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A History of the Scotch Poor Law
Laws of Charles II.

Laws of Charles II.: Establishment of manufacturing incorporations — Dearth of capital and lack of employment — Duties of justices --- Overseers of the poor — Regular and casual poor — Ability and disability — Over-facility of relief — Compulsory labour — Privileges of employers — Chargeability by residence — Correction-houses — Treatment of poor — Apprenticeship —Punishment of vagabonds. — Laws of William III.: Proclamations for maintaining the poor and repressing beggars. — Summary of enactments. -Other Acts — Against drunkenness and swearing, profanation of the Lord's day, theft and depredation — Act for encouragement of manufactures —Bank of Scotland — 'Act anent murdering of Children' — Parish schools -- The Union — Assessments — Amount of relief — Numbers relieved - Pauperism of Scotland and England.

IT was not until after an interval of nearly half a century from the passing of the Act of James the Sixth (the First of England), in 1617,a and in the year following the restoration of his grandson Charles the Second, that any further legislation took place with regard to the relief of the Scottish poor. The intermediate period of what has been emphatically called the Great Rebellion, as well as that of the Commonwealth and the Protectorate which succeeded it, although most highly important in their political and social consequences, were too much occupied with the exciting occurrences of the day, to admit of any matters so purely domestic as the relief of the poor being entered upon or considered. The events of these periods, and of the Restoration in which they may be said to have terminated, are so well known that it is not necessary to describe or more particularly refer to them, and we may therefore proceed at once to review the legislation connected with our subject after the return of Charles the Second in 1660.

The first Act of this description requiring to be noticed, was passed in 1661. It is numbered 275 in the margin, and is entitled 'An Act establishing Cornpanies for making Linen Cloth, Stuffs, &c.' The preamble recites that the king, considering that all the laudable statutes made for enriching his ancient kingdom, and for putting poor children, idle persons, and vagabonds to work for their maintenance, and for relief of the country from the burthen of such unprofitable persons, have been hitherto rendered ineffectual; "and that many good spirits having aimed at the public good have, for want of sufficient stocks counsel and assistance been crushed by such undertakings—doth conceive it necessary to create and erect companies and societies for manufactories, that what was above the capacity of single persons may be carried on by the joint assistance counsel and means of many." And therefore, with the advice and consent of parliament, societies and companies are permitted to be incorporated in the persons of such as shall enter them, and after their decease in the persons of their successors, or any other who shall enter themselves therein, for making linen cloth, worsted stockings, searges, baizes, sayes, cottons, sempeternums, Castilians, perpetuanes, and all other woollen stuffs and cloths. And, for their encouragement, such companies are permitted to export their manufactures and to import whatever articles they may require for the same, free of duty.

These incorporations are also empowered to make laws "for the better regulating and ordering the company and manufacture, and things belonging thereto." And that this pious, charitable, and profitable design may be no longer frustrated, nor poor children, vagabonds, or idle persons continue to be burthensome to the country, "it is further ordained that in each parish one or more persons be appointed at the charge of the heritors, for instructing the poor children vagabonds and other idlers, to fine and mix wool, spin worsted, and knit stockings." And for the more speedy perfecting of this laudable design and policy, "now prosecuted by his Majesty in his prudence and condescending care for the meanest of his subjects," it is also ordained that the heritors of shires convened for the purpose, shall elect some of their body in each parish to see this present Act made effectual, and persons appointed for instructing the children and others. "And that manufactures may be promoted, and for the encouragement of skilful artisans to come from abroad for training up the persons aforesaid, and working for the use of the said companies," it is further declared, "that all such as shall be brought home and employed for the said companies shall be free to set up and work in burgh and landward where the companies shall think fit, without paying anything whatsoever, and shall be free of taxes, public burthens, or exactions during their life-time."

Scotland was at this time suffering from a dearth of capital and lack of employment, and its manufacturing resources were of the lowest order. To promote the formation of companies, with the view of securing wiser counsels and larger capitals for manufacturing purposes, and thus to extend the means of profitable occupation, was therefore highly judicious, as was likewise the encouraging of foreign artisans to settle. With respect to the provisions for the instruction and putting to work of poor children and idle persons, these are seemingly free from material objection, and were perhaps on the whole the best which could then be devised. They certainly bear evidence of a desire for improving the condition of the people, by substituting employment for idleness and vagabondism. Instruction was the first step in this substitution, and the agency of the commercial incorporations the second—both in a certain degree forced and artificial, but under the circumstances both may have been useful, or even necessary for effecting the proposed object. There is one provision however of which the same cannot be said—that namely, which restrains all other persons from exporting any of the articles enumerated, "except they be free and of one of the companies aforesaid;" but this prohibition was in accordance with the spirit and limited intelligence of the age.

In the same year, and shortly after the preceding Act, another was passed, numbered 338 in the margin, and having more immediate reference to the relief of the poor. It bears the title of 'Commission and Instructions to the Justices and Constables,' and is in fact little more than an extension and a more complete and elaborate exposition of what was intended by the Act of James the Sixth in 1617. It commences by declaring that the king, "taking into his royal consideration how much the appointing of justices and constables within all the shires of the kingdom, did contribute to the peace quiet and good government thereof, and to the speedy and impartial execution of law and justice to all persons subjected to their jurisdiction,"--therefore for the furtherance of these ends in future, and with the advice and consent of parliament, it is ordained that in all time coming there shall be justices of peace appointed within each several shire, to be nominated from time to time by his Majesty and his successors, with power to administer justice and put the laws in execution, according to the instructions contained in the present Act.

The oaths of allegiance and fidelity to be taken are then prescribed. The justices are directed to meet and convene together quarterly, and to administer justice to the people in all matters within their jurisdiction. They are to elect or continue constables and other officers, with powers and duties as prescribed by the Act of James the Sixth, and to dispose of the fines or mulcts in payment of their salaries —the remainder to be employed as they shall find expedient. They are empowered to proceed upon all rioters and breakers of the peace, "under the degree of noblemen, prelates, counsellors, and senators of the college of justice," concerning whom they are to 11 use all their power for preventing and staying the riots," commanding the parties to cease and to find caution for keeping the peace, and for appearing before his Majesty's council. They are to give order for mending highways, to put the laws in force against destroyers of plantations, &c., to inform the council of forestallers and regraters of markets, and also of the contraveners of the law anent maltmakers, that proceedings may be taken with them; and "they are to cause sufficient single and double ale to be brewed in every shire." They are to prescribe order in the country for its governance in time of plague, and to punish the disobeyers of such order. They are to rate every parish for a weekly proportion, not exceeding five 'shillings Scots, nor less than one shilling, for the maintenance of poor prisoners. The presence of three justices is necessary to constitute a quorum, and they are to be paid for attendance and fined for non-attendance, as is provided in the Act of James the Sixth. At their quarter-sessions in August and February, they are "to appoint the ordinary hire and wages of labourers workmen and servants, and whoever shall refuse to serve upon the price set down by them, shall be imprisoned and further punished at their discretion." They may also compel the master to pay the wages appointed. They are to put the law in execution against persons guilty of the sin of drunkenness, or who shall profane the Lord's Day, or curse and profanely swear, "or who shall be mockers or reproachers of piety or the exercise thereof."

The foregoing are the duties required to be performed by the justices of peace in discharge of their ordinary functions. Their duties with respect to the poor require more particular notice, and to these we will now advert.

After directing the laws to be put into full and due execution against wilful beggars, idle vagabonds, &c., in the precise terms of the Act of James the Sixth, it is now ordered that the justices shall yearly, on the 1st of December and the 1st of June, "make up a list of the poor in every parish within burgh or land, into which number there shall no persons be received who are in any way able to gain their own living. And to the' end that these poor may be no longer necessitated to seek their living with such hardship and difficulties by scandalous waging (wandering), as hitherto they have been in use of," the justices are to appoint two or more persons of good fame and quality in every parish, to be overseers for the poor, "and shall authorise the said overseers to make due trial and examination of the condition and number of such poor aged, sick, lame, and impotent inhabitants of the said parish, who (of themselves) have not to maintain them, nor are able to work for their living, as also orphans and other poor children within the said parish who are left destitute of all help." And the said overseers are to "list and enrol all such persons, and to provide them such a convenient house for their dwelling, either apart or together, as they shall judge requisite; and upon consideration had of what the necessary maintenance will extend to weekly, the overseers are to call for the collections of the said parish, or other sums appointed for the maintenance of the poor thereof, which they are to dispense proportionably to the several poor people as they shall find their necessities to require." The overseers are moreover "to take due trial of the good behaviour and carriage of the poor persons so listed and enrolled; and if any of them being so provided shall go abroad to beg, or otherwise miscarry themselves, or shall refuse, being able to work, any manner of work that they are able to perform"—in all such cases the overseers are to acquaint the justices therewith, "who shall appoint such punishments for the first fault as in their judgments they shall find requisite; and if any shall continue in such miscarriages, they are to be holden and reputed as vagabonds, and so to be proceeded against according to law in that case provided."

And to the end that there may be an exact performance of these regulations, the justices are to call the overseers before them once in every six months, or oftener if they deem it expedient, to give an account upon oath of the moneys received and expended by them, and to produce the rolls of the said poor; "and after due consideration of the charge, together with the discharge- thereof, to approve, allow, or disallow the same, as they shall find to be just;" and they are likewise to examine how the overseers have discharged their trust.

In case any of the overseers nominated as aforesaid shall refuse to accept the office, or having accepted shall be found negligent therein, or shall refuse or delay to account when required, or to deliver the money resting in their hands at the end of the year to such new overseers as shall be appointed—"in all such cases the offenders shall incur the penalty of twenty pounds Scots to the use of the poor, and suffer such further censure as the justices at quarter sessions, upon consideration of their fault, shall see meet to impose."

