« VorigeDoorgaan »
those of the Overseers. Its function on the first floor, opposite the rooms of is to find work for those who are the Provident Association ; and is found willing to work, thus relieving the useful in the way of providing clothes Overseers and the Provident Association for distribution to the poor.
A sewing of a serious task, and enabling them at circle is a society of ladies who not only once to test the good faith of those do something themselves in the way of who apply to them for relief. Its aim, making articles of clothing, but give out an aim as yet of course only partially sewing to poor women, paying them for realized, is the establishment of a what they do, and then giving away the comprehensive labour agency; and in made-up things, or, which is found to this view it relies not only on employers answer better, handing them over to in Boston and the neighbouring towns, the Provident Association to be distribut keeps up communication with the buted to deserving persons. As usually North and West, ascertaining by its happens when there are several indeagents there in what localities there is pendent organizations at work, one hears a demand for labour, and for what of some waste and some mischief caused kinds of labour, and directing the by the minor societies, the poor receiving unemployed in Boston to the most aid from more than one society at the same promising field. Its expenses are de time. It is agreed, however, that these frayed partly by subscriptions, partly evils are lessening under the system by a small fee charged on those of joint action just described. Chariemployers, not being subscribers, who table people are beginning to feel the seek through it to obtain workmen. duty of strict investigation ; and the Its officials listen to all applicants, by habit which the citizens are forming whomsoever sent. But they are in a of coming to the Charity Building for special manner serviceable to their information respecting any neighbours the Overseers and the Pro distress makes imposture more easily vident Association, who can at once detected than heretofore. get rid of able-bodied paupers by send Pauperism is a much more serious ing them across the passage or down matter in New York than in Boston, stairs to the Industrial Aid rooms, and not only because the former city is so can ascertain from its records whether much the larger, and grows so much or no such an applicant was offered more swiftly, but also because the work before and refused to take it. In proportion of indigent immigrants is the eighteen months preceding May incomparably greater.
Nearly all 1871, 9,683 persons applied at the office the European emigration enters the of the Society; places were found for United States at New York, and a 3,288 of these, and assistance was given considerable part of it, to wit, the more in other ways to others. The Society helpless and ignorant of the Irish, get has lately started a scheme for the im no further, but sink into a condition portation of Swedish domestics and not unlike that of their compatriots labourers. Good female domestic ser in Liverpool or Glasgow-a condition of vants are greatly wanted in America. squalor, misery, and vice. New York
Of the minor charitable societies is moreover a great seaport, with a large accommodated in the Charity Building, fluctuating population, among whom and of the other benevolent institutions crime is more readily committed and of the city, little need be said : they more easily escapes detection than in seem to be relatively less important the settled society of an inland town, than the two above mentioned, and I or of a comparatively quiet place like am not able to give many facts about Boston. Nowhere is a wise, vigorous, them. Of the so-called Sewing Circles, and upright municipal administration which are numerous in the city, many more needed than in New York, and of them being connected with particular nowhere is the want of it so conspicuous congregations, one has a place of meeting an evil. According to the evidence of
nearly every moderate and sensible out into riots and plunderings; and American one meets, New York is beyond secondly, how much more difficult it all comparison the worst governed city is here than in Boston to establish in the States, probably one of the worst, a close and harmonious co-operation that is to say, most corruptly, governed between the municipal authorities, in the civilized world. Fortunately, it who are charged with the relief of the is quite exceptional in America, as the poor, and the voluntary organizations conditions which have made it what it which exist for the same object. It is is are quite exceptional. It is, so to indeed true that the departments of speak, a foul, stagnant pond, into which the city government which are all the drains and polluted streams of cerned with education and with the Europe and America have been criminal and pauper population are discharging themselves, the rascaldom managed with much more purity and of all the eastern half of the States efficiency than the other departments as well as the ignorance and wretched are said to be; but a suspicion seems ness of Ireland and our own cities. to have attached itself to everything New York, moreover, wants civic which is under party management, and character, wants the permanent element respectable citizens do not and will not which exists in Boston