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this subject with singular ability, in reference to their own country. But many of their wisest and profoundest speculations are irrelevant to our circumstances. The alarming increase of the evil in question, among ourselves, cannot as in Great Britain, be ascribed to the decay of manufactures; to the enormous burdens of taxation; nor to the want of sufficient territory, to afford scope for the enterprise of an increasing population. Leaving these points, therefore, to be settled by those foreign champions, who may choose to range themselves on the one side or the other, let us confine our attention to the legitimate field of our present inquiries. In pursuing this course, however, let is not refuse to be instructed, by the operation of those general laws and principles, which have had time for a more ample developement, on the other side of the Atlantic.
Were I called to address an audience, in one of our great cities, on the subject before us, I should not hesitate to number among the causes of this mighty drawback upon their prosperity, lewdness, in all its fearful and horrible resorts; and gambling, in all its forms of cards, dice, billiards, wheels of fortune, lotteries, and pawn-brokers. Nor should I think it right to pass unnoticed those packed cargoes of human flesh and blood, under the name of emigrants, which the cupidity of unprincipled men has lured from foreign countries, and disgorged upon our shores, without a shilling to support them in a strange land.
Happily, the wasting operation of these causes is chiefly confined within comparatively narrow limits. That they operate more or less obviously, to a great extent, cannot indeed be questioned; but they are not the great and prominent causes of pauperism in New
England. It is our present business to inquire what these causes are. And,
1. In this loighly favored section of the United States of America, some are placed upon the list of paupers by unavoidable necessity. In this class we may reckon a considerable number of sober, prudent, temperate, industrious men, who, in the course of business by the Auctuations of trade, by the failure or dishonesty of debtors, by the ravages of floods and fire, and by storms at sea, have been reduced, with large and helpless families, to indigence.
Other persons, belonging to the same class, are reduced by long continued and expensive sickness; by lameness, blindness, palsy, or other adverse providences. While they had strength and ability to labor, they were industrious, frugal, and comfortable. But every means of selfsupport is now cut off. What they had, in better days, laid up of their hard earnings, they have been obliged to expend, and now they must look to the opening hand of cbarity, as their only earthly resource.
Some again, who were barely able, by industry and good management, to keep themselves off from the town, while their strength lasted, unavoidably become chargeable in old age. Nor sons nor daughters have they, to support them. These props have fallen one after another, and mingled with their native dust. The aged and desolate widow, struggled hard and struggled long, and suffered much, before a whisper of complaint escaped from her lips. But the decays of nature, the progress of infirmities, could not be hindered nor retarded. She was constrained to yield, and is now an interesting and helpless pensioner upon public or private bounty.
Now all these I call the virtuous and respectable poor. To such, poverty is no disgrace. They have done what they could. They are still willing to do every thing in their power, for their own support. They have, therefore, the strongest claims upon the public, and upon our private charities. To let them suffer for want of necessaries, is cruel ; and if this neglect should at any time be chargeable upon us, God will not hold us guiltless.
2. A want of capacity is, in some cases, the cause of extreme. indigence. Men are not formed alike. While the calculations of some are always sagacious and profitable, others have not what is called the faculty of setting themselves to work, or of turning anything to advantage. Every step they take is in a down-hill course. Their intentions are good, and they improve their talent as well, perhaps, as their prosperous neighbors. But their talent is small. They are always in a state of dependence. Now, we may lament this. We may complain. We may insist that they might do better. But it becomes us to pause a moment, and answer the Apostle's question, "Who maketh thee to differ from another, and what hast thou which thou hast not received?' Surely those who are thus deficient in natural capacity, are objects of universal compassion, and are entitled to a comfortable maintenance, when from this cause alone, they are reduced to want.
3. Many, in the providence of God, are rendered incapable of labor, and even of self-preservation, by insanity. Of all human calamities, this is the most dreadful, the most appalling. Hunger, cold, watching; the distress of a sever; the pain of a broken bone; the loss of limbs, of sight, of hearing; the persecution of enemies; the treachery of friends; the walls and letters of a
prison : any, or all of these sufferings taken together, are not worthy to be compared with the loss of reason.• The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity ; but a wounded spirit,' and may it not be added, a distracted mind, who can bear?' Have you ever, my friends, heard the ravings of a maniac, and the clanking of his chains? Have you seen the distortions of his countenance; the hurried wildness of his eye ; the frightful disorder of an immortal mind in ruins ? What would you not rather be, than that object of terror and compassion, even if the wealth of kingdoms was pledged for your support, and the humane efforts of thousands were constantly employed in your behalf?
What, then, think you, must be the condition of the distracted, who have no parents, or children, or brothers, or sisters, or friends, to watch over them, or even to supply them with food and raiment! O, what yearnings of compassion should we feel for such ? How freely should we contribute for their support! What pains should we take to render their situation, in all respects, as comfortable as the nature of the case will permit. Let us, for a moment, if we can endure the thought, place our souls in their souls' stead. What are the duties which our fellow-men would owe to us, if God should take away our reason, and cast us poor, friendless, distracted, upon their charity? All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them ; for this is the law and the prophets.'
4. Some are reduced to extreme want, by their prodigality. They might have saved enough from their patrimony, or from their earnings, to bave defrayed the expenses of sickness, and to have made them comfortable, if not independent, in old age. But having enough for
the present, they were regardless of the future. They spent their substance in riotous living. They wasted the bounties of providence, fondly imagining, that “to-morrow should be as this day, and still more abundant. But their resources were soon exhausted. While they were eating, and drinking, and making merry, and saying,
soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, poverty stood watching at the door.
The sheriff was not far off. Suddenly, houses, lands, goods, everything passed into other hands; and the late prodigal possessors are now upon the town, supported in part, by those whose property they have wasted; by creditors, whom their prodigality has cruelly defrauded.
5. Pride sends its thousands to the alms-house every year. The foolish desire of imitating the wealthy, in their dress, in their entertainments, in their equipage, in their pleasures, proves the ruin of multitudes, who might always have enough and to spare, by living within their
Their destruction is, that they cannot bear to be out-done. They must have as many parties, and as many courses, and as costly apparel, as their more opulent neighbors. And to support all this, they are obliged to live beyond their incorne. They encroach upon their capital. They run themselves in debt. They mortgage their estates. Bankruptcy states them in the face. Still, perhaps they might retrieve their affairs. But their pride will not permit them to retrench their expenses. Appearances must be kept up, as long as possible. At length the baseless fabric falls, or rather vanishes. There is nothing left of all this magnificence. Dreadful as the thought is, the poor-house may be their only refuge.
Nor let it be supposed, that this destructive emulation