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right and left shoulder of the outward garment of each of the said poor, by which they might be distinguished. And that none of the said poor
should go out of their own parish to beg alms; whereof the beadles were to take care.
His grace the lord archbishop did accordingly give his directions to the clergy; which, however, have proved wholly ineffectual, by the fraud, perverseness, or pride of the said poor, several of them openly protesting “they will never submit to wear the said badges.” And of those who received them, almost every one keep them in their pockets, or hang them in a string about their necks, or fasten them under their coats, not to be seen, by which means the whole design is eluded; so that a man may walk from one end of the town to another without seeing one beggar regularly badged, and in such great numbers, that they are a mighty nuisance to the public, most of them being foreigners.
It is therefore proposed, that his grace the lord archbishop would please to call the clergy of the city together, and renew his directions and exhortations to them, to put the affair of badges effectually in practice, by such methods as his grace and they shall agree upon. And I think it would be highly necessary that some paper
should be pasted up in several proper parts of the city, signifying this order, and exhorting all people to give no alms except to those poor who are regularly badged, and only while they are in the precincts of their own parishes. And if something like this were delivered by the ministers in the reading-desk two or three Lord's-days successively, it would still be of further use to put this matter upon a right foot. And that all who offend against this regulation be treated as vagabonds and sturdy beggars.
CONSIDERATIONS ABOUT MAINTAINING
WE have been amused, for at least thirty years past, with numberless schemes in writing and discourse, both in and out of parliament, for maintaining the poor and setting them to work, especially in this city: most of which were idle, indigested, or visionary; and all of them ineffectual, as it has plainly appeared by the consequences.
Many of those projectors were so stupid, that they drew a parallel from Holland to England, to be settled in Ireland; that is to say, from two countries with full freedom and encouragement for trade, to a third where all kind of trade is cramped, and the most beneficial parts are entirely taken away. But the perpetual infelicity of false and foolish reasoning, as well as proceeding and acting upon it, seems to be fatal to this country.
For my own part, who have much conversed with those folks who call themselves merchants, I do not remember to have met with a more ignorant and wrong-thinking race of people in the very first rudiments of trade; which, however, was not so much owing to their want of capacity, as to the crazy constitution of this kingdom; where pedlers are better qualified to thrive than the wisest merchants. I could fill a volume with only setting down a list of the public absurdities by which this kingdom has suffered within the compass of my own memory, such as could not be believed of any nation, among whom folly was not established as a law. I cannot forbear instancing a few of these, because it may be of some use to those who shall have it in their power to to be more cautious for the future.
The first was, the building of the barracks; whereof I have seen above one-half, and have heard enough of the rest, to affirm that the public has been cheated of the money raised for that use, by the plain fraud of the undertakers.
Another was the management of the money raised for the Palatines; when, instead of employing that great sum in purchasing lands in some remote and cheap part of the kingdom, and there planting those people as a colony, the whole end was utterly defeated.
A third is, the insurance office against fire, by which several thousand pounds are yearly remitted to England, (a trifle, it seems, we can easily spare,) and will gradually increase until it comes to a good national tax; for the society-marks upon our houses (under which might properly be written, “The Lord have mercy upon us!"?) spread faster and farther than the colony of frogs. I have, for above twenty years past, given warning several thousand times to many substantial people, and to such who are acquainted with lords and squires, and the like great folks, to any of whom I have not the honor to be known: I mentioned my daily fears, lest our watchful friends in England might take this business out of our
* This was the inscription placed on houses visited by the plague.
hands; and how easy it would be to prevent that evil, by erecting a society of persons who had good estates, such, for instance, as that noble knot of bankers, under the style of "Swift and Company." But now we are become tributary to England, not only for materials to light our own fires, but for engines to put them out; to which, if hearth-money be added, (repealed in England as a grievance,) we have the honor to pay three taxes for fire.
A fourth was the knavery of those merchants, or linen-manufacturers, or both, when, upon occasion of the plague at Marseilles, we had a fair opportunity of getting into our hands the whole linentrade of Spain; but the commodity was so bad, and held at so high a rate, that almost the whole cargo was returned, and the small remainder sold below the prime cost.
So many other particulars of the same nature crowd into my thoughts, that I am forced to stop; and the rather because they are not very proper
for my subject, to which I shall now return. Among all the schemes for maintaining the poor of the city and setting them to work, the least weight has been laid upon that single point which is of the greatest importance; I mean that of keeping foreign beggars from swarming hither out of every part of the country; for until this be brought to pass effectually, all our wise reasonings and proceedings upon them will be vain and ridiculous.
