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CHAPTER 7.: Relief of the Poor - Herbert Spencer, The Principles of Ethics, vol. 2 
The Principles of Ethics, introduction by Tibor R. Machan (Indianapolis: LibertyClassics, 1978). Vol. 2.
Part of: The Principles of Ethics, 2 vols.
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Relief of the Poor
452. We enter now upon the subject with which the conception of beneficence is almost wholly identified in some minds, and chiefly identified in many minds. With the word beneficence (or rather with the word benevolence, which commonly usurps its place) there usually springs up the idea of openhanded generosity to those in want. The giving of money or money's worth is so much the easiest and the most familiar mode of showing kindness, that by the unthinking, and especially by recipients, kindness is conceived as little else.
This species of beneficence, which, as we have seen, is one out of many, is daily presented to us in three different shapes. We have the law-established relief for the poor by distribution of money compulsorily exacted; with which may fitly be joined the alms derived from endowments. We have relief of the poor carried on by spontaneously organized societies, to which funds are voluntarily contributed. And then, lastly, we have the help privately given–now to those who stand in some relation of dependence, now to those concerning whose claims partial knowledge has been obtained, and now haphazard to beggars. We will consider these three kinds in the order here presented.
453. After all that has been said in preceding parts of this work, it is needless to argue at length that relief of the poor from public funds raised by rates, is, if considered apart from certain antecedents to be presently named, inconsistent with that limitation of state functions which ethics insists upon. If, as repeatedly pointed out, the true function of the state is that of guarding the aggregate of citizens and the individual citizen against aggressions, external and internal, so that each may be able to carry on his life with no greater hindrance than that which proximity of other citizens involves–if the state's only other function is that of so controlling the uses made of the inhabited territory, as to prevent sacrifice of the interests of the joint owner, the community; then it follows that if it taxes one class for the benefit of another, it exceeds its functions, and, in a measure contravenes the first of them.
This conclusion, however, holds as I have said “if considered apart from certain antecedents to be presently named.” The antecedents referred to are those which become visible on going back to prefeudal and feudal times, when serfs, though bound to the soil, had certain established rights to some produce of the soil; and those further antecedents which, at a later period, after cessation of serfdom and accompanying divorce of the serf from the soil, eventually reinstituted his connection and his lien by a Poor Law. While, in a measure, again tying him to his locality, this, in a measure, again recognized his claim upon its produce.
So regarded, a Poor Law may be said to have an equitable basis, and the poor relief administered under it to be something more than a charitable dole. Entire usurpation of the land by the landlord, and entire expropriation of the laborer, were unjust; and the reestablishment of the old relation in a freer form, may be interpreted as a roundabout mode of admitting afresh a just claim. Not improbably the relative stability of English institutions during later times, has been indirectly due to absence of that disaffection which results where the classes having no property are wholly at the mercy of the classes who have property.
The beneficence which takes the form of relief administered by public agencies, is difficult to deal with not only because it is thus complicated by considerations of justice, but because it is further complicated by considerations of accompanying injustices. Though, in early days, the legally enforced aid to the poor was contributed almost wholly by those who, as landowners, were rightly called on to contribute it; yet, in later days, it has come to be in large measure contributed by others than landowners–others on whom there is no just claim. Hence nothing beyond empirical judgments concerning compulsory beneficence seem possible.
When, however, we remember that beneficence, properly so-called, loses its quality when it is made compulsory, and that both benefactor and beneficiary then cease to have those feelings which normally accompany it, we shall be inclined to think that could the just claims of each member of the community as a part owner of the land be otherwise recognized, and beneficence wholly dissociated from governmental force, it would be far better. Let us contemplate the evils of the present system.
