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T H E

ENQUIRER.

PART II.

ESSAY I.

OF RICHES AND POVERTY.

THERE

HER É is nothing that deserves to be more minutely watched; than what may be styled an intemperate spirit of philosophy.

The feet that carried this spirit to the most ridiculous extreme among the ancients, were the Stoics.

One of the decisions of this fpirit is, that riches are no benefit, and poverty no evil.

If this maximi were true, particularly the latter member, in its utmost extent; the chief argument in favour of political reform and amendment would be shown to be utterly false. M

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The reverse of this maxim, it should seem, ought to be received. Poverty is an enormous evil. By poverty I understand the state of a man possessing no permanent property, in a country where wealth and luxury have already gained a secure establishment.

He then that is born to poverty, may be said, under another name, to be born a slave.

A boy of a thoughtful and refleting turn, will frequently look forward in this respect to the state of manhood, with an aching heart. Now, he will exclaim, I am maintained by the industry of others ; I am freed from all folicitude about the fupply of tomorrow. But hereafter I shall be told, You shall not have the necessaries of the day without the labour of the day ; “ He that will not work, neither shall hc eat*." His ftate in several respects resembles the prophetic denunciation of Jesus Christ to the apofile Peter : « Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou walt young, thou girdedit thyself, and walkedti whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldcit not." In reality however, the child and the adult are both flaves in different ways: when we put on the manly * Il Theff. Chap. iii, ver. 19. . † John, Chap. xxi, ver. 18. ·

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THERE

HER È is nothing that deserves to be more minutely watched; than what may be styled an intemperate spirit of philosophy.

The sect that carried this spirit to the most ridiculous extreme among the ancients, were the Stoics.

One of the decisions of this fpirit is, that riches are no benefit, and poverty no evil.

If this maxim were true, particularly the latter member, in its utmost extent, the chief argument in favour of political reform and amendment would be shown to be utterly false. M

The

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We will confine ourselves to points of more aniversal application.

First, the abridgment of life, and privation of the enjoyments of life.

As to the abridgment of life we are scarcely competent judges, since wealth, expended im sensuality and indulgence, is scarcely less inimical to the protraction of existence. Every one can see however, that inordinate labour produces untimely decrepitude. Every one can conceive the varieties of pain and disease, which accrue from the restraint of our limbs, the intemperate exercise of the muscles, and a continual expa sure to the inclemency of the seasons.

That the poor are peculiarly subjected to a privation of the enjoyments of life, and obliged to content themselves for the greater part of their existence with that negative happiness which consists in the absence of pain, is a point too evident to need illustration.

Secondly, the poor are condemned to a want of that leisure which is necessary for the improvement of the mind. They are the predestinated victims of ignorance and prejudice. They are compelled for the most part to rank with those creatures, that exist only for a few years, and then are as if they had never been. They

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gown, we only change one species of despot for another.

But, it will be asked, is not the complaint here recited, unreasonable and unjust? Is any man entitled to claim through life, that he 1hould be maintained by the industry of others ?

Certainly not. The injustice I suffer, is not in the actual labour, but in the quantity of that labour. If no man were absolutely compelled to perform a greater share of labour than, multiplied by the number of members in the community, was necessary for the subsistence of the community, he would have no right to complain on that account. But the labour then required, would be diminished to a tenth, perhaps a twentieth part of the labour now imposed upon the husbandman and artificer*.

The evil of poverty principally consists of the following particulars : leaving out of the enumeration the frequently experienced insufficiency of labour to maintain the poor ; the usual accident of men's being thrust out of their curtomary train of industry and resource for bread by the fluctuations of society; and the want of a suitable provision for fickness, infirmity and age. * Political Justice, Book VIII, Chap. VI, octavo edition.

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