and Philadelphia : identify themselves with the adminiit is a huge, fluctuating mass of human stration as they do in Massachusetts. beings, gathered on one spot for the New York City does not, even in sake of gain, but with no local patriotic common speech, much less in official feeling, no municipal sympathies. It is strictness, include that mass of houses in fact, exposed to all the evils of which surrounds the point where the London added to all the evils of Liver Hudson, or North River, as the natives pool; and has others of its own, arising call it, meets the Sound, or East River. from the peculiar form of government Brooklyn, on Long Island, Jersey City, which prevails there, and which might in the State of New Jersey, Harlem almost be described as the rule of the and Hoboken, on the mainland to the worst—the most ignorant, most rude, north-east, are all quite distinct from most easily misguided part of the popu the city proper, which occupies the lation. And this again is quite peculiar southern part of Manhattan Island, to New York, and is to be charged not and has a population of 942,292, the on universal suffrage, which in many total population of all the towns put parts of the States works so well, much together being something over a milless on democracy, but on the applica- lion and a half. What follows must tion of universal suffrage to a set of be understood to refer to the city conditions for which it is quite unfit. proper. The public body, to which is
To explain more fully the causes of entrusted the care not only of its poor, the corruption and misgovernment of but also of the prisons, hospitals, asythe city would be beside the purpose of lums, and other similar institutions, goes the present paper, and I mention it only by the name of the Board of Commisfor the sake of showing, firstly, how sioners of Public Charities and Correcgrave is the form which pauperism tion, and is composed of four members, takes in such a city, where the power who report annually to the Legislature that ought to restrain and correct is of the State. The law under which the itself immoral, where criminals leagued indigent can claim relief is in substance with men in office frequently escape similar to that which prevails in Massapunishment, where physical distress chusetts ; indeed, the Poor-laws do not existing in a turbulent and ill-com
seem to vary greatly over the whole of pacted population may easily break the Republic. In-door relief is given This was written before the recent dis
partly in the almshouse, where the aged closures, which confirm only too completely
and infirm are received and supported what had long been suspected.
(number in the institution on the 1st Jan.
1870, 1,114; expenditure for the year Industrial School. The isolation thus 1869, $63,541 or £13,233 and partly secured is found beneficial in many in the workhouse, a sort of penal insti. ways: escape becomes more difficult; tution, to which vagrants may be com infection is
easily checked; mitted for short periods, and where they, fresh air and room for exercise and outas well as able-bodied applicants for help, door work are secured ; while the proxagainst whom the almshouse is strictly imity to one another of the several closed, are kept constantly at work. institutions makes it comparatively easy The total number of admissions here to work them as component and necesduring the year 1869 was 16,139, most sary members of one comprehensive of them of course for short periods, the organization. total nett expenses $50,470, or £10,514. The voluntary charitable agencies of Many of the worst cases admitted at New York are far too numerous and the workhouse are passed on to the Ine important to be described here; I shall briate Asylum, an establishment where be content with a short account of that persons of intemperate habits are placed one which has most influence on the under a strict discipline, kept to work, condition of the pauper class, -I mean and, as far as possible, restored to health. the Association for Improving the ConAs to the success of the plan, opinions dition of the Poor, formed in 1843, differ; it is, however, an undoubted and incorporated in 1848. Its sysgain to have these unhappy beings tem of action is, in general, similar subjected to a special and curative treat to that of the Boston Provident Assoment. For the purposes of out-door ciation; though the sphere of its operarelief the city is divided into eleven tions, including all New York City districts, to each of which a paid visitor (i.e. the city on Manhattan Island), is is allotted, whose duty it is to make a greatly larger. It divides this area into personal examination into the condition twenty-two districts (the city wards), of every applicant for relief resident in and these again into sections, three hunthe district, and report thereon to the dred and seventy-three in all; each general superintendent. Applications district has its advisory committee of are addressed to, and relief granted by, five persons, and each section its (unthis superintendent at the central office. paid) visitor, under whose charge there Assistance is, as much as possible, con