454. While, as admitted above, the community as a whole is the ultimate owner of the territory inhabited, considered as unreclaimed (though not of that value which clearing and cultivation have given to it); and while each member of the community has a resulting lien upon it; yet no such “right to a maintenance out of the soil,” irrespective of energy expended, as is often alleged, can be sustained. The land produces only in return for labor; and one who does not give the labor has no claim on its produce; or, at any rate, has a claim only to a share of the small amount it would yield if wild, which, with the existing population, would constitute nothing like a maintenance.
It is argued that the poor work for society while young and hale, and should be supported by society when sick and old. Under a socialist regime, which artificially apportioned payments for services, this would be a valid position; but, as it is, society gives to the laborer when young and hale as much as competition proves his work to be worth: so discharging its debt. Further, there is the reply that if, during his period of activity he has been underpaid, the underpayment has been in large part due to the fact that he has been burdened by having to help indirectly, if not directly, to support the idle and incapable. Giving necessaries of life to those who do not labor, inevitably takes away necessaries of life from those who do labor. The well-to-do are not pinched by this abstraction from the total supply of commodities. Those who are pinched are those who have but small margins. If they had not been thus depleted, they would have been able to provide for a period of unproductive life.
Apologists contend that rapid multiplication is ever producing a surplus of people for whom there is no work, but who must be supported. The first reply is that in proportion as provision is made for such a surplus, the surplus will go on continually increasing. The second reply is that only if the work to be done by the community is a fixed quantity, can the argument be sustained; since, otherwise, there must always be some further work which the surplus may be profitably employed on, in return for their maintenance. To say that some ought to do extra work that others may remain idle is absurd.
Occasionally it is urged that since there must always be a certain proportion of necessitous people–the diseased, the incapable, the unfortunate, the old–it is best that these should be relieved from funds administered by men appointed for the purpose, who will look carefully in each case and adjust the aid to the needs. This implies a faith in officialism at large which experience, repeated generation after generation, fails to dissipate. The assumption is that the agents employed, who in most cases aim to get their salaries with the least trouble, will be the best critics of the character, conduct, and wants of the recipients; and that guardians will administer public funds more wisely than private persons would administer their own funds. It ignores the enormous mass of evidence collected in Parliamentary Blue Books, as well as in special works on the subject, proving that under this system in past days corruptions and abuses of every kind were created and fostered, resulting in a universal demoralization.
Let us not forget that cruel injustice to individuals and mischief to the community, are caused by a heavy taxation of those who are but just able to maintain themselves and families, and are striving to do it. Numerous cases occur in which worthy and diligent men–sometimes thrown out of work by lack of demand and sometimes incapacitated for work by prolonged sickness–are compelled to pay rates; and even have their goods seized that money may be obtained for the maintenance of good-for-nothings. More than this; it not unfrequently happens that men who are employed in parishes at distances from their own, and could there maintain themselves but for the persecution of the poor-rate collector, have to abandon their places, return to their own parishes, get from it money to bring back their wives and children, and then apply for relief. So that there is a breaking up of healthy industrial relations to maintain a system which substitutes doles for wages.
Nor must we omit the fact that public administration of relief is doubly extravagant. It is extravagant in the sense that the distribution inevitably becomes lax, and, in the absence of personal interests, aid is given where aid is not required: often most lavishly to the least deserving. And it is extravagant in the sense that a large part of the total fund raised goes to maintain the machinery–goes in salaries of rate collectors, relieving officers, masters of workhouses and their subordinates, parish surgeons, &c.: a part amounting in extreme cases in Ireland to more than two-thirds, and in some cases in England at the present time to more than one-third– proportions which, if not paralleled generally, go along with high average proportions.
When we remember that law-enforced charity is, as already shown, inconsistent with justice, we are taught that in this as in all other cases, what is not just is in the long run not beneficent.1
455. Less objectionable than administration of poor relief by a law-established and coercive organization, is its administration by privately established and voluntary organizations–benevolent societies, mendicity societies, &c. “Less objectionable” I say but still, objectionable: in some ways even more objectionable. For though the vitiating influences of coercion are now avoided the vitiating influences of proxy distribution remain. If we have not a machinery so rigid as that set up by the Poor Law, yet we have a machinery. The beneficiary is not brought in direct relation with the benefactor, but in relation with an agent appointed by a number of benefactors. The transaction, instead of being one which advantageously cultivates the moral nature on both sides, excludes culture of the moral nature as much as is practicable, and introduces a number of bad motives. Note the ill-workings of the system.
