maintenance was thus provided for the able-bodied and their families, at least in part, without any equivalent in labour; though in England labour was demanded of the applicant, and work was done more or less perfunctorily. In amount the Roman dole seems to have been equivalent to the allowance provided for a slave, but the citizen received it without having to do any labour task. He received it as a statutory right. There could hardly be a more effective method for degrading his manhood and denaturalizing his family. He was also a voter, and the alms appealed to his weakness and indolence; and the fear of displeasing him and losing his vote kept him, socially, master of the situation, to his own ruin. If in England now relief were given to able-bodied persons who retained their votes, this evil would also attach to it.
2. The system obliged the hard-working to maintain the idlers, while it continually increased their number. The needy teacher in Juvenal, instead of a fee, is put off with a tessera, to which, not being a citizen, he has no right. “The foreign reapers,” it was said, “filled Rome’s belly and left Rome free for the stage and the circus.” The freeman had become a slave—“stupid and drowsy, to whom days of ease had become habitual, the games, the circus, the theatre, dice, eating-houses and brothels.” Here are all the marks of a degraded pauperism.
3. The system led the way to an ever more extensive slavery. The man who could not live on his dole and other scrapings had the alternative of becoming a slave. “Better have a good master than live so distressfully”; and “If I were free I should live at my own risk; now I live at yours,” are the expressions suggestive of the natural temptations of slavery in these conditions. The escaped slaves returned to “their manger.” The annona did not prevent destitution. It was a half-way house to slavery.
4. The effect on agriculture, and proportionally on commerce generally, was ruinous. The largest corn-market, Rome, was withdrawn from the trade—the market to which all the necessaries of life would naturally have gravitated; and the supply of corn was placed in the hands of producers at a few centres where it could be grown most cheaply—Sicily, Spain and Africa. The Italian farmer had to turn his attention to other produce—the cultivation of the olive and the vine, and cattle and pig rearing. The greater the extension of the system the more impossible was the regeneration of Rome. The Roman citizen might well say that he was out of work, for, so far as the land was concerned, the means of obtaining a living were placed out of his reach. While not yet unfitted for the country by life in the town, he at least could not “return to the land.”
5. The method was the outcome of distress and political hopelessness. Yet the rich also adopted it in distributing their private largess. Cicero (De Off. ii. 16) writes as though he recognized its evil; but though he expresses his disapprobation of the popular shows upon which the aediles spent large sums, he argues that something must be done “if the people demand it, and if good men, though they do not wish it, assent to it.” Thus in a guarded manner he approves a distribution of food—a free breakfast in the streets of Rome. One bad result of the annona was that it encouraged a special and ruinous form of charitable munificence.
The sportula was a form of charity corresponding to the annona civica. Charity and poor relief run on parallel lines, and when the one is administered without discrimination, little discrimination will usually be exercised in the other.The sportula. It was the charity of the patron of the chiefs of the clan-families to their clients. Between them it was natural that a relation, partly hospitable, partly charitable, should grow up. The clients who attended the patron at his house were invited to dine at his table. The patron, as Juvenal describes him, dined luxuriously and in solitary grandeur, while the guests put up with what they could get; or, as was usual under the empire, instead of the dinner (coena recta) a present of food was given at the outer vestibule of the house to clients who brought with them baskets (sportula) to carry off their food, or even charcoal stoves to keep it warm. There was endless trickery. The patron (or almoner who acted for him) tried to identify the applicant, fearing lest he might get the dole under a false name; and at each mansion was kept a list of persons, male and female, entitled to receive the allowance. “The pilferer grabs the dole” (sportulam furunculus captat) was a proverb. The sportula was a charity sufficiently important for state regulation. Nero (A.D. 54) reduced it to a payment in money (100 quadrantes, about 1s.). Domitian (A.D. 81) restored the custom of giving food. Subsequently both practices—gifts in money and in food—appear to have been continued.
In these conditions the Roman family steadily decayed. Its “old discipline” was neglected; and Tacitus (A.D. 75), in his dialogue on Oratory, wrote (c. xxviii.) what might be called its epitaph. Of the general decline the laws of Caesar and Augustus to encourage marriage and to reward the parents of large families are sufficient evidence.
The destruction of the working-class family must have been finally achieved by the imperial control of the collegia.
In old Rome there were corporations of craftsmen for common worship, and for the maintenance of the traditions of the craft. These corporations were ruined by slave labour, and becoming secret societies, in the time of Augustus were suppressed.The collegia. Subsequently they were reorganized, and gave scope for much friendliness. They often existed in connexion with some great house, whose chief was their patron and whose household gods they worshipped. The gilds of the poor, or rather of the lower orders (collegia tenuiorum), consisted of artisans and others, and slaves also, who paid monthly contributions to a common fund to meet the expenses of worship, common meals, and funerals. They were not in Italy, it would seem (J. P. Waltzing, Études histor. sur les corporations professionnelles chez les Romains, i. 145, 300), though they may have been in Asia Minor and elsewhere, societies for mutual help generally. They were chiefly funeral benefit societies. Under Severus (A.D. 192) the collegia were extended and more closely organized as industrial bodies. They were protected and controlled, as in England in the 15th century the municipalities affected the cause of the craft gilds and ended by controlling them. Industrial disorder was thus prevented; the government were able to provide the supplies required in Rome and the large cities with less risk and uncertainty; and the workmen employed in trade, especially the carrying trade, became almost slaves. In the 2nd century, and until the invasions, there were three groups of collegia: (1) those engaged in various state manufactures; (2) those engaged in the provision trade; and (3) the free trades, which gradually lapsed into a kind of slavery. If the members of these gilds fled they were brought back by force. Parents had to keep to the trade to which they belonged; their children had to succeed them in it. A slave caste indeed had been formed of the once free workmen.
As a charitable protest against the destruction of children, in the midst of a broken family life, and increasing dependence and poverty, a special institution was founded (to usePueri alimentarii. the Scottish word) for the “alimentation” of the children of citizens, at first by voluntary charity and afterwards by imperial bounty.
Nerva and Trajan adopted the plan. Pliny (Ep. vii. 18) refers to it. There was a desire to give more lasting and certain help than an allotment of food to parents. A list of children, whose names were on the relief tables at Rome, was accordingly drawn up, and a special service for their maintenance established. Two instances are recorded in inscriptions—one at Veleia, one at Beneventum. The emperor lent money for the purpose at a low percentage—2½ or 5% as against the usual 10 or 12. At Veleia his loan amounted to 1,044,000 sesterces—about £8156, and 51 of the local landed proprietors mortgaged land, valued at 13 or 14 million sesterces, as security for the debt. The interest on the emperor’s money at 5% was paid into the municipal treasury, and out of it the children were relieved. The figures seem small; at Veleia 300 children were assisted, of whom 36 were girls. The annual interest at 5% amounted to nearly £408, which divided among 300 gives about 27s. a head. The figures suggest that the money served as a charitable supplementation of the citizens’ relief in direct aid of the children. Apparently the scheme was widely adopted. Curators of high position were the patrons; procurators acted as inspectors over large areas; and quaestores alimentarii undertook the local management. Antoninus Pius (A.D. 138), and Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 160), and subsequently Severus (A.D. 192) established these bursaries for children in the names of their wives. In the 3rd century the system fell into disorder. There were large arrears of payments, and in the military anarchy that ensued it came to an end. It is of special interest, as indicating a new feeling of responsibility towards children akin to the humane Stoicism of the Antonines, and an attempt to found, apart from temples or collegia, what was in the nature of a public endowed charity.
Part IV.—Jewish and Christian Charity
With Christianity two elements came into fusion, the Jewish and the Greco-Roman. To trace this fusion and its results it is necessary to describe the Jewish system of charity, and to compare it with that of the early Christian church, to note the theory of love or friendship in Aristotle as representing Greek thought, and of charity in St Paul as representing Christian thought, and to mark the Roman influences which moulded the administration of Ambrose and Gregory and Western Christianity generally.
In the early history of the Hebrews we find the family, clan-family and tribe. With the Exodus (probably about 1390 B.C.) comes the law of Moses (cf. Kittel, Hist. of the Hebrews, Eng. trans. i. 244), the central and permanent elementHebrew charity. of Jewish thought. We may compare it to the “commandments” of Hesiod. There is the recognition of the family and its obligations: “Honour thy father and mother”; and honour included help and support. There is also the law essential to family unity: “Thou shalt not commit adultery”; and as to property there is imposed the regulation of desire: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house.” Maimonides (A.D. 1135), true to the old conception of the family (x. 16), calls the support of adult children, “after one is exempt from supporting them,” and the support of a father or mother by a child, “great acts of charity; since kindred are entitled to the first consideration.” To relief of the stranger the Decalogue makes no reference, but in the Hebraic laws it is constantly pressed; and the Levitical law (xix. 18) goes further. It first applies a new standard to social life: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” This thought is the outcome of a deep ethical fervour—the element which the Jews brought into the work of charity. In Judges and Joshua, the “Homeric” books of the Old Testament, the Hebrews appear as a passionately fierce and cruel people. Subsequently against their oppression of the poor the prophets protested with a vehemence as great as the evil was intense; and their denunciations remained part of the national literature, a standing argument that life without charity is nothing worth. Thus schooled and afterwards tutored into discipline by the tribulation of the exile (587 B.C.), they turned their fierceness into a zeal, which, as their literature shows, was as fervent in ethics as it was in religion and ceremonial. In the services at the synagogues, which supplemented and afterwards took the place of the Temple, the Commandments were constantly repeated and the Law and the Prophets read; and as the Jews of the Dispersion increased in number, and especially after the destruction of Jerusalem, the synagogues became centres of social and charitable co-operation. Thus rightly would a Jewish rabbi say, “On three things the world is stayed: on the Thorah (or the law), and on worship, and on the bestowal of kindness.” Also there was on the charitable side an indefinite power of expansion. Rigid in its ceremonial, there it was free. Within the nation, as the Prophets, and after the exile, as the Psalms show, there was the hope of a universal religion, and with it of a universally recognized charity. St Paul accentuated the prohibitive side of the law and protested against it; but, even while he was so doing, stimulated by the Jewish discipline, he was moving unfettered towards new conceptions of charity and life—charity as the central word of the Christian life, and life as a participation in a higher existence—the “body of Christ.”
To mark the line of development, we could compare—1. The family among the Jews and in the early Christian church; 2. The sources of relief and the tithe, the treatment of the poor and their aid, and the assistance of special classes of poor; 3. The care of strangers; and, lastly, we would consider the theory of almsgiving, friendship or love, and charity.
1. As elsewhere, property is the basis of the family. Wife and children are the property of the father. But the wife is held in high respect. In the post-exilian period the virtuous wife is represented as laborious as a Roman matron, a “lady bountiful” to the poor, and to her husband wife and friend alike. Monogamy without concubinage is now the rule—is taken for granted as right. There is no “exposure of children.” The slaves are kindly treated, as servants rather than slaves—though in Roman times and afterwards the Jews were great slave-traders. The household is not allowed to eat the bread of idleness. “Six days,” it was said, “must [not mayest] thou work.” “Labour, if poor; but find work, if rich.” “Whoever does not teach his son business or work, teaches him robbery.” In Job xxxi., a chapter which has been called “an inventory of late Old Testament morality,” we find the family life developed side by side with the life of charity. In turn are mentioned the relief of the widow, the fatherless and the stranger—the classification of dependents in the Christian church; and the whole chapter is a justification of the homely charities of a good family. “The Jewish religion, more especially in the old and orthodox form, is essentially a family religion” (C. G. Montefiore, Religion of Ancient Hebrews).
In the early documents of the Church the fifth commandment is made the basis of family life (cf. Eph. vi. 1; Apost. Const. ii. 32, iv. 11—if we take the first six books of the Apost. Const. as a composite production before A.D. 300, representing Judaeo-Christian or Eastern church thought). But two points are prominent. Duties are insisted on as reciprocal (cf. especially St Paul’s Epistles), as, e.g. between husband and wife, parent and child, master and servant. Charity is mutual; the family is a circle of reciprocal duties and charities. This implies a principle of the greatest importance in relation to the social utility of charity. Further reference will be made to it later. Next the “thou shalt love thy neighbour” is translated from its position as one among many sayings to the chief place as a rule of life. In the Didachē or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (Jewish-Christian, c. 90–120 A.D.) the first commandment in “the way of life” is adapted from St Matthew’s Gospel thus: “First, thou shalt love God who made thee; secondly, thy neighbour as thyself; and all things whatsoever thou wouldst not have done to thee, neither do thou to another.” A principle is thus applied which touches all social relations in which the “self” can be made the standard of judgment. Of this also later. To touch on other points of comparison: the earlier documents seem to ring with a reiterated cry for a purer family life (cf. the second, the negative, group of commandments in the Didachē, and the judgment of the apocalyptic writings, such as the Revelations of Peter, &c.); and, sharing the Jewish feeling, the riper conscience of the Christian community formulates and accepts the injunction to preserve infant life at every stage. It advocates, indeed, the Jewish purity of family life with a missionary fervour, and it makes of it a condition of church membership. The Jewish rule of labour is enforced (Ap. Const. ii. 63). If a stranger settle (Didachē, xii. 3) among the brotherhood, “let him work and eat.” And the father (Constit. iv. 11) is to teach the children “such trades as are agreeable and suitable to their need.” And the charities to the widow, the fatherless, are organized on Jewish lines.
2. The sources of relief among the Jews were the three gifts of corn: (1) the corners of the field (cf. Lev. xix. &c.), amounting to a sixtieth part of it; (2) the gleanings, a definite minimum dropped in the process of reaping (Maimonides, Laws of the Hebrews relating to the Poor, iv. 1); (3) corn overlooked and left behind. So it was with the grapes and with all crops that were harvested, as opposed, e.g. to figs, that were gathered from time to time. These gifts were divisible three times in the day, so as to suit the convenience of the poor (Maim. ii. 17), and the poor had a right to them. They are indeed a poor-rate paid in kind such as in early times would naturally spring up among an agricultural people. Another gift “out of the seed of the earth,” is the tithe. In the post-exilian period the septenniad was in force. Each year a fiftieth part of the produce (Maim. vi. 2, and Deut. xviii. 4) was given to the priest (the class which in the Jewish state was supported by the community). Of the remainder one-tenth went to the Levite, and one-tenth in three years of the septennium was retained for pilgrimage to Jerusalem, in two given to the poor. In the seventh year “all things were in common.” Supplementing these gifts were alms to all who asked; “and he who gave less than a tenth of his means was a man of evil eye” (Maim. vii. 5). All were to give alms, even the poor themselves who were in receipt of relief. Refusal might be punished with stripes at the hand of the Sanhedrim. At the Temple alms for distribution to the worthy poor were placed by worshippers in the cell of silence; and it is said that in Palestine at meal times the table was open to all comers. As the synagogues extended, and possibly after the fall of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), the collections of alms was further systematized. There were two collections. In each city alms of the box or chest (kupha) were collected for the poor of the city on each Sabbath eve (later, monthly or thrice a year), and distributed in money or food for seven days. Two collected, three distributed. Three others gathered and distributed daily alms of the basket (tamchui). These were for strangers and wayfarers—casual relief “for the poor of the whole world.” In the Jewish synagogue community from early times the president (parnass) and treasurer were elected annually with seven heads of the congregation (see Abraham’s Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, p. 54), and sometimes special officers for the care of the poor. A staff of almoners was thus forthcoming. In addition to these collections were the pruta given to the poor before prayers (Maim. x. 15), and moneys gathered to help particular cases (cf. Jewish Life, p. 322) by circular letter. There were also gifts at marriages and funerals; and fines imposed for breach of the communal ordinances were reserved for the poor. The distinctive feature of the Jewish charity was the belief that “the poor would not cease out of the land,” and that therefore on charitable grounds a permanent provision should be made for them—a poor-rate, in fact, subject to stripes and distraint, if necessary (Maim. vii. 10; and generally cf. articles on “Alms” and “Charity” in the Jewish Encyclopaedia).
If we compare this with the early church we find the following sources of relief: (1) The Eucharistic offerings, some consumed at the time, some carried home, some reserved for the absent (see Hatch, Early Church, p. 40). The ministration, like the Eucharist, was connected with the love feast, and was at first daily (Acts ii. 42, vi. 1, and the Didachē). (2) Freewill offerings and first-fruits and voluntary tithes (Ap. Con. ii. 25) brought to the bishop and used for the poor—orphans, widows, the afflicted and strangers in distress, and for the clergy, deaconesses, &c. (3) Collections in churches on Sundays and week-days, alms-boxes and gifts to the poor by worshippers as they entered church; also collections for special purposes (cf. for Christians at Jerusalem). Apart from “the corners,” &c., the sources of relief in the Christian and Jewish churches are the same. The separate Jewish tithe for the poor, which (Maim. vi. II, 13) might be used in part by the donor as personal charity, disappears. A voluntary tithe remains, in part used for the poor. We do not hear of stripes and distraint, but in both bodies there is a penitential system and excommunication (cf. Jewish Life, p. 52), and in both a settlement of disputes within the body (Clem. Hov. iii. 67). In both, too, there is the abundant alms provided in the belief of the permanence of poverty and the duty of giving to all who ask. As to administration in the early church (Acts vi. 3), we find seven deacons, the number of the local Jewish council; and later there were in Rome seven ecclesiastical relief districts, each in charge of a deacon. The deacon acted as the minister of the bishop (Ep. Clem, to Jam. xii.), reporting to him and giving as he dictated (Ap. Con. ii. 30, 31). He at first combined disciplinary powers with charitable. The presbyters also (Polycarp, Ad Phil. 6, A.D. 69–155), forming (Hatch, p. 69) a kind of bishop’s council, visited the sick, &c. The bishop was president and treasurer. The bishop was thus the trustee of the poor. By reason of the churches’ care of orphans, responsibilities of trusteeship also devolved on him. The temples were in pagan times depositories of money. Probably the churches were also.
3. Great stress is laid by the Jews on the duty of gentleness to the poor (Maim. x. 5). The woman was to have first attention (Maim. vi. 13). If the applicant was hungry he was to be fed, and then examined to learn whether he was a deceiver (Maim. vii. 6). Assistance was to be given according to the want—clothes, household things, a wife or a husband—and according to the poor man’s station in life. For widows and orphans the “gleanings” were left. Both are the recognized objects of charity (Maim. x. 16, 17). “The poor and the orphan were to be employed in domestic affairs in preference to servants.” The dower was a constant form of help. The ransoming of slaves took precedence of relief to the poor. The highest degree of alms-deed (Maim. x. 7) was “to yield support to him who is cast down, either by means of gifts, or by loan, or by commerce, or by procuring for him traffic with others. Thus his hand becometh strengthened, exempt from the necessity of soliciting succour from any created being.”
If we compare the Christian methods we find but slight difference. The absoluteness of “Give to him that asketh” is in the Didachē checked by the “Woe to him that receives: for if any receives having need, he shall be guiltless, but he that has no need shall give account, . . . and coming into distress . . . he shall not come out thence till he hath paid the last farthing.” It is the duty of the bishop to know who is most worthy of assistance (Ap. Con. ii. 3, 4); and “if any one is in want by gluttony, drunkenness, or idleness, he does not deserve assistance, or to be esteemed a member of the church.” The widow assumes the position not only of a recipient of alms, but a church worker. Some were a private charge, some were maintained by the church. The recognized “widow” was maintained: she was to be sixty years of age (cf. 1 Tim, v. 9 and Ap. Con. iii. 1), and was sometimes tempted to become a bedes-woman and gossipy pauper, if one may judge from the texts. Remarriage was not approved. Orphans were provided for by members of the churches. The virgins formed another class, as, contrary to the earlier feeling, marriage came to be held a state of lesser sanctity. They too seem to have been also, in part at least, church workers. Thus round the churches grew up new groups of recognized dependents; but the older theory of charity was broad and practical—akin to that of Maimonides. “Love all your brethren, performing to orphans the part of parents, to widows that of husbands, affording them sustenance with all kindliness, arranging marriages for those who are in their prime, and for those who are without a profession the means of necessary support through employment: giving work to the artificer and alms to the incapable” (Ep. Clem, to James viii.).
4. The Jews in pre-Christian and Talmudic times supported the stranger or wayfarer by the distribution of food (tamchui); the strangers were lodged in private houses, and there were inns provided at which no money was taken (cf. Jewish Life, p. 314). Subsequently, besides these methods, special societies were formed “for the entertainment of the resident poor and of strangers.” There were commendatory letters also. These conditions prevailed in the Christian church also. The Xenodocheion, coming by direct succession alike from Jewish and Greek precedents, was the first form of Christian hospital both for strangers and for members of the Christian churches. In the Christian community the endowment charity comes into existence in the 4th century, among the Jews not till the 13th. The charities of the synagogue without separate societies sufficed.
We may now compare the conceptions of Jews and Christians on charity with those of the Greeks. There are two chief exponents of the diverse views—Aristotle and St Paul; for to simplify the issues we refer to them only. Thoughts such as Aristotle’s, recast by the Stoic Greek, Jewish and Christian thought.Panaetius (185–112 B.C.), and used by Cicero in his De Officiis, became in the hands of St Ambrose arguments for the direction of the clergy in the founding of the medieval church; and in the 13th century Aristotle reasserts his influence through such leaders of medieval thought as St Thomas Aquinas. St Paul’s chapters on charity, not fully appreciated and understood, one is inclined to think, have perhaps more than any other words prevented an absolute lapse into the materialism of almsgiving. After him we think of St Francis, the greatest of a group of men who, seeking reality in life, revived charity; but to the theory of charity it might almost be said that since Aristotle and St Paul nothing has been added until we come to the economic and moral issues which Dr Chalmers explained and illustrated.
