Beggars require no definition.
Various opinions have been held, concerning the good or bad consequences which result from the practice of relieving common beggars, in the public streets. Dr. BURN observes, " that this kind of charity, is setting up private judgment against public law. The legislature has provided for the poor in one way, but we think that is not so good, and therefore will have a way of our own - the worst and most abandoned of the people are sustained by the. efforts of well-meant, but very ill-judged charity; there is one- way, " he says, "to put an end to begging, and the easiest in the world—to give- them nothing. If none were to give, none would beg; and the whole mystery and craft would be at an end in a fortnight."—See Charity.
We cannot implicitly agree wi the rigorous measures of Dr. Burn; for, though the legislature have provided for the poor, in many instances this provision is ineffectual; and it may often happen to be dispensed at too late a period, for the relief of the distressed object, .
The generality of the poor in the metropolis, may be divided into two classes : first, those who are incapable of working; and, secondly, such as are able, but unwilling. The former may be considered as real objects of chanty; but they ought not to be suffered to infest the streets, and expose their distorted limbs, or disgusting sores. The latter class, however, is most numerous; as it comprehends the most abandoned and profligate outcasts of society. Whatever is given to these miscreant-;, may be considered as applied to the rising fund of vice and immo-rality.—-On the other hand, a due distinction ought to be made between those who have by misfortune been reduced to a state of indigence, and others, who an; vagrants by profession. Rousseau justly remarks, that a great number of beggars may become bur-thensome to a state ; that it is a duty incumbent on a wise administration, to make such regulations as will prevent beggars from annoying the industrious : yet we, would reply to this benevolent philosopher, that the execution of such a plan has often been attempted, but has succeeded only in countries or cities comparatively small; for instance, in Geneva, Munich, Hamburgh, etc. and if credit be due to public report, in the Imperial city of Germany, which, in this respect, forms a remarkable exception.
Mr. Bleamire, in his "Re-marks on the Poor Laws, " just published, pointedly observes, that "persons utterly unable to support themselves, were always proper objects for parochial relief} but the idle, lazy, and abandoned, who now, to the shame of our modern governors of parishes, crowd every poor-house, were, and still ought to be, objects of punishment. If those (he adds), who are entrusted with the care and management of the poor, would exercise an impartial and honest discrimination among the persons who apply to them for relief, poor-houses would be less frequented; the poor-rates considerably reduced ; and, by turning those receptacles into work-bouses, vicious idleness be checked, and virtuous industry greatly promoted."
It does not behove us to pronounce judgment on beggars; but, reflecting on the contagious ten-dency of street-hegging, as an allurement to those whose moral principles are weak, or corrupted, we shall conclude in the words of a learned magistrate, who emphatically says, in one the latest critical journals, " that the enormous sums which have of late years been raised tor the support of the Poor, are not only a national grievance, but a national disgrace /" - See farther, Poor-houses.