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dence to the provision made by the State for their preservation from starvation. There are, unhappily, as we have already had occasion to observe, large numbers of persons who are only led to support themselves at all by their dislike of the order and discipline of the workhouse; whose homes, if they have any, are not worth keeping together, and who take advantage of periods of general distress to escape from the little work which they ever do, and live upon the resources of others. To these persons any relaxation of the rules governing the administration of out-door relief comes as a veritable god-send, and they flock to public relief works because the supervision is usually somewhat lax, and they are enabled to obtain their wage with unusually little exertion. Private charity may institute inquiries and impose conditions which cannot be insisted upon by the Poor Law authorities, whose duty it is to relieve absolute destitution whatever its cause; and it has the same advantage over other local authorities, who should only come into the field as employers, whose resources are less affected by trade depression than those of private capitalists. It is unfortunately inevitable that the demand for labour should fluctuate ; and that times should come at which there is no work for some of those who, as a rule, are able to earn enough to keep themselves and their families. Even the most thrifty can hardly make provision for long periods of enforced idleness, and the object of all exceptional relief measures should be to enable such persons to avoid losing status and self-respect through circumstances beyond their own control. One of the main objects sought by the framers of the Poor Law of 1834 was to make the position of the State-supported such, that they should be evidently below those who maintain themselves by their own exertions, and thus to create among the working classes a spirit of self-reliance, and a sense of shame in depending upon external help. In this they have, to some extent, succeeded. • Speaking of the population of Lancashire, Mr. Henley says: “It is a matter for much congratulation that the persons in employment were receiving good wages, and obtained the necessaries of life at exceptionally low cost. To this cause must be attributed the absence of serious distress; those in work being able materially to help those of their relatives and friends failing to find employment.” The fact that such help was sought and given is a hopeful sign, showing the growth of a spirit of independence; and increased thrift is amply witnessed to by the large sums which, according to Mr. Knollys, were expended in his district by the great trades' societies. But a time may come when these resources are unable to meet the strain put upon them, and when charity alone can save numbers of deserving persons from the degradation of “coming upon the rates.” At such a time the benevolence of the philanthropic may do an immense service in preserving the morale, as well as in alleviating the hardships, of the working classes; but it is essential to its success that it should be guided by prudence, and that relief should only be given after searching inquiry. Care must also be taken, by means of some such regulation as to residence as was adopted at Birmingham, that relief funds do not concentrate the unemployed, and so increase and prolong the congestion of the labour market. There are many indications that the coming winter will be a very Severe one, and already the season has been exceptionally cold. From all parts of the country come reports of farms thrown up, of arable lands converted into pasture, of labourers dismissed, of wages reduced. In Norwich there was a meeting of the unemployed as early as September, and day after day Trafalgar Square has been filled by crowds which, even when allowance is made for the facility with which idlers and good-for-nothings can be collected in London, evidence an abnormal absence of employment. The number of paupers relieved in Metropolitan unions, on the last day of the first week in October was 91,098, as compared with 88,147 in the corresponding week of the previous year; and although this increase is not very large, it is ominous considering the period at which it comes. Hopeful persons see in the Board of Trade returns some indications of returning prosperity; but even if their prognostications prove correct, a gradual revival of trade will take some time to absorb the surplus labour now available ; and meanwhile the ranks of the unemployed in the towns will be recruited by the influx of those who are driven from their usual occupations in the country. Not even the most sanguine predict any revival in agriculture. It is therefore to be apprehended that the winter which is now upon us will prove even more trying to the wage-earning portion of the population than those which have preceded it; and, as year after year produces no alleviation of their misery, many of those who are still maintaining the terrible struggle for existence, will be driven to give up the effort and enter the workhouse, or will join the disorderly mobs which are being egged on to violence by misguided or interested agitators. The continued congestion in the labour market is producing a situation, the seriousness of which can hardly be exaggerated ; which urgently demands the consideration of the Government, with a view to the discovery of some radical remedy; at the same time there is a pressing call for individual exertion, to seek out those who are really the victims of trade depression, and to provide the means for enabling them to tide over the winter months. VOL. X. 26
This work should be begun at once, and should be done as quietly and unobtrusively as possible, that the evils which we have seen to be consequent upon exceptional measures for the relief of distress may be minimised.
We have spoken mostly of the large towns because to them the distress treated of in the reports under review was mostly confined, and because it is in them that distress is most difficult to deal with. In an agricultural village it is not hard to discriminate the deserving from those who merit nothing better than the workhouse.
