Category Archives: Reform

Item of the Day: Description of The Asylum, or House of Refuge, Surry [1808-1810]

Found In: Microcosm of London. Vol. I. London: R. Ackermann, [1808-1810].

THE ASYLUM, OR HOUSE OF REFUGE,

Is in the parish of Lambeth, in Surry, and was instituted in the year 1758, for the reception of friendless and deserted girls, the settlemnt of whose parents cannot be found. It was incorporated in 1800.

The annexed print is an interesting representation of the objects of this benevolent institution at their repast, in the presence of some of their guardians, who seem to contemplate the good order, cheerfulness, innocence, and comforts of their little wards, with all that interest and delight, that luxury of fine feeling, which irradiates the countenance when the heart is glowing with benevolence, animated with the exercise of an important duty, and gratified by the conviction that their virtuous endeavours are crowned with success. The coup d’oeil of the print is most impressive, and does great honour to the talents and feelings of the artists. The sweet innocence of the children, the benevolence of the guardians, and the chaste and matron-like simplicity of the building, aided by a fine breadth of effect, form a whole, which at the same time that the parts are in perfect harmony with each other, is admirably calculated to awaken the tender emotions of the human heart, and excite the spectator to the exertion of those tender and kindly feelings, which do honour to our nature.

This charity owes its establishment to that vigilant and active magistrate, Sir John Fielding; who had long observed, that though the laws of this kingdom provided a parish settlement for every person, by birth, parentage, apprenticeships, &c. yet many cases continually occurred, in which such settlements were difficult, if not impossible, to be ascertained; and therefore he and others were solicitous to remove, in part, this source of female wretchedness. By their exertions, and the continued endeavours of those who have hitherto conducted the plan, their benevolent intentions have been rewarded with the most signal success. The generous and discerning public has bestowed the means, which have prospered in the hands of the guardians, by whose care two hundred deserted femals are daily sheltered and protected from vice and want, supplied with food and raiment, and taught whatever can render them useful in their situation, or comfortable and happy in themselves.

Carefully instructed in the principles of religion; in reading, writing, needlework, and household business, they are trained to habits of industy and regularity, by which means there is a supply of diligent and sober domestics for the use of that public, which, by its contributions, has so nobly acquired a right to their services.

The particular objects of this charity are, the children of soldiers, sailors, and other indigent persons, bereft of their parents, at a distance from any of their relations; who being too young to afford the necessary information respecting settlements, are often left destitute of protection and support, at an age when they are incapable of earning a subsistence, and contending with surrounding dangers.

Females of this description are, in a particular manner, the objects of compassion, and have also a double claim to the care of the humane and virtuous, from being not only exposed to the miseries of want and idleness, but, as they grow up, to the solicitations of the vicious, and the consequent misery of early seduction.

The following are some of the regulations for the government of this charity, which have been made by the guardians from time to time, and now continue in force.

 

Qualifications of Guardians.

The qualification of an annual guardian is, a yearly subscription of three guineas or upwards.

The qualification of a perpetual guardian is, a subscription of thirty guineas or upwards.

Legacies bequeathed to the use of this charity of one hundred pounds or upwards, when paid, shall entitle the first-named acting executor to to be a perpetual guardian.

The guardians, conceiving it to be very essential for promoting one of the chief objects of this institution, earnestly solicit the ladies, who are particularly qualified for that purpose, frequently to visit the charity, inspect the management of the house, and particularly the employment of the children; also to see that they are properly instructed in housewifery, so as to be qualified for useful domestic servants; and from time to time communicate to the committee, by letter or otherwise, such observations as they shall deem proper to make.

 

Employment of Children.

The children are to make and mend their own linen; make shirts, shifts, and table-linen; to do all kinds of plain needle-work, and to perform the business of the house and kitchen; to which latter twelve are appointed weekly, according to their age and abilities, to assist the cook, to wash, iron, and get up all the linen. They are likewise taught to read the Bible, write a legible hand, and understand the first four rules in arithmetic.