The problem turns on the conception (1) of purpose, (2) of the self, and (3) of charity, love or friendship as an active force in social life. To the Greek, or at least to Greek philosophic thought, purpose was the measure of goodness. To have no purpose was, so far as the particular act was concerned, to be simply irrational; and the less definite the purpose the more irrational the act. This conception of purpose was the touchstone of family and social life, and of the civic life also. In no sphere could goodness be irrational. To say that it was without purpose was to say that it was without reality. So far as the actor was concerned, the main purpose of right action was the good of the soul (ψυχή); and by the soul was meant the better self, “the ruling part” acting in harmony with every faculty and function of the man. With faculties constantly trained and developed, a higher life was gradually developed in the soul. We are thus, it might be said, what we become. The gates of the higher life are within us. The issue is whether we will open them and pass in.
Consistent with this is the social purpose. Love or friendship is not conceived by Aristotle except in relation to social life. Society is based on an interchange of services. This interchange in one series of acts we call justice; in another friendship or love. A man cannot be just unless he has acquired a certain character or habit of mind; and hence no just man will act without knowledge, previous deliberation and definite purpose. So also will a friend fulfil these conditions in his acts of love or friendship. In the love existing between good men there is continuance and equality of service; but in the case of benefactor and benefited, in deeds of charity, in fact, there is no such equality. The satisfaction is on one side but often not on the other. (The dilemma is one that is pressed, though not satisfactorily, in Cicero and Seneca.) The reason for this will be found, Aristotle suggests, in the feeling of satisfaction which men experience in action. We realize ourselves in our deeds—throw ourselves into them, as people say; and this is happiness. What we make we like: it is part of us. On the other hand, in the person benefited there may be no corresponding action, and in so far as there is not, there is no exchange of service or the contentment that arises from it. The “self” of the recipient is not drawn out. On the contrary, he may be made worse, and feel the uneasiness and discontent that result from this. In truth, to complete Aristotle’s argument, the good deed on one side, as it represents the best self of the benefactor, should on the other side draw out the best self of the person benefited. And where there is not ultimately this result, there is not effective friendship or charity, and consequently there is no personal or social satisfaction. The point may be pushed somewhat further. In recent developments of charitable work the term “friendly visitor” is applied to persons who endeavour to help families in distress on the lines of associated charity. It represents the work of charity in one definite light. So far as the relation is mutual, it cannot at the outset be said to exist. The charitable friend wishes to befriend another; but at first there may be no reciprocal feeling of friendship on the other’s part—indeed, such a feeling may never be created. The effort to reciprocate kindness by becoming what the friend desires may be too painful to make. Or the two may be on different planes, one not really befriending, but giving without intelligence, the other not really endeavouring to change his nature, but receiving help solely with a view to immediate advantage. The would-be befriender may begin “despairing of no man,” expecting nothing in return; but if, in fact, there is never any kind of return, the friendship actually fails of its purpose, and the “friend’s” satisfaction is lost, except in that he may “have loved much.” In any case, according to this theory friendship, love and charity represent the mood from which spring social acts, the value of which will depend on the knowledge, deliberation and purpose with which they are done, and accordingly as they acquire value on this account will they give lasting satisfaction to both parties.
St Paul’s position is different. He seems at first sight to ignore the state and social life. He lays stress on motive force rather than on purpose. He speaks as an outsider to the state, though technically a citizen. His mind assumes towards it the external Judaic position, as though he belonged to a society of settlers (πάροικοι). Also, as he expects the millennium, social life and its needs are not uppermost in his thoughts. He considers charity in relation to a community of fellow-believers—drawn together in congregations. His theory springs from this social base, though it over-arches life itself. He is intent on creating a spiritual association. He conceives of the spirit (πνεῦμα) as “an immaterial personality.” It transcends the soul (ψυχή), and is the Christ life, the ideal and spiritual life. Christians participate in it, and they thus become part of “the body of Christ,” which exists by virtue of love—love akin to the ideal life, ἀγάπη. The word represents the love that is instinct with reverence, and not love (φιλία) which may have in it some quality of passion. This love is the life of “the body of Christ.” Therefore no act done without it is a living act—but, on the contrary, must be dead—an act in which no part of the ideal life is blended. On the individual act or the purpose no stress is laid. It is assumed that love, because it is of this intense and exalted type, will find the true purpose in the particular act. And, when the expectation of the millennium passed away, the theory of this ideal charity remained as a motive force available for whatever new conditions, spiritual or social, might arise. Nevertheless, no sooner does this charity touch social conditions, than the necessity asserts itself of submitting to the limitations which knowledge, deliberation and purpose impose. This view had been depreciated or ignored by Christians, who have been content to rely upon the strength of their motives, or perhaps have not realized what the Greeks understood, that society was a natural organism (Arist. Pol. 1253A), which develops, fails or prospers in accordance with definite laws. Hence endless failure in spite of some success. For love, whether we idealize it as ἀγάπη or consider it a social instinct as φιλία, cannot be love at all unless it quickens the intelligence as much as it animates the will. It cannot, except by some confusion of thought, be held to justify the indulgence of emotion irrespective of moral and social results. Yet, though this fatal error may have dominated thought for a long time, it is hardly possible to attribute it to St Paul’s theory of charity when the very practical nature of Judaism and early Christianity is considered. In his view the misunderstanding could not arise. And to create a world or “body” of men and women linked together by love, even though it be outside the normal life of the community, was to create a new form of religious organization, and to achieve for it (so far as it was achieved) what, mutatis mutandis, Aristotle held to be the indispensable condition of social life, friendship (φιλία), “the greatest good of states,” for “Socrates and all the world declare,” he wrote, that “the unity of the state” is “created by friendship” (Arist. Pol. ii. 1262 b).
It should, however, be considered to what extent charity in the Christian church was devoid of social purpose, (1) The Jewish conceptions of charity passed, one might almost say, in their completeness into the Christian church. Prayer, the petition and the purging of the mind, fasting, the humiliation of the body, and alms, as part of the same discipline, the submissive renunciation of possessions—all these formed part of the discipline that was to create the religious mood. Alms henceforth become a definite part of the religious discipline and service. Humility and poverty hereafter appear as yoked virtues, and many problems of charity are raised in regard to them. The non-Christian no less than the Christian world appreciated more and more the need of self-discipline (ἄσκησις); and it seems as though in the first two centuries A.D. those who may have thought of reinvigorating society searched for the remedy rather in the preaching and practice of temperance than in the application of ideas that were the outcome of the observation of social or economic conditions. Having no object of this kind as its mark, almsgiving took the place of charity, and, as Christianity triumphed, the family life, instead of reviving, continued to decay, while the virtues of the discipline of the body, considered apart from social life, became an end in themselves, and it was desired rather to annihilate instinct than to control it. Possibly this was a necessary phase in a movement of progress, but however that be, charity, as St Paul understood it, had in it no part. (2) But the evil went farther. Jewish religious philosophy is not elaborated as a consistent whole by any one writer. It is rather a miscellany of maxims; and again and again, as in much religious thought, side issues assume the principal place. The direct effect of the charitable act, or almsgiving, is ignored. Many thoughts and motives are blended. The Jews spoke of the poor as the means of the rich man’s salvation. St Chrysostom emphasizes this: “If there were no poor, the greater part of your sins would not be removed: they are the healers of your wounds” (Hom. xiv., Timothy, &c., St Cyprian on works and alms). Alms are the medicine of sin. And the same thought is worked into the penitential system. Augustine speaks of “penance such as fasting, almsgiving and prayer for breaches of the Decalogue” (Reichel, Manual of Canon Law, p. 23); and many other references might be cited. “Pecuniary penances (Ib. 154), in so far as they were relaxations of, or substitutes for, bodily penances, were permitted because of the greater good thereby accruing to others” (and in this case they were—A.D. 1284—legally enforceable under English statute law). The penitential system takes for granted that the almsgiving is good for others and puts a premium on it, even though in fact it were done, not with any definite object, but really for the good of the penitent. Thus almsgiving becomes detached from charity on the one side and from social good on the other. Still further is it vulgarized by another confusion of thought. It is considered that the alms are paid to the credit of the giver, and are realized as such by him in the after-world; or even that by alms present prosperity may be obtained, or at least evil accident avoided. Thus motives were blended, as indeed they now are, with the result that the gift assumed a greater importance than the charity, by which alone the gift should have been sanctified, and its actual effect was habitually overlooked or treated as only partially relevant.
(3) The Christian maxim of “loving (ἀγάπη) one’s neighbour as one’s self” sets a standard of charity. Its relations are idealized according as the “self” is understood; and thus the good self becomes the measure of charity. In this sense, the nobler the self the completer the charity; and the charity of the best men, men who love and understand their neighbours best, having regard to their chief good, is the best, the most effectual charity. Further, if in what we consider “best” we give but a lesser place to social purpose or even allow it no place at all, our “self” will have no sufficient social aim and our charity little or no social result. For this “self,” however, religion has substituted not St Paul’s conception of the spirit (πνεῦμα), but a soul, conceived as endowed with a substantial nature, able to enjoy and suffer quasi-material rewards and punishments in the after-life; and in so far as the safeguard of this soul by good deeds or almsgiving has become a paramount object, the purpose of charitable action has been translated from the actual world to another sphere. Thus, as we have seen, the aid of the poor has been considered not an object in itself, but as a means by which the almsgiver effects his own ulterior purpose and “makes God his debtor.” The problem thus handled raises the question of reward and also of punishment. Properly, from the point of view of charity, both are excluded. We may indeed act from a complexity of motives and expect a complexity of rewards, and undoubtedly a good act does refresh the “self,” and may as a result, though not as a reward, win approval. But in reality reward, if the word be used at all, is according to purpose; and the only reward of a deed lies in the fulfilment of its purpose. In the theory of almsgiving which we are discussing, however, act and reward are on different planes. The reward is on that of a future life; the act related to a distressed person here and now. The interest in the act on the doer’s part lies in its post-mortal consequences to himself, and not either wholly or chiefly in the act itself. Nor, as the interest ends with the act—the giving—can the intelligence be quickened by it. The questions “How? by whom? with what object? on what plan? with what result?” receive no detailed consideration at all. Two general results follow. In so far as it is thus practised, almsgiving is out of sympathy with social progress. It is indeed alien to it. Next also the self-contained, self-sustained poverty that will have no relief and does without it, is outside the range of its thought and understanding. On the other hand, this almsgiving is equally incapable of influencing the weak and the vicious; and those who are suffering from illness or trouble it has not the width of vision to understand nor the moral energy to support so that they shall not fall out of the ranks of the self-supporting. It believes that “the poor” will not cease out of the land. And indeed, however great might be the economic progress of the people, it is not likely that the poor will cease, if the alms given in this spirit be large enough in amount to affect social conditions seriously one way or the other. When we measure the effects of charity, this inheritance of divided thought and inconsistent counsels must be given its full weight.
The sub-apostolic church was a congregation, like a synagogue, the centre of a system of voluntary and personal relief, connected with the congregational meals (or ἀγάπαι) and the Eucharist, and under the supervision of no single officer or bishop. Out of this was developed a system of relief controlled by The organization of the parish and endowed charities.a bishop, who was assisted chiefly by deacons or presbyters, while the ἀγάπαι, consisting of offerings laid before the altar, still remained. Subsequently the meal was separated from the sacrament, and became a dole of food, or poor people’s meal—e.g. in St Augustine’s time in western Africa—and it was not allowed to be served in churches (A.D. 391). As religious asceticism became dominant, the sacrament was taken fasting; it appeared unseemly that men and women should meet together for such purposes, and the ἀγάπαι fell out of repute. Simultaneously it would seem that the parish παροικία became from a congregational settlement a geographical area.
The organization of relief at Rome illustrates both a type of administration and a transition. St Gregory’s reforms (A.D. 590) largely developed it. The first factor in the transition was the church fund of the second period of Christianity, about A.D. 150 to after 208 (Tertullian, Apol. 39). It served as a friendly fund, was supported by voluntary gifts, and was used to succour and to bury the poor, to help destitute and orphaned children, old household slaves and those who suffered for the faith. This fund is quite different from the collegia tenuiorum or funeratica of the Romans, which were societies to which the members paid stipulated sums at stated periods, for funeral benefits or for common meals (J. P. Waltzing, Corporations professionnelles chez les Romains, i. 313). It represents the charitable centre round which the parochial system developed. That system was adopted probably about the middle of the 3rd century, but in Rome the diaconate probably remained centralized. At the end of the 4th century Pope Anastasius had founded deaconries in Rome, and endowed them largely “to meet the frequent demands of the diaconate.” Gregory two hundred years later reorganized the system. He divided the fourteen old “regions” into seven ecclesiastical districts and thirty “titles” (or parishes). The parishes were under the charge of sixty-six priests; the districts were eleemosynary divisions. Each was placed under the charge of a deacon, not (Greg. Ep. xi. and xxviii.) under the priests (presbyteri titularii). Over the deacons was an archdeacon. It was the duty of the deacons to care for the poor, widows, orphans, wards, and old people of their several districts. They inquired in regard to those who were relieved, and drew up under the guidance of the bishop the register of poor (matricula). Only these received regular relief. In each district was an hospital or office for alms, of which the deacon had charge, assisted by a steward (or oeconomus). Here food was given and meals were taken, the sick and poor were maintained, and orphan or foundling children lodged. The churches of Rome and of other large towns possessed considerable estates, “the patrimony of the patron saints,” and to Rome belonged estates in Sicily which had not been ravaged by the invaders, and they continued to pay to it their tenth of corn, as they had done since Sicily was conquered. Four times a year (Milman, Lat. Christ, ii. 117) the shares of the (1) clergy and papal officers, (2) churches and monasteries, and (3) “hospitals, deaconries and ecclesiastical wards for the poor,” were calculated in money and distributed; and the first day in every month St Gregory distributed to the poor in kind corn, wine, cheese, vegetables, bacon, meal, fish and oil. The sick and infirm were superintended by persons appointed to inspect every street. Before the pope sat down to his own meal a portion was separated and sent out to the hungry at his door. The Roman plebs had thus become the poor of Christ (pauperes Christi), and under that title were being fed by civica annona and sportula as their ancestors had been; and the deaconries had superseded the “regions” and the “steps” from which the corn had been distributed. The hospitium was now part of a common organization of relief, and the sick were visited according to Jewish and early Christian precedent. How far kindly Romans visited the sick of their day we do not know. Alms and the annona were now, it would seem, administered concurrently; and there was a system of poor relief independent of the churches and their alms (unless these, organized, as in Scottish towns, on the ancient ecclesiastical lines, were paid wholly or in part to a central diaconate fund). Much had changed, but in much Roman thought still prevailed.
On lines similar to these the organization of poor relief in the middle ages was developed. In the provinces in the later empire the senate or ordo decurionum were responsible for the public provisioning of the towns (Fustel de Coulanges, La Gaule romaine, p. 251), and no doubt the care of the poor would thus in some measure devolve on them in times of scarcity or distress. On the religious side, on the other hand, the churches would probably be constant centres of almsgiving and relief; and then, further, when the Roman municipal system had decayed, each citizen (as in Charlemagne’s time, 742–814) was required to support his own dependants—a step suggestive of much after-history.
The change in sentiment and method could hardly be more strongly marked than by a comparison of “the Teaching” with St Ambrose’s (334–397) “Duties of the Clergy” (De Officiis Ministrorum). For the old instinctive obedience to a command there is now an endeavour to find a reasoned basis for charitable action. Pauperism is recognized. “Never was the greed of beggars greater than it is now. . . . They want to empty the purses of the poor, to deprive them of the means of support. Not content with a little, they ask for more. . . . With lies about their lives they ask for further sums of money.” “A method in giving is necessary.” But in the suggestions made there is little consistency. Liberality is urged as a means of gaining the love of the people; a new and a false issue is thus raised. The relief is neither to be “too freely given to those who are unsuitable, nor too sparingly bestowed upon the needy.” Everywhere there is a doctrine of the mean reflected through Cicero’s De Officiis, the doctrine insufficiently stated, as though it were a mean of quantity, and not that rightly tempered mean which is the harmony of opposing moods. The poor are not to be sent away empty. Those rejected by the church are not to be left to the “outer darkness” of an earlier Christianity. They must be supplied if they are in want. The methodic giver is “hard towards none, but is free towards all.” Consequently none are refused, and no account is taken of the regeneration that may spring up in a man from the effort towards self-help which refusal may originate. Thus after all it appears that method means no more than this—to give sometimes more, sometimes less, to all needy people. In the small congregational church of early Christianity, each member of which was admitted on the conditions of strictest discipline, the common alms of the faithful could hardly have done much harm within the body, even though outside they created and kept alive a horde of vagrant alms-seekers and pretenders. Now in this department at least the church had become the state, and discipline and a close knowledge of one’s fellow-Christians no longer safeguarded the alms. From Cicero is borrowed the thought of “active help,” which “is often grander and more noble,” but the thought is not worked out. From the social side the problem is not understood or even stated, and hence no principle of charity or of charitable administration is brought to light in the investigation. Still there are rudiments of the economics of charity in the praise of Joseph, who made the people buy the corn, for otherwise “they would have given up cultivating the soil; for he who has the use of what is another’s often neglects his own.” Perhaps, as St Augustine inspired the theology of the middle ages, we may say that St Ambrose, in the mingled motives, indefiniteness, and kindliness of this book, stands for the charity of the middle ages, except in so far as the movement which culminated in the brotherhood of St Francis awakened the intelligence of the world to wider issues.
In Constantinople the pauperism seems to have been extreme. The corn supplies of Africa were diverted there in great part when it became the capital of the empire. This must have left to Rome a larger scope for the development of the civic-religious administration of relief. St Chrysostom’s sermons give no impression of the rise of any new administrative force, alike sagacious and dominant. The appeal to give alms is constant, but the positive counsel on charitable work is nil. The people had the annona civica, and imperial gifts, corn, allowances (salaria) from the treasury granted for the poor and needy, and an annual gift of 50 gold pounds (rather more than £1400) for funerals. Besides these there were many institutions, and the begging and the almsgiving at the church doors. “The land could not support the lazy and valiant beggars.” There were public works provided for them; if they refused to work on them they were to be driven away. The sick might visit the capital, but must be registered and sent back (A.D. 382); the sturdy beggar was condemned to slavery. So little did alms effect. And in the East monasticism seems to have produced no firmness of purpose such as led to the organization of the church and of charitable relief under St Gregory.
Another movement of the Byzantine period was the establishment of the endowed charity. The Jewish synagogue long served as a place for the reception of strangers—a religious ξενοδοχεῖον. Probably the strangers referred to in “the Teaching” were so entertained. The table of the bishop and a room in his house served as the guest-chamber, for which afterwards a separate building was instituted. In the East the Jewish charitable inn first appears, and there took place the earliest extension of institutions. There was probably a demand for an elaboration of institutions as social changes made themselves felt in the churches. We have seen this in the case of the ἀγάπη. Similar changes would affect other branches of charitable work. The hospital (hospitalium, ξενοδοχεῖον) is defined as a “house of God in which strangers who lack hospitality are received” (Suicerus, Thesaur.), a home separated from the church; and round the church, out of the primitive ξενοδοχεῖον of early Christian times and the entertainment of strangers at the houses of members of the community, would grow up other similar charities. In A.D. 321 licence was given by Constantine to leave property to the Church. The churches were thus placed in the same position as pagan temples, and though subsequently Valentinian (A.D. 379) withdrew the permission on account of the shameless legacy-hunting of the clergy, in that period much must have been done to endow church and charitable institutions. In the same period grew to its height the passion for monasticism. This affected the parish and the endowed charity alike. Under its influence the deacon as an almoner tends to disappear, except where, as in Rome, there is an elaborate system of relief. Nor does it seem that deaconesses, widows, and virgins continued to occupy their old position as church workers and alms-receivers. Naturally when marriage was considered “in itself an evil, perhaps to be tolerated, but still degrading to human nature,” and (A.D. 385) the marriage of the clergy was prohibited, men, except those in charge of parishes, and women would join regular monastic bodies; the deacon, as almoner, would disappear, and the “widows” and virgins would become nuns. Thus there would grow up a large body of men and women living segregated in institutions, and forming a leisured class able to superintend institutional charities. And now two new officers appear, the eleemosynarius or almoner and the oeconomus or steward (already an assistant treasurer to the bishop), who superintend and distribute the alms and manage the property of the institution. (In the first six books of the Apost. Constit., A.D. 300, these officers are not mentioned.) In these circumstances the hospitium or hospital (ξενών, καταγώγιον) assumes a new character. It becomes in St Basil’s hands (A.D. 330–379) a resort not only for those who “visit it from time to time as they pass by, but also for those who need some treatment in illness.” And round St Basil at Caesarea there springs up a colony of institutions. Four kinds principally are mentioned in the Theodosian code: (i) the guest-houses (ξενοδοχεῖα); (2) the poor-houses (πτωχεῖα), where the poor (mendici) were housed and maintained (the πτωχεῖον was a general term also applied to all houses for the poor, the aged, orphans and sick); (3) there were orphanages (ὀρφανοτροφεῖα) for orphans and wards; and (4) there were houses for infant children (βρεφοτροφεῖα). Thus a large number of endowed charities had grown up. This new movement it is necessary to consider in connexion with the law relating to religious property and bequests, in its bearing on the rule of the monasteries, and in its effect on the family.
