« VorigeDoorgaan »
England. And it also almost goes with was all “ khismet." I had married for out saying, that when we got there I dross and lost it; but I found in its stead took care to chaff my cousin about having the pure gold of affection, and in the uninveigled me into marrying for a fortune speakable happiness which it brought which, like Fairy money, had crumbled me, I was enabled to look upon my loss as into nothingness in my grasp. She said a gain, and to bless the fate which had it was very strange, and admitted that given me my little wife, even though she it was most provoking—but I knew it was not an heiress.
To a young English lady in a military Hospital at Carlsruhe. Sept. 1870.
What do the dark eyes of the dying find
To waken dream or memory, seeing you?
In your sweet eyes what other eyes are blue,
He may remember girls with locks like thine ;
Some lost love's eyes grow dim before they shine
With welcome :—so past homes, or homes to be,
He crosses Death's inhospitable sea,
AMERICAN EXPERIENCE IN THE RELIEF OF THE POOR.
BY JAMES BRYCE.
It is at first sight surprising that there where work is hard, though abundant should be anything for Englishmen to and well paid, and which, if it did learn from Americans in the matter of migrate, would be found too weak, the relief of the poor.
One is accus
physically and morally, either for severe tomed to think of the United States as labour or for the exigencies of an the paradise of the poor, the land of isolated life in forest or prairie. So far plenty, comfort, and contentment; and as can be made out this class does not this notion is so far a true one that increase, but its mere existence is a pauperism is an infinitely smaller and dangerous symptom, a symptom which less threatening phenomenon there than the Americans however, filled with conit is here. Everywhere in the Northern fidence in the resources of their country, and Western States the great bulk of the think lightly of, and are therefore someland is in the hands of those who till it, what less concerned to extirpate than so that there is no class corresponding one could wish. In this matter, as in to the wretched agricultural labourers many others, one is greatly struck by of our English counties. In all but the way in which our descendants in perhaps half-a-dozen of the cities, as the United States have preserved one of well as in the manufacturing and mining the most characteristic bits of English districts of New England and Pennsyl- character, while yet avoiding, it must vania, work is usually abundant, wages be confessed, some of its least happy are everywhere high, and the existence results. Like the English, they have a of great tracts of unoccupied land and dislike to all abstract reasonings, and to of rising towns all round the great lakes all presentations of what may be called and in the Mississippi basin, makes it the theory, the broad, leading principles, easy for any working man who does not
of a practical subject. For the so-called prosper at home to move off to a more “wissenschaftlicher Geist” they have promising field, travelling being both little sympathy. That frequently overcheap and easy. Of the diffusion of formal process of systematic investigaeducation and its effects there is no tion in which a German delights is to need to speak. Pauperism, therefore, is them not merely. wearisome, but posicomparatively limited in its area, and tively offensive : even political dedoes not, as in England, menace the claimers recur far less frequently to stability of the political fabric; it is not general principles, and when they do a "question” in American politics; but are less able to deal effectively with for the rapid influx of Irish immigrants them, than the like declaimers would it would be altogether insignificant. in France or Italy. But they are much But at present, though virtually limited quicker and smarter in getting rid of a to the great cities of the Atlantic sea practical inconvenience than we in bord, it is not insignificant. For there England are, make less account of traexists in these cities a genuine perma ditions, established rules, vested intenent pauper class, the same in kind as, rests; and when a particular arrangealthough of course incomparably less ment or project has been shown to be numerous than, that which we have promising, they go straight at it, sweep, learnt to know and dread in England ing away intermediate difficulties, and -a class which does not want to work, not stopping to inquire whether or no does not care to emigrate to regions it can be made part of a general scheme,
or is conformable to any comprehensive now left behind other districts in principles. No doubt the circum- respect of wealth and population, and stances, economical and political, of the losing her once prominent position United States, make it easier to intro- in politics, New England, along duce obvious practical reforms there with the intellectual leadership of the than it is here, but something must nation, preserves a higher tone and a also be set down to the more agile higher moral practice than can easily be and enterprising spirit of the people. found elsewhere. The primitive manners Thus it happens that although the of the country are said to be vanishing great doctrines of political economy are with its primitive beliefs, but the people most imperfectly understood in America, uphold its traditional reputation for and though the subject of pauperism sobriety, purity, orderliness
, industry, and the expediency of having any Poor- firmness of character and purpose. law whatever, has been scarcely dis
Massachusetts is in all respects concussed, certainly very much less dis- fessedly at the head of New England, cussed than in England, as great or and is probably the best governed and greater progress has been made in the best regulated community beyond the way of dealing practically with the Atlantic. Nowhere in the world, expauper class. The area in which the cept perhaps in Switzerland, does one experiments in this matter have been find so perfect an accord between the tried is indeed limited, but their con- laws and the sentiments of the people, ditions are so similar in many respects and so hearty a co-operation on the part to our own, that the method and the of the people with those who are apresults attained are almost as full of pointed to administer the laws. Selfinstruction for us as if the trial had government appears in its most attracbeen made at home. In this, as in tive form, everyone feels that in obeymost other things, America is far nearer ing and aiding the law he is serving his to us than either she or
we to the
own ends. One is prepared therefore nations of the European continent; and to find in Boston not only judicious we may profit much better by her legislation on the subject of pauperism, example in the way either of imitation but an active interest on the part of or avoidance than we can by theirs. private citizens in its suppression, and There is no great difference in the law a combination of private with official of the two nations, and still less in their agencies for this object.
