An Essay on the Poor Law

Recommended edition: Political Essays, ed. Mark Goldie (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 182- 198.


If the cause of this evil be well looked into, we humbly conceive it will be found to have proceeded neither from scarcity of provisions, nor from want of employment for the poor, since the goodness of God has blessed these times with plenty, no less than the former, and a long peace during those reigns gave us as plentiful a trade as ever. The growth of the poor must therefore have some other cause, and it can be nothing else but the relaxation of discipline and the corruption of manners; virtue and industry being as constant companions on the one side as vice and idleness are on the other.

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