The sacred property (res sacra) of Roman law consisted of things dedicated to the gods by the pontiff with the approval of the civil authority, in turn, the people, the senate and the emperor. Things so consecrated were inalienable. Apart from this in the empire, the municipalities as they grew up were considered “juristic persons” who were entitled to receive and hold property. In a similar position were authorized collegia, amongst which were the mutual aid societies referred to above. Christians associated in these societies would leave legacies to them. Thus (W. M. Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, I. i. 119) an inscription mentions a bequest (possibly by a Christian) to the council (συνέδριον) of the presidents of the dyers in purple for a ceremonial, on the condition that, if the ceremony be neglected, the legacy shall become the property of the gild for the care of nurslings; and in the same way a bequest is left in Rome (Orelli 4420) for a memorial sacrifice, on the condition that, if it be not performed, double the cost be paid to the treasury of the corn-supply (fisco stationis annonae). No unauthorized collegia could receive a legacy. “The law recognized no freedom of association.” Nor could any private individual create a foundation with separate property of its own. Property could only be left to an authorized juristic person, being a municipality or a collegium. But as the problem of poverty was considered from a broader standpoint, there was a desire to deal with it in a more permanent manner than by the annona civica. The pueri alimentarii (see above) were considered to hold their property as part of the fiscus or property of the state. Pliny (Ep. vii. 18), seeking a method of endowment, transferred property in land to the steward of public property, and then took it back again subject to a permanent charge for the aid of children of freemen. By the law of Constantine and subsequent laws no such devices were necessary. Widows or deaconesses, or virgins dedicated to God, or nuns (A.D. 455), could leave bequests to a church or memorial church (martyrum), or to a priest or a monk, or to the poor in any shape or form, in writing or without it. Later (A.D. 475) donations of every kind, “to the person of any martyr, or apostle, or prophet, or the holy angels,” for building an oratory were made valid, even if the building were promised only and not begun; and the same rule applied to infirmaries (νοσοκομεῖα) and poor-houses (πτωχεῖα)—the bishop or steward being competent to appear as plaintiff in such cases. Later, again (A.D. 528), contributions of 50 solidi (say about £19, 10s.) to a church, hostel (ξενοδοχεῖον), &c., were made legal, though not registered; while larger sums, if registered, were also legalized. So (A.D. 529) property might be given for “churches, hostels, poor-houses, infant and orphan homes, and homes for the aged, or any such community” (consortium), even though not registered, and such property was free from taxation. The next year (530) it was enacted that prescription even for 100 years did not alienate church and charitable property. The broadest interpretation was allowed. If by will a share of an estate was left “to Christ our Lord,” the church of the city or other locality might receive it as heir; “let these, the law says, belong to the holy churches, so that they may become the alimony of the poor.” It was sufficient to leave property to the poor (Corpus Juris Civilis, ed. Krueger, 1877, ii. 25). The bequest was legal. It went to the legal representative of the poor—the church. Charitable property was thus church property. The word “alms” covered both. It was given to pious uses, and as a kind of public institution “shared that corporate capacity which belonged to all ecclesiastical institutions by virtue of a general rule of law.” On a pia causa it was not necessary to confer a juristic personality. Other laws preserved or regulated alienation (A.D. 477, A.D. 530), and checked negligence or fraud in management. The clergy had thus become the owners of large properties, with the coloni and slaves upon the estates and the allowances of civic corn (annona civica); and (A.D. 357) it was stipulated that whatever they acquired by thrift or trading should be used for the service of the poor and needy, though what they acquired from the labour of their slaves in the labour houses (ergastula) or inns (tabernae) might be considered a profit of religion (religionis lucrum).
Thus grew up the system of endowed charities, which with certain modifications continued throughout the middle ages, and, though it assumed different forms in connexion with gilds and municipalities, in England it still retains, partially at least, its relation to the church. It remained the system of institutional relief parallel to the more personal almsgiving of the parish.
Monasticism, in acting on men of strong character, endowed them with a double strength of will, and to men like St Gregory it seemed to give back with administrative power the relentless firmness of the Roman. In the East it produced the turbulent soldiery of the church, in the West its missionaries; and each mission-monastery was a centre of relief. But whatever the services monasticism rendered, it can hardly be said to have furthered true charity from the social standpoint, though out of regard to some of its institutional work we may to a certain degree qualify this judgment. The movement was almost of necessity in large measure anti-parochial, and thus out of sympathy with the charities of the parish, where personal relations with the poor at their homes count for most.
The good and evil of it may be weighed. Monasticism working through St Augustine helped the world to realize the mood of love as the real or eternal life. Of the natural life of the world and its responsibilities, through which that mood would have borne its completest fruit, it took but little heed, except in so far as, by creating a class possessed of leisure, it created able scholars, lawyers and administrators, and disciplined the will of strong men. It had no power to stay the social evils of the day. Unlike the friars, at their best the monks were a class apart, not a class mixed up with the people. So were their charities. The belief in poverty as a fixed condition—irretrievable and ever to be alleviated without any regard to science or observation, subjected charity to a perpetual stagnation. Charity requires belief in growth, in the sharing of life, in the utility and nobility of what is done here and now for the hereafter of this present world. Monasticism had no thought of this. It was based on a belief in the evil of matter; and from that root could spring no social charity. Economic difficulties also fostered monasticism. Gold was appreciated in value, and necessaries were expensive, and the cost of maintaining a family was great. It was an economy to force a son or a brother into the church. The population was decreasing; and in spite of church feeling Marjorian (A.D. 461) had to forbid women from taking the veil before forty, and to require the remarriage of widows, subject to a large forfeit of property (Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders, ii. 420). Monasticism was inconsistent with the social good. As to the family—like the moderns who depreciate thrift and are careless of the life of the family, the monks, believing that marriage was a lower form of morality, if not indeed, as would at times appear, hardly moral at all, could feel but little enthusiasm for what is socially a chief source of health to the community and a well-spring of spontaneous charitable feeling. By the sacerdotal-monastic movement the moralizing force of Christianity was denaturalized. Among the secular clergy the falsity of the position as between men and women revealed itself in relations which being unhallowed and unrecognized became also degrading. But worse than all, it pushed charity from its pivot. For this no monasteries or institutions, no domination of religious belief, could atone. The church that with so fine an intensity of purpose had fostered chastity and marriage was betraying its trust. It was out of touch with the primal unit of social life, the child-school of dawning habits and the loving economy of the home. It produced no treatise on economy in the older Greek sense of the word. The home and its associations no longer retained their pre-eminence. In the extreme advocacy of the celibate state, the honourable development of the married life and its duties were depreciated and sometimes, one would think, quite forgotten.
We may ask, then, What were the results of charity at the close of the period which ends with St Gregory and the founding of the medieval church?—for if the charity is reflected in the social good the results should be manifest. Economic and social conditions were adverse. With lessened trade the middle class was decaying (Dill, Roman Society in the Last Century of the Western Empire, p. 204) and a selfish aristocracy rising up. Municipal responsibility had been taxed to extinction. The public service was corrupt. The rich evaded taxation, the poor were oppressed by it. There were laws upon laws, endeavours to underpin the framework of a decaying society. Society was bankrupt of skill—and the skill of a generation has a close bearing on its charitable administration. While hospitals increased, medicine was unprogressive. There were miserable years of famine and pestilence, and constant wars. The care of the poorer classes, and ultimately of the people, was the charge of the church. The church strengthened the feeling of kindness for those in want, widows, orphans and the sick. It lessened the degradation of the “actresses,” and, co-operating with Stoic opinion, abolished the slaughter of the gladiatorial shows. It created a popular “dogmatic system and moral discipline,” which paganism failed to do; but it produced no prophet of charity, such as enlarged the moral imagination of the Jews. It ransomed slaves, as did paganism also, but it did not abolish slavery. Large economic causes produced that great reform. The serf attached to the soil took the place of the slave. The almsgiving of the church by degrees took the place of annona and sportula, and it may have created pauperism. But dependence on almsgiving was at least an advance on dependence founded on a civic and hereditary right to relief. As the colonus stood higher than the slave, so did the pauper, socially at any rate, free to support himself, exceed the colonus. Bad economic conditions and traditions, and a bad system of almsgiving, might enthral him. But the way, at least, was open; and thus it became possible that charity, working in alliance with good economic traditions, should in the end accomplish the self-support of society, the independence of the whole people.
Part V.—Medieval Charity and its Development
It remains to trace the history of thought and administration in relation to (1) the development of charitable responsibility in the parish, and the use of tithe and church property for poor relief; and (2) the revision of the theory of charity, with which are associated the names of St Augustine (354–430), St Benedict (480–542), St Bernard (1091–1153), St Francis (1182–1226), and St Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274). (3) There follows, in reference chiefly to England, a sketch of the dependence of the poor under feudalism, the charities of the parish, the monastery and the hospital—the medieval system of endowed charity; the rise of gild and municipal charities; the decadence at the close of the 15th century, and the statutory endeavours to cope with economic difficulties which, in the 16th century, led to the establishment of statutory serfdom and the poor-laws. New elements affect the problem of charity in the 17th and 18th centuries; but it is not too much to say that almost all these headings represent phases of thought or institutions which in later forms are interwoven with the charitable thought and endeavours of the present day.
Naturally, two methods of relief have usually been prominent: relief administered locally, chiefly to residents in their own homes, and relief administered in an institution. At the time of Charlemagne (742–814) the system of relief was parochial, consisting principally of The parish and charitable relief.assistance at the home. After that time, except probably in England, the institutional method appears to have predominated, and the monastery or hospital in one form or another gradually encroached on the parish.
The system of parochial charity was the outcome, apparently, of three conditions: the position and influence of the bishop, the eleemosynary nature of the church funds, and the need of some responsible organization of relief. It resulted in what might almost be called an ecclesiastical poor-law. The affairs of a local church or congregation were superintended by a bishop. To deal with the outlying districts he detached priests for religious work and, as in Rome and (774) Strassburg, deacons also for the administration of relief. Originally all the income of the church or congregation was paid into one fund only, of which the bishop had charge, and this fund was available primarily for charitable purposes. Church property was the patrimony of the poor. In the 4th century (IV. Council of Carthage, 398) the names of the clergy were entered on a list (matricula or canon), as were also the names of the poor, and both received from the church their daily portion (cf. Ratzinger, Geschichte der kirchlichen Armenpflege, p. 117). There were no expenses for building. Before the reign of Constantine (306) very few churches were built (Ratzinger, p. 120). Thus the early church as has been said, was chiefly a charitable society. By degrees the property of the church was very largely increased by gifts and bequests, and in the West before St Gregory’s time the division of it for four separate purposes—the support of the bishop, of the clergy, and of the poor, and for church buildings—still further promoted decentralization. Apart from any special gifts, there was thus created a separate fund for almsgiving, supervised by the bishop, consisting of a fourth of the church property, the oblations (mostly used for the poor), and the tithe, which at first was used for the poor solely. The organization of the church was gradually extended. The church once established in the chief city of a district would become in turn the mother church of other neighbourhoods, and the bishop or priest of the mother church would come to exercise supervision over them and their parishes.
In France, which may serve as a good illustration, in the 4th century (Ratzinger, p. 181) the civic organization was utilized for a further change. The Roman provinces were divided into large areas, civitales, and these were adopted by the church as bishop’s parishes or, as we should call them, dioceses; and the chief city became the cathedral city. The bishop thus became responsible in Charlemagne’s time both for his own parish—that of the mother church—and for the supervision of the parishes in the civitas, and so for the sick and needy of the diocese generally. He had to take charge of the poor in his own parish personally, keep the list of the poor, and houses for the homeless. The other parishes were at first, or in some measure, supported from his funds, but they acquired by degrees tithe and property of their own and were endowed by Charlemagne, who gave one or more manses or lots of land (cf. Fustel de Coulanges, Hist, des institutions politiques de l’ancienne France, p. 360) for the support of each parish priest. The priests were required to relieve their own poor so that they should not stray into other cities (II. Counc. Tours, 567), and to provide food and lodging for strangers. The method was indeed elaborated and became, like the Jewish, that contradiction in terms—a compulsory system of charitable relief. The payment of tithe was enforced by Charlemagne, and it became a legal due (Counc. Frankfort, 794; Arelat. 794). At the same time two other conditions were enforced. Each person (unusquisque fidelium nostrorum or omnes cives) was to keep his own family, i.e. all dependent on him—all, that is, upon his freehold estate (allodium), and no one was to presume to give relief to able-bodied beggars unless they were set to work (Charlem. Capit. v. 10). Thus we find here the germ of a poor-law system. As in the times of the annona civica, slavery, feudalism, or statutory serfdom, the burthen of the maintenance of the poor fell only in part on charity. Only those who could not be maintained as members of some “family” were properly entitled to relief, and in these circumstances the officially recognized clients of the church consisted of the gradually decreasing number of free poor and those who were tenants of church lands.
Since 817 there has been no universally binding decision of the church respecting the care of the poor (Ratzinger, p. 236). So long ago did laicization begin in charity. In the wars and confusion of the 9th and 10th centuries the poorer freemen lapsed still further into slavery, or became coloni or bond servants; and later they passed under the feudal rule. Thus the church’s duty to relieve them became the masters’ obligation to maintain them. Simultaneously the activity of the clergy, regular and secular alike, dwindled. They were exhorted to increase their alms. The revenues and property of “the poor” were largely turned to private or partly ecclesiastical purposes, or secularized. Legacies went wholly to the clergy, but only the tithe of the produce of their own lands was used for relief; and of the general tithe, only a third or fourth part was so applied. Eventually to a large extent, but more elsewhere than in England (Ratzinger, pp. 246, 269), the tithe itself was appropriated by nobles or even by the monasteries; and thus during and after the 10th century a new organization of charity was created on non-parochial methods of relief. Alms, with prayer and fasting, had always been connected with penance. But the character of the penitential system had altered. By the 7th century private penance had superseded the public and congregational penance of the earlier church (Dict. Christian Antiquities, art. “Penitence”). To the penalties of exclusion from the sacraments or from the services of the church or from its communion was coupled, with other penitential discipline, an elaborate penitential system, in which about the 7th century the redemption of sin by the “sacrifice” of property, payments of money fines, &c., was introduced. (Cf. for instance Conc. Elberti:—Labbeus i. 969 (A.D. 305), with Conc. Berghamstedense, Wilkins, Conc. p. 60 (A.D. 696), and the Penitential (p. 115) and Canons (A.D. 960), p. 236.) The same sin committed by an overseer (praepositus paganus) was compensated by a fine of 100 solidi; in the case of a colonus by a fine of 50. So amongst the ways of penitence were entered in the above-mentioned Canons, to erect a church, and if means allowed, add to it land ... to repair the public roads ... “to distribute,” to help poor widows, orphans and strangers, redeem slaves, fast, &c.—a combination of “good deeds” which suggests a line of thought such as ultimately found expression in the definition of charities in the Charitable Uses Act of Queen Elizabeth. The confessor, too, was “spiritualis medicus,” and much that from the point of view of counsel would now be the work of charity would in his hands be dealt with in that capacity. For lesser sins (cf. Bede (673–735), Hom. 34, quoted by Ratzinger) the penalty was prayer, fasting and alms; for the greater sins—murder, adultery and idolatry—to give up all. Thus while half-converted barbarians were kept in moral subjection by material penances, the church was enriched by their gifts; and these tended to support the monastic and institutional methods which were in favour, and to which, on the revival of religious earnestness in the 11th century, the world looked for the reform of social life.
To understand medieval charity it is necessary to return to St Augustine. According to him, the motive of man in his legitimate effort to assert himself in life was love or desire (amor or cupido). “All impulses were only evolutions of this typical characteristic” Medieval revision of the theory
of charity.(Harnack, History of Dogma (trans.), v. iii.); and this was so alike in the spiritual and the sensuous life. Happiness thus depended on desire; and desire in turn depended on the regulation of the will; but the will was regulated only by grace. God was the spiritualis substantia; and freedom was the identity of the will with the omnipotent unchanging nature. This highest Being was “holiness working on the will in the form of omnipotent love.” This love was grace—“grace imparting itself in love.” Love (caritas—charity) is identified with justice; and the will, the goodwill, is love. The identity of the will with the will of God was attained by communion with Him. The after-life consummated by sight this communion, which was here reached only by faith. Such a method of thought was entirely introspective, and it turned the mind “wholly to hope, asceticism and the contemplation of God in worship.” “Where St Augustine indulges in the exposition of practical piety he has no theory at all of Christ’s work.” To charity on that side he added nothing. In the 11th century there was a revival of piety, which had amongst its objects the restoration of discipline in the monasteries and a monastic training for the secular clergy. To this Augustinian thought led the way. “Christianity was asceticism and the city of God” (Harnack vi. 6). A new religious feeling took possession of the general mind, a regard and adoration of the actual, the historic Christ. Of this St Bernard was the expositor. “Beside the sacramental Christ the image of the historical took its place,—majesty in humility, innocence in penal suffering, life in death.” The spiritual and the sensuous were intermingled. Dogmatic formulae fell into the background. The picture of the historic Christ led to the realization of the Christ according to the spirit (κατὰ πνεῦμα). Thus St Bernard carried forward Augustinian thought; and the historic Christ became the “sinless man, approved by suffering, to whom the divine grace, by which He lives, has lent such power that His image takes shape in other men and incites them to corresponding humility and love.”
Humility and poverty represented the conditions under which alone this spirit could be realized; and the poverty must be spiritual, and therefore self-imposed (“wilful,” as it was afterwards called). This led to practical results. Poverty was not a social state, but a spiritual; and consequently the poor generally were not the pauperes Christi, but those who, like the monks, had taken vows of poverty. From these premisses followed later the doctrine that gifts to the church were not gifts to the poor, as once they had been, but to the religious bodies. The church was not the church of the poor, but of the poor in spirit. But the immediate effect was the belief for a time, apparently almost universal, that the salvation of society would come from the monastic orders. By their aid, backed by the general opinion, the secular clergy were brought back to celibacy and the monasteries newly disciplined. But charity could not thus regain its touch of life and become the means of raising the standard of social duty.
Next, one amongst many who were stirred by a kindred inspiration, St Francis turned back to actual life and gave a new reality to religious idealism. For him the poor were once again the pauperes Christi. To follow Christ was to adopt the life of “evangelical poverty,” and this was to live among the poor the life of a poor man. The follower was to work with his hands (as the poor clergy of the early church had done and the clergy of the early English church were exhorted to do); he was to receive no money; he was to earn the actual necessaries of life, though what he could not earn he might beg. To ask for this was a right, so long as he was bringing a better life into the world. All in excess of this he gave to the poor. He would possess no property, buildings or endowments, nor was his order to do so. The fulness of his life was in the complete realization of it now, without the cares of property and without any fear of the future. Having a definite aim and mission, he was ready to accept the want that might come upon him, and his life was a discipline to enable him to suffer it if it came. To him humility was the soul making itself fit to love; and poverty was humility expanded from a mood to a life, a life not guarded by seclusion, but spent amongst those who were actually poor. The object of life was to console the poor—those outside all monasteries and institutions—the poor as they lived and worked. The movement was practically a lay movement, and its force consisted in its simplicity and directness. Book learning was disparaged: life was to be the teacher. The brothers thus became observant and practical, and afterwards indeed learned, and their learning had the same characteristics. Their power lay in their practical sagacity, in their treatment of life, outside the cloister and the hospital, at first hand. They knew the people because they settled amongst them, living just as they did. This was their method of charity.
The inspiration that drew St Francis to this method was the contemplation of the life of Christ. But it was more than this. The Christ was to him, as to St Bernard, an ideal, whose nature passed into that of the contemplating and adoring beholder, so that, as he said, “having lost its individuality, of itself the creature could no longer act.” He had no impulse but the Christ impulse. He was changed. His identity was merged in that of Christ. And with this came the conception of a gracious and finely ordered charity, moving like the natural world in a constant harmonious development towards a definite end. The mysticism was intense, but it was practical because it was intense. In that lay the strength of the movement of the true Franciscans, and in those orders that, whether called heretical or not, followed them—Lollards and others. Religion thus became a personal and original possession. It became individual. It was inspired by a social endeavour, and for the world at large it made of charity a new thing.
St Thomas Aquinas took up St Bernard’s position. Renunciation of property, voluntary poverty, was in his view also a necessary means of reaching the perfect life; and the feeling that was akin to this renunciation and prompted it was charity. “All perfection of the Christian life was to be attained according to charity,” and charity united us to God.
In the system elaborated by St Thomas Aquinas two lines of thought are wrought into a kind of harmony. The one stands for Aristotle and nature, the other for Christian tradition and theology. We have thus a duplicate theory of thought and action throughout, both rational and theologic virtues, and a duplicate beatitude or state of happiness correspondent to each. On the one hand it is argued that the good act is an act which, in relation to its object, wholly serves its purpose; and thus the measure of goodness (Prima Secundae Summae Theolog. Q. xviii. 2) is the proportion between action and effect. On the other hand, the act has to satisfy the twofold law, human reason and eternal reason. From the point of view of the former the cardinal factor is desire, which, made proportionate to an end, is love (amor); and, seeking the good of others, it loses its quality of concupiscence and becomes friendly love (amor amicitiae). But this rational love (amor) and charity (caritas), the theologic virtue, may meet. All virtue or goodness is a degree of love (amor), if by virtue we mean the cardinal virtues and refer to the rule of reason only. But there are also theologic virtues, which are on one side “essential,” on the other side participative. As wood ignited participates in the natural fire, so does the individual in these virtues (II. II.ae lxii. l). Charity is a kind of friendship towards God. It is received per infusionem spiritus sancti, and is the chief and root of the theologic virtues of faith and hope, and on it the rational virtues depend. They are not degrees of charity as they are of (amor) love, but charity gives purpose, order and quality to them all. In this sense the word is applied to the rational virtues—as, for instance, beneficence. The counterpart of charity in social life is pity (misericordia), the compassion that moves us to supply another’s want (summa religionis Christianae in misericordia consistit quantum ad exteriora opera). It is, however, an emotion, not a virtue, and must be regulated like any other emotion (... passio est et non virtus. Hic autem motus potest esse secundum rationem regulatus, II. II.ae xxx. 3). Thus we pass to alms, which are the instrument of pity—an act of charity done through the intervention of pity. The act is not done in order to purchase spiritual good by a corporal means, but to merit a spiritual good (per effectum caritatis) through being in a state of charity; and from that point of view its effect is tested by the recipient being moved to pray for his benefactor. The claim of others on our beneficence is relative, according to consanguinity and other bonds (II. II.ae xxxi. 3), subject to the condition that the common good of many is a holier obligation (divinius) than that of one. Obedience and obligation to parents may be crossed by other obligations, as, for instance, duty to the church. To give alms is a command. Alms should consist of the superfluous—that is, of all that the individual possesses after he has reserved what is necessary. What is necessary the donor should fix in due relation to the claims of his family and dependants, his position in life (dignitas), and the sustenance of his body. On the other hand, his gift should meet the actual necessities of the recipient and no more. More than this will lead to excess on the recipient’s part (ut inde luxurietur) or to want of spirit and apathy (ut aliis remissio et refrigerium sit), though allowance must be made for different requirements in different conditions of life. It were better to distribute alms to many persons than to give more than is necessary to one. In individual cases there remains the further question of correction—the removing of some evil or sin from another; and this, too, is an act of charity.