agencies for this object. And this is religion; the social instincts, sympathies, the point in the Boston system to which and prejudices of the people are sub- it is chiefly desirable to call attention. stantially the same; both alike are The provisions of the Massachusetts possessed by a belief in the principle of Poor-law do not seem to differ much, in laissez faire ; dislike State interference, essentials, from those of our English law. even when the State is their own crea- Persons having a legal settlement are tion; have little taste for uniformity of entitled to relief in the place where the method, or logical consistency of prin- settlement has been acquired, out of the ciple, and great confidence in the possi- funds raised by local taxation ; the care bility of putting everything straight by of the unsettled poor devolves on the the action of vigorous individuals. State. Henco, in Boston (population
Pauperism, as has been said, is at 250,526, of whom 172,450 were born present virtually confined to the great in the United States), the city, repreAtlantic cities. It is of two only of sented by the Overseers of the poor, these, though both important, and both undertakes to provide only for the poor in different ways typical, that the having a legal settlement, and for the present writer can undertake to speak. sick poor, who cannot well be removed
Massachusetts is often described as to their place of settlement. The unthe model State of the Union, and settled poor, including, of course, the Boston as the model city. Although
Although bulk of the Irish, are left to the State
officials, who receive them in the alms- Boston Ladies' City Relief Agency, and house or the (almost penal) workhouse, to the Boston Ladies' Sewing Circle. and to private charity. Persons who Rooms have also been allotted to the have settlements elsewhere in the State Buston Soldier's Fund, the Massachuare, however, frequently, perhaps usu- setts Soldiers' Fund, and the Young ally, relieved by the Overseers, but at Men's Benevolent Society. Several the charge of the town where they have others remain still unoccupied, and in their settlement. The number of the un- these it is proposed to receive any settled poor being large, and the dis- other societies which may desire to have tress among them, especially among the a place, and are important enongh to friendless and improvident immigrants, deserve it. Each society sits rent free, being often great (the terrors of an but defrays the expenses of cleaning, American winter can hardly be realized lighting, and firing the room or rooms here), societies sprang up, which en- allotted to it. A few yards off is the deavoured, by means of voluntary sub- Temporary Home, an institution under scriptions, to aid these unfortunates, the management of the Overseers of the giving out-door relief and medical at- poor, of which I shall speak presently. tendance, or trying to find work for The distinguishing feature and merit them. In course of time it was per- of this Boston system is the intimate ceived that the action of these societies, communication maintained between unconnected with one another, involved these different centres of charitable great waste of money and pains, and action, and the co-operation which is even encouraged idleness, by giving op- thereby secured. How the whole orportunities of relief in several quarters. ganization works will be best underAll the evils which a melancholy expe- stood by showing the function of each rience has made so familiar in London, member. the evils of lax and unorganized charity, The Overseers of the poor, established appeared in Boston, though, indeed, in on the ground floor of the Charity Buildfar less grave proportions. At last the ing, are charged by law with the relief brilliant idea, as simple as brilliant, oc- of the poor who have a settlement in curred to some of the workers, that most Boston, and of the unsettled sick poor. of this waste and mischief might be The mode of relief, and the quantity, is avoided by establishing closer relations practically left to their discretion. " between the different charitable agencies, Their officers distribute out-door relief legal and voluntary, and that the first in the form of food and fuel sparingly, step to this was the bringing them into and never to the able-bodied; a strict relocal proximity.
