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the agricultural population, and amongst the people in general, Professor F. W. Newman said, at a meeting of farm labourers held at Wellington, Somersetshire, Oct. 20th, 1874 :“ Pauperism has prevailed in England since the reign of Henry VIII., when landlords succeeded in turning themselves into land-owners. Some people think the Poor Law a natural state of things, and one made out of compassion for the labourer. It is no such thing. It was originally made as a police provision. So many people were turned adrift from the land at this period that Parliament tried to protect the community from those who, in the language of the time, were called sturdy beggars.' Then began the agrarian movements which are familiar to students of history. The villeins rose up against the great lords in various parts of England, and after many struggles were conquered, and hung up by the score ---sometimes by the hundred--to terrify the peasants for the future. It was by conquest in this way that the landlords became landowners, and were able to secure increasing rentals by competition for their farms. From this cause is to be traced the pauperism which now disgraces us."
Mr. William Gibson Ward, an able writer on the land question, says "Pauperism is one of the greatest stains in the history of England. It is the crime of landed aristocrats. A selfish land tenure, in contempt of justice and violation of natural rights, is at the roots of pauperism. Pauperism is not from God. It is created by human selfishness, and perpetuated by gross monopoly. The exclusion of men, willing to work, from the soil, from their share of nature's bounty, has involved the overcrowding of our towns, the death-like struggle of our artizans and labourers with grasping capitalists, and the pauperism of our labouring husbandmen, and the wholesale emigration of our most useful toilers."
In order to substantiate this view of the origin of so much pauperism in England, Mr. William Gibson Ward quotes the following from the pen of Mr. Sidney Smith :
“ The parish of Cholesbury, in Buckinghamshire, was entirely occupied by two large farmers. Fertile, populous, within forty miles of the metropolis, its cultivators, notwithstanding, fell behind. There were 139 inhabitants in the parish, but only two had an inch of the soil. Was not this civilization
run mad ?
Was it not a glaring and staring evidence of the monstrous abuse of the principle of private property, that only one man out of sixty-nine tillers of the ground should have exclusive occupation of the earth, which God made common to all, and the appropriation of which can only be palliated upon the clearest proof of public advantage? What was the consequence of this beau ideal of politico-economical arrangement ? Simply this : out of 139 inhabitants, 119 were paupers.
The land monopolists became bankrupt, the parson got no tithes, the landlords' acres were in rapid course of being eaten up with rates, and the whole property of the parish, being unable to feed the inhabitants, a rate in aid had to be levied on the neighbouring parishes, which were rapidly degenerating into the same state. The Labourers' Friend Society came to the rescue. They leased the land at a fair rent. They parcelled it out among the very worst class of persons upon whose babits to hazard the result of such an experiment. Some got five, some ten acres, according to the size of their families; and what was the effect? At the end of four years the number of paupers had diminished from 119 to five, and these were persons disabled from old age or disease; these paupers afforded to pay a rate in aid of the neighbouring parishes; and it was found that every one of them was in a state of independence and comfort; each had a cow, many two or three, to which some added a horse, others some oxen ready for the market, and all had pigs, and poultry in abundance."
Mr. Ward further quotes the following from a letter by the Rev. H. P.Jestin, rector of the said parish :-“For the previous ten years the poor-rates were 30s. in the pound, and that amount brought the parish to wreck. The gates were removed from the fields, the hedges allowed to be broken down, and the land thrown out of cultivation, that it should not be rated. Previously the land was let at 13s. an acre, the landlord guaranteeing a maximum amount of rates. Then it happened that when the tenant went to the rent audit, he had to carry a lot of money away, instead of leaving any. Of course an end of such a state of things soon came. The landlord was without rent, and the parson without tithe, and the farmers bankrupt and gone; then, when the monopoly system had brought all to
a chaos, the remedy came. The paupers had to rescue the land from barrenness, the landlord and parson from ruin, and redeem themselves. And nobly they did it all. The land was divided up amongst them; not at 13s. an acre though-the price the farmers paid--but at 26s., just double! However, even at once the rates went down from thirty shillings to three shillings! The parson got his tithes and the landlord his rent, and the public food, the produce of the land. For ten years after not a single pauper raised to independence committed any offence to bring him before a magistrate. They became at once from paupers, decent people, tax payers, lawabiding men. And,” the clergyman wrote, “there is not a ragged, ill-dressed person in the parish.”
Were all the sufferings and misery that afflict the great number of poor laid open to our view,* like the ragged garments they wear, and the wretched dwellings they inhabit; were we actual spectators of their agonies, when they fall victims to death by starvation (of which the metropolitan district of London counted in 1874 no fewer than 107 + cases),
“A full knowledge of the misery existing around us would make life in a modern city unendurable.”– Daily News, Jan. 1st., 1875.