Neither the presbytery nor the kirk session are noticed in this Act, whence it would seem that the powers conferred on these bodies in regard to the poor by the Acts of James VI. in 1597 and 1600 d had in the period of civil strife which intervened fallen into disuse; and we find that the duties which were required of them are now to be exercised under the supervision of the justices of peace, by overseers whom the justices are to appoint in every parish throughout the country, and who are to be accountable to the justices for the manner in which the duty is performed. The appointment of overseers directed by the present Act is nearly the same as is prescribed by the Act of 1579, and is moreover very similar to the provisions in this respect of the 14th and 39th of Elizabeth. The duties are likewise the same, and the general scope and bearing of the Acts are so nearly identical, that it seems impossible to doubt that the English Acts were the model on which the Scottish Acts were framed—a natural consequence of the approximation of the two countries, not in government only but in social organisation, and the habits of the people.

It has been questioned, and that by a high authority, whether the powers conferred upon justices of peace under this Act, were ever exercised by them in appointing overseers, and in regard to making up lists of the poor, and gathering and distributing collections. The Act itself is however declared to be "very important, as pointing out more clearly than perhaps any other the understanding of the legislature as to the class of persons who, under the statute of 1579, were entitled to parochial relief," and who are said to be the aged sick infirm and impotent poor alone, excluding all persons "who are in any way able to gain their own living." Hence it has always been inferred that these provisions were intended only for the ordinary or regular poor, and that there is no provision whatever for the temporary or casual poor, who when not suffering from sickness or infirmity, are regarded as being able to gain their own living in some way. The poor are thus separated into two classes, the "regular" or disabled, and the "casual" or able-bodied; and this distinction has been upheld in the courts of law, and maintained in practice throughout the country. The first are relieved at the public charge, according to their necessities; the last are not so relieved, whatever their necessities may be. They are in fact subjected to punishment on the ground of their being idle and "vaiging," although their efforts to find employment may have been earnest and unceasing.

The distinction between ability and disability, is necessarily one of circumstance and degree. A man may be able to do some things, and not able to do others—he may be able one day or one week, and be unable in the next—he may be able in the morning, but if left without sustenance through the day, he may be disabled in the evening. The question of ability must therefore be in many instances one of extreme difficulty to determine, yet on its prompt determination would depend an indigent person's being relieved or not, under the provisions of the Scottish Poor Law. It may likewise be remarked, that the interpretation which has been put upon the present Act, and that of 1579, as to the limiting of relief to the aged infirm and impotent, that is to the "regular" poor, seems somewhat at variance with the provision we find in both the Acts for punishing such of this class of poor as "being able to work, shall .refuse any manner of work that they are able to perform." It is clear that these could only have been partially disabled, and in strictness might not have been entitled to any relief; and this again raises the question as to the amount of disablement required for entitling an individual of whose actual distress there can be no question, to admission into the list of "regular poor," or in other words, to relief of any kind.

In a popular sense, and under ordinary circumstances, it may in the majority of cases be pretty confidently predicated who are disabled, and who are not; but instances of doubt and uncertainty on this point will often occur, even to the most practised observer, and this independently of the nicer question as to the precise extent or degree of disability. To make the affording of relief to depend solely upon this in many cases extremely doubtful point, must therefore have been the cause of great hardship to many persons, and very probably have driven them to the commission of crime for relief of their necessities—evils which a timely and temporary assistance might have obviated. At the same time however, it cannot be denied that an over readiness to afford relief, and too great a facility in obtaining it, whether by the able or the partially disabled, are productive of very serious evils, by leading persons to depend on the sources of such relief, instead of relying upon their own exertions and forethought in struggling with the various contingencies of life. Between these poles, the healthy and temperate zone of statutory relief seems to lie, care being taken that its administration shall be so regulated as not to invite applicants except in cases of actual necessity, and then as far as possible squaring the aid afforded with the extent of such necessity; and on the other hand taking care that relief shall not be so far restricted as indirectly to cause, or be regarded in any way as an excuse for, the commission of crime. Within these limits, statutory relief is not only a benefit and a blessing to the poor, but it is also a safeguard to the opulent, neither life nor property being secure amid the pressure of extreme and unmitigated want. The laws enacted by the Scottish legislature did not conform to this principle. They were chiefly directed against vagrancy, the relief of the necessitous poor being an incidental rather than a primary object; and in this consists the difference between them and the laws of England.

Two years after the preceding statute another was passed, entitled 'An Act concerning Beggars and Vagabonds,' and commencing with the usual declaration, that "our sovereign lord, considering the many laudable Acts made for relief of the poor, and for constraining of beggars vagabonds and idle persons to take themselves to lawful callings, that they might not be burthensome and disgraceful to the kingdom "—(the Acts of 1579, 1597, and 1G17g are then recited)—" and his Majesty considering that the chief cause whereby the aforesaid Acts have proven ineffectual, and that vagabonds and idle persons do yet so much abound, hath been that there were few or no common works then erected in the kingdom, which might take and employ the said idle persons in their service; and that now, by his Majesty's princely care, common works for manufactures of divers sorts are setting up"—therefore, with the advice and consent of parliament, the aforesaid Acts are confirmed, with the following additions--

It is declared to be lawful for all persons or societies who have or who shall set up any manufactories within the kingdom, "to seize upon and apprehend the persons of any vagabonds who shall be found begging, or who being masterless and out of service have not wherewith to maintain themselves by their own means or work, and to employ them for their service as they shall see fit, the same being done with the advice of the magistrates of the place where they are so seized upon." It is further ordained that the parishes -where such vagabonds or idle persons were born, or where they have resided haunted or most resorted to "for the space of three years immediately preceding their being so apprehended, and who thereby are relieved of the burtlien of them," shall pay to the persons or societies which employ them two shillings Scots per diem h for the first year, and one shilling Scots per diem for the next three years; and the heritors of each parish assembled upon public notice at the parish kirk on a Sunday, "at the dissolving of the church from the first sermon, are to make up a stent-roll of the poor so employed, and at the rates aforesaid, one half of which is to be paid by the heritors, and the other half by the tenants and possessors, according to their means and substance;" and on failure of such payment, the persons or societies so employing the poor are empowered to make up such stent-roll, and charge the heritors accordingly, and enforce payment by letters of horning. The poor so employed are to continue in the service of the employers, "and under their direction and correction," not only during the space the parishes are to pay for their maintenance, but are also to serve for seven years thereafter for their meat and clothing—that is for eleven years altogether; and all sheriffs stewards bailies magistrates of boroughs and justices of peace and their constables, are charged to be assisting in apprehending the said vagabonds, and in bringing them back to their service.

This Act seems to have been framed with the view of giving increased facilities to the Act of 16G1,i by enabling the commercial companies and associations which that Act authorises, to seize and compel to labour for their benefit, all beggars vagabonds and masterless persons; and this not only without paying for their labour, but being paid during three years for employing them by the parishes to which they belong. Encouragement could hardly be carried further. The companies were exempted from all duties of import and export, and protected from native competitors by the previous Act; and by the present Act they are empowered to compel the service of all persons out of employment and without means or work, and are to be paid for so doing during the first four years, and are to pay nothing during another seven beyond supplying food and clothing—in short, holding the persons so employed in a state of actual slavery.

The encouragement given to manufacturing industry by the Act of 1661 was, with one exception, of a legitimate character, and was on the whole calculated to produce beneficial results. The same cannot be said of the present Act, although it was no doubt intended to aid the former; for setting aside the objection to forcibly depriving a man of his liberty, and compelling him to labour in a state of bondage for eleven years, how could it be expected that labour performed under such circumstances would ever be effective improvement would be out of the question, and the result would inevitably be inferiority of production, enhancement of price, the waste of capital, and in the end general insolvency. Whether this Act was ever carried into effect, and if so to what extent, we have no means of knowing with certainty; but it most probably terminated in a few vain and futile attempts by projectors, disappointing to them, and inflicting a certain amount of hardship and injury upon the poor persons whom it subjected to their control.

The desire for establishing public manufactories and enforcing employment which appears in the present Act, and also in that of 1661, may not unlikely have originated in, or been strengthened by, Sir Matthew Bale's 'Discourse touching provision for the Poor;' and the enactment compelling parishes to pay manufacturers for employing poor persons, on the ground that the parishes were thereby relieved from the charge of otherwise supporting them, may possibly have arisen from the English Act of Settlement passed in the preceding year, by which parochial chargeability in its widest acceptation is recognised and established.

The term of residence, or "most resort," necessary for constituting a claim on any parish, is now reduced from seven years, as named in the Act of 1579, to three years—a more readily ascertained period no doubt, but still leaving the question of liability open to dispute and litigation, which would assuredly have arisen in Scotland, as a somewhat similar enactment soon occasioned in England, if the provisions of the present statute requiring parishes to pay for the employment of their poor had been extensively acted upon. I say of their poor, for it can hardly have escaped observation that the persons to be employed and paid for, are in some parts of the Act described as "beggars, vagabonds, and masterless persons," and in others as "the poor," whence it might fairly be inferred that the terms were meant to apply indifferently to either one or the other. But it has been held by the courts of law that the scent-roll prescribed and the assessment sanctioned by the present Act,, apply only to the case of "vagabonds and idle persons employed by manufacturers," and have no reference to the "regular poor." The Act of 1579 directs the charge for the relief of the poor to be assessed upon the whole of the inhabitants, according to the estimation of their substance. The present Act directs it to be divided equally between the heritors and the tenants, and this has continued to be the law in Scotland ever since. Three years' residence or sojourn in a parish, likewise continued, to be the term for establishing a right of settlement and chargeability until a recent period; so that in these respects this Act of 1663 remained in force, although in all others it soon ceased to be operative, if indeed it was ever in operation at all.

