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It is an observation of Yorick (or Sterne), and worthy of a wiser man, that “ those gentlemen who now throw off reli“ gion, may soon find it neceffary to take it up in felf-de“ fence." But then the danger is, that they cannot induce others to take it up, after they have once brought them the length of laying it down. It is much easier to keep religion while we have it, than to recover it if we shall once lose it. In the meantime, if some of our gentlemen will have no religion, they should have some charity, and at least send their collection for the poor...
By the laws of God and of our country *, the poor have à right to be maintained ; and the withholding that from them to which they have a just and legal title, is an injury fo much the greater, as they have the less ability to enforce their claim. Affefsments would make the burden alight, as it ought, equally upon all, whether they attend church or not, whether they reside on their estates or elsewhere. Charity, justice, and even policy, require that this should be done without delay. The poor have increased, the weekly collections in many places are diminished, and the price of all the necessaries of life is greatly raised.
The arguments commonly used against assessments are but the suggestions of iniquity and avarice. Affefsments have be. come common in the south of Scotland, and (as the exercise
minent danger to the state. People of fashion, as if they thought that religion was made only for the vulgar, had before then given up the observance of the Sabbath. The vulgar, as always happens, were pressing close on the heels of their betters; and even a public work (a bridge on the Seine) was carried on as well on the Sabbath as on other days, without any necefficy. The event turned out as Neckar foretold ; and ought to be an awful warning to others.
| By an act passed in 1740, “ the heritors, minister, and elders of every “ parish are required to make a lift of all the poor within the parifh, and to
liquidate a yearly fum for their maintenance; the one half to be paid by .the heritors, the other half by the other houfeholders.".
of justice and charity always must be) have been productive of good and not of evil. They have enabled the poor to live with more comfort, and made the trifling rate fall on those who are liable to pay it, in a juft and equitable proportion. The non-resident, the graceless, and the fectary, are obliged to contribute their share : and the labouring poor, the most numerous class of the people, are attached to a happy constitution, which makes a legal provision for their support when they can no longer support themselves.
By assessments, the begging poor would not only be more comfortably maintained at home, but also at less expence to the publics as their labour at home would go a considerable length to support them; whereas, in travelling about, their time and labour turns to no account. Besides, the blind and the lame require one or two to attend them every day that they are going about. By affefsments, the burden on the tenants would be less heavy and more equal ; and the small difference to the rich would easily be made up by retrenching, now and then, a superfluous dish or bottle, an useless trinket, or a game at cards *
* « It is asked with some degree of alarm (fays Dr. Charters) what will * be the final consequence of alimenting the poor ; for, wherever this tax is « imposed, it increases gradually? This gradual increase, where it takes place, « may be owing to two causes: 1. That some are induced, through false shame, " to suffer extreme want before they will accept of an aliment: 2. That those
who appoint the aliment are at first too sparing; the more frequently and “ attentively they consider the case of the poor, they are disposed to give the k more. Let false shame be combated, and the miferable instructed in their “ rights. Let those who have the management of the poor, proceed till every « indigent person be found out, and their real wants supplied. When all that "need have been persuaded to ask, and when those who give have learned to “ give enough, the rate will become stationary; till then it ought to rise. « The law which gives a maintenance to the poor, is one of the bulwarks of « the British government, by which it is defended from the rage of want and 16 despair. Heritors and kirk-sessions, to whom the execution of this law is " committed, will give a substantial and seasonable proof of thcir attachment
It would, however, be much better, if some method could be devised to make the poor support themselves, by contributing a trifle, in the days of youth and health, for a provision against fickness and old age. A penny, or even a halfpenny a-week, contributed in the one season, would afford a relief of 2s. or
" to our happy constitution, by making the poor of the land to participate its « blessings. Were those who lately affumed to themselves the amiable name of “ Friends of the People to new-model our constitution, it is much to be feared that
a law in favour of the indigent would not be found in their code; and if such “ a law were found in their code, it is still much to be feared, that the new “ pofsefsors of unrighteous mammon, would not be forward to execute the law « of mercy.” Statistical Account, Vol. XV. p. 641.
Affefiments in Scotland are considered by many in the same light with poor rates in England. But they are so totally different, that English writers who treat of these matters, frequently contrast the one with the other. “ In Scot“ land (says Mr. Dyer on Poor Rates), the assessments are raised by the heri« tors themselves (according to the valued rent of heritors and tenants) by mu“ tual consent; but are not raised at all, unless where church collections fail. “ Very different these from the poor rates in England; where, if after one, « or at most two calls, the money is not paid, a person may be summoned be“ fore two justices to answer for such refusal or neglect, and his goods may * be distrained.”
