ESSAYS, Political, Economical and Philosophical. Volume 1.
by Benjamin Rumford
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In very large cities, as the details of a general Establishment for the Poor would be very numerous and extensive, it would probably facilitate the management of the affairs of the Establishment, if, beside the smallest subdivisions or districts, there could be formed other larger divisions, composed of a certain number of districts, and put under the direction of particular committees.

The most natural, and perhaps the most convenient method of dividing a large city or town, for the purpose of introducing a general Establishment for the Poor, would be, to form of the parishes the primary divisions; and to divide each parish into so many subdivisions, or districts, as that each district may consist of from 3000 to 4000 inhabitants. Though the immediate inspection and general superintendance of the affairs of each parish were to be left to its own particular committee, yet the supreme committee at the head of the general Institution should not only exercise a controlling power over the parochial committees, but these last should not be empowered to levy money upon the parishioners, by setting on foot voluntary subscriptions, or otherwise; or to dispose of any sums belonging to the general Institution, except in cases of urgent necessity;—nor should they be permitted to introduce any new arrangements with respect to the management of the Poor, without the approbation and consent of the supreme committee: the most perfect uniformity in the mode of treating the Poor, and transacting all public business relative to the Institution, being indispensably necessary to secure success to the undertaking, and fix the Establishment upon a firm and durable foundation.

For the same reasons, all monies collected in the parishes should not be received and disposed of by their particular committees, but ought to be paid into the public treasury of the Institution, and carried to the general account of receipts;—and, in like manner, the sums necessary for the support of the Poor in each parish should be furnished from the general treasury, on the orders of the supreme committee.

With regard to the applications of individuals in distress for assistance, all such applications ought to be made through the commissary of the district to the parochial committee;—and where the necessity is not urgent, and particularly where permanent assistance is required, the demand should be referred by the parochial committee to the supreme committee, for their decision. In cases of urgent necessity, the parochial committees, and even the commissaries of districts, should be authorized to administer relief, ex officio, and without delay; for which purpose they should be furnished with certain sums in advance, to be afterwards accounted for by them.

That the supreme committee may be exactly informed of the real state of those in distress who apply for relief, every petition, forwarded by a parochial committee, or by a commissary of a district, where there are no parochial committees, should be accompanied with an exact and detailed account of the circumstances of the petitioner, signed by the commissary of the district to which he belongs, together with the amount of the weekly sum, or other relief, which such commissary may deem necessary for the support of the petitioner.

To save the commissaries of districts the trouble of writing the descriptions of the Poor who apply for assistance, printed forms, similar to that which may been seen in the Appendix, No. V. may be furnished to them;—and other printed forms, of a like nature, may be introduced with great advantage in many other cafes in the management of the Poor.

With regard to the manner in which the supreme and parochial committees should be formed;— however they may be composed, it will be indispensably requisite, for the preservation of order and harmony in all the different parts of the Establishment, that one member at least of each parochial committee be present, and have a seat, and voice, as a member of the supreme committee. And, that all the members of each parochial committee may be equally well informed with regard to the general affairs of the Establishment, it may perhaps be proper that those members attended the meetings of the supreme committee in rotation.

For similar reasons it may be proper to invite the commissaries of districts to be present in rotation at the meetings of the committees of their respective parishes, where there are parochial committees established, or otherwise, at the meetings of the supreme committee[4].

It is, however, only in very large cities that I would recommend the forming parochial committees. In all towns where the inhabitants do not amount to more than 100,000 souls, I am clearly of opinion that it would be best merely to divide the town into districts, without regard to the limits of parishes; and to direct all the affairs of the institution by one simple committee. This mode was adopted at Munich, and found to be easy in practice, and successful; and it is not without some degree of diffidence, I own, that I have ventured to propose a deviation from a plan, which has not yet been justified by experience.

But however a town may be divided into districts, it will be absolutely necessary that ALL the houses be regularly numbered, and an accurate list made out of all the persons who inhabit them. The propriety of this measure is too apparent to require any particular explanation. It is one of the very first steps that ought to be taken in carrying into execution any plan for forming an Establishment for the Poor; it being as necessary to know the names and places of abode of those, who, by voluntary subscription, or otherwise, assist in relieving the Poor, as to be acquainted with the dwellings of the objects themselves; and this measure is as indispensable necessary when an institution for the Poor is formed in a small country-town or village, as when it is formed in the largest capital.

In many cases, it is probable, the established laws of the country in which an institution for the Poor may be formed, and certain usages, the influence of which may perhaps be still more powerful than the laws, may render modifications necessary, which it is utterly impossible for me to foresee; still the great fundamental principles upon which every sensible plan for such an Establishment must be founded, appear to me to be certain and immutable; and when rightly understood, there can be no great difficulty in accommodating the plan to all those particular circumstances under which it may be carried into execution, without making any essential alteration.


General Direction of the Affairs of an Institution for the Poor attended with no great Trouble. Of the best Method of carrying on the current Business, and the great Use of printed Forms, or Blanks. Of the necessary qualifications of those who are placed at the Head of an Establishment for the Relief of the Poor. Great Importance of this Subject. Cruelty and Impolicy of putting the Poor into the Hands of Persons they cannot respect and love. The Persons pointed out who are more immediately called upon to come forward with Schemes for the Relief of the Poor, and to give their active Assistance in carrying them into Effect.

Whatever the number of districts into which a city is divided, may be, or the number of committees employed in the management of a public Establishment for the relief of the Poor, it is indispensably necessary that all individuals who are employed in the undertaking be persons of known integrity;—for courage is not more necessary in the character of a general, than unshaken integrity in the character of a governor of a public charity. I insist the more upon this point as the whole scheme is founded upon the voluntary assistance of individuals, and therefore to ensure its success the most unlimited confidence of the public must be reposed in those who are to carry it into execution; besides, I may add, that the manner in which the funds of the various public Establishments for the relief of the Poor already instituted have been commonly been administered in most countries, does not tend to render superfluous the precautions I propose for securing the confidence of the public.

The preceding observations respecting the importance of employing none but persons of known integrity at the head of an institution for the relief of the Poor, relates chiefly to the necessity of encouraging people in affluent circumstances, and the public at large, to unite in the support of such an Establishment.—There is also another reason, perhaps equally important, which renders it expedient to employ persons of the most respectable character in the details of an institution of public charity,—the good effects such a choice must have upon the minds and morals of the Poor.

Persons who are reduced to indigent circumstances, and become objects of public charity, come under the direction of those who are appointed to take care of them with minds weakened by adversity, and soured by disappointment; and finding themselves separated from the rest of mankind, and cut off from all hope of seeing better days, they naturally grow peevish, and discontented, suspicious of those set over them, and of one another; and the kindest treatment, and most careful attention to every circumstance that can render their situation supportable, are therefore required, to prevent their being very unhappy. And nothing surely can contribute more powerfully to soothe the minds of persons in such unfortunate and hopeless circumstances, than to find themselves under the care and protection of persons of gentle manners;—humane dispositions;—and known probity and integrity; such as even THEY,—with all their suspicions about them, may venture to love and respect,

Whoever has taken the pains to investigate the nature of the human mind, and examine attentively those circumstances upon which human happiness depends, must know how necessary it is to happiness, that the mind should have some object upon which to place its more tender affections—something to love,—to cherish, —to esteem,—to respect,—and to venerate; and these resources are never so necessary as in the hour of adversity and discouragement, where no ray of hope is left to cheer the prospect, and stimulate to fresh exertion.

The lot of the Poor, particularly of those who, from easy circumstances and a reputable station in society, are reduced by misfortunes, or oppression, to become a burthen on the Public, is truly deplorable, after all that can be done for them:— and were we seriously to consider their situation, I am sure we should think that we could never do too much to alleviate their sufferings, and soothe the anguish of wounds which can never be healed.

For the common misfortunes of life, HOPE is a sovereign remedy. But what remedy can be applied to evils, which involve even the loss of hope itself? and what can those have to hope, who are separated and cut off from society, and for ever excluded from all share in the affairs of men? To them, honours;—distinctions; —praise;—and even property itself;—all those objects of laudable ambition which so powerfully excite the activity of man in civil society, and contribute so essentially to happiness, by filling the mind with pleasing prospects of future enjoyments, are but empty names; or rather, they are subjects of never-ceasing regret and discontent.

That gloom must indeed be dreadful, which overspreads the mind, when HOPE, that bright luminary of the soul, which enlightens and cheers it, and excites and calls forth into action all its best faculties, has disappeared!