It will be seen that though St Thomas bases his argument on a duplicate theory of thought, action and happiness, part natural, part theologic, and states fully the conditions of good action, he does not bring the two into unison. Logically the argument should follow that alms that fail in social benefit (produce remissionem et refrigerium, for instance) fail also in spiritual good, for the two cannot be inconsistent. But in regard to the former he does not press the importance of purpose, and, in spite of his Aristotle, he misses the point on which Aristotle, as a close observer of social conditions, insists, that gifts without purpose and reciprocity foster the dependence they are designed to meet. The proverb of the “pierced cask” is as applicable to ecclesiastical as to political almsgiving, as has often been proved by the event. The distribution of all “superfluous” income in the form of alms would have the effect of a huge endowment, and would stereotype “the poor” as a permanent and unprogressive class. The proposal suggests that St Thomas contemplated the adoption of a method of relief which would be like a voluntary poor-law; and it is noteworthy that his phrase “necessary relief” forms the defining words of the Elizabethan poor-law, while he also lays stress on the importance of “correction,” which, on the decline and disappearance of the penitential system, assumed at the Reformation a prominent position in administration in relation not only to “sin,” but also to offences against society, such as idleness, &c.
On this foundation was built up the classification of acts of charity, which in one shape or another has a long social tradition, and which St Thomas quotes in an elaborated form—the seven spiritual acts (consule, carpe, doce, solare, remitte, fer, ora), counsel, sustain, teach, console, save, pardon, pray; and the seven corporal (vestio, poto, cibo, redimo, tego, colligo, condo) I clothe, I give drink to, I feed, I free from prison, I shelter, I assist in sickness, I bury (II. II.ae xxxii. 2). These in subsequent thought became “good works,” and availed for the after-life, bringing with them definite boons. Thus charity was linked to the system of indulgences. The bias of the act of charity is made to favour the actor. Primarily the benefit reverts to him. He becomes conscious of an ultimate reward accruing to himself. The simplicity of the deed, the spontaneity from which, as in a well-practised art, its freshness springs and its good effects result, is falsified at the outset. The thought that should be wholly concerned in the fulfilment of a definite purpose is diverted from it. The deed itself, apart from the outcome of the deed, is highly considered. An extreme inducement is placed on giving, counselling, and the like, but none on the personal or social utility of the gift or counsel. Yet the value of these lies in their end. No policy or science of charity can grow out of such a system. It can produce innumerable isolated acts, which may or may not be beneficent, but it cannot enkindle the “ordered charity.” This charity is, strictly speaking, by its very nature alike intellectual and emotional. Otherwise it would inevitably fail of its purpose, for though emotion might stimulate it, intelligence would not guide it.
There are, then, these three lines of thought. That of St Bernard, who invigorated the monastic movement, and helped to make the monastery or hospital the centre of charitable relief. That of St Francis, who, passing by regular and secular clergy alike, revived and reinvigorated the conception of charity and gave it once more the reality of a social force, knowing that it would find a freer scope and larger usefulness in the life of the people than in the religious aristocracy of monasteries. And that of St Thomas Aquinas, who, analysing the problem of charity and almsgiving, and associating it with definite groups of works, led to its taking, in the common thought, certain stereotyped forms, so that its social aim and purpose were ignored and its power for good was neutralized.
We have now to turn to the conditions of social life in which these thoughts fermented and took practical shape. The population of England from the Conquest to the 14th century is estimated at between 112 and 212 millions. London, it is believed, had a population Charity and social conditions
in England.of about 40,000. Other towns were small. Two or three of the larger had 4000 or 5000 inhabitants. The only substantial building in a village, apart perhaps from the manor-house, was the church, used for many secular as well as religious purposes. In the towns the mud or wood-paved huts sheltered a people who, accepting a common poverty, traded in little more than the necessaries of life (Green, Town Life in the 15th Century, i. 13). The population was stationary. Famine and pestilence were of frequent occurrence (Creighton, Epidemics in Britain, p. 19), and for the careless there was waste at harvest-time and want in winter. Hunger was the drill-sergeant of society. Owing to the hardship and penury of life infant mortality was probably very great (Blashill, Sutton in Holdernesse, p. 123). The 15th century was, however, “the golden age of the labourer.” Our problem is to ascertain what was the service of charity to this people till the end of that century. In order to estimate this we have to apply tests similar to those we applied before to Greece and Rome and the pre-medieval church.
The Family.—Largely Germanic in its origin, we may perhaps set down as elemental in the English race what Tacitus said of the Germans. They had the home virtues. They had a high regard for chastity, and respected and enforced the family tie. The wife was honoured. The men were poor, but when the actual pressure of their work—fighting—was removed, idle. They were born gamblers. Much toil fell upon the wife; but slavery was rather a form of tenure than a Roman bondage. As elsewhere, there was in England “the joint family or household” (Pollock and Maitland, English Law before Edward I. i. 31). Each member of the community was, or should be, under some lord; for the lordless man was, like the wanderer in Homer, who belonged to no phratry, suspected and dangerous, and his kinsfolk might be required to find a lord for him. There was personal servitude, but it was not of one complexion; there were grades amongst the unfree, and the general advance to freedom was continuous. By the 9th century the larger amount of the slavery was bondage by tenure. In the reign of Edward I., though “the larger half of the rural population was unfree,” yet the serf, notwithstanding the fact that he was his lord’s chattel, was free against all save his lord. A century later (1381) villenage—that is payment for tenancy by service, instead of by quit-rent—was practically extinguished. So steady was the progress towards the freedom and self-maintenance of the individual and his family.
The Manor.—In social importance, next to the family, comes the manor, the organization of which affected charity greatly on one side. It was “an economic unit,” the estate of a lord on which there were associated the lord with his demesne, tenants free of service, and villeins and others, tenants by service. All had the use of land, even the serf. The estate was regulated by a manor court, consisting of the lord of the manor or his representative, and the free tenants, and entrusted with wide quasi-domestic jurisdiction. The value of the estate depended on the labour available for its cultivation, and the cultivators were the unfree tenants. Hence the lord, through the manor-court, required an indemnity or fine if a child, for instance, left the manor; and similarly, if a villein died, his widow might have to remarry or pay a fine. Thus the lord reacquired a servant and the widow and her family were maintained. The courts, too, fixed prices, and thus in local and limited conditions of supply and demand were able to equalize them in a measure and neutralize some of the effects of scarcity. In this way, till the reign of Edward I., and, where the manor courts remained active, till much later, a self-supporting social organization made any systematic public or charitable relief unnecessary.
The Parish and the Tithe.—The conversion of England in the 7th century was effected by bishops, accompanied by itinerant priests, who made use of conventual houses as the centres of their work. The parochial system was not firmly established till the 10th century (970). Then, by a law of Edgar, a man who had a church on his own land was allowed to pay a third of his tithe to his own church, instead of giving the whole of it to the minister or conventual church. Theodore, archbishop of Canterbury (667), had introduced the Carolingian system into England; and, accordingly, the parish priest was required to provide for strangers and to keep a room in his house for them. Of the tithe, a third and not a fourth was to go to the poor with any surplus; and in order to have larger means of helping them, the priests were urged to work themselves, according to the ancient canons of the church (cf. Labbeus, IV. Conc. Carthag. A.D. 398). The importance of the tithe to the poor is shown by acts of Richard II. and Henry IV., by which it was enacted that, if parochial tithes were appropriated to a monastery, a portion of them should be assigned to the poor of the parish. At a very early date (1287) quasi-compulsory charges in the nature of a rate were imposed on parishioners for various church purposes (Pollock and Maitland, i. 604), though in the 14th and 15th centuries a compulsory church rate was seldom made. Collections were made by paid collectors, especially for Hock-tide (q.v.) money—gathered for church purposes (Brand’s Antiquities, p. 112). But there must have been many varieties in practice. In Somersetshire the churchwardens’ accounts (1349 to 1560) show that the parish contributed nothing to the relief of the poor, and it seems probable that the personal charities of the parishioners, and the charities of the gild fellowships and of the parsonage house sufficed (Bishop Hobhouse, Churchwardens’ Accounts, 1349–1560, Somerset Record Society). Many parishes possessed land, houses and cattle, and received gifts and legacies of all kinds. The proceeds of this property, if given for the use of the parish generally, might, if necessary, be available for the relief of the poor, but, if given definitely for their use, would provide doles, or stock cattle or “poor’s” lands, &c. (Cf. Augustus Jessopp, Before the Great Pillage, p. 40; and many instances in the reports of the Charity Commissioners, 1818–1835.) Of the endowments for parish doles very many may have disappeared in the break-up of the 16th century. There were also “Parish Ales,” the proceeds of which would be used for parish purposes or for relief. Further, all the greater festivals were days of feasting and the distribution of food; at funerals also there were often large distributions, and also at marriages. The faithful generally, subject to penance, were required to relieve the poor and the stranger. In the larger part of England the parish and the vill were usually coterminous. In the north a parish contained several vills. There were thus side by side the charitable relief system of the parish, which at an early date became a rating area, and the self-supporting system of the manor.
The Monasteries.—As Christianity spread monasteries spread, and each monastery was a centre of relief. Sometimes they were established, like St Albans (796), for a hundred Benedictine monks and for the entertainment of strangers; or sometimes without any such special purpose, like the abbey of Croyland (reorganized 946), which, becoming exceeding rich from its diversorium pauperum, or almonry, “relieved the whole country round so that prodigious numbers resorted to it.” At Glastonbury, for instance (1537), £140 16s. 8d. was given away in doles. But documents seem to prove (Denton, England in Fifteenth Century, p. 245) that the relief generally given by monasteries was much less than is usually supposed.
The general system may be described (cf. Rule, St Dunst. Cant. Archp. p. 42, Dugdale; J. B. Clark, The Observances, Augustinian Priory, Barnwell; Abbot Gasquet, English Monastic Life). The almonry was usually near the church of the monastery. An almoner was in charge. He was to be prudent and discreet in the distribution of his doles (portiones) and to relieve travellers, palmers, chaplains and mendicants (mendicantes, apparently the beggars recognized as living by begging, such as we have noted under other social conditions), and the leprous more liberally than others. The old and infirm, lame and blind who were confined to their beds he was to visit and relieve suitably (in competenti annona). The importunity of the poor he was to put up with, and to meet their need as far as he could. In the almonry there were usually rooms for the sick. The sick outside the precincts were relieved at the almoner’s discretion. Continuous relief might be given after consultation with the superior. All the remnants of meals and the old clothes of the monks were given to the almoner for distribution, and at Christmas he had a store of stockings and other articles to give away as presents to widows, orphans and poor clerks. He also provided the Maundy gifts and selected the poor for the washing of feet. He was thus a local visitor and alms distributor, not merely at the gate of the monastery but in the neighbourhood, and had also at his disposal “indoor” relief for the sick. Separate from the rest the house there was also a dormitory and rooms and the kitchen for strangers. A hospitularius attended to their needs and novices waited on them. Guests who were laymen might stay on, working in return for board and lodging (Smith’s Dict. Christian Antiq., “Benedictine”).
The monasteries often established hospitals; they served also as schools for the gentry and for the poor; and they were pioneers of agriculture. In the 12th century, in which many monastic orders were constituted, there were many lavish endowments. In the 14th century their usefulness had begun to wane. At the end of that century the larger estates were generally held in entail, with the result that younger sons were put into religious houses. This worldliness had its natural consequences. In the 15th century, owing to mismanagement, waste, and subsequently to the decline of rural prosperity, their resources were greatly crippled. In their relation to charity one or two points may be noted: (1) Of the small population of England the professed monks and nuns with the parish priests (Rogers, Hist. Agric. and Prices, i. 58) numbered at least 30,000 or 40,000. This number of celibates was a standing protest against the moral sufficiency of the family life. On the other hand, amongst them were the brothers and sisters who visited the poor and nursed the sick in hospitals; and many who now succumb physically or mentally to the pressure of life, and are cared for in institutions, may then have found maintenance and a retreat in the monasteries. (2) Bound together by no common controlling organization, the monasteries were but so many miscellaneous centres of relief, chiefly casual relief. They were mostly “magnificent hostelries.” (3) They stood outside the parish, and they weakened its organization and hampered its development.
The Hospitals.—The revival of piety in the 11th century led to a large increase in the number of hospitals and hospital orders. To show how far they covered the field in England two instances may be quoted. At Canterbury (Creighton, Epidemics, p. 87) there were four for different purposes, two endowed by Lanfranc (1084), one for poor, infirm, lame and blind men and women, and one outside the town for lepers. These hospitals were put under the charge of a priory, and endowed out of tithes payable to the secular clergy. Later (Henry II.), a hospital for leprous sisters was established, and afterwards a hospital for leprous monks and poor relations of the monks of St Augustine’s. In a less populous parish, Luton (Cobbe, Luton Church), there were a hospital for the poor, an almshouse, and two hospitals, one for the sick and one for the leprous. The word “leper,” it is evident, was used very loosely, and was applied to many diseases other than leprosy. There were hospitals for the infirm and the leprous; the disease was not considered contagious. The hospital in its modern sense was but slowly created. Thus St Bartholomew’s in London was founded (1123) for a master, brethren and sisters, and for the entertainment of poor diseased persons till they got well; of distressed women big with child till they were able to go abroad; and for the maintenance, until the age of seven, of all such children whose mothers died in the house. St Thomas’s (rebuilt 1228) had a master and brethren and three lay sisters, and 40 beds for poor, infirm and impotent people, who had also victual and firing. There were hospitals for many special purposes—as for the blind, for instance. There were also many hospital orders in England and on the continent. They sprang up beside the monastic orders, and for a time were very popular: brothers and sisters of the Holy Ghost (1198), sisters of St Elizabeth (1207–1231), Beguines and Beghards (see Beguines), knights of St John and others.
The Mendicant Orders.—The Franciscans tended the sick and poor in the slums of the towns with great devotion—indeed, the whole movement tells of a splendid self-abandonment and an intensity of effort in the early spring of its enthusiasm, and with the aid of reform councils and reformations it lengthened out its usefulness for two centuries.
As in the pre-medieval church, the system of relief is that of charitable endowments—a marked contrast to the modern method of voluntary associationsMedieval endowed charities. or rate-supported institutions.
(1) The Church as Legatee.—The church building among the Teutonic races was not held by the bishop as part of what was originally the charitable property of the church. It was assigned to the patron saint of the church by the donor, who retained the right of administration, of which his own patronage or right of presentation is a relic. Subsequently, with the study of Roman law, the conception of the church as a persona ficta prevailed; and till the larger growth of the gilds and corporations it was the only general legatee for charitable gifts. As these arise a large number of charitable trusts are created and held by lay corporations; and “alms” include gifts for social as well as religious or eleemosynary purposes. (2) Freedom from Taxation and Service.—Gifts to the church for charitable or other purposes were made in free, pure and perpetual alms (“ad tenendum in puram et perpetuam eleemosynam sine omni temporali servicio et consuetudine”). Land held under this frankalmoigne was given “in perpetual alms,” therefore the donor could not retract it; in free alms, therefore he could exact no services in regard to it; and in pure alms as being free from secular jurisdiction (cf. Pollock and Maitland). (3) Alienation and Mortmain.—To prevent alienation of property to religious houses, with the consequent loss of service to the superior or chief lords, a licence from the chief lord was required to legalize the alienation (Magna Carta, and Edw. I., De viris religiosis). Other statutes (Edw. I. and Rich. II.) enacted that this licence should be issued out of chancery after investigation; and the principle was applied to civil corporations. The necessity of this licence was one lay check on injurious alienation. (4) Irresponsible Administration.—Until after the 13th century, when the lay courts had asserted their right to settle disputes as to lands held in alms, the administration of charity was from the lay point of view entirely irresponsible. It was outside the secular jurisdiction; and civilly the professed clergy, who were the administrators, were “dead.” They could not sue or be sued except through their sovereign—their chief, the abbot. They formed a large body of non-civic inhabitants free from the pressure and the responsibilities of civil life. (5) Control.—Apart from the control of the abbot, prior, master or other head, the bishop was visitor, or, as we should say, inspector; and abuses might be remedied by the visit of the bishop or his ordinary. The bishop’s ordinary (2 Henry V. i. 1) was the recognized visitor of all hospitals apart from the founder. The founder and his family retained a right of intervention. Sometimes thus an institution was reorganized, or even dissolved, the property reverting to the founder (Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum, vi. 2. 715). (6) Cy-près.—Charities were, especially after Henry V.’s reign, appropriated to other uses, either because their original purpose failed or because some new object had become important. Thus, for instance, a college or hospital for lepers (1363) is re-established by the founder’s family with a master and priest, quod nulli leprosi reperiebantur; and a similar hospital founded in Henry I.’s time near Oxford has decayed, and is given by Edward III. to Oriel College, Oxford, to maintain a chaplain and poor brethren. Thus, apart from alienation pure and simple, the principle of adaptation to new uses was put in force at an early date, and supplied many precedents to Wolsey, Edward VI. and the post-Reformation bishops. The system of endowments was indeed far more adaptable than it would at first sight seem to have been. (7) The Sources of Income.—The hospitals were chiefly supported by rents or the produce of land; or, if attached to monasteries, out of the tithe of their monastic lands or other sources of revenue, or out of the appropriated tithes of the secular clergy; or they might be in part maintained by collections made, for instance, by a commissioner duly authorized by a formal attested document, in which were recounted the indulgences by popes, archbishops and bishops to those who became its benefactors (Cobbe, p. 75); or, in the case of leper hospitals, by a leper with a “clapdish,” who begged in the markets; or by a proctor, in the case of more important institutions in towns, who “came with his box one day in every month to the churches and other religious houses, at times of service, and there received the voluntary gifts of the congregation”; or they might receive inmates on payment, and thus apparently a frequent abuse, decayed servants of the court and others, were “farmed out.” (8) Mode of Admission.—The admission was usually, no doubt, regulated by the prior or master. At York, at the hospital of St Nicholas for the leprous, the conditions of admission were: promise or vow of continence, participation in prayer, the abandonment of all business, the inmate’s property at death to go to the house. This may serve as an example. The master was usually one of the regular clergy. (9) Decline of the Hospitals.—It is said that, in addition to 645 monasteries and 90 “colleges” and many chantries, Henry VIII. suppressed 110 hospitals (Speed’s Chronicle, p. 778). The numbers seem small. In the economic decline at the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries many hospitals may have lapsed.
In the 15th century the towns grew in importance. First the wool trade and then the cloth trade flourished, and the English developed a large shipping trade. The towns grew up like “little principalities”; and for the advancement of trade, gilds, consisting alikeGild and municipal charities. of masters and workmen, were formed, which endeavoured to regulate and then to monopolize the market. By degrees the corporations of the towns were worked in their interests, and the whole commercial system became restrictive and inadaptable. Meanwhile the towns attracted newcomers; freedom from feudal obligations was gained with comparative ease; and a new plebs was congregating, a population of inhabitants not qualified as burghers or gild members, women, sons living with their fathers, menial servants and apprentices. There was thus an increasing restriction imposed on trade, coupled with a growing plebs. Naturally, then, lay charities sprang up for members of gilds, and for burghers and for the commonalty. Men left estates to their gilds to maintain decayed members in hospitals, almshouses or otherwise, to educate their children, portion their daughters, and to assist their widows. The middle-class trader was thus in great measure insured against the risks of life. The gilds were one sign of the new temper and wants of burghers freed from feudalism. Another sign was a new standard of manners. Rules and saws, Hesiodic in their tone, became popular—in regard, for instance, to such a question as “how to enable a man to live on his means, and to keep himself and those belonging to him.” The boroughs established other charities also, hospitals and almshouses for the people, a movement which, like that of the gilds, began very early—in Italy as early as the 9th century. They sometimes gave outdoor relief also to registered poor (Green i. 41), and they had in large towns courts of orphans presided over by the mayor and aldermen, thus taking over a duty that previously had been one of conspicuous importance in the church. As early as 1257 in Westphalian towns there was a rough-and-ready system of Easter relief of the poor; and in Frankfort in 1437 there was a town council of almoners with a systematic programme of relief (Ratzinger, p. 352). Thus at the close of the middle ages the towns were gradually assuming what had been charitable functions of the church.
