« VorigeDoorgaan »
Charity Building as the beginning of a new era in their municipal administration. The vast size of London, and the multifariousness of the benevolent agencies which must be kept on foot in it, would make it impossible for us to follow the example of Boston exactly in this matter; but the principle might well be applied both here and in the other great pauper-ridden cities of England and Scotland.
New York, although the management of all its public institutions, corrective as well as charitable, is fortunately vested in the same board, has no such system of combined voluntary and official action as that which has been described at Boston. But New York, not less than Boston, supplies very satisfactory evidence of the possibility of organizing district visiting on a great scale, and of securing, by means of a trained staff of volunteers, the personal examination of every case in which relief is applied for, and the appointment of the kind of relief which is needed. The city on Manhattan Island has now nearly a million souls ; it has grown with unexampled rapidity ; its pauperism is of a bad type ; its citizens are absorbed fully as much as ours in business and in social enjoyments. But the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor has found no great difficulty in keeping abreast of the work to be done ; its organization by districts and sections has been extended over the new quarters that have sprung up and has been strengthened in the old haunts of indigence; and the scantily manned central office seems able to hold all the strings in its hand, and direct the four hundred visitors on principles whose soundness is approved by their success in keeping pauperism in check. The tendency of the visitors, one hears, is towards a rather too liberal dispensation of help; but this error, which longer
experience constantly tends to correct, is no great price to pay for the services of so many private citizens-services which are of the utmost reflex benefit to themselves and the class they belong to.
In urging the importance of never giving relief except after an investigation into the applicant's circumstances and history, and the extreme care to be shown in making gifts of money, it is hardly necessary to appeal to American experience; our own is so ample. No maxims, however, are more earnestly insisted on by those who direct the Boston and New York Associations. They absolutely refuse to give relief, except by or on the specific report of the visitor for the district in which the applicant resides; and such visitor is bound to visit the house before he either relieves or reports. Both they and the official Overseers of the poor dilate in their reports on the dangers attending all out-door relief, and exhort the visitors and charitable citizens generally to be exceedingly cautious in giving any help except that which is obviously of a temporary character, sufficient to help a family, so to speak, over the stile, and set them again in the way to help themselves. In Boston, at least, public out-door relief seems to be entirely confined to the sick and to helpless women.
In the matter of in-door public relief, the Americans seem to effect a great deal of good by the marked distinction they draw between the almshouse and the workhouse. The former is in the towns fairly comfortable (in the country it is often very much the reverse?), and the infirm and aged admitted there are subjected to no hard discipline. But the workhouse, whither a man who can work and won't work finds himself despatched, is a very disagreeable place,
1 I saw only one country almshouse, the rather wretched one of Tomkins County, N.Y., a few miles from Ithaca ; but it may be gathered from Professor Dwight's valuable paper in the Transactions of the American Social Science Association, that the condition of these establishments is generally unsatisfactory.
i In mentioning this, I cannot refrain from referring to Miss Stephen's admirable book, The Service of the Poor. Its immediate subject is the utility of Sisterhoods, but it abounds with thoughtful and judicious remarks which bear upon the general question.
practically, in fact, a house of correction. Its discipline is uniform and stringent, and as its inmates are all of them persons of obviously undeserving character, vagrants, drunkards, sturdy beggars, people who come there not through misfortune, but in virtue of a judicial sentence, or because they persist in claiming relief from the Overseers after being warned to help themselves, this stringency can be justly and fairly maintained, without yielding to those gusts of popular senti. ment that disturb the administration of our workhouses, which are places of refuge for the unfortunate as well as the culpably idle.
The Industrial Aid Society of Boston is an institution which well deserves to be imitated in our English towns. It furnishes the best means of discrimi. nating the well-intentioned from the idle and worthless pauper; and succeeds in relieving a great deal of distress in the healthiest way, by simply directing labour to the place where it is wanted. Acting in conjunction with the Over seers and the Provident Association, it disburdens them to a great extent of the care of the able-bodied poor, and saves infinite vexation and waste to honest immigrants by informing them of the market in which there happens to be, at the moment, a demand for their kind of labour. This can be done rather more easily in America than in England, work is so much more abundant, and wages so much higher. On the other hand, the distances to which labourers would have to be sent are in England by no means so great, and the more complex variety of our industries makes some such agency even more needed than in the States.