avera: e, some fifteen or fined to the sick, and to those whose twenty families. The leading principles misfortunes seem due to some temporary on which the Association proceeds are and unavoidable cause; it is usually these : No relief is given except refused to the able-bodied. One of the through the visitor of the section in most striking natural advantages of which the applicant resides, nor by a New York has been judiciously turned visitor to any person resident out of his to account in the management of its section. Relief is given only after a correctional system. In the East River, personal investigation of each case by the channel which leads into Long visiting and inquiry; it is given in Island Sound, there lie a number of food, fuel, and clothing only, not in islands, some mere rocks, others some money, except with the express approval acres in extent; and on several of these of the District Committee. It is revarious public institutions have been fused to the able-bodied, and also to placed. Thus Blackwell's Island con those who, from age or permanent intains the almishouse and workhouse, firmity, are likely to continue dependent; lunatic asylum, a penitentiary, and hos such cases are referred to the Commispitals. Randall's Island has other hos- sioners of Public Charities, on whom pitals, and the nurseries, where children they have a legal claim, the object of abandoned by their parents are placed ; the Association being rather to give such Ward's Island, the Inebriate Asylum temporary help to deserving persons as and Soldiers' Retreat; Hart's Island, the may enable them to recover their posi
tion, and become again self-supporting. more abundant or more earnest than it Abstinence from intoxicating liquors, is in America. unless ordered as a medicine, is strictly The moral of the facts which I have required from every person aided. Each tried thus briefly to sketch is not withvisitor makes his report to the central out value for us in England, and office monthly. In the year 1870 the especially in London, where the diffiincome of the Association, derived en culties of pauperism are beyond all tirely from subscriptions, amounted to comparison greater than anywhere else. $53,037 (£11,050); its disbursements The experience of America confirms were $51,010 (£10,627); 22,671 visits with singular exactness all the main were paid ; and 22,120 persons relieved, conclusions at which our economists and more than seventy per cent of whom were administrators have arrived, respecting persons of foreign birth, mostly, of course, the dangers necessarily incident to a Irish immigrants. The services of this system of legally claimable relief.1 Association appear to be very valuable, There, as here, it is found that the and its methods efficient ; occasionally, more easily relief is given, so much the perhaps, the unpaid visitor is too easy in greater is the demand for it; that the dispensing relief, but the advantages of least indulgence or laxity, especially in working by means of such visitors are so the dispensation of out-door aid, is great, that this fault, which the perma immediately followed by an alarming nent staff are always anxious to check, increase of indigence. There, as here, is comparatively slight. One hears it intemperance is the chief cause of said, that in hard winters it is only the misery, and the efforts of philanpresence and help of the Association thropists are chiefly devoted to checking that prevent the outbreak of food riots. it, even by means which impose some
There are of course many other chari little hardship on the temperate. There, table organizations in New York City, as here, the result of the continued relief for an account of which there is no of pauperism is seen to be the creation space here. Conspicuous among them of a definite pauper class which not is the Children's Aid Society, which only won't work, but really can't work, devotes itself to the work of gathering which is physically too weak and into industrial schools, reading rooms, mentally too shiftless and dependent to and lodging houses, the homeless chil undertake severe physical toil or grapple dren of the city, keeping them out of the with the difficulties of a new Western worst temptations as they grow up, and settlement. There, as here, in posture sending off to the West those who are raises its head wherever several chariwilling to accept situations there. table agencies are at work independently. Under its efforts vagrancy and juvenile Nor are facts wanting to show that crime have already sensibly diminished, there, as well as here, the existence of a and the spread of pauperism is in- legal provision has begun to demoralize directly checked. Where there are many those who can perfectly well support agencies, there is of course a loss of themselves, and to produce, even where power involved in the separate main work is abundant, a class of hereditary tenance of a number of offices, each with its staff; and the absence of any 1 It need hardly be said that very similar, regular concert between them, and although perhaps not precisely the same, danbetween all of them and the public gers attend a system of lax and indiscriminate administration, is felt, one is told, to be
relief managed by a private organization, or
resting on casual almsgiving. In Australia a serious misfortune. Partly owing to
(according to a statement which I find in Mr. a want of proper machinery, partly to Fawcett's valuable Lectures on Pauperism), want of confidence in some of its the poor are aided by voluntary societies, officials, the State has not succeeded in
Jargely subvented by the State, and pauper.
