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Edepartment in Monmouthshire for bettering the Condition of the Poor . To the Editor . Sir , Woodfield , Nov . 18 , 1828 . In your Magazine for July last , allusion was made in a communication from the Rev . George Skey , to an experiment for bettering the condition of the labouring poor , which had been begun in this
immediate neighbourhood in the year 1820 , some account of the motives for making and farther particulars of which may not be unacceptable to such of your readers as have marked and lamented the vast increase of pauperism , misery , and crime , which has taken place lu this country generally , since the commencement of the late reign . It is also
considered as due to the country and to the interests of humanity every where , that facts and results , intimately connected with one of the most important practical principles of political economy , should hare publicity given them , both as an incentive to the adoption of similar experiments on the part of individuals , and as furnishing a farther proof of the truth of those incontrovertible maxims first
publicly exemplified , as well as successfully acted upon , on a large scale , by the late Count Rumford , that the best if not the only way to reform the abject , the dependent and criminal poor , is first of all to improve their external circumstances . It was from a thorough conviction of the justness of this principle , that in " Remarks on the Report of the Select Committee of the House of
Commons on the Poor Laws , ' by a Monmouthshire Magistrate , published in 1818 , it was contended that the alarming increase of pauperism which had then forced itself upon the attention of the Legislature , arose more from the increased difficulties of living experienced by the labouring classes , than from any
other or all other causes put together . It appeared to me then , as it still does , that under any constitution of civil society , it is utterly irreconcileable with reason or justice , that it should be practically said to any of our fellow-creatures who are willing to maiutaiu themselves and to contribute by their labour to the common stock of that society , " There
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is no room for you at nature ' s feast . " On the contrary , it appeared to me then , and no less so now , that it is of the very essence of the social compact , whether expressed or implied , that every member of it who does not disqualify himself by
wilful neglect of duty and voluntary abstinence from labour , whether of the hand or the head , has an undeniable claim to be supported by the society to which he belongs ; and that it is one of the first and most sacred duties of government to ensure to the labourer a
return for his industry , at least equal to the decent and comfortable maintenance of himself and his family . More than twenty years' attention to this vitally important subject , aided by the practical experience derived from the active and constant discharge of the magisterial functions in populous adjoining counties during nearly the whole of that period , has not only confirmed this belief , but has established an unalterable conviction
in my mind , that it is to absolute neglect , or for want of due attention thereto , that the country has been disgraced , and every feeling of justice and humanity outraged , by the frightful increase of pauperism , dependence , and crime , which threatens , on the recurrence of war , famine , or other great national calamity , forcibly to dissolve the bonds of social peace , security , and union . It was under , this conviction , and a thorough be *
lief that it is the duty of every individual , however obscure or limited his means , to do all in his power to improve the condition of those around him , that notwithstanding experience of the inefficacy of various expedients which had been resorted to , it was determined to try whether the labourer might not be rescued from the state of degradation and dependence into which it was believed he had fallen , more from the pressure of outward circumstances than from
real abjectness of spirit , by the possession of property being put . within his reach , and its comforts and advantages secured to the exertions of his industry and prudence . For this purpose allotments of land were set out in a situation favourable to the success of the experiment , and a tender of them made to farm labourers and woi'kineu in the col-
MISCELLANEOUS CORRESPONDENCE .
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1829, page 57, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2568/page/57/