An interval of nine years elapsed before legislation with regard to the poor was again resorted to and then, all former provisions having apparently failed, an 'Act for establishing Correction Houses for idle Beggars and Vagabonds' was passed, commencing with the declaration that, "the king's Majesty, considering the many good laws made by himself and his royal predecessors for suppressing vagabonds beggars and idle persons, who are a great burthen and reproach to the kingdom, and that a numerous brood of such persons are daily increasing, who if they were set to work and bred to trades and callings, might not only cease to be a burthen, but might in a short time and upon far less expense become useful and profitable to the whole kingdom;" and further considering " that these good laws have been frustrated in consequence of there being no place provided wherein such poor people might be set to work, nor persons appointed to have the charge and oversight of them" — wherefore, with the advice and consent of parliament, it is ordained that the magistrates of the thirty-two principal burghs named in the Act shall, before Whitsunday of the next year, "provide correction-houses for receiving and entertaining of the beggars vagabonds and idle persons within their burghs, and such as shall be sent to them out of the shires (which are also named), and that they appoint masters and overseers of the same, who may set these poor persons to work; and each house shall have a large close, sufficiently enclosed for keeping in the said poor people, that they may not be necessitated to be always within doors to the hurt or hazard of their health."

In case the correction-houses be not provided and in readiness at the time required, the magistrates of the burghs so neglecting are subjected to the penalty of five hundred marks Scots, and a like sum quarterly until the houses are provided, to be paid to the commissioners of excise, who are empowered to enforce payment of the same by letters of horning and other execution against the defaulting magistrates, and to apply the amount towards building or purchasing houses for the above purpose. "And in the mean time, until the said houses be provided, the magistrates are required to dispose of the beggars and poor people who were either born within their respective burghs, or have haunted therein the last three years, in some convenient places, so that they may not go begging on the streets or at houses within the town." For enabling the burghs to bear the charge of these correction-houses, the contributions and allowances appointed by the Act of 1663 q for maintaining the poor are to be applied to them, 44 whereby they shall have two shillings Scots per diem for each poor person that shall be sent to them, and entertained and bred by them for the first year, and twelve pennies Scots per diem for three years thereafter, together with the profit arising from their labour and work for seven years thereafter, which contributions are to be paid by the parishes relieved of the said poor in manner contained in the said Act."

And in order that it may be known what poor persons are to be sent to the correction-houses, and who are to be kept and entertained by the contributions at the parish kirks, it is directed that the minister of each parish with some of the elders, or in case of vacancy of the kirk three or more of the elders, do make up an exact list of all the poor persons within their parish, with their age and condition, whether able or unable to work by reason of age infirmity or disease, where they were born, and in what parish they. have most haunted during the last three years — intimation being always made to the heritors of the parish to be present, and see that the lists are rightly made up, and in order likewise that the heritors and occupiers of the land, who have to bear the burthen of maintaining such poor persons, may condescend (agree) upon such of them as through age or infirmity are not able to work, and appoint them places wherein to abide, that they may be supplied by the contributions at the parish kirk; and if the same be not sufficient to maintain them, that a badge or ticket may be given them, "to ask alms at the dwelling-houses of the inhabitants of their own parish, without the bounds of which they are not to beg, nor at all resort to kirks, markets, or other places of meeting, nor to marriages, baptisms, burials, or upon any other public occasion."

It is likewise ordered that such of the said poor persons as are of age and capacity to work, shall be first offered to the heritors or inhabitants of each parish, "that if they will accept them to become their apprentices or servants, they may receive them upon their obligement to entertain and set to work the said poor persons, and to relieve the parish of them, for which cause they shall have the benefit of their work until they attain the age of thirty years, conformably to the Act of James the Sixth (1579); and the rest of such poor persons are to be sent to the correction-houses, "with clothing upon them to cover their nakedness," and a quarter's allowance is to be sent with them by their parish, and is thereafter to be paid quarterly in advance. The said commissioners of excise are also in each shire empowered to take an account quarterly of the performance of each parish in these respects, and in case of failure or neglect, to appoint other persons to make the said lists, and collect the said allowances; and the sheriffs, their officers, and mayors and constables, are required to be assisting in the same.

In case the heritors shall find within their bounds any other vagabonds beggars or idle persons, not being in service nor having any visible means of maintenance, who were not born in the parish nor did formerly haunt within its bounds, they are empowered to seize upon all such and send them to the correction-houses, and to charge the magistrates or masters of the said houses to relieve them, without the advance of any allowance; but the magistrates or masters are notwithstanding empowered to charge the heritors of the parishes where these idle persons were born, or have most haunted the last three years, for the allowance of such of them as are not bred to work, and as to such of them as can work the benefit of their labour is to be taken in return for their meat. The masters of the correction-houses are charged to hold the inmates to such work as they find them most fit for, and in case of their disobedience the masters are empowered " to use all manner of severity and correction, by whipping or otherwise (except torture), and to detain them within the said correctionhouse or close thereof." And it is also provided, that in case any of the said poor persons "be suffered to escape to burthen the country of new," the magistrates are to relieve them again, without any allowance thereafter during the space of four years, under the pain of forty pounds Scots for each person so escaping. They are likewise empowered to receive disobedient servants, and to put them to work, and to correct them according to their demerits.

It is moreover declared to be lawful for "coalmasters, saltmasters, and others who have manufactories, to seize upon any vagabonds or beggars wherever they can find them, and to put them to work in their coal-hewghs or other manufactories, and to have the same power of correcting them, and the benefit of their work, as the masters of the correction-houses." And finally, the execution of the Act is committed to the privy council, with power to appoint all means and ways for making the same effectual; and the commissioners of excise in the several shires are to make returns to the privy council twice a year of the diligence observed in its execution, under penalty of forty pounds Scots.

The enforced employment and species of slavery sanctioned by the Act of 1063 having failed, and a "numerous brood" of vagabonds and beggars continuing daily to increase, the king and parliament determined, seemingly as a last resource, upon establishing "correction-houses" for the reception and setting to work of such persons, taking the English Act, 7th James 1st, cap. 4, as a model. The present Act is accordingly framed for the most part in accordance with that statute, differing only in such respects as the different circumstances of the two countries at the time seemed to render necessary. The powers given to the magistrates of burgles appear to be sufficient, as do also the subordinate details for the government and upholding of the correction-houses, and for enforcing the provisions of the Act, first through the agency of the commissioners of excise (now first noticed in connexion with the Poor Law), and lastly by the privy council, specially empowered for that purpose.

The failure of manufacturing societies to seize and employ beggars and idle vagabonds under authority of the Act of 1663, is sufficiently intelligible; and the exercise of the powers which were conferred upon such associations, when the same were transferred to the magistrates of burghs by the present Act, although free from some of the previous objections, does not hold out much greater promise of success. The correction-houses could no doubt be provided with less difficulty and greater certainty than the manufactories, and would be less dependent upon the profits of the labour performed within them; but the labour would still be forced and artificial, adding in no way to the general wealth and productive powers of the country. We accordingly find that, notwithstanding the penalties to which the burghers were subjected in the event of non-compliance with the provisions of this statute, they appear to have evaded performance so completely, that there does not exist in Scotland a single 'correction-house' applied to the purposes set forth in the Act"--thus affording another instance of the futility of legislation when at variance with the wants and wishes of a community.

The power of correcting "disobedient servants," and the authorising coalmasters and saltmasters to seize vagabonds or beggars wherever they can find them, are new powers conferred by the present Act, and are obviously liable to be greatly abused. The latter is an extension of the power given to manufacturers by the Act of 1663, of which it may also be said to be an aggravation, inasmuch as the labour in coal-mines and salt-works is of a ruder and harder kind than that which is usually carried on in factories. The only limitation of punishment for disobedience or neglect of work is, that it must stop short of torture—up to which point whipping, &c., may be carried at the discretion of the master.

With respect to the infirm and impotent, or the "regular poor," as they are usually termed, the provisions of this Act are open to little objection. Lists of these are to be made out by the kirk session conjointly with the heritors, who are now for the first time empowered to take 'part in making out the lists and the other proceedings, because, as it is said, that "they and the occupiers have to bear the burthen." They are also to have a voice in assigning dwelling-places to such poor persons, wherein they may be maintained out of the contributions at the parish kirk; and if these should not prove sufficient, the heritors and kirk session are then to give them a ticket or badge with permission to beg from the inhabitants of the parish, but not beyond its limits. It has been surmised, from the possible insufficiency of contributions here noticed, that assessments for support of the poor under the Act of 1579 had not yet become general, and this was very likely to have been the case—it certainly was so in England long after the levying of assessments for the purpose had been required by law; and the backwardness in either case cannot be wondered at, the charge being a new one, and opposed to the notions and previous habits of the people. The badging of the poor now permitted, in proof of their being allowed to beg, differs little from what was practised in England under the 5th of Elizabeth, cap. 3, except that it was there general, whilst here it is restricted to the parish.

We find in these provisions another change made in the mode of dealing with the aged and infirm, or "regular poor." By the Act of 1.579 their relief was committed exclusively to the magistrates. The Act of 1597 transferred it to the kirk session, to which the presbytery was afterwards added by the Act of 1600; and it thus remained until 1661, when the justices of peace were directed twice every year to make out lists of the poor, and to appoint overseers in each parish who were to make collections and distribute needful relief. By the present Act we find the duty of making out lists of the poor and administering relief again intrusted to the kirk session, with the assistance of the heritors, who are moreover empowered to grant permission to the poor to beg within their respective parishes when the collections are insufficient. These changes, like the changes which took place with respect to the poor in England, are indications that the previous legislation had proved defective, and required amendment. The same may be said of the various changes which, as we have seen, were made with regard to the vagrant classes; but as vagrancy in every shape was punishable as a crime, the power of the magistrates for its repression was always in force, whatever other provisions there might be respecting it. In the present Act, however, the powers conferred upon the newly created functionaries, the commissioners of excise, seem almost to supersede the authority of the magistrates.

