Page images

But the cafes are not parallel. Soldiers, having the management of their pay, can club for a bit of meat. But as the inhabitants of a poor-house are maintained by the public, the fame quantity of provifions must be allotted to each; as there can be no good rule for feparating those who eat much from those who eat little. The confequence is what may be expected: the bulk of them referve part of their victuals for purchafing ale or fpirits. It is vain to expect work from them: poor wretches void of fhame will never work feriously, where the profit accrues to the public, not to themfelves. Hunger is the only effectual means for compelling fuch perfons to work.

Where the poor are fupported in their own houses, the first thing that is done, or ought to be done, is to estimate what each can earn by their own labour; and as far only as that falls fhort of maintenance, is there place for charity. They will be as induftrious as poffible, becaufe they work for themselves; and a weekly fum of charity under their own management, will turn to better account, than in a poor-houfe, under the direction of mercenaries.

[ocr errors]


cenaries. The quantity of food for health depends greatly on cuftom. Bufbequius obferves, that the Turks eat very little flesh-meat; and that the Janizaries in particular, at that time a most formidable infantry, were maintained at an expence far below that of a German, Wafers, cakes, boiled rice, with fmall bits of mutton or pullet, were their highest entertainment, fermented liquors being abfolutely prohibited. The famous Montecuculi fays, that the Janizaries eat but once a-day, about fun-fet; and that custom makes it easy. Negroes are maintain'd in the West Indies at a very small expence. A bit of ground is allotted to them for raifing vegetables, which they cultivate on Sunday, being employ'd all the rest of the week in labouring for their mafters. They receive a weekly allowance of dry'd fith, about a pound and a half; and their only drink is water. Yet by vegetables and water with a morfel of dry'd fish, these people are fufficiently nourished to perform the hardest labour in a most enervating climate, I would not have the poor to be pampered, which might prove a bad example to the induftrious: if they be fup


[ocr errors]

ported in the most frugal manner, the duty of charity is fulfilled. And in no other manner can they be fupported fo frugally, as to leave to their own difpofal what they receive in charity. Not a penny will be laid out on fermented liquors, unless perhaps as a medicine in fickness. Nor does' their low fare call for pity. Ale makes no part of the maintenance of those in Scotland who live by the sweat of their brows. Water is their only drink; and yet they live comfortably, without ever thinking of pitying themselves. Many gentlemen drink nothing but water; who feel no decay either in health or vigour. The perfon however who fhould propofe to banish ale from a poor-house, would be exclaimed against as hard-hearted and void of charity. The difference indeed is great between what is done voluntarily, and what is done by compulsion. It is provoking to hear of the petulance and even luxury of the English poor. Not a perfon in London who lives by the parishcharity will deign to eat brown bread; and in feveral parts of England, many who receive large fums from that fund, are in the conftant custom of drinking tea

twice a-day. Will one incline to labour where idleness and beggary are so much encouraged?

But what objection, it will be urged, lies against adopting in a poor-house the plan mentioned, giving to no person in money more than what his work, justly estimated, falls fhort of maintenance? It is eafy to foresee, that this plan can never answer in a poor-house. The materials for work must be provided by mercenary officers; who must alfo be trusted with the difpofal of the made work, for behoof of the poor people. Thefe operations may go on fweetly a year or two, under the influence of novelty and zeal for improvement; but it would be chimerical to expect for ever strict fidelity in mercenary officers, whofe management cannot easily be checked. Computing the expence of this operofe management, and giving allowance for endless frauds in purchafing and felling, I boldly affirm, that the plan would turn to no account. Confider next the weekly fum given in charity: people confined in a poor-house have no means for purchafing neceffaries but at a futlery,


where they will certainly be imposed on, and their money go no length.

We are now ripe for a comparison with respect to economy. Many a householder in Edinburgh makes a fhift to maintain a family with their gain of four fhillings per week, amounting to ten pounds eight fhillings yearly. Seldom are there fewer than four or five perfons in fuch a family; the husband, the wife, and two or three children. Thus four or five perfons can be maintain'd under eleven pounds yearly. But are they maintain'd fo cheap in the Edinburgh poor-house? Not a single perfon there but at an average costs the public at least four pounds yearly. Nor is this all. A great fum remains to be taken into the computation, the intereft of the fum for building, yearly reparations, expence of management, wages to fervants, male and female. A proportion of this great fum must be laid upon each perfon, which fwells the expence of their maintenance. And when every particular is taken into the account, I have no hesitation to pronounce, that laying afide labour altogether, a man can make a fhift to maintain him


« PreviousContinue »