While a new freedom was being attained by the labourer in the country and the burgher in the town, the difficulty of obtaining a sufficient supply of labour for agriculture must have been constant, especially at every visitation of plague and famine. In accordanceStatutory wage control. with a general policy of state regulation which was to control and supervise industry, agriculture and poor relief and to repress vagrancy by gaols and houses of correction, the state stepped in as arbiter and organizer. By Statutes of Labourers beginning in 1351 (25 Edw. III. 135), it aimed at enforcing a settled wage and restraining migration. From 1351 it endeavoured to suppress mendicity, and in part to systematize it in the interest of infirm and aged mendicants. Each series of enactments is the natural complement of the other. In the main their signification, from the point of view of charity, lies in the fact that they represent a persistent endeavour to prevent social unsettlement and in part the distress which unsettlement causes, and which vagrancy in some measure indicates, by keeping the people within the ranks of recognized dependence, the settled industry of the crafts and of agriculture, or forcing them back into it by fear of the gaol or the stocks. The extreme point of this policy was reached when by the laws of Edward VI. and Elizabeth the “rogue, vagabond or sturdy beggar” was branded with an R on the shoulder and handed over as a bondman for a period to any one who would take him. On the other hand, it was desired that relief should be a means of preventing migration. In any time of general pressure there is a desire to organize mendicity, to prevent the wandering of beggars, to create a kind of settled poor, distinguished from the rest as infirm and not able-bodied, and to keep these at least at home sufficiently supported by local and parochial relief; and this, in its simpler form all the world over, has in the past been by response to public begging. The argument may be summed up thus: We cannot have begging, which implies that the beggar is cared for by no one, belongs to no one, and therefore throws himself on the world at large. Therefore, if he is able-bodied he must be punished as unsocial, for it is his fault that he belongs to no one; or we must make him some one’s dependant, and so keep him; or if he is infirm, and therefore of no service to any one—if no one will keep him—we must organize his mendicity, for such mendicity is justified. If he cannot dig for the man to whom he does or should belong, he must beg. Then out of the failure to organize mendicity—for relief of itself is no remedy, least of all casual relief—a poor-law springs up, which, afterwards associated with the provision of employment, will, it is hoped, make relief in some measure remedial by increasing its quantity by means of compulsory levies. This argument, which combined statutory wage control and statutory poor relief, seems to have been firmly bedded in the English legislative mind for more than two centuries, from 1351 till after 1600; and until 1834 these two series of laws effectually reduced the English labourer to a new industrial dependence. To people imbued with ideas of feudalism the way of escape from villenage seemed to be not independence, but a new reversion to it.
Many elements produced the social and economic catastrophe of the 16th century, for the condition into which the country fell can hardly be considered less than a catastrophe. With the growing independence of the people there was created after the 13thThe decadence. century an unsettled “masterless” class, a residue of failure resulting from social changes, which was large and important enough to call for legislation. In the 15th century, “the golden age of the English labourer,” the towns increased and flourished. Both town and country did well. At the end of the century came the decadence. The measure of the strain, when perhaps it had reached its lowest level, is indicated by the following comparison: “The cost of a peasant’s family of four in the early part of the 14th century was £3:4:9; after 1540 it was £8” (Rogers, Hist, of Agric. and Prices, iv. 756).
The cause of this has now been fairly investigated. The value of land in the 13th century generally depended chiefly on “the head of labour” retained upon it. Its fertility depended on mainoeuvre (manure). To keep labour upon it was therefore the aim of the lord or owner. The enclosing of lands for sheep began early, and in the time of Edward III., in the great days of the woolstaple, must have been extensive. So long as the demand for the exportation of wool, and then for its consumption at home in the cloth trade, continued, the towns prospered, and the enclosures did not become a grievance. Even before the reign of Henry VII., with the decay of trade, the towns decayed, and their population in some cases diminished extraordinarily. This reacted on the country, where the great families had already become impoverished, and were hardly able to support their retainers. In Henry VIII.’s time the lands of the religious houses were confiscated. Worked on old lines, the custom of tillage remained in force on them. Accordingly, when these estates fell into private hands they were transferred subject to the condition that they should be tilled as heretofore. The condition was evaded by the new owners, and the disbandment of farm labourers went on apace. In England and Wales these changes, it is said, affected a third of the country, more than 12,000,000 acres, if the estimates be correct, or rather a third of the best land in the kingdom. With towns decaying, the effect of this must have been terrible. What were really “latifundia” were created, “great landes,” “enclosures of a mile or two or thereabouts ... destroying thereby not only the farms and cottages within the same circuits, but also the towns and villages adjoining.” A herdsman and his wife took the place of eighteen to twenty-four farm hands. The people thus set wandering could only join the wanderers from the decaying towns. At the same time the economic difficulty was aggravated by a new patrician or commercial greed; and once more the land question—the absorption of property into a few hands instead of its free exchange—led to lasting social demoralization. A few years after the alienation of the monasteries the coinage (1543) was debased. By this means prices were arbitrarily raised, and wages were increased nominally; but nevertheless the price of necessaries was “so enhanced” that neither “the poor labourers can live with their wages that is limited by your grace’s laws, nor the artificers can make, much less sell, their wares at any reasonable price” (Lamond, The Commonweal of this Realm of England, p. xlvii). No social reformation, such as the charitable instincts of Wycliffe, More, Hales, Latimer and other men suggested, was attempted, or at least persistently carried out. In towns the organization of labour had become restrictive, exclusive and inadaptable, or, judged from the moral standpoint, uncharitable. There had been a time of plenty and extravagance, of which in high quarters the famous “field of the cloth of gold” was typical; and probably, in accordance with the frequently observed law of social economics, as the advance in wages and their purchasing power in the earlier part of the 15th century had not been accompanied by a simultaneous advance in self-discipline and intelligent expenditure, it resulted in part in lessened competence and industrial ability on the part of the workmen, and thus in the end produced pauperism.
The poverty of the country was very great in the reigns of Edward VI. and Elizabeth. Adversity then taught the people new manners, and households became more simple and thrifty. In the reign of James I., with enforced economy and thrift, a “slow but substantial improvement in agriculture” took place, and a new growth of commercial enterprise. The vigour of the municipalities had abated, so that in Henry VIII.’s time they had become the very humble servants of the government; and the government, on the other hand, had become strongly centralized—in itself a sign of the general withdrawal of self-sustaining activity in all administration, in the administration of charitable relief no less than in other departments. A system of endowed charities had been built up, supported chiefly by rents from landed property. These now had disappeared, and thus the means of relief, which Edward VI. and Queen Elizabeth might have utilized at a time of general distress, had been dissipated by the acts of their predecessors. The civil independence of the monasteries and religious houses might have been justified, possibly, when they were engaged in missionary work and were instilling into the people the precepts of a higher moral law than that which was in force around them. But afterwards, as the ability and intelligence of the community increased, their privileges became more and more antagonistic to charity, and tended to create a non-social and even anti-social ecclesiastical democracy actuated by aims and interests in which the general good of the people had little or no place. There was a growing alienation between religious tradition and secular opinion, as Lollardism slowly permeated the thought of the people and led the way to the Reformation. While this alienation existed no national system of charity, civic and yet religious, could be created. But worse than all, the ideal of charity had been degraded. A self-regarding system of relief had superseded charity, and it was productive of nothing but alms, large or small, isolated and unmethodic, given with a wrong bias, and thus almost inevitably with evil results. Out of this could spring no vigorous co-operative charity. Charity—not relief—indeed seemed to have left the world. The larger issues were overlooked. Then the property of the hospitals and the gilds was wantonly confiscated, though the poor had already lost that share in the revenues of the church to which at one time they were admitted to have a just claim. A new beginning had to be made. The obligations of charity had to be revived. A new organization of charitable relief had to be created, and that with an empty exchequer and after a vast waste of charitable resources. There were signs of a new congregational and parochial energy, yet the task could not be entrusted to the religious bodies, divided and disunited as they were. In their stead it could be imposed only on some authority which represented the general community, such as municipalities; and in spite of the centralization of the government there seemed some hope of creating a system of relief in connexion with them. They were tried, and, very naturally, failed. In the poverty of the time it seemed that the poor could be relieved only by a compulsory rate, and the administration of statutory relief naturally devolved on the central government—the only vigorous administrative body left in the country. The government might indeed have adopted the alternative of letting the industrial difficulties of the country work themselves out, but they had inherited a policy of minute legislative control, and they continued it. Revising previous statutes, they enacted the Poor Law, which still remains on the statute book. It could be no remedy for social offences against charity and the community. But in part at least it was successful. It helped to conceal the failure to find a remedy.
Part VI.—After the Reformation
During the Reformation, which extended, it should be understood, from the middle of the 14th century to the reign of James I., the groundwork of the theory of charity was being recast. The old system and the narrow theory on which it had come to depend were discredited. The recoil is startling. To a very large extent charitableThe Reformation theory of charity. administration had been in the hands of men and women who, as an indispensable condition to their participation in it, took the vows of obedience, chastity and “wilful” poverty. Now this was all entirely set aside. It was felt (see Homilies on Faith and Good Works, &c., A.D. 1547) that socially and morally the method had been a failure. The vow of obedience, it was argued, led to a general disregard of the duties of civic and family life. Those who bound themselves by it were outside the state and did not serve it. In regard to chastity the Homily states the common opinion: “How the profession of chastity was kept, it is more honesty to pass over in silence and let the world judge of what is well known.” As to wilful poverty, the regulars, it is urged, were not poor, but rich, for they were in possession of much wealth. Their property, it is true, was held in communi, and not personally, but nevertheless it was practically theirs, and they used it for their personal enjoyment; and “for all their riches they might never help father nor mother, nor others that were indeed very needy and poor, without the license of their father abbot” or other head. This was the negative position. The positive was found in the doctrine of justification—the central point in the discussions of the time, a plant from the garden of St Augustine. Justification was the personal conviction of a lively (or living) faith, and was defined as “a true trust and confidence of the mercy of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and a stedfast hope of all good things to be received at His hands.” Without this justification there could be no good works. They were the signs of a lively faith and grew out of it. Apart from it, what seemed to be “good works” were of the nature of sin, phantom acts productive of nothing, “birds that were lost, unreal.” So were the works of pagans and heretics. The relation of almsgiving to religion was thus entirely altered. The personal reward here or hereafter to the actor was eliminated. The deed was good only in the same sense in which the doer was good; it had in itself no merit. This was a great gain, quite apart from any question as to the sufficiency or insufficiency of the Protestant scheme of salvation. The deed, it was realized, was only the outcome of the doer, the expression of himself, what he was as a whole, neither better nor worse. Logically this led to the discipline of the intelligence and the emotions, and undoubtedly “justification” to very many was only consistent with such discipline and implied it. Thus under a new guise the old position of charity reasserted itself. But there were other differences.
The relation of charity to prayer, fasting, almsgiving and penance was altsred. The prayerful contemplation of the Christ was preserved in the mysticism of Protestantism; but it was dissociated from the “historic Christ,” from the fervent idealization of whom St Francis drew his inspiration and his active charitable impulse. The tradition did not die out, however. It remained with many, notably with George Herbert, of whom it made, not unlike St Francis, a poet as well as a practical parish priest; but the absence of it indicated in much post-Reformation endeavour a want, if not of devotion, yet of intensity of feeling which may in part account for the fact that sectarianism in relief has since proved itself stronger than charity, instead of yielding to charity as its superior and its organizer. Fasting was parted from prayer and almsgiving. It was “a thing not of its own proper nature good as the love of father or mother or neighbour, but according to its end.” Almsgiving also as a “work” disappeared and with it a whole series of inducements that from the standpoint of the pecuniary and material supply of relief had long been active. It was no wonder that the preachers advocated it in vain, and reproached their hearers with their diminished bounty to the poor; the old personal incentive had gone, and could only gradually be superseded by the spontaneous activity of personal religion very slowly wedding itself to true views of social duty and purpose. Penance, once so closely related to almsgiving, passed out of sight. Charity, the love of God and our neighbour, had two offices, it was said, “to cherish good and harmless men” and “to correct and punish vice without regard to persons.” Correction as a means of discipline takes the place of penance, and it becomes judicial, regulating and controlling church membership by the authority of the church, a congregation, minister or elder; or dealing with laziness or ill-doing through the municipality or state, in connexion with what now first appear, not prisons, but houses of correction.
The religious life was to be democratic—not in religious bodies, but in the whole people; and in a new sense—in relation to family and social life—it was to be moral. That was the significance of the Reformation for charity.
Consistently with this movement of religious activity towards a complete fulfilment of the duties of civic life, the older classical social theory, fostered by the Renaissance, assumed a new influence—the great conception of the state as a community bound together by charity and friendship, “We be not born to ourselves,” it was said,The organization of municipal relief. “but partly to the use of our country, of our parents, of our kinsfolk, and partly of our friends and neighbours; and therefore all good virtues are grafted on us naturally, whose effects be to do good to others, when it showeth forth the image of God in man, whose property is ever to do good to others” (Lamond, p. 14). Economic theory also changed. Instead of the medieval opinion of the “theologian or social preacher,” that “trade could only be defended on the ground that honestly conducted it made no profit” (Green, ii. 71), we have a recognition of the advantages resulting from exchange, and individual interests, it is argued, are not necessarily inconsistent with those of the state, but are, on the contrary, a source of solid good to the whole community.
Municipal laws for the suppression of the mendicity of the able-bodied and the organization of relief on behalf of the infirm were common in England and on the continent (Colmar, 1362; Nuremberg, 1478; Strassburg, 1523; London, 1514). Vives (Ehrle, Beiträge zur Geschichte und Reform der Armenpflege, p. 26), a Spaniard, who had been at the court of Henry VIII., in a book translated into several languages and widely read, seems to have summed up the thought of the time in regard to the management of the poor. He divided them into three classes: those in hospitals and poor-houses, the public homeless beggars and the poor at home. He would have a census taken of the number of each class in the town, and information obtained as to the causes of their distress. Then he would establish a central organization of relief under the magistrates. Work was to be supplied for all, while begging was strictly forbidden. Non-settled poor who were able-bodied were to be sent to their homes. Able-bodied settled poor who knew no craft were to be put on some public work—the undeserving being set to hard labour. For others work was to be found, or they were to be assisted to become self-supporting. The hospitals provided with medical advice and necessaries were to be classified to meet the needs of the sick, the blind and lunatics. The poor living at home were to work with a view to their self-support. What they earned, if insufficient, might be supplemented. If a citizen found a case of distress he was not to help it, but to send it for inquiry to the magistrate. Children were to be taught. Private relief was to be obtained from the rich. The funds of endowed charities were to be the chief source of income; if more was wanted, bequests and church collections would suffice. The scheme was put in force in Yprès in 1524. The Sorbonne approved it, and similar plans were adopted in Paris and elsewhere. It is in outline the scheme of London municipal charity promoted by Edward VI., by which the poor were classified, St Bartholomew’s and St Thomas’s hospitals appropriated for the sick, Christ’s hospital for the children of the poor, and Bridewell for the correction of the able-bodied. Less the institutional arrangements and plus the compulsory rate, the methods are those of the Poor Relief Act of Queen Elizabeth of 1601. At first the attempt had been made to introduce state relief in reliance on voluntary alms (1 Mary 13, 5 Eliz. 3, 1562–1563), subject to the right of assessment if alms were refused. But the position was anomalous. Charity is voluntary, and spontaneously meets the demands of distress. Such demands have always a tendency to increase with the supply. Hence the very limitations of charitable finance are in the nature of a safeguard. At most economic trouble can only be assuaged by relief, and it can only be met or prevented by economic and social reforms. If a compulsory rate be not enforced, as in Scotland and formerly in some parishes in England, a voluntary rate may be made in supplementation of the local charities. In Scotland, where the compulsory clauses of the Poor Relief Act of James I. were not put in force, the country weathered the storm without them, and the compulsory rate, which was extended throughout the country by the Poor Act of 1844, came in very slowly in the 18th and 19th centuries. In France (1566) a similar act was passed and set aside. If a compulsory rate be enforced, it is inevitable that the resources of charity, unless kept apart from the poor-law and administered on different lines from it, will diminish, and at the same time, as has happened often in the case of endowed charities, the interest in charitable administration will lapse, while the charges for poor-law relief, drawn without much scruple from the taxation of the community, will mount to millions either to meet increasing demands or to provide more elaborate institutional accommodation. The principle once adopted, it was enacted (1572–1573) that the aged and infirm should be cared for by the overseers of the poor, a new authority; and in 1601 the duplicate acts were passed, that for the relief of the poor (43 Eliz. 2), and that for the furtherance and protection of endowed charities. Thus the poor were brought into the dependence of a legally recognized class, endowed with a claim for relief, on the fulfilment of which, after a time, they could without difficulty insist if they were so minded. The civic authority had indeed taken over the alms of the parish, and an eleemosyna civica had taken the place of the annona civica. It was a similar system under a different name.
A phrase of Robert Cecil’s (1st earl of Salisbury) indicates the minute domestic character of the Elizabethan legislation (D’Ewes, 674). The question (1601) was the repeal of a statute of tillage. Cecil says: “If in Edward I.’s time a law was made for the maintenancePoor Relief Acts and statutory serfdom. of the fry of fish, and in Henry VII.’s for the preservation of the eggs of wild fowl, shall we now throw away a law of more consequence and import? If we debar tillage, we give scope to the depopulating. And then, if the poor being thrust out of their houses go to dwell with others, straight we catch them with the statute of inmates; if they wander abroad, they are within the danger of the statute of the poor to be whipt. So by this undo this statute, and you endanger many thousands.” A strong central government, a local authority appointed directly by the government, and a network of legislation controlled the whole movement of economic life. On this reliance was placed to meet economic difficulties. The local authorities were the justices of the peace; and they had to carry out the statutes for this purpose, to assess the wages of artisans and labourers, and to enforce the payment of the wages they had fixed; to ensure that suitable provision was made for the relief of the poor at the expense of rates which they also fixed; and to suppress vagabondage. Since 23 Edw. III. there had been labour statutes, and in 1563 a new statute was passed, an “Act containing divers orders for Artificers, Labourers, Servants of Husbandry and Apprentices” (5 Eliz. c. 4). It recognized and upheld a social classification. On the one hand there was the gentleman or owner of property to which the act was not to apply; and on the other the artisan and labouring class. This class in turn was subdivided, and the justices were to assess their wages annually according to “the plenty and scarcity of the time and other circumstances.” Persons between the ages of twelve and sixty, who were not apprentices or engaged in certain specified employments, were compelled to serve in husbandry by the year “with any person that keepeth husbandry.” The length of the day’s work and the conditions of apprenticeship were fixed. The assessed rate of wages was enforceable by fine and imprisonment, and refusal to be apprenticed by imprisonment. Thus there was created a life control over labour with an industrial settlement and a wage fixed by the justices annually. There are differences of opinion in regard to the extent to which this act was enforced; and the evidence on the point is comparatively scanty. It was enforced throughout the century in which it was passed, and it probably continued in force generally until the Restoration, while subsequently it was put in operation to meet special emergencies, such as times of distress when some settlement of wages seemed desirable (cf. Rogers, v. 611; Hewins, English Trade and Finance, p. 82; Cunningham, Growth of English Industry and Commerce: Modern Times, i. 168). It was not repealed till 1814.
From 1585 to 1622 there was, it is said, a slight increase in labourers’ wages, which fluctuated from 5s. 38d. to 5s. 8 14d. a week, with a declining standard of comfort and at times great distress. Then there was a marked increase of wage till 1662 and “a very marked improvement; the rate of increase being very nearly double that of the earlier periods,” and reaching 9s., “as the highest weekly rate for the whole period.” Then from 1662 to 1702 there was “a slight improvement” (Hewins, p. 89). It would seem indeed that the stir of the times between 1622 and 1662 may have caused a great demand for labour. But with the Restoration, when the assessment system was falling into desuetude, came the Poor Relief Act of 1662 (13 & 14 Car. II. cap. 62), which brought in the law of settlement, and a settlement for relief of a very strict nature was added to the industrial settlement of the Artificers and Labourers Act. Thus, if the influence of that act, which had so long controlled labour, was waning, its place was now taken by an act which, though it had nothing to do with the assessment of wage, yet so settled the labourer within the bounds of his parish that he had practically to rely, if not upon a wage fixed by the justices, yet upon a customary wage limited and restricted as a result of the law of settlement. And the assessment by the justices, in so far as it may have continued, would therefore be of little or no consequence. Settlement also, like the Artificers and Labourers Act, would prevent the country labourer from passing to the towns, or the townsmen passing to other towns. At least they would do so at the risk of forfeiting their right to relief if they lost their settlement without acquiring a new one. Hence the industrial control, though under another name and other conditions, remained in force to a large extent in practice.
By the Artificers and Labourers Act then, in conjunction with other measures, the labouring classes were finally committed to a new bondage, when they had freed themselves from the serfdom of feudalism, and when the control exercised over them by the gild and municipality was relaxed. The statute was so enforced that to earn a year’s livelihood would have taken a labourer not 52 weeks, but sometimes two years, or 58 weeks, or 80 weeks, or 72 weeks; sometimes, however, less—48 or 35. It followed that on such a system the country could only with the utmost good fortune free itself from the economic difficulties of the century, and that the need of a poor-law was felt the more as these difficulties persisted. A voluntary or a municipal system could not suffice, even as a palliative, while such statutes as these were in force to render labour immobile and unprogressive. Also, while wages were fixed by statute or order, whether chiefly in the interest of the employers or not, obviously any shortage on the wages had to be made good by the community. The community, by fixing the wages to be earned in a livelihood, made itself responsible for their sufficiency. And it is suggestive to find that in the year in which the Artificers and Labourers Act (1563) was passed, the act for the enforcement of assessments of poor-rate (5 Eliz. cap. 3) was also enacted. The Law of Settlement, to which we have referred, passed in the reign of Charles II., was due, it is said, to a migration of labourers southward from counties where less favourable statutory wages prevailed; but it was, in fact, only a corollary of the Artificers and Labourers Act of 1563 and the Poor Relief Act of 1601. These laws, it may be said, were the means of making the English labourer, until the poor-law reform of 1834, a settled but landless serf, supported by a fixed wage and a state bounty. By the poor-law it was possible to continue this state of things till, in consequence of an absolute economic breakdown, there was no alternative but reform.