This Act of 1672 must be regarded as of considerable importance, notwithstanding the little use made of the provision from which it takes its title, very few, if any, of the "correction-houses" having ever been established under it. The Act clearly points out the description of persons for whom relief was chiefly intended, and it re-establishes the kirk sessions as dispensers of such relief, conjointly with the heritors—an arrangement that henceforward continued to be acted upon. The liability to furnish subsistence in return for the labour of idle vagabonds, &c. (that is for all unemployed persons), which is admitted by the tenour of the present and by several of the preceding Acts, although less binding and imperative than in the case of the aged and infirm poor, yet appears sufficiently indicated to warrant its being taken as amounting to a claim, and it is difficult to reconcile such indications with the assertion that in Scotland all claim for relief at the public charge is limited to the infirm and impotent poor. Whatever may have been the strictly legal limitation in this respect however, the practice, as explained by Dr. Robert Burns of Paisley, in his `Historical Dissertation,' published in 1819, has not been opposed to the claim, although in the distribution of relief a clear and obvious distinction is, he says, made between the ordinary poor, who are altogether incompetent at any time or in any circumstances to earn by their own exertions alone a subsistence for themselves, and the extraordinary or occasional poor, who by reason of temporary or local circumstances have been reduced to unlooked-for distress. In favour of the former class the provision is permanent. In regard to the latter class, such partial and temporary relief is given as may enable the unfortunate objects of it to regain the place they may have lost, and thus prevent them from becoming permanently a burthen on the public."

The death of Charles the Second in 1685, and the abdication of his brother and successor, James the Second, in 1688, followed by the accession of William and Mary in 1689, and (after Mary's death in 1694) the reign of William singly until 1702, when he was succeeded by Queen Anne, are historical incidents requiring to be here noticed only as giving a designation to the legislative enactments of the respective periods. For further mention of these events in connexion with our general subject, the reader is referred to the `History of the English Poor Law.'

Between the passing of the Act of 1672, just commented on, and the Act of Union in 1707, there were several enactments of the Scottish parliament deserving of notice, although not immediately or exclusively appertaining to the poor. But it is thought better to carry on the narrative of Poor Law proceedings in an unbroken series, down to the Union of the two legislatures, after which the Acts referred to may be more conveniently brought under examination.

The first in the series of the Poor Law enactments to be noticed, is that of William the Third in 1695, entitled, an 'Act for reviving the Acts of Council anent the Poor.' It is very short, and merely declares that "our sovereign lord, with the advice and consent of the estates of parliament, doth hereby ratify, approve, and revive all Acts of Parliament, and Acts and Proclamations of Council, for maintaining the poor and repressing of beggars, and ordains them to be put to vigorous execution in all points." And it further empowers the privy council to take means for making the said Acts and Proclamations effectual, "conform to the true design thereof."

In the year following another Act for the better providing the Poor and repressing of Beggars' was passed, as before ratifying approving and reviving all Acts and Proclamations for maintaming the poor and repressing beggars, and ordaining them to be put into full and vigorous execution. The Act further empowers the lords of the privy council, if they shall think needful, "to grant a commission to a certain number of persons to be supervisors and inspectors of the poor, either in particular shires and burghs, or over the kingdom, and to make and emit such acts and constitutions, not inconsistent with the standing laws, as shall be thought necessary for the more effectual employing and maintaining of the poor, and freeing the country of vagabonds and idle beggars;" which acts and constitutions of the privy council are to have the effect and force of law, until the next session of parliament. The king is likewise recommended "to cause visit all hospitals, and their rents and revenues, with their rights and foundations," to the end that whatever property or revenues belonging to them, and any way misappropriated, may be duly applied according to their foundations; as also to inquire after all mortifications, that they may be applied in conformity with the will of the mortifiers.

At the end of two years another 'Act anent the Poor' was passed, having the usual preamble. After referring to the Act of 1579, and the other Acts of James's reign for punishing masterful beggars, &c., it recites those portions of the Act of 1617, No. 10, which provide for the putting out of poor children to service, and quotes the Act of I663,Y empowering the masters of manufactories to seize and employ idle vagabonds, &c.—and the Act of 16729 for establishing correction-houses, and also the two Acts last above inserted—after which it refers to the proclamations issued by the privy council, especially that of the 3rd of March immediately preceding, all of which acts and proclamations, with the alterations to be afterwards mentioned, are ordained "to be put into full and rigorous execution in all points." For the better and more effectual execution of the aforesaid acts and proclamations, the lords of the privy council are, as in the Act of 1696, empowered to appoint supervisors and inspectors of the poor, who are enjoined to cause the persons severally intrusted to do and perform their respective parts, and also to cause the burghs to build correction-houses in such order as they shall think fit. The privy council is likewise, as before, empowered "to make and emit such acts and constitutions, not inconsistent with the standing laws, as shall be thought necessary for the more sure employing and maintaining of the poor, and freeing the country of vagabonds and idle beggars;" and the same recommendation is again made with respect to hospitals, and their rights rents and foundations.

The proclamations adverted to and sanctioned in this and the preceding Act of 1696 are four. They were issued by the privy council in 1692, 1693, 1694 and 1698 respectively. The whole of this period, that is between 1092 and 1699, on account of the general failure of the crops, bears the designation of the "seven ill" or the "seven barren years." The distress in England was very great, but in Scotland it was excessive, whole parishes having in some parts been nearly depopulated. The general distress caused an increase of mendicancy, and to mitigate the one, and as far as possible to prevent the other, the proclamations referred to were issued.

The first is entitled a 'Proclamation of the Privy Council anent Beggars,' and is dated 11th August 1692. It refers in the first place to "the good laws which have been made for maintaining the poor, and relieving the lieges of the burthen of vagabonds"—in prosecution whereof the heritors ministers and elders of every parish are required to meet at their parish kirk, and there to make lists of all the poor within their parish, and ascertain the charge of entertaining them "according to their respective needs," one-half of which charge is to be borne by the heritors, and the other half by the householders of the parish. They are also to appoint two overseers to collect and distribute such maintenance, and likewise a officer to serve under the overseers for inbringing the said maintenance, and for "expelling stranger vagabonds from the parish;" and such of the poor as have not houses, the heritors are to provide with houses at the expense of the parish. In case any parish should fail in providing for its own poor, it is to pay the sum of 2001. Scots—one-third to the pursuer, and two-thirds to be applied to the maintenance of the poor of the parish, "and that monthly, as long as the parishioners fail in their duty." Mortifications are to be applied in like manner. The heritors and elders are to hold meetings in February and August of each year, "to consult and determine herein as shall be thought fit for every ensuing half-year, and to appoint overseers by the year or half-year as they shall conclude." All ministers are required to give information to the sheriff if any parish fails in performance of this Christian duty, and the sheriff is forthwith to summon the delinquents, "and fine them in double the quota which the minister shall attest to be wanting."

If any of the poor are able to work, the heritors of the parish are required to put them to work according to their capacities, "furnishing them always with meat and clothes;" and if any child under the age of fifteen be found begging, any person who shall take him before the heritors ministers and elders, and engage to educate him to trade or work, "the said child shall be obliged to serve such person for meat and clothes, until he pass the thirtieth year of his age;" and all manufactories are declared to have the same privilege. Young persons above fifteen may voluntarily engage themselves upon like conditions. The masters are authorised to use correction as they judge expedient, life and torture excepted; but if the master shall exact inhuman or too rigid service, the sheriffs or the justices of peace, upon application of the servants, are to judge in the case.

All beggars are strictly commanded to repair to their several parishes, and to present thernselves to the heritors and elders, that their names may be listed, and that they may be lodged and entertained accordingly. If found begging without the bounds of their parish after a certain date, they are to be seized as vagabonds, imprisoned, and fed on bread and water for a month; and if found vaguing a second time, they are to be marked with a hot iron on the face. All lieges are charged to apprehend such beggars as they find vaguing about after the time specified, and carry them to the principal heritor of the parish if it be in landward, and to one of the bailies in towns, who shall examine the beggar as to the parish where he was born, and shall direct him forthwith to the nearest parish that lies in the road to such parish, and deliver him to the nearest heritor that lies in that highway in the next parish; and so from parish to parish in the same road, until he arrive at the parish of his nativity, where he is to be listed and entertained among the poor. And whosoever after the time specified shall give alms to a beggar out of his own parish, and shall not seize him in order to his transportation as above said, is to be fined twenty shillings Scots, to be uplifted by the overseers, and applied to the use of the poor of the parish; and if the heritor to whom the beggar is brought fail in his duty of so sending him, he is to be fined twenty pounds Scots, to be applied in like manner.

The Act of 1672 a is then referred to, by which correction-houses are appointed to be erected in certain burghs for employing the poor, but which, it is said, have hitherto been too much neglected; and it is therefore directed that Edinburgh, Stirling, Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness, Glasgow, Jedburgh, Dumfries, and Cupar in Fife, if they have not already, shall forthwith provide such houses, and receive such poor for work therein as shall be sent to them from any parish, in manner and on the conditions prescribed by that Act, and by the present proclamation, which is ordered to be openly published at the market cross in all the head burgles of the kingdom, "that none pretend ignorance."

