Obrazy na stronie

As a

It does not, however, follow from this account that there are no poor Quakers, or that members of this Society are not born in a dependent state. The truth is, that there are poor as well as rich, but the wants of the former are so well provided for, that they are not publicly seen, like the wants of others.

George Fox, as he was the founder of the religion of the Quakers, I mean of a system of renovated Christianity, so he was the author of the beautiful scheme, by which they make a provision for their poor. Christian, he considered the poor of every: description as members of the same family, but particularly those, who were of the household of faith. Consistently with this opinion, he advised the establishment of

ge neral meetings in his own time, a special part of whose business it was to take due care of the poor. These meetings excited at first the vigilance and anger of the magistrates; but, when they came to see the regulations made by the members of this Society, in order that none of their poor might become burthensome to their parishes, they went away, whatever they might think of some of their


[ocr errors]

new tenets of religion, in admiration of their benevolence.

The Quakers of the present day consider their

poor in the same light as their venera, ble elder, namely, as members of the same family, whose wants it is their duty to relieve, and they provide for them nearly in the same manner. They intrust this important concern to the monthly meetings, which are the executive branches of their constitution. The monthly meetings appoint four overseers, two men and two women, over each particular meeting within their own jurisdiction, if their number will admit of it. It is the duty of these to visit such of the poor as are in membership; of the men to visit the men, but of the women sometimes to visit both. why this double burthen is laid


the women-overseers is, that women know more of domestic concerns, more of the wants of families, more of the manner of providing for them, and are better advisers and better nurses in sickness than the men. Whatever these overseers find wanting in the course of their visits, whether money, clothes, medicines, or medical advice and


The reason

ättention, they order them, and the treasurer of the monthly meetings settles the different accounts *.


may observe here, that it is not easy for overseers to neglect their duty; for an inquiry is made three times in the year of the monthly meetings by the quarterly, whether the necessities of the poor are properly inspected and relieved. I may

observe also, that the poor, who'may stand in need of relief, are always relieved privately, I mean at their respective homes.;

It is, however, possible, that there may be persons, who, from a variety of unlooked for causes, may be brought into distress, and whose case, never having been suspected, may be passed over. But persons in this situation are desired to apply for assistance. It is also a rule in the Society, that even persons, whose conduct is disorderly, are to be relieved, if such conduct has not been objected to by their own monthly meeting. “ The want of due care,” says the Book of Extracts, “ in watching diligently over the

* In London a committee is appointed for each poor person. Thus, for example, two women are appointed to attend to the wants and comforts of one poor old




flock, and in dealing in due time with such as walk disorderly, hath brought great difficulties on some meetings; for we think it both unseasonable and dishonourable, when persons apply to monthly meetings for relief, in cases of necessity, then to object to them such offences as the meeting, through the neglect of its own duty, hath suffered long to pass by unreproved and unnoticed.” The

poor are supported by charitable collections from the body at large; or, in other words, every monthly meeting supports its own poor. The collections for them are usually made once a month, but in some places once a quarter, and in others at no stated times, but when the treasurer declares them necessary and the monthly meeting approves. Members are expected to contribute in proportion to their circumstances; but persons in a low situation, and servants, are generally excused upon these occasions.

In happens in the district of some monthly meetings, that there are found only few persons of property but a numerous poor, so that the former are unable to do justice in their provision for the latter. The Society have therefore resolved, when the poor are too numerous to be supported by their own

monthly monthly meetings, that the collections for them shall be made up out of the quarterly meeting, to which the said monthly meeting belongs. This is the same thing as if any particular parish were unable to pay the rates for the poor, and as if all the other parishes in the county were made to contribute towards the same.

On this subject I may observe, that the poor, belonging to the Society, are attached to their monthly meetings as the comman poor of the kingdom are attached to their parishes, and that they gain settlements in these nearly in the same manner.


Education of the children of the poor particularly insisted

ироп and provided for by the Quakers-The boys usually put out to apprenticeship--the girls to service-The latter not sufficiently numerous for the Quaker-families who want them The rich have not their proper proportion of these in their service-reputed reasons of it-Character of the Quaker-poor.

As the Quakers are particularly attentive to the wants of the poor, so they are no less attentive to the instruction of their offspring.



« PoprzedniaDalej »