All kinds of plain needle-work are taken in at the Assylum, and performed by the children at certain rates, which are regulated by the committee.

 

The following ar the Rules for placing out the Children.

They are to be bound apprentices for seven years, at the age of fifteen, or sooner, as domestic servants to reputable families in Great Britain.

No girl shall be apprenticed until the character of the master or mistress applying for the same, shall have been enquired into, and approved of by the committee.

Every person applying for an apprentice must appear at the committee, to give the necessary information respecting their station, unless such appearance be dispensed with by the committee.

When any girl shall become qualified to be an apprentice, the guardian who presented her shall be acquainted therewith, in order to know if such guardian has any place in view for her.

The guardians, desirous of encouraging the children to serve their apprenticeship faithfully, have empowered the committee to grant any orpahn apprenticed from the charity, who shall produce to the committee a certificate, signed by her master or mistress (or both if living), of her good behaviour during her apprenticeship, the sum of five guineas, such orphan having first returned public thanks in the chapel for the protection she has received.

The committee are empowered to put out at any time, to any trade they shall think proper, such orphans as may have contracted any disease or infirmity, which may render them incapable of domestic service, with a premium not exceeding ten pounds. . . .

 

 

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Filed under 1800's, Culture, Eighteenth century, England, London, Poor, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Reform, Women

Item of the Day: Police of the Metropolis (1797)

See previous post from this volume here.

Full title:

A Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis; Containing a Detail of the Various Crimes and Misdemeanors By Which Public and Private Property and Security are, at present, injured and endangered: and Suggesting Remedies for their Prevention.  The Fourth Edition, Revised and Enlarged.  By a Magistrat, Acting for the Counties of Middlesex, Surry, Kent, and Essex.–For the City and Liberty of Westminster–and for the Liberty of the Tower of London.  London:  Printed for H. Fry, Finsbury-Place, For C. Dilly, Poultry. MDCCXCVII.

[Beginning from page 98]:

Night-Coaches also promote, in an eminent degree, the perpetuation of burglaries and other felonies: Bribed by a high reward, many hackney-coachmen eagerly enter into the pay of nocturnal depredators, and wait in the neighbourhood until the robbery be completed, and then draw up, at the moment the watchmen are going their rounds, or off their stands, for the purpose of conveying the plunder to the house of the Receiver, who is generally waiting the issue of the enterprise.

It being certain that a vast deal of mischief is done which could not be effected, were it not for the assistance which night-coaches afford to Thieves of every description, it would seem, upon the whole, advantageous to the Public, that they should not be permitted to take fares after twelve o’clock at night; or, if this is impracticable, that the coach-hire for night service should be advanced, on condition that all coachmen going upon the stands after twelve o’clock, should be licensed by the Magistrates of the division.  By this means the night coachmen, by being more select, would not be so open to improper influence; and they might even become useful to Public Justice in giving informations, and also in detecting Burglars and other Thieves.

Watchmen and Patroles, instead of being, as now, comparatively of little use, from their age, infirmity, inability, inattention, or corrupt practices, might, almost at the present expense, by a proper selection, and a more correct mode of discipline, by means of superintendents appointed by the Magistrates of each ditrict to regulate their conduct, and keep them to their duty, be rendered of great utility in preventing Crimes, and in detecting Offenders. 

At present the System of the nightly watch is without energy, disjointed, and governed by almost as many Acts of Parliament, as there are Parishes, Hamlets, Liberties, and Precincts within the Bills of Mortality; and where the payment is as various, running from 8-1/2 d. up to 2 s. a night.

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Filed under 1790's, Crime and punishment, England, Posted by Matthew Williams, Reform

Item of the Day: Memoirs of the Public and Private Life of John Howard (1823)

Full Title: Memoirs of the Public and Private Life of John Howard, the Philanthropist; Compiled from his own Diary, in the Possession of his Family, his Confidential Letters; the Communications of his Surviving Relatives and Friends; and Other Authentic Sources of Information. By James Baldwin Brown, Esq. LL.D of the Inner Temple, Barrister at Law. Second Edition. London: Printed for Thomas and George Underwood, 32, Fleet Street; Thomas Tegg, Cheapside; and F. Westley, Stationers’ Court, 1823.