The second proclamation was issued on the 29th of August in the following year, and is headed the same as the one preceding. It commences by declaring that the intent of the former proclamation requiring all beggars forthwith to repair to their several parishes, bath been frustrated by the uncertainty of the parishes where the said beggars were respectively born, and also for want of suitable provision by the heritors and magistrates of the parishes where the said beggars have been born or had their last seven years' residence—wherefore it is strictly commanded that all beggars do immediately repair to the parishes where they were born, or if this be not certainly known, to the parish where they resided the last seven years, "and there present themselves to the heritors and elders, and where the parish is vacant and has no elders, to the heritors alone, who are required to make the provisions necessary for the said beggars, and to list their names among the poor of the parish, that they may be lodged and entertained accordingly." Persons found begging after a day named, are to be seized and imprisoned, &c., as is directed in the former proclamation.

The magistrates of burghs are required to meet and stent themselves in conformity with the usage in laying on stents in the respective burghs, "and so may be most effectual to reach all the inhabitants. The heritors of vacant parishes are likewise to meet and stent themselves for maintenance of their poor, and appoint the ingathering uplifting and applying of the same, in the same manner as the heritors and elders are appointed in the former proclamation. The ministers are also in like manner required to inform the sheriff, if any parish or person shall fail in these respects. "And for preventing any question that may arise betwixt the heritors and kirk session, about the quota of the collections at the church doors and otherwise, to be paid to the heritors for the end aforesaid," it is determined that the same shall be one-half of the said collections, and the kirk session is to pay the same from time to time to the said heritors accordingly.

In the year following, another proclamation was issued "for putting former Acts and Proclamations anent Beggars in execution." The preamble declares that "many good laws have been made for maintaining the poor and relieving the lieges from vagabonds, in prosecution whereof several proclamations have been emitted by the Privy Council for the better putting the said laws in execution, notwithstanding which due obedience hath not been hitherto given to the same, so that the poor are not duly provided for in many places, nor the vagabonds restrained"—wherefore the ministers, heritors, elders, and householders of every parish, are respectively commanded to follow forth and obey the laws in these respects; and the sheriffs and their deputies, the justices of the peace, and the magistrates of burghs, are further commanded, within their several jurisdictions, "to take trial how far and in what manner the said Acts of parliament and proclamations have been obeyed and put to execution; and where any have been neglected, or been deficient in what is required of them, to amerce and fine them therefore, in the manner specified." If any difficulty should arise through what cause or occasion so-ever, not provided for by the said laws and proclamations, the same is to be represented to the privy council, "that such order may be given thereanent as may bring this good work of relieving the poor and restraining vagabonds to the desired issue"—for the better effecting of which, a committee of the lords of the privy council is appointed to receive any such representation, and likewise with power to call before them the sheriffs and other magistrates to whom the execution of the said Acts and proclamations is committed, and to examine and take trial of any negligence therein, and to report their opinion to a full council.

The fourth and last "proclamation anent Beggars" was issued in 1698. It declares that "the many good laws for maintaining the poor, and suppression of beggars vagabonds and idle persons, have not hitherto taken effect, partly because there were no houses provided for them to reside in, and partly because the persons to whom the execution of these laws was committed have been negligent of their duty "—for remedy of which, it is ordained that the former proclamations be reprinted, and put in full and rigorous execution; and in order to make the said proclamations more effectual, so much of the Act of 1672 as relates to "correction houses" is revived, and they are ordered forthwith to be provided in the thirty-two burghs named in that Act, and the magistrates, with the advice of the presbytery, are to appoint masters and overseers for the same, to set the poor persons to work, "under the pain of 500 merks quarterly, until correction houses be provided." The sheriffs are likewise commanded to put the said Act in execution within their respective shires, and they are to give account of their diligence herein before the 1st of December following, under penalty of 500 merks for the use of the poor, and they are further "to be liable in 100l. weekly after the said day until they return an account of their diligence to the privy council, to be employed for the use aforesaid."

The several parishes within each shire and district are to send their poor to the magistrates of the towns where the correction houses are to be provided, against the 1st of November next; and in case the said houses be not ready to receive them on that day, the poor are to be maintained by the magistrates until the correction houses be provided, and that independently of the penalties imposed by the Act. "And because there may some questions arise in putting the said Acts in execution, for which there can be no general rule set down, in respect of the different conditions and circumstances of several places of the country," power is therefore given to the ministers and elders of each parish, with advice of the heritors assembled upon intimation for that purpose, "to decide and determine all questions that may arise in the respective parishes, in relation to the ordering and disposing of the poor, in so far as is not determined by the laws and Acts of parliament, and the former Acts of the privy council ratified by parliament."

These proclamations were all confirmed and established as law by the Act of 1698. It will be seen that they do not make any material change in the law itself, but are directed rather to supply certain deficiencies of detail, and to procure its being carried into operation with greater certainty and promptitude. This was no doubt necessary in the season of long continued dearth in which the proclamations were issued, when distress and privation were almost universal, and when the sufferings of the poorer classes must have been excessive. To mitigate these sufferings by providing at the common charge some speedy relief for the most destitute, was the main object of these proclamations. The necessity for relieving destitution had been recognised by previous statutes, but the means of obtaining or rather of administering relief were not so direct and efficient as the exigencies of the period called for, and the deficiency in this respect was therefore sought to be supplied. The chief change introduced by the proclamations was with regard to the heritors, or owners of property, on whom greater responsibility is thrown, as well as a larger portion of the charge. Much reliance appears to be still placed on "correction houses," although the little ground there was for such reliance is manifested by the fact of their never having been provided, notwithstanding the enactments to that effect in 1672 and 1698, and the urgent directions and the penalties for noncompliance set forth in the 1st and 4th proclamations. The manner of removing beggars to the parish or place of their birth or accustomed residence prescribed in the 1st proclamation, is so nearly similar to what was a few years afterwards directed in England by the 11th William 3rd, cap. 18,e as to warrant the supposition of a common origin.

The law in Scotland "anent the poor," may be said to have been settled by the Act of 1698, no change having been made between that and the Act of Union in 1707, and for a long period afterwards.

On a review of what has been cited in the preceding pages, it will appear that the operative portions of the law are mainly derived from the Acts of 1579, 1597, 1672, the first proclamation in 1692, and the Act of 1698. The general provisions of these Acts devolved the relief of the poor in the several parishes upon the heritors and the kirk session, who were authorised to tax and stent the inhabitants, as well as to apply the church collections, mortifications, and other incomings for that purpose. The taxing is to be equally apportioned between the heritors and the householders of the parish, and a general power of supervision is given to the sheriffs, justices of peace, and magistrates of burghs. The persons to whom relief is to be afforded are of two classes—first, the aged infirm and impotent poor, to whom a right of maintenance and needful shelter and support is freely given; and secondly, the idle vagrant and mendicant poor, with respect to whom relief is to be coupled with employment, and in certain cases with punishment. They are not permitted to be idle, or to vaig or beg, but are to be compelled to labour. Were they permitted to wander about and beg, they might possibly obtain a living in that way; but as they are prohibited from so doing, and forced to work, the affording them the means of living in return seems to follow as a natural corollary, if not as an absolute right. The correction houses appear to have been considered, both by the Scottish legislature and the privy council, as likely to afford the least objectionable means of employing such persons, and indeed of all who were without employment, and who, whether on that account or any other, were found in a state of idleness; and hence, we may presume, the urgency with which it was endeavoured to enforce the provision of such establishments.

Supposing "correction houses" to have been provided, the degree of their usefulness, or whether useful at all, would of course depend on their management; and the manner in which they were applied. If used as places of confinement, to which vagrants might be sent and subjected to labour by way of punishment, there would be no more objection to them than to any other mode of imprisonment. If used for manufacturing purposes, and with the view of providing remunerative employment at the public charge, it is needless to say that they would fail of their object, and in the end be productive of evil. If used as a species of workhouse, and applied to test the actual destitution of the parties sent thither, as well as for relieving their necessities, they might prove beneficial; and that something of this kind was contemplated by the promoters of these intended institutions, may be gathered from the direction in the original Act of 1672, and which is repeated in the proclamation of 1698, "that each house shall have a, large close, sufficiently enclosed for keeping in the said poor people, that they be not necessitated to be always within doors to the hurt or hazard of their health." As, however, the "correction houses" were never provided, we need not speculate further as to what might have been their effects.

The kirk session of a parish in Scotland conjointly with the heritors, nearly assimilates to the old English vestry, and the functions of the two bodies with regard to the poor were likewise similar. Each was presided over by the minister of the parish, each had to decide upon the nature and amount of the relief in every case, and each also had to provide at the public charge the means for affording it. The kirk session was moreover, like the parish vestry, subjected to the supervision of a class of magistrates—in England to the justices of peace, in Scotland to the sheriffs and justices in landward parishes, and to the magistrates in burgles. This right of supervision as exercised in England was productive of important consequences in regard to the expenditure for relief of the poor, the amount of which we have seen went on rapidly increasing from year to year, and the increase has been considered to have in a great degree arisen from the interference of the justices in questions of relief. Their right of interference had existed from an early period, and although restricted by The 9th George 1st, cap. 7 (1722), it was again largely extended by The 55th George 3rd, cap. 137 (1815), and continued to be exercised until the passing of the Poor Law Amendment Act in 1834, by which it was again restricted, and by which also justices were constituted ex-officio members of the boards of guardians. In Scotland the authority of the magistracy never extended beyond seeing that the laws were put in due execution—they had no power to interfere with the ordering of relief, which was exclusively vested in the heritors and kirk session; and to this, coupled with the determination strenuously adhered to of not admitting a right to be relieved on the part of any except the infirm and impotent poor, and the strict economy with which relief has been afforded to these, may be attributed the cornparatively small amount of such relief in Scotland, as contrasted with that of England — a difference far greater than the actual state of the law in the two countries would seem to warrant or account for.