As with the Poor Law (especially the old Poor Law), those who were distressed but thrifty and well conducted got no help, while help came to the improvident and ill conducted; so with philanthropic societies in general. The worthy suffer rather than ask assistance; while the worthless press for assistance and get it. The Mansion House Fund of 188586, for instance, was proved to have gone largely for the support of “idlers, spendthrifts, and drunkards.” “They did not see why they should not have some of the money going as well as their neighbors.” In some cases applicants “demanded their share.” Where, as in another case, employment was offered, less than one-fifth proved to be good for anything; showing that the unemployed, so generally pitied as ill used by society, are unemployed because they either cannot or will not work; and showing, by implication, that charitable agencies enable them to evade the harsh but salutary discipline of nature.
The encouragement of hypocrisy, which goes along with this neglect of the good poor who do not complain and attention to the bad poor who do, becomes conspicuous when religious professions are found instrumental to obtainment of alms. Clergy and pious women, easily deluded by sanctimonious talk, favor those who are most skilled in utterance of spiritual experiences, and in benedictions after receiving gifts. Hence a penalty on sincerity and a premium on lying; with resulting demoralization.
This evil is intensified by sectarian competition. There are competing missions which collect and distribute money to push their respective creeds, and bribe by farthing breakfasts and penny dinners. Nearly half the revenue of one mission is distributed in credit tickets, and “if the recipient wishes to cash his ticket, he cannot do so until after the evening service”: this vicious system being carried even to the extent that the visitors try “to force its tickets on the most respectable and independent people”–pauperizing them to make hypocritical converts of them. Said one woman, poor but clean and tidy who saw how the emissaries of the church favored the good-for-nothings: “I didn't want any of the good lady's tickets. . . but it's very ‘urtful to the feelings to see that careless drinking people living like ‘ogs gets all, and them as struggles and strives may go without.” And not only does there result a discouragement of virtue and an encouragement of vice, but there results a subsidizing of superstitions. Unless all the conflicting beliefs thus aided are right, which is impossible, there must be a propagation of untruth as well as a rewarding of insincerity.
Another evil is that easygoing people are exploité by cunning fellows who want to make places for themselves and get salaries. A crying need is found; prospectuses are widely distributed; canvassers press those on whom they call; and all because A, B, C &c., who have failed in their careers, have discovered that they can get money by playing the parts of manager, secretary, and collector. Then, if the institution vehemently urged is established, it is worked in their interest. But it is not always established. As there are bubble mercantile companies, so there are bubble philanthropic societies–societies kept up for a time merely for the purpose of getting subscriptions. Nay, on good authority I learn that there are gangs of men who make it their business to float bogus charities solely to serve their private ends.
Not even now have we reached the end of the evils. There is the insincerity of those who furnish the funds distributed: flunkeyism and the desire to display being often larger motives than beneficent feeling. These swindling promoters when writing to wealthy men for contributions, take care to request the honor of their names as vice presidents. Even where the institutions are genuine, the giving of handsome subscriptions or donations, is largely prompted by the wish to figure before the world as generous, and as filling posts of distinction and authority. A still meaner motive cooperates. One of the nouveaux riches, or even one whose business is tolerably prosperous, takes an active part in getting up, or in carrying on, one of these societies supposed to be originated purely by benevolence, because he likes the prospect of sitting on a committee presided over by a peer, and perhaps side by side with the son of one. He and his wife and his daughters enjoy the thought of seeing his name annually thus associated in the list of officers; and they contemplate this result more than the benefits to be given.