The philanthropic nature of the poor-law is indicated by its antecedents: once enacted, its bounties became a right; its philanthropy disappeared in a quasi-legal claim. Its object was to relieve the poor by home industries, apprentice children, and provide necessary relief to the poor unable to work. The act was commonly interpreted so as to include the whole of that indefinite class, the “poor”; by a better and more rigid interpretation it was, at least in the 19th century, held to apply only to the “destitute,” that is, to those who required “necessary relief”—according to the actual wording of the statute. The economic fallacy of home industries founded on rate-supplied capital early declared itself, and the method could only have continued as long as it did because it formed part of a general system of industrial control. When in the 18th century workhouses were established, the same industrial fallacy, as records show, repeated itself under new conditions. Within the parish it resulted in the farmer paying the labourer as small a wage as possible, and leaving the parish to provide whatever he might require in addition during his working life and in his old age. Thus, indeed, a gigantic experiment in civic employment was made for at least two centuries on a vast scale throughout the country—and failed. As was natural, the lack of economic independence reacted on the morals of the people. With pauperism came want of energy, idleness and a disregard for chastity and the obligations of marriage. The law, it is true, recognized the mutual obligations of parents and grandparents, children and grandchildren; but in the general poverty which it was itself a means of perpetuating such obligations became practically obsolete, while at all times they are difficult to enforce. Still, the fact that they were recognized implies a great advance in charitable thought. The act, passed at first from year to year, was very slowly put in force. Even before it was passed the poor-rate first assessed under the act of 1563 was felt to be “a greater tax than some subsidies,” and in the time of Charles II. it amounted to a third of the revenue of England and Wales (Rogers, v. 81).
The service of villein and cottar was, as we have now seen, in part superseded by what we have called a statutory wage-control, founded on a basis of wage supplemented by relief, provided by a rate-supported poor-law. But it follows that with the decay of this system the poor-law itself should have disappeared, or should have taken some new and very limited form. Unfortunately, as in Roman times, state relief proved to be a popular and vigorous parasite that outlived the tree on which it was rooted: assessments of wage under the Statute of Labourers fell into disuse after the Restoration, it is said, and the statute was finally repealed in 1814, and sixty years later the act against illegal combinations of working men; but the serfdom of the poor-law, the eleemosyna civica, remained, to work the gravest evil to the labouring classes, and even after the reform of 1834 greatly impeded the recovery of their independence. Nevertheless, by a new law of state alms for the aged, or by statutory outdoor relief with, as some would wish, a regulated wage, it is now proposed to bring them once again under a thraldom similar to that from which they have so slowly emancipated themselves.
The policy adopted by Queen Elizabeth for the relief of the poor (1601) included a scheme for the reorganization of voluntary charity as well as plans for the extension of rate-aided relief. During the century, as we have seen, endeavours had been made to createThe endowed charities. a system of voluntary charity. This it was proposed to safeguard and promote concurrently with the extension of the poor-rate. Accordingly, in the poor-law it was arranged that the overseers, the new civic authority, and the churchwardens, the old parochial and charitable authority, should act in conjunction, and, subject to magisterial approval, together “raise weekly or otherwise” the necessary means “by taxation of every inhabitant.” The old charitable organization was based on endowment, and the churchwarden was responsible for the administration of many such endowments. What was not available from these and other sources was to be raised “by taxation.” The object of the new act was to encourage charitable gifts.
Towards the end of the 18th century, when the administration of poor relief fell into confusion, many charities were lost, or were in danger of being lost, and many were mismanaged. In 1786 and 1788 a committee of the House of Commons reported on the subject. In 1818, chiefly through the instrumentality of Lord Brougham, a commission of inquiry on educational charities was appointed, and in 1819 another commission to investigate (with some exceptions) all the charities for the poor in England and Wales. These and subsequent commissions continued their inquiries till 1835, when a select committee of the House of Commons made a strong report, advocating the establishment of a permanent and independent board, to inquire, to compel the production of accounts, to secure the safe custody of charity property, to adapt it to new uses on cy-près lines, &c. A commission followed in 1849, and eventually in 1853 the first Charitable Trusts Act was passed, under which “The Charity Commissioners of England and Wales” were appointed.
The following are details of importance:—(1) Definition.—The definition of the act of 1601 (Charitable Uses, 43 Eliz. 4) still holds good. It enumerates as charitable objects all that was once called “alms”: (a) “The relief of aged, impotent and poor people”—the normal poor; “the maintenance of sick and maimed soldiers and mariners”—the poor chiefly by reason of war, sometime a class of privileged mendicants; (b) education, “schools of learning, free schools and scholars in universities”; and then (c) a group of objects which include general civic and religious purposes, and the charities of gilds and corporations; “the repair of bridges, ports, havens, causeways, churches, sea-banks and highways; the education and preferment of orphans; the relief, stock, or maintenance for houses of correction; marriages of poor maids, supportation, aid, and help of young tradesmen, handicraftsmen, and persons decayed”; and there follows (d) “the relief or redemption of prisoners or captives”; and, lastly, (e) “the aid and ease of any poor inhabitants concerning payment of fifteens” (the property-tax of Tudor times), setting out of soldiers, and other taxes. The definition might be illustrated by the charitable bequests of the next 60, or indeed 225, years. It is a fair summary of them. (2) Charitable Gifts.—A public trust and a charitable trust are, as this definition shows, synonymous. It is a trust which relates to public charities, and is not held for the benefit of private persons, e.g. relations, but for the common good, and, subject to the instructions of the founder, by trustees responsible to the community. Gifts for charitable purposes, other than those affected by the law of mortmain, have always been viewed with favour. “Where a charitable bequest is capable of two constructions, one of which would make it void and the other would make it effectual, the latter will be adopted by the court” (Tudor’s Charitable Trusts, ed. 1906, by Bristowe, Hunt and Burdett, p. 167). Gifts to the poor, or widows, or orphans, indefinitely, or in a particular parish, were valid under the act, or for any purpose or institution for the aid of the “poor.” Thus practically the act covered the same field as the poor-law, though afterwards it was decided that, “as a rule, persons receiving parochial relief were not entitled to the benefit of a charity intended for the poor” (Tudor, p. 167). (3) Religious Differences.—In the administration of charities which are for the poor the broadest view is taken of religious differences. (4) Superstitious Uses.—The superstitious use is one that has for its object the propagation of the rights of a religion not tolerated by the law (Tudor, p. 4). Consequently, so far as charities were held or left subject to such rights, they were illegal, or became legal only as toleration was extended. Thus by degrees, since the Toleration Act of 1688, all charities to dissenters have become legal—that is, trusts for schools, places for religious instruction, education and charitable purposes generally. But bequests for masses for the soul of the donor, or for monastic orders, are still void. (5) Administration.—The duty of administering charitable trusts falls upon trustees or corporations, and under the term “eleemosynary corporations” are included endowed hospitals and colleges. Under schemes of the Charity Commissioners, where charities have been remodelled, besides trustees elected by corporations, there are now usually appointed ex-officio trustees who represent some office or institution of importance in connexion with the charity. (6) Jurisdiction by Chancery and Charity Commission.—The Court of Chancery has jurisdiction over charities, under the old principle that “charities are trusts of a public nature, in regard to which no one is entitled by an immediate and peculiar interest to prefer a complaint for compelling the performance by the trustees of their obligations.” The court, accordingly, represents the crown as parens patriae. Now, by the Charitable Trusts Act 1853, and subsequent acts, a charity commission has been formed which is entrusted with large powers, formerly enforced only by the Court of Chancery. (7) Jurisdiction by Visitor.—A further jurisdiction is by the “visitor,” a right inherent in the founder of any eleemosynary corporation, and his heirs, or those whom he appoints, or in their default, the king. The object of the visitor is “to prevent all perverting of the charity, or to compose differences among members of the corporation.” Formerly the bishop’s ordinary was the recognized visitor (2 Henry V. I, 1414) of hospitals, apart from the founder. Subsequently his power was limited (14 Eliz. c. 5, 1572) to hospitals for which the founders had appointed no visitors. Then (1601) by the Charitable Uses Act commissions were issued for inquiry by county juries. Now, apart from the duty of visitors, inquiry is conducted by the charity commissioners and the assistant commissioners. By subsequent acts (see below) ecclesiastical and eleemosynary charities have been still further separated and defined. (8) Advice.—“Trustees, or other persons concerned in the management of a charity, may apply to the charity commissioners for their opinion, advice or direction; and any person acting under such advice is indemnified, unless he has been guilty of misrepresentation in obtaining it.” (9) Limitation of Charity Commissioners’ Powers,—The commissioners cannot, however, make any order with respect to any charity of which the gross annual income amounts to £50 or upwards, except on the application (in writing) of the trustees or a majority of them. Their powers are thus very limited, except when put in motion by the trustees. If a parish is divided they can apportion the charities if the gross income does not exceed £20. (10) General Powers of the Charity Commission.—Subject to the limitation of £50, &c., the charity commissioners have power (Charitable Trusts Act 1860) to make orders for the appointment or removal of trustees, or of any officer, and for the transfer, payment and vesting of any real or personal estate, or “for the establishment of any scheme for the administration” of the charity, (11) Schemes and Remodelling of Charities.—Under this power charities are remodelled, and small and miscellaneous charities put into one fund and applied to new purposes. The cy-près doctrine is applied, by which if a testator leaves directions that are only indefinite, or if the objects for which a charity was founded are obsolete, the charity is applied to some purpose, as far as possible, in accordance with the charitable intention of the founder. This doctrine probably received its widest application in the City of London Parochial Charities Act of 1883. Under other acts doles have been applied to education and to allotments. About 380 schemes are issued in the course of a year. (12) Objects adopted in remodelling Charities.—In the remodelling of charities for the general benefit of the poor some one or more of thirteen objects are usually included in the scheme. These are subscriptions to a medical charity, to a provident club or coal or clothing society, to a friendly society; for nurses, for annuities, for outfit for service, &c.; for emigration; for recreation grounds, clubs, reading-rooms, museums, lectures; for temporary relief to a limited amount in each year; for clothes fuel, tools, medical aid, food, &c., or in money “in cases of unexpected loss or sudden destitution”; for pensions. (13) Parochial Charities.—By the Local Government Act of 1892, local ecclesiastical charities, i.e. endowments for “any spiritual purpose that is a legal purpose” (for spiritual persons, church and other buildings, for spiritual uses, &c.), are separated from parochial charities, “the benefits of which are, or the separate distribution of the benefits of which is, confined to inhabitants of a single parish, or of a single ancient ecclesiastical parish, or not more than five neighbouring parishes.” These charities, since the Local Government Act 1894, are under the supervision of the parish councils, who appoint trustees for their management in lieu of the former overseer or vestry trustees, or, under certain conditions, “additional trustees.” The accounts have to be submitted to the parish meeting, and the names of the beneficiaries of dole charities published. (14) Official Trustees.—There is also “an official trustee of charity lands,” who as “bare trustee” may hold the land or stock of the charity managed by the trustees or administrators. In 1905 the stock transferred to the official trustees amounted to £24,820,945. (15) Audit.—The charity commissioners have no power of audit, but the trustees of every charity have to prepare a statement of accounts annually, and transmit it to the commission. The accounts have to be “certified under the hand of one or more of the trustees and by the auditor of the charity.” (16) Taxation.—In the case of rents and profits of lands, &c., belonging to hospitals or almshouses, or vested in trustees for charitable purposes, allowances are made in diminution of income-tax (56 Vict. 35 § 61). From the inhabited house duty any hospital charity school, or house provided for the reception or relief of poor persons, is exempted (House Tax Act 1808). Also there is an exemption from the land-tax in regard to land rents, &c., in possession of hospitals before 1693. (17) The Digest.—A digest of endowed charities in England and Wales was compiled in the years 1861 to 1876. A new digest of reports and financial particulars has since been completed.
The income of endowed charities in 1876 was returned at £2,198,463. It is now, no doubt, considerably larger than it was in 1876. Partial returns show that at least a million a year is now available in England and Wales for the assistance of the aged poor and for doles. Between the poor-law, which, as it is at present administered, is a permanent endowment provided from the rates for the support of a class of permanent “poor,” and endowed charities, which are funds available for the poor of successive generations, there is no great difference. But in their resources and administration the difference is marked. Local endowed charities were constantly founded after Queen Elizabeth’s time till about 1830, and the poor-rate was at first supplementary of the local charities. When corn and fuel were dear and clothes very expensive, what now seem trivial endowments for food, fuel, coal and clothes were important assets in the thrifty management of a parish. But when the poor were recognized as a class of dependants entitled by law to relief from the community, the rate increased out of all proportion to the charities. A distinction then made itself felt between the “parish” poor and the “second” poor, or the poor who were not relieved from the rates, and relief from the rates altogether overshadowed the charitable aid. Charitable endowments were ignored, ill-administered, and often were lost. After 1834 the poor-law was brought under the control of the central government. Poor relief was placed in the hands of boards of guardians in unions of parishes. The method of co-operation between poor-law and charity suggested by the acts of Queen Elizabeth was set aside, and, as a responsible partner in the public work of relief, charity was disestablished. In the parishes the endowed charities remained in general a disorganized medley of separate trusts, jealously guarded by incompetent administrators. To give unity to this mass of units, so long as the principles of charity are misunderstood or ignored, has proved an almost impossible and certainly an unpopular task. So far as it has been achieved, it has been accomplished by the piecemeal legislation of schemes cautiously elaborated to meet local prejudices. Active reform has been resented, and politicians have often accentuated this resentment. In 1894 a select committee was appointed to inquire whether it was desirable to take measures to bring the action of the Charity Commission more directly under the control of parliament, but no serious grievances were substantiated. The committees’ reports are of interest, however, as an indication of the initial difficulties of all charitable work, the general ignorance that prevails in regard to the elementary conditions that govern it, the common disregard of these principles, and the absence of any accepted theory or constructive policy that should regulate its development and its administration.
After the Poor-Law Act of 1601 the history of the voluntary parochial charities in a town parish is marked by their decreasing amount and utility, as poor-law relief and pauperism increased. The act, it would seem, was not adopted with much alacrity by theCharity in the parish after 1601. local authorities. From 1625 to 1646 there were many years of plague and sickness, but in St Giles’s, London, as late as 1649, the amount raised by the “collectors” (or overseers) was only £176. They disbursed this to “the visited poor” as “pensions.” In 1665 an extra levy of £600 is mentioned. In the accounts of St Martin’s-in-the-Fields, where, as in St Giles’s, gifts were received, the change wrought by another half-century (1714) is apparent. The sources of charitable relief are similar to those in all the Protestant churches—English, Scottish or continental: church collections and offertories; correctional fines, such as composition for bastards and conviction money for swearers; and besides these, income from annuities and legacies, the parish estate, the royal bounty, and “petitions to persons of quality.” In all £2041 was collected, but, so far as relief was concerned, the parish relied not on it, but on the poor-rate, which produced £3765. All this was collected and disbursed on their own authority by collectors, to orphans, “pensioners” or the “known or standing” poor, or to casual poor (£1818), including nurse children and bastards. The begging poor were numerous and the infant death-rate enormous, and each year three-fourths of those christened were “inhumanly suffered to die by the barbarity of nurses.” The whole administration was uncharitable, injurious to the community and the family, and inhuman to the child. If one may judge from later accounts of other parishes even up to 1834, usually it remained the same, purposeless and unintelligent; and it can hardly be denied that, generally speaking, only since the middle of the 19th century has any serious attention been paid to the charitable side of parochial work. Parallel to the parochial movement of the poor-law in England, in France (about 1617) were established the bureaux de bienfaisance, at first entirely voluntary institutions, then recognized by the state, and during the Revolution made the central administration for relief in the communes.
In the 17th century in England, as in France, opinion favoured the establishment of large hospitals or maisons Dieu for the reception of the poor of different classes. In France throughout the century there was a continuous struggle with mendicancy, andCharitable movements after 1601. the hospitals were used as places into which offenders were summarily driven. A new humanity was, however, beginning its protest. The pitiful condition of abandoned children attracted sympathy in both countries. St Vincent de Paul established homes for the enfants trouvés, followed in England by the establishment of the Foundling hospital (1739). In both countries the method was applied inconsiderately and pushed to excess, and it affected family life most injuriously. Grants from parliament supported the foundling movement in England, and homes were opened in many parts of the country. The demand soon became overwhelming; the mortality was enormous, and the cost so large that it outstripped all financial expedients. The lesson of the experiment is the same as that of the poor-law catastrophe before 1834; only, instead of the able-bodied poor of another age, infants were made the object of a compassionate but undiscerning philanthropy. With widespread relief there came widespread abandonment of duty and economic bankruptcy. Had the poor-rates instead of charitable relief been used in the same way, the moral injury would have been as great, but the annual draft from the rates would have concealed the moral and postponed the economic disaster. To amend the evil, changes were made by which the relation between child and mother was kept alive, and a personal application on her part was required; the character of the mother and her circumstances were investigated, and assistance was only given when it would be “the means of replacing the mother in the course of virtue and the way of an honest livelihood.” General reforms were also made, especially through the instrumentality of Jonas Hanway, to check infant mortality, and metropolitan parishes were required to provide for their children outside London. A kindred movement led to the establishment of penitentiaries (1758), of lock hospitals and lying-in hospitals (1749–1752).
In Queen Anne’s reign there was a new educational movement, “the charity school”—“to teach poor children the alphabet and the principles of religion,” followed by the Sunday-school movement (1780), and about the same time (1788) by “the school of industry”—to employ children and teach them to be industrious. In 1844 the Ragged School Union was established, and until the Education Act of 1870 continued its voluntary educational work. As an outcome of these movements, through the efforts of Miss Mary Carpenter and many others, in 1854–1855 industrial and reformatory schools were established, to prevent crime and reform child criminals. The orphanage movement, beginning in 1758, when the Orphan Working Home was established, has been continued to the present day on a vastly extended scale. In 1772 a society for the discharge of persons imprisoned for small debts was established, and in 1773 Howard began his prison reforms. This raised the standard of work in institutional charities generally. After the civil wars the old hospital foundations of St Bartholomew and St Thomas, municipalized by Edward VI., became endowed charities partly supported by voluntary contributions. The same fate befell Christ’s Hospital, in connexion with which the voting system, the admission of candidates by the vote of the whole body of subscribers—that peculiarly English invention—first makes its appearance.
A new interest in hospitals sprang up at the end of the 17th century. St Thomas’s was rebuilt (1693) and St Bartholomew’s (1739); Guy’s was founded in 1724, and on the system of free “letters” obtainable in exchange for donations, voluntary hospitals and infirmaries were established in London (1733 and later) and in most of the large towns. Towards the end of the 18th century the dispensary movement was developed—a system of local dispensaries with fairly definite districts and home visiting, a substitute for attendance at a hospital, where “hospital fever” was dreaded, and an alternative to what was then a very ill-administered system of poor-law medical relief. After 1840 the provident dispensary was introduced, in order that the patients by small contributions in the time of health might provide for illness without having to meet large doctors’ bills, and the doctor might receive some sufficient remuneration for his attendance on poor patients. This movement was largely extended after 1860. Three hospital funds for collecting contributions for hospitals and making them grants, a movement that originated in Birmingham in 1859, were established in London in 1873 and 1897.
Since 1868 the poor-law medical system of Great Britain has been immensely improved and extended, while at the same time the number of persons in receipt of free medical relief in most of the large towns has greatly increased. The following figures refer to London: at hospitals, 97 in number, in-patients (1904) during the year, 118,536; out-patients and casualty cases, 1,858,800; patients at free, part-pay, or provident dispensaries, about 280,000; orders issued for attendance at poor-law dispensaries and at home, 114,158. The number of beds in poor-law infirmaries (1904) was 16,976. There are in London 12 general hospitals with, 18 without, medical schools, and 67 special hospitals. Thus the population in receipt of public and voluntary medical relief is very large, indeed altogether excessive.
Each religious movement has brought with it its several charities. The Society of Friends, the Wesleyans, the Baptists have large charities. With the extension of the High Church movement there have been established many sisterhoods which support penitentiaries, convalescent homes and hospitals, schools, missions, &c.
The magnitude of this accumulating provision of charitable relief is evident, though it cannot be summed up in any single total.
At the beginning of the 19th century anti-mendicity societies were established; and later, about 1869, in England and Scotland a movement began for the organization of charitable relief, in connexion with which there are now societies and committees in most of the larger towns in Great Britain, in the colonies, and in the United States of America. More recently the movement for the establishment of settlements in poor districts, initiated by Canon Barnett at Toynbee Hall—“to educate citizens in the knowledge of one another, and to provide them with teaching and recreation”—has spread to many towns in England and America.
These notes of charitable movements suggest an altogether new development of thought. On behalf of the charity school of Queen Anne’s time were preached very formal sermons, which showed but little sympathy with child life. After the first half of the century a new humanismProgress
centuries. with which we connect the name of Rousseau, slowly superseded this formal beneficence. Rousseau made the world open its eyes and see nature in the child, the family and the community. He analysed social life, intent on explaining it and discovering on what its well-being depended; and he stimulated that desire to meet definite social needs which is apparent in the charities of the century. Little as it may appear to be so at first sight, it was a period of charitable reformation. Law revised the religious conception of charity, though he was himself so strangely devoid of social instinct that, like some of his successors, he linked the utmost earnestness in belief to that form of almsgiving which most effectually fosters beggardom. Howard introduced the era of inspection, the ardent apostle of a new social sagacity; and Bentham, no less sagacious, propounded opinions, plans and suggestions which, perhaps it may be said, in due course moulded the principles and methods of the poor-law of 1834. In the broader sense the turn of thought is religious, for while usually stress is laid on the religious scepticism of the century, the deeper, fervent, conscientious and evangelical charity in which Nonconformists, and especially “the Friends,” took so large a part, is often forgotten. Sometimes, indeed, as often happens now, the feeling of charity passed into the merest sentimentality. This is evident, for instance, from so ill-considered a measure as Pitt’s Bill for the relief of the poor. On the other hand, during the 18th century the poor-law was the object of constant criticism, though so long as the labour statutes and the old law of settlement were in force, and the relief of the labouring population as state “poor” prevailed, it was impossible to reform it. Indeed, the criticism itself was generally vitiated by a tacit acceptance of “the poor” as a class, a permanent and irrevocable charge on the funds of the community; and at the end of the 18th century, when the labour statutes were abrogated, but the conditions under which poor relief was administered remained the same, serfdom in its later stage, the serfdom of the poor-law, asserted itself in its extremest form in times of dearth and difficulty during the Napoleonic War. In 1802–1803 it was calculated (Marshall’s Digest) that 28% of the population were in receipt of permanent or occasional relief. Those in receipt of the former numbered 734,817, including children—so real had this serfdom of the poor become.
