Puslapio vaizdai


crease which has been going on in the sum raised | dole out to the poor in Scotland, in the name of a for the poor cannot be taken as any indication of legal provision. Five shillings a quarter was an increasing amount of destitution, though it is considered, in the majority of parishes, an ample. by no means improbable that such an evil may allowance for any poor old man or woman ; and exist collaterally with it. In support of the same with some such paltry sum as this, the most desopinion, it may also be observed, that though the titute and deserving persons were left to eke out expenditure during the year 1845, was greater by subsistence by appeals to the charity of their

36,417 8s. 13d. than in the previous year, yet neighbours. A system of mendicity was thus enthe number of paupers on the roll, at the end of gendered among a people proverbially proud and the former year, was only 6,362 more than at the high-spirited, which was most discreditable to the end of the latter. Supposing that these addi- Christian benevolence, and entirely inconsistent tional paupers were on the roll six months on an with the rapidly increasing wealth, of the country. average out of twelve, and that they received the The homes, the food, and the clothing of the average allowance of £3 10s. per annuin, this poor were all of the meanest description ; and the would produce an increase in the expenditure of most shocking scenes -aged paupers falling exonly £11,133 10s., being less than one-third of hausted on the roads and the streets, and helpless the actual increase which took place. There widows laying themselves down, amidst their must be some other causes at work, therefore, in famishing offspring, to die—were of frequent ocproducing the increased expenditure, than any in

This deplorable state of matters was crease which is going on in the number of the all the more inexcusable, inasmuch as in Scotland recipients of relief, or in the amount of actual none but the infirm, the disabled, or the orphaned pauperism.

poor were entitled to relief. The able-bodied have We are disposed, no less by the facts of the never been recognised as qualified objects of legal case than by inclination, to trace the rapid increase support ; so that three-fourths of the arguments, of the funds, raised for relief of the poor, to a more which are usually urged against a public provihopeful and satisfactory source. We believe it sion for the poor, lose all their force when applied is, in a great measure, accounted for by the more against the poor law of Scotland. To increase general adoption of the plan of assessment, and the rate of allowances was a course to which the by the suppression of mendicity and the increased parochial boards were urged by every principle of allowances with which the introduction of that justice and every feeling of regard for the public mode of relief is invariably accompanied. In interest ; and we have little doubt that the fruits 1842, there were only 230 legally assessed parishes of this policy, if wisely and temperately pursued, in Scotland. In 1846, when the Board of Super- will be manifested in the improved health, movision made up their report, the number of such rality, and happiness of the community. parishes had increased to 448. When an assess- It is a misapprehension to suppose that a system ment is instituted in a parish, the old system of of adequate allowances is worse to the public, supporting the poor, or rather of the poor support- even on the score of expense, than the niggardly ing themselves, by public begging, is abolished; system which has so long been common in Scotbut to compensate the poor for the loss of this land. The poor must always be supported somesource of subsistence, their allowances must always how. If no provision is made for them, they be increased. In 1812, the average rate of allow will contrive a way of providing for themselves. ance in the assessed parishes, was £2 14s. 9d. ; The more criminal, and especially the juvenile while in the non-assessed parishes, it was so low class, will apply themselves to the art of thievery ; as £1 Os. 4d.

The same disparity will still be while those of a timid and innocent cast of chafound to exist; so that the introduction of assess- racter will prefer to beg. The few, whose honesty ments into 218 additional parishes since 1842, and virtuous pride prevent from resorting to must have had a powerful effect in raising the either alternative, will, doubtless, endure severe rate of allowance, and, consequently, in increasing distress, and eat much less of the public bread the amount of expenditure on the poor. Some than would have fallen to their lot under a system idea of the extent to which allowances have in- of legal relief ; but any saving to the community, creased, may be formed from the fact, that while from this source, will be far more than balanced in 1842 the average rate of allowance in assessed by the exactions of impostors, who, taking adparishes was, as we have stated, £2 14s. 9d., in vantage of the license, which must always be 1846 it was so high as £3 10s. over both the granted under such a system, will mix in the assessed and the non-assessed parishes. Here, crowd of beggars, and, in the garb of poverty, prey then, is the true source of that increased expen- upon the benevolence, the fear, and the ignorance diture to which the Board of Supervision has of the public. But of the enormous sums thus excalled attention ; and the main question to be tracted from the community there is never any considered is, whether the important change, both return. The figures which indicate this quantity in the rate of allowance and in the mode of rais- never appear in the Report of a Board of Supering the funds, which is gradually spreading over vision, or any board whatever, to appal the ecoScotland, be really necessary and beneficial ? nomist, or frighten debt-ridden lairds. The ex

