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made between the precious and the vile. I think, my brethren you will feel no hesitation in saying, that the sober and the virtuous are entitled to more aid, and deeper commiseration, than the victims of prodigality, idleness, and still more shameful vices.
It may be difficult, perhaps, to hit upon the best mode of making those discriminations, at which I have just hinted; and it may be found more difficult to unite comfort, economy, reformation, and prevention, in the management of pauperism. But I shall venture to suggest a few thoughts, for your serious consideration. And here my views accord so entirely with the provisions of an admirable statute of this Commonwealth, passed in January, 1789, that I shall offer no apology, for making it the basis of my present remarks.
The Act, in question, begins by empowering towns, either separately or conjointly, as may be most convenient to erect work-houses within their respective limits, and * to appoint overseers, whose duty it shall be, to order and manage these establishments, by making all reasonable and necessary by-laws, appointing masters, and committing all such persons as the law contemplates. The persons so liable, are thus described in the seventh section
All poor and indigent persons, that are maintained by, or receive alms from the town; also all persons, able of body to work, and not having estate, or means, otherwise to maintain themselves, who refuse, or neglect so to do, live a dissolute and vagrant life, and exercise no ordinary calling, or lawful business, sufficient to gain an honest livelihood, and such as spend their time and property in public houses, to the neglect of their proper business, or by otherwise mispending what they earn, to the impoverishment of themselves and their fam
of the Act.
The statute then proceeds to enjoin the providing of all the requisite materials, tools, and implements, for the use of those who may be sent to these work-houses; and explicitly requires, that all who are able to work, shall be kept diligently employed in labor, during their continuance there.
Here then, brethren, is a system prepared to your hands, and can you frame a better? If not, let a convenient house, with a small farm attached to the the premises, be built, or purchased, at the expense of the town. Let every thing about the establishment be neat and comfortable. Let economy be studied, in the construction of rooms, stoves, and fire-places. Let materials and implements be provided, so that all who have strength to do anything, may be employed, either within doors or without. Let the establishment be placed under the immediate care of a discreet, humane, and if possible, a religious man, with a liberal and definite compensation. Let him be instructed to take particular care of the sick, the aged, and the infirm; and to require every person to do what he can for his own support. This is an essential part of the system. It is no kindness to the poor, to maintain them in idleness. It is injustice to the public; and is, moreover, a toleration which will inevitably increase your burdens, by inviting idlers to your alms-house, as a refuge from the sweat of industry.
In order to save all unnecessary expense, let the strictest economy reign through the whole establishment. Let it be practised in the purchase of provisions and fuel ; in various experiments, to ascertain how the greatest quantity of nutritious and palatable food can be furnished, at the lowest price, and how it can be prepared at the smallest expense of fuel. This, you must be sensible,
is not the place for more particular details. Let those who wish to pursue these hints, consult Count Rumford's admirable · Economical Essays, which are replete with entertainment and instruction.
Let the industrious and well disposed in your almshouse, receive every encouragement that the institution will permit: let all means of intoxication be religiously withheld from the intemperate. Let your establishment be a house of correction and restraint for the bad, while it affords a comfortable asylum for the deserving. Let it, also, as far as practicable, be made a school of moral and religious improvement. Fail not to furnish every apartmeat with bibles and tracts. Require all who are able, regularly to attend public worship. Let your clergyman consider them as a part of his charge; let him visit them often, and give them such religious instructions and advice as may be suited to their characters and circumstan
Let private christians, also, as they have opportunity, labor for the spiritual good of these their indigent neighbors and acquaintances.
Perhaps the expenses of such an establishment, including purchase money, might for a few years, be greater, than if the poor were annually and publicly cheapened under the hammer : though even this is questionable. But sure I am, that within a moderate period, the system would commend itself to the public, as the cheapest, and in all respects the best, that has yet been tried. It has been adopted, in all its essential parts, by many towns in this and a neighboring State, and has been productive of the best effects. Let the example be followed here ; let this admirable system have time to develope its happy results, and I am persuaded it would produce a clear annual saving to this town of more than one thousand dollars.
The third class of adult poor, is made up of such as are not nominally upon the list of paupers ; but still depend, more or less, upon charity for subsistence. With respect to these, the question of duty is oftentimes exceedingly perplexing. That some of them are real objects of charity, cannot be doubted. But why you, my brethren, should be required, or expected, to maintain the idle and the intemperate, out of
your sober earnings, is more than I can comprehend. It is true, that many of these wretches, (I cannot employ a milder term,) have families, which must not be left to starve. Of their children, I shall speak more particularly under the next head. But how shall we get over the present necessity ? Shall we give, or shall we not give, to these next door neighbors to the poor house? What are the duties which we owe them?
An outline of my views, on this part of our subject, is contained in the following brief observations. It is a fundamental principle with me, nothing should be done, which has a known tendency to encourage indolence or improvidence. It is of the first importance, that you should acquaint yourselves fully with the habits, character, and circumstances of those whom you are called upon to relieve. In this way you will find, that some evidently prefer charity, to the rewards of industry. A strong, healthy person, well known in the town where I once resided, used unblushingly to give this reason for spending her time in begging, that she could get more by it, than by her labor. Many, I doubt not, secretly act upon the same principle; and from such persons everything ought to be withheld, till stern necessity drives them to some honest calling for a living. The rule of the Apostle, already quoted, is plain and peremptory. If any man will not work, neither should he eat. Now if the idle have
no right to eat, I have no right to feed them; for in so doing, I shall become, in some degree at least, accessory to their guilt.
Your aid, my brethren, to the necessitous around you, should, as far as possible, be afforded in the shape of encouragement to industry. This is the true way of doing good to the poor, who have any ability left of helping themselves. He that encourages and assists them to earn five dollars, is a greater benefactor, than if he had given them fifty out of his own pocket. By turning your attention to the subject, you will easily find various expedients for the encouragement of industry among that class of the poor of whom I am now speaking.
Sometimes employ them, even when you could do without their labor. Pay them generously and promptly for every thing they do, and frequently add some small gratuity. If they cannot go abroad, furnish them with the materials of industry at their own houses. find them faithful and honest, make interest for them with your friends. Strive to gain their confidence. Enter into their feelings. Assist them in laying out their money to the best advantage. Teach them how to make the most of a little. Inculcate the importance of cleanliness, economy, and sobriety. Fail not to check the first symptoms of pride, or unnecessary expense in their own or their children's dress. Hold up this before them continually, that if they expect help from you, they must help themselves; that they must not look to you for succor in sickness, unless they are diligent and saving in time of health. When the feeble try to walk, and cannot support themselves, reach them a helping hand. When their contrivance fails, contrive for them. Labor to inspire them with confidence in their own resources and efforts. Teach