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gatherer. It passed the commons, but was thrown out of the lords on the second reading.
In this year, an able French author observes, that “ notwithstanding the plentiful provision for the poor in France, there was a general complaint of the increase of beggars and vagrants," and adds, “ that the French political writers, dissatisfied with their own plans, had presented several memorials to the ministry, proposing to adopt the English parochial assessments, as greatly preferable. This (Lord Kames remarks) is a curious fact; for at that very time, people in London, no less dissatisfied with these assessments, were writing pamphlets in favour of the French hospitals."
Mr. Fielding published a pamphlet on the poor, whom he divides into three classes, the most numerous, he thinks, consisting of those who were able, but unwilling to work. He proposed a general plan for establishing houses of industry, on a large scale, in each county.
A. D. 1758. Mr. Massie, in a pamphlet, ascribes the increase of the poor, to monopolizing farms and enclosures of common lands: he also asserts, that the decrease in the number of labourers, and many other evils, have been occasioned by removing multitudes from the steady employment of agriculture, to the fluctuating demands of trade and manufacture.
A. D. 1760. Mr. Smith, in his able Tracts on the corn trade, states that in his time, wheat had become much more generally the food of the common people than it had been in 1689; but adds, that notwithstanding this increase, some very intelligent inquirers were of opinion, that even then, not more than half the people of England fed on wheat. This, however, is evidence of a great improvement in the general diet on the accession of George III. Harrison mentions, that in the reign of Henry VIII. the gentry had wheat for their tables, but their household, and poor neighbours, were usually obliged to content themselves with rye, barley, and oats. It appears from the household book of Sir Edward Coke, that in 1596, rye-bread and oatmeal formed a considerable part of the diet of servants in great families in the southern counties. Barley-bread is stated in the grant of a monopoly by Charles I., in 1626, to be the usual food of the ordinary sort of people. Down to the year 1800, the writer of this remembers, that oaten bread was commonly eaten by the labouring classes of the West Riding of Yorkshire. 66
Every one knows (Mr. M‘Culloch remarks, Dict. of Commerce), how inapplicable these statements are, to the condition of the people of England at this present time. Wheat-bread is now universally made use of in towns and villages, and almost universally in the country. Barley is no longer used, except in distilleries and in brewing; oats are employed only in the feeding of horses; and the consumption of rye-bread is comparatively inconsiderable. The produce of the wheat crops has been at the very least trebled since 1760. And if, to this immense increase in the supply of wheat, we add the still more extraordinary increase in the supply of butcher's meat, the fact of a very signal improvement having taken place in the condition of the population in respect of food, will be obvious.” This representation cannot be gainsayed, it is only to be feared of late years, that the people have not been fully able maintain the “ 'vantage ground” they had gained.
Early in the reign of George III., provision was made for the register of all parish poor, under four years of age, within the bills of mortality. Mr. Hanway, whose exertions on this occasion were conspicuous, remarks, that the measure, if it did not at once accomplish all that was necessary to be done, was the surest way of investigating the subject: and it is probably owing to his forcible representation of the mortality among the children in London workhouses, that an act passed in 1767, for obliging all parishes, within the bills of mortality, to send pauper children, under six years of age, within a fortnight after birth, or received in the workhouse, to a distance of at least three miles from the cities of London and Westminster, to be nursed till they years
of age: the act further directs, that for the maintenance of every such child, not less than 2s. 6d. a week shall be paid for the first six years
of their age,
and not less than 2s. a week from that time, to the period the child is taken away. As an inducement to good conduct in nurses, a premium of 10s. was to be given to such as had nursed a child for one year to the satisfaction of the parish guardians. Dr. Price remarks, that prior to this
statute, almost all parish infants in the metropolis died in the first six years.
Respecting apprentices, the same act, the 7th Geo. III. c. 39, s. 14, remarks, that “it often disturbs the peace of domestic life, checks marriage, and discourages industry, to place out boys to the age of twenty-four years; and enacts, that for the future, parish officers shall be at liberty to bind out boys and girls apprentices, for the term of seven years, or till they attain the age of twenty-one years, and no longer."
Dr. Burn, about this time, offered two suggestions for the improvement of the poor-laws: the first was, to prevent common begging : “ till this is done,” he says,
“ all other regulations of the wisest legislature upon earth, will be vain and fruitless. The infallible way to restrain beggars and vagrants is, to give them nothing. If none were to give, none would beg; and the whole mystery and craft would be at an end in a fortnight.” To accomplish this, he proposes,
every one who relieves a common beggar, shall be liable to a penalty. His other suggestion was, to control the irresponsible power of overseers, by placing over them a superintendent, whose ju. risdiction should extend over a certain number of parishes.
A. D. 1764. James Watt, a native of Greenock, in Scotland, began his improvements on the steamengine, whereby the foundation was laid for the prodigious advance in wealth and population which marked the reign of George III. By the aid of machinery—of which the steam-engine is the chief moving power—it is considered that an individual can produce 200 times more goods than he could in 1760. Although the labours of Watt are unnoticed in the general history of the period, they have proved of more importance to man than all the cotemporary transactions of war and diplomacy in which Europe was involved.
A. D. 1767. An ingenious person, James Hargraves, a carpenter at Blackburn, invents the spinning jenny, the first of a series of mechanical improvements in the cotton manufacture. The jenny was applicable only to the spinning of cotton for weft, being unable to give to the yarn that degree of fineness and hardness which is required in the warp: but this deficiency was soon after supplied by the invention of the spinning-frame, that wonderful piece of machinery which spins a vast number of threads of any degree of fineness or hardness ; leaving to man merely to feed the machine with cotton, and to join the threads when they happen to break. The author of this extraordinary contrivance was Richard Arkwright, a native of Preston, and by trade a barber. Living in a manufacturing district, his attention was drawn to the operations carrying on around him; and hearing from every one complaints of the deficient supply of cotton yarn, assisted by the ingenuity of John Kay, a watchmaker, of Warrington, he set about contriving a plan for changing the mode of spinning. The difficulties he encountered were great, both from want of capital and