America is a country full of good works and labours of love; and there is much that is cheering in the vigour and ingenuity, as well as in the benevolence with which indigence is relieved and crime grappled with in its great cities. In New York and Massachusetts, they are not only kept in check, but pauperism, at least, is being reduced, relatively to the increase of population.
All this is cheering. But it is dis
heartening to see pauperism at all in a new country, where it ought never to have been suffered to set its loathsome foot, and whence it might even now be expelled by the exercise of a little more foresight and resolution. The same indisposition to take a comprehensive survey of phenomena, to deal with the sources of a disease instead of its symptoms, which is so often remarked in English policy, is also strong among the Americans ; partly from easy good nature, partly from not understanding the danger, they are suffering the evils of the Old World to strike such deep root that it will be hard ever after to eradicate them. Intoxicated with the greatness of their country, happy in dilating on its material resources and the swiftness with which these have been developed, seeing all around them the trophies of their own restless activity, they have acquired an unbounded confidence in the future of the nation, and are in some danger of forgetting that even these resources must find a limit, and that they cannot alone insure the well-being and grandeur of a people, whose moral and social tone may possibly suffer from a too rapid growth in material prosperity. The old diseases of politics and society are quick to show themselves, more or less disguised in form but substantially the same, in all our colonies, and spread not less swiftly than the community they infect. A time will come when the causes which have produced pauperism in Europe will operate with hardly less intensity in America, when the best lands in the Mississippi valley will have been occupied, when all necessary railways and other public works will have been executed, when the pressure of population will have become as great as it is now in England without the relief which in England emigration offers. If things are suffered to go on as now, and that incentive to sloth and vice, a Poorlaw, is maintained, the pauperism which is said to be already beginning to exist in Chicago and St. Louis will have swelled to dangerous proportions in those splendid cities, and have found its way, draw
ing a swarm of mischiefs in its train, to basis, free from the inheritance of annewer and as yet untouched centres of cient misery and crime which clings to industry, to places like Dubuque and it in the States of Europe-an opportuMinneapolis. American society is in nity perhaps singular in the past annals many respects so much healthier, better of the world, an opportunity which more stable than society in Europe, assuredly can never recur. Proportionthat one is loth to express anything but ately great will be the disappointment satisfaction in contemplating its future. if such an opportunity should prove to Nevertheless, the question cannot but have been in a measure neglected or be asked, whether its merits are as great misused, if from the want of a little as they might have been and ought to judgment and foresight at a critical have been, whether the most is being moment the evils and follies which in made of the unequalled advantages with Europe have grown to be almost part , which the nation started. In the North of its people should be suffered to American colonies nature and history, spring up anew in America, to spread 50 to speak, combined to offer to a as only evil can spread, and poison the vigorous race a golden opportunity of life of our remote descendants. founding society on a new and sounder
PLEASANT RECOLLECTIONS OF FIFTY YEARS' RESIDENCE
BY JOHN HAMILTON OF ST. ERNAN's.
Our condition, too, was much worse, A STRANGER IN TROUBLE.
for there was neither house nor culti
vated field near us, and the darkness At a time when Daniel O'Connell and was approaching. Mr. Lawless, commonly called Jack When we had spent a quarter of an Lawless, were agitating in the north of hour with no more success than having Ireland (especially Lawless), I was tra- prevented the carriage from being driven velling with my wife and two children by the rogue into the ditch and upset, between Londonderry and Coleraine. we heard a shout, and looking back, we The evening was closing in, when, going saw a large party of men running toup a tolerably steep ascent, one of the wards us, and soon recognized our late carriage-horses refused to pull, and all helpers, with a dozen recruits added. the efforts and contrivances of the “Ogh, then," said a prominent indicoachman could not induce him to do his vidual among them, “I tould them how duty. We coaxed and we whipped, we it would be like to be with yees, when changed sides, all in vain; and it ye'd come to the mountain ; and so we seemed a hopeless case, and a very dis- watched till we saw ye sticking like a agreeable one.
