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ers who maintain themselves by the sale of the necessaries of life in small quantities to the poor. But this objection ought not to have any great weight; for it often happens that the credit given to the poor is the cause of failure to the tradesman, Allowing it, however, to be wellfounded, yet surely there can be no hesitation in adopting a plan productive of such essential comforts and advantages to the many, whilst the few who suffer are small indeed in the balance. Besides the principle itself is erroneons! for if once admitted, there is no improvement which it would not be the means of obstructing. When, in addition to this, it is considered that these shop. keepers charge enormous profits, that they furnish very inferior articles, and that there is a great defi. ciency in the weight, the objection must, by every reflecting mind, be dismissed as totally invalid.*
reason to suppose that they are also considerable losers in weight. The establishment of shops, therefore, where the poor might be supplied with these articles in small quantities at the same proportionate price which is given for large ones, cannot but be productive of great and lasting good. Your committee will illustrate their argument by an example. Canal coals, for instance, may be purchased by the load, at fifteen shillings per ton, or ninepence for the hundred: the poor man, who can only purchase them from week to week, as he receives his wages, can in no case procure them for less than one shilling the hundred, besides the loss in weight. This is undoubtedly a great hardship, and an adequate remedy would be productive of a twofold benefit; 1st, it would be a saving to the poor of one fourth of their wages, thus enabling them by their own industry to procure additional comforts for their families, and to lay by a small sum against the day of necessity. In the 2d place, it would improve their habits by requiring immediate payment. The facility with which the poor are enabled to contract debts is one very frequent cause of their ruin, and the instances were numberless during the last winter, in which they were prevented from participating in the general bounty, by a threat from their creditors of legal proceedings in the court of requests, whenever they ceased making their usual purchases, or were known to provide themselves with the articles furnished by the committee at reduced prices. Thus are they prevented from reaping the full enjoyment of their earnings, and labour loses its reward. An objection has been raised against the establishment of public shops, upon the ground of the injury which might result to the petty shop-keep
"These, then, form the leading objects which your committee would recommend for adoption upon the first formation of a society for bettering the condition and increasing the comforts of the poor. Others of equal importance will, in the course of time, unfold themselves, But it is aboye all things necessary to caution the public, both rich and poor, from expecting too great and rapid a progress. The seed must be a long time buried in the ground, before we can look for a plentiful harvest. True benevolence must be guided by the hand of experience before its benefits can be extensively felt. Its current is like the quiet and placid stream, which spreads fertility through the surrounding country, in its slow and silent course.
"For a more extended and complete answer to this objection which has been urged against the establishment of public shops, see reports of the London society for bettering the condition of the poor.
If, however, in a work which is interesting to all, only part of the object be attained, it will be labour well applied; and your committee cannot close their report, without expressing their hopes that the proposed society may meet with that support of which, from a conviction of its usefulness, they think it so well deserving; and that long after its projectors have slept in peace, it may still survive and flourish, dispensing its blessings, encouraging the growth of every virtue, and promoting the happiness of mankind.
JAMES GERARD, PUDSEY DAWSON, JONA. BROOKS,
LAWS OF THE INSTITUTION.
I. THAT the general object of the society be to collect information respecting the circumstances of the poor, and to put in practice the most effectual means of ameliorating their condition. And as it has been found impossible, notwithstanding the large sums bestowed, to relieve all the distress that occurs in this large town, it appears desirable that particular attention should be paid to every reasonable plan of economy, so as to extend the benefits of charitable institutions to as great a number as possible. That the society ever keep in view the principle that the best relief the poor can receive is that which comes from themselves; and that the most effectual method of improving their condition is by the encouragement of industry and prudence.
II. That the business of the society shall be transacted by a committee of twenty-one members.
III. That every person subscribing ten guinea or upwards at one time, or one guinca or upwards an
nually, be eligible as a member of the committee, and be entitled to one copy of all the publications of the society.
IV. That the committee be chosen by the subscribers at their first general meeting, and that they continue to act until the 4th of December, 1812, when seven of the number shall go out by lot, and the committee shall recommend the names of fourteen gentlemen to the annual meeting for the choice of the subscribers, (such recommendation, however, not to be binding;) the following year, seven of the former members shall go out, and seven new committee-men be chosen in like manner; and afterwards the remaining seven of the committee shall go out by rotation, after having served three years; such service, however, shall not render any person ineligible for the succeeding year, if the subscribers should think proper to re-elect him.
V. That a president, two vice-presidents, a treasurer, and secretary. shall be appointed annually by and out of the committee.
VI. That the ordinary meetings of the committee be held on the last Friday in every month, at eleven o'clock precisely, or on such day and hour as the committee may adjourn
VII. That the secretary (with the consent of the president) may call a special meeting, giving one day's notice; but that no business shall be transacted at such committee, excepting that which shall have been notified in the summons.
VIII. That the attendance of five
members at least be necessary to form a committee.
IX. That any member being absent for three successive monthly meetings, without assigning any satisfactory reason, shall vacate his
X. That all vacancies in the com
mittee be filled up by ballot at monthly meetings only, a week's previons notice baving been given to each member of the cominittee, and the person so elected shall be considered as the substitute of the person whose place he fills in the committce.