CHAPTER I.

FROM HIS BIRTH, TO THE DEATH OF HIS FIRST WIFE, 1727-1755.

IT has been a source of deep regret to the bipgrapher, that the events of the earlier years of men, distinguished for the splendour of their talents, or the greatness of their actions, have often been involved in doubt and obscurity. It may, however, reasonably be questioned, whether, could the blank in the page of their history be accurately filled up, the information obtained would not rather tend to gratify our curiosity, than be productive of any practical good? For, after all that can be said, on the influence of education, and the force of early habit, in forming the future character of the man — there are springs of human action — there are burst of energy in the human mind — which set at defiance all the cool, calculating rules that philosophy has devised for estimating the regular gradation of causes, in producing one grand and unlooked-for effect. Hence, it has not unfrequently happened, that the dull or the idle school-boy, the thoughtless and dissipated young man, and even the listless saunterer of maturer life, when roused to action by some sudden and unexpected impetus, have called forth latent talents to adorn the period in which they lived, and to please, and to instruct, in ages then unborn. And might we not even point to those men of yet superior mould, whose splendid achievements, or whose public virtues, have excited the admiration of the world, and ask, whether the most exact detail of every occurrence of their earlier years, would afford us equal instruction or delight, with that which we should derive from a similar history of many of their associates, the vices, the follies, or the utter uselessness of whose manhood, belied the opening virtues, and blasted the fairest promise of their youth? Such at least, there is every reason to conclude, was the case with one of the brightest characters that ever attracted the admiration, or merited the esteem of his fellow men. For so noiseless and so even was the tenor of his way, until he had reached, or even passed the meridian of his days, that of the man, who, by the common consent of the civilized world, is distinguished by an appelation more honourable than sage ever assumed, or hero ever won, — neither the place, nor the year of his birth, can now be acertained with any certainty.

John Howard, empahtically and deservedly styled The Philanthopist, appears, from the best information that can be obtained upon the subject, to have been born about the year 1727, at Clapton, in the parish of Hackney, a populous village immediately adjoining to London. To this place his father seems to have removed, but a short time before, from a somewhat more distant retreat at Enfield, to which he had retired from the pursuit of his business, as an upholsterer and carpet warehouseman, in Long Lane, Smithfield, where he had acquired a considerable fortune. The house in which he then resided, and where his son was born, is described, in a sketch of that son’s life written some years since, as being his own freehold, “a venerable mansion, situated on the western side of the street, but now much decayed, and lately disfigured.” Soon after his birth he was sent to Cardington, near Beford, to be nursed by a cottager residing there upon a small farm, which was all the property his father ever possessed in that village, afterwards so celebrated as the favourite residence of the son, when, by large purchases, he had considerably increased this little patrimonial inheritance, in a county, which from the tradition, now reduced to a certainty, of his having spent some of the earliest, as he undoubtedly passed some of the happiest years of his life there, has, though very erroneously, been supposed to have been the place of his birth. . . .

 

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Filed under 1820's, Biography, Culture, Eighteenth century, England, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Reform

Item of the Day: Essays, Political, Economical, and Philosophical (1800)

Full Title: Essays, Political, Economical, and Philosophical. By Benjamin Count of Rumford . . .  Volume I. Fifth Edition. London: Printed by A. Stahan, for T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies, Strand, 1800.

 

 AN ACCOUNT

OF AN

ESTABLISHMENT FOR THE POOR

AT MUNICH.

Together with

A Detail of various Public Measures, connected with that Institution, which have been adopted and carried into effect for putting an End to Mendicity, and introducing Order, and useful Industry, among the more Indigent of the Inhabitants of Bavaria.

CHAP. I.

Of the Prevalence of Mendicity in Bavaria at the Time when the Measures for putting an End to it were adopted.

