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well worth reading. The manly, unaffected, English spirit of Matthias has not been caught by his new copyist. An affectation of independence is substituted for its realitya puling love of moderation can bear no comparison with the style or sentiments of one who took a decided part in a momentous contest. And he that rebuked Mr. Pitt in the zenith of his fame, is far above those that flatter Mr. Canning by exaggerating his popularity and his power. Yet the Notes to Men and Things" contain sundry good hitsLord Byron and Mr. Brougham are well played off, and the quotations in both instances are particularly happy. "The great body of the Whigs of England" is reduced to its proper dimensions in a passage which we regret our inability to insert. The following summary of the state of religion has a still greater claim, upon our notice.
"The chapter of credulity and infidelity-superstition and irreligion-would be so long, if discussed with a carefulness at all in proportion to the magnitude and importance of the subject, that I am compelled to wait for some future opportunity of delivering my opinions. Yet two or three remarks are necessary for the purpose of explanation. Abroad, the extremes of bigotry and scepticism are trampling genuine religion to the very dust between them; like two usurpers contending for the throne of a legitimate, but enfeebled monarch. At home, our clergy must look well to their own situation, and the mighty interests confided to their charge. Their own worldly fortunes the welfare of their establishmentthe very existence of Christianity, as the religion of the countryare at stake. Gibbon, I believe, has said of the doctrines of Paganism, that the people thought them equally true:-the philosophers equally false: and the magistrates equally useful. The same, or worse, may be soon the case with Christianity in England. In Scotland there is, or was, an atheistical society, composed for the most part of philosophical striplings and freethinking apprentices. Mr. Owen, too, has thought fit to inform the world, that although he prefers Christianity, upon the whole, to any other existing form of faith, he intends to compile, for himself and his followers, a new and unexceptionable system of religion much in the same manner, it would appear, as a man compiles a system of geography for the use of schools. Compile a system of religion! what signification can Mr. Owen possibly attach to the word?" P. 110.
Why must we quarrel with a gentleman who circulates such just and well-timed observations? Because, in the worst sense of the word, he is a party-man. He has imbibed certain opinions, and he supports them by assertions which are not founded in fact. We proceed to prove this serious charge, and having proved it, as we shall infallibly do, may we not trust that Mr. Boone will renounce his errors, and
become converted to a purer political faith than that which he now professes?
The concluding note, (and it is of a sufficient length) "sums up t the general principles contained in the foregoing epistles," and tells us first that the self-styled friends of tranquillity and order, are vainly striving to counteract the real progress of knowledge; and, secondly, that the same persons affirm that the Imperial legislature has no power to make regulations respecting the property of the Church. The reader will please to remember that the special objects of Mr. Boone's apprehension and dislike are the Ultras, alias the Orangemen, alias the Bigots, alias the High Church. And these are the causes of his distaste-they strive to counteract knowledge and they defy Parliament !! Does Carlile more grossly misrepresent the Gospel? Does Cobbett more absurdly put his own words into his opponents mouth? We challenge Mr. Boone to shew what individual among the High Church party has been guilty of these offences! The party itself is the never-failing object of his condemnationand he condemns them for wickedness which they abhor, and for folly which none but ideots can commit. As long as this gentleman confined his inventions to the Emperor of Russia's graceful dancing, or to Spanish enthusiasm in defence of liberty, his harmless dreams might be excused. From the latter, indeed, he seems to have been roused while his work was in the press, for what is asserted in the text as a well known truth is slurred over in the notes as a prophecy which may not come to pass!! But the Church and the Clergy are less liberally treated. In the verses they are found guilty of general faults-the Appendix brands them with specific crime. Mr. Boone is simple enough to believe and to say that men are to be found at Oxford and Cambridge who would preach passive obedience and the right divine of kings after the fashion of Charles II.'s chaplains. And the whole of his new-fangled partizanship, his dread of "cloistered Peel," his exclusive encomiums on Canning, and his sighs after the progress of the world, are the result of an egregious blunder. Or if he is not so silly as to think that the Bishops resist knowledge, he is uncandid enough to say so. Either he vilifies the Clergy for holding opinions which they scorn, or he scorns them upon other grounds, and sets his genius at work in order to vilify them as best he may. We conclude with repeating our original observation-that he is an agree able satyrist, and an indifferent philosopher.
VOL. XX. JULY, 1823.
ART. XVII. A Letter to the Right Honourable George Canning, on the Principle and the Administration of the English Poor Laws. By a Select Vestryman of the Parish of Putney, under the 59 Geo. 3. cap. 12. 8ve. 114 pp. Cadell. 1823.
In addition to the labours of the Foreign Office, Mr. Canning seems to be involved in no small portion of domestic correspondence. The present assailant requests his particular attention to the theory and practice of the Poor Laws, and the writer being himself a practical man, his remarks upon that branch of the question are of unquestionable value.
But his theory is of a different description. It has been formed upon a very limited experience. The Select Vestryman of Putney forgets that there are portions of England differently situated from the village which "it would be unbecoming in him to praise." And because he has been instrumental in reducing the rates in his own parish, he argues that they ought to be lessened all over the kingdom. We lament this imprudent proceeding. It will diminish, if not destroy the effect of his Work. The improvement which he recom mends would have a better chance of adoption, if it had not been introduced by so much general and incorrect ratiocination. For instance, what will be thought of a writer who defends the principle of the Poor Laws upon the following grounds:
The employer and the employed are in a state of constant struggle, the one to depress, and the other to raise, the rate of wages; but in this contest the latter is invariably in the end worsted.