There are kindred vitiations of other organizations having beneficent aims–orphanages, provisions for unfortunate and aged tradesmen, &c. Here again, the least necessitous, who have many friends, are usually those to benefit, and the most necessitous, who have no friends, are neglected. Then there is the costliness and corruption of the selecting process–expensive and laborious canvassing, exchange of votes, philanthropic logrolling. Evidently the outlay for working the system, in money and effort, is such as would be equivalent to a maintenance for many more beneficianes, were it not thus wasted in machinery.
Nor is it otherwise with institutions thought by most people to be indisputably beneficial–hospitals and dispensaries. The first significant fact is that thirty percent of the people of London are frequenters of them; and the largeness of this proportion makes it clear that most of them, not to be ranked as indigent, are able to pay their doctors. Gratis medical relief tends to pauperize in more definite ways. The outpatients begin by getting physic and presently get food; and the system “leads them afterwards openly to solicit pecuniary aid.” This vitiating effect is proved by the fact that during the forty years from 1830 to 1869, the increase in the number of hospital patients has been five times greater than the increase of population; and as there has not been more disease, the implication is obvious. Moreover the promise of advice for nothing, attracts the mean-spirited to the extent that “the poor are now being gradually ousted out of the consulting room by well-to-do persons.” People of several hundreds a year, even up to a thousand, apply as outpatients, going in disguise: twenty percent of the outpatients in one large hospital having “given false addresses” for the purpose of concealing their identity. Swarming as patients thus do, it results that each gets but little attention: a minute being the average for each, sometimes diminished to forty-five seconds. Thus those for whom the gratis advice is intended get but little. Often “the assistance given is merely nominal”; and “is both a deception on the public and a fraud upon the poor.” These gratuitous medical benefits, such as they are, “are conferred chiefly by the members of the unpaid professional staffs” of these charities. Some of them prescribe at the rate of 318 patients in three hours and twenty minutes–a process sufficiently exhausting for men already hard worked in their private practice, and sufficiently disheartening to men with little private practice, who thus give without payment aid which otherwise they would get payment for, very much needed by them. So that the £600,000 a year of the metropolitan hospitals, which, if the annual value of the lands and buildings occupied were added would reach very nearly a million, has largely the effect of demoralizing the patients, taking medical care from those it was intended for and giving it to those for whom it was not, and obliging many impecunious doctors and surgeons to work hard for nothing.2
These various experiences, then, furnished by societies and institutions supported by voluntary gifts and subscriptions, unite to show that whatever benefits flow from them are accompanied by grave evils–evils sometimes greater than the benefits. They force on us the truth that, be it compulsory or noncoinpulsory, social machinery wastes power, and works other effects than those intended. In proportion as beneficence operates indirectly instead of directly, it fails in its end.
456. Alike in the foregoing sections and in the foregoing parts of this work, there has been implied the conclusion that the beneficence which takes the form of giving material aid to those in distress, has the best effects when individually exercised. If, like mercy it “blesses him that gives and him that takes,” it can do this in full measure only when the benefactor and beneficiary stand in direct relation. It is true, however, that individual beneficence often falls far short of the requirements, often runs into excesses, and is often wrongly directed. Let us look at its imperfections and corruptions.
The most familiar of these is the careless squandering of pence to beggars, and the consequent fostering of idleness and vice. Sometimes because their sympathies are so quick that they cannot tolerate the sight of real or apparent misery; sometimes because they quiet their consciences and think they compound for misdeeds by occasional largesse; sometimes because they are moved by that other-worldliness which hopes to obtain large gifts hereafter by small gifts here; sometimes because, though conscious of mischief likely to be done, they have not the patience needed to make inquiries, and are tempted to end the matter with a sixpence or something less; men help the bad to become worse. Doubtless the evil is great, and weighs much against the individual exercise of beneficence–practically if not theoretically.