There are many, it is true, who, from their indolence or extravagance, or other vicious habits, fall into poverty and distress, and become a burthen on the public, who are so vile and degenerate as not to feel the wretchedness of their situation. But these are miserable objects, which the truly benevolent will regard with an eye of peculiar compassion;—they must be very unhappy, for they are very vicious; and nothing should be omitted, that can tend to reclaim them;—but nothing will tend so powerfully to reform them, as kind usage from the hands of persons they must learn to love and to respect at the same time.

If I am too prolix upon this head, I am sorry for it. It is a strong conviction of the great importance of the subject, which carries me away, and makes me, perhaps, tiresome, where I would wish most to avoid it. The care of the Poor, however, I must consider as a matter of very serious importance. It appears to me to be one of the most sacred duties imposed upon men in a state of civil society;—one of those duties imposed immediately by the hand of God himself, and of which the neglect never goes unpunished.

What I have said respecting the necessary qualifications of those employed in taking care of the Poor, I hope will not deter well-disposed persons, who are willing to assist in so useful an undertaking, from coming forward with propositions for the institution of public Establishments for that purpose; or from offering themselves candidates for employments in the management of such Establishments. The qualifications pointed out, integrity, and a gentle and humane disposition,—honesty, and a good heart;— are such as any one may boldly lay claim to, without fear of being taxed with vanity or ostentation.—And if individuals in private stations, on any occasion are called upon to lay aside their bashfulness and modest dissidence, and come forward into public view, it must surely be, when by their exertions they can essentially contribute to promote measures which are calculated to increase the happiness and prosperity of society.

It is a vulgar saying, that, what is everybody's business, is nobody's business; and it is very certain that many schemes, evidently intended for the public good, have been neglected, merely because nobody could be prevailed on to stand forward and be the first to adopt them. This doubtless has been the case in regard to many judicious and well arranged proposals for providing for the Poor; and will probably be so again. I shall endeavour, however, to show, that though in undertakings in which the general welfare of society is concerned, persons of all ranks and conditions are called upon to give them their support, yet, in the INTRODUCTION of such measures as are here recommended,— a scheme of providing for the Poor,—there are many who, by their rank and peculiar situations, are clearly pointed out as the most proper to take up the business at its commencement, and bring it forward to maturity; as well as to take an active part in the direction and management of such an institution after it has been established: and it appears to me, that the nature and the end of the undertaking evidently point out the persons who are more particularly called upon to set an example on such an occasion.

If the care of the Poor be an object of great national importance, —if it be inseparably connected with the peace and tranquillity of society, and with the glory and prosperity of the state;— if the advantages which individuals share in the public welfare are in proportion to the capital they have at stake in this great national fund—that is to say, in proportion to their rank, property, and connexions, or general influence;—as it is just that every one should contribute in proportion to the advantages he receives; it is evident who ought to be the first to come forward upon such an occasion.

But it is not merely on account of the superior interest they have in the public welfare, that persons of high rank and great property, and such as occupy places of importance in the government, are bound to support measures calculated to relieve the distresses of the Poor;—there is still another circumstance which renders it indispensably necessary that they should take an active part in such measures, and that is, the influence which their example must have upon others.

It is impossible to prevent the bulk of mankind from being swayed by the example of those to whom they are taught to look up as their superiors; it behoves, therefore, all who enjoy such high privileges, to employ all the influence which their rank and fortune give them, to promote the public good. And this may justly be considered as a duty of a peculiar kind;—a PERSONAL service attached to the station they hold in society, and which cannot be commuted.

But if the obligations which persons of rank and property are under, to support measures designed for the relief of the Poor, are so binding, how much more so must they be upon those who have taken upon themselves the sacred office of public teachers of virtue and morality;—the Ministers of a most holy religion;— a religion whose first precepts inculcate charity and universal benevolence, and whose great object is, unquestionably, the peace, order, and happiness of society.

If there be any whose peculiar province it is to seek for objects in distress and want, and administer to them relief;—if there be any who are bound by the indispensable duties of their profession to encourage by every means in their power, and more especially by EXAMPLE, the general practice of charity; it is, doubtless, the Ministers of the gospel. And such is their influence in society, arising from the nature of their office, that their example is a matter of VERY SERIOUS IMPORTANCE.

Little persuasion, I should hope, would be necessary to induce the clergy, in any country, to give their cordial and active assistance in relieving the distresses of the Poor, and providing for their comfort and happiness, by introducing order and useful industry among them.

Another class of men, who from the station they hold in society, and their knowledge of the laws of the country, may be highly useful in carrying into effect such an undertaking, are the civil magistrates; and, however a committee for the government and direction of an Establishment for the Poor may in other respects be composed, I am clearly of opinion, that the Chief Magistrate of the town, or city, where such an Establishment is formed, ought always to be one of its members. The Clergyman of the place who is highest in rank or dignity ought, likewise, to be another; and if he be a Bishop, or Archbishop, his assistance is the more indispensable.

But as persons who hold offices of great trust and importance in the church, as well as under the civil government, may be so much engaged in the duties of their stations, as not to have sufficient leisure to attend to other matters; it may be necessary, when such distinguished persons lend their assistance in the management of an Establishment for the relief of the Poor, that each of them be permitted to bring with them a person of his own choice into the committee, to assist him in the business. The Bishop, for instance, may bring his chaplain;—the Magistrate, his clerk;—the Nobleman, or private gentleman, his son, or friend, etc. But in small towns, of two or three parishes, and particularly in country-towns and villages, which do not consist of more than one or two parishes, as the details in the management of the affairs of the Poor in such communities cannot be extensive, the members of the committee may manage the business without assistants. And indeed in all cases, even in great cities, when a general Establishment for the Poor is formed upon a good plan, the details of the executive and more laborious parts of the management of it will be so divided among the commissaries of the districts, that the members of the supreme committee will have little more to do than just hold the reins, and direct the movement of the machine. Care must however be taken to preserve the most perfect uniformity in the motions of all its parts, otherwise confusion must ensue; hence the necessity of directing the whole from one center.

As the inspection of the Poor;—the care of them when they are sick;—the distribution of the sums granted in alms for their support;—the furnishing them with clothes;—and the collection of the voluntary subscriptions of the inhabitants,—will be performed by the commissaries of the districts, and their assistants;—and as all the details relative to giving employment to the Poor, and feeding them, may be managed by particular subordinate committees, appointed for those purposes, the current business of the supreme committee will amount to little more than the exercise of a general superintendance.

This committee, it is true, must determine upon all demands from the Poor who apply for assistance; but as every such demand will be accompanied with the most particular account of the circumstances of the petitioner, and the nature and amount of assistance necessary to his relief, certified by the commissary of the district in which the petitioner resides,—and also by the parochial committee, where such are established,—the matter will be so prepared and digested, that the members of the supreme committee will have very little trouble to decide on the merits of the case, and the assistance to be granted.

This assistance will consist—in a certain sum to be given WEEKLY in alms to the petitioner, by the commissary of the district, out of the funds of the Institution;—in an allowance of bread only;—in a present of certain articles of clothing, which will be specified;—or, perhaps, merely in an order for being furnished with wood, clothing, or fuel, from the public kitchens or magazines of the Establishment, AT THE PRIME COST of those articles, AS AN ASSISTANCE to the petitioner, and to prevent the NECESSITY OF HIS BECOMING A BURTHEN ON THE PUBLIC.

The manner last mentioned of assisting the Poor,—that of furnishing them with the necessaries of life at lower prices than those at which they are sold in the public markets, is a matter of such importance, that I shall take occasion to treat of it more fully hereafter.

With respect to the petitions presented to the committee;— whatever be the assistance demanded, the petition received ought to be accompanied by a duplicate; to the end that, the decision of the committee being entered upon the duplicate, as well as upon the original, and the duplicate sent back to the commissary of the district, the business may be finished with the least trouble possible; and even without the necessary of any more formal order relative to the matter being given by the committee.

I have already mentioned the great utility of PRINTED FORMS, for petitions, returns, etc. in carrying on the business of an Establishment for the Poor, and I would again most earnestly recommend the general use of them. Those who have not had experience in such matters, can have no idea how much they contribute to preserve order, and facilitate and expedite business. To the general introduction of them in the management of the affairs of the Institution for the Poor at Munich, I attribute, more than to any thing else, the perfect order which has continued to reign throughout every part of that extensive Establishment, from its first existence to the present moment.

In carrying on the business of that Establishment, printed forms or blanks are used, not only for petitions;—returns;—lists of the Poor;— descriptions of the Poor;—lists of the inhabitants; —lists of subscribers to the support of the Poor;—orders upon the banker or treasurer of the Institution;—but also for the reports of the monthly collections made by the commissaries of districts;—the accounts sent in by the commissaries, of the extraordinary expences incurred in affording assistance to those who stand in need of immediate relief;—the banker's receipts; —and even the books in which are kept the accounts of the receipts and expenditures of the Establishment.