In 1832 the expenditure on pauperism in England and Wales was £7,036,968. In the early years of the 19th century the mendicity societies, established in some of the larger towns, were a sign of the general discontent with existing methods of administration. The Society for Bettering the Condition of the Poor—representing a group of men such as Patrick Colquhoun, Sir I. Bernard, Dr Lettsom, Dr Haygarth, James Neald, Count Rumford and others—took a more positive line and issued many useful publications (1796). After 1833 the very atmosphere of thought seems changed. There was a general desire to be quit of the serfdom of pauperism. The Poor-law Amendment Act was passed in 1834, and since then male able-bodied pauperism has dwindled to a minimum. The bad years of 1860–1870 revived the problem in England and Scotland, and the old spirit of reform for a time prevailed. Improved administration working with economic progress effected still further reductions of pauperism, till on the 1st of January 1905 (exclusive of lunatics in county asylums and casual paupers) the mean number of paupers stood at 764,589, or 22.6 per thousand of the population, instead of 41.8 per thousand as in 1859 (see Poor-law).
Charity organization societies were formed after 1869, with the object of “improving the condition of the poor,” or, in other words, to promote independence by an ordered and co-operative charity; and the Association for Befriending Young Servants, and workhouse aid committees, in order to prevent relapse into pauperism on the part of those who as children or young women received relief from the poor-law. The Local Government Board adopted a restricted out-door relief policy, and a new interest was felt in all the chief problems of local administration. The movement was general. The results of the Elberfeld system of municipal relief administered by unpaid almoners, each dealing with but one or two cases, influenced thought both in England and America. The experience gained by Mr Joseph Tuckerman of Boston of the utility of registering applications for relief, and the teaching of Miss Octavia Hill, led to the foundation of the system of friendly visiting and associated charity at Boston (1880) and elsewhere. Since that time the influence of Arnold Toynbee and the investigations of Charles Booth have led to a better appreciation of the conditions of labour; and to some extent, in London and elsewhere, the spirit of charity has assumed the form of a new devotion to the duties of citizenship. But perhaps, in regard to charity in Great Britain, the most important change has been the revival of the teaching of Dr Chalmers (1780–1847), who (1819) introduced a system of parochial charity at St John’s, Glasgow, on independent lines, consistent with the best traditions of the Scottish church. In the development of the theory of charitable relief on the economic side this has been a main factor. His view, which he tested by experience, may be summed up as follows: Society is a growing, self-supporting organism. It has within it, as between family and family, neighbour and neighbour, master and employee, endless links of sympathy and self-support. Poverty is not an absolute, but a relative term. Naturally the members of one class help one another; the poor help the poor. There is thus a large invisible fund available and constantly used by those who, by their proximity to one another, know best how to help. The philanthropist is an alien to this life around him. Moved by a sense of contrast between his own lot, as he understands it, and the lot of those about him, whom he but little understands, he concludes that he should relieve them. But his gift, unless it be given in such a way as to promote this self-support, instead of weakening it, is really injurious. In the first place, by his interference he puts a check on the charitable resources of another class and lessens their social energy. What he gives they do not give, though they might do so. But next, he does more harm than this. He stimulates expectation, so that by a false arithmetic his gift of a few shillings seems to those who receive it and to those who hear of it a possible source of help in any difficulty. To them it represents a large command of means; and where one has received what, though it be little, is yet, relative to wage, a large sum to be acquired without labour, many will seek more, and with that object will waste their time and be put off their work, or even be tempted to lie and cheat. So social energy is diverted from its proper use. Alms thus given weakens social ties, diminishes the natural relief funds of mutual help, and beggars a neighbour instead of benefiting him. By this argument a clear and well-defined purpose is placed before charity. Charity becomes a science based on social principles and observation. Not to give alms, but to keep alive the saving health of the family, becomes its problem: relief becomes altogether subordinate to this, and institutions or societies are serviceable or the reverse according as they serve or fail to serve this purpose. Not poverty, but distress is the plea for help; not almsgiving, but charity the means. To charity is given a definite social aim, and a desire to use consistently with this aim every method that increasing knowledge and trained ability can devise.
Under such influences as these, joined with better economic conditions, a great reform has been made. The poor-law, however, remains—the modern eleemosyna civica. It now, indeed, absorbs a proportionately lesser amount of the largely increased national income, but, excluding the maintenance of lunatics, it costs Great Britain more than twelve millions a year; and among the lower classes of the poor, directly or indirectly, it serves as a bounty on dependence and is a permanent obstacle to thrift and self-reliance. The number of those who are within the circle of its more immediate attraction is now perhaps, in different parts of the country or different districts in a town, not more than, say, 20% of the population. Upon that population the statistics of a day census would show a pauperism not of 2.63, the percentage of the mean day pauperism on the population in 1908, but of 13.15%; and the percentage would be much greater—twice as large, perhaps—if the total number of those who in some way received poor relief in the course of a year were taken into account. The English poor-law is thus among the lower classes, those most tempted to dependence—say some six or seven millions of the people—a very potent influence definitely antagonistic to the good development of family life, unless it be limited to very narrow proportions; as, for instance, to restricted indoor or institutional relief for the sick, for the aged and infirm, who in extreme old age require special care and nursing, and for the afflicted, for whom no sufficient charitable provision is procurable. As ample experience shows, only on these conditions can poor-law relief be justified from the point of view of charity and the common good. In marked contrast to this opinion is the English movement for Old Age pensions, which came to its first fruition in 1908—a huge charity started on the credit of the state, the extension of which might ultimately involve a cost comparable with that of the army or the navy. Schemes of the kind have been adopted in the Australasian colonies with limitations and safeguards; and they seem likely to develop into a new type of poor-relief organization for the aged and infirm (Report: Royal Commission on Old Age Pensions, Commonwealth of Australia, 1906). In England, partly to meet the demand for better state provision for the aged, the Local Government Board in 1900 urged the boards of guardians to give more adequate outdoor relief to aged deserving people, and laid no stress on the test of destitution, or, in other words, the limitation of relief to what was actually “necessary,” the neglect of which has led to new difficulties. History has proved that demoralization results from the wholesale relief whether of the mass of the citizens, or of the able-bodied, or of the children, and the proposal to limit the endowment to the aged makes no substantial difference. The social results must be similar; but social forces work slowly, and usually only the unanswerable argument of financial bankruptcy suffices to convert a people habituated to dependence, though the inward decay of vitality and character may long before be manifest. Ultimately the distribution of pensions by way of out-door relief, corrupting a far more independent people, is calculated to work a far greater injury than the annona civica. Such an endowment of old age might indeed be justified as part of a system of regulated labour, which, as in earlier times, could not be enforced without some such extraneous help, but it could not be justified otherwise. It is naturally associated, therefore, with socialistic proposals for the regulation of wage.
In the light of the principles of charity, which we have considered historically, we have now to turn to two questions: charity and economics, and charity and socialism.
The object of charity is to render to our neighbour the services and duties of goodwill, friendship and love. To prevent distress charity has for its further object to preserve and develop the manhood and womanhood of individuals and their self-maintenance in and through the family; and any form of state intervention is approved or disapproved by the same standard. ByThe economics of charity. self-maintenance is meant self-support throughout life in its ordinary contingencies—sickness, widowhood, old age, &c. Political economy we would define as the science of exchange and exchange value. Here it has to be considered in relation to the purposes of charity. By way of illustration we take, accordingly, three points: distribution and use, supplementation of wage, and the standard of well-being or comfort in relation to wage.
(1) Distribution and Use.—Economy in the Greek sense begins at this point—the administration and the use of means and resources. Political economy generally ignores this part of the problem. Yet from the point of view of charity it is cardinal to the whole issue. The distribution of wage may or may not be largely influenced by trades unions; but the variation of wage, as is generally the case, by the increase or decrease of a few pence is of less importance than its use. Comparing a careful and an unthrifty family, the difference in use may amount to as much as a third on the total wage. Mere abstention from alcohol may make, in a normal family, a difference of 6s. in a wage of 25s. On the other hand, membership of a friendly society is at a time of sickness equivalent to the command of a large sum of money, for the common stock of capital is by that means placed at the disposal of each individual who has a share in it. Further, even a small amount saved may place the holder in a position to get a better market for his labour; he can wait when another man cannot. Rent may be high, but by co-operation that too may be reduced. Other points are obvious and need not be mentioned. It is evident that while the amount of wage is important, still more important is its use. In use it has a large expansive value. (2) Supplementation of Wage.—The exchange between skill and wage must be free if it is to be valid. The less the skill the greater is the temptation to philanthropists to supplement the lesser wage; and the more important is non-supplementation, for the skilled can usually look after their own interests in the market, while the less skilled, because their labour is less marketable, have to make the greater effort to avoid dependence. But the dole of endowed charities, outdoor relief, and any constant giving, tend to reduce wage, and thus to deprive the recipients of some part of the means of independence. The employer is pressed by competition himself, and in return he presses for profit through a reduced wage, if circumstances make it possible for the workman to take it. And thus a few individuals may lower the wages of a large class of poorly skilled or unskilled hands. In these conditions unionism, even if it were likely to be advantageous, is not feasible. Unionism can only create a coherent unit of workers where there is a limited market and a definite saleable skill. Except for the time, insufficient wage will not be remedied in the individual case by supplementation in any form—doles, clothes, or other kinds of relief; and in that case, too, the relief will probably produce lessened energy after a short time, or in other words lessened ability to live. An insufficient wage may be prevented by increasing the skill of the worker, who will then have the advantage of a better series of economic exchanges, but hardly otherwise. If the supplementation be not immediate, but postponed, as in the case of old-age pensions, its effect will be similar. To the extent of the prospective adventitious gain the attraction to the friendly society and to mutual help and saving will grow less. Necessity has been the inventor of these; and where wage is small, a little that would otherwise be saved is quickly spent if the necessity for saving it is removed. Only necessity schools most men, especially the weak, to whom it makes most difference ultimately, whether they are thrifty or whether or not they save for the future in any way. (3) The Standard of Well-being or Comfort in Relation to Wage.—With an increase of income there has to be an increase in the power to use income intelligently. Whatever is not so used reacts on the family to its undoing. Constantly when the wife can earn a few shillings a week, the husband will every week idle for two or three days; so also if the husband finds that in a few days he can earn enough to meet what he considers to be his requirements for the week. In these circumstances the standard of well-being falls below the standard of wage; the wage is in excess of the energy and intelligence necessary to its economic use, and in these cases ultimately pauperism often ensues. The family is demoralized. Thus, with a view to the prevention of distress in good times, when there is the less poverty there is the more need of charity, rightly understood; for charity would strive to promote the right use of wage, as the best means of preventing distress and preserving the economic well-being of the family.
The theory of charity separates it entirely from socialism, as that word is commonly used. Strictly socialism means, in questions affecting the community, a dominant regard for the common or social good in so far as it is contrary to private or individualCharity and socialism. advantage. But even so the antithesis is misleading, for the two need not be inconsistent. On the contrary, the common good is really and ultimately only individual good (not advantage) harmonized to a common end. The issue, indeed, is that of old Greek days, and the conditions of a settlement of it are not substantially different. Using modern terms one may say that charity is “interventionist.” It has sought to transform the world by the transformation of the will and the inward life in the individual and in society. It would intensify the spirit and feeling of membership in society and would aim at improving social conditions, as science makes clear what the lines of reform should be. So it has constantly intervened in all kinds of ways, and, in the 19th century for instance, it has initiated many movements afterwards taken up by public authorities—such as prison reform, industrial schools, child protection, housing, food reform, &c., and it has been a friendly ally in many reforms that affect industry very closely, as, for instance, in the introduction of the factory acts. But it has never aimed at recasting society itself on a new economic plan, as does socialism. Socialism indeed offers the people a new state of social security. It recognizes that the annona civica and the old poor-law may have been bad, but it would meet the objection made against them by insisting on the gradual creation of a new industrial society in which wage would be regulated and all would be supported, some by wage in adult life, some by allowance in old age, and others by maintenance in childhood. Accordingly for it all schemes for the state maintenance of school children, old age pensions, or state provision for the unemployed are, like municipal trading, steps towards a final stage, in which none shall want because all shall be supported by society or be dependent on it industrially. To charity this position seems to exclude the ethical element in life and to treat the people primarily or chiefly as human animals. It seems also to exclude the motives for energy and endeavour that come from self-maintenance. Against it, on the other hand, socialism would urge, that only by close regulation and penalty will the lowest classes be improved, and that only the society that maintains them can control them. Charity from its experience doubts the possibility of such control without a fatal loss of initiative on the part of those controlled, and it believes both that there is constant improvement on the present conditions of society and that there will be constantly more as science grows and its conclusions are put in force. Thus charity and socialism, in the usual meaning of the word, imply ultimately two quite different theories of social life. The one would re-found society industrially, the other would develop it and allow it to develop.
The springs of charity lie in sympathy and religion, and, one would now add, in science. To organize it is to give to it the “ordered nature” of an organic whole, to give it a definite social purpose, and to associate the members The organization of charity. of the community for the fulfilment of that purpose. This in turn depends on the recognition of common principles, the adoption of a common method, self-discipline and training, and co-operation. In a mass of people there may be a large variation in motives coincident with much unity in action. Thus there may be acceptance of a common social purpose in charity, while in one the impulse is similar to that which moved St Francis or George Herbert, in another to that which moved Howard or Dr Chalmers, or a modern poor-law reformer like Sir G. Nicholls or E. Denison. Accepting, then, the principles of charity, we pass to the method in relation to assistance and relief. Details may vary, but on the following points there is general agreement among students and workers:—
(1) The Committee or Conference.—There are usually two kinds of local relief: the public or poor-law relief, and relief connected with religious agencies. Besides, there is the relief of endowments, societies and charitable persons. Therefore, as a condition precedent to all organization, there must be some local centre of association for information and common help. A town should be divided for this purpose into manageable areas coincident with parishes or poor-law divisions, or other districts. Subject to an acceptance of general principles, those engaged in charity should be members of a local conference or committee, or allied to it. The committee would thus be the rallying-point of a large and somewhat loosely knit association of friends and workers. (2) Inquiry, Aid and Registration.—The object of inquiry is to ascertain the actual causes of distress or dependence, and to carry on the work there must usually be a staff of several honorary and one or two paid workers. Two methods may be adopted: to inquire in regard to applications for help with a view to forming some plan of material help or friendly aid, or both, which will lead to the ultimate self-support of the family and its members, and, under certain conditions, in the case of the aged or sick, to their continuous or their sufficient help; or to ascertain the facts partly at once, partly by degrees, and then to form and carry out some plan of help, or continue to befriend the family in need of help, in the hope of bringing them to conditions of self-support, leaving the work of relief entirely to other agencies. The committee in neither case should be a relief committee—itself a direct source of relief. On the former method it has usually no relief fund, but it raises from relations, employers, charities and charitable persons the relief required, according to the plan of help agreed upon, unless, indeed, it is better not to relieve the case, or to leave it to the poor-law. The committee thus makes itself responsible for endeavouring to the best of its ability to raise the necessary relief, and acts as trustee for those who co-operate without it, in such a way as to keep intact and to give play to all the natural obligations that lie within the inner circles of a self-supporting community. On the latter method the work of relief is left to general charity, or to private persons, or to the poor-law; and the effort is made to help the family to self-support by a friendly visitor. This procedure is that adopted by the associated charities in Boston, Mass., and other similar societies in America and elsewhere. It is akin also to that adopted in the municipal system of relief in Elberfeld—which has become with many variations in detail the standard method of poor relief in Germany. The method of associated help, combined with personal work, represents the usual practice of charity organization societies. Mutatis mutandis, the plan can be adopted on the simplest scale in parochial or other relief committees, subject to the safeguards of sufficient training and settled method. The inquiry should cover the following points: names and address, and ages of family, previous addresses, past employment and wages, present income, rent and liabilities, membership of friendly or other society, and savings, relations, relief (if any) from any source. These points should be verified, and reference should be made to the clergy, the poor-law authorities, and others, to ascertain if they know the applicant. The result should be to show how the applicant has been living, and what are the sources of possible help, and also what is his character. The problem, however, is not whether the person is “deserving” or “undeserving,” but whether, granted the facts, the distress can be stayed and self-support attained. If the help can be given privately from within the circle of the family, so much the better. Often it may be best to advise, but not to interfere. In some cases but little help may be necessary; in others again the friendly relation between applicant and friend may last for months and even years. Usually in charitable work the question of the kind of relief available—money, tickets, clothes, &c.—governs the decision how the case should be assisted. But this is quite wrong: the opposite is the true rule. The wants of the case, rightly understood, should govern the decision as to what charity should do and what it should provide. Cases are overwhelming in number, as at the out-patient and casualty departments of a hospital, where the admissions are made without inquiry, and subject practically to no restrictions; but when there is inquiry, and each case is seriously considered and aided with a view to self-support, the numbers will seldom be overwhelming. On this plan appeal is made to the strength of the applicant, and requires an effort on his part. Indiscriminate relief, on the other hand, attracts the applicant by an appeal to his weakness, and it requires of him no effort. Hence, apart even from the differentiating effect of inquiry, one method makes applicants, the other limits their number, although on the latter plan much more strenuous endeavours be made to assist the lesser number of claimants. For the routine work of the office an extremely simple system of records with card index, &c., has been devised. In some cities, particularly in the United States of America, there is a central registration of cases, notified by individual charities, poor-relief authorities and private persons. The system of charity organization or associated charity, it will be seen, allows of the utmost variety of treatment, according to the difficulties in each instance and the remedies available, and the utmost scope for personal work. (3) Training.—If charitable work is an art, those who undertake it must needs be trained both in practice and method and in judgment. It requires, too, that self-discipline which blends intelligence with emotion, and so endows emotion with strength and purpose. In times of distress a reserve of trained workers is of the utmost service. At all times they do more and produce, socially, better results; but when there is general distress of any kind they do not lose their heads like new recruits, but prevent at least some of the mischief that comes of the panic which often takes possession of a community, when distress is apprehended, and leads to the wildest distribution of relief. Also trained workers make the most useful poor-law guardians, trustees of charities, secretaries of charitable societies and district visitors. All clergy and ministers and all medical men who have to be engaged in the administration of medical relief should learn the art of charity. Poor-law guardians are usually elected on political or general grounds, and have no special knowledge of good methods of charity; and trustees are seldom appointed on the score of their qualifications on this head. To provide the necessary education in charity there should be competent helpers and teachers at charity organization committees and elsewhere, and an alliance for this purpose should be formed between them and professors and teachers of moral science and economics and the “settlements.” Those who study social problems in connexion with what a doctor would call “cases” or “practice” see the limits and the falsity of schemes that on paper seem logical enough. This puts a check on the influence of scheme-building and that literary sensationalism which makes capital out of social conditions. (4) Co-operation.—Organization in charity depends on extensive co-operation, and ultimately on the acceptance of common views. This comes but slowly. But with much tribulation the goal may be reached, if in case after case the effort is made to provide friendly help through charities and private persons,—unless, as may well be, it should seem best not to interfere, but to leave the applicant to apply to the administrators of public relief. Experience of what is right and wrong in charity is thus gained on both sides. Many sources may have to be utilized for aid of different kinds even in a single case, and for the prevention of distress co-operation with members of friendly societies and with co-operative and thrift agencies is indispensable.
Where there is accord between charity and the poor-law pauperism may be largely reduced. The poor-law in most countries has at its disposal certain institutional relief and out-door allowances, but it has no means of devising plans of The poor law.help which may prevent application to the rates or “take” people “off the rates.” Thus a widow in the first days of widowhood applies and receives an allowance according to the number of her children. Helped at the outset by charity on some definite plan, she may become self-supporting; and if her family be large one or two of her children may be placed in schools by the guardians, while she maintains the remaining children and herself. As far as possible there should be a division of labour between the poor-law and charity. Except where some plan such as that just mentioned is adopted, one or the other should take whole charge of the case relieved. There should be no supplementation of poor-law relief by charity. This will weaken the strength and dissipate the resources of charity without adding to the efficiency of the poor-law. Unless the guardians adopt a restrictive out-door relief policy, there is no scope for any useful division of labour between them and charity; for the many cases which, taken in time, charity might save from pauperism, they will draw into chronic dependence by their allowances a very much larger number. But if there is a restrictive out-door policy, so far as relief is necessary, charity may undertake to meet on its own lines distress which the poor-law would otherwise have met by allowances, and, subject to the assistance of urgent cases, poor-law relief may thus by degrees become institutional only. Then, in the main, natural social forces would come into play, and dependence on any form of annona civica would cease.