That a considerable augmentation of the allow action of beggary is an unfathomed abyss of ances was absolutely requisite, will not be dis- expenditure, but an abyss not less real or less puted by any, who are at all acquainted with the impoverishing to the commonwealth, because its miserable pittances which it was customary to limits are not accurately known. On the other

hand, every farthing expended under a legal sys- | 2s. 3d. per head on the whole population. We tem of relief is noted down, and in due time believe that, with the proverbial economy of the blazoned forth in reports and returns. In pass- Scotch poor, and by means of right educational ing, therefore, from one system to the other, as institutions, and a proper spirit of enterprise and we are now doing in Scotland, it may often hap- improvement on the part of owners of property pen that an apparent increase in the expenditure and capital, the poor rate in Scotland may, with on the poor, is accompanied with an actual saving all justice to the pcor, be smaller than in any to the community; and this, we believe, is the case country of Europe. But Scotland is not so disin the present instance. There is an increase in tinguished above neighbouring countries, either the public contributions to the poor ; but, along for the superior education of her poorer classes, with this, there is a decrease of mendicity and or the extensive industrial enterprise of her landvagrancy, and of all the evils, pecuniary and owners, as to entitle her, in present circumstances, moral, which follow in their train.

to any such immunity. She still suffers herself to Apart from considerations of expense, the new be trammelled by a barbarous law of entail, which system has many advantages over the old. It is directly prohibits the improvement of the soil, regular and certain in its operation. It admits and the independent sustenance of the poor ; and, of every case being thoroughly investigated before though once at the head of European nations in relief is administered, and consequently affords point of education, there are but too good grounds the best security for the detection of imposture. to believe that, in this respect also, she now ocIt reaches the pockets of the greedy and urzha- cupies an inferior position. So long as Scotland ritable, as well as of the liberal and benevolent, is content with matters as they are, her poor rate and so equalises the burden of the poor. And, must, and, we will add, it ought to increase. by means of its officers, its public character, its Even supposing that the number of poor on steady and constant authority, it secures the the roll was to remain as it is at present, without adoption of measures, such as the education and any addition, the increase in the rate of allowance, employment of destitute children, by which thou- which is still indispensably necessary, would be sands may be timeously rescued from the depths sufficient of itself to swell out the general exof pauperism, into which they would be inevitably penditure to a very considerable extent. For plunged, if left to be swept along by the current though a rapid increase has taken place of late of natural circumstances. The old system, on

in the amount of allowances, these are still far the other hand, can lay claim to none of these from what the necessities of the poor require, excellences. It is most uncertain and capricious and from what would be sufficient to justify a in the distribution of its gifts. It fattens the measure which we ought never to stop short of, sturdy and importunate beggar by the wayside, viz., the total suppression of mendicity and vawhile it leaves the honest and diffident poor to grancy. It appears from the Report before us, starve in the dingy seclusion of their homes. It that the average rate of allowance per annum, impóges a most unequal burden upon the kind-throughout Scotland, is £3 10s., or about 1s. 4d. hearted, while it spares the hoarded gains of the per week. Let any one consider the most ordiilliberal. And by leaving the bereaved and the nary wants of a human being—the lowest items unfortunate to shift for themselves, it encourages of expenditure for food, clothing, and liousing, vagrancy, permits beggars to multiply, and, ne- which are indispensably requisite to support exglecting all preventive and preservative measures, istence—and say whether such a rate of allowexposes society to the ravages of an ever-growing ance be not very inadequate for the “needful and inveterate pauperism.

sustentation" of the poor.