In regard to the proper forms for these blanks; as they must depend, in a great measure, upon local circumstances, no general directions can be given, other than, in all cases, the shortest forms that can be drawn up, consistent with perspicuity, are recommended; and that the subject-matter of each particular or single return, may be so disposed as to be easily transferred to such general tables, or general accounts, as the nature of the return and other circumstances may require. Care should likewise be taken to make them of such a form, SHAPE and dimension, that they may be regularly folded up, and docketed, in order to their being preserved among the public records of the Institution.


Of the Necessity of effectual Measures for introducing a Spirit of Industry among the Poor in forming an Establishment for their Relief and Support. Of the Means which may be used for that Purpose; and for setting on foot a Scheme for forming an Establishment for feeding the Poor.

An object of the very first importance in forming an Establishment for the relief and support of the Poor, is to take effectual measures for introducing a spirit of industry among them; for it is most certain, that all sums of money, or other assistance, given to the Poor in alms, which do not tend to make them industrious, never can fail to have a contrary tendency, and to operate as an encouragement to idleness and immorality.

And as the merit of an action is to be determined by the good it produces, the charity of a nation ought not to be estimated by the millions which are paid in Poor's taxes, but by the pains which are taken to see that the sums raised are properly applied.

As the providing useful employment for the Poor, and rendering them industrious, is, and ever has been, a great DESIDERATUM in political economy, it may be proper to enlarge a little here, upon that interesting subject.

The great mistake committed in most of the attempts which have been made to introduce a spirit of industry, where habits of idleness have prevailed, has been the too frequent and improper use of coercive measures, by which the persons to be reclaimed have commonly been offended and thoroughly disgusted at the very out-set.—Force will not do it.—Address, not force, must be used on those occasions.

The children in the house of industry at Munich, who, being placed upon elevated seats round the halls where other children worked, were made to be idle spectators of that amusing scene, cried most bitterly when their request to be permitted to descend from their places, and mix in that busy crowd, was refused;—but they would, most probably, have cried still more, had they been taken abruptly from their play and FORCED to work.

"Men are but children of a larger growth;"— and those who undertake to direct them, ought ever to bear in mind that important truth.

That impatience of control, and jealousy and obstinate perseverance in maintaining the rights of personal liberty and independence, which so strongly mark the human character in all the stages of life, must be managed with great caution and address, by those who are desirous of doing good;—or, indeed, of doing any thing effectually with mankind.

It has often been said, that the Poor are vicious and profligate, and that THEREFORE nothing but force will answer to make them obedient, and keep them in order;—but, I should say, that BECAUSE the Poor are vicious and profligate, it is so much the more necessary to avoid the appearance of force in the management of them, to prevent their becoming rebellious and incorrigible.

Those who are employed to take up and tame the wild horses belonging to the Elector Palatine, which are bred in the forest near Dusseldorf, never use force in reclaiming that noble animal, and making him docile and obedient. They begin with making a great circuit, in order to approach him; and rather decoy than force him into the situation in which they wish to bring him, and ever afterwards treat him with the greatest kindness; it having been found by experience, that ill-usage seldom fails to make him "a man-hater," untameable, and incorrigibly vicious.—It may, perhaps, be thought fanciful and trifling, but the fact really is, that an attention to the means used by these people to gain the confidence of those animals, and teach them to like their keepers, their stables, and their mangers, suggested to me many ideas which I afterwards put in execution with great success, in reclaiming those abandoned and ferocious animals in human shape, which I undertook to tame and render gentle and docile.

It is however necessary in every attempt to introduce a spirit of order and industry among the idle and profligate, not merely to avoid all harsh and offensive treatment, which, as has already been observed, could only serve to irritate them and render them still more vicious and obstinate, but it is also indispensably necessary to do every thing that can be devised to encourage and reward every symptom of reformation.

It will likewise be necessary sometimes to punish the obstinate; but recourse should never be had to punishments till GOOD USAGE has first been fairly tried and found to be ineffectual. The delinquent must be made to see that he has deserved the punishment, and when it is inflicted, care should be taken to make him feel it. But in order that the punishment may have the effects intended, and not serve to irritate the person punished, and excite personal hatred and revenge, instead of disposing the mind to serious reflection, it must be administered in the most solemn and most DISPASSIONATE manner; and it must be continued no longer than till the FIRST DAWN of reformation appears.

How much prudence and caution are necessary in dispensing rewards and punishments;—and yet—how little attention is in general paid to those important transactions!

REWARDS and PUNISHMENTS are the only means by which mankind can be controlled and directed; and yet, how often do we see them dispensed in the most careless—most imprudent—and most improper manner!—how often are they confounded!—how often misapplied!— and how often do we see them made the instruments of gratifying the most sordid private passions!

To the improper use of them may be attributed all the disorders of civil society.—To the improper or careless use of them may, most unquestionably, be attributed the prevalence of poverty, misery, and mendicity in most countries, and particularly in Great Britain, where the healthfulness and mildness of the climate—the fertility of the soil—the abundance of fuel—the numerous and flourishing manufactures—the extensive commerce— and the millions of acres of waste lands which still remain to be cultivated, furnish the means of giving useful employment to all its inhabitants, and even to a much more numerous population.

But if instead of encouraging the laudable exertions of useful industry, and assisting and relieving the unfortunate and the infirm—(the only real objects of charity,)—the means designed for those purposes are so misapplied as to operate as rewards to idleness and immorality, the greater the sums are which are levied on the rich for the relief of the poor, the more numerous will that class become, and the greater will be their profligacy, their insolence, and their shameless and clamorous importunity.

There is, it cannot be denied, in man, a natural propensity to sloth and indolence; and though habits of industry,—like all habits,—may render those exertions easy and pleasant which at first are painful and irksome, yet no person, in any situation, ever chose labour merely for its own sake. It is always the apprehension of some greater evil,—or the hope of some enjoyment, by which mankind are compelled or allured, when they take to industrious pursuits.

In the rude state of savage nature the wants of men are few, and these may all be easily supplied without the commission of any crime; consequently industry, under such circumstances, is not necessary, nor can indolence be justly considered as a vice; but in a state of civil society, where population is great, and the means of subsistence not to be had without labour, or without defrauding others of the fruits of their industry, idleness becomes a crime of the most fatal tendency, and consequently of the most heinous nature; and every means should be used to discountenance, punish, and prevent it.

And we see that Providence, ever attentive to provide remedies for the disorders which the progress of society occasions in the world, has provided for idleness—as soon as the condition of society renders it a vice, but not before—a punishment every way suited to its nature, and calculated to prevent its prevalency and pernicious consequences:—This is WANT,—and a most efficacious remedy it is for the evil,—when the WISDOM OF MAN does not interfere to counteract it, and prevent its salutary effects.

But reserving the father investigation of this part of my subject —that respecting the means to be used for encouraging industry— to some future opportunity, I shall now endeavour to show, in a few words, how, under the most unfavourable circumstances, an arrangement for putting an end to mendicity, and introducing a spirit of industry among the Poor, might be introduced and carried into execution.

If I am obliged to take a great circuit, in order to arrive at my object, it must be remembered, that where a vast weight is to be raised by human means, a variety of machinery must necessarily be provided; and that it is only by bringing all the different powers employed to act together to the same end, that the purpose in view can be attained. It will likewise be remembered, that as no mechanical power can be made to act without a force be applied to it sufficient to overcome the resistance, not only of the vis inertia, but also of friction, so no moral agent can be brought to act to any given end without sufficient motives; that is to say, without such motives as THE PERSON WHO IS TO ACT may deem sufficient, not only to decide his opinion, but also to OVERCOME HIS INDOLENCE.

The object proposed,—the relief of the Poor, and the providing for their future comfort and happiness, by introducing among them a spirit of order and industry, is such as cannot fail to meet with the approbation of every well-disposed person.—But I will suppose, that a bare conviction of the UTILITY of the measure is not sufficient alone to overcome the indolence of the Public, and induce them to engage ACTIVELY in the undertaking;—yet as people are at all times, and in all situations, ready enough to do what they FEEL to be their interest, if, in bringing forward a scheme of public utility, the proper means be used to render it so interesting as to awaken the CURIOSITY, and fix the attention of the Public, no doubts can be entertained of the possibility of carrying it into effect.

In arranging such a plan, and laying it before the Public, no small degree of knowledge of mankind, and particularly of the various means of acting on them, which are peculiarly adapted to the different stages of civilization, or rather of the political refinement and corruption of society, would, in most cases, be indispensably necessary; but with that knowledge, and a good share of zeal, address, prudence, and perseverance, there are few schemes, in which an honest man would wish to be concerned, that might not be carried into execution in any country.

