London Labour and the London Poor, volume 3
Charities and Sums Given to the Poor.
ACCORDING to the last Report of the Poorlaw Commissioners, the paupers receiving inand out-door relief was, in , no less than and odd. The number of criminals in the same year was and odd. In , the number of lunatics in county asylums was and odd; while according to the Occupation Abstract of the returns of the population there were, in , upwards of almspeople, beggars, and pensioners: these formed into sum, give us no less than millions and a quarter individuals who pass their time without applying to any gainful occupation, and consequently live in a state of inactivity and vice upon the income of the remainder of the population. By the above computation, therefore, we see that out of a total of souls, oneseventh, or per cent of the whole, continue their existence either by pauperism, mendicancy, or crime. Now the cost of this immense mass of vice and want is even more appalling than the number of individuals subsisting in such utter degradation. The total amount of money levied in for the relief of England and Wales was millions ; but, exclusive of this amount, the magnitude of the sum that we give voluntarily towards the support and education of the poor classes is unparalleled in the history of any other nation or any other time.
According to the summary of the returns annexed to the voluminous Reports of the Charity Commissioners, the rent of the land and other fixed property, together with the
|interest of the money left for charitable purposes in England and Wales, amounts to a year; and it is believed, by proper management, this return might be increased to an annual income of at least millions of money; and yet, says Mr. M"Culloch, "there can be no doubt that even this large sum falls far below the amount expended every year in voluntary donations to charitable establishments. Nor can any estimate be formed," he adds, "of the money given in charity to individuals; but in the aggregate cannot fail to amount to an immense sum." All things considered, therefore, we cannot be very far from the truth, if we assume that the sums voluntarily subscribed towards the relief of the poor equal, in the aggregate, the total amount raised by assessment for the same purpose; so that it appears that the well-to-do amongst us expend the vast sum of million pounds per annum in mitigating the miseries of their less fortunate brethren.|
But though we give altogether million pounds a year to alleviate the distress of those who want or suffer, we must remember that this vast sum expresses not only the liberal extent of our sympathy, but likewise the fearful amount of want and suffering, of excess and luxury, that there must be in the land, if the poorer classes require millions to be added in charity every year to their aggregate income, in order to relieve their pains and privations, and the richer can afford to have the same immense sum taken from theirs, and yet scarcely feel the loss, it shows at once how much the class must possess and the other want.