Page:Oliver Twist (1838) vol. 1.djvu/35

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to turn their attention to the workhouse, they found out at once, what ordinary folks would never have discovered,—the poor people liked it! It was a regular place of public entertainment for the poorer classes,—a tavern where there was nothing to pay,—a public breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper all the year round,—a brick and mortar elysium, where it was all play and no work. "Oho!" said the board, looking very knowing; "we are the fellows to set this to rights; we'll stop it all in no time." So, they established the rule, that all poor people should have the alternative (for they would compel nobody, not they,) of being starved by a gradual process in the house, or by a quick one out of it. With this view, they contracted with the water-works to lay on an unlimited supply of water, and with a corn-factor to supply periodically small quantities of oatmeal; and issued three meals of thin gruel a-day, with an onion twice a week, and half a roll on Sundays. They made a great many other wise and hu-