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would have made himself, had he lived to the present day. Thus the founder of Hemsworth Hospital, in Yorkshire, when he appointed it for the reception of twenty poor persons above sixty years of age, appears to have estimated its revenues, as not likely to exceed 101. a year: they are now more than 2,000/. Who can believe that he meant to convert so many paupers, at a certain period of life, into wealthy annuitants? Or is it probable that the revenues of a school, in Northumberland, exclusively appropriated by the foundation to educate the children of a small chapelry, would have been so limited, had the donor foreseen their increase to such a sum as can only be expended, by attiring the boys in cloth of gold, and giving them editiones principes to read? Or is there a doubt, that the founders of the Leeds Grammar School, had they foreseen the increase of its revenues, as well as of the commercial population of the town, would have gladly permitted arithmetic and the modern languages to be taught, with Latin and Greek, out of funds greater than can now be spent on a learned education?' Or can it be imagined that King Edward the Sixth, would have strictly ordered the revenues of the Birmingham charity to be divided between the two masters, had he known that they would amount to 3 or 4,000/. a year? Cases are not wanting of charities which would be highly detrimental to the community were the will of the donors strictly pursued. Thus large funds were raised by voluntary contribution to endow an hospital for the small pox inoculation. Recent discoveries have proved that this practice extends the ravages of the disease. Could any of the original subscribers, were he alive, blame the application of this institution to the vaccine method? The Foundling Hospital has a revenue of 10,000/. a year, which will in a few years, be increased three or fourfold, all intended originally for the maintenance of children " cast off; deserted, or exposed by their parents."1 Yet such an expenditure of those funds would certainly prove injurious to the community, by encouraging improvident marriages as well as illicit connexions, and thus increasing the numbers of the poor. No one, therefore, can blame the total change of the plan which for the last sixty years has been made, with whatever view, by adopting the rule to admit no child whose mother does not appear to be examined.3 The founder of the Bedford charity certainly never expected that the thirteen acres in Holborn parish, with which he endowed jti
1 See Attorney General v. Whitely, 10 Ves. jun. 2i. where it is held, "th^t the words grammar school exclude all learning but the learned languages.*'
1 Vide Charter 1739, Rep. 1816, p. 215. 3 Rep. 1810, 211.
would let for 7 or 8,000/. a year, and be the means of attracting paupers from every quarter to the town which he especially designed to favor. In all cases of either description, both where much of the benefit plainly intended to be conferred is lost, and where positive injury is occasioned, by closely adhering to the donor's directions, it seems the duty of the legislature to supply his place, and to make such alterations as he might be presumed to sanction were he alive, in like manner as the Court of Chancery endeavours to fulfil his intentions, where his orders are imperfect, or where he has omitted altogether to make a provision.
The course of proceeding which the legislature ought to pursue in dealing with the estates of the poor, is a subject of peculiar delicacy, and closely connected with the great question of the Poor Laws. It is chiefly in this connexion, that I have from the beginning been induced to regard both the subject of charities and of national education. You are aware that my intention is to submit certain propositions to Parliament upon the Poor Laws during the ensuing session, and I shall not here anticipate the discussion which may then be expected to take place. But a few observations may properly find a place in this letter, respecting the connexion between the general question, and permanent charitable funds. The remarks, then, with which I am about to conclude, relate to the principles which ought to regulate the conduct of the legislature in dealing with charities, and which should guide us in forming our opinion upon the relief, likely to be felt by the country, from the due application of funds destined to assist the poor.
I take it to be a principle which will admit of no contradiction, that the existence of any permanent fund for the support of the poor—the appropriation of any revenue, however raised, which must peremptorily be expended in maintaining such as have no other means of subsistence—has upon the whole a direct tendency to increase their numbers. It produces this effect in two ways— by discouraging industry, foresight, economy—and by encouraging improvident marriages; nor is the former operation more certain than the latter. It is equally clear that this increase will always exceed the proportion which the revenues in question can maintain.' To the class of funds directly productive of paupers belong all revenues of alms-houses, hospitals, and schools where children are supported as well as educated; all yearly sums to be given away to mendicants or poor families; regular donations of religious houses in catholic countries; the portion of the tithes in this
1 "Latiguescet industria, intcndetur socordia,vsi nullus ex se metus aiit speSf-et securi omnes aliena subsidia expectabunt, sibiignavi, nobisigr$ves("
country which went to maintain the poor before the statutory provision was made; and finally, and above all, that provision itself.1 But charitable funds will prove harmless (and may be moreover beneficial) exactly in proportion as their application is limited to combinations of circumstances out of the ordinary course of calculation, and not likely to be taken into account by the laboring classes in the estimate which they form of their future means of gaining a livelihood. Thus they may safely be appropriated to the support of persons disabled from working by accident or incurable malady, as the blind, and the maimed; and we may even extend the rule to hospitals generally, for the cure of diseases; nor can orphan hospitals be excepted, upon the whole; for although certainly the dread of leaving a family in want, is one check to improvident marriages, yet the loss of both parents is not an event likely to be contemplated. In like manner, although the existence of a certain provision for old age, independent of individual saving, comes within the description of the mischief, it is nevertheless far less detrimental than the existence of an equal fund for maintaining young persons, and more especially for supporting children. Keeping these remarks in our view, let us add to them the consideration, that as the Poor Laws have been administered, the character of the laboring classes has suffered a material injury, from which it ought by all means to be restored; and we shall come to the conclusion, that the application of charitable funds to purposes of education merely, will be the best means of expending them on a large scale ; and that next to this, such donations are to be preferred as directly encourage independence, for example, a provision for the old age of persons who never received alms in any shape; and for defraying the first cost of erecting saving banks. The employment of these resources in helping industry by the supply of tools is a more doubtful application of them, but far more harmless than the methods generally in use. Perhaps, after the uses now mentioned, no expenditure of eleemosynary revenues can be devised more safe than reserving them rigorously for periods of extraordinary distress, and then bestowing them upon persons above the lowest classes, so as to prevent the ruin of householders.
