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CHARITY

AND CHARITIES unchanged till the last quarter of the 18th century. It of the poor, and Bridewell for the correction of the able-bodied. Less the institutional arrangements and plus the compulsory rate, followed that on such a system the country could only the methods are those of the Poor Relief Act of Queen Elizabeth with the utmost good fortune free itself from the of 1601. At first the attempt had been made to introduce state economic difficulties of the century, and that the need of a relief in reliance on voluntary alms (1 Mary 13, 5 Eliz. 3, 1562-63), subject to the right of assessment if alms were refused. But the poor-law was felt the more as these difficulties persisted. position was anomalous. Charity is voluntary, and spontaneously A voluntary or a municipal system could not suffice, even meets the demands of distress. Such demands have always a as a palliative, while such statutes as these were in force tendency to increase with the supply. Hence the very limitations to render labour immobile and unprogressive. Also, 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 while wages were fixed by statute or order, whether chiefly met or prevented by economic and social reforms. If a compulsory in the interest of the employers or not, obviously any rate be not enforced, as in Scotland and formerly in some parishes shortage on the wages had to be made good by the comin England, a voluntary rate may be made in supplementation of munity. The community, by fixing the wages to be earned the local charities. In Scotland, where the compulsory clauses of the Poor Relief Act of James I. were not put in force, the in a livelihood, made itself responsible for their sufficiency. country weathered the storm without them, and the compulsory And accordingly we find that in the year in which the rate, which was extended throughout the country by the Poor Act of Statute of Labourers(1562) was passed, that for the enforce1844, came in very slowly in the 18th and 19th centuries. In France ment of assessments of poor-rate was also enacted. The Law (1566) a similar Act was passed and set aside. If a compulsory rate be enforced, it is inevitable that the resources of charity, of Settlement passed in the reign of Charles II. was due, unless kept apart from the poor-law and administered on different it is said, to a migration of labourers southward from lines from it, will diminish, and at the same time, as has happened counties where less favourable statutory wages prevailed ; often in the case of endowed charities, the interest in charitable but it was, in fact, only a corollary of the Statute of administration will lapse, while the charges for poor-law relief, Labourers and the Poor Relief Acts of 1562 and 1601. drawn without much scruple from the taxation of the community, will mount to millions either to meet increasing demands or to pro- These laws, it may be said, were the means of making the vide more elaborate institutional accommodation. The principle English labourer, until the poor-law reform of 1834, a once adopted, it was enacted (1572-73), that the aged and infirm settled but landless serf, supported by a fixed wage and should be cared for by the overseers of the poor, a new authority ; a state bounty. By the poor-law it was possible to 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 continue this state of things till, in consequence of an of endowed charities. Thus the poor were brought into the absolute economic breakdown, there was no alternative dependence of a legally recognized class, endowed with a claim but reform. for relief, on the fulfilment of which, after a time, they could The philanthropic nature of the poor-law is indicated without difficulty insist if they were so minded. _ The civic authority had indeed taken over the alms ol the parish, and an by its antecedents: once enacted, its bounties became a eleemosyna civica had taken the place of the annona civica. It right; its philanthropy disappeared in a quasi-legal claim. was a similar system under a different name. Its object was to relieve the poor by home industries, A phrase of Cecil’s indicates the minute domestic apprentice children, and provide necessary relief to the character of the Elizabethan legislation (D’Ewes, 674). poor unable to work. The Act was commonly interpreted . The question (1601) was the repeal of a statute so as to include the whole of that indefinite class, the Acts and oi tillage. Cecil says: “If in Edward I.’s “ poor ”; by a better and more rigid interpretation it was, statutory time a law was made for the maintenance of the at least in the 19th century, held to apply only to the serfdom. fry anq fish) and in Henry VII.’s for the “destitute.” The economic fallacy of home industries preservation of the eggs of wild fowl, shall we now throw founded on rate-supplied capital early declared itself, and away a law of more consequence and import ? If we debar the method could only have continued as long as it did tillage, we give scope to the depopulating. And then, if because it formed part of a general system of industrial the poor being thrust out of their houses go to dwell with suppression. When in the 18th century workhouses were others, straight we catch them with the statute of established, the same industrial fallacy, as records show, inmates; if they wander abroad, they are within the repeated itself under new conditions. Within the parish danger of the statute of the poor to be whipt. So by this it resulted in the farmer paying the labourer as small a undo this statute, and you endanger many thousands.” wage as possible, and leaving the parish to provide whatA strong central Government and a network of legislation ever he might require in addition during his working life controlled the whole movement of economic life. On this and in his old age. Thus, indeed, a gigantic experiment in reliance was placed to meet economic difficulties. Since civic employment was made for centuries on a vast scale 23 Edw. III. there had been labour statutes; and in 1562 throughout the country—and failed. As was natural, the a new statute was passed—not repealed till 1775—em- lack of economic independence reacted on the morals of powering the magistrates in quarter sessions to fix the the people. With pauperism came want of energy, rate of wages for husbandmen and artificers, and enforce idleness, and a disregard for chastity and_ the obligations it by fine and imprisonment (Rogers, v. 611); requiring of marriage. The law, it is true, recognized the mutual yearly service in many employments; compelling persons obligations of parents and grandparents, children and between 15 and 60, not otherwise employed or apprenticed, grandchildren; but in the general poverty which it was to serve in husbandry; preventing migration from city or itself a means of perpetuating such obligations became parish without a testimonial, and compelling single women practically obsolete, while at all times they were difficult to work by the year, week, or day ; controlling apprentice- to enforce. Still, the fact that they were recognized ship, and ordaining that persons refusing to be apprenticed implies a great advance in charitable thought. The Act, should be imprisoned. By this, in conjunction with passed at first from: year to year, was very slowly put in other measures, the labouring classes were finally com force. Even before it was passed the poor-rate assessed mitted to a new bondage, when they had freed themselves under the Act of 1562 was felt to be “a greater tax from the serfdom of feudalism, and when the control than some subsidies,” and in the time of Charles II. it exercised over them by the guild and municipality was amounted to a third of the revenue of England and relaxed. The statute was so enforced that to earn a year’s Wales (Rogers, v. 81). The service of villan and cottar was, as we have now livelihood would have taken a labourer not 52 weeks, but sometimes two years, or 58 weeks, or 80 weeks, or 72 seen, in part superseded by what we have called a statutory weeks; sometimes, however, less—48 or 35. The rate serfdom founded on a basis of wage supplemented by fixed during the Commonwealth remained practically relief; to such a system a poor-law was a necessary