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to all the evils of Liverpool ; and has others of its own, arising from the peculiar form of government which prevails there, and which might almost be described as the rule of the worst the most ignorant, most rude, most easily misguided part of the population. And this again is quite peculiar to New York, and is to be charged not on universal suffrage, which in many parts of the States works so well, much less on democracy, but on the application of universal suffrage to a set of conditions for which it is quite unfit.
To explain more fully the causes of the corruption and misgovernment of the city would be beside the purpose of the rpesent paper, and I mention it only for the sake of showing, firstly, how grave is the form wbich pauperism takes in such a city, where the power that ought to restrain and correct is itself immoral, where criminals leagued with men in office frequently escape punishment, where physical distress existing in a turbulent and illcompacted population may easily break out into riots and plunderings; and secondly, how much more difficult it is here than in Boston to establish a close and harmonious co-operation between the municipal authorities, who are charged with the relief of the poor, and the voluntary organizations wbich exist for the same object. It is indeed true that the departments of the city government which are concerned with education and with the criminal and pauper population are managed with much more purity and efficiency than the other departments are said to be; but a suspicion seems to have attached itself to everything which is under party management, and respectable citizens do not and will not identify themselves with the administration as they do in Massachusetts.
New York City does not, even in common speech, much less in official strictness, include that mass of houses which surrounds the point where the Hudson, or North River, as the natives call it, meets the Sound, or East River. Brooklyn, on Long Island, Jersey City, in the State of New Jersey, Harlem and Hoboken, on the mainland to the north-east, are all quite distinct from the city proper, which occupies the southern part of Manhattan Island and has a population of 942,292, the total population of all the towns put together being something over a million and a half. What follows must be understood to refer to the city proper. The public body, to which is entrusted the care not only of its poor, but also of the prisons, hospitals, asylums, and other similar institutions, goes by the name of the Board of Commissioners of Public Charities and Correction, and is composed of four members, who report annually to the Legislature of the State. The law under which the indigent can claim relief is in substance similar to that which prevails in Massachusetts ; indeed, the poorlaws do not seem to vary greatly over the whole of the republic. In-door relief is given partly in the almshouse, where the aged and infirm are received and supported (number in the institution on the 1st Jan. 1870, 1,114; expenditure for the year 1869, $63,541, or £13,233), and partly in the workhouse, a sort of penal institution, to which vagrants may be committed for short periods, and where they, as well as able-bodied applicants for help, against whom the almshouse is strictly closed, are kept constantly at work. The total number of admissions here during the year
1869 was 16,139, most of them of course for short periods, the total net expenses $50,470, or £10,514. Many of the worst cases admitted at the workhouse are passed on to the Inebriate Asylum, an establishment where persons of intemperate habits are placed under a strict discipline, kept to work, and, as far as possible, restored to health. As to the success of the plan, opinions differ; it is, however, an undoubted gain to have these unhappy beings subjected to a special and curative treatment. For the purposes of out-door relief the city is divided into eleven districts, to each of which a paid visitor is allotted, whose duty it is to make a personal examination into the condition of every applicant for relief resident in the district, and report thereon to the general superintendent. Applications are addressed to, and relief granted by, this superintendent at the central office. Assistance is, as much as possible, confined to the sick, and to those whose misfortunes seem due to some temporary and unavoidable cause; it is usually refused to the able-bodied. One of the most striking natural advantages of New York has been judiciously turned to account in the management of its correctional system. In the East River, the channel which leads into Long Island Sound, there lie a number of islands, some mere rocks, others some acres in extent; and on several of these various public institutions bave been placed. Thus Blackwell's Island contains the almshouse and workhouse, lunatic asylum, a penitentiary, and hospitals. Randall's Island has other hospitals, and the nurseries, where children abandoned by their parents are placed; Ward's Island, the Inebriate Asylum and Soldiers' Retreat; Hart's Island, the Industrial School. The isolation thus secured is found beneficial in many ways: escape becomes more difficult ; infection is more easily checked ; fresh air and room for exercise and out-door work are secured while the proximity to one another of the several institutions makes it comparatively easy to work them as component and necessary members of one comprehensive organization,