It would be toIn this view of the question, which we humbly tally insufficient, even though designed for the take to be the correct one, the gradual increase maintenance of one individual only ; but the which has taken place, during the last ten years, truth is, that though appearing in the returns of in the poor law expenditure of Scotland, is to be the Board of Supervision as the average aliment regarded with anything but feelings of alarm or of each individual pauper, it is practically the averegret. It is, on the contrary, the symptom of a rage aliment of an entire family of paupers. The most wholesome change in the administration of majority, perhaps, of persons on the roll, are widows relief, both as regards the interests of the poor with families of helpless children, and old infirm and of the community. Nor can it even be justly men, whose wives, by reason either of their own insupposed that the expenditure has nearly reached firmity or the attention which they must pay to its highest point yet. If the poor of Scotland their frailer partners, are really as dependent upon are to be provided for like the poor of other parochial support as their husbands themselves, civilised countries, it is clear that we must make though not admitted nominally to the roll. In up our minds to a considerable additional increase all such cases, of course, the allowance allotted is of poor law expenditure. In Holland the annual not required for the sustenance of one merely, but expenditure on the poor amounts to 4s. 4d. a-head of two, and frequently of a much larger number of on the entire population ; in France, to nearly destitute human beings—a consideration which 10s. a-head ; and in England, it is now reduced to must bring home to every judgment and every about 5s. 10d. per head. But in Scotland, though heart, a painful sense of the gulf which still sepacontaining, perhaps, a greater proportionate rates the poor of Scotland from a necessary and number of destitute persons than any of these adequate provision. countries, the expenditure on the poor is still only We confess that the more we examine the amount of allowances in the various districts of conntry, that a Board of some eight or nine genScotland, the more reason do we find for surprise, tlemen, armed certainly with extraordinary powers, if not a much severer feeling, in regard to the po- but still not authorised to repeal or enact, but simply licy which has been pursued by the Board of Su- to administer laws, should secretly and systematipervision. To this central body, according to the cally set themselves to overturn the injunctions new law, all complaints of inadequate aliment of the statute-book, and to wrest from a numerous must be addressed in the first instance. No pau- portion of Her Majesty's subjects that “needful per, however cruelly starved, is permitted access sustentation” which has been so recently declared to the Supreme Court, until the Board first decide to be their imprescriptible right by the highest that he has a just cause of action ; and by this legal authorities in Scotland, without provoking novel contrivance the Board has literally become the interference of a guardian Legislature, or invested with those functions which formerly de- drawing forth the unanimous protest of an indigvolved upon the Court of Session. There is nant nation. It is true, the parties wronged are a marked contrast between the decisions of the poor—the down-trodden, the tattered, the the Court and those of the Board ; and the hungry, and the friendless poor—to whom the poor have certainly not been gainers by the spirit of Selfishness has denied the simplest offices change. The voice of the Judges was ever raised of humanity, and whom the power of Authority on the side of the oppressed, and we believe there would now exclude from the commonest privileges is not a single instance, in recent years, of a pau- of citizenship. But yet it may be well to rememper complaining to their Lordships of inadequate ber that the Constitution can be as fatally woundrelief, without obtaining ample and immediate ed in the person of a pauper, as of a peer. Such redress. But on the other hand, so far as can is the noble doctrine which the genius of British be gathered from this Report, there does not ap- liberty teaches. There are rights and privileges pear to be one case in which the Board of Super- of a high and noble order, which none but the vision has declared a poor man to have a just more distinguished citizens are yet permitted to cause of action! Out of 497 complaints lodged possess; but there are others of a less glittering, with the Board in the short space of six months, perhaps, but not less valuable character, which, no fewer than 397 were directly refused any in the darkest days of British history, were the redress; the remaining 182 having been with birthright of all. In these latter are included the drawn, on account of some additional aliment right to be governed according to the laws, and wrung from the Parochial authorities by the the right to a free and equal administration of remonstrance of the Board. It is impossible for justice. Both of these have been shamefully a casual peruser of the Report to judge whether violated in the persons of the poor of Scotland. the additional aliment thus obtained by the com- A secret and irresponsible Board has been plaining paupers be adequate or not; because erected, which takes upon itself, without the sancthis document, though it be the only account of tion of Queen, Lords, or Commons, to contravene their stewardship which the Board is called the statutes, and overturn the decisions of the upon to render, very singularly omits to inform courts. To complete this new despotism, no us what the aliment complained of amounted pauper is permitted to have access to the Colto; how much additional relief was granted; or lege of Justice, until he first obtain permission whether the parties complaining were single or from this central Board, although his object married, healthy or bedridden, partially or totally is to obtain redress from the wrongs inflicted by destitute, solitary paupers or the heads of young this very Board, or the parochial authorities of and helpless families. Had the Board intended whom it has constituted itself the patron and proto keep Parliament and the country in perfect tector. The purport of the regulation virtually ignorance of its ideas of what constituted ade- is, that the poor shall not be permitted to ask for quate relief to the poor, it could not have con- justice in the usual legal channels, until the parstructed its return of applications for increase of ties of whose injustice they complain may choose aliment, on a happier or more suitable principle. to allow them! Had the parochial authorities We can well believe, that, amid the hurry of wind- been bound equally with the poor to submit to the ing up the affairs of a protracted Parliament and decrees of the Board of Supervision, then, howthe bustle of preparation for a general election, the ever unconstitutional the law, it would, at least, Report has been quite successful in blinding the have had the merit of dealing impartially with eyes, both of the officials of the Government, and the parties most closely interested; but while the the members of the Legislature, to the real char- Act of 1845 debars a pauper from appealing to acter of the proceedings of the Board ; but, to the the Court of Session from an adverse decision of writer of this article, and to those who, like him, the Board, it places no similar restriction upon have other and clearer sources of information the parochial authorities with whom he is strugthan this official document, it is abundantly evi- gling, but leaves them full power to drag the poor dent that the Board is in the almost daily habit man through a painful process of litigation whenof refusing the applications of paupers, whose ever the decision of the Board may chance to be allowances do not amount to one-half the sum in his favour. A more partial, unconstitutional, which the Court of Session promptly awarded to and un-British regulation, was never admitted to the widow of Ceres, or the sisters Halliday of the statute-book ; and having tamely permitted Balmaclellan.

