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with respect to every thing that we have to spare, after the supply of our own wants.
Neither let the rich boast of their independence with respect to the poor. In fact, they are more dependant upon the poor than the poor are upon them; and were all persons reduced to a level, every advantage of which they now boast would vanish. They must then labour for themselves, and do for themselves those menial offices which are now done for them by others. But, happily for us all, there is such a foundation laid in the course of nature and the order of providence, for that inequality in the conditions of men, which has so excellent an effect in binding us all together, in making our connexion both necessary and mutually advantageous, that no institutions of man can destroy it; though, as we are in duty bound, we may lessen the evils that necessarily arise from it.
Since then the rich, who really wish to act the part that in strict duty they are bound to do, have only a choice to make of objects on whom to bestow their superfluity; and there are many of them, so that some may apply themselves to the relief of one species of distress, and others of another, or of several in different degrees, according as their attention is attracted to them ; I only plead, on this occasion, that the poor emigrants are entitled to a share. Not that I wish to have a fund so open to them, as that they should have a claim upon it as a legal right. That circumstance, as we see in the case of the poor of England, would soon de. feat the very object of the charity. The more poor
kind you provide for in this way, the more you will create ; the more you may burden yourselves, and that without limit, and the more distress you will occasion in others. By this most injudicious system you would only encourage idleness, improvidence, insolence, and profligacy of
But let there be a fund provided, on which, though no person shall have a legal
* Here the Doctor and I differ in opinion. The English system of
law is the best in the world ; the fairest for the giver, and the least degrading to the receiver. By this wise and humane system, those who possess the good things of this world, are compelled to assist those who do not possess them; they are compelled to perform the “ obligation which," as the Doctor truly says, they are under to give;" they are compelled to pay
"'the debt, which they owe to the needy." And, so wisely did our forefathers contrive this system, that the compulsion being general, has in it nothing invidious, on the one part, or humiliating on the other. The poor man, in England, is as secure from beggary as is the king upon the throne. The very worst that can befal him is to be obliged to make his distresses known to the parish officers, to the heads of the great family of which be is a member, who are obliged, by law, to give him what he needs, which he receives, not as an alms, but as his legal due. No one is vested with inquisitorial powers over him; he comes not as a supplicant for mercy or compassion, and, therefore, he fears no refusal. His body may be wasted with want and infirmity, but his heart is not broken by degradation. It is somewhat strange to hear Doctor Priestley express his dislike to this system, because it encourages “ insolence" in the poor; hiin, who has discovered more insolence towards his superiors, than, perhaps, any man that ever existed. There is no good without its concomitant evil; and it may be, that a certain provision for the poor does, in some instances, encourage idleness, improvidence, and insolence ; but, how trifling is this evil, when weighed against the heart.cheering confidence which every man feels, that neither himself, nor the widow, or the orphans, that he may leave behind him, can ever want for the necessaries of life, and can never be exposed to a precarious subsistence? To bear the Doctor railing against English poor laws, one would imagine that there were no poor laws in the United S!ates ; but, to the honour of those States be it spoken, they have poor laws upon the English plan. I, who have paid poor taxes in that country, am able to speak with precision on the subject, and I can prove from my receipts, thai my poor rates, in the very town where the doctor was prating, were full as high as they are in London, in 1801. There are poor every where. We read of the poor from one end of the Bible to the other. It is the lot of mankind to be subject to poverty, and, as far as relates to the poor, that is the best country where poverty produces the least suffering of body and niind, and that country is Old England.
claim, yet from it persons of discretion may, as they shall see occasion, give temporary relief to such emigrants as really want it.
Observe also, that I only say temporary relief, so as to put the poor emigrants in the way of relieving and providing for themselves; and to do this, some assistance may be absolutely necessary.
It might not even be amiss to make the sums afforded them a debt which the institution might reclaim, if the parties relieved should afterwards, as it is hoped most of them will, be in a condition to refund it, and also with interest, for the benefit of others. But that, in some way or other, many poor emigrants are entitled to assistance, will appear to every person who shall consider their situation.