A pretty large build- cord being kept of all persons aided, and ing was accordingly erected by the of the circumstances under which aid is municipality in a central position, to given. As respects in-door relief, the which the office of the Overseers of the city maintains an almshouse, into which poor was transferred, and in other rooms the aged and permanently infirm are of which free accommodation was offered admitted ; and also a house called the to various charitable societies. In the Temporary Home, where women and basement was placed the dispensary, and children only may be received for a the room of the city physician ; on the few days, until work can be found for ground floor (which the Americans call them, or some arrangement made for the first floor) the apartments on the sending them to the locality where left hand as one enters belong to the they may happen to have a settlement. Overseers of the poor, those on the right in the year 1870-71, there were adhand to the Industrial Aid Society, of which more anon. Upstairs, on the first
1 1,750 families were aided in Boston by the floor, accommodation is given to the
Overseers in the year 1870-71, besides 122 Boston Provident Association, the great
aided in other parts of the State, for whom
Boston paid. "Total expenditure for the year, charitable society of the city, to the $66,874 (£13,932).
mitted to it 1,333 persons, 211 of whom of the association (or, indeed, by any were natives, 645 foreigners, and 477 other person) or whose case is reported children ; total expenditure, 8,113 dols. to him from the central office, to inquire As the Home is intended for occasional into the history and present condition of applicants only, the permanently infirm the applicant for relief, record what he are sent to the almshouse, and profes- hears and sees in his book, and, if he sional beggars rejected altogether. It thinks the case a proper one, give the is, therefore, anything but a “casual applicant an order on one of the tradesward."
men employed by the Association for Able-bodied paupers, vagrants, and articles of food and fuel, and an order the whole class whom our old laws on the central office for articles of describe as “sturdy beggars,” are re clothing Money is in no case to be fused all out-door relief, and if they given, except under the special authoriinsist on being supported are sent, zation of the district committee ; no under sentence for a fixed term, to the person is ever to be relieved, except in workhouse on Deer Island (an island at the section where he lives, and by its the mouth of Boston Harbour), where visitor or his deputy ; assistance is to they are kept at work, and subject to be withheld, except in cases of the an almost penal discipline.
By thus extremest need, not only from the pointedly separating the four classes of drunken, but even from their families, poor, the aged and infirm, the sick, rules whose wisdom both English and women and children left temporarily American experience are sufficient to helpless, and the able-bodied, and approve. This staff of committees and dealing with each on different princi- visitors are all directed by and in close ples, pauperism, say the Bostonians, communication with the central office, is kept down, and the legal claims on presided over by a paid secretary, called the public purse reduced to the lowest the General Agent.
His duties are to point.
advise the visitors, and supply them Next in importance to the Overseers with any information which the office of the poor stands the Boston Provident may possess respecting the applicants, Association. As the Overseers deal with to receive and preserve their monthly the settled poor, so this association, reports, to superintend the distribution which depends entirely on voluntary of the clothes and food which may be contributions, makes the unsettled its applied for under the order of a visitor. special care, although it will sometimes He also sees those indigent persons who also aid those who have a settlement, if come directly for relief to the Charity the case seems a suitable one, and has Building, referring those who appear not been already undertaken by the deserving to the visitor in whose section Overseers. Its organization is simple they reside, repelling the professional and effective, and consists of a central vagrants, and turning over able-bodied office, established in the Charity Build men who are willing to work to the ing, and a staff of district visitors, unpaid officers of the Industrial Aid Society. volunteers. The city is mapped out Thus he holds in his hands the threads into twelve districts, each placed under of the whole organization, and is able to the charge of a committee of three per discover and correct irregularities in its sons, and each subdivided into sections, working. 167 in all. Every section has its visitor, The Industrial Aid Society, as has who acts under the general directions of the been said, has rooms in the Charity district committee, and makes a monthly Building on the ground floor, opposite report to the central office of the visits he has paid and the relief he has distri 1 In 1869-70 the expenditure of the AssociaHis duty is to visit at his
tion was $17,600 (£3,667), its visitors paid
7,500 visits to 2,627 families, containing 8,098 dwelling every poor person in his section
persons. 1,654 applications at the central office who is either sent to him by a member were recorded.