this outrage on the rights of the poor, who can tell It is an alarming novelty in this constitutional where the evil will stop ? Once familiarise with

the legislation and legal practice of this country parish is £8 Os. 70. per annum ; in another it is such maxims as, that no poor man shall be per- 2s. 6d.; and between these wide extremes, there are mitted to enter a court of law against the rich average allowances of every amount. Sometimes until a secret Board sit in conclave upon his case, the greatest difference prevails in the same city. and declare that he has a just cause of action, and in the city parish of Glasgow, for example, the what becomes of the boasted purity of British averago allowance is £5 2s. 3d. ; while in the justice, the equality of British subjects, the disen- Barony parish, in the same city, it is only thralling magic of British soil, and all the high- £3 17s. 8d. No one will say that the expense of sounding attributes with which we have been subsistence varies so much in these two parishes accustomed to associate the name and glory of our as to justify this wide difference of allowance ; country ? Could the practical mischief of such and upon what other ground is it possible to dean innovation be confined to the class of paupers, fend it ? In the northern county of Ross, the many might not care perhaps to bear its shame; average allowance is £1 9s. 3d. ; while in the but of this there can be no security. The blow southern county of Kirkcudbright, it is £7s. 3d. which strikes down the most common right, in- It cannot be said that the poor are so much more evitably weakens the stability of the highest. numerous in the former county than in the latter, The poison of injustice habitually administered or that the value of property is so much less, that to the meanest extremity of the body politic, will it is unable to sustain so great a burden ; for circulate with malignant virulence through the Kirkcudbrightshire, in proportion to its populaentire frame.