"Wages seldom much exceed the maintenance of an individual, and never the comfortable subsistence of a moderate-sized family. Competition among labourers themselves, tacit combination among their employers, and municipal regulations prevent the most provident who have families, even in their best days, from doing more than provide for quotidian expenses. To deny a labourer assistance when sickness, casualties, the exigences of a numerous family, or decayed strength require it, and to charge him with improviden ce in not having made a provision for such emergencies, is to charge him with having neglected to avail himself of an opportunity which never occurred, and to refer him to a state of things which never existed. But whilst the labourer is denied more than a bare maintenance he is an essential contributor to national and individual wealth.
"It is the application of labour to the surface of the soil, and to the various substances which constitute the materials of manu
factures, that renders them the sources of public credit and private comfort; whilst the very hands by which they are thus made productive, are not allowed to draw more from them than what is sufficient to enable them to continue their daily toil. Is it then unjust, that, whilst the labourer is hazarding his health, wasting his strength, and wearing out the useful part of his days, for the least possible remuneration, he should look with a certainty of relief to the superfluous produce of his labour, whether the government or individuals may have availed themselves of it, when any emergency shall overtake him? It does not deprive the labourer of his just expectation to say, that his labour is unproductive except it be directed by the skill of others to some useful purpose, for that is admitting that he is a joint contributor to the beneficial result. In this partnership concern the productive results of which far exceed the necessary wants of both parties, whilst he contributes essens tially in all, and equally in some cases, he draws upon the profitonly for a daily subsistence, and leaves the superfluous gains in other hands. Over this surplus fund he presumes not to exercise any right or ownership, any interference with its appropriation or expenditure, and only expects that he may be permitted to look to it for assistance when disabled from labour, or when the wages of labour are insufficient for the maintenance of himself and his family. It is no sufficient answer to his demand to say, that he has received all that was covenanted to be paid him; because he was not a voluntary or conscious agent in contributing to establish the principle upon which such covenant was built. He is called upon to submit to regulations which he had no concern in establishing, to circumstances over which he had no control. His appeal is to the law of nature and the immutable principles of justice. If he were sufficiently enlightened and were admitted as an independent party to discuss the terms on which he, as one among many whose concurrent efforts were to be exerted for effecting a common object, was to contribute his share of exertion, he would stipulate for nothing less than what I here maintain to be his right. He is con• stantly prompted to claim the acknowledgment of this right by the strong law of self-preservation, and by a still stronger motive, the preservation of those who are dearer to him than life. To hold him guilty because he has not provided for all the certain and casual expences of life, is to mock him by charging him with not having accomplished impossibilities. To deny him that to which he has a natural right, merely because we have the power to protect our selves in an act of injustice, is wholly inconsistent with the principles of equitable legislation." P. 6.
The assertions and arguments in this passage are equally incorrect. It is not true that a provident labourer in his best days can do no more than provide for quotidian expences. It is not true that in the struggle between the employer and the employed, the latter is invariably worsted. It is not true
that labourers, when left to themselves and unsupported by poor laws, waste their strength, and wear out their days, for the least possible remuneration. These things may be done in a land which has the benefit of compulsory levies for the poor, and in such a land our Select-Vestryman happens to reside. His imagination does not carry him to other countries, in which the demand for labour is greater than the supply, in which there is no forced bounty upon population, or in which labourers are compelled, to trust entirely to themselves. But he contends for the preservation of the existing system upon the strength of abuses and mischiefs which it has produced, and which it preserves.
It is needless to enter upon a further investigation of this crude theory. Its supporter does not seem to be aware that his plan tends to destroy the temporal comforts of the labouring classes, not less than their moral character and social qualities. He assures us that England owes her greatness to the 43d of Elizabeth; that Ireland would be pacified by the introduction of a similar Statute; and that Scotland has long been in the virtual enjoyment of a poor-rate, though her inhabitants have not happened to discover the fact. He informs us (p. 43.) that few. English landlords "are more than temporarily resident upon their estates," and that our system has almost rendered the residence or non-residence of the proprietors of the soil a matter of indifference. After these declarations, it is better to turn at once to the practical part of the volume. The experience of the writer is confined, if we mistake not, to the space between London and Putney, where landlords certainly do not reside, and their non-residence is an evil that may be remedied or borne. But it is absurd to suppose that this particular case can be taken as a fair specimen of such a country as England.
The remarks upon the administration of the poor-laws are as just as those upon their principle are mis-conceived and erroneous. Here the writer is at home. He decribes what he has done, and seen, and known, and describes it like a man of sense. Having undertaken, in conjunction with others, to oversee the Putney poor, the undertaking has been crowned with complete success; and the means by which it was secured are distinctly explained. We cannot follow him through the whole account, but recommend it to the serious consideration of every one who has parish battles to fight. We extract a description of the treatment of sturdy beggars :
"Of this order, we had, I think, in Putney, more than our fair