Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

the different circumstances of most other nations, and have judgment to difcern what they fuffer, and candor and gratitude to acknowledge what we enjoy, particularly at this dreadful interval, when war lays waste so many countries, and preys on fo great a part of our fpecies.

THE ordinary custom of this fociety was to place out annually fixteen boys, as apprentices, chiefly, but not all, to marine trades, and water-borne business, with each of whom five pounds were given to the masters, but nothing worth mentioning for the immediate ufe and encouragement of the apprentices themselves. The remainder of the money, collected at the feast, was used to be employed in clothing boys as fervants in the King's fhips. But the ftewards of 1758, in conjunction with those chofen for the next year, refolved to appropriate the whole collection to the original defign, as they conceived it to be, of placing out boys to marine trades and water-borne business; and accordingly encreased the number of apprentices this year, 1759, to twenty-fix. They added this further advantage, that the boys are well clothed with a coat, a pair of breeches and a hat, which are provided in the most proper manner. The fewards had the ftronger inducement to take this step, as the benevolent and most useful MARINE SOCIETY, make such ample provifion of clothing for all poor boys, who are inclined to ferve in the Royal Navy. (a)

THOSE Who think every thing great, which regards the great caufe of humanity, or fuch as enter deeply into the confideration how much the happiness of every community depends on industry, will receive a pleasure, which language can but faintly express, in viewing and encouraging the lads who are the objects in queftion. To give a clear idea of this charity, we must inform our fellow-fubjects, who are the true objects of it. If there is a poor orphan, whose parents have been of one of the trades mentioned in the Rules and Orders, being of a proper age to be placed out, any perfon of reputation in the neighborhood, to whom fuch boy

[ocr errors]

(a) The Marine Society to the 1ft of July, 1759, in three years, has clothed and equipped for the Navy 5135 men, and 3394 boys.

[blocks in formation]

is perfonally known, recommending him to the Treasurer, or other substitute of the Stewards, fuch boy has the preference, whenever a master, whofe industry and probity can be depended on, offers to take him; and it is a rule of the fociety, before the indentures are drawn up, to make as particular enquiries as the nature of the thing will admit, into the feveral facts fet forth, in regard both to the intended mafter and apprentice.

THE next objects are the children of numerous, induftrious, poor families. These being happily provided for, may by the affiftance of divine Providence be enabled to relieve their aged parents, or fuccor their kindred, and keep them above a wretched dependance on Parish-charity.

66

It is very emphatically faid, that "BRETHRN and HELP, are against time, but "ALMS fhall deliver more than them both." And again, that " a brother is born for adverfity." Every one must fee, that one of the best Criterions, if not the only one to judge of the propriety of charities, is, if they are calculated to mend the morals of the common people, and to induce them to provide for themselves; the parent to take care of the child, and the child to affift the fickly or aged parent. Were this rule more generally obferved, it would be a greater fpur to industry, and more folid comfort would arise from our charity. In place of a fervile dependance on a Poor's-rate, a fpirit of emulation would arife who fhould be most industrious; and though our munificence was distributed with less excess of goodnefs, and feemingly with a lefs eclat of piety, yet would it conduce more to the general happiness, and confequently become the more powerful advocate at the throne of that God, by whofe decrees we are commanded, and from the conftitution of things, we are obliged, to get our bread by the fweat of our brows. In the mean while we may boldly affert that the chriftian religion is the parent of order; the promoter of industry; the protector of property; the faithful friend of concord and peace; the pure fountain whence all our focial comforts flow, as well as the fure guide to immortal happiness. And fince the observance of its precepts are fraught with so much happiness, and the neglect of them prevails fo much amongst us, it will ever

Be

be no less the glory of the few, than it is the duty of all to appear, not only as its friends, but also as its champions.

WHILST the piety of the heart, and the fashion of the times influence our manners, we are warned, by our very benevolence, to look forward, and examine what may be the probable effects of our liberality. The want of a judicious precaution in this respect, I fear sometimes creates diftress, faster than charity can relieve it, and the remedy becomes as bad as the difeafe. This at least is indifputable, that the nation would be happier, if we applied ourselves with more diligence and attention to countenance private perfons, among the industrious poor, who have many children, with a view to keep up a fenfe of shame, and to preserve them from want. The charity here recommended, feems to be agreeable to the defign of the jus trium liberorum of the ancient Romans, a law by which it is well known certain privileges were granted to the father, who had more than three children, and which undoubtedly contributed to raise that mighty ftate, to fo great a point of worldly glory. If the children of numerous poor families amongst us had a preference fhewn them, upon certain occafions, it would be fo far the ftronger motives to matrimony, and operate to the encrease of the people in a truly natural, and pious manner.