The same causes initiate and maintain the begging-letter impostures. Occasional exposures of these in daily papers might serve as warnings; but always there is a new crop of credulous people who believe what they are told by cunning dissemblers, and yield rather than take the trouble of verification: thinking, many of them, that they are virtuous in thus doing the thing which seems kind, instead of being, as they are, vicious in taking no care to prevent evil. That the doings of such keep alive numbers of scamps and swindlers, every one knows; and doubtless a considerable setoff to the advantages of individual beneficence hence arises.
Then, again, there meets us the objection that if there is no compulsory raising of funds to relieve distress, and everything is left to the promptings of sympathy, people who have little or no sympathy, forming a large part of the community, will contribute nothing; and will leave undue burdens to be borne by the more sympathetic. Either the requirements will be inadequately met or the kindhearted will have to make excessive sacrifices. Much force though there is in this objection, it is not so forcible as at first appears. In this case, as in many cases, wrong inferences are drawn respecting the effects of a new cause, because it is supposed that while one thing is changed all other things remain the same. It is forgotten that in the absence of a coercive law there often exists a coercive public opinion. There is no legal penalty on a lie, if not uttered after taking an oath; and yet the social disgrace which follows a convicted liar has a strong effect in maintaining a general truthfulness. There is no prescribed punishment for breaking social observances; and yet these are by many conformed to more carefully than are moral precepts or legal enactments. Most people dread far more the social frown which follows the doing of something conventionally wrong, than they do the qualms of conscience which follow the doing of something intrinsically wrong.3 Hence it may reasonably be concluded that if private voluntary relief of the poor replaced public compulsory relief, the diffused sentiment which enforces the one would go a long way toward maintaining the other. The general feeling would become such that few, even of the unsympathetic, would dare to face the scorn which would result did they shirk all share of the common responsibility; and while there would probably be thus insured something like contributions from the indifferent or the callous, there would, in some of them, be initiated, by the formal practice of beneficence, a feeling which in course of time would render the beneficence genuine and pleasurable.
A further difficulty presents itself. “I am too much occupied,” says the man of business when exhorted to exercise private beneficence. “I have a family to bring up; and my whole time is absorbed in discharging my responsibilities, parental and other. It is impossible for me, therefore, to make such inquiries as are needful to avoid giving misdirected assistance. I must make my contribution and leave others to distribute.” That there is force in the reply cannot be denied. But when we call to mind the common remark that if you want anything done you must apply to the busy man rather than to the man of leisure, we may reasonably question whether the busy man may not occasionally find time enough to investigate cases of distress which are forced on his attention. Sometimes there may even result, from a due amount of altruistic action, a mental gain conducive to efficiency in the conduct of affairs.
At any rate it must be admitted that individual ministration to the poor is the normal form of ministration; and that, made more thoughtful and careful, as it would be if the entire responsibility of caring for the poor devolved upon it, it would go a long way towards meeting the needs: especially as the needs would be greatly diminished when there had been excluded the artificially generated poverty with which we are surrounded.
457. But now, from this general advocacy of individual giving versus giving by public and quasi-public agencies, I pass to the special advocacy of the natural form of individual giving–a form which exists and which simply needs development.
Within the intricate plexus of social relations surrounding each citizen, there is a special plexus more familiar to him than any other, and which has established greater claims on him than any other. Everyone who can afford to give assistance, is brought by his daily activities into immediate contact with a cluster of those who by illness, by loss of work, by a death, or by other calamity, are severally liable to fall into a state calling for aid; and there should be recognized a claim possessed by each member of this particular cluster.
In early societies, organized on the system of status, there went, along with the dependence of inferiors, a certain kind of responsibility for their welfare. The simple or compound family group, formed of relatives standing in degrees of subordination, and usually possessing slaves, was a group so regulated that while the inferiors were obliged to do what they were told, and receive what was given to them, they usually had a sufficiency given to them. They were much in the position of domestic animals in respect of their subjection, and they were in a kindred position in respect of due ministration to their needs. Alike in the primitive patriarchal system and in the developed feudal system, we see that the system of status presented the general trait, that while dependents were in large measure denied their liberty, they were in large measure supplied with the means of living. Either they were directly fed and housed, or they were allowed such fixed proportion of produce as enabled them to feed and house themselves. Possession of them unavoidably brought with it care for them.
