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tion among manufacturers, who should decide between one manufacturer and another? Would it not also be desirable, if, in every parish, a number of gentlemen, or other respectable persons, were to associate for the purpose of accommodating the differences of each other? For this beautiful system is capable of being carried to any extent, and of being adapted to all stations and conditions of life. By these means numerous little funds might be established in numerous districts, from the surplus of which an opportunity would be afforded of adding to the comforts of such of the poor, as were to distinguish themselves by their good behaviour, whether as labourers for farmers, manufacturers, or others. By these means also many of the quarrels in parishes might be settled to the mutual satisfaction of the parties concerned, and, in so short a space of time, as to prevent them from contracting a rancorous and a wounding edge. Those, on the other hand, who were to assist in these arbitrations, would be amply repaid; for they would be thus giving an opportunity of growth to the benevolence of their affections, and they would have the pleasing reflection, that the tendency of their labours would be to produce peace and good will amongst men.
Management of the poor-Quakers never seen as beggars-George Fox began the provision for the Quaker-poor-Monthly meetings appoint overseers -Persons passed over are to apply for relief-and the disorderly may receive it in certain cases -Manner of collecting for the poor-If burthensome in one monthly meeting, the burthen shared by the quarterly-Quakers gain settlements by monthly meetings, as the other poor of the kingdom, by parishes.
HERE are few parts of the Quaker-constitution, that are more worthy of commendation, than that which relates to the poor. All the members of this society are considered as brethren, and as entitled to support from one another. If our streets and our roads are infested by miserable objects, imploring our pity, no Quaker will be found among them. A Quaker-beggar would be a phenomenon in the world.
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 system by which they make a provision for their poor. As a 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 general 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 Quakers, in order that none of their poor might become burthensome to their parishes, they went away—whatever they might think of some of their new tenets of religion-in admiration of their benevolence.
The Quakers of the present day consider their poor in the same light as their venerable 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 the Quaker constitution. The monthly meetings generally 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. The reason, why this double burthen is laid upon 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, medicine, or medical advice and attention, they order them, and the treasurer of the monthly meetings settles the different accounts. I 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
e In London a committee is appointed for each poor person. Thus, for example, two women are appointed to attend to the wants and comfort of one poor old woman,
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 flock, and in dealing in due time with such as walk disorderly, hath brought great difficulties on some meetings; for we think it both unreasonable 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 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