The prodigious number of beggars throughout this kingdom, in proportion to so small a number of people, is owing to many reasons : to the laziness of the natives; the want of work to employ them; the enormous rents paid by cottagers for their miserable cabins and potato plots; their early marriages, without the least prospect of establishment; the ruin of agriculture, whereby such vast numbers are hindered from providing their own bread, and have no money to purchase it; the mortal damp upon all kinds of trade; and many other circumstances, too tedious or invidious to mention.
And to the same causes we owe the perpetual concourse of foreign beggars to this town, the country landlords giving all assistance, except money and victuals, to drive from their estates those miserable creatures they have undone.
It was a general complaint against the poor-house, under its former governors, “ That the number of poor in this city did not lessen by taking 300 into the house, and all of them recommended under the ministers' and churchwardens hands of the several parishes :" and this complaint must still continue, although the poor-house should be enlarged to contain 3000, or even double that number.
The revenues of the poor-house, as it is now established, amount to about 20001. a-year; whereof 2001. allowed for officers, and 1001. for repairs, the remaining 17001., at 41. a-head, will support 425 persons. This is a favorable allowance, considering that I subtract nothing for the diet of those officers, and for wear and tear of furniture; and if every one of these collegiates should be set to work, it is agreed they will not be able to gain by their labor above one-fourth part of their maintenance.
At the same time the oratorial part of these gentlemen seldom vouchsafe to mention fewer than 1500 or 2000 people to be maintained in this hospital, without troubling their heads about the fụnd.
FOR GIVING BADGES TO THE BEGGARS IN ALL THE PARISHES
April 22, 1737. It has been a general complaint that the poor-house (especially since the new constitution by act of parliament) has been of no benefit to this city, for the ease of which it was wholly intended. I had the honor to be a member of it many years before it was newmodelled by the legislature, not from any personal regard, but merely as one of the two deans, who are of course put into most commissions that relate to the city; and I have likewise the honor to have been left out of several commissions, upon the score of party, in which my predecessors time out of mind have always been members.
The first commission was made up of about fifty persons, which were the lord mayor, aldermen and sheriffs, and some few other citizens, the judges, the two archbishops, the two deans of the city, and one or two more gentlemen. And I must confess my opinion, that the dissolving of the old commission and establishing a new one of nearly three times the number have been the great cause of rendering so good a design not only useless, but a grievance, instead of a benefit to the city. In the present commission all the city clergy are included, besides a great number of squires; not only those who reside in Dublin and the neighborhood, but several who live at a great distance, and cannot possibly have the least concern for the advantage of the city.
At the few general meetings that I have attended since the new establishment, I observed very little was done except one or two acts of extreme justice, which I then thought might as well have been spared ; and I have found the court of assistants usually taken up in little wrangles about coachmen, and adjusting accounts of meal and small beer, which, however necessary, might sometimes have given place to matters of much greater moment -I mean some schemes recommended to the general board for answering the chief ends in erecting and establishing such a poor-house and endowing it with so considerable a revenue; and the principal end I take to have been that of maintaining the poor and orphans of the city where the parishes are not able to do it, and clearing the streets from all strollers, foreigners, and sturdy beggars, with which, to the universal complaint and admiration, Dublin is more infested since the establishment of the poor-house than it was ever known to be since its first erection.
As the whole fund for supporting this hospital is raised only from the inhabitants of the city, so there can be hardly anything more absurd than to see it misemployed in maintaining foreign beggars, and bastards or orphans of farmers, whose country landlord never contributed one shilling toward their support. I would engage that half this revenue, if employed with common care and no very great degree of common honesty, would maintain all the real objects of charity in this city, except a small number of original poor in every parish, who might, without being burdensome to the parishioners, find a tolerable support.
I have for some years past applied myself to several lord-mayors, and the late archbishop of Dublin, for a remedy to this evil of foreign beggars; and they all appeared ready to receive a very plain proposal, I mean that of badging the original poor of every parish who begged in the streets; that the said beggars should be confined to their own parishes; that they should wear their badges well sewn upon one of their shoulders, always visible, on pain of being whipped and turned out of town, or whatever legal punishment may be thought proper and effectual. But, by the wrong way of thinking in some clergymen, and the indifference of others, this method was perpetually defeated, to their own continual disquiet, which they do not ill deserve : and if the grievance affected only them, it would be of less consequence, because the remedy is in their own power: but all street-walkers and shopkeepers bear an equal share in its hourly vexation.