XI. That all questions be decided by a majority of votes, the chairman having also the casting vote.
XII. That this committee be empowered to correspond with any other society having a similar object in view, to purchase any books which are calculated to give them informmation on the subject, and to print any plan or report which they may think deserving of public attention.
XIII, That the committee be also empowered to offer such rewards for good conduct as the state of the funds will admit, so as to awaken the attention of the poor to what will promote their best interests; that they appoint such officers, with salaries as they may think necessaEy, and apply the funds of the society in such a manner as shall seem to them most conducive to the public good.
XIV. That all drafts or orders for payment on account of the society, he made by order of the committee -and entered on the minutes of the day; and that they be signed by three of the members present, and countersigned by the chairman or
XV. That a select committee be appointed every month, consisting of three members, (two of whom may act,) who shall meet once a week for the better dispatch of the regular business of the society, and shall report their proceedings to the general committee; but no orders of this committee shall be binding beyond the month, unless confirmed by the general committee.
XVI. That sub-committees be ap
XXI. That no person shall be con sidered as a member of the society whose subscription is more than six months in arrears.
XXII. That when any money shall be placed out at interest, the stock shall be purchased and the security taken in the name of the trustees for the time being; and that when any purchase of land or buildings or any other property shall be made, such property shall be conveyed to the said trustees in trust for the society; and the trustees shall, from time to time, when requested by the committee, execute powers of attorney for receiving the dividends and interest as the same shall become due half yearly; and for receiving or recovering the principal money, or any part thereof, to such person or persons only as the committee for the time being shall by writing under the hand of
habits of life, and general character of the labouring poor may be accurately known. This investigation is for the present deferred, because if it had been instituted at this season of the year, expectations of pecuniary relief might have been raised in the minds of the poor, which must have been disappointed: early in the spring it is the intention of the committee to commence this important inquiry upon a regular system, and to perpetuate the infor mation so obtained by half yearly or quarterly reports from the visitors of each division.
REPORT OF THE SOCIETY.
YOUR Committee, since their appointment, have been employed in making the preparations necessary for reducing to practice the measures recommended in the printed report of the select conmittee, and in facilitating the attainment of the other objects of the society; and they now present you with the following report of their progress.
In order to obtain that KNOWLEDGE OF THE STATE OF THE POOR which seems so necessary to the future prosperity of the society, they have divided the town into TEN districts, over each of which two members of the committee have been appointed as superintendants; under their di rection, it is intended to select a number of visitors in proportion to the population of the several districts, to whom this part of the business of the society will more immediately be entrusted, and from whose information the condition, employment,
The second object of the society was the establishment of a FRIEND LY SOCIETY, upon such a basis and under such regulations as to prevent the abuses and correct the errors and miscalculations which have proved ruinous to so many institutions of this kind.
To this the committee have not been inattentive; a set of rules have been drawn up and submitted to the inspection of Mr. Morgan, secretary to the equitable assurance office in London, which have been returned by him with a letter expressing his entire approbation of them, and generously refusing to accept of any remuneration for his services. It now only remains to take the most proper measures for encouraging the poor to become members, and to this object the committee will turn their immediate attention.
To give effect, as early as possible, to the third measure so earnestly recommended, your committee have to report, that they have purchased two lots of ground, one in Bridgewaterstreet, the other in Marlboroughstreet, near Marybone, for the purpose of erecting thereon two PusLIC KITCHENS, with SHOPS conțiguous to them; the plans for these premises have beea submitted to the inspection of the committee, and
approved by them; considerable progress has been made in the erection of one of the buildings, and preparations are making for the imme diate erection of the other.
order in your house, or near it, and what? small pox, measles, or fever?
12th, Are you in want of relief, and why?
Your committee have now informed you of the progress which they have made in the prosecution of the several plans first recommended to your attention. Before they close this, their first yearly report, they would state to you what objects may as they conceive, be reasonably held in view in that investigation of the circumstances of the poor of which they have spoken in the first page, and which was amongst the plans recommended to the society, in the report to the select committee in December, 1809. They have wished to define these objects as accurately as possible to themselves, and they are especially anxious that no misunderstanding should invade the public mind on this subject. Perhaps, they may best introduce the exposition of those objects by a statement of the questions with which they purpose to furnish their visitors.
1st, What is your name and age?
5th, What are your weekly earn-
6th, With whom do you work?
9th, Have your children had the
small pox, or cow pox? 10th, Is your habitation comfortable, clean, and healthy? 11th, Is there any infectious dis
13th, Do you receive relief from
your parish, or from any charitable institution, and what ? 14th, Where were you born, where
been in service, or worked as a labourer?
One object which the committee have in view, in pressing some of the above stated questions, is, that preparation may be made for a judicious distribution of relief, in the event of the recurrence of such a season as the winter of 1808-9. Or that occasion, many of the visitors were much embarrassed in their operations from want of a satisfactory knowledge (a knowledge not, on that emergency, to be obtained) of the characters and circumstances of many of those who applied for as sistance. But it is not merely to a season of unusual distress that your committee look. They have it constantly impressed upon their minds that the great object of your association is to produce a permanent improvement in the state of the poor; and it is obvious that many of their questions have a contemplation distinct from that of the mere lessening of temporary suffering.
They conceive that by making themselves largely acquainted with the state of the poorer classes they may best ascertain to themselves in what directions their efforts may be most happily made. It is possible that, in the result of their in