tion, supports fully twice as many poor as RossWhatever evils may be expected to result to shire, and expends, in relief, to the extent of other classes of the people, there can be no doubt 1s. 3}d. per pound on its real property ; while the that to the poor the closing of the Court of Ses- expenditure of Ross-shire does not amount to sion is daily bearing very bad fruits. Complaints more than 53d. per pound on its real property. of inadequate relief are rejected by the Board of Yet the Board of Supervision must be pretty well Supervision, which there can be no doubt would satisfied with the state of matters in Ross-shire; have received immediate redress from the Court; for after a tour of inquiry, made by their Secreand even in those cases in which “the ground of tary, in the Highland counties, that gentleman complaint is removed” by the Board, the addi- arrived at the conclusion that ls. 3d. per week tional aliment allowed, always much less than was is a quite adequate allowance for an entirely destijudged necessary in similar cases by the Court, tute Highland pauper! If ls. 3d. be a sufficient is only obtained after the most distressing delay. aliment in Ross-shirè, the allowances given in A case appears in the return of applications to many other parts of Scotland must be extremely the Board, in which, after having remitted the extravagant ; and if the Board does not think it complaint to the parochial authorities three necessary to raise the allowances in the one case, several times, the Board at length intimated that it ought to reduce them in the other. The glarpermission would be granted the pauper to enter ing inequality which prevails in the mode of the Court of Session ; and additional relief was treatment must necessarily attract the poor from granted nearly six months after the complaint the favourable to the unfavourable parishes, and was lodged. A poor cripple and his destitute thus prove a source of great injustice to those very family were thus deprived nearly half a-year of districts where the law is most strictly obeyed. the “needful sustentation” to which they were The Report of the Board of Supervision, thereentitled by law ; while the parochial Board, which fore, along with many signs of progress to a better was the cause of this injustice, was not only sub- system, exhibits much that is objectionable. The jected to no expenses, but actually gained by the minor defects, to which we have not been able to illegal act to the extent of nearly four pounds, allude, are numerous, but very inferior in importhe amount of the poor man's additional aliment tance to the neglect of destitute children, the stinfor six months; whereas, had the case been ted allowances given to the most deserving poor, decided by the Court, the parish would have been and the encouragement of mendicity and vagrancy, compelled to pay over to the pauper the additional which still characterise our poor-law system. Let allowance from the date of his first application to the benevolent classes be once fully assured that the parochial board, besides bearing the expense every really destitute person is readily and adeof the litigation. It is obvious that the effect of quately provided for by the regular officers, and in this change must be to encourage parochial boards a very short time you may sweep from society in resisting the just claims of the poor; and that, those daring bands of vagrants which infest the in fact, it operates as a premium upon the obdu- wynds of large cities, and periodically spread racy with which they disregard the entreaties plunder and havoc over the rural districts. But of paupers, and the orders of the Board of Super- in present circumstances, every benevolent person vision.

knows very well that a poor-law official is not one Another striking evil which still clings to the who relieves, but one who wrangles with the poor, administration of the poor-law in Scotland, is the and if possible denies them support ; and so long inequality in the amount of allowances in the as this lasts, vagrancy, imposture, and theft must various parishes. The average allowance in one be tolerated.

kind on

CONDITION AND PROSPECTS OF WESTERN ASIA. Among the questions suggested by the present any time in the East, and been conversant with condition of the world, none, perhaps, is more any one of its numerous populations, without deeply interesting than that which regards the having become intimately convinced of this ; state and prospects of Western Asia. Lying in though few, perhaps, have studied, and much close juxta-position with Europe, its aspect, never- fewer still comprehended, the range of circumtheless, presents the most striking contrast with stances in which the peculiarity originated.