ism is greatly on the increase, although work making the most of the philanthropic
is abundant, wages high, and the country energy of private citizens, nowhere
These conclusions are make a division of labour, and to turn abundantly clear upon the evidence the efforts of each organization to the which own wretched condition
quarter where the need is for the time furnishes, that no proof from abroad is greatest. The citizens acquire confiwanted; the marvel is that the general dence in bodies which work with so public cannot be got to grasp reasonings much regularity and in such clear light. 80 simple, or accept results established Indiscriminate private almsgiving is rebeyond all possibility of cavil. Here, pressed by the knowledge that the work as well as in America, sentiment--a of relief is in competent hands, and the sentiment which is often more allied to zeal of individuals can be turned to self-indulgence and laziness than to true account in the service of a Society charity-overpowers reason. We de whose accumulated experience and fixed nounce Malthusianism as harsh and principles of action enable it to direct inhuman : we prefer the temporary relief such zeal wisely. Hardly less conspiof distress to the ultimate elevation of cuous is the gain of having the other the labouring class : we strengthen and minor charitable societies in such close diffuse pauperism by the gifts that are local juxtaposition and familiar commumeant to relieve it: we pump petroleum nication with the Overseers and the upon the flames. In America, however, Provident Association. When an ablethe question is not as yet a grave one, bodied man applies for relief to the and the attention of the nation has Overseers, they have only to lead him scarcely been called to it: here, where across the passage to the rooms of the it is certainly the darkest cloud on our Industrial Aid Society, and his merits horizon, one may well be surprised that will there be at once tested by the offer so little alarm is felt, and so little of work. When a poor woman has anxiety shown to ascertain and observe been visited by one of the Provident true principles of action.
visitors, he can send her to the general It is more pleasant to call attention to agent, suggesting that sewing might prothe merits of the American system, and fitably be given her. The agent directs point out how distinctly the success of her to the room of the Ladies' Sewing the expedients adopted there confirms Circle, also in the Charity Building, the views which have been put forward where her request for work will be atby some of our most thoughtful publi- tended to, or possibly commends her to cists here in England. What has been the care of the Ladies' City Relief done in Boston illustrates very forcibly Agency, telling them whatever the the advantages of combining the action visitor has ascertained. All this goes of the public office for relief with that on under the roof of the Charity Buildof private charitable organizations. Each ing; and, as other benevolent societies office renders incalculable services to the are allowed to use its vacant rooms for other in collecting information respect their meetings, the members of all ing the condition of the poor generally; these get accustomed to look on the as well as the characters and circum- building as the centre of charitable stances of individual applicants. All action for all Boston; they group that the Overseers know is at the dis themselves more and more round the posal of the Provident Association; all leading agencies which work from that has been collected and recorded by thence, and by degrees come to underthe visitors of the Association can at stand the principles on which relief once be used by the Overseers. Both ought to be conducted. Considering bodies therefore can feel more security in how many ways co-operation inthat they are either relieving or refusing creases the effectiveness of each body relief on adequate grounds; and there of workers, and how essential local is iittle or no danger that both should contiguity is to co-operation, one is not be relieving the same person at the same surprised to find that the Bostonians time. It becomes possible for them to
the establishment of the