Among the various measures that occurred to me by which the military establishment of the country might be made subservient to the public good in time of peace, none appeared to be of so much importance as that of employing the army in clearing the country of beggars, theives, and other vagabonds; and in watching over the public tranquility.

But in order to clear the country of beggars, (the number of whom in Bavaria had become quite intolerable,) it was necessary to adopt general and efficacious measure for maintaining and supporting the Poor. Laws were not wanting to oblige each community in the country to provide for its own Poor; but these laws had been so long neglected, and beggary had become so general that extraordinary measures, and the most indefatigable exertions were necessary to put  a stop to this evil.

The number of itinerant beggars, of both sexes and all ages, as well foreigners as natives, who strolled about the country in all directions, levying contributions from the industrious inhabitants, stealing and robbing, and leading a life of indolence, and most shameless debauchery, was quite incredible; and so numerous were the swarms of beggrs in all the great towns, and particularly in the capital, so great their impudence, and so persevering their importunity, that it was almost impossible to cross the streets without being attacked, and absolutley forced to satisfy their clamorous demands. And these beggars were in general by no means such as from age or bodily infirmities were unable by their labour to earn their livelihood; but they were for the most part, stout, strong, healthy, sturdy beggars, who, lost to every sense of shame, had embraced the profession from choice, not necessity; and who, not unfrequently, added insolence and threats to their importunity, and extorted that from fear which they could not procure by their arts of dissimulation.

These beggars not only infested all the streets, public walks, and public places, but they even made a practice of going into private houses, where they never failed to steal whatever fell in their way, if they found the doors open, and nobody at home; and the churches were so full of them that it was quite a nuisance, and a public scandal during the performance of divine service. People at their devotions were conintually interupted by them, and were frequently obliged to satisfy their demands in order to be permitted to finish their prayers in peace and quiet.

In short, these detestable vermin swarmed every where; and not only their impudence and clamourous importunity were without any bounds, but they had recourse to the most diabolical arts, and most horrid crimes, in the prosecution of their infamous trade. Young children were stolen from their parents by these wretches, and their eyes put out, or their tender limbs broken and distorted, in order, by exposing them thus maimed, to excite the pity and commiseration of the public; and every species of artifice was made use of to agitate the sensibility, and to extort the contributions of the humane and charitable.

Some of these monsters were so void of all feeling as to expose their own children, naked, and almost starved, in the streets, in order that, by their cries and unaffected expressions of distress, they might move those who passed by to pity and relieve them; and in order to make them act their part more naturally, they were unmercifully beaten when they came home, by their inhuman parents, if they did not bring with them a certain sum, which they were ordered to collect.

I have frequently seen a poor child of five or six years of age, late at night, in the most inclement season, sitting down almost naked at the corner of a street, and crying most bitterly; if he were asked what was the matter with him, he would answer, “I am cold and hungry, and afraid to go home; my mother told me to bring home twelve creutzers, and I  have only been able to beg five. My mother will certainly beat me if I don’t carry home twelve creutzers.” Who could refuse so small a sum to relieve so much unaffected distress? –But what horrid arts are these, to work upon the feelings of the public, and levy involuntary contributions for the support of idleness and debauchery!

But the evils arising from the prevalence of mendicity did not stop here. The public, worn out and vanquished by the numbers and perservering importunity of the beggars; and frequently disappointed in their hopes of being relieved from their depredations, by the failure of the numberless schemes that were formed and set on foot for that purpose, began at last to consider the case as quite desperate; and to submit patiently to an evil for which they saw no remedy. The consequences of this submission are easy to be conceived; the beggars, encouraged by their success, were attached still more strongly to their infamous profession; and others, allured by their indolent lives, encouraged by their successful frauds, and emboldened by their impunity, joined them. The habit of summission on the part of the public, gave them a sort of right to pursue their depredations; –their growing numbers and their success gave a kind of eclat to their profession; and the habit of begging became so general, that it ceased to be considered as infamous; and was, by degrees, in a manner interwoven with the internal regulations of society. . . .