Pereverything European. Covered, in many places, sons who have philosophised in one corner of the by primitive populations, and elsewhere by the world, and upon a narrow basis, are too apt to mingled dregs of all races, it has long excited the conclude that our thoughts and opinions exist indeattention of statesmen and diplomatists, of politi- pendently of those influences, the sum of which cians and philosophers, and displayed moral and we denominate nature. They forget that man social phenomena which have perplexed them all. is a part of the universe, and not altogether an

A contemporary writer, who, to give greater independent part, since all his primitive ideas currency to his speculations, has clothed them in

come to him from without, while his feelings are the forms of fiction, deserves the credit of having moulded and are the creation of his mind, impreg. directed some degree of public attention to that nated by external influences. part of the Asiatic continent comprehending In Syria all great and prolific ideas may be Syria and Palestine. How far his opinions are said to be extinct. It has no creed of any to be interpreted seriously, it is, of course, im- which it can itself place reliance, much less which possible to decide ; and this constitutes the chief it can offer fearlessly to the rest of the world. objection to works which are neither fact nor fic- Syria has always been a sort of Golgotha of faiths, tion, and embody innumerable notions for which where the intellectual offspring of other lands the author would not be held strictly responsible. has found death and sepulture. The streams of But this is of comparatively little moment. The population have very strongly set in from every important point just now for Europe to clear up part of the world, towards that lovely land, where is, whether or not our actual principles of civilisa- they have melted away, in a manner not extion be sufficiently powerful to regenerate society plained in history.

Before the invasion of the in the East. In order to arrive at any definite Israelites, who fought their way thither from conclusion, we must previously be acquainted with Egyptian servitude, it had been conquered and the spirit which pervades that society, which tra- possessed by a great variety of tribes from the vellers have usually overlooked, and which the desert and elsewhere ; but none has taken root chroniclers of passing events seem hitherto to in it; to all appearance there never has been a have regarded as beneath their notice.

Syrian people--a people living under the same The moment we traverse the Mediterranean institutions-speaking the same language-beand pass into the East, we encounter tribes of men lieving the same opinion—and tracing their oriwhom we can with difficulty recognise as our con- gin to the same stock. On the contrary, frag. temporaries. Instead of having migrated from ments of a hundred nations have met there and one geographical division of the globe to another, settled in sight of each other, but without amalwe seem to have travelled back centuries in time, gamating—without forgetting their difference of and to be placed among generations commonly origin—without laying aside their hereditary supposed to have long past away. The novelties, antipathies—without, in short, acquiring any. we observe in costume and manners constitute the thing in common, a spark of patriotism or fraleast remarkable feature in the picture before us: ternal attachment. Consequently, the annals of were all the inhabitants of Syria, and the East Syria are without parallel in the history of the generally, to be clothed at once in the garb of world. Small as it is, it has never, properly Englishmen or Frenchmen, and to adopt, at the speaking, formed one country, though its numesame time, our furniture and our cookery, our rous tribes have, nearly in all ages, been condomestic architecture and our amusements, the strained to submit together to some foreign conmost essential difference between them and us queror. would still remain untouched. Even the adoption There is now no aboriginal vitality in Syria. of our opinions, religious, political, and literary, The very Arabs of the desert, though distinwould leave behind a line of demarcation too guished for boldness and generosity in their native broad to allow any approximation to identity. waste, are soon forsaken by the proud spirit of

In what, then, it will perhaps be asked, does the enterprise when they settle in Syria, and induced difference between them and us consist? It may to prefer enjoyment to exertion, and to devote to seem philosophical to say, that man in every age dreamy indolence the life which in the desert and country is the same; and that all that dis- would have been swayed by stern virtue or amtinguishes race from race, and people from people, bition. is comprehended under the terms, religious and Of this Mohammed himself was sensible, as we civil institutions. But there is something else— may gather from the observation which he made something which, for want of a more appropriate on Damascus. Having, from the neighbouring expression, we must call the make and consti- mountains, surveyed its gardens and groves; its tution of the mind. No one can have resided orchards, meadows, and limpid streams, and in

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