Front Page Titles (by Subject) CCCCXLIII: TO MR. MASERES - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. V Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772
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CCCCXLIII: TO MR. MASERES - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. V Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772 
The Works of Benjamin Franklin, including the Private as well as the Official and Scientific Correspondence, together with the Unmutilated and Correct Version of the Autobiography, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). The Federal Edition in 12 volumes. Vol. V (Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772).
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TO MR. MASERES
17 June, 1772.
I thank you for the pamphlets proposing to establish Life Annuities in Parishes, &c. I think it an excellent one. In compliance with your wish, pages 25, 26, I send it back with a few marginal notes (perhaps of no great importance) made in reading it, requesting it may be returned to me.
In page 118 of Dr. Price’s book on Annuities, 2d edition, you will find mention made of an institution in Holland. He had that information from me. Those houses are handsome, neat buildings, with very comfortable apartments. Some form the sides of a square, with grass-plots and gravel walks, flowers, &c., and some have little separate gardens behind each apartment. Those for men are called Oude Mannen Huyzen; for women, Oude Vrouwen Huyzen. I think the different kinds sometimes make different sides of the same square. There is a chapel for prayers, a common kitchen, and a common hall in which they dine together. Two persons, such as best like one another, and choose so to associate, are generally lodged in one apartment, though in separate beds, that they may be at hand to assist each other in case of sudden illness in the night, and otherwise be mutually helpful.
The Directors have also a room to meet in, who form rules for the government of the house, hear complaints, and rectify what is amiss. Gentlemen are directors of the Oude Mannen Huyzen, ladies of the Oude Vrouwen Huyzen. A committee of two are chosen every year, who visit often, see the rules observed, and take care of the management. At the end of the year these are thanked off, and as an honorable memorial of their services, their names, with the year they served, are added to the Gold-Letter List on the walls of the room. All the furniture is neat and convenient, the beds and rooms kept clean and sweet by the servants of the house; and the people appear to live happily.
These institutions seem calculated to prevent poverty, which is rather a better thing than relieving it. For it keeps always in the public eye a state of comfort and repose in old age, with freedom from care held forth as an encouragement to so much industry and frugality in youth as may at least serve to raise the required sum (suppose £50) that is to entitle a man or a woman at fifty to a retreat in those houses. And in acquiring this sum habits may be acquired that produce such affluence before that age arrives, as to make the retreat unnecessary and so never claimed. Hence if £50 would (as by your table) entitle a man at fifty years of age to an annuity of £19 3 6½, I suppose that in such a house, entertainment, and accommodations to a much greater value might be afforded him; because the right to live there is not transferable, and therefore every unclaimed right is an advantage to the house, while annuities would probably all be claimed. Then it seems to me that the prospect of a distant annuity will not be so influencing on the minds of young people, as the constant view of the comfort enjoyed in those houses, in comparison of which the payment and receipt of the annuities are private transactions.
I write this in hopes you will, after consideration, favor me with your opinion whether (in addition to your plan, which will still have all advantages for smaller sums) one or more such houses in every county, would not probably be of great use in still farther promoting industry and frugality among the lower people, and of course lessening the enormous weight of the poor-tax?
I enclose a little piece I wrote in America, to encourage and strengthen those important virtues, of which I beg your acceptance, and am, with great esteem, Sir, your most obedient and humble Servant,