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AND CHARITIES lessened competence and industrial ability on the pait of the wards associated with the provision of employment, will, it workmen, and thus in the end produced pauperism. is hoped, make relief in some measure remedial by increasThe poverty of the country was very great in the reigns ing its quantity by means of compulsory levies. This arguof Edward YI. and Elizabeth. Adversity then taught the ment, which combined statutory serfdom and statutory poor relief, seems to have been firmly bedded in the English people new manners, and households became more simple legislative mind for more than two centuries, from 1381 and thrifty. In the reign of James I., with enforced and thrift, a “ slow but substantial improvement till after 1600; and until 1834 these two series of laws economy effectually reduced the English labourer to a new serfdom. in agriculture ” took place, and a new growth of. commerenterprise. The vigour of the municipalities had To people imbued with ideas of feudalism the way of cial escape from villanage seemed to be not independence, but abated, so that in Henry VIII.’s time they had become the very humble servants of the Government; and the a new reversion to it. Government, on the other hand, had become strongly Many elements produced the social and economic centralized—in itself a sign of the general withdrawal of catastrophe of the 16th century, for the condition into self-sustaining activity in all administration, in. the adwhich the country fell can hardly be considered The dethan a catastrophe. With the growing ministration of charitable relief no less than in other cadence. less independence of the people there was created departments. A system of endowed charities had been after the 13th century an unsettled “masterless” class, a built up, supported chiefly by rents from landed property. residue of failure resulting from social changes, which These now had disappeared, and thus the means of relief, Edward YI. and Queen Elizabeth might have was large and important enough to call for legislation. which utilized at a time of general distress, had been dissipated In the 15th century, “the golden age of the English labourer,” the towns increased and flourished. Both town by the acts of their predecessors. The civil independence of the monasteries and religious houses might have been and country did well. At the end of the centmy came justified, possibly, when they were engaged in missionary the decadence. The measure of the strain, when perhaps work and were instilling into the people the precepts of a it had reached its lowest level, is indicated by the following higher moral law than that which was in force around them. comparison : “ The cost of a peasant’s family of four in the But afterwards, as the ability and intelligence of the early part of the 14th century was £3, 4s. 9d.; after 1540 community increased, their privileges became more and it was £8” (Rogers, iv. 756). more antagonistic to charity, and tended to create a nonThe cause of this has now been fairly investigated. The value social, and even anti-social, ecclesiastical democracy actuated of land in the 13th century generally depended chiefly on the head of labour ” retained upon it. Its fertility depended on mam- by aims and interests in which the general good of the ceuvre (manure). To keep labour upon it was therefore the aim people had little or no place.. There was a growing alienaof the lord or owner. The enclosing of lands for sheep began early, tion between religious tradition and secular opinion, as and in the time of Edward III., in the great days of the wool Lollardism slowly permeated the thought of the people staple, must have been extensive. So long as the demand for the and led the way to the Reformation. While this alienaexportation of wool, and then for its consumption at home in the cloth trade, continued, the towns prospered, and the enclosures tion existed no national system of charity, civic and yet did not become a grievance. Even before the reign of Henry V il., religious, could be created. But worse than all, the ideal with the decay of trade, the towns decayed, and their population of charity had been degraded. A self-regarding system of in some cases diminished extraordinarily. This reacted on the relief had superseded charity, and it was productive of country, where the great families had already become impoverished and were hardly able to support their retainers. In Henry VIII. s nothing but alms, large or small, isolated and unmethodic, time the lands of the religious houses were confiscated. Worked given with a wrong bias, and thus almost inevitably "with on old lines, the custom of tillage remained in force on them. evil results. Out of this could spring no vigorous coAccordingly, when these estates fell into private hands they operative charity. Charity—not relief—indeed seemed to were transferred subject to the condition that they should be have left the world. The larger issues were overlooked. tilled as heretofore. The condition was evaded by the new owners, and the disbandment of farm labourers went on apace. Then the property of the hospitals and the guilds was In England and Wales these changes, it is said, affected a wantonly confiscated, though the poor had already lost third of the country, more than 12,000,000 acres, if the estimates be correct, or rather a third of the best land m the that share in the revenues of the Church to which at one kingdom. With towns decaying the effect of this must ha e time they were admitted to have a just claim. A new been terrible. What were really _ “latitundia were created, beginning had to be made. The obligations of charity had “ great landes,” “ enclosures of a mile or two or thereabouts . . . to be revived. A new organization of charitable rebel destroying thereby not only the farms and cottages within the had to be created, and that with an empty exchequer and same circuits, but also the towns and villages adjoining. A after a vast waste of charitable resources. There were herdsman and his wife took the place of eighteen to twenty-four farm hands. The people thus set wandering could only join the signs of a new congregational and parochial energy, yet wanderers from the decaying towns. At the same time the economic the task could not be entrusted to the religious bodies difficulty was aggravated by a new patrician or commercial greed ; divided and disunited as they were. In their stead it and once more the land question—the absorption of property into could only be imposed on some authority which represented a few hands instead of its free exchange—led to lasting social demoralization. A few years after the alienation of the monasteries the general community, such as municipalities; and in the coinage (1543) was debased. By this means prices were spite of the centralization of the Government there seemed arbitrarily raised, and wages were increased nominally ; but some hope of creating a system of relief m connexion nevertheless the price of necessaries was so enhanced that neither “the poor labourers can live with their wages that is with them. They were tried, and, very naturally, In the poverty of the time it seemed that the limited by your grace’s laws, nor the artificers can make, much failed Cs Si, their lares at any reasonable price ” (Lanaond, The poor could be relieved only by a compulsory rate, and the Commonweal ofthis Realm of England, p. xlvn.). No social refor- administration of statutory relief naturally devolved on mation such as the charitable instincts of More, Hales, Latimei, the central Government—the only vigorous administrative and other men suggested, was attempted, or at least Persistently carried out. In towns the organization of labour had become body left in the country. The Government might indeed restrictive exclusive, and inadaptable, or, judged from the moral have adopted the alternative of letting the industrial standpoint, nncharitable. There had ^ difficulties of the country work themselves out, but they extravagance, of which in high quarters the famous held of the had inherited a policy of minute legislative control, doth of gold ” was typical; and probably, m accordance with the frequently observed law of social economics as the advance in and they continued it. Revising previous statutes, they wa^es and their purchasing power in the earlier part of the 15th enacted the Poor Law, which still remains on our Century had not been accompanied by a simultaneous advance in statute book. It could be no remedy for social offences self-discipline and intelligent expenditure, it resulted m part in 678

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