The voluntary charitable agencies of New York are far too numerous and important to be described here; I shall be content with a short account of that one which has most influence on the condition of the pauper class, -I mean the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, formed in 1843, and incorporated in 1848. Its system of action is, in general, similar to that of the Boston Provident Association ; though the sphere of its operations, including all New York City (i. e. the city on Manhattan Island), is greatly larger. It divides this area into twentytwo districts (the city wards), and these again into sections, three hundred and seventy-three in all ; each district has its advisory committee of five persons, and each section its (unpaid) visitor, under whose charge there are, on an average, some fifteen or twenty families. The leading principles on which the Association proceeds are these : -- No relief is given except through the visitors of the section in which the applicant resides, nor by a visitor to any person resident out of his section. Relief is given only after a personal investigation of each case by visiting and inquiry; it is given in food, fuel, and clothing only, not in money, except with the express approval of the District Committee. It is refused to the able-bodied, and also to those who, from age or permanent infirmity, are likely to continue dependent; such cases are referred to the Commissioners of Public Charities, on whom they have a legal claim, the object of the Association being rather to give such temporary help to deserving persons as may enable them to recover their position, and become again self-supporting. Abstinence from intoxicating liquors, unless ordered as a medicine, is strictly required from every person aided. Each visitor makes his report to the central office monthly. In the year 1870 the income of the Association, derived entirely from subscriptions, amounted to $53,037 (£11,050); its disbursements were $51,010 (£10,627); 22,671 visits were paid; and 22,120 persons relieved, more than seventy per cent. of whom were persons of foreign birth, mostly, of course, Irish immigrants. The services of this Association appear to be very valuable, and its methods efficient; occasionally, perhaps, the unpaid visitor is too easy in dispensing relief, but the advantages of working by means of such visitors are so great, that this fault, which the permanent staff are always anxious to check, is comparatively slight. One hears it said, that in hard winters it is only the presence and help of the Association that prevent the outbreak of food riots.
There are of course many other charitable organizations in New York City, for an account of which there is no space here. Conspicuous among them is the Children's Aid Society, which devotes itself to the work of gathering into industrial schools, readingrooms, and lodging-houses, the homeless children of the city, keeping them out of the worst temptations as they grow up, and sending off to the West those who are willing to accept situations there. Under its efforts vagrancy and juvenile crime have already sensibly diminished, and the spread of pauperism is indirectly checked. Where there are many agencies, there is of course a loss of power involved in the separate maintenance of a number of offices, each with its staff; and the absence of any regular concert between them, and between all of them and the public administration, is felt, one is told, to be a serious misfortune. Partly owing to a want of proper machinery, partly to want of confidence in some of its officials, the State has not succeeded in making the most of the philanthropic energy of private citizens, nowhere more abundant or more earnest than it is in America.
The moral of the facts which I have tried thus briefly to sketch is not without value for us in England, and especially in London, where the difficulties of pauperism are beyond all comparison greater than anywhere else. The experience of America confirms with singular exactness all the main conclusions at which our economists and administrators have arrived, respecting the dangers necessarily incident to a system of legally claimable relief. There, as here, it is found that the more easily relief is given, so much the greater is the demand for it; that the least indulgence or laxity, especially in the dispensation of out-door aid, is immediately followed by an alarming increase of indigence. There, as here, intemperance is the chief cause of misery, and the efforts of philanthropists are chiefly devoted to checking it, even by means which impose some little hardship on the temperate. There, as here, the result of the continued relief of pauperism is seen to be the creation of a definite pauper class which not only won't work, but really can't work, which is physically too weak and mentally too shiftless and dependent to undertake severe physical toil or grapple with the difficulties of a new Western settlement. There, as here, imposture raises its head wherever several charitable agencies are at work independently. Nor are facts wanting to show that there, as well as here, the existence of a legal provision has begun to demoralize those who can perfectly well support themselves, and to produce, even where work is abundant, a class of hereditary paupers. These conclusions are so abundantly clear upon the evidence which our own wretched condition furnishes, that no proof from abroad is wanted; the marvel is that the general public cannot be got to grasp reasonings so simple, or accept results established beyond all possibility of cavil. Here, as well as in America, sentiment a sentiment which is often more allied to self-indulgence and laziness than to true charity-overpowers reason. We denounce Malthusianism as harsh and inhuman; we prefer the temporary relief of distress to the ultimate elevation of the laboring class ; we strengthen and diffuse pauperism by the gifts that are meant to relieve it; we pump petroleum upon the flames. In America, however, the question is
* It need hardly be said that very similar, although perhaps not precisely the same, dangers attend a system of lax and indiscriminate relief managed by a private organization, or resting on casual almsgiving. In Australia (according to a statement which I find in Mr. Fawcett's valuable Lectures on Pauperism), the poor are aided by voluntary societies, largely subvented by the State, and pauperism is greatly on the increase, although work is abundant, and wages high, and the country generally flourishing.