Settlement was in Scotland free from most of the complications by which it was encumbered in England—it there only depended on birth, or on a continuous although not necessarily a constant residence in a parish for seven years, as first enacted, a period which was afterwards reduced to three years, and then again extended to seven, by the second proclamation; but no one who did not beg or solicit alms was liable to be removed. In this respect the Scottish law was always the same as what the English law was brought back to by The 35th George 3rd, cap. 101,9 and had therefore not been productive of the same amount of evil which unquestionably ensued from removals in England: but it is nevertheless impossible to doubt, that in common with settlement of every kind where the power of removal is exercised, it must in many cases have caused great hardship, and that serious evils did practically ensue from the enforcement of the law.

The laws affecting the vagrant classes had in England from the time of The 39th Elizabeth' downwards, been kept distinct from the enactments regarding the poor, and were reduced into one statute,' known as the Vagrant Act in 1713. The case was different in Scotland. Vagabonds, "sorners," and masterful Vagabonds, beggars, are included with the other poor in the Scottish Acts, although we do not find that the kirk session dealt with them in like manner. They in fact fell under the cognisance of the civil magistrate, and there must often have been great if not insuperable difficulty in distinguishing one class from the other—the indigent and more or less infirm poor from the vagabond—the employed and possibly industrious individual of one week, from the unemployed and therefore idle vagabond of the next. The line of demarcation between the two is continually changing, persons of one class to-day becoming merged in the other to-morrow. This difficulty of discrimination with regard to the poor exists in every state of society, but the condition of Scotland was calculated greatly to increase it, the vagabond classes being there exceedingly numerous. They were indeed so numerous and burthensome, as to lead Fletcher of Saltoun, whose liberality and patriotism have never been questioned, to advocate the subjecting of then to a species of slavery by way of remedy. But even this, lie appeared to think would not be altogether effective, since the Highlands, being 11 possessed by a people who are all gentlemen only because they will not work, and who in everything are more contemptible than the vilest slaves, except that they always carry arms, because for the most part they live upon robbery, will always be an inexhaustible source of beggars." Wherefore he recommends their removal, and their place to be filled from other parts of the country; and further, "for example and terror," that "three or four hundred of the most notorious of those villains, which we call jockies, might be presented by the government to the state of Venice, to serve in their gallies against the common enemy of Christendom."

According to the order of date, the Act of Union in 1707 would now be noticed; but there are a few Acts of the Scottish parliament, passed previous to 1698, the notice of which has been postponed, and which cannot be altogether omitted, as they throw considerable light upon the condition of the people and the general circumstances of the country.

The first of these Acts which I shall notice was passed in the first parliament of Charles the Second, and ' was entitled 'An Act against Swearing and excessive Drinking.' It recites that "our sovereign lord being desirous that all his subjects may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty, and in order thereto having resolved to curb and suppress all sort of sin and wickedness, and especially the abominable and so much abounding sins of drunkenness and all manner of cursing and swearing"—therefore it is enacted, that every person who shall blaspheme, swear, or curse, or who shall drink to excess, shall, if a nobleman, be fined twenty pounds Scots, if a baron twenty marks, if a gentleman heritor or burgess, ten marks, if a yeoman forty shillings, and if a servant twenty shillings; and if the offender be not able to pay the penalty, then to be exemplarily punished in his body according to the merit of his fault."

Eleven years afterwards another Act was passed confirming the above, and all other Acts "against cursing, swearing, drunkenness, fornication and uncleanness, profanation of the Lord's day, mocking or, reproaching of religion and the exercise thereof;" and directing that the several penalties inflicted by the said Acts shall be exacted of the respective transgressors—for which purpose it is ordained, "that besides the exercise of church discipline, according to the laws and practice of the church," the lords of session, sheriffs, bailies, magistrates, and justices of peace, shall in the several parishes where they reside, "as shall be dilated to them by the kirk sessions," cause the several laws to be executed. Collectors are moreover to be appointed to levy the fines, to whom the kirk session and heritors may in each case assign such a portion thereof for his services as may be deemed right, and the remainder is to be applied to the use of the poor of the parish—one half to those in the "correction houses" for teaching them lawful trades, the other half to the aged and infirm poor appointed to be maintained by the contributions at the parish kirk.

The practices of the court little accorded with the spirit pervading these Acts, or with the elevated although somewhat austere and rigid discipline of the Presbyterian church; and it is not improbable that the Acts may have been passed to mark the disapprobation of the clergy and better portion of the Scottish people, with regard to the lax and dissolute manners of the upper .classes, on whom the example of the court and its satellites throughout Charles the Second's reign exercised a pernicious influence. Another 'Act against Prophaneness' was passed in 1690, confirming the previous statutes, and requiring them "to be put to exact and punctual execution;" but it does not contain any additional provisions, and requires no comment.

An `Act for suppressing of Theft, Robberies, and Depredations," was passed in 1662. It declares that notwithstanding the many laws made for suppressing these crimes, "yet some insolent persons have of late, and daily do, commit outrages, thefts, and robberies upon the persons and goods of divers his Majesty's faithful subjects, to the dishonour of religion, contempt of authority, and reproach of the nation." Wherefore in order to prevent such violences in future, " that so all his Majesty's good subjects may find the fruit of his happy restoration, in the safe protection of their persons and secure possession of their goods"—it is ordained, that whensoever any oppressions, hereships, reiffs, sornings; thefts, robberies, or depredations shall be committed, the owner of the goods away taken is to give intimation thereof to the sheriff or his deputy, or to any justice of peace or constable, who is immediately, upon pain of being liable for restitution of the goods or payment of the value thereof, to "command and require all the fensible persons within the parish to go with them in pursuit of the said goods, and the waytakers thereof," which command the said persons are obliged to obey under a like penalty. And in case the thieves and robbers shall pass through or rest in any other parish, the justices of peace, constables, licritors, wad-setters, and feuars are required, with their tenants and servants, and such as they can command, to make opposition and seize upon the goods and drivers thereof, and to restore the goods, and deliver or secure the way-takers, "that they may underly the law." If the depredators be so numerous and powerful that they cannot be stopped and mastered by the inhabitants of the said parish, then all the fensible inhabitants are to rise in arms and pursue them, requiring all the fensible persons in any other parish they pass through to join with them, that so the goods may be restored to the right owners, and the depredators punished according to law. It is further ordained, "that if the pursuer of the goods shall not be able after all his utmost endeavours, with concurrence aforesaid, to recover the said goods and apprehend the waytakers thereof, then the heritors, wadsetters, and feuars of the parish wherein the goods shall be found to have been disposed of or sparpalled, [Dispersed, scattered] shall be liable for the value according to their several interests;" and it is further ordained, that in case the parties whose goods are taken away, or those who are obliged to rise with them, shall happen to slay, hurt, or mutilate any of the waytakers thereof or their associates, they shall never be drawn into question for the same. And for the better suppressing of thefts robberies and depredations, the sheriffs and their deputes are strictly enjoined to put in execution the powers confided to them by the laws, for pursuing and apprehending robbers and thieves, with all other persons who have no certain residence nor known way of livelihood; and the inbringer of every robber and thief after he is outlawed and declared a fugitive, is to receive a reward of two hundred pounds Scots.

We here find proof of the depredations to which property was at that time subjected in Scotland. To raise the inhabitants of the plundered parish in pursuit of the depredators, and to require the inhabitants of other parishes to join in arresting them, was a natural remedy under the circumstances; but the necessity for having recourse to such a remedy shows the lawless character of the period, and the prevalence of illegal combinations for the purpose of plunder and devastation. These acts of violence were no doubt chiefly perpetrated by the Highland clans, in their raids upon the more industrious and orderly inhabitants of the Lowlands, as described by Fletcher of Saltoun; but they were not confined to them, similar violences being common in other parts of the country, arising often no doubt from party feuds, and aggravated by hereditary animosities.

The masters of two sugar works established at Glasgow petitioned parliament in 1681, representing on behalf of themselves and their partners, "that they had employed a great part of their stocks and fortunes in setting up the said two works, which are now brought to that perfection that they are able and do sell the sugar at a third part cheaper than the same can be imported from abroad, by which many people are kept at work, and a great stock of money which used to be exported is kept within the kingdom"—and they therefore humbly supplicate that the said two sugar works may be declared manufactures, and enjoy all the privileges and immunities granted to manufactories by former Acts. The supplication was favourably received by the king and the states of parliament, and after "report of the lords of articles thereanent," it is ordained that the petitioners and their successors shall enjoy all the privileges, freedoms, and immunities granted by the said Acts, and collectors are discharged from exacting any custom or excise or other public dues for any of the materials imported and used in or on any of the products of the said manufactures, for the space of nineteen years. Four years afterwards (in 1685) a similar favour was conferred upon the Greenland fishing, which is declared to be a manufactory, and exempt from duties of every kind---whereby it is supposed " vast sums of money will be kept within the kingdom, and by the export of oil and whalebone considerable sums of money will be brought into the kingdom." Like reasons were assigned for the encouragement given to the Greenland and Eastland trades by the 25th Charles 2nd, cap. 7, 1672. In the above instances, as in the case of that Act, it is impossible not to approve the solicitude manifested for extending the commercial resources of the country; although the mode in which this object was sought to be accomplished may be open to some objection.