+ The Times newspaper, in publishing on the 26th August, 1874, a commentary article on this statistical subject, writes :—“It is difficult to conceive a statement of a more shocking character, or one which would afford a better basis for harangues upon the cruelty of civilization, or upon the vastness of the gulf which separates the rich from the poor.”
The following is one of the cases of death by starvation, so common in the great and wealthy city of London -At the inquest held by Mr. Humphreys, relative to the death of Ellen Amro, aged thirty-seven, Police-constable 22 H deposed that at midnight on Sunday, August 15th, 1875, he found the deceased lying upon the pavement in Wentworth-street, Whitechapel. She was helpless, but able to give her name and age. She said she had not a relative in the world, nor had she any home. She slept in passages and doorways. Her clothes were one mass of rags, and her bones appeared to be protruding through the skin. The smell was overpowering. Witness had been in the force fifteen years, but had never found anything like it, even in a decomposed body. He obtained a stretcher and conveyed her to the infirmary. Dr. Champneys, who made the post-mortem examination, stated that the body was fearfully emaciated, showing that the deceased had suffered long privations. The cause of death was want of food. The coroner said it was one of those sad cases that so frequently came under his notice in the East End. Deceased had no one to care for her, whether she lived or died.
our sympathy and charity would at once be raised to such a degree that we would immediately devise means for the speedy alleviation of the evil.
It cannot be denied that much charity is exercised in the relief of the poor, that an immense number of them are supported by poor-rates, in almshouses and hospitals ; * but the social reformer looks on all these remedies as being inefficient to grapple with the great amount of open and hidden poverty, and he is bold enough to assert that if the great number of poor now confined in workhouses and other charitable institutions were let loose upon society, and if their number were further increased by the number of those who bear poverty in silence and resignation at their own homes, their conjoint presence would probably multiply by tenfold the povertystricken aspect of the populations of our large towns, and bring most effectually into disrepute the vaunted civilization of our times.
Modern society hides its plague-spots, but the social reformer traces them to their hiding-places, and uncovers them in their hideousness. He lays open the social imperfections, and points out the vicissitudes that escape the observation of indifferent or prejudiced lookers-on. He sees in the haggard faces, in the emaciated frames, in the shrunk stature of the greater part of the lower classes of society, and especially of the population of large cities, a degenerate state of the human race, greatly resulting from the evils of poverty; and he becomes the more impatient for a radical change, as by the extinction of pauperism a sudden regeneration of the race would be effected. The hollow cheek, the pallid complexion, the flabby muscle, would soon disappear, and the aspect and look of the common people would again present a striking picture of health and strength.
* Mr. Fairlie Clark writes in Macmillan's Magazine :-“The number of free hospitals and dispensaries in the metropolis is just over 100, and the applicants who annually apply to them for relief cannot be estimated at less than 800,000 ; in all probability they are nearer 1,000,000. But these figures do not represent the total number of the sick poor. When the country is prosperous, it is surely very serious, if not alarming, to find so large a proportion of the lower class making no provision for themselves in anticipation of the time of sickness."
CHAPTER II.—PROSTITUTION. IF poverty is for the most part a hidden sore of modern
society, prostitution is decidedly its open cancer. Impudent prostitutes parade the streets of modern cities in thousands.* They would, however, scarcely be recognized as such, were it not for their importunate solicitations; for in matter of dress they equal the best-dressed ladies of the middle and upper classes of society, and conform to the latest fashions. The ruin effected by prostitution is lamentable. The healthiest constitutions are in numberless cases undermined by the venereal disease propagated through prostitution; frequent and easy opportunities are by this vice offered to theft, robbery, and even murder in the haunts into which it allures its victims. But most appalling of all the evil consequences of prostitution is the moral degradation of the young and mostly beautiful persons who, for the sake of gain, and in order to avoid the hardships of honest labour, resort to this infamous trade, which, in a very short time, destroys their beauty, undermines their health by a loathsome disease, annihilates their power of conception, and in many cases only serves to enrich the keepers of brothels, or swell the profits of other traders † in human flesh, who entice innocent young women, and even girls under age, into the infamous dens of vice and crime, reared and supported by prostitution.
This great social evil is by some considered a vice that takes its origin in the general depravity of the human race; others describe it as a ready and easy means for the satisfaction of the sexual instinct, in case other legitimate means should not be procurable, especially on the part of men; and in this latter instance it has even in this country been regarded as a legitimate trade, or an evil that must be tolerated, for fear
* The late Bishop of Oxford estimated the number of prostitutes in London at 80,000; the magistrate Colquhoun at 50,000. These figures lead to the following curious inference. If each of only 20,000 prostitutes obtains but one customer per week, 1,000,000 cases of prostitution must take place in the course of the year.
+ “ St. John describes the spiritual Babylon as the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth, and represents her ruin as lamentable, especially to the merchants, who traffic with her in many beautiful and desirable articles, but above all in 'souls of men,'”—John Ruskin.