Besides the difference in the mode of raising, there is also a vast difference in the mode of managing. The assessments in Scotland are managed with no expence; whereas the poor rates in England cost almost as much to manage them, as goes to maintain the poor. According to a report of a committee of the House of Commons in 1787, the whole sum of the poor rates raised in England, upon a medium calculation of three years (1783, 1784 and 1785), was
L. 2,100,587 The nett money applied to the relief of the poor, only - 1,496,129 The rest of the sum raised, went in paris entertainments, overseers expences, and lawsuits! Dyer's Complaints of the Poor.
In the Royal Hospital of Bridewell, in like manner, while only 13,451) 78. 4d. had been expended on the objects of the charity; the falaries, &c. of officets cost 19,2541. 4d. besides 32341. gs. Id. in feasts, and 17,332. 198. 7 de in repairs. Monthly Review, Jan. 1794.
It appears, then, that the principal grievance attending poor rates in Engö . land is owing to the expence of management, which costs nothing in Scotland, as it is done by kirk-sessions, and under the inspection of the heritars..
35. a-week in the other. Establishments of this kind should be formed in every parish, and encouraged by the monied and landed interest. The happy effects of such charitable institutions are noticed in many of the statistical accounts (such as those of Kirkcaldy, Kilsyth, &c.), which might help persons versed in calculations of this nature to form some juft and equitable scheme, and upon infallible principles, that might be safely and generally adopted. Every person, upon leaving one parish, should have an equal price for his share in its funds (according to tables that might be constructed for that purpose), but be obliged to transfer it to the funds of that parish into which he enters. Such a scheme would cherish the habits of industry and frugality in the poor, and provide against the great inconvenience which the poor labour under in England, from the difficulty of removing from one parish to another.
Sect. V.-Leases. THE most common term for which leases are granted in this county is 19 years. Of late years it is seldom more, often less, and some landlords give no lease at all. These last can expect no improvement, and consequently less rise of rent.
The entry to the grass and houses is at Whitsunday, and to the arable land at the Martinmas following *, after the outgoing tenant reaps the crop which he left behind him. He is allowed the use of the barn to thrash his crop, and obliged to leave 1-3d of the straw to his successor. It is plain that it would be for the advantage of all parties, if the incoming tenant were always obliged to take the whole crop at
. * On one estate, the entry to the arable is also at Whitsunday. The outgoing tenant leaves the ground ploughed, and his succeffor fows it. It may be supposed that the ground will be ill ploughed, and the dung little cared for.
an appraised value, as is commonly done with sheep stocks, by arbiters mutually chosen. The rent is payable at Martinmas, after the crop is reaped or disposed of. The entering tenant gets the houses repaired, in a habitable condition, and is obliged to leave them fo, under comprisement. But if
they should be twice as good as he found them, or should he is make any addition to them, he has no allowance for the me
lioration ; but instead of that, pays whatever repairs they want. This appears a hardship, and one should think it would be fairer to value them at going in, and again at going out, and to pay or receive the difference. But it is difficult to change the established customs of a country.
The leafes in general have few covenants. Those granted by the Duke of Argyle commonly enjoin the tenant to drain and enclose to a certain extent. This, for some time, was the only augmentation of rent required by His Grace, and still it makes a part of it. The time for performing those improvements is also limited to as short a period as may be ; so that the tenant may reap as much as possible of the advantage of his own improvement during the currency of his lease * His Grace is also in use of giving a new lease fome years before the old expires, to prevent the ground from being too much run out. As to the mode of managing his land,
; * When the tenant fees that he has thus the prospect of being reimbursed, he will execute the work the more cheerfully and speedily. When, there. fore, the amount to which he is to improve is fixed upon, it would be defire, able that his own opinion should concur with that of his landlord, or improver, as to the mode in which his money fhould be most usefully laid out, of which few should be able to judge better than the tenant himself. One obvious remark may be made, which is, that no partial improvement should be prescribed. If a dike, for example, is to be built, it should be fo contrived as to make a complete enclosure of a field, that the farmer may have the full and immediate bencfit'of it for winter green crops. And as the best lands will pay best, they should be enclosed first, except in the case of improving moss lands, which require to be instancly enclosed, to save them from poaching,