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it thus, that the happiness of human beings is brought about, by tempting them from labour and economy by the prospect of indulgence and plenty, at the expense of others? Is it thus that chil. dren are prepared to encounter the labours to which their birth renders them liable, by being pampered in this splendid eating-house?' I put some of these questions to those about me, and never got a civil word afterwards. These people share in the good things, and grow rich on charities. It is a fine thing, brother, to manage the concerns of the
poor in this country. I wish some one would have the honest hardihood to speak of these institutions as they deserve; risk the reputation of a philanthropist in the attempt to restrain the progress of idleness and beggary, and rid the industrious of the task, not only of supplying their own wants, but of pampering those of others. He might be a martyr to his honesty, but I am mistaken if posterity would not do him justice. I shall have additional opportunities of witnessing the effects of these institutions and societies, and may possibly resume the subject by and by. There were about four hundred persons here; and the children looked very delicate as well as genteel; but, take
word for it, this was not the place to prepare them for household servants, industrious tradesmen and farmers, hardy sailors or soldiers, or for any of those occupations that generally fall to the lot of the children of the poor. Besides this, there are free-schools, charity-schools, almshouses, an infirmary, &c. so that the people who can descend to live, or learn upon charity, have an easy time of it there. But for all this, it is, according to some of the philosophical writers of the day, exceedingly strange, that the quantity of distress increases in a ratio with the encouragement afforded to idleness and beggary! Sensible: that I am here treading on ticklish ground, I shall fortify myself with the authority of Doctor Franklin. 'No one can call in question the humanity of him, who was emphatically the friend of man and of human nature. So long ago as the year 1766, the following sentiments appeared in a letter written by Franklin, in the character of an English farmer, and published in an English paper. The Doctor was then residing in London.
“I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion about the means.
I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not by making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became the richer. There is no country where so many provisions are established for them, so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by private charities; so many alms-houses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law, made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor.
Under all these obligations are our poor modest, humble, and thankful? And do they use their best endeavours to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burthen ? On the contrary, I affirm, that there is no country in the world, in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent. The day you passed that act, you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on somewhat else, than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for support in age
or sickness. In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty. Repeal that law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. Saint Monday and Saint Tuesday will soon cease to be holidays. Six days shalt thou labour, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower orders; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness, by inuring them to provide for themselves, than would be done by dividing all your estates among them."
So wrote our sage more than fifty years ago. It will be seen, on a close inspection, that the above passage condenses all the substance of those articles, which have lately appeared as original authority against the poor laws, in the Edinburgh Review. But “who reads an American book ?" O, not the British Reviewers, certainly !
By the advice of mine host of the Talbot, who prided himself on “serving the noble Earl of Shrewsbury,” I left my horses here, and hired a couple of Welsh ponies, which, he assured me, would carry me much more safely over the mountains and through the defiles of Wales. He likewise hinted, that a Welsh pony had a sort of instinctive feeling of the picturesque, and never failed to stop where there was a fine view, so that there would be no occasion to carry a guide-book with me. I took his advice, and accordingly bestrided a pony
that turned out to be broken-winded. This, however, proved in the end a great advantage, for whenever I dismounted to scramble up a precipice, or view a cascade in some glen, unapproachable on horseback, I was always sure of finding him exactly in the same place on my return, he being never guilty of any voluntary locomotion whatever.
Some of the picturesque hunters make their tours on foot, but I had two invincible objections to this mode. I hate walking, and should have been as long getting through Wales, as a Welsh pedigree. In the next place, I was aware, from experience, that a man on foot never gets a civil answer or civil treatment at a decent British inn. The first salute will be from the chambermaid, who, on being questioned about a bed, will go near to snap your head off. This is particularly the case about Shrewsbury, where the women, having a little of the hot Welsh blood in them, are apt to be somewhat shrewish, whence, possibly, may be derived the name of this ancient city. On one occasion, in Herefordshire, I was very much amused with a respectable, though plain looking man, who came up on foot to an inn, where I had stopt to dine, and ordered dinner. Nobody invited him into the house, and he was permitted to sit on the piazza, until I was wrought upon to ask him into the room I occupied. Contrary to my expectation, for I concluded this piece of civility would make him suspect me of a design to pick his pocket, it is so uncommon in this country, he accepted the invitation very frankly, and I found him exceedingły intelligent and well-bred. To tell you the truth, I began to suspect him, it being so unnatural for an Englishman to be entertaining without the hope of advantage. However, no dinner came, or was likely to come, when, after a delay of an hour or two, an elegant equipage drove up to the door, preceded by an outrider, who inquired if a gentleman, whom he described, had stopped there. An explanation ensued, and I found that the carriage having received some little damage, the owner, the plain gentleman I spoke of, had taken it into his head to walk on to this hospitable inn. Never were there such civilities, such bows, such congees, and such inquiries, about what the gentleman would choose for dinner, and such apologies for the delay, which was all put upon the cook. The gentleman, who seemed somewhat of a sly humourist, upon this insisted upon the cook's head