The above enactments show that the pursuits of commercial industry had gotten to be appreciated by the Scottish legislature; and this is further proved by an Act passed eight years subsequently "for encouraging of foreign trade." It commences by declaring, that "our sovereign lord and lady the king and queen's Majesties, considering how much the improvement of trade concerns the wealth and welfare of the kingdom, and that nothing hath been found more effectual for the improving and enlarging thereof than the erecting and encouraging of companies, whereby the same may be carried on by undertakings to the remotest parts, which it is not possible for single persons to undergo"—wherefore, with the advice and consent of parliament, it is declared, "that merchants may contract and enter into societies and companies for carrying on trade to any kingdoms, countries, or parts of the world, not being at war with their Majesties; to which societies and companies, all powers rights and privileges as to their persons, rules, and orders are granted, that by the laws are given to companies allowed to be erected for manufactories"—and further, for their greater encouragement, their Majesties "upon the serious recommendation of the estates of parliament," promise to grant letters patent under the great seal, confirming the whole of the aforesaid powers and privileges, "with what other encouragements their Majesties shall judge needful." The Bank of England was established in the present year, and the East India Company was reconstituted —events indicative of the enlightened interest taken by the government in promoting the general welfare, and of which the present Act affords another striking example.

Two years after the above, we find another instance of a like nature in the establishment of the Bank of Scotland, for which an Act was passed in 1695. It recites that our sovereign (William the Third), "considering how useful a public bank may be in this kingdom, according to the custom of other kingdoms and states, and that the same can only be best set up and managed by persons in company, with a joint stock sufficiently endowed, and with the powers, authorities, and liberties necessary and usual in such cases, bath therefore, with the advice and consent of parliament, allowed a joint stock amounting to the sum of 1,200,000., to be raised by the company hereby established, for carrying on and managing a public bank." Twelve persons are then named, in whose favour the Act was immediately passed, five of them being described as resident in Edinburgh, and seven in London; and they are authorised to receive subscriptions, "and all and every the persons subscribing and paying into the said stock as aforesaid, are declared to be one body corporate and politic, by the 'name of The Governor and Company of the Bank of Scotland, under which name they shall have perpetual succession.

An 'Act anent murdering of Children' was passed in 1690. (July 19th No. 50.) It declares that the king and queen, "considering the frequent murders that have or may be committed upon innocent infants, whose mothers do conceal their being with child, and do not call for necessary assistance in the birth, whereby the now-born child may be easily stifled, or being left exposed in the condition it came into the world it must quickly perish"—for preventing which, it is with the advice and consent of parliament ordained, "that if any woman shall conceal her being with child during the whole space, and shall not call for and make use of help and assistance in the birth, the child being found dead or missing, the mother shall be holden and reputed the murderer of her own child," and is to be proceeded against accordingly. The object of this A et is the same as that of James 1st, cap. 27, in 1623; but it aims at effecting the object with greater certainty, by declaring that the concealment of being with child, and not calling for assistance, shall in case of the child's being dead or missing subject the mother to capital punishment. The legal penalty for this most unnatural crime could not be carried further, and its entire prevention can perhaps only be hoped for through the spread of education, and the beneficent influences of religion.

Our attention must now be given to the `Act for settling of Schools,' which conferred the most important benefits on the Scottish people, and of which Scotland may be justly proud. The Act was passed in 1696, and recites that "our sovereign lord considering how prejudicial the want of schools in many places has been, and how beneficial the establishing and settling thereof in every parish will be to this church and kingdom "—therefore, with the advice and consent of parliament it is ordained, that there shall be a school established and a schoolmaster appointed in every parish, by advice of the heritors and minister thereof; and that the heritors do meet and provide a commodious house for a school, and settle a salary for a schoolmaster, of not less than one hundred nor over two hundred marks, to be paid to him half-yearly at Whitsuntide and Martinmas; "and that they stent and lay on the said salary, conform to every heritor's valued rent within the parish, allowing each heritor relief from his tenants of the half of his proportion, for settling a school and payment of the schoolmaster's salary." If the heritors shall not convene a meeting, or being convened shall not agree among themselves, then the presbyterie are to apply to the commissioners of the shire, who are empowered to establish the school and settle the master's salary within the above limits, and to stent the same upon the heritors, which shall be as valid and effectual as if it had been done by the heritors themselves"—and for the better and more ready payment thereof, it is further ordained that if two payments run in arrear, the defaulters shall be liable to pay double their proportions then due, and double for every term's proportion that shall be due thereafter, until the schoolmaster be completely paid. "And that letters of horning, and all other executionals necessary, be directed at the instance of the sclioolmaster for payment of the said stipend, and double of the proportions, in manner aforesaid."

We here see the origin of the Scottish parochial system of education, which has been carried into effect, and continued in operation, with singular judgment and perseverance during a long series of years; and the benefits arising from which, both socially and morally, can hardly be over estimated. To the general establishment of schools under the provisions of the above Act, and the consequent spread of education it is owing, more perhaps than to any or all other causes combined, that Scotland, a comparatively poor country in its natural resources, has attained the important position it now occupies as a member of the British empire, and that the Scottish people are second to none in moral qualities, or in the arts and refinements of life.

The above is the last of the Acts prior to the Union which I think it necessary to notice as bearing upon the condition of the people, and the general state of the country. The inference to be drawn from these Acts seems to be, that the state of Scotland was then, on the whole, not materially different from the state of England on the accession of James the First to the English crown. The feudal powers of the Scottish nobles had been reduced, and brought within the limits of the general law, by the ascendancy the Crown then acquired, as the feudal powers of the English nobility had been reduced through the ascendancy acquired by the Tudor sovereigns in England; and the people in both countries were gainers by the change. The improvement of their condition was greatly accelerated by the Revolution in 1688, which, as Robertson remarks, introduced new maxims of government into Scotland—"To increase the authority of the prince, or to secure the privileges of the nobles, had hitherto been almost the sole object of the laws. The rights of the people were scarcely ever mentioned, were disregarded, or unknown." But thenceforward, he says, attention began to be paid to their welfare, 64 and as they came to enjoy more security and greater power, their minds began to open, and to form more extensive plans of commerce, of industry, and of police" —how greatly their progress in these respects must have been assisted by the means of education provided for the people of. every class under the last cited Act, it would be superfluous to point out. ']'his was however a privilege confined to Scotland—it unhappily did not extend to England, where the. education of the great body of the people has continued to be very imperfectly provided for even to the present day, although considerable improvement in this respect has certainly taken place within the last few years.

The union of England and Scotland under one government, ' is obviously essential to the prosperity of both, and all the more eminent of the English sovereigns, from Edward the First downwards, sought to accomplish this object either by policy or by force. The union of the two crowns under James the First, seemed to afford increased facilities for effecting a union of the governments, and James continued throughout his reign to urge the adoption of such a measure; but he did not possess sufficient weight and consistency of character to bring it -about. It was for a time accomplished by the iron will and strong arm of Cromwell, whose vigorous policy was everywhere successful; but the Restoration placed the two countries in the same relative position as before—not altogether antagonistic, it is true, but yet so incongruously joined as to render their junction a perpetual source of jealousy and dissatisfaction to each. From this state they were rescued by the Act of Union, in the reign of Anne.

To effect a union with Scotland, by bringing the affairs of the two countries into one common focus, was the object of Anne's government, as it had been of that of her predecessors, and the general popularity and early glories of her reign greatly facilitated its accomplishment. There was no doubt much preliminary negotiation, but the subject was formally opened by a letter from the queen to the Scottish parliament in 1705, in which she says—"We are fully satisfied (and doubt not but you are) that great benefit would arise to all our subjects by an union of Scotland and England, and that nothing will contribute more to the composing of differences and extinguishing heats that are unhappily raised and fomented by the enemies of both nations, than the promoting of everything that tends to the procuring the same." The parliament was therefore earnestly recommended to appoint a commission, as the English parliament had done, for treating of and effecting what is so desirable for both kingdoms, and to which the queen promises to give her best and hearty assistance. The commission was accordingly appointed, and after lengthened negotiations the treaty was brought to a close, and on the 16th of January 1707 it was solemnly ratified by the parliament; an 'Act for securing the Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Government' being at the same time passed. On the 19th of March following the ratification of the Treaty of Union by the English parliament was received and recorded, and the lord high commissioner, by command of her Majesty, declared it to be "a great satisfaction to the queen that the Union is thus happily concluded in her, reign, and that nothing should be omitted on her part to make the whole island feel the good effects of it."

On the 24th of March, "in the conclusion of the parliament," the following address to the queen was agreed to—"We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the noblemen and commissioners from shires and boroughs assembled in parliament, do with most humble thankfulness acknowledge that this nation has enjoyed many advantages under your Majesty's most happy government, but above all we beg leave to return our most humble and hearty thanks to your Majesty for the great care and concern you have shown to bring the Treaty of Union of your Majesty's two kingdoms of Scotland and England to a happy conclusion. This Union, which has often been attempted by your royal predecessors without effect, is by the special blessing of Heaven upon your Majesty's reign and your wise conduct now brought to perfection, -which with the settlement of the succession in the Protestant line, has established a lasting monument of your Majesty's glory to all future ages, and laid a firm foundation of the security of our religion, and the peace and prosperity of this island." And finally, on the 25th of March, the lord high commissioner in putting an end to the session, declared—"I am persuaded that we and our posterity will reap the benefit of the union of the two kingdoms, and I doubt not that, as this parliament has had the honour to conclude it, you will in your several stations recommend to the people of this nation a grateful sense of her Majesty's goodness and great care for the welfare of her subjects, in bringing this important affair to perfection, and that you will promote an universal desire in this kingdom to become one in hearts and affections, as we are inseparably joined in interest, with our neighbour nation."

