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CHARITY AND CHARITIES

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