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ART. XII.-A General, Medical, and Statistical History of the present
Condition of Public Charity in France; comprising a detailed Account of all Establishments destined for the Sick, the Aged, the Infirm, for Children, and for Lunatics ; with a View of the Extent of Pauperism and Mendicity, and the means now adopted for their Relief and Repression. By David Johnston, M. D. Fellow of the
Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, &c. Edinburgh. 1829. THI THERE are more points than one in which our neighbours
on the other side of the Channel have the start of us in the career of improvement and civilization. In the science of chemistry,-and perhaps in a still more remarkable and eminent degree in that of mathematics, they are, it would be unphilosophical to say how many, years in advance of us. And there is another science in which, though, strange to say, it may be considered as having had its origin in England, where its great and venerable founder is still living, they will soon in all likelihood have an equal advantage. In France legislation begins to be generally taught and received as a science ; and the name of the great philosopher, who has established for it a claim to such a title, is treated with the respect and reverence due to a man who has given to the human mind an impulse which it does not receive once in the lapse of
i while in his native country that name is too often a theme of ridicule for the small wits of the day; who, as might be supposed, unable to comprehend what is great and admirable in his profound and important researches, conceive themselves entitled to laugh at certain properties of his style, which properties they are pleased to term ridiculous and repulsive peculiarities-peculiarities, it may be presumed, because they are not found in themselves.
Although there might be some difficulty in going quite so far as Dr. Johnston in awarding the superiority in almost every instance to the French system, yet it will be easy from his instructive book to point out several examples of that advance of the French before us in the race of improvement which we have alluded to. From the manner, however, in which Dr. Johnston has put together his very copious materials, or rather from the total want of arrangement of them, even this task will not be so easy a one as it would have been, had the abundance of matter been better and more methodically arranged. This appearance of confusion indeed may in part necessarily be owing to the nature of the subject-to the immense accumulation of facts and numbers and the almost unavoidable repetitions. By a more clear and more logical
arrangement, however, much of the mystification might have been avoided ; and the reason might have been enabled to comprehend, and the memory to retain, many more of the really good things which the book contains than can be hoped for in its present state. Under such circumstances, instead of attempting to give an analysis of the work, we shall mention one or two of the cases in which Dr. Johnston succeeds in proving the superiority of the French system of management.
The introductory remarks following, contain some curious facts :
• Several of the Hospital Establishments of Francè, as well as of other countries, are of very ancient date; but the institutions in which, during an early period of history, refuge and assistance were given to the sick and distressed, were by no means of the same character as hospitals of the present day. In many of the principal churches of Christendom apartments were reserved for the reception of poor persons labouring under disease ; and the dwellings of the Christian bishops, in the primitive ages of the church, had much of the appearance of hospitals. There does not, however, appear to have existed any establishment properly entitled to the name of an hospital prior to that founded in the fourth century at Cæsarea by St. Basil.
The example of Basil was soon followed by St. Chrysostom, who founded many similar establishments in Constantinople. The sixth, seventh, and eighth centuries saw others formed in various countries of Christendom; and at last the importation into Europe of that dreadful malady, the leprosy, which was brought by the Crusaders from Asia, rendered their erection a matter of necessity more than of charity. The houses, which were then termed in France Leproseries and Maladreries, were built in great numbers ; so that at the close of the reign of Louis VIII, there appear to have existed no fewer than two thousand of them in the kingdom, and, according to Matthew Paris, at the close of the thirteenth century, no less than nineteen thousand in the different countries of Europe.'-pp. 9, 10.
The following is the account given of the establishment of the “ Monts de Piété" in Paris :
. As early as the seventeenth century attempts had been made to establish houses in Paris for the purpose of lending money upon effects deposited on pledge; and in 1613 a privilege to this effect had been given to a private individual. He, however, was unsuccessful in the attempt ; and the first Mont de Piété founded in Paris does not bear an earlier date than 1777. It was created for the benefit of the general hospital, in consequence of the good results found to arise froin establishments of a similar description, for some time existing in Italy, Flanders, Hainault, Cambresis, and Artois.'
By a law of 1804, no establishment of this sort can be formed "except for the benefit of the poor, and with the sanction of government. The great objects proposed by the Monts de Piété, when they were first set on foot, were to aid the poorer classes of society, when in distress, from any particular or unforeseen circumstance, and to keep down the rate of interest upon pledges.” They enjoy the exclusive privilege of lending upon moveable effects, 4-5ths of the value of gold and silver articles, and 2-3rds of the value of other effects, The rate of interest is one per cent per month. If not reclaimed at the expiration of the time agreed upon, the goods are sold and the surplus paid to the borrower.
