Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/73

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ALTRUISM ECONOMICALLY CONSIDERED. 63

law thaii she ever was by a hostile army." Meanwhile we should be self-respecting enough to admit that tramps and beggars are not very different from many " respectable " people, after all.

Those who are interested to examine the economic results of giving to the poor, in England, Scotland, and Ireland, will find plenty of books on the subject. The " Encyclopsedia Britannica " contains a good article under the heading " poor-law." See also other encyclopaedias.

The Scotch are proverbially thrifty and economical, and yet they have been degraded by the poor-law of 1845. In some parts of Scotland there is ten times the poverty there is in Ireland! That law gives more relief than England's, and the money is re- garded as a nice gift. Those who had savings in banks trans- ferred them to others. Careful investigation, and even the labor test, did not quell the applications in any such manner as did the Irish workhouse. Matters came to such a pass that the fishermen of Wick could not get their nets mended, their former assistants saying that they could get a living easier from the parish.

In Ireland there is very little out-door relief, the proportion of Scotland being almost reversed — five in-door to one out-door pau- per. In spite of Ireland's unjust land system and high rents, the whole number of her paupers does not amount to one half those of London alone. The Irish will submit to every privation rather than let friends go to the workhouse, which is the legal mode of relief, and is not a charity.

In London many people get relief who could do without it, and consider it no disgrace. Industry, economy, temperance, and self- restraint would enable most of them to take care of themselves if they would. Hence the workhouse is a necessary restraint, being uncomfortable or even disgraceful. They therefore shun it. If they may eat without work in some other way, they will ; if not, many of them will work. Why are these people in such condi- tion ? It is a duty we owe to society to ascertain what are their thoughts, what the motives that have led them to such lives. If the result is that the vices and injustices and prodigality of the rich have in part induced such results, let it be exposed boldly and fearlessly. If injustice in the wage system and in land tenure is the cause in part, let this also be proclaimed.

You will, however, be more interested in some figures from our own experience. The Hon. Seth Low, ex-Mayor of Brooklyn N.Y., presented a paper in 1881 at the eighth National Conference of Charities and Corrections in Boston which Robert Treat Paine calls the corner-stone of relief reform. In it Mr. Low sums up his opinion of the world's experience in giving alms (technically called out-door relief). Of the supposed beneficiaries he says :

1. That it saps their habits of industry.

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