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vitors, and not unfrequently founds a provision for an annual gift.
The female members of the gentry class are, all this time, toiling at the work of benevolence in its domestic forms—overlooking schools, stitching sedulously at nightgowns and baby-linen, or at “fancy-fair” articles; teaching girls straw-plaiting,lace-making; hearing catechisms on Sundays, tormenting their acquaintance to purchase the useless productions of surabundant hands; distributing soup-tickets;–in fine, co-operating, with their gentle, kind efforts, in the grand and commendable purpose of mitigating the evils of poverty in the lower ranks of life. Go into what neighbourhoods you will, the standing feature in every country residence is “the charity” business. Where, indeed, is the rural abode, we would ask, where the visitor is safe from “the plate,” or the subscription-book? Is there a provincial dinner-table at which the topic of poorlaw, board of guardians, or the like, does not take precedence of all others? It is hardly prudent to attend your host's parish church, even; for it is ten to one but that you are “let in” for a “collection” at the door, after sermon; and all this on the back of a tax amounting to something like seven millions of pounds per annum !
Such is but an imperfect outline of the “charitable”
habits of an English family of average benevolence and means, for we do not believe that any one except a native of Great Britain has any conception of the extent to which an Englishman's fortune and time are dedicated to the work of doing good. It is, perhaps, unmatched in the world. After this, one would suppose that the gentleman (or gentlewoman), who gives
and labours in all these forms, would be allowed to spend and enjoy the rest of his or her income, and attend to their six children in peace and quiet. Not a bit of it. “Is it in human nature,” said the late Sydney Smith, in one of his Essays, “that A should see B in distress, and not order C to assist him 7” The whole squad of humanity-foragers are upon him with their appeals on behalf of some species of misery which they have undertaken to assuage; and in fact, if we would listen to these eternal emissaries, nobody would have a moment's respite so long as any poor folks could be found lacking something or another, or a disease unprovided with a special asylum. Under this sort of persecution, the possession of wealth almost ceases to be a blessing. If we were not to resist such attacks, the world of England might, in due time, become one vast field for the labours of the Dorcas tribe, whilst the more wholesome sources of good-will and sympathy would be vulgarized and transmuted into the most commonplace of all ties—the connexion between rich and poor through the medium of the purse. It would be doing injustice to the sound understanding of M. Faucher to imply that he is a believer in the
efficacy of charityas a cure for our social evils, although,
as a wholesome exercise of the beneficent principle, he is, naturally, anxious to see it practised. As might be expected of so sensible a man, he has other suggestions to offer, and does not, after the manner of “Boz,” leave his readers with nothing but a vague sentiment of pity for the oppressed, and an equally vague detestation of the oppressors—by which is understood, in modern parlance, the comfortable classes. We are, however, unable to concur in the merits of M. Faucher's principal scheme as a counterpoise to the moral and physical degradation of the poor; we confess that we seein it little else than another form of charity, and feel therefore that its impracticability is scarcely a matter of regret. He, like most Frenchmen, considers the occupancy of land, in never so small a parcel, by the poor man, to be the proper remedy against indigence, as well as a pledge of his disposition to maintain the laws and ordinances of society. “The larger the number interested in agricultural occupations on their own account,” says M. Faucher, “the safer are your national institutions.” Now, there can be no doubt that the possession of property of any kind binds the party by so much to the protection of the institution of property; but does it not occur to the advocates of this doctrine that, in order to multiply proprietors of land, you must first find possessors of land willing to part with it, and next, poor men able to purchase? If the working man have money, he can purchase, not else. In France, land is sold, not given; the same would happen here at the present time if the poor man were able to buy land. “But let him have land on hire, then,” say the friends of the system of “petite culture.” Here we not only meet the obstacle we alluded to above, viz., the reluctance of owners to give up land for this purpose; but we are compelled to justify it by adducing the example of landowners in a neighbouring island, who, having once granted their land on hire, are absolutely cut off from all control over it in time to come. In the county of Donegal, not many years since, a gentleman, wishing to re-enter into the occupation of his own domain at the expiration of the term for which it had been let to
a number of small cultivators, was met by a threat of
assassination; and on his causing his agent to enforce his orders, the agent was doomed to death, and would have been shot without scruple, had not one of the party, suspecting the fidelity of his confederates, anticipated their treachery by informing against them, and thus saved the steward's life. Experience shows that few things are more difficult than to recover possession of land once yielded up to persons of very small means; for that which is granted on a revocable tenure passes sooner or later into something like fixity of tenure, so incomplete is the process by which the real owner endeavours to regain it. It was remarked, in a recent number of the Edinburgh Review (“Claims of Labour”),that the holding landon hire did not, after all, impart a sense of independence to the labourer, whilst it had the disadvantage of impeding his removal to other districts as occasion might serve. It would not, at all events, meet the case of the town workman, for the mill-hands could not cultivate the soil if they had it; nor, even assuming that they knew how to do so, would they have energy and strength left sufficient to walk out (after dark, for the most part, too) to the plots granted them in the vicinity of densely-inhabited towns, necessarily distant from their abodes. And indeed, whilst overwork is the real curse of their condition, who would recommend night walks and spade culture in addition? As to farm-labourers, few of our cottages are without a bit of garden-ground adequate to their wants, which furnishes employment for them at spare times; and we are far from believing that the major portion desire to rent more, unless upon terms implying a sacrifice by the owner in their favour. When Lord Radnor, for example, kindly consented to let portions of ground to labourers at a rent equal, or nearly equal, to the market value, a perfect outcry was set up against him, both by labourers and by “friends of the labourer,” because he did not offer it at half its worth, giving the labourer the difference! This incident plainly shows the animus with which the “friends of the poor” ask the rich to “encourage” them. M. Faucher's proposal for granting allotments we must, then, respectfully dismiss as impracticable, except in detached districts; as well on account of the difficulty of getting the land yielded up for it, near to large towns, in sufficient quantity, as on the ground of the factory workpeople having no spare power of toil left, after working all day in the mill. We have now to consider another of M. Faucher's expedients. It is, that the capitalist, or master of a mill or factory, or establishment for industrial operations of any sort, should be induced to forego that character, or to blend with it that of associate, or partner, with the workmen whom he employs; and this, in the view of engaging a “moral support” on the part of the co-operative workpeople.
“Quant aux bénéfices, après avoir mis apart un cinquième pour le fonds de réserve, on les partagerait, par égales moitiés, entre le maître et les corps des ouvriers. Il va sans dire que j'entends ce partage comme une concession volontaire, à laquelle chaque manufacturier apporterait les conditions,” &c. &c.—Tome i. p. 432, et seq.
It may be an error; but, for the life of us, we cannot discern, in this ingenious contrivance, anything beyond a tendency to raise the wages of the workman at the expense of the master. But this could be easily done without the contrivance, sup