In such a city as London, where there is great wealth;—public spirit;—enterprize;—and zeal for improvement; little more, I flatter myself, would be necessary to engage all ranks to unite in carrying into effect such a scheme, than to show its public utility; and, above all, to prove that there IS NO JOB at the bottom of it.

It would, however, be advisable, in submitting to the Public, Proposals for forming such an Establishment, to show that those who are invited to assist in carrying it into execution, would not only derive from it much pleasure and satisfaction, but also many real advantages; for too much pains can never be taken to interest the Public individually, and directly, in the success of measures tending to promote the general good of society.

The following Proposals, which I will suppose to be made by some person of known and respectable character, who has courage enough to engage in so arduous an undertaking, will show my ideas upon this subject in the clearest manner.—Whether they are well founded, must be left to the reader to determine.—As to myself, I am so much persuaded that the scheme here proposed, by way of example, and merely for illustration, might be executed, that, had I time for the undertaking, (which I have not,) I should not hesitate to engage in it.

PROPOSALS for forming by private subscription, an ESTABLISHMENT for feeding the Poor, and giving them useful Employment;

And also for furnishing Food at a cheap Rate to others who may stand in need of such Assistance. Connected with an INSTITUTION for introducing, and bringing forward into general Use, new Inventions and Improvements, particularly such as relate to the Management of Heat and the saving of Fuel; and to various other mechanical Contrivances by which DOMESTIC COMFORT and ECONOMY may be promoted. Submitted to the Public, By A. B.

The Author of these Proposals declares solemnly, in the face of the whole world, that he has no interested view whatever in making these Proposals; but is actuated merely and simply by a desire to do good, and promote the happiness and prosperity of society, and the honour and reputation of his country.—That he never will demand, accept, or receive any pay or other recompence or reward of any kind whatever from any person or persons, for his services or trouble, in carrying into execution the proposed scheme, or any part thereof, or for anything he may do or perform in future relating to it, or to any of its details or concerns.

And, moreover, that he never will avail himself of any opportunities that may offer in the execution of the plan proposed, for deriving profit, emolument, or advantage of any kind, either for himself, his friends, or connections;—but that, on the contrary, he will take upon himself to be personally responsible to the Public, and more immediately to the Subscribers to this Undertaking, that NO PERSON shall FIND MEANS to make a job of the proposed Establishment, or of any of the details of its execution, or of its management, as long as the Author of these Proposals remains charged with its direction.

With respect to the particular objects and extent of the proposed Establishment, these may be seen by the account which is given of them at the head of these Proposals; and as to their utility, there can be no doubts. They certainly must tend very powerfully to promote the comfort, happiness, and prosperity of society, and will do honour to the nation, as well as to those individuals who may contribute to carry them into execution.

With the regard to the possibility of carrying into effect the proposed scheme;—the facility with which this may be done, will be evident when the method of doing it, which will now be pointed out, is duly considered.

As soon as a sum shall be subscribed sufficient for the purposes intended, the Author of these Proposals will, by letters, request a meeting of the TWENTY-FIVE persons who shall stand highest on the list of subscribers, for the purpose of examining the subscription-lists, and of appointing, by ballot, a committee, composed of five persons, skilled in the details of building, and in accounts, to collect the subscriptions, and to superintend the execution of the plan.—This committee, which will be chosen from among the subscribers at large, will be authorised and directed, to examine all the works that will be necessary in forming the Establishment, and see that they are properly performed, and at reasonable prices;—to examine and approve of all contracts for work, or for materials;—to examine and check all accounts of expenditures of every kind, in the execution of the plan;—and to give orders for all payments.

The general arrangement of the Establishment, and of all its details, will be left to the Author of these Proposals; who will be responsible for their success.—He engages, however, in the prosecution of this business, to adhere faithfully to the plan here proposed, and never to depart from it on any pretence whatever.

With regard to the choice of a spot for erecting this Establishment, a place will be chosen within the limits of the town, and in a convenient and central a situation as possible, where ground enough for the purpose is to be had at a reasonable price[5]. —The agreement for the purchase, or hire of this ground, and of the buildings, if there be any on it, will, like all other bargains and contracts, be submitted to the committee for their approbation and ratification.

The order in which it is proposed to carry into execution the different parts of the scheme is as follows:—First, to establish a public kitchen for furnishing Food to such poor persons as shall be recommended by the subscribers for such assistance.

This Food will be of four different sorts, namely, No. I. A nourishing soup composed of barley—pease—potatoes, and bread; seasoned with salt, pepper, and fine herbs.—The portion of this soup, one pint and a quarter, weighing about twenty ounces, will cost ONE PENNY.

No. II. A rich pease-soup, well seasoned;—with fried bread;— the portion (twenty ounces) at TWO PENCE.

No. III. A rich and nourishing soup, or barley, pease, and potatoes, properly seasoned;—with fried bread; and two ounces of boiled bacon, cut fine and put into it.—The portion (20 ounces) at FOUR PENCE.

No. IV. A good soup; with boiled meat and potatoes or cabbages, or other vegetables; with 1/4 lb. of good rye bread, the portion at SIX PENCE.

Adjoining to the kitchen, four spacious eating-rooms will be fitted up, in each of which one only of the four different kinds of Food prepared in the kitchen will be served.

Near the eating-rooms, other rooms will be neatly fitted up, and kept constantly clean, and well warmed; and well lighted in the evening; in which the Poor who frequent the Establishment will be permitted to remain during the day, and till a certain hour at night.—They will be allowed and even ENCOURAGED to bring their work with them to these rooms; and by degrees they will be furnished with utensils, and raw materials for working for their own emolument, by the Establishment. Praises and rewards will be bestowed on those who most distinguish themselves by their industry, and by their peaceable and orderly behaviour.

In the fitting up of the kitchen, care will be taken to introduce every useful invention and improvement, by which fuel may be saved, and the various processes of cookery facilitated, and rendered less expensive; and the whole mechanical arrangement will be made as complete and perfect as possible, in order that it may serve as a model for imitation; and care will be likewise be taken in fitting up the dining-halls, and other rooms belonging to the Establishment, to introduce the most approved fire-places,—stoves,—flews, and other mechanical contrivances for heating rooms and passages;—as also in lighting up the house to make use of a variety of the best, most economical, and most beautiful lamps; and in short, to collect together such an assemblage of useful and elegant inventions, in every part of the Establishment, as to render it not only an object of public curiosity, but also of the most essential and extensive utility.

And although it will not be possible to make the Establishment sufficiently extensive to accommodate all the Poor of so large a city, yet it may easily be made large enough to afford a comfortable asylum to a great number of distressed objects; and the interesting and affecting scene it will afford to spectators, can hardly fail to attract the curiosity of the Public; and there is great reason to hope that the success of the experiment, and the evident tendency of the measures adopted to promote the comfort, happiness, and prosperity of society, will induce many to exert themselves in forming similar Establishments in other places.—It is even probable that the success which will attend this first essay, (for successful it must, and will be, as care will be taken to limit its extent to the means furnished for carrying it into execution,) will encourage others, who do not put down their names upon the lists of the subscribers at first, to follow with subscription for the purpose of augmenting the Establishment, and rendering it more extensively useful.

Should this be the case, it is possible that in a short time subordinate public kitchens, with rooms adjoining them for the accommodation of the industrious Poor, may be established in all the parishes;—and when this is done, only one short step more will be necessary in order to complete in the management of the Poor. Poor rates may then be entirely abolished, and VOLUNTARY SUBSCRIPTIONS, which certainly need never amount to one half what the Poor rates now are, may be substituted in the room of them, and one general establishment may be formed for the relief and support of the Poor in this capital.

It will however be remembered that it is by no means the intention of the Author of these Proposals that those who contribute to the object immediately in view, the forming A MODEL for an Establishment for feeding and giving employment to the Poor, should be troubled with any future solicitations on that score; very far from it, measures will be so taken, by limiting the extent of the undertaking to the amount of the sums subscribed, and by arranging matters so that the Establishment. once formed, shall be able to support itself, that no farther assistance from the subscribers will be necessary.—If any of them should, of their accord, follow up their subscription by other donations, these additional sums will be thankfully received, and faithfully applied, to the general or particular purposes for which they may be designed; but the subscribers may depend upon never being troubled with any future SOLICITATIONS on any pretence whatever, on account of the present undertaking.