Along with gradual substitution of the system of contract for the system of status, this relation has been changed in such manner that while the benefits of independence have been gained the benefits of dependence have been lost. The poorer citizen has no longer any one to control him; but he has no longer any one to provide for him. So much service for so much money, has become the universal principle of cooperation; and the money having been paid for the service rendered, no further claim is recognized. The requirements of justice having been fulfilled, it is supposed that all requirements have been fulfilled. The ancient regime of protection and fealty has ceased, while the modern regime of beneficence and gratitude has but partially replaced it.
May we not infer, with tolerable certainty, that there has to be reinstituted something akin to the old order in a new form? May we not expect that without reestablishment of the ancient power of superiors over inferiors, there may be resumed something like the ancient care for them? May we not hope that without the formation of any legal ties between individuals of the regulating class, and those groups whose work they severally regulate in one or other way, there may come to be formed stronger moral ties? Already such moral ties are in some measure recognized. Already all householders moderately endowed with sympathy, feel bound to care for their servants during illness; already they help those living out of the house who in less direct ways labor for them; already from time to time small traders, porters, errand boys, and the like, benefit by their kind offices on occasions of misfortune. The sole requisite seems to be that the usage which thus shows itself here and there irregularly, should be called into general activity by the gradual disappearance of artificial agencies for distributing aid. As before implied, the sympathetic feelings which have originated and support these artificial agencies, would, in their absence, vitalize and develop the natural agencies. And if with each citizen there remained the amount now taken from him in rates and subscriptions, he would be enabled to meet these private demands: if not by as large a disbursement, yet by a disbursement probably as large as is desirable.
Besides reestablishing these closer relationships between superior and inferior, which during our transition from ancient slavery to modern freedom have lapsed; and besides bringing beneficence back to its normal form of direct relation between benefactor and beneficiary; thus personal administration of relief would be guided by immediate knowledge of the recipients, and the relief would be adjusted in kind and amount to their needs and their deserts. When, instead of the responsibility indirectly discharged through Poor Law officers and mendicity societies, the responsibility fell directly on each of those having some spare means, each would see the necessity for inquiry and criticism and supervision: so increasing the aid given to the worthy and restricting that given to the unworthy.
458. And here we are brought face to face with the greatest of the difficulties attendant on all methods of mitigating distress. May we not by frequent aid to the worthy render them unworthy; and are we not almost certain by helping those who are already unworthy to make them more unworthy still? How shall we so regulate our pecuniary beneficence as to avoid assisting the incapables and the degraded to multiply?
I have in so many places commented on the impolicy. and indeed the cruelty, of bequeathing to posterity an increasing population of criminals and incapables, that I need not here insist that true beneficence will be so restrained as to avoid fostering the inferior at the expense of the superior–or, at any rate, so restrained as to minimize the mischief which fostering the inferior entails.
Under present circumstances the difficulty seems almost insurmountable. By the law-established and privately established agencies, coercive and voluntary, which save the bad from the extreme results of their badness, there have been produced unmanageable multitudes of them, and to prevent further multiplication appears next to impossible. The yearly accumulating appliances for keeping alive those who will not do enough work to keep themselves alive, continually increase the evil. Each new effort to mitigate the penalties on improvidence, has the inevitable effect of adding to the number of the improvident. Whether assistance is given through state machinery, or by charitable societies, or privately, it is difficult to see how it can be restricted in such manner as to prevent the inferior from begetting more of the inferior.