I am very far, however, from asserting that any such strict limitation of the charitable funds already existing ought to be attempted. I only state the principle upon which the legislature should proceed, wherever it is justified in interfering. What
1 The Poor Rates come clearly within this description as now raised and applied; for though they do not exist previously to the demand on the part of the persons claiming relief, the mode of calling them into existence and the right to do so is known, and that has the same effect.
circumstances may authorise that interference, cannot be, with any advantage to the subject, described in general terms. But that no rights are in reality infringed by taking a fund destined to support the poor in a way likely to increase their numbers, and using it so as to perform some act of charity without increasing the numbers of charitable objects, seems abundantly evident. No man can be supposed to have desired the existence of paupers; every donor assumed that, independently of his bounty, there were such needy persons in being, and he intended to relieve them. Could he have foreseen that an alteration in the form of his gift must reduce their numbers, he would have adopted it. In like manner, the poor are not, with reference to this point, an existing body of persons, like the church or any other corporation, who have rights of property. They form a class into which no man enters voluntarily, and whatever restricts their numbers by diminishing poverty, benefits the community. So that no violation of property would be committed by using any fund given to the poor, in a manner different from its original destination, provided the result were infallibly to lessen their numbers, and still to employ it in works of charity. We both accurately and conveniently speak of the poor as a body having rights, when we complain of those who have misapplied their property by converting it to their own use. But the class of paupers cannot with any correctness of speech be said to be defrauded by an act which keeps others from entering into it. This injury can only be done to persons who were manifestly never in the donor's view, persons voluntarily making themselves paupers, to take advantage of the gift.
But let it not be imagined that the general recovery of charitable funds from the hands by which they are mismanaged, would afford no direct relief to the country. Even if applied rigorously, according to the principles which I have stated, they would produce an almost immediate diminution in the numbers of the poor, and would support many who at present are left to parochial relief. The effects of a course of treatment tending to raise the character of the lowest classes, are very generally underrated. The experiments which have been made in Switzerland, and of which an account will be found in my evidence before the committee, sufficiently show how much may be expected from a system at once rational and benevolent. There is no necessity for carrying it so far as has there been done, but the principles are the same in every degree to which they may be adopted. We have also uniformly found in the committee, that the improvement of children, produces an immediate effect upon the parents who have been brought up in rude and dissolute habits, inspiring them with better sentiments, and gradu
VOL. XTII. Pan. NO.X^V. C
ally meliorating their condition.1 , If all the proper measures were adopted for thus striking at the root of the evil, it would obviously be much safer than it now is to apply part of the funds already disposable, or which may be regained, to the ordinary purposes of charity; and they might thus afford an important relief to the landowner, during the period that must be consumed in the transition from the present unnatural state of the system, to a more healthful and happy condition.
I must, however, forbear to enter further into this wide field of discussion. Our subject is confined within narrower limits. The point to which the attention of the country should first be directed, is the rescue of charitable funds from mismanagement, and their restoration to the purposes for which they were created. Upon the justice of this course there can exist no difference of opinion. Uponits expediency as compared with the abandonment of them to thriftless or selfish hands, the decision seems equally clear. What further steps may be advisable, is a question that may be reserved for a later stage of the inquiry. But I should have acted unfairly, if I had omitted here to bring forward, though very generally and imperfectly, the principles which in my humble opinion should guide us in resolving that question also; because false expectations might have been raised on the one hand, or equally groundless despondence been produced on the other.
I ever am,
Most faithfully yours, H. BROUGHAM. Temple, Aug. 20, 1818.
1 Report, 18 13,