A secondary object in forming this Establishment, and which will be attended to as soon as the measures for feeding the Poor, and giving them employment, are carried into execution, is the forming of a grand repository of all kinds of USEFUL MECHANICAL INVENTIONS, and particularly of such as relate to the furnishing of houses, and are calculated to promote domestic comfort and economy.

Such a repository will not only be highly interesting, considered as an object of public curiosity, but it will be really useful, and will doubtless contribute very powerfully to the introduction of many essential improvements.

To render this part of the Establishment still more complete, rooms will be set apart for receiving, and exposing to public view, all such new and useful inventions as shall, from time to time, be made, in this, or in any other country, and sent to the institution; and a written account, containing the name of the inventor,—the place where the article may be bought,—and the price of it, will be attached to each article, for the information of those who may be desirous of knowing any of these particulars.

If the amount of the subscriptions should be sufficient to defray the additional expence which such an arrangement would require, models will be prepared, upon a reduced scale, for showing the improvements which may be made in the construction of the coppers, or boilers, used by brewers, and distillers, as also of their fire-places; with a view both to the economy of the fuel, and to convenience.

Complete kitchens will likewise be constructed, of the full size, with all their utensils, as models for private families.— And that these kitchens may not be useless, eating rooms may be fitted up adjoining to them, and cooks engaged to furnish to gentlemen, subscribers, or others, to whom subscribers may delegate that right, good dinners, at the prime cost of the victuals, and the expense of cooking, which together certainly would not exceed ONE SHILLING A HEAD.

The public kitchen from whence the Poor will be fed will be so constructed as to serve as a model for hospitals, and for other great Establishments of similar nature.

The expense of feeding the Poor will be provided for by selling the portions of Food delivered from the public kitchen at such a price, that those expenses shall be just covered, and no more:— so that the Establishment, when once completed, will be made to support itself.

Tickets for Food (which may be considered as drafts upon the public kitchen, payable at sight) will be furnished to all persons who apply for them, in as far as it shall be possible to supply the demands; but care will be taken to provide, first, for the Poor who frequent regularly the working rooms belonging to the Establishment; and secondly, to pay attention to the recommendations of subscribers, by furnishing Food immediately, or with the least possible delay, to those who come with subscribers' tickets.

As soon as the Establishment shall be completed, every subscriber will be furnished gratis with tickets for Food, to the amount of ten per cent. of his subscription; the value of the tickets being reckoned at what the portions of Food really cost, which will be delivered to those who produce the tickets at the public kitchen.—At the end of six months, tickets to the amount of ten per cent. more, and so on, at the end of every six succeeding months, tickets to the amount of ten per cent. of the sum subscribed will be delivered to each subscriber till he shall actually have received in tickets for Food, or drafts upon the public kitchen, to the full amount of ONE HALF of his original subscription.—And as the price at which this Food will be charged, will be at the most moderate computation, at least FIFTY PER CENT. cheaper than it would cost any where else, the subscribers will in fact receive in these tickets the full value of the sums they will have subscribed; so that in the end, the whole advance will be repaid, and a most interesting, and most useful public institution will be completely established WITHOUT ANY EXPENSE TO ANYBODY—And the Author of these Proposals will think himself most amply repaid for any trouble he may have in the execution of this scheme, by the heartfelt satisfaction he will enjoy in the reflection of having been instrumental in doing essential service to mankind.

It is hardly necessary to add, that although the subscribers will receive in return for their subscriptions the full value of them, in tickets, or orders upon the public kitchen, for Food, yet the property of the Whole Establishment, with all its appurtenances, will nevertheless remain vested solely and entirely in the subscribers, and their lawful heirs; and that they will have power to dispose of it in any way they may think proper, as also to give orders and directions for its future management. (Signed) "A. B." London, 1st January 1796.

These Proposals, which should be printed, and distributed gratis, in great abundance, should be accompanied with subscription-lists which should be printed on fine writing-paper; and to save trouble to the subscribers, might be of a peculiar form.—Upon the top of a half-sheet of folio writing-paper might be printed, the following Head of Title, and the remainder of that side of the half-sheet, below this Head, might be formed into different columns, thus:


For carrying into execution the scheme for forming an Establishment for feeding the Poor from a Public KITCHEN, and giving them useful employment, etc. proposed by A. B. and particularly described in the printed paper, dated London, 1st January 1796, which accompanies this Subscription List.

N.B. No part of the money subscribed will be called for, unless it be found that the amount of the subscriptions will be quite sufficient to carry the scheme proposed into complete execution without troubling the subscribers a second time for further assistance.

—————————————————————————————- Subscribers Names. I Place of Abode. I Sums subscribed. —————————————————————————————- I I pound. s. d. I I I I I I I I I I I I

that this list is authentic, and that the persons mentioned in it have agreed to subscribe the sums placed against their names, is attested by [ ]. The person who is so good as to take charge of this list, is requested to authenticate it by signing the above certificate, and then to seal it up and send it according to the printed address on the back of it.

The address upon the back of the subscription lists, (which may be that of the author of the Proposal, or of any other person he may appoint to receive these lists,) should be printed in such a manner that, when the list is folded up in the form of a letter, the address may be in its proper place. This will save trouble to those who take charge of these lists; and too much pains cannot be taken to give as little trouble as possible to persons who are solicited to contribute IN MONEY towards carrying into execution schemes of public utility.

As a public Establishment like that here proposed would be highly interesting, even were it to be considered in no other light than merely as an object of curiosity, there is no doubt but it would be much frequented; and it is possible that this concourse of people might be so great as to render it necessary to make some regulations in regard to admittance: but, whatever measures might be adopted with respect to others, SUBSCRIBERS ought certainly to have free admittance at all times to every part of the Establishment,—They should even have a right individually to examine all the details of its administration, and to require from those employed as overseers, or managers, any information or explanation they might want.—They ought likewise to be at liberty to take drawings, or to have them taken by others, (at their expense,) for themselves or for their friends, of the kitchen, stoves, grates, furniture, etc. and in general of every part of the machinery belonging to the Establishment.

In forming the Establishment, and providing the various machinery, care should be taken to employ the most ingenious and most respectable tradesmen; and if the name of the maker, and the place of his abode were to be engraved or written on each article, this, no doubt, would tend to excite emulation among the artizans, and induce them to furnish goods of the best quality, and at as low a price as possible.—It is even possible, that in a great and opulent city like London, and where public spirit and zeal for improvement pervade all ranks of society, many respectable tradesmen in easy circumstances might be found, who would have real pleasure in furnishing gratis such of the articles wanted as are in their line of business: and the advantages which might, with proper management, be derived from this source, would most probably be very considerable.

With regard to the management of the Poor who might be collected together for the purpose of being fed and furnished with employment, in a Public Establishment like that here recommended, I cannot do better than refer my reader to the account already published (in my First Essay) of the manner in which the Poor at Munich were treated in the house of industry established in that city, and the means that were used to render them comfortable, HAPPY, and industrious.

As soon as the scheme here recommended is carried into execution, and measures are effectually taken for feeding the Poor at a cheap rate, and giving them useful employment, no farther difficulties will then remain, at least none certainly that are insurmountable, to prevent the introduction of a general plan for providing for all the Poor, founded upon the principles explained and recommended in the preceding Chapters of this Essay.


Of the Means which may be used by Individuals in affluent Circumstances for the Relief of the Poor in their Neighbourhood.

As nothing tends more powerfully to encourage idleness and immorality among the Poor, and consequently to perpetuate all the evils to society which arise from the prevalence of poverty and mendicity, than injudicious distributions of alms; individuals must be very cautious in bestowing their private charities, and in forming schemes for giving assistance to the distressed; otherwise they will most certainly do more harm than good.— The evil tendency of giving alms indiscriminately to beggars is universally acknowledged; but it is not, I believe, so generally known how much harm is done by what are called the PRIVATE CHARITIES of individuals.—Far be it from me to wish to discourage private charities; I am only anxious that they should be better applied.

Without taking up time in analyzing the different motives by which persons of various character are induced to give alms to the Poor, or of showing the consequences of their injudicious or careless donations; which would be an unprofitable as well as a disagreeable investigation; I shall briefly point out what appear to me to be the most effectual means which individuals in affluent circumstances can employ for the assistance of the Poor in their neighbourhood.

The most certain and efficacious relief that can be given to the Poor is that which would be afforded them by forming a general Establishment for giving them useful employment, and furnishing them with the necessaries of life at a cheap rate; in short, forming a Public Establishment similar in all respects to that already recommended, and making it as extensive as circumstances will permit.