In the great towns, besides children of the poorer sort, who almost all made a custom of begging, the professional beggars formed a distinct class, or cast, among the inhabitants; and in general a very numerous one. There was even a kind of political connection between the members of this formidable body; and certian general maxims were adopted, and regulations observed, in the warfare they carried on against the public. Each beggar had his particular beat, or district, in the possession of which it was not thought lawful to disturb him; and certain rules were observed in dsposing the districts in case of vacancies by deaths or resignations, promotions or removals. A battle, it is true, frequently decided the contest between the candidates; but when the possession was once obtained, whether by force or arms, or by any other means, the right was after considered indisputable. Alliances by marriage were by no means uncommon in this community; and, strange as it may appear, means were found to procure legal permission from the civil magistrates for the celebration of these nuptials! The children were of course trained up in the profession of their parents; and having the advantage of an early education, were commonly great proficients in their trade.

And there is no very essential difference between depriving a person of his property by stealth, and extorting it from him against his will by dint of clamorous importunity, or under false pretence of feigned distress and misfortune; so the transition from begging to stealing is not only easy, but perfectly natural. That total insensibility to shame, and all those other qualifications which are necessary in the profession of a beggar, are likewise essential to form an accomplished thief; and both these professions derive very considerable advantages from their union. A Beggar who goes about from house to house to ask for alms, has many opportunities to steal, which another would not so easily find; and his profession as a beggar gives him a great facility in disposing of what he steals; for he can always say it was given him in charity. No wonder then that thieving and robbing should be prevalent where beggars are numerous . . .

 

 

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Filed under 1790's, Beggars, Europe, Germany, Poor, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Reform

Item of the Day: Howard’s Lazarettos in Europe (1789)

Full Title: An Account of the Principal Lazarettos of Europe; With Various Papers Relative to the Plague: Together with Further observations on some Foreign Prisons & Hospitals; and additional remarks on the present state of those in Great Britain and Ireland, By John Howard London: T. Cadell, 1789.

SECTION II.

PROPOSED REGULATIONS
AND
A NEW PLAN FOR A LAZARETTO.

Having now given the plans of the principal lazarettos in Europe, I shall in what follows take the same liberty that I took with respect to prisons, and draw the outlines of a proper lazaretto. – Many lazarettos are close, and have too much the aspect of prisons; and I have often heard captains in the Levant trade say, that the spirits of their passengers sink at the prospect of being confined in them. In those of them which I have visited, I have observed several pale and dejected persons, and many fresh graves. To prevent as much as possible these disagreeable circumstances, a lazaretto should have the most cheerful aspect. A spacious and pleasant garden in particular, would be convenient as well as salutary.

But waving this observation, I will offer a few remarks respecting quarantines and lazarettos in general; after which I will take notice of some advantages in respect of commerce as well as health, which may accrue from such an establishment in England. I will farther, in the sequel, give the answers of some physicians abroad to a set of questions which I was led to propose to them, by considering that should a lazaretto be erected among us, and this country be ever visited with a scourge so dreadful as the plague, the opinions of eminent physicians experienced in this calamity might be of particular service.

OBSERVATIONS UPON QUARANTINES AND LAZARETTOS.

1. All vessels subject to a quarantine, arriving on our coast, should be obliged to hoist a red flag, or some other signal, at the main top-gallant mast head; in order to warn all persons coming on board notwithstanding such warning, should be detained to perform the quarantine.

2. All boats belonging to any ship in quarantine, as well as all craft employed in unloading the same, should be obliged to carry a red pendant at the mast head, whenever sent from the ship.

3. The ship’s hatch-ways ought not to be opened till the captain and mate have given in their depositions; and all the passengers, the secretary, and such of the sailors who may be permitted to leave the ship, should be landed at the lazaretto, under a very severe penalty.