The Mont de Piété of Paris is administered by a council composed of the prefect of the department, of the prefect of police, and of four menbers of the general council of hospitals; and it generally produces an annual sum of about 400,000 francs. As a source of revenue to the hospitals, therefore, the Monts de Piété may be encouraged, but they certainly do not seem calculated to be of much benefit to the people in general. They allow of too great a degree of facility and secrecy in the pawning of goods, and thus become a means of increasing idleness and dissipation, and of bringing the thoughtless to ultimate ruin.'--pp. 44, 45.
For this reason those establishments seem liable to some of the same objections which are brought against the maisons de jeu, and, indeed, viewed in this light, they appear to form á branch of the same pernicious system of affording, at least, facilities to the people, of sacrificing their means of subsistence, as La Place has expressed it, to visionary and unfounded hopes.
About the middle of the last century, an establishment of this description was attempted in London. It failed from the very first through the fraudulency of the directors; and this failure occasioned a prejudice which prevented every attempt of the kind for the future. By similar logic one might conclude, that vessels were bad machines for war, since the Royal George, the port holes of which had been left open, was sunk in the
harbour. The revenues which support the present hospital-establishment of France, are derived from the following sources :1. Realized and fixed property (biens fonds) éither in lands,
houses, or public stock. 2. Legacies and donations. 3. Money paid by persons received into the hospitals and
hospices. 4. Monts de Piété. 5. Theatres and other places of amusement. 6. Public verification of weights and measures. 7. Confiscation and fines,
The management of the first of these, the biens fonds, which may consist of houses, lands, manufactures, forests, vineyards, &c. must be always under the inspection of the Minister of the Interior, who, with the royal sanction, authorises the mode in which it shall be conducted. Their lands (of large and valuable tracts of which they have been deprived without proper compensation), when at any distance, are farmed out under the direction of the Minister of the Interior ; when near the hospital they are farmed by the administration itself.*
The hospices of Paris were formerly in possession of houseproperty valued at 18,000,000 francs (£720,000); by a decree of the 24th of February, 1811, this property was ordered to be sold. One half of the price received was to be laid out on the various markets of the capital; the remainder would be paid gradually into the city treasury, and equivalents were to be given for it. The persons who collect the rent of these markets must find security, by a deposit of cash to a certain amount, which is paid into the Mont de Piété, and five per cent interest allowed upon it as long as it remains.
Donations and legacies, when they do not amount to more than 300 francs, may be at once accepted upon the authority of the sub-prefect. When the sum exceeds 300 francs, its acceptance must be authorised by the king. Dr. Johnston subjoins in a note the following list of the amount of legacies bequeathed to the hospitals and poor of France for a series of years : 1814
812,805 francs. 1815
. 1,725,537 1817
. 1,837,054 1818
. 2,876,146 1819
. 3,213,915 1820
. 2,416,818 1821
The average amount of money paid by persons admitted into
* One fifth part of the price of burial-ground in the Cimetière du Père la Chaise belongs to the hospitals and hospices of Paris. The price of ground in this burying place is 125 francs the mètre.'-p. 41 note.
the hospitals and hospices is, in the capital, about 400,000 francs=(£16,000).
Of the Monts de Piété we have already spoken.
The next source of revenue arises from a tax of ten per cent for all money received at the theatres, and of one-fourth of the nett receipts of all balls, public gardens, and amusements of
A law of 19th May, 1802, established in all the communes to which this system was deemed applicable by government, offices for the verification of weights and measures, the nett produce of which, after a deduction of one-tenth to clear off expenses, was to be employed in the liquidation of the debts of the communes and hospitals. These bureaux had previously been established in towns having a population of more than five thousand souls.
Of all articles confiscated by the municipal police, one-fourth of the proceeds goes to defray the expenses of the court, onefc rth to the support of the peace-offices and gratis law-establishments for the poor, another fourth to the municipality, and the remainder to the poor of the commune.
When the confiscation is made by the correctional police, one-third goes to the municipality of the tribunal de première instance, another to the peace-offices, and the remaining third to the poor. The fines for contravening statutes of the university and regulations of the state-lottery, as well as the money levied from the national guard for breaches of duty and discipline, are also appropriated to this fund.
The charitable establishments of France draw a large revenue from the Excise. In Paris they receive an annual sum of about 5,164,000 francs (£206,560). "The civil administration of the Strasbourg hospital receives about 80,000 francs (£3600.)
The following is the resumé for Paris in the year 1822 of what has been above detailed. The revenues may be divided into fixed, variable, supplementary, and extraordinary :Fixed revenues
1,935,247 francs . . £77,602 Variable
1,581 Total 9,164,936 .£361,988 Of which some of the principal items are, House rents
12,456 Interest from funded capital 707,158