LABOUR-TICKETS INSTEAD OF ALMS.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE SPECTATOR.
10th November 1847.
Sin—Should the following suggestions be found worthy of attention, you will perhaps give them a place in your influential journal. The large bodies of men who have been thrown out of employment by the ex- tensive stoppage of railway works must, I fear, greatly increase the number of 'beggars this winter; and it becomes a duty to consider how relief may be best afforded them.
At this season of the year, quantities of dead leaves encumber the ground in every direction, where they are allowed to lie unheeded until they rot away, of course meanwhile producing an unwholesome atmosphere. These if collected would be exceedingly valuable to gardeners, especially if they were to be reduced to ashes; vegetable ashes being the best manure for raspberries, strawberries, and 'several other plants. Some persons, although perhaps not many, might be em- ployed in clearing away this disgraceful nuisance, and converting it to that use t or which Nature intended it. More might be employed in the repair of roads and footpaths, and more still upon improving defective drams and filling up offensive ponds and ditches; which, in the neighbourhood of London at least, prevail in *every' direction, and which if neglected will tell upon us fearfully during the ap- proaching visitation of the cholera. Suppose a subscription be raised in each parish for defraying the expenses of 'employing all persons applying for work. Let each subscnber receive a certain Timber of tickets, to distribute to those soliciting alms; and who by presenting ,their tickets will be given the means of gaining money by their own labour. Let competent persons be appointed in each parish to receive applicants, to allot work to them, and to superintend their labours. Let the labourers receive their wages nightly, that they may at once feel the benefit of their exertions; but on no account let them be paid above their deserts. Such a plan, I think, might be carried out at a comparatively small expense. I feel sure that there are many benevolent persons who would prefer to give a considerable sum in the form of such a subscription to bestowing a much smaller one upon individual beggars; into whose real wants they have neither time nor opportunity for inquiring, and in whom, by giving them money, they are at least as likely as not to tbster laziness and a spirit of pauperism. A plan somewhat similar to that which I suggest, was, to my knowledge, tried 'upon a small scale with the most successful results. Beggars by .profession ceased to solicit money when they found they must earn it by their labour; while the very few who were in real want gratefully accepted the means offered to then:: of gaining honest wages. A CONSTANT READER OF THE SPECTATOR.