4. The place appointed for receiving deposition should be so contrived, that the person who takes them may at all times place himself to windward of those who make them. This should also be observed as much as possible, at the barrier of the lazaretto, where people are permitted to speak with those in quarantine. But if not, they should be placed on this account at a greater distance from one another.

5. A fort of quarantine having been performed during the long voyage to England and there being, in my opinion, a great probability that the infection cannot remain in any person without shewing itself, beyond forty-eight hours; the persons under quarantine ought to be allowed to quit the lazaretto sooner than is now customary in other countries. Perhaps a residence of twenty-two days may be fully sufficient.

6. Fumigating of passengers as practiced at Marseilles is an advantage; for a person may carry the infection in his clothes, and communicate it to others, without taking it himself, as in the gaol-fever. But this implies, that it ought to be done at the end of the quarantine, to those only who go out with the clothes which they wore when they came in.

7. Great care should be taken, to keep at a proper distance from persons performing quarantine, all sailors and passengers as well as others. My reason for giving this caution is, that I have seen persons just arrived in ships with foul bills, permitted at the bar of a lazaretto, to come very near to persons whose quarantine was almost over; and thus danger was produced of communicating the plague. – And here I shall take occasion to observe, that in my opinion, this distemper is not generally to be taken by the touch, any more than the gaol-fever, or small-pox; but either by inoculation, or by taking in with the breath in respiration the putrid effluvia which hover round the infected object, and which when admitted set the whole mass of blood into a fermentation, and sometimes so suddenly and violently as to destroy its whole texture, and to produce putrefaction and death in less than forty-eight hours. These effluvia are capable of being carried from one place to another upon any substance where what is called scent can lodge, as upon wool, cotton, &c. and in the same manner that the smell of tobacco is carried from one place to another.

It is by these ideas of the communication of the plague that the foregoing rules have been suggested; and were the regulations for performing quarantine directed by them, some of the restrictions in lazarettos would be abolished, and more care would be taken to improve and enforce others.*

It may be asked, how it is possible, if the plague be communicated by infected air, that a whole body of men in a town where it rages should be capable of being preserved from it, as is the case with Englishmen in Turkey: and also, why every individual in such a town is not taken with it? In answer to the first of these questions, it may be observed, that the infection in the air does not extend far from the infected object, but lurks chiefly, (like that near carrion) to the leeward of it. I am so assured of this, that I have not scrupled going, in the open air, to windward of a person ill of the plague and feeling his pulse. The next question may be answered, by asking why, of a number of persons equally exposed to the infection of the small-pox, or of the gaol-fever, some will not take it? Perhaps physicians themselves are not capable of explaining this sufficiently. It is, however, evident in general, that it must be owing to something in the state of the blood and the constitutions of such persons which renders them not easily susceptible of infection. – The rich are less liable to the plague than the poor, both because they are more careful to avoid infection, and have larger and more airy apartments, and because they are more cleanly and live on better food, with plenty of vegetables; and this, I suppose, is the reason why Protestants are less liable to this distemper than Catholics during their times of fasting; and likewise, why the generality of Europeans are less liable to it than Greeks, and particularly Jews. And would not the former be still more secure in this respect, were they more attentive to the qualities of their food, and lived more on plain and simple diet?**

*It is remarkable, that when the corpse is cold of a person dead of the plague, it does not infect the air by any noxious exhalations. This is so much believed in Turkey, that the people there are not afraid to handle such corpses. The governor at the French hospital in Smyrna told me, that in the last dreadful plague there, his house was rendered almost intolerable by an offensive scent (especially if he opened any of those windows which looked toward the great burying-ground, where numbers every day were left unburied); but that it had no effect on the health either of himself or his family. An opulent merchant in this city likewise told me, that he and his family had felt the same inconvenience, without any bad consequences.

**The poorer sort of Greeks and Jews use much oil with their food; and this I reckon a disadvantage to them. I have heard of instances of servants in European families, who through imprudence and carelessness, have been attacked with the plague, while the rest of the family escaped it.

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Filed under 1780's, Posted by Rebecca Dresser, Reform