fly on a wall, and when you made no However, some men harvesting on a hand of getting up this pinch, we ran to hillside a quarter of a mile off saw our give ye a help.” distress, and came quickly to the rescue. They had thoughtfully brought ropes. A score of stout fellows with hearty They took the horses out of the traces, goodwill, and hardly giving an oppor- and gave them to one of their party to tunity to ask their aid, shoved and lead. They made me get into the rumble dragged the carriage, in spite of some behind, and the coachman up on the opposition on the part of the culprit- box, and drew us up the steep for half horse, to the top of the hill, where there a mile, to the top of that hill. They appeared a gentle slope downwards for a halted, and I got down and thanked mile, and they left us with the assurance them. that the rogue, as they designated the “Ogh, then, it's small thanks ye'd horse, would warm to the collar before need to give us, as if we'd be after we reached the ascent of the mountain laving ye here. Sure the roguish rascal road that lay between us and our jour- of a baste would be at his villiantry at ney's end.
the next pull, and no help there. No, A wayside carman's inn offered the no, sir, we won't lave the lady and the means of giving my friends a glass of children till you have falling ground beer, which they proposed to accept before ye into Coleraine." after refusing a present of money.
So they set to again, and lustily they We went spinning along for the fa- pulled, sometimes shouting, and somevourable mile, and for about half a times singing. I walked beside them mile of the up-hill road too, till we got part of the way, and while they did not into the moors, and came to a steeper perceive me in the dusk, I overheard a pinch, and there the rogue began his tricks again, and proved as untractable One of them said to his companion, as before.
on pulling alongside :
Pleasant Recollections of Fifty Years' Residence in Ireland.
“ Do ye know who it is we've got in the carriage ?"
“Not a know I know. Do you ?”
“I don't know neither ; but I guess they're the wrong sort.”
“Why? What do you mane ? "
“Don't you see it's a green carriage, and he's got a green coat on him. They're in the wrong colour for us." « Well, who do you think they are ?”
"I can't tell that, but it would be a pretty thing for us, a set of true Orange boys, to be making ourselves horses for maybe some
Before he could finish his sentence, his companion, without letting go his hold on the rope, drove his elbow into the speaker's ribs with such force as to compel him to groan, saying, “And if it was Jack Lawless himself, would we lave his lady and the children here in trouble, and we able to help them ?”
Then with a shout—" Hurrah for the glorious memory of King William !” he pulled with all his might, and was applauded by all who heard him.
They drew us fully three (Irish) miles up the mountain, and set us where there was, as they had promised, falling ground into Coleraine.
A public-house gave again an opportunity for a drink, but all who had had it before declined, saying it was not for that they had done the job. “Sure," said one, “ sir, we'd have no pleasure in life after it, if we were to impose ourselves on a gentleman that way." And bowing to the lady, they wished us good night, and a prosperous journey.
In a particular district it was so managed that the magistrates were led to believe that an Orange demonstration would be made at a certain place, and that an intended counter-demonstration at the same place would certainly lead to a serious collision, unless a strong force were there to keep the peace.
The magistrates, therefore, congregated where the danger was expected, and the principal part of the police, as well as a company of infantry, were brought there too.
The dangerous illness of one of my family kept me at home.
On the 12th of July, at daybreak, a policeman from the neighbouring small town came to me with information that the Orangemen were assembling in force there instead of at B- , where it had been expected they would meet; and that they expressed their determination to have their procession with flags, emblems, music, and arms, in defiance of the Royal proclamation.
I was quickly on my horse, and at the town, about two miles off, I found it as the policeman had reported. I had visited the masters of the Orange lodges a few days before, and laid before them two letters which I had received from their Grand-master, and the Grandmaster for Ireland, desiring them to be obedient to the proclamation, and they had promised to follow this advice; but, except one lodge, they seemed to glory in having deceived the magistrates, and knowing that I had very little force at hand, they thought themselves sure of being able to have their own way.
I sent more than one messenger to B- to let the magistrates know the truth, but they were waylaid and turned back.
However, by sending to a neighbouring village and requiring the attendance of a party of revenue police-partly mounted—which was stationed there, and adding them to the few police in the place, we made a tolerable show of strength. And the people, though acting now wrong, and under had advisers, are thereabouts a very orderly, peaceable folk, and not at all used to deeds of violence,
VI... A TWELFTH OF JULY. DARK and disagreeable adventures some times best bring out bright and pleasing traits, as was the case on the 12th of July, 183—.
Notwithstanding a proclamation under Royal authority, along with the earnest advice of their Grand-master and other high authorities, the Orangemen could not be persuaded that it was illegal or wrong to have their party processions with music, flays, and arms.