1. It may be depended upon that, in general, emigrants are of the more industrious class of people. For the enterprizing, as the emigrants, in some degree must be, are chiefly of that character. The indolent, as well as the timid, stay at home, content to starve, rather than make any attempt, that shall appear in the least degree hazardous, to better their condition * The weak and the sickly, the aged and infirm, however willing, cannot leave their country, and the friends on whom they depend.t It is therefore probable that, with a little seasonable assistance, the poor emigrant, being disposed to industry, will soon be in a condition to provide for himself, and even to reimburse his benefactor.
* This is not the first time that falsebood has found its way into a sermon of Doctor PRIESTLEY. No; the industrious poor do generally stay at home, except, indeed, the chevaliers d'industrie. The indolent will wander any where, in hopes of living without work, and, as they are told they can do this in America, they go thither. The enterprizing poor, if we confine their enterprize to sedition and robbery, do, indeed, flock thither in great numbers.
+ This is a valuable confession; for, if the weak, the sickly, the aged, and the infirm, stay at home, the emigrants must, of course, consist of strong, healthy people; yet even these, we see, stand in need of assistance from charity sernions, when
It may be said that persons must be very thoughtless and improvident, to leave their country, though ever so poor, without a certainty of finding subsistence in another, and therefore that, on persons of so little foresight, money will be thrown away. This, no doubt, may be the case. But many, and we may well suppose, the greater part, of the necessitous and helpless persons, whose cause I am pleading, were only misinformed with respect to the country to which they have emigrated; and it is by no means easy, especially to persons in their low situation, to procure good information.
Those emigrants who had friends in this country, will of course find employment with them, or assistance from them, and these are no objects of the present charity. But even some of these find their friends dead, or removed, or on some other account incapacitated to give them the assistance they had reason to expect. And many came without any friends at all, but with high expectations from such accounts as were given them of this country ; (is that they would meet with no difficulty, that if they were able and willing to labour, they could not fail to find employment, and that all labour would be abundantly rewarded.* But many of these were manu
they reach the blessed shores of America, “the land,” as Paine calls it, “ flowing with milk and honey."—What falseloods these impostors have propagated !
* Very true; but what shall we say to the precious knaves, who gave the poor wretches this account? and what shall be said to Doctor PRIESTLEY, who was one of ihem?
In 1796, he wrote a letter to England (see page 252, and Vol. XI. page 421), in which are these words : “ Here we have no poor, por
facturers in their own country, and now find, to their great surprize, that their skill and industry are not wanted here, and can be of no service to them, and that there is no kind of labour, to which they have been accustomed, or to which they are equal, by which they can, at least can immediately, get a living.
Also many emigrants have suffered extremely during the voyage. They are landed in a sickly con- , dition, or soon become sickly by the change of climate; so that for a long time they are unable to do any thing at all, and they find expenses at inns and lodging houses much greater than they had any idea of ; so that the little money they might bring with them is soon expended, and they are left wholly destitute. In this case, if they meet with no relief from the charitable and rvell disposed, they must inevitably perish.
~ is there a family in want." And this is the very country, where I am sure he paid poor taxes every quarter, and in the very city, where there are always five hundred poor constantly in the work house, and where as many more are constantly assisted at their houses! This letter I first saw in an English newspaper published at Leeds; and I have no doubt that it was the means of inveigling one thousand people to America. Such an abominable disposition to mischief one would hardly believe could inbabit the human breast.
* This picture, which wants little heightening, is drawn by DOCTOR PRIESTLEY, though it has not yet been circulated by Mr. Johnson of St. Paul's Church. Yard. I will here relate what happened to an emigrant English family at Philadelpliia, which furnishes a striking instance. A bricklayer, named MASTERS, sold off his cow, his household goods, and some other little properiy, amounting in the whole to about one hundred pounds, left his home (a village in Kent), and went with his wife and ten children to Philadelphia, on board the ship. Belvidere, Capt. Reynolds. During the passage, his wife and several of the children were ill. They were cruelly treated by the Captain, who would give then nothing but the ship provisions, and who, not withstanding the weak condition of the females, kept them all penned up in a close and unwholesome part of the vessel. The woman was even dangerously ill, and her husband besought the Captain to give him a liitle' oat