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[ The Poor:—their Maintenance. ] - Dugald Stewart, Lectures on Political Economy, vol. 1 
Lectures on Political Economy. Now first published. Vol. I. To which is Prefixed, Part Third of the Outlines of Moral Philosophy, edited by Sir William Hamilton (Edinburgh, Thomas Constable, 1855).
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[The Poor:—their Maintenance.]
III.— The researches of modern politicians concerning the sources of National Wealth, have naturally directed their attention to that unfortunate class of men, who, in consequence either of the imperfections of our social institutions, or of the evils necessarily connected with the present condition of humanity, are left dependent on the bounty of their fellow-citizens. The speculation is sufficiently interesting in itself, considered merely in its relation to those orders of the community who are its immediate objects; but it has been found, on examination, to be still more interesting, when considered in its connexion with the general system of Political Economy. . . . . [Sic.] To those who have any knowledge of the rise and progress of that part of English policy which relates to this subject, it is unnecessary for me to remark, with what extreme difficulty the speculation is attended, and how frequently the best intended, and apparently the most wisely considered schemes have been found to aggravate the evils they were meant to remedy.
Doubts have accordingly arisen in the minds of many sagacious inquirers, whether it would not have been better if the cause of this class of men had been left entirely to the voluntary charity of their fellow-citizens; and whether the existing system of our poor laws may not be added to the many other instances which human affairs afford, of an officious attempt on the part of statesmen, to accomplish artificially, by the wisdom of man, those beneficent ends, for securing which so beautiful an arrangement has been made by the wisdom of Providence. That in many individual instances the evils of extreme indigence are thus greatly alleviated, is beyond a doubt: but the question is, how does this interference of law operate with respect to the general, and the most important interests of the labouring orders? Is it favourable to their industry, to their economy, and to their domestic virtues? Or is there no reason to apprehend, that while it operates as a palliative to local inconveniences, it aggravates and confirms the radical malady in which they originated?
It must, however, be owned to be a very different question, whether, supposing no legal provision to have been made for the poor, it would have been expedient to introduce the present system of laws; and whether, circumstanced as we actually are, it would be wise to abolish this part of our policy. Among the various opinions concerning the mode of relieving the wants of the lower classes, it seems to be very generally agreed, that a modification only of our existing regulations, and not a total repeal of them, can be safely attempted; and that the correction of the evils complained of is to be expected less from the direct and immediate interposition of the Legislature, than from the gradual operation of more remote and powerful causes on the industry, morals, and resources of the people.
It is scarcely necessary for me to add, that these disquisitions with respect to the poor, which have for many years past exercised the ingenuity of speculative men all over Europe, furnish another very remarkable illustration of that contrast which the present state of society in this part of the world exhibits, to the condition of mankind under the ancient governments. The disorders which have been now under our consideration, originated in the abolition of a much greater disorder, the institution of Slavery, and they have presented ever since to the politician, one of the most interesting, and, at the same time, one of the most difficult problems, which the science of legislation affords.