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Exclusive of the various means, described in the preceding pages, for effecting the great work of alleviating the wants of mankind, there are others of established and permanent operation. I mean, the constant charitable bequests, continued even from the establishment of masses for the repose of the souls of the testators. In those the poor were always remembered; but the Protestant, more disinterested, has long given the whole of his money to the wretched, and required no prayers in return. Were I to collect the items of bequests from the days of Henry VIII. to the present moment, this work would not contain them, and the reader would barely credit the enormous amount: and yet this is independent of the Alms-houses and Hospitals which we meet with in every direction, where many thousands are absolutely supported by the benevolence of those who have very long since paid the debt of
Such are the effects of the general charity of the Natives of London; such their attempts to smooth the path of life, and to render the person those services which are necessary to maintain its dignity and proportion. I am now compelled to turn from this grateful scene, and to exhibit what has been done by depravity and laxity of manners, to shorten life, and destroy the fine proportions of the Citizen.
ANECDOTES OF DEPRAVITY, FROM 1700 TO 1800.
MANKIND may be universally divided into two classes, the honest and dishonest; for I admit of no medium. That those distinctions have existed from the very remotest periods, I believe no one will deny; therefore it is perfectly natural to suppose, that depraved and idle wretches, who would rather steal the effects of another than labour to acquire property for themselves, have infested London, from the hour in which an hundred persons inhabited it in huts or caverns. How those depredators on Society were treated by the Cits of very very very antient times is not worth enquiry; but that death was often inflicted cannot be doubted; and that might be effected by twenty different methods. Strangulation was certainly used before the time of Henry I. in London: punishment for crimes of inferior magnitude are always
always species of torture; to repeat the probable modes would be far from pleasant.
Whatever may have been the other inventions of the idle to obtain bread, that of begging in all its ramifications was the most antient; the fraternity of mendicants have resisted every attempt to dissolve their body, nor will they vanish till the last day shall remove every living creature from the surface of the earth. After the establishment of Christianity, flocks of Christians determined to devote themselves to the service of the Lord in their way, and work no more; such were some orders of Monks and Friars mendicants! The monasteries afterwards, acting upon a mistaken idea of charity, gave alms, and fed the poor and idle indiscriminately at their gates: thus a wretch might invigorate his body with the viands of the Abbots and Monks in the day, and pass the night in attacks upon the defenceless traveller, perhaps often relieved in presence of the depredator by the blind religious.
In vain have the Monarch, the Law, and the Judge, from the days of the Aborigines down to the present moment, exerted their authority and terrors; and I am compelled, for brevity's sake, to confine myself to the disgraceful acts of a single century. To mention the numbers who were condemned at the Old Bailey in 14 years from 1700, will be sufficient, without particularizing their crimes,
In the mayoralty of Sir Francis Child, 1732, 502 persons were indicted at the Old Bailey; 70 of whom received sentence of death; 208 of transportation; eight fined, imprisoned, or pilloried; four burnt in the hand; four whipped; and 288 acquitted.
In 1722, ten pounds reward was offered by the Clerk of the New River Company, for the apprehension of persons who had wantonly tapped the pipes, and others that had cut the banks to let water on their own possessions.
Lotteries.-These pernicious contrivances to raise money were in full vigour at the commencement of the century. There was the "Greenwich Hospital adventure," sanctioned by an Act of Parliament,
liament, which the managers describe as "liable to none of the objections made against other Lotteries, as to the fairness of the drawing, it being not possible there should be any deceit in it, as it has been suspected in others." Mr. Sydenham's Land Lottery, who declared it was "found very difficult and troublesome for the adventurers for to search and find out what prizes they have come up in their number tickets, from the badness of the print, the many errors in them, and the great quantity of the number of the prizes:" the Twelve-penny or Nonsuch: and "the Fortunatus."
Esquire Sydenham's lady's gentlewoman obtained an estate worth 600l. per annum, in her master's Lottery; but the unfortunate holders of blanks, suspecting foul play, advertized an intended meeting on the 11th January 1700, for the purpose of entering into an investigation of their real or fancied wrongs. This produced a denial on the part of his Trustees, but did not prevent the meeting from taking place, when it was unanimously resolved to appoint an eminent goldsmith in Lombard-street cashier, for the receipt of subscriptions to carry their purposes into effect; which being accomplished, they exhibited a Bill in Chancery against the unfortunate Squire*.
* The gentleman who reviews this work in the European. Magazine, mentions' the Royal Oak Lottery,' on the authority of Congreve's" Love for Love," as particularly ruinous,