An experiment might first be made in a single village, or in a single parish; a small house, or two or three rooms only, might be fitted up for the reception of the Poor, and particularly of the children of the Poor; and to prevent the bad impressions which are sometimes made by names which have been become odious, instead of calling it a Work-house, it might be called "A School of Industry," or, perhaps, Asylum would be a better name for it.—One of these rooms should be fitted up as a kitchen for cooking for the Poor; and a middle-aged women of respectable character, and above all of a gentle and humane disposition, should be placed at the head of this Establishment, and lodged in the house.—As she should serve at the same time as chief cook, and as steward of the institution, it would be necessary that she should be able to write and keep accounts; and in cases where the business of superintending the various details of the Establishment would be too extensive to be performed by one person, one or more assistants may be given her.

In large Establishments it might, perhaps, be best to place a married couple, rather advanced in life, and without children, at the head of the institution; but, whoever are employed in that situation, care should be taken that they should be persons of irreproachable character, and such as the Poor can have no reason to suspect of partiality.

As nothing would tend more effectually to ruin an Establishment of this kind, and prevent the good intended to be produced by it, than the personal dislikes of the Poor to those put over them, and more especially such dislikes as are founded on their suspicions of their partiality, the greatest caution in the choice of these persons will always be necessary: and in general it will be best not to take them from among the Poor, or at least not from among those of the neighbourhood, nor such as have relations, acquaintances, or other connexions among them.

Another point to be attended to in the choice of a person to be placed at the head of such an Establishment, (and it is a point of more importance than can well be imagined by those who have not considered the matter with some attention)— is the looks or EXTERNAL APPEARANCE of the person destined for this employment.

All those who have studied human nature, or have taken notice of what passes in themselves when they approach for the first time a person who has any thing very strongly marked in his countenance, will feel how very important it is that a person placed at the head of an asylum for the reception of the Poor and the unfortunate should have an open, pleasing countenance, such as inspires confidence and conciliates affection and esteem.

Those who are in distress, are apt to be fearful and apprehensive, and nothing would be so likely to intimidate and discourage them as the forbidding aspect of a stern and austere countenance in the person they were taught to look up to for assistance and protection.

The external appearance of those who are destined to command others is always a matter of real importance, but it is peculiarly so when those to be commanded and directed are objects of pity and commiseration.

Where there are several gentlemen who live in the neighbourhood of the same town or village where an Establishment, or Asylum, (as I would wish it might be called,) for the Poor is to be formed, they should all unite to form ONE ESTABLISHMENT, instead of each forming a separate one; and it will likewise be very useful in all cases to invite all ranks of people resident within the limits of the district in which an Establishment is formed, except those who are actually in need of assistance themselves, to contribute to carry into execution such a public undertaking; for though the sums the more indigent and necessitous of the inhabitants may be able to spare may be trifling, yet their being invited to take part in so laudable an undertaking will be flattering to them, and the sums they contribute, however small they may be, will give them a sort of property in the Establishment, and will effectually engage their good wishes at least, (which are of more importance in such cases than is generally imagined,) for its success.

How far the relief which the Poor would receive from the execution of a scheme like that here proposed ought to preclude them from a participation of other public charities, (in the distribution of the sums levied upon the inhabitants in Poor's taxes, for instance, where such exist,) must be determined in each particular case according to the existing circumstances. It will, however, always be indispensably necessary where the same poor person receives charitable assistance from two or more separate institutions, or from two or more private individuals, at the same time, for each to know exactly the amount of what the others give, otherwise too much or too little may be given, and both tend to discourage INDUSTRY, the only source of effectual relief to the distresses and the misery of the Poor.—And hence may again be seen the great importance of what I have so often insisted on, the rendering of measures for the relief of the Poor as general as possible.

To illustrate in the clearest manner, and in as few words as possible, the plan I would recommend for forming an Establishment for the Poor on a small scale—such as any individual even of moderate property, might easily execute; I will suppose that a gentleman, resident in the country upon his own estate, has come to a resolution to form such an Establishment in a village near his house, and will endeavour briefly to point out the various steps he would probably find it necessary to take in the execution of this benevolent and most useful undertaking.

He would begin by calling together at his house the clergyman of the parish, overseers of the Poor, and other parish officers, to acquaint them with his intentions, and ask their assistance and friendly co-operation in the prosecution of the plan; the details of which he would communicate to them as far as he should think it prudent and necessary at the first outset to entrust them indiscriminately with that information.—The characters of the persons, and the private interest they might have to promote or oppose the measures intended to be pursued, would decide upon the degree of confidence which ought to be given them.

At this meeting, measures should be taken for forming the most complete and most accurate lists of all the Poor resident within the limits proposed to be given to the Establishment, with a detailed account of every circumstance, relative to their situation, and their wants.—Much time and trouble will be saved in making out these lists, by using printed forms or blanks similar to those made use of at Munich; and these printed forms will likewise contribute very essentially to preserve order and to facilitate business, in the management of a private as well as of a public charity;—as also to prevent the effects of misrepresentation and partiality on the part of those who must necessarily be employed in these details.

Convenient forms or models for these blanks will be given in the Appendix to this volume.

At this meeting, measures may be taken for numbering all the houses in the village or district, and for setting on foot private subscriptions among the inhabitants for carrying the proposed scheme into execution.

Those who are invited to subscribed should be made acquainted, by a printed address accompanying the subscription lists, with the nature, extent, and tendency of the measures adopted; and should be assured that, as soon as the undertaking shall be completed, the Poor will not only be relieved, and their situation made more comfortable, but mendicity will be effectually prevented, and at the same time the Poor's rates, or the expense to the public for the support of the Poor, very considerably lessened.

These assurances, which will be the strongest inducements that can be used to prevail on the inhabitants of all descriptions to enter warmly into the scheme, and assist with alacrity in carrying it into execution, should be expressed in the strongest terms; and all persons of every denomination, young and old, and of both sexes, (paupers only excepted,) should be invited to put down their names in the subscription lists, and this even, HOWEVER SMALL THE SUMS MAY BE WHICH THEY ARE ABLE TO CONTRIBUTE. —Although the sums which day-labourers, servants, and other in indigent circumstances may be able to contribute, may be very trifling, yet there is one important reason why they ought always to be engaged to put down their names upon the lists as subscribers, and that is the goods effects which their taking an active part in the undertaking will probably produce ON THEMSELVES.—Nothing tends more to mend the heart, and awaken in the mind a regard for character, than acts of charity and benevolence; and any person who has once felt that honest pride and satisfaction which result from a consciousness of having been instrumental in doing good by relieving the wants of the Poor, will be rendered doubly careful to avoid the humiliation of becoming himself an object of public charity.

It was a consideration of these salutary effects, which may always be expected to be produced upon the minds of those who take an active and VOLUNTARY part in the measures adopted for the relief of the Poor, that made me prefer voluntary subscriptions, to taxes, in raising the sums necessary for the support of the Poor, and all the experience I have had in these matters has tended to confirm me in the opinion I have always had of their superior utility,—Not only day-labourers and domestic servants, but their young children, and all the children of the nobility and other inhabitants of Munich, and even the non-commissioned officers and private soldiers of the regiments in garrison in that city, were invited to contribute to the support of the institution for the Poor; and there are very few indeed of any age or condition (paupers only excepted) whose names are not to be found on the lists of subscribers.

The subscriptions at Munich are by families, as has elsewhere been observed; and this method I would recommend in the case under consideration, and in all others.—The head of the family takes the trouble to collect all the sums subscribed upon his family list, and to pay them into the hands of those who (on the part of the institution) are sent round on the first Sunday morning of every month to receive them; but the names of all the individuals who compose the family are entered on the list at full length, with the sum each contributes.

Two lists of the same tenor must be made out for each family; one of which must be kept by the head of the family for his information and direction, and the other sent in to those who have the general direction of the Establishment.

These subscription-lists should be printed; and they should be carried round and left with the heads of families, either by the person himself who undertakes to form the Establishment, (which will always be best,) or at least by his steward, or some other person of some consequence belonging to his household. —Forms or models for these lists may be seen in the Appendix.

When these lists are returned, the person who has undertaken to form the Establishment will see what pecuniary assistance he is to expect; and he will either arrange his plan, or determine the sum he may think proper to contribute himself, according to that amount.—He will likewise consider how far it will be possible and ADVISABLE to connect his scheme with any Establishment for the relief of the Poor already existing; or to act in concert with those in whose hands the management of the Poor is vested by the laws.—These circumstances are all important; and the manner of proceeding in carrying the proposed scheme into execution must, in a great measure, be determined by them. Nothing, however, can prevent the undertaking from being finally successful, provided the means used for making it so are adopted with caution, and pursued with perseverance.

