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Condition of the Labouring Poor, and the Management of Paupers in Scotland.
A two part article from the 1840 edition of Tait's Edinburgh Magazine


In the course of our advocacy of a Poor Law for Ireland, and discussions on the condition of the working classes, we have frequently adverted to the state of the paupers in Scotland as the worst in any civilized country; Ireland, pre-eminent in misery, always excepted. We have formerly had occasion to examine, more or less cursorily, the condition of the poor of France, Prussia, Holland, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, from statistical information and other authentic sources; and have been compelled to acknowledge that, wherever a Poor Law exists, which is the case in all the above countries, the destitute, the aged, the impotent, and the orphan poor, are in a better condition than in Scotland ; where the form of a Poor Law is too often found the most efficient instrument of evading whatever ought to be contemplated by the spirit of a Poor Law. A variety of circumstances have lately concurred to awaken attention to the real condition of the indigent in Scotland ; and, among others, the rapidly increasing wretchedness of the great towns, and the appalling rate of mortality from contagious fever. A number of tender-hearted and benevolent persons, placed, themselves, in comfortable or affluent circumstances. have, it appears, been taken quite by surprise, and are not a little shocked to learn that, in the very heart of enlightened, well-educated, moral, religious Scotland, nay, around their own habitations in the metropolis, there exists an aggregation of misery, an extent of absolute destitution, with the un. failing concomitants—filth, low vice, mendicity, disease, and a high 4lte of mortality—which is not to be paralleled in any civilized country, save, again, by the sole exception, the blot of Christendom, Ireland. These facts, in few words, are what Dr Alison has lately, and, as a matter of conscientious duty, told the people of Scotland; and certainly no one has had better opportunities of acquiring intimate knowledge than he has found during his long and daily rounds of unwearied philanthropy. The student and reasoner of the closet or the pulpit, however benevolent, has, in this painful search, no chance whatever against the medical explorer of the lanes and blind alleys, the scaler of the garrets, the excavator of the cellars,

Where sickening anguish pours the moan,
And lonely want retires to die.

I have extracted this two part article and you can download each part below in pdf format.
Part 1  |  Part 2


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