APPEAL TO THE WEALTHY.
1832 they were £344. 2s. The population in 1811 was 750; in 1831, 1091."—Idem, p. 193.
"Have you refused applicants relief unless they went into the house?—Yes; and a large portion decline going into it, and we get rid of them."—Idem, p. 205.
"The old system attracted vagabonds to the parish who have now left us, and kept many in idleness, which led to pilfering. Some of these people I now see at work in the parish. The change, I am sure, has benefited the people themselves, for they would commonly spend two or three hours to get a sixpence in charity, rather than give an hour's labour to obtain the same sixpence."—Idem, p. 268.
"What number of undeserving cases did you get rid of, in consequence of this alteration and of your investigations? About 150 as an immediate consequence of this alteration; but, all together, including the clearing of the workhouse (with which the magistrates had nothing to do), we got rid of about 500 in the course of two years."—Ibid.
"Very great numbers of lazy people, rather than submit to the confinement and labour of the workhouse, are content to throw off the mask, and maintain themselves by their own industry. And this was so remarkable here, at Maidstone, that when our workhouse was finished, and public notice given that all who came to demand their weekly pay should be immediately sent thither, little more than half the poor upon the list came to the overseers to receive their allowance."—Idem, p. 328.
"About ten or eleven years since, the officers of the town of Maidstone were induced, from the great cost of the poor (which had increased, I think, to 7s. or 8s. per week each), to set on foot some inquiries. The result was, that the officers reduced the diet: and after enforcing the alteration for about two months, they contracted with a person to keep the poor for about 3s. 3d. per head. They have continued the contracting system ever since."—Idem, p. 329.
"In the instances of individuals, as well as in several whole parishes, wherever the influence of the present system has been removed, the rise of the condition of the people has been proportionate to the removal of that influence, or their previous depression. In Cookham, where the change was most extensive, the parochial expenditure was reduced from £3133 to £1155, and the general condition of the labouring classes improved."—Idem, p. 337.
Have I not produced a superabundance of proofs, that for 190 years the operation of the poor-laws in England was beneficent and salutary; that the most enormous abuses have prevailed in their administration for nearly 40 years; that those abuses satisfactorily account for a large and oppressive increase of the poor rates; and that a universal rule to afford no relief to able-bodied men but for labour performed, the more severe the better, would apply a remedy to the great mass of the abuses? When men who do not employ labourers, are obliged to pay a portion of the earnings of those employed by their neighbours—when thieves and robbers are supported at the public expense—when prostitutes with illegitimate children receive larger allowance from the overseers of the poor than honest widows with their legitimate offspring—when able-bodied men, refusing to work, are supported with weekly stipends, equal to the wages of honest industry, can we he surprised at the enormous increase of the poor rates? Can any thing be more unfair or illogical than to charge these hideous abuses of the laws to the laws themselves? And is it not certain, that the introduction into every parish in the kingdom of such reforms as have taken place in Maidstone, Cookham, &c. &c., (whereby the rates were reduced 30, 40, and in some cases 60 per cent., although the population had increased, and the condition of the poorer classes was improved,) would produce a great reduction of the rates, and a melioration of the state of society throughout the kingdom?
Philadelphia, July 13, 1833.