Open-handed hospitality always creates mendicants. This is what the hospitals offer in the out-patient and casualty departments, and they have created a class of hospital mendicants. The cases are quickly dealt with, without inquiry and without regardHospitals. to home conditions. The medical man in the hospital does not co-operate with any fellow-workers outside the hospital. Where his physic or advice ceases to operate his usefulness ceases. He regards no conditions of morality. In a large number of cases drink or vice is the cause of application, and the cure of the patient is dependent on moral conditions; but he returns home, drinks and may beat his wife, and then on another visit to the hospital he will again be physicked and so on. The man is not even referred to the poor-law infirmary for relief. Nor are conditions of home sanitation regarded. One cause of constant sickness is thus entirely overlooked, while drugs, otherwise unnecessary, are constantly given at the hospital. The hospitals are thus large isolated relief stations which are creating a new kind of pauperism. So far as the patients can pay—and many can do so—the general practitioners, to whom they would otherwise go, are deprived of their gains. Still worse is it when the hospital itself charges a fee in its out-patient department. The relief is then claimed even more absolutely as a right, and the general practitioners are still further injured. The doctors, as a medical staff, are not only medical men, but whether they recognize the fact or not, they are also almsgivers or almoners; what they give is relief. Yet few or none of them have ever been trained for that work, and consequently they do not realize how very advantageous, even for the cure of their own patients, would be a thorough treatment of each case both at the hospital and outside it. Nor can they understand how their methods at present protract sickness and promote habitual dependence. Were this side of their work studied by them in any way they would be the first, probably, to press upon the governors of their hospitals the necessity for a change. Unfortunately, at present the governors are themselves untrained, and to finance the hospital and to make it a good institution is their sole object. Hospitals, however, are, after all, only a part of the general administration of charity, though as they are now managed they have seldom any systematic connexion with that administration. Nor is there any co-ordination between the several hospitals and dispensaries. If one rightly refuses further treatment to certain applicants, they have only to wander to some other hospital, there to be admitted with little or no scrutiny. For usually out-patients and casualty patients are not even registered, nor can they be identified if they apply again. Practically they come and go at will. The definite limitation of cases, according to some standard of effectual work, association with general charity, trained almonership and inquiry, and a just regard for the interests of general practitioners, are stepping-stones to reform. In towns where medical charities are numerous a representative board would promote mutual help and organization.
Like the poor-law, endowed charities may be permanent institutions established to meet what should be passing and decreasing needs (cf. the arguments in The State and Charity, by T. Mackay). Administered as they usually are in isolation—apart Endowed charities.from the living voluntary charities of the generation, and consisting often of small trusts difficult to utilize satisfactorily, they tend to create a permanent demand which they meet by fixed quantities of relief. Also, as a rule, they make no systematic inquiries with a view to the verification of the statements of the applicants, for they have no staff for these purposes; nor have they the assistance of almoners or friendly visitors. Nor does the relief which they give form part of any plan of help in conjunction with other aid from without; nor is the administration subject to frequent inspection, as in the case of the poor-law. All these conditions have led to a want of progress in the actual administration of endowed charities, in regard to which it is often very difficult to prevent the exercise of an undue patronage. But there is no reason why these charities should not become a responsible part of the country’s administration, aiding it to reduce outdoor pauperism. It was never intended that the poor-law should extinguish the endowed charities, still less, as statistics now prove, that where endowments abound the rate of pauperism should be considerably above the average of the rest of the country. This shows that these charities often foster pauperism instead of preventing it. As a step to reform, the publication of an annual register of endowed charities in England and Wales is greatly needed. The consolidating schemes of the charity commissioners have done much good; still more may be done in some counties by extending to the county the benefits of the charities of well-endowed towns, as has been accomplished by the extension of the eleemosynary endowments of the city of London to the metropolitan police area. Nor, again, until quite lately, and that as yet only in a few schemes, has the principle been adopted that pensions or other relief should be given only in supplementation of the relief of relations, former employers and friends, and not in substitution of it. This, coupled with good methods of inquiry and supervision, has proved very beneficial. Hitherto, however, to a large extent, endowed charities, it must be admitted, have tended to weaken the family and to pauperize.
In many places funds are raised for the relief of school children by the supply of meals during the winter and spring; and an act has now been passed in England (1906) enabling the cost to be put upon the rates. Usually a very large number of children are said Relief to children at school.to be underfed, but inquiry shows that such statements may be taken as altogether excessive. They are sometimes based on information drawn from the children at school; or sometimes on general deductions; they are seldom founded on any systematic and competent inquiry at the homes. When this has been made, the numbers dwindle to very small proportions. Teachers of experience have noted the effect of the meals in weakening the independence of the family. While they are forthcoming women sometimes give up cooking meals at home, use their money for other things, and tell the child he can get his meal at school. Great temptations are put before a parent to neglect her family, and very much distress is due to this. The meals—just at a time when, owing to the age of her children, the mother’s care is most needed, and just in those families where the temptation is greatest, and where the family instinct should be strengthened—stimulate this neglect. Considered from the point of view of meeting by eleemosynary provision a normal economic demand for food, intervention can only have one result. The demand must continue to outstrip the supply, so long as there are resources available on the one side, and until on the other side the desire of the social class that is chiefly exposed to the temptations of dependence in relation to such relief has been satisfied. If the provision be made from the resources of local or general taxation the largeness of the fund available will allow practically of an unlimited expansion of the supply of food. If the provision be made from voluntary sources, in some measure limited therefore and less certain, this very fact will tend to circumscribe demand and limit the offer of relief. It is indeed the problem of poor-law relief in 1832 over again. The relief provided by local taxation practically unlimited will create a mass of constant claimants, with a kind of assumed right to aid based on the payment of rates; while voluntary relief, whatever its short-comings, will be less injurious because it is less amply endowed. In Paris the municipal subvention for meals rose from 545,900 francs in 1892 to 1,000,000 in 1904. Between 1894 and 1904 there was an increase of 9% in the school population; and an increase of 28% in the municipal grant. In that period the contributions from the local school funds (caisses des écoles) decreased 36%; while the voluntary contributions otherwise received were insignificant; and the payments for meals increased 2%.
The subject has been lately considered from a somewhat different standpoint (cf. the reports of the Scottish Royal Commission on Physical Education, 1903; of the Inter-departmental committees on Physical Deterioration, 1905, and on Medical Inspection and the Feeding of School Children, 1905; also the report of the special committee of the Charity Organization Society on “the assistance of school children,” 1893). After careful investigations medical officers especially have drawn attention to the low physical condition of children in schools in the poorer parts of large English towns, their low stature, their physical defects, the improper food supplied to them at home, their uncleanliness, and their want of decent bringing-up, and sometimes their want of food. Other inquiries have shown that, as women more usually become breadwinners their children receive less attention, and the home and its duties are neglected, while in the lowest sections of the poorer classes social irresponsibility reaches its maximum. Cheap but often quite improper food is provided, and infant mortality, which is largely preventable, remains as high as ever, though adult life is longer. This with a marked decrease in the birth-rate in recent years, has, it may be said, opened out a new field for charitable effort and social work. Science is at each revision of the problem making its task more definite. Actually the mere demand for meals stands for less; the reform of home conditions for more. So it was hoped that instead of making school meals a charge on taxation, as parliament has done, it would be content to leave it a voluntary charge, while the medical inspection of elementary Schools will be made universal; representative relief committees formed for schools or groups of schools; the cases of want or distress among the school children dealt with individually in connexion with their families, and, where necessary, day schools established on the lines of day industrial schools.
At a time of exceptional distress the following suggestions founded on much English experience may be of service (cf. Report of special committee of the Charity Organization Society on the best means of dealing with exceptional Exceptional distress.distress, 1886). Usually at such a time proposals are made to establish special funds, and to provide employment to men and women out of work. But it is best, if possible and as long as possible, to rely on existing agencies, and to strengthen them. Round them there are usually workers more or less trained. A new fund usually draws to it new people, many of whom may not have had any special experience at all. If a new fund is inevitable, it is best that it should make its grants to existing agencies after consultation with them. In any case, a clear policy should be adopted, and people should keep their heads. The exaggeration of feeling at a time of apprehended or actual distress is sometimes extraordinary, and the unwise action which it prompts is often a cause of continuing pauperism afterwards. Where there is public or poor-law relief the following plan may be adopted:—In any large town there are usually different recognized poor-law, charitable or other areas. The local people already at work in these areas should be formed into local committees. In each case a quick inquiry should be made, and the relieving officer communicated with, some central facts verified, and the home visited. Roughly, cases may be divided into three classes: the irresponsible casual labouring class, a middle class of men with decent homes, who have made no provision for the future, and are not members of either friendly society or trades union; and a third class, who have made some provision. These usually are affected last of all; at all hazards they should be kept from receiving public relief, and should be helped, as far as possible, privately and personally. If there are public works, the second class might be referred to them; if there are not, probably some should be left to the poor-law, some assisted in the same way as members of class three. Much would turn upon the family and the home. The first class should be left to the poor-law. If there is no poor-law system at work they should be put on public works. Working men of independent position, not the creatures of any political club, but such as are respected members of a friendly society, or are otherwise well qualified for the task, should be called into consultation. The relief should be settled according to the requirements of each case, but if the pressure is great, at first at least it may be necessary to make grants according to some generally sufficient scale. There should be as constant a revision of cases as time permits. Great care should be taken to stop the relief as soon as possible, and to do nothing to make it the stepping-stone to permanent dependence.
If employment be provided it should be work within the skill of all; it should be fairly remunerated, so that at least the scantiness of the pay may not be an excuse for neglect; and it should be paid for according to measured or piece work. The discipline should be strict, though due regard should be paid at first to those unaccustomed to digging or earthwork. In England and Wales the guardians have power to open labour yards. These, like charities which provide work, tend to attract and keep in employment a low class of labourer or workman, who finds it pays him to use the institution as a convenience. It is best, therefore, to avoid the opening of a labour yard if possible. If it is opened, the discipline should be very strict, and when there is laziness or insubordination, relief in the workhouse should at once be offered. The relief furnished to men employed in a labour yard, of which in England at least half has to be given ih kind, should, it has been said, be dealt out from day to day. This leads to the men giving up the work sooner than they otherwise would. They have less to spend.
In Great Britain a great change has taken place in regard to the provision of employment in connexion with the state. Since about 1890 there has been a feeling that men in distress from want of employment should not be dealt Unem-
ployment.with by the poor-law. A circular letter issued by the Local Government Board in 1886, and subsequently in 1895, coincided with this feeling. It was addressed to town councils and other local authorities, asking them to provide work (1) which will not involve the stigma of pauperism, (2) which all can perform whatever may have been their previous avocations, and (3) which does not compete with that of other labourers at present in employment. This circular led to the vestries and subsequently the borough councils in many districts becoming partially recognized relief authorities for the unemployed, concurrently with the poor-law. Much confusion resulted. The local authorities had seldom any suitable organization for the investigation of applications. It was difficult to supply work on the terms required; and the work was often ill-done and costly. Also it was found that the same set of people would apply year after year, unskilled labourers usually out of work part of the winter, or men habitually “unemployed.” As on other occasions when public work was provided, very few of the applicants were found to be artisans, or members of trades unions or of friendly societies. In 1904 Mr Long, then president of the Local Government Board, proposed that local voluntary distress committees should be established in London consisting of poor-law guardians and town councillors and others, more or less supervised by a central committee and ultimately by the Local Government Board. This organization was set on foot and large sums were subscribed for its work. The report on the results of the movement was somewhat doubtful (Report, London Unemployed Fund, 1904–1905, p. 101, &c.), but in 1905 the Unemployed Workmen’s Act was passed, and in London and elsewhere distress committees like the voluntary committees of the previous year were established by statute. It was enacted that for establishment expenses, emigration and removal, labour exchanges, and the acquisition of land a halfpenny rate might be levied, but that the rate would not be available for the remuneration of men employed. For this purpose (1905–1906) a large charitable fund was raised. A training farm at Hollesley Bay was acquired, and it was hoped to train Londoners there to become fit for agricultural work. It is impossible to judge this experiment properly, on the evidence available up to 1908. But one or two points are important: (1) something very like the “right to labour” has been granted by the legislature; (2) this has been done apart from the conditions required by the poor-laws and orders of the Local Government Board on poor relief and without imposing disfranchisement on the men employed; (3) a labour rate has not been levied, but a rate has been levied in aid of the provision of employment; (4) if the line of development that the act suggests were to be followed (as the renewed Labour agitation in 1908–1909 made probable) it must tend to create a class of “unemployed,” unskilled labourers of varying grades of industry who may become the dependent and state-supported proletariat of modern urban life. Thus, unless the administration be extremely rigorous, once more will a kind of serfdom be established, to be, as some would say, taken over hereafter by the socialist state.
In some of the English colonies Homeric hospitality still prevails, but by degrees the station-house or some refuge is established in the towns as they grow more populous. Finally, some system of labour in exchange for relief Vagrancy.is evolved. At first this is voluntary, afterwards it is officially recognized, and finally it may become part of the system of public relief. As bad years come, these changes are made step by step. In England the vagrant or wayfarer is tolerated and discouraged, but not kept employed. He should be under greater pressure to maintain himself, it is thought. The provision made for him in different parts of the country is far from uniform, and now, usually, at least in the larger towns, after he has had a bath and food, he is admitted to a separate room or cell in a casual ward. Before he leaves he has to do a task of work, and, subject to the discretion of the master, he is detained two nights. This plan has reduced vagrancy, and if it were universally adopted clean accommodation would everywhere be provided for the vagrant without the attractions of a common or “associated” ward; and probably vagrancy would diminish still further. It seems almost needless to say that, in these circumstances at any rate, casual alms should not be given to vagrants. They know much better how to provide for themselves than the almsgiver imagines, for vagrancy is in the main a mode of life not the result of any casual difficulty. Vagrancy and criminality are also nearly allied. The magistrate, therefore, rather than the almsgiver, should usually interfere; and, as a rule, where the magistrates are strict, vagrancy in a county diminishes. An inter-departmental committee (1906) taking generally this line, reported in favour of vagrants being placed entirely under police control, and it recommended a system of wayfarers’ tickets for men on the roads who are not habitual vagrants, and the committal of men likely to become habitual vagrants to certified labour colonies for not less than six months. Still undoubtedly vagrancy has its economic side. In a bad year the number of tramps is increased by the addition of unskilled and irresponsible labourers, who are soonest discharged when work is slack. As a part-voluntary system under official recognition the German Arbeiter-colonien are of interest. This in a measure has led to the introduction of labour homes in England, the justification of which should be that they recruit the energy of the men who find their way to them, and enable them to earn a living which they could not do otherwise. In a small percentage of cases their result may be achieved. Charitable refuges or philanthropic common lodging-houses, usually established in districts where this class already congregate, only aggravate the difficulty. They give additional attractions to a vagrant and casual life, and make it more endurable. They also make a comfortable avoidance of the responsibilities of family life comparatively easy, and in so far as they do this they are clearly injurious to the community.
The English colonists of the New England states and Pennsylvania introduced the disciplinary religious and relief system of Protestantism and the Elizabethan poor-law. To the former reference has already been made. With an appreciation of the fact that the causeAmerican conditions and methods. of distress is not usually poverty, but weakness of character and want of judgment, and that relief is in itself no remedy, those who have inherited the old Puritan traditions have, in the light of toleration and a larger social experience, organized the method of friendly visiting, the object of which is illustrated by the motto, “Not alms, but a friend.” To the friendship of charity is thus given a disciplinary force, capable of immense expansion and usefulness, if the friendship on the side of those who would help is sincere and guided by practical knowledge and sagacity, and if on the side of those in distress there is awakened a reciprocal regard and a willingness to change their way of life by degrees. Visiting by “districts” is set aside, for “friendliness” is not a quality easily diffused over a wide area. To be real it must be limited as time and ability allow. Consequently, a friendly visitor usually befriends but one or two, or in any case only a few, families. The friendly visitor is the outcome of the movement for “associated charities,” but in America charity organization societies have also adopted the term, and to a certain extent the method. Between the two movements there is the closest affinity. The registration of applicants for relief is much more complete in American cities than in England, where the plan meets with comparatively little support. At the office of the associated charities in Boston there is a central and practically a complete register of all the applications made to the public authority for poor relief, to the associated charities, and to many other voluntary bodies.
The Elizabethan poor-law system, with the machinery of overseers, poor-houses and out-door relief, is still maintained in New England, New York state and Pennsylvania, but with many modifications, especially in New York. A chief factor in these changes has been immigration. While the County or town remained the administrative area for local poor relief, the large number of immigrant and “unsettled” poor, and the business connected with their removal from the state, entailed the establishment of a secondary or state system of administration and aid, with special classes of institutions to which the counties or towns could send their poor, as, for instance, state reform schools, farms, almshouses, &c. For the oversight of these institutions, and often of prisons also and lunatic asylums, in many states there have been established state boards of “charity or corrections and charity.” The members of these boards are selected by the state for a term of years, and give their services honorarily. There are state boards in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, North Carolina and elsewhere. There is also a district board of charities in the district of Columbia. These boards publish most useful and detailed reports. Besides the state board there is sometimes also, as in New York, a State Charities Aid Association, whose members, in the counties in which they reside, have a legal right of entry to visit and inspect any public or charitable institution owned by the state, and any county and other poor-house. A large association of visitors accustomed to inspect and report on institutions has thus been created. Further, the counties and towns in New York state, for instance, and Massachusetts, and the almshouse districts in Pennsylvania, are under boards of supervision. Usually the overseers give out-door relief, and the pauperism of some areas is as high as that in some English unions, 3, 4 and 5%. On the whole population of the United States, however, and of individual states, consisting to a great extent of comparatively young and energetic immigrants, the pauperism is insignificant. In Massachusetts “it has been the general policy of the state to order the removal to the state almshouse of unsettled residents of the several cities and towns in need of temporary aid, thus avoiding some of the abuses incident to out-door relief.” In New York state, in the city of New York, including Brooklyn, the distribution of out-door relief by the department of charities is forbidden, except for purposes of transportation and for the adult blind. Most counties in the state have an almshouse, and the county superintendents and overseers of the poor “furnish necessary relief to such of the county poor as may require only temporary assistance, or are so disabled that they cannot be safely removed to the almshouse.” Public attention is in many cases being drawn to the inutility and injury of out-door relief.
In some states and cities the system of subsidizing voluntary institutions is in full force, and it is in force also in many English colonies. At first sight it has the advantage of providing relief for public purposes without the creation of a new staff or establishment. There is thus an apparent economy. But the evils are many. Political partisanship and favour may influence the amount and disposition of the grants. The grants act as a bounty on the establishment and continuance of charitable institutions, homes for children, hospitals, &c., but not on the expansion of the voluntary charitable funds and efforts that should maintain them; and thus charitable homes exist in which charity in its truer sense may have little part, but in which the chief motive of the administration may be to support sectarian interests by public subsidies. Claimants for relief have little scruple in turning such institutions to their own account; and the institutions, being financially irresponsible, are not in these circumstances scrupulous on their side to prevent a misdirection of their bounties. “Parents unload their children upon the community more recklessly when they know that such children will be provided for in private orphan asylums and protectories, where the religious training that the parents prefer will be given them” (Amos G. Warner, in International Congress: Charities and Correction, 1893). Past history in New York city illustrates the same evil. The admission was entirely in the hands of the managers. They admitted; the city paid. In New York city the population between 1870 and 1890 increased about 80%; the subsidies for prisoners and public paupers increased by 43%, but those for paupers in private institutions increased from $334,828 to $1,845,872, or about 461%. The total was at that time $3,794,972; in 1898 it was rather less, $3,132,786. The alternative to this system is either the establishment of state or municipal institutions, and possibly in special cases payments to voluntary homes for the maintenance of inmates admitted at the request of a state authority, as at certified and other homes in England, with grants made conditional on the work being conducted on specified lines, and subject to a certain increasing amount of voluntary financial support; or a close general and financial inspection of charitable institutions—the method of reform adopted in New York; or payment for only those inmates who are sent by public authorities and admitted on their request.
The enormous extent to which children’s aid societies have been increased in the United States, sometimes with the help of considerable public grants, suggests the greatest need for caution from the point of the preservation of the family as the central element of social strength in the community. The problem of charity in relation to medical relief in the large towns of the United States is similar to that of England; its difficulties are alike.
Literature.—As good translations of the classics become accessible it is easy for the general reader or student to combine a study of the principles of charity in relation to the community with a study of history. Thus, and in connexion with special investigations and the conditions of practical charity, social economics may best be studied. In N. Masterman, Chalmers on Charity (1900); T. Mackay, Methods of Social Reform (1896); B. Bosanquet and others, Some Aspects of the Social Problem (1894); and C. S. Loch, Methods of Social Advance (1904), this point of view is generally assumed. Special investigations of importance may be found in the reports of medical officers of health. See Report of Committee on Physical Deterioration referred to above, and, for instance, Dr Newsholme’s Vital Statistics and Charles Booth’s Labour and Life in London. For the history of charity there is no good single work. On details there are many good articles in Daremberg’s Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, and similar works. Modern Methods of Charity, by C. H. Henderson and others (1904), supplies much general information in regard to poor relief and charity in different countries. Apart from books and official documents mentioned in the text as indicating the present state of charitable and public relief, or as aids to practical work, the following may be of service. England:—Annual Charities’ Register and Digest, with Introduction on “How to help Cases of Distress”; the Charity Organization Review; Occasional Papers (3 vols.), published by the London Charity Organization Society (1896–1906); Reports of Proceedings of Conferences of Poor-Law Guardians; The Strength of the People, by Helen Bosanquet; Homes of the London Poor and Our Common Land, by Miss Octavia Hill; The Queen’s Poor, by M. Loane. United States of America:—The Proceedings of the International Conference on Charities and Correction (1894), and the proceedings of the annual conferences; Friendly Visiting among the Poor, by Mary E. Richmond (1899); American Charities, by Amos G. Warner (1908); The Practice of Charity, by E. T. Devine; Handworterbuch der Staatswissenschaften, by Dr J. Conrad, &c., vol. ii.; Das Armenwesen in den Vereinigten Staaten von America, by Dr Francis G. Peabody (1897); the Charities Review, published monthly by the New York Charity Organization Society; the Papers and Reports of the Boston and Baltimore societies. France:—La Bibliographie charitable, by Camille Granier (1891); La Charité avant et depuis 1789, by P. Hubert Valleroux; Fascicules of the Conseil supérieur de l’assistance publique, Revue d’assistance, published by the Société Internationale pour l’étude des questions d’assistance. Germany:—Reports and Proceedings of the Deutsche Vereine für Armenpflege und Wohltätigkeit; Die Armenpflege, a practical handbook, by Dr E. Münsterberg (1897). Austria:—Österreichs Wohlfahrtseinrichtungen, 1848–1898, by Dr Ernest Mischler (1899). (C. S. L.)