There is much in the reports of which we have been speaking on which we have been unable to touch, and much to which we have merely alluded, which affords matter for anxious consideration; but perhaps the chief lesson to be drawn from the whole may, not unfairly, be said to be this : that if we would hope to cope with periods of exceptional distress so that they should do the least harm, both moral and physical, to their victims, we must depend upon private charity, exercised liberally and kindly, but with firmness, discrimination, and a due regard to wide prevalence of idleness and imposture.
HUGH P. TREGARTHEN.
WHEN Bellerophon was sent by Iobates, King of Lycia, to seek out and kill the Chimaera, his first thought was how to bestride the wingéd Pegasus. He called Minerva to his aid ; and, with the bridle given him by the Goddess of Wisdom, he tamed the steed, and slew the Monster. Life is a Chimaera for all of us, a thing terrible, mysterious, pregnant with mortal issues. Only by a fervent and soaring imagination can it be mastered; and even then the victory is not achieved till imagination has been seconded by judgment. Many poets there are that enchant us; how few there are who satisfy. Those poets alone kill the Chimaera for us, of whom we can say that their “blood and judgment are so well commingled,” ” that their work, in its integrity, exhibits a perfect balance between native impulse and matured self-control. Indeed, would it not almost seem that a series of prose papers on Poetry might not inaptly bear the title, The Bridling of Pegasus 2 “I wonder what it is that makes people write poetry.” This observation I once heard made by a very intelligent person in the presence of a man supposed to be a poet; and though the observation may seem a little prosaic, it may help to set us thinking about the origin of a phenomenon exceedingly common, but the explanation of which does not lie on the surface. Of all forms of ambition, the ambition to write poetry is the one by which human beings are the most frequently tormented. Neither the unripeness of youth nor the maturity of age, neither poverty nor opulence, neither eminence nor obscurity nor rank nor station nor fame otherwise acquired, neither learning nor ignorance, indeed no known quality nor condition, seems to have the power to protect men and women from the wish to express their thoughts, feelings and experience, in the garb of verse, in the hope it will be accepted as poetry. Thousands, yes, tens of thousands of people have written verses, of whose foible the world has never heard. As a rule, manhood makes short work with the youthful tendency; and the neglect, not to say the disdain, of strangers and friends alike diverts endeavour into other channels. Frequently, however, the pathetic tendency is persevered in, not only in the absence of any external encouragement, but by men who have astonished the world by the splendour of their exploits. I remember once passing a night in the circular bedroom at Drayton Manor, in which Warren Hastings, after he had fulfilled the dream of his boyhood and recovered the home of his ancestors, habitually slept; and what haunted me most concerning him was not his astonishing career in the East, but the still more wonderful circumstance that, in his old age, he rarely appeared at breakfast without having in his hand a copy of verses, freshly made that morning. Can any human being quote one line of them 2 How many of the verses have survived, the composing of which Richelieu declared threw him not only into a fine frenzy, but into an ecstasy of delight? Why should the conqueror of Silesia have wanted to write poetry, and so move Woltaire to the mocking remark about dirty linen sent to the wash 2 That such great men should write such poor verses, is a question it might be interesting to consider at Some other time. Here, it is enough to note that the founders of realms and the conquerors of continents, not content with their martial or political laurels, have manifested a perverse pertinacity in the bootless ambition to be heroes of Parnassus as well as of Olympus. It cannot be that writing verse is so frequent among ordinary people, because, in the event of success, great is the reward. The material prize is almost uniformly of the scantiest; poetry, even when recognized as poetry, being the most unremunerative of all the products of that most unremunerative of occupations, the occupation of Letters. When a man is universally acknowledged to be a vates sacer, or poet of genuine race, I dare say he does receive an amount of consideration from his fellows that is not unpalatable to the natural infirmity of the human appetite. But I imagine a successful soldier, a popular minister, an opulent duke, or even a self-made prodigal millionaire, receives more homage, more deference, and more attention from his acquaintances, than are ever extended, in the most reverential circles, to the poet whose genius seems to his contemporaries indisputable; while I suspect that the partial admiration bestowed on bards whose merits are still questioned is accompanied by some little irreverent humour on the part of those who question it. The estimation in which poetry and poets are held by
* And blest are those Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled, That they are not a pipe for fortune's finger, To sound what step she please. Hamlet, actiii. scene 2,