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and promptly feeding and clothing it. On this subject, men reason thus:- Here is a certain number of
paupers and vagrant beggars, to be wholly maintained ; and bere are so many other poor people, to be supported, in part, out of the funds of charity. Now let us make our estimates accordingly, and then promptly make the necessary public and private appropriations. Let us generously feed and clothe the destitute, without discrimination. In this way we shall at once supply a given deficiency. We shall excite the gratitude of all whom we relieve. Our bounty will doubtless operate as a stimulus to future industry, by which many, who are now dependent, will hereafter maintain themselves; or, upon the most unfavorable calculation, should a burden equal to the present still remain, it will not, in the ordinary course of things, be augmented.'
Such is the theory; but what is the testimony of facts ? This seemingly benevolent plan has been tried, for a long course of years, and upon a great scale, in one of the most enlightened portions of the globe. It has also been tried thoroughly, in many other places. But it has utterly disappointed the hopes and doings of charity. Many a well-fed beggar has, by proclaiming his success in the ears of the idle and uprincipled, induced numbers to embark in the same nefarious speculation. Many a charitable fund has operated as a premium upon improvidence and vice.
Many a soup-house has, to the sore disappointment of benevolence, proved a most efficient recruiting post for pauperism. The demands of poverty in the city and in the country, have steadily increase To meet these de, niands, charity has opened her hand wider, and still wider; and thus bas she gone on, giving and hoping, till the poor
rates in England alone, amouut to the enormous sum of seven millions of pounds, beside all her immense public and private charities and till, within the space of eleven years, no less than 500,000 of her citizens were added to the list of paupers !
The same result, though not so alarming in extent, has been experienced in many parts of our own country. It is now pretty well agreed, both at home and abroad, that benevolence bas been all this wbile employed in feeding a consumption; im throwing oil upon the fire which she would fain extinguish ; and, that if other means of oure cannot be found out, the case is hopeless.
Now, in this lamentable failure, there is nothing but what may be accounted for upon obvious principles.Man, by the fall, lost the image of his Maker. He is totally depraved. Reason and conscience are dethroned and enslaved by passion and appetite. Restless as he is, labor and business are extremely irksome. Indolence and vice are his favorite elements. If he can gain a subsistence, however scanty and precarious, without the sweat of his brow, he will not work. It requires strong motives, and even pressing necessities, to rouse him to action; to make him industrious and frugal. I lay it down as a well established maxim, that no part of human industry is spontaneous. It is all the effect of habit, principle, and necessity. Take any number of human beings you please, in a state of nature, and not one of them will betake himself to any regular employment so long as he can subsist without it. Who ever heard of an industrious savage ?
If you would raise up a generation of sots, and beggars, and banditti, try the experiment in youş own families. Leave them to the impulse of their inclinations.
Let them do as much and as little as they please. Ply them with no motives; employ no means to make them industrious. Let them never feel the stiinulus of necessity, and where, a few years hence, would be your enterprising young men'; your higlely cultivated and productive fields : your trade, your domestic peace, your schools and your religion? Alas! how soon would idleness, profligacy, ignorance, and barbarisın dernolish and sweep away all the memorials of virtue, intelligence, and general prosperity. Take, then, but this single view of human nature along with you in the present investigation. Apply the remarks which have just been made, to the case in hand. First, make every allowance for the poper of habit, the sense of shame, and influence of principle upon the minds of men, and how many still, if they find they can be maintained, or but half maintained, in idleness and tippling, will deliberately throw themselves and families upon your hands. Nor will the evil stop here. Make the poverty of such people honorable, or even tolerable, by your benefactions, and multitudes, who have bitherto supported themselves, will follow an example so congenial to human depravity.
Increase your charities, augment your gifts, and you add fuel to the fire. The calls of real distress will multiply faster around you, than you can possibly furnish means to relieve them. Establish a permanent charitable fund, to any amount: put half the property of the town into that fund to-morrow, and you will soon find more than enough, of an intemperate, starving, and ragged population, to swallow up the income.
Such, my brethren, is human nature; and in all our plans for ameliorating the condition of the poor, we must take men as they are, and try to make them what they should be. A raging fever is not to be cured by stimu
lants. Poverty is not to be bribed away by costly and repeated presents. If you would cure the disease, you must have recourse to other remedies. You must purge out the morbid humors, and impart a new tone to the system. If you would prevent the further spread of pauperism, you must remove the luses of contagion.
With these things in view, let your attention be directed first, to the adult poor; secondly; to their children; and thirdly, to those great religious and moral preventives which alone can stay the plague.
1. Let your humane attention be directed to the adult poor. They are with you always, and whensoever ye will, ye may do them good. Study to fulfill this duty in the largest sense. Endeavor to lay the foundation for their future comfort and usefulness, as well as to supply their present necessities; to make them respect themselves; to do good to their souls, as well as to their bodies. The adult poor may be divided into three classes, viz. vagrant beggars, resident paupers, and a large class, who depend much on the occasional aids of charity.
It is a subject of general complaint in most of our towns, that they are exceedingly infested with vagrant beggars; most of whom are excessively filthy, clamorous, impudent, and unthankful; and the question is, How ought these miserable objects to be treated ? answer is, generally, with frowns, and a flat denial. This may sound harsh ; but it is deliberately, and, I hope, kindly spoken. Experience has proved, over and over a thousand times, that most of these disgusting objects are arrant impostors. It is their trade to deceive the credulous, and to subsist upon the earnings of industry. They will not work,' and therefore, neither should
they eat.' By feeding and clothing, and giving them money, you not only encourage them to continue their depredations upon society ; but you inflict a lasting injury upon themselves. Where a beggar happens to have some shame and conscience still lingering about him, at the commencement of his career, these uncomfortable companions will soon be wholly discarded. And when all self-respect, when all regard for character is gone, what can you look for, from a depraved creature like man? What, but that he will · wax worse and worse,' -will soon become the vilest of the vile ?
Taking human nature as it is, we might safely pronounce vagrant beggary to be one of the most efficient schools of immorality that ever was encouraged, even if experience and observation had not taught mankind a syllable on the subject. But a thousand facts, drawn from the history of mendicity, in various countries, might be adduced, to prove more than it could otherwise have entered into the heart of man to conceive. A few only will be given, as specimens, chiefly from Count Rumford's interesting view of street-beggary, as it existed, about thirty years ago, in the principality of Bavaria.
· The number of itinerant beggars,' he says, "of both sexes, and all ages, as well foreigners as natives, who strolled about the country in all directions, levying contributions from the industrious inhabitants ; stealing and robbing, and leading a life of indolence and the most shameless debauchery, was quite incredible. So numerous were the swarms of beggars in all the great towns, and particularly in the capital ; so great their impudence, and so persevering their importunity, that it was almost impossible to cross the streets, without being attacked and abso