However adverse those may be to the scheme who, were they well disposed, could most effectually contribute to its success—yet no opposition which can be given to it by INTERESTED PERSONS,— such as find means to derive profit to themselves in the administration of the affairs of the Poor;—no opposition, I say, from such persons, (and none surely but these can ever be desirous of opposing it,) can prevent the success of a measure so evidently calculated to increase the comforts and enjoyments of the Poor, and to promote the general good of society.

If the overseers of the Poor, and other parish officers, and a large majority of the principal inhabitants, could be made to enter warmly into the scheme, it might, and certainly would, in many cases, be possible, even without any new laws or acts of parliament being necessary to authorize the undertaking, to substitute the arrangements proposed in the place of the old method of providing for the Poor;—abolishing entirely, or in so far as it should be found necessary,—the old system, and carrying the scheme proposed into execution as a GENERAL MEASURE.

In all cases where this can be effected, it ought certainly to be preferred to any private or less general institution; and individuals, who, by their exertions, are instrumental in bringing about so useful a change, will render a very essential service to society:—But even in cases where it would not be possible to carry the scheme proposed into execution in its fullest extent, much good may be done by individuals in affluent circumstances to the Poor, by forming PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS for feeding them and giving them employment.

Much relief may likewise be afforded them by laying in a large stock of fuel, purchased when it is cheap, and retailing it out to them in small quantities, in times of scarcity, at the prime cost.

It is hardly to be believed how much the Poor of Munich have been benefited by the Establishment of the Wood-magazine, from whence they are furnished in winter, during the severe frosts, with fire-wood at the price it costs when purchased in summer, in large quantities, and at the cheapest rate. And this arrangement may easily be adopted in all countries, and by private individuals as well as by communities. Stores may likewise be laid in of potatoes, peas, beans, and other articles of food, to be distributed to the Poor in like manner, in small quantities, and at low prices; which will be a great relief to them in times of scarcity. It will hardly be necessary for me to observe, that in administering this kind of relief to the Poor it will often be necessary to take precautions to prevent abuses.

Another way in which private individuals may greatly assist the Poor, is, by showing them how they may make themselves more comfortable in their dwellings. Nothing is more perfectly miserable and comfortless than the domestic arrangement of poor families in general; they seem to have no idea whatever of order or economy in any thing; and every thing about them is dreary, sad, and neglected, in the extreme. A little attention to order and arrangement would contribute greatly to their comfort and conveniences, and also to economy. They ought in particular to be shown how to keep their habitations warm in winter, and to economise fuel, as well in heating their rooms, as in cooking, washing, etc.

It is not to be believed what the waste of fuel really is, in the various processes in which it is employed in the economy of human life; and in no case is this waste greater than in the domestic management of the Poor. Their fire-places are in general constructed upon the most wretched principles; and the fuel they consume in them, instead of heating their rooms, not unfrequently renders them really colder, and more uncomfortable, by causing strong currents of cold air to flow in from all the doors and windows to the chimney. This imperfection of their fire-places may be effectually remedied;—these currents of cold air prevented,—above half their fuel saved,—and their dwellings made infinitely more comfortable, merely by diminishing their fire-places, and the throats of their chimnies just above the mantle-piece; which may be done as a very every trifling expence, with a few bricks, or stones, and a little mortar, by the most ordinary bricklayer. And with regard to the expence of fuel for cooking, so simple a contrivance as an earthen pot, broad at top, for receiving a stew-pan, or kettle, and narrow at bottom, with holes through its sides near the bottom, for letting in air under a small circular iron grate, and other small holes near the top for letting out the smoke, may be introduced with great advantage. By making use of this little portable furnace, (which is equally well adapted to burn wood, or coals.)—one eighth part of the fuel will be sufficient for cooking, which would be required were the kettle to be boiled over an open fire.—To strengthen this portable furnace, it may be hooped with iron hoops, or bound round with strong iron wire:—but I forget that I am anticipating the subject of a future Essay.

Much good may also be done to the Poor by teaching them how to prepare various kinds of cheap and wholesome food, and to render them savoury and palatable.—The art of cookery, notwithstanding its infinite importance to mankind, has hitherto been little studied; and among the more indigent classes of society, where it is most necessary to cultivate it, it seems to have been most neglected.—No present that could be made to a poor family could be of more essential service to them than a thin, light stew-pan, with its cover, made of wrought, or cast iron, and fitted to a portable furnace, or close fire-place, constructed to save fuel; with two or three approved receipts for making nourishing and savoury soups and broths at a small expence.

Such a present might alone be sufficient to relieve a poor family from all their distresses, and make them permanently comfortable; for the expences of a poor family for food might, I am persuaded, in most cases be diminished ONE HALF by a proper attention to cookery, and to the economy of fuel; and the change in the circumstances of such a family, which would be produced by reducing their expenses for food to one half what it was before, is easier to be conceived than described.

It would hardly fail to re-animate the courage of the most desponding;—to cheer their drooping spirits, and stimulate them to fresh exertions in the pursuits of useful industry.

As the only effectual means of putting an end to the sufferings of the Poor is the introduction of a spirit of industry among them, individuals should never lose sight of that great and important object, in all the measures they may adopt to relieve them.—But in endeavouring to make the Poor industrious, the utmost caution will be necessary to prevent their being disgusted.—Their minds are commonly in a state of great irritation, the natural consequences of their sufferings, and of their hopeless situation; and their suspicions of every body about them, and particularly of those who are set over them, are so deeply rooted that it is sometimes extremely difficult to sooth and calm the agitation of their minds, and gain their confidence. —This can be soonest and most effectually done by kind and gentle usage; and I am clearly of opinion that no other means should ever be used, except it be with such hardened and incorrigible wretches as are not to be reclaimed by any means; but of these, I believe, there are very few indeed.—I have never yet found one, in all the course of my experience in taking care of the Poor.

We have sometimes been obliged to threaten the most idle and profligate with the house of correction; but these threats, added to the fear of being banished from the House of Industry, which has always been held up and considered as the greatest punishment, have commonly been sufficient for keeping the unruly in order.

If the force of example is irresistible in debauching men's minds, and leading them into profligate and vicious courses, it is not less so in reclaiming them, and rendering them orderly, docile, and industrious; and hence the infinite importance of collecting the Poor together in Public Establishments, where every thing about them is animated by unaffected cheerfulness, and by that pleasing gaiety, and air of content and satisfaction, which always enliven the busy scenes of useful industry.

I do not believe it would be possible for any person to be idle in the House of Industry at Munich. I never saw any one idle; often as I have passed through the working-rooms; nor did I ever see any one to whom the employments of industry seemed to be painful or irksome.

Those who are collected together in the public rooms destined for the reception and accommodation of the Poor in the day-time, will not need to be forced, nor even urged to work;—if there are in the room several persons who are busily employed in the cheerful occupations of industry, and if implements and materials for working are at hand, all the others present will not fail to be soon drawn into the vortex, and joining with alacrity in the active scene, their dislike to labour will be forgotten, and they will become by habit truly and permanently industrious.

Such is the irresistible power of example!—Those who know how to manage this mighty engine and have opportunities of employing it with effect, may produce the most miraculous changes, in the manners, disposition, and character, even of whole nations.

In furnishing raw materials to the Poor to work, it will be necessary to use many precautions to prevent frauds and abuses, not only on the part of the Poor, who are often but too much disposed to cheat and deceive whenever they find opportunities, but also on the part of those employed in the details of this business:—but the fullest information having already been given in my First Essay, of all the various precautions it had been found necessary to take for the purposes in question in the House of Industry at Munich, it is not necessary for me to enlarge upon the subject in this place, or to repeat what has already been said upon it elsewhere.

With regard to the manner in which good and wholesome food for feeding the Poor may be prepared in a public kitchen, at a cheap rate, I must refer my reader to my Essay on Food; where he will find all the information on that subject which he can require. —In my Essay on Clothing, he will see how good and comfortable clothing may be furnished to the Poor at a very moderate expence; and in that on the Management of Heat, he will find particular directions for the Poor for saving fuel.

I cannot finish this Essay, without taking notice of a difficulty which frequently occur in giving employment to the Poor, that of disposing to advantage of the produce of their labour:—This is in all cases a very important object; and too much attention cannot be paid to it.—A spirit of industry cannot be kept up by making it advantageous to individuals to be industrious; but where the wages which the labourer has a right to expect are refused, it will not be possible to prevent his being discouraged and disgusted.—He may perhaps be forced for a certain time to work for small wages, to prevent starving, if he has not the resource of throwing himself upon the parish, which he most probably would prefer doing, should it be in his option; but he will infallibly conceive such a thorough dislike to labour, that he will become idle and vicious, and a permanent and heavy burden on the public.

