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on him to plead. He proceeds to his solicitor, and explains to him that he owes the debt; that he has not a shadow of defence, but that he is speculating with the money, which produces him twenty per cent., while the plaintiff can only compel him to pay five per cent. The object, therefore of the defendant, is to postpone the payment of his just and admitted debt as long as possible, in order that he may put into his own pocket the difference between twenty per cent, and five per cent. The solicitor, accordingly, puts in a plea, which is a deliberate and unprincipled lie; either that the money has been paid, or that the defendant never executed the deed of covenant, or that he has a set off, or that the payment was postponed by consent of the plaintiff, to some remote period. Now let the reader understand, that this tissue of lies does not subject the utterer of them to the legal penalties of perjury; in consequence of which impunity, the debtor shortly before the day of trial, tenders the payment with five per cent, interest, and leaves his creditor without any remedy. In this case, the debtor gains an immediate advantage by pleading, and this circumstance determines him to disregard the future results of his iniquity, which are the scorn, contempt, and detestation, of every virtuous and honorable mind. It appears to
be the duty of the legislature to lop off this branch of the law, because it has a tendency to vitiate and demoralize the heart, by holding out a temptation to moral perjury, and creating a wide and dangerous distinction between duty and interest. Deplorable indeed, would be the moral dignity of a nation in which "Salvis quid enim est infamia nummis? became a general motto!!!
We proceed to a consideration of the poor laws, as far as they appear to be secondary causes of national demoralization. One of the greatest advantages contemplated by those who recommend the education of the lower orders, is the creation of self-respect and independence of mind. To disdain pecuniary obligation is the characteristic of a truly noble and magnanimous disposition. So influential is this spirit on the moral rectitude of the middling and higher ranks of society, that a celebrated philosopher has pronounced economy to be the parent of all the virtues. Men who are sincerely impressed with this laudable principle, if adversity should reduce them from affluence to poverty, prefer the severest mental and bodily labour, to soliciting assistance even from their nearest relations. In many instances suicide has been preferred to the loss of independence of soul. This sen
tiiAent of keif-respect, which spurns at obligation', is confined to the educated section of the community; and though the bid English yeomen once felt and acknowledged its Influence, it cannot be denied that during the last half century, it has gradually declined. The cause of this increasing disregard of the degradation attendant on beggary, is to be ascribed almost entirely to the poor laws, which ofler a bounty to pauperism, by creating a public fund for the support of thoughtlessness and extravagance. A certain class of writers, who cater to the worst passion's of the vulgar, have, during the last twenty years, disseminated false and mischievous opinions among the working classes, respecting the distinction* of ranks in society. The labouring poor have been taught to believe, that if the government were to adopt honest measures, poverty would be driven from the land; and while the science of political economy has been reprobated as a scheme of deception, calculated to benefit the rich by plundering the poor, the most pernicious and unfounded doctrines have been industriously circulated, to excite hatred, discontent, and insubordination, among the credulous disciples of the Utopian school of universal equality. Mr. Malthas, in Ms admirable Essay on Population, has unanswerably exposed the fdlly of these apostles of revolution;
but. i£ is to be regretjted thati the expense and size of his work places it beyond: the reach ofi those readers who are misled by the artifices or the ignorance of the radical press. This profound economist has satisfactorily proved, that population has, a tendency to increase, faster than the. means, of subsistence; from YKhich invariable law of nature it evidently, follows, that there always, must of necessity be a gradation in society, and that poverty must as certainly be found at the bottom Q$ the chain. Though this dispensation may appear, to superficial thinkers, inconsistent with the benevolence of God, yet those who look below the surface of things, perceive the. utility of this apparent curse. Man is ordained to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, and he is endued with hodily strength and mental intelligence sufficient to enable him to accomplish the destiny appointed. If the, Creator had left him destitute of powers of production, then it might be argued, that the condition of man was wretched and unjust. $ut as the instruments of happiness and misery are placed in the hands of every individual, he alone is to blame, if he perverts the advantages he possesses. Every legal institution, therefore, which tends to destroy industrious habits, militates against the obvious intentions of God; and this consideration
alone, ought to influence the decrees of a Christian legislature.
That the poor laws, as they now exist, are calculated to produce lazy and improvident conduct, a few observations will prove. The majority of mankind are prone to idleness; few like the trouble of sowing the seed, though all are eager to reap the harvest. But as the demand for subsistence always exceeds the supply, even under a regular system of government, in which the division of labour is established, and the security of property respected, what destructive consequences would result, if the industrious labourer were to be deprived of the fruits of his exertions, when the moment of enjoyment had arrived! Now, if a Godwinian or Spencean system of equality were established, it requires no argument to make it evident that, by permitting the idle to share in the produce of the industrious, anarchy and confusion would quickly follow. It is sheer stupidity to suppose that all men would contribute to create as much as they would consume, for man requires the stimulus of necessity to compel him to labour; nor would any member of this ideal community allow his neighbour, who only worked six hours a day, to share as much as himself, if he worked eight hours. This subject needs not be pursued," for the