The above details regarding the Union are given somewhat at length, there being no other event in Scottish history which in its results affected in an equal degree the well-being; of the people. "Since the Union, (Robertson remarks) the commons, anciently neglected by their kings and despised by the nobles, have emerged into dignity; and being admitted to a participation of all the privileges which the English had purchased at the expense of so much blood, must now be esteemed a body no less considerable in the one kingdom, than they have long been in the other."  And he further observes that the people, "exempted from burdens to which they were formerly subject, screened from oppressions to which they had been long exposed, and adopted into a constitution whose genius and laws were more liberal than their own, they have extended their commerce, refined their manners, made improvements in the clegancies of life, and cultivated the arts and sciences." The testimony thus borne by so eminent a Scotchman, to the benefits conferred upon his country by the Union, is of much value; and it is confirmed by almost every other authority. The progress of Scotland since, and its condition at the present day, affords moreover proof of the advantages which followed the Union. Yet there was great opposition to it at the time, and the real patriots by whom it was promoted, were denounced as traitors to their country. Hence the heats and differences, to which, as we have just seen, the queen adverts in her letter to the parliament, and which long continued to exist, although happily with continually decreasing virulence, until at length the two nations became blended into one people, distinctions gradually disappearing, and the same manners habits sympathies and interests prevailing in all parts of our island.

This entire union and blending of the people did not however take place until after the Rebellion in 1745, when the defeat of the Pretender and his Highland followers, finally put an end to the hopes of the exiled family and their partisans, and to all pretences for disturbing the public peace. The steps subsequently taken by the government, in forming roads and opening out communications in the Highland districts, so as to render them generally accessible, changed the character of the Highlanders, and led to their adoption of more sober and industrious habits than had before prevailed amongst them. They ceased to be gentlemen and robbers, as described by Fletcher of Saltoun, and became herdsmen and cultivators, their mountain slopes being converted into pasturage for sheep and cattle, and the lower levels to the raising of crops—a happy change for them, and for the country. Yet it was whilst this change was in progress that the poet lamented over the degradation of his country in the well-known strains:--

"Mourn, hapless Caledonia, mourn
Thy banish'd peace, thy laurels torn "—

so little is poetical testimony to be relied upon, whenever feeling or imagination takes the lead in depicting the stern realities of life!

After the Union, all separate legislation ceased. Scotland was then represented in the united parliament, and its affairs were discussed and settled with a view to general results, and as portions of the common interest. With regard to our immediate subject, the law remained unchanged for considerably more than a century, and the relief of the Scottish poor was founded upon the enactments which have been described, and a summary of which is given at pages 86 to 90. The practice adopted under sanction of the law, requires however at least equal attention with the law itself; and although the practice was varied and irregular, and often modified to meet local or special circumstances, its general character is well ascertained; and of this practice, it is necessary to afford some explanation.

The power of assessment for providing the means of relief, we have seen was given by the Act of 1579 to magistrates in burgles, and to justices in landward parishes, which power was afterwards transferred to the heritors and kirk sessions; but until a comparatively recent period, this power of assessment was very rarely exercised, the funds for the support of the poor being raised (we may presume not always quite voluntarily) in the way of contributions at the parish churches, together with certain moneys arising from mortifications and other sources. On this point, the committee of the General Assembly, in their Report of 1839 on the management of the poor, remark—"It is true that a compulsory assessment for the support of the impotent poor, was at a very early period permitted in Scotland—but no assessment was imposed for upwards of a century afterwards; and when at length this measure became necessary in certain parishes, the use of it was confined to these parishes, the rule in practice which was acted upon having been, that an assessment is not to be laid on in any parish, while a sufficiency of funds for the maintenance of the poor therein is voluntarily contributed."

So likewise in a Report forwarded by the moderator of the General Assembly in 1818 (included in the Third Report of the Select Committee on the Poor Laws), it is stated to be a characteristic of the Poor Laws of Scotland, "that while they secure ultimately a certain provision for the poor, they do not imperatively require a regular and permanent annual tax or assessment to be levied for their support. They permit such a tax or assessment to be avoided entirely, if other parochial funds that are applicable shall be found adequate; and if from the occasional deficiency of these funds, any assessment may be found necessary, still the amount of it may be so limited, at the discretion of the heritors and kirk session, as to be merely sufficient for meeting the deficiency." It hence appears that at the end of two centuries and a half after the power was given by the Act of 1579, and more than a century after the Union in 1707, assessment for relief of the poor was little practised in Scotland—it in fact formed an exception, instead of being the rule, as was the case in England.

In the Report of 1818 above quoted, it is stated that prior to the year 1700, the number of parishes in which assessments had taken place was only three; between that and 1800 there were 93 more, and thence to 1817 not less than 49. The number at the date of the Report is stated to have been 152, containing a population of 339,879. In the Report of 1839, also quoted above, the number of parishes at that time assessed is stated to be 236, with a population of 1,137,646, thus showing a steadily progressive increase, both in the number of parishes assessed and in the amount of their population, in the latter especially, assessments becoming indispensable in the large towns and manufacturing districts. A great diversity is described as existing in the mode of adjusting the assessment, but in landward parishes it is said to be for the most part levied one-half from the heritors and the other half from the tenants and householders, while in burghs the rate is levied from the inhabitants generally. Sometimes the assessment is fixed as a certain rate on the valuation, sometimes as a rate on the actual rental or value of the real property possessed by the ratepayers; "and sometimes as a rate on the estimated amount of their means and substance, or general wealth." In burbles the rate is sometimes levied on the rental of the property, in others on an estimate of the means and substance of the occupiers "with different variations or modifications according to the particular usage of the burgh."

The entire amounts raised by assessment, and from other sources, appears by a supplemental return to parliament in 1820, to have then been as follows-

equal to an average of Is. 3d. per head on the population, according to the census of 1811.

The entire amounts raised by assessment and from other sources, according to the Report of 1839, was then, on an average of the three preceding years-

This comparison appears highly favourable to Scotland as regards the extent of pauperism, which in proportion to the population is less by one-half than what prevailed in England, and there is a still greater difference in the ratio of relief, which does not reach a quarter of the English amount. There may however be circumstances not only to account for the difference thus shown to exist between the two countries, but also to divest it in some degree of the favourable inferences as respects Scotland, to which the difference is calculated to give rise; for it by no means follows that the more limited extent of relief in Scotland, is a proof of the relief being better administered, or of the people being there better conditioned or less in need of it than was the case in England.

An intelligent writer, who appears to be thoroughly conversant with the subject, declares "that the general deficiency of the allowances to the impotent poor in Scotland is habitually supplemented, not (or only partially) by assistance from relatives or friends, but in all parts of the country by begging, or one form or other of mendicity, i. e. by assistance given by persons who are either strangers to the suffering poor, or on whom they have no natural claim." And he likewise declares Scotland to be an example of the general fact,' that wherever there is not an efficient legal provision for the relief of the poor, " the alternative practically found to exist is an extensive system of mendicity, under which there is much more misery disorder and vice, and such an extent and intensity of human suffering, as imposes a very heavy responsibility on the supporters of the voluntary system." He further remarks, that those who are entrusted with the management of the poor in Scotland, "profess to administer a law which binds them to provide for the needful sustentation of all poor and impotent persons, and defines what is meant by `needful sustentation,' by specifying that it is that which the poor 'of their own consent' shall be content to receive, and I live unbeggand.' They grant to the poor in almost all parts of the country an allowance utterly inadequate to their maintenance, knowing perfectly that the only means by which this deficiency can be supplied is common begging; and then they punish as criminals, persons who have been reduced to this degradation by their own maladministration of the laws designed for the protection of those very persons."

That the results should be as above described, in the absence of a general assessment or other certain and sufficient provision for the relief of the poor, cannot excite surprise; and the coupling of assessment with voluntary contributions, as we have seen to be the practice in Scotland, was certainly not calculated to remedy the evil, inasmuch as the one mode has invariably been found to interfere with and neutralise 'the other. Where destitution is not relieved, mendicancy must abound, violences will occur, and life-and property be insecure. Where destitution is in some degree but not sufficiently relieved, life and property may be less insecure, but mendicancy must still more or less abound; and the prevalence of a low standard of habits manners and mode of life in the mendicant classes, will operate injuriously upon and tend to depress the general character of the population. People become reconciled to what is common—to wretched dwellings where they inhabit them—to squalor filth and rags where they are perpetually presented to their view; and they are themselves prone to sink to a level which they have thus ceased to regard with repugnance. That there was ground for apprehension on this score, in the case of Scotland, we have abundant proof.

In the Report for 1818, before quoted, it is stated that resolutions had been entered into by some counties for the suppression of mendicancy, but that these resolutions have not been carried into effect. Several of the ministers, it is said, consider "that the stranger poor carry away in the shape of alms from the parish, more in value each year than would support comfortably the whole poor on the parish roll;" but there is nevertheless a diversity of opinion as to the expediency of putting an entire stop to begging. Some ministers deprecate its suppression "as likely to lead to the still more pernicious measure of compulsory assessments." Others think that the practice is attended with many hurtful effects, and some go so far as to consider begging "a violation of the whole provisions purposes and spirit of the Poor Laws, as a heavy loss to the community of productive labour, as encouraging the vices of those who are professionally pilfering vagrants, and as habituating generally the pauper to duplicity falsehood improvidence and dissipation." In some districts, it is said, the poor are limited to beg in their own parish only. In others they are not permitted to beg even within their own parish, without a licence from the kirk session, or a justice of peace; and instances are mentioned where they are restricted to beg on one particular day of the week: but "in a very few parishes only are badges worn by the begging poor." By such and similar limitations the practice of begging is said to be considerably checked, and an anticipation is held out " that it will soon be checked more extensively, and confined by such salutary and practicable regulations as the interests of public police and morals seem loudly to require."

The preventive and the remedy for the evils above noticed, would be found in a general assessment for relief of the destitute, who might then with perfect justice be restrained from begging; in which case the public would not only be relieved from the contaminating influence of mendicancy, but the burden of supporting the poor which before pressed injuriously upon industry, would be borne by the general capital of the country—a change on every account and to all parties beneficial.


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