If "a labourer is worthy of his hire," he is peculiarly so, where that labourer is a poor person, who, with all his exertions, can barely procure the first necessaries of life; and whose hard lot renders him an object of pity and compassion.

The deplorable situation of a poor family, struggling with poverty and want,—deprived of all the comforts and conveniences of life—deprived even of hope; and suffering at the same time from hunger, disease, and mortifying and cruel disappointment, is seldom considered with that attention which it deserves, by those who have never felt these distresses, and who are not in danger of being exposed to them. My reader must pardon me, if I frequently recall his attention to these scenes of misery and wretchedness. He must be made acquainted with the real situation of the Poor—with the extent and magnitude of their misfortunes and sufferings, before it can be expected that he should enter warmly into measures calculated for their relief. In forming Establishments, public or private, for giving employment to the Poor, it will always be indispensably necessary to make such arrangements as will secure to them a fair price for all the labour they perform. They should not be OVER-PAID, for that would be opening a door for abuse;—but they ought to be generously paid for their work; and, above all, they ought never to be allowed to be idle for the want of employment. The kind of employment it may be proper to give them will depend much on local circumstances. It will depend on the habits of the Poor;— the kinds of work they are acquainted with;—and the facility with which the articles they can manufacture may be disposed of at a good price.

In very extensive Establishments, there will be little difficulty in finding useful employment for the Poor; for where the number of persons to be employed is very great, a great variety of different manufactures may be carried on with advantage, and all the articles manufactured, or prepared to be employed in the manufactures, may be turned to a good account.

In a small Establishment, circumscribed and confined to the limits of a single village or parish, it might perhaps be difficult to find a good market for the yarn spun by the Poor; but in a general Establishment, extending over a whole country, or large city, as the quantity of yarn spun by all the Poor within the extensive limits of the institution will be sufficient to employ constantly a number of weavers of different kinds of cloth and stuff, the market for all the various kinds of yarn the Poor may spin will always be certain. The same reasoning will hold with regard to various other articles used in great manufactories, upon which the Poor might be very usefully employed; and hence the great advantage of making Establishments for giving employment to the Poor as extensive as possible. It is what I have often insisted on, and what I cannot too strongly recommend to all those who engage in forming such Establishments.

Although I certainly should not propose to BRING TOGETHER, under one roof, all the Poor of a whole kingdom, as, by the inscription over the entrance into a vast hospital began, but not finished, at Naples, it would appear was once the intention of the government in that country; yet I am clearly of opinion that an institution for GIVING EMPLOYMENT TO THE POOR can hardly be too extensive.

But to return to the subject to which this Chapter was more particularly appropriated, the relief that may be afforded by private individuals to the Poor in their neighbourhood; in case it should not be possible to get over all the difficulties that may be in the way to prevent the forming of a general Establishment for the benefit of the Poor, individuals must content themselves with making such private arrangements for that purpose as they may be able, WITH SUCH ASSISTANCE AS THEY CAN COMMAND, to carry into execution.

The most simple, and least expensive measure that can be adopted for the assistance of the Poor will be that of furnishing them with raw materials for working. Flax, hemp, or wool, for instance, for spinning; and paying them in money, at the market price, for the yarn spun. This yarn may afterwards be sent to weavers to be manufactured into cloth, or may be sent to some good market and sold. The details of these mercantile transactions will be neither complicated nor troublesome, and might easily be managed by a steward of house-keeper; particularly if the printed tickets, and tables, I have so often had occasion to recommend, are used.

The flax, hemp, or wool, as soon as it is purchased, should be weighed out into bundles of one or two pounds each, and lodged in a store-room; and when one of these bundles is delivered out to a poor person to be spun, it should be accompanied with a printed spin-ticket, and entered in a table to be kept for that purpose; and when it is returned spun, an abstract of the spin-ticket itself, should be bound up with the bundle of yarn, in order that any frauds committed by the spinner, in reeling, or in any other way, which may be discovered upon winding off the yarn, may be brought home to the person who committed them. When it is known that such effectual precautions to detect frauds are used, no farther attempts will be made to defraud; and a most important point indeed will be gained, and one which will most powerfully tend to mend the morals of the Poor, and restore peace to their minds. When, by rendering it evidently impossible for them to escape detection, they are brought to give up all thoughts of cheating and deceiving; they will then be capable of application, and of enjoying real happiness, and, with open and placid countenances, will look every one full in the face who accosts them: but as long as they are under the influence of temptation —as long as their minds are degraded by conscious guilt, and continually agitated by schemes of prosecuting their fraudulent practices, they are as incapable of enjoying peace or contentment, as they are of being useful members of society.

Hence the extreme cruelty of an ill-judged appearance of confidence, or careless neglect of precautions, in regard to those employed in places of trust, who may be exposed to temptations to defraud.

That prayer, which cannot be enough admired, or too often repeated, "LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION," was certainly dictated by infinite wisdom and goodness; and it should ever be borne in mind by those who are placed in stations of power and authority, and whose measures must necessarily have much influence on the happiness or misery of great numbers of people.

Honest men may be found in all countries; but I am sorry to say, that the result of all my experience and observation has tended invariably to prove, (what has often been remarked,) that it is extremely difficult to KEEP THOSE HONEST who are exposed to continual and great temptations.

There is, however, one most effectual way, not only of keeping those honest who are so already, but also of making those honest who are not so; and that is, by taking such precautions as will render it EVIDENTLY impossible for those who commit frauds to escape detection and punishment: and these precautions are never impossible, and seldom difficult; and with a little address, they may always be so taken as to be in nowise offensive to those who are the objects of them.

It is evident that the maxims and measures here recommended are not applicable merely to the Poor, but also, and more especially, to those who may be employed in the details of relieving them.

But to return once more to the subject more immediately under consideration.—If individuals should extend their liberality so far as to establish public kitchens for feeding the Poor, (which is a measure I cannot too often, or too forcibly recommend,) it would be a great pity not to go one easy step further, and fit up a few rooms adjoining to the kitchen, where the Poor may be permitted to assemble to work for their own emoluments, and where schools for instructing the children of the Poor in working, and in reading and writing, may be established. Neither the fitting up, or warming and lighting of these rooms, will be attended with any considerable expense; while the advantages which will be derived from such an Establishment for encouraging industry, and contributing to the comfort of the Poor, will be most important; and from their peculiar nature, and tendency, will be most highly interesting to every benevolent mind.


Footnotes for Essay II.

[1] This English Reader is desired to bear in mind, that the Author of this Essay, though an Englishman, is resident in Germany; and that his connections with that country render it necessary for him to pay particular attention to its circumstances, in treating a subject which he is desirous of rendering generally useful. These is still another reason, which renders it necessary for him to have continually in view, in the Treatise, the situation of the Poor upon the Continent, and that it is an engagement which he has laid himself under to write upon that subject.

[2] The only step which, in my opinion, it would be either, necessary, or prudent, for the legislature to take in any country where an Establishment for the Poor is to be formed, is to RECOMMEND to the Public a good plan for such an Establishment, and repeal, or alter all such of the existing laws as might render the introduction of it difficult or impossible.

[3] This is an object of the utmost importance, and the success of the undertaking will depend in a great measure on the attention that is paid to it.

[4] This measure has been followed by the most salutary effects at Munich. The commissaries of districts flattered by this distinction have exerted themselves with uncommon zeal and assiduity in the discharge of the important duties of their office. And very important indeed is the office of a commissary of a district in the Establishment for the Poor at Munich.

[5] It will be best, if it be possible, to mention and describe the place, in the Proposals.


of FOOD and particularly of FEEDING the POOR


CHAPTER. I. Great importance of the subject under consideration. Probability that water acts a much more important part in nutrition than has hitherto been generally imagined. Surprisingly small quantity of solid food necessary, when properly prepared, for all the purposes of nutrition. Great importance of the art of cookery. Barley remarkably nutritive when properly prepared. The importance of culinary processes for preparing food shown from the known utility of a practice common in some parts of Germany of cooking for cattle. Difficulty of introducing a charge of cookery into common use. Means that may be employed for that purpose.

CHAPTER. II. Of the pleasure of eating, and of the means that may be employed for increasing it.

CHAPTER. III. Of the different kinds of food furnished to the poor in the house of industry at Munich, with an account of the cost of them. Of the Expense of providing the same kinds of food in Great Britain, as well at the present high prices of provisions, as at the ordinary prices of them. Of the various improvements of which these different kinds of cheap food are capable.

CHAPTER. IV. Of the small expense at which the Bavarian soldiers are fed. Details of their housekeeping, founded on actual experiment. An account of the fuel expended by them in cooking.

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