Front Page Titles (by Subject) 278.: SENIOR'S PREFACE TO THE FOREIGN COMMUNICATIONS IN THE POOR LAW REPORT GLOBE AND TRAVELLER, 22 JUNE, 1835, P. 2 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIV - Newspaper Writings January 1835 - June 1847 Part III
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278.: SENIOR’S PREFACE TO THE FOREIGN COMMUNICATIONS IN THE POOR LAW REPORT GLOBE AND TRAVELLER, 22 JUNE, 1835, P. 2 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIV - Newspaper Writings January 1835 - June 1847 Part III 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIV - Newspaper Writings January 1835 - June 1847 Part III, ed. Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson, Introduction by Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986).
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SENIOR’S PREFACE TO THE FOREIGN COMMUNICATIONS IN THE POOR LAW REPORT
This article is in response to the separate publication of Senior’s Preface to App. F of the “Report from His Majesty’s Commissioners for Inquiring into the Administration and Practical Operation of the Poor Laws” (see No. 239), under the title, Statement of the Provision for the Poor, and of the Condition of the Labouring Classes, in a Considerable Portion of America and Europe: Being the Preface to the Foreign Communications Contained in the Appendix to the Poor Law Report (London: Fellowes, 1835). The unheaded leader is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A leading article, in the Globe of 22d June 1835, on Senior’s Preface to the Foreign Communications (Poor Law Report)”
(MacMinn, p. 44).
the value of the recent poor law inquiry has not been confined to the important changes which it has been the means of effecting in our pauper legislation. In itself, and considered merely as an investigation of facts, it is eminently useful. It has afforded almost the first authentic and accurate information ever yet possessed on a subject which has so long been a theme of acrimonious controversy, and which must always be of the deepest interest—the condition of our labouring population. To the facts which the inquiry has elicited on this subject public attention has been forcibly drawn by the subsequent legislative proceedings; but it is not yet so generally known that the evidence taken by the commission affords an equally interesting collection of information on the pauper management and condition of the poor throughout the greater part of the civilized world.
In the year 1833, Lord Palmerston, at the suggestion of the poor law commissioners, issued to all his Majesty’s diplomatic agents in foreign countries a very full and carefully framed set of queries, calculated to elicit complete and clear information on the nature and practical operation of the legal provisions existing in those countries severally for the relief of the poor.1 The answers to these inquiries, together with some valuable communications made by private individuals to the commissioners, have been printed as one of the appendices to the poor law report, and form a large volume. Mr. Senior, to whom his country and mankind are already so largely indebted for his wise and zealous exertions on this subject,2 has, in a preface to the volume in question, exhibited an abridged view of the most important part of its contents; and we are much pleased to see that this preface has been published as a separate volume (of 238 pages), to which we earnestly invite the attention of all who feel interested in a subject, one of the most interesting which ever occupied the thoughts of a statesman or a philosopher.
From the evidence presented by Mr. Senior it appears that the principle of the English poor laws, that of the legal right of every human being to relief, is recognized by nearly half the nations of Europe; and that wherever it exists, the abuses also which have been supposed to be peculiar to England have crept in, but generally to a very moderate extent; and nowhere, except perhaps in the canton of Berne, in Switzerland [pp. 74-84], has the laxity of poor law administration, and the consequent degradation of the labouring classes, reached a height at all comparable to what was nearly universal in this country before the late poor law act. In the very able statement which the government of Berne did not think it troublesome or beneath their dignity to frame and communicate to his Majesty’s Consul, Mr. Morier,* the reader will see a picture of evils very closely resembling those we see here, and, what is more remarkable, a government which understands and is capable of explaining their nature and origin.3 In Berne, accordingly, and in general wherever the abuses have reached a formidable height, measures are in contemplation for repressing them; and chiefly by the very means which have been recently adopted in this country—the establishment of a central control; for the countries where no such control exists are uniformly those in which the abuses are greatest.
For the most part, however, the principle of compulsory relief has not produced in foreign countries evils at all comparable to those which have been engrafted on it here; and Mr. Senior is even of opinion that “in the majority of the nations which have adopted it, the existing system appears to work well.” [P. 84.] He then points out with remarkable good sense and discrimination the circumstances which in those countries have operated as checks to abuse. After mentioning, 1st. that in some of the countries in question the labouring classes are still serfs (which entirely alters the state of the question in regard to them); and 2ndly, that in most of the others the compulsory system is still in its infancy [pp. 84-5], Mr. Senior proceeds to give further highly important details of the points of difference which exist in the state of the labouring population in this and other countries [pp. 85-94], which we extract elsewhere at some length, under the head of “Contemporary Press.”4 We have preferred to give these valuable particulars in Mr. Senior’s words rather than in our own.
In that part of the volume which relates to the countries which recognise no legal claim to relief (in most of which, however, there is extensive pauperism, and an organised system of public charity) the reader will find much interesting information. We would direct his attention particularly to the account of the much-vaunted “Home Colonization” system of Belgium and Holland, which, from the facts here stated, plainly appears to be, what from general principles one might have predicted that it would be, a miserable failure.5
[1 ]PP, 1834, XXXIX, 3.
[2 ]See, e.g., Senior’s A Letter to Lord Howick, on a Legal Provision for the Irish Poor (London: Murray, 1831).
[* ]The government of Wirtemburg deserves a similar praise.
[3 ]David Richard Morier (1784-1877), diplomat, Minister Plenipotentiary at Berne to the Swiss Confederated States 1832-47. See Senior, pp. 76-84.
[4 ]“Poor Laws, British and Foreign, from Senior’s Statement of Provisions for the Poor, etc.,” Globe and Traveller, 22 June, 1835, pp. 1-2.
[5 ]Senior, Statement, pp. 109-17 (Holland) and 148-54 (Belgium). The Société de Bienfaisance, after the famines of 1816 and 1817, founded poor colonies on the heaths of Holland, raising money by subscription to pay the initial expenses; in 1823 the same society founded similar colonies in Belgium.