If left to operate in all its sternest, the principle of the survival of the fittest, which, as ethically considered, we have seen to imply that each individual shall be left to experience the effects of his own nature and consequent conduct, would quickly clear away the degraded. But it is impracticable with our present sentiments to let it operate in all its sternest. No serious evil would result from relaxing its operation, if the degraded were to leave no progeny. A shortsighted benefi cence might be allowed to save them from suffering, were a longsighted beneficence assured that there would be born no more such. But how can it be thus assured? If, either by public action or by private action, aid were given to the feeble, the unhealthy, the deformed, the stupid, on condition that they did not marry. the result would manifestly be a great increase of illegitimacy; which, implying a still more unfavorable nurture of children, would result in still worse men and women. If instead of a “submerged tenth” there existed only a submerged fiftieth, it might be possible to deal with it effectually by private industrial institutions, or some kindred appliances. But the mass of effete humanity to be dealt with is so large as to make one despair: the problem seems insoluble.
Certainly, if solvable, it is to be solved only through suffering. Having, by unwise institutions, brought into existence large numbers who are unadapted to the requirements of social life, and are consequently sources of misery to themselves and others, we cannot repress and gradually diminish this body of relatively worthless people without inflicting much pain. Evil has been done and the penalty must be paid. Cure can come only through affliction. The artificial assuaging of distress by state appliances, is a kind of social opium eating, yielding temporary mitigation at the eventual cost of intenser misery. Increase of the anodyne dose inevitably leads by and by to increase of the evil; and the only rational course is that of bearing the misery which must be entailed for a time by desistance. The transition from state beneficence to a healthy condition of self-help and private beneficence, must be like the transition from an opium-eating life to a normal life–painful but remedial.
[]In treating of Poor Laws as above, I have been aided by the writings of one specially qualified judge– a late uncle of mine, the Rev. Thomas Spencer, of Hinton Charterhouse, near Bath. His antecedents and his experience gave his opinion a value which the opinion of scarcely one man in a hundred thousand could have. His special sympathy with his parishioners was proved by his having established in Hinton a parish school, a village library, a clothing club, and land allotments; by having also built model cottages; and by having at one time gone to the extent of giving every Sunday a meat dinner to a group of laborers. His general sympathy with the working classes was proved by the fact that he devoted a large part of his spare time to the diffusion of temperance by lectures and writings; by the fact that he joined in the Complete Suffrage Movement, which aimed to diffuse political power; and above all by the fact that he was the only clergyman who took an active part in the agitation for the repeal of the Corn Laws, and said grace at the first anti—Corn Law banquet as well as at the last. His philanthropic feeling, then, cannot be questioned. As to his experience, it was no less wide and complete. Though originally a pauper's friend–always on the side of the pauper against the overseer–he afterwards became convinced of the immense mischief wrought under the old Poor Law; and when the new Poor Law was enacted, he forthwith applied it to his parish (having, I believe, gained the assent of the Poor Law commissioners to do this before the Bath Union was formed), and very shortly reduced the rates from £700 a year to £200 a year; with the result of making the parish far more contented and prosperous. Then, on the formation of the Bath Union, he was appointed chairman of the Board of Guardians and held that office for several years: thereby being made familiar with a wide range of facts. The outcome was that he wrote four pamphlets under the title “Reasons for a Poor Law Considered”; of which the net result is a verdict against Poor Laws in general.
[]The evidence here summarized will be found in Medical Charity: Its Abuses, and How to Remedy Them, by John Chapman, M.D. some of the sums and numbers given should be greatly increased; for since 1874, when the work was published, much hospital extension has taken place.
[]A most instructive and remarkable fact, which illustrates this general truth at the same time that it illustrates a more special truth, is that already cited in section 183, respecting the rudest of the Musheras of India, who have no form of marriage, but among whom “unchastity, or a change of lovers on either side, when once mutual appropriation has been made, is a thing of rare occurrence”; and, when it does occur, causes excommunication. So that among these simple people, public opinion in respect of the marital relation is more potent than law is among ourselves. (For account of the Musheras, see Calcutta Review, April 1888.)