If we cultivate thofe great principles, which the God of nature has implanted in the human heart; if we endeavor to fecure the virtue of parents, and children, by the endearing ties of their reciprocal duties, and to fet their children in the paths of industry, it is furely the plaineft road we can point out to temporal, as well as immortal felicity.

To honour thy parents, that thy days may be long in the land, is a divine command, not confined to the rich, nor is filial gratitude to be found only in palaces. It depends on religion and the customs of a nation, and it might therefore be wifhed that methods were taken to bring about this end, and to prevent, instead of pro-moting the feparation of the infant and the mother. Custom will operate in both.

both cafes equally the fame, for men are made Saints or Devils as their fuperiors lead them. The particular cafe of an abandoned mother may require a parti cular remedy; but to affift children when they are grown up, that in their turn they may provide for a family, appears to be the plainest rule in politics as well as morals; and as it seems most eligible, for the fake of agriculture, that the son of a peasant fhould generally be bred a peasant; fo the fhewing the kind of countenance and patronage here recommended, will add the greater weight to the impor tant maxims which relate to our navigation, on which the liberty as well as the oppulence of this nation depends. In the mean while, as the year comes round, the sight of a number of fine lads, intended to be educated in the schools of such useful industry, will give the trueft and moft exquifite relifh to an annual festival, which will always afford pleasure and fatisfaction in proportion as the expence is reasonable, the place commodious, and the whole conduct of it elegant, and worthy the high rank of fome, and the politenefs of the whole company.

ope

IF by this occafional aid, fo modelled, as humanly Speaking, to be free in its rations, from all temptation to idleness, or other pernicious effects, we can take care of a few orphans, and fhew the common people the merit of being affiduous in cherishing their children, at the fame time that we cultivate the fear of God, and obedience to human laws in the heart of the child, and enable him in his turn to prop the hoary heads of his parents, we fhall furely do an effential service to the common-wealth.

THE fetting every one to work, who can do any thing, feems to be the most natural means of preventing the neceffity of fo heavy a Poor's-rate, as this nation growns under; and unlefs a new law is formed, and a new rule of conduct towards the poor oblerved, and the execution of it rendered equally just and familiar, we shall ever find ourselves bewildered, and mifery will probably encrease with our riches.

In a country where the true brightness of liberty is obfcured by the dazzling lustre of real or imaginary wealth, the poor will be too often directed by this falfe light,

and

and they will abufe the rich by their idleness, fo long as the generality of the rich abuse themselves by their exceffes, or by their inattention to the duties of life. In fuch a country, a relaxation of difcipline and economy in high life, will produce the fame in low, and this will render fome kinds of relief indifpenfible, at the very time that they are productive of fome mifchiefs. Good and evil are thus blended together, and we must chufe the leffer evil: but we ought still to afpire at perfellion, whether we find it or not, left the greater evil fhould predominate, and inUnder fuch circumstances it is much easier volve the whole in a common ruin. to fay you shall work or perish;" than to carry this maxim rigidly into execution, especially whilft fo much relief is erroniously given to common beggars. But it is equally obvious, that more skill in the art of governing the poor, more judicious admonition, with a greater mixture of tenderness at sometimes, and wholSome feverity at others, will bring things back again to their proper channel, and produce the effects we can reafonably wish to fee.

[ocr errors]

WITH regard to our present circumstances, we have every thing to hope for, which our fituation admits of, from the guardians of the nation: but war can never be without its fears; and whatever shall please the Almighty, in whofe hands are the iffues of life and death, as to our temporal ftate in general, reafon and faith must conduct us, and if we are wife as individuals, we shall be ever ftriving to acquit ourfelves well, before God and our country. This is the fure way to fecure a retreat into thofe realms of peace, where all enmity and ambition ceafe; where even the pleasure of promoting the happiness of others, will give place to the fruition of boundless mercy to ourselves, where we shall be no longer anxious for the safety of This is the task which heaour friends, nor fhocked at the carnage of our enemies. ven has affigned us : immortal happiness is promised as the reward of our toils; and fo long as we believe there is a God, that he has made fuch promifes, and that his truth is as certain as his existence, fo long fhall we delight in the felicity of his creatures, as the object in which the true ambition of the mind must ultimately

center.

RULES

« AnteriorContinua »