3 JANUARY 1885, Page 22


70 THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR."] SIR,—In the Spectator of December 27th, the question is put,— How is the present diminution in the number of paupers consistent with the alleged " unusual distress " ? I for one do not admit the prevalence of general distress, but of this the pauperroll is no true criterion. While the number in the workhouse is a fair measure of destitution, the pauper-roll is none whatever. Its length depends entirely on the action of the Guardians; the action of Guardians is almost universally governed, not by fixed principles, or the needs of the applicants, but by the humour they are in for yielding to the solicitations of the idle and improvident for a grant of out-door relief-When the distributors of these mischievous doles feel themselves doing well, they generally loose the ratepayers' pursestrings, in the name of " charity," and register paupers by thousands. Times were good in 1870-1, and on January 1st, 1871, England and Wales supported nearly 1,100,000 paupers. The times are bad in 1883-4, and the number falls to 774,000.. This reduction, however, is entirely confined to out-door paupers, who have dropped from 916,000 to 586,000, or over 33 per cent. Meanwhile, the really destitute in the workhouses have slightly risen in numbers ; but even here, as times are said to get worse, the numbers are less in 1884 than in 1880, taken on New Year's Day ; and I have the firmest conviction that, with cheap food and an intelligent administration of the Poor Law, this steady decline in pauperism will continue.—I am,. Sir, &c., Ha::elbeach, December 29th. ALBERT PELL.