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butions upon the industrious inhabitants, stealing and robbing, and leading a life of indolence and the most shameless debauchery, was quite incredible; and SO Dumerous were the swarms of beggars in all the great towns, and particu. larly in the capital, so great their impudence, and so persevering their importunity, that it was almost impossible to cross the streets without being attacked, and absolutely forced to satisfy their clamorous demands. They not only infested all the streets, public walks, and public places, but they even made a practice of going into private houses ; and the churches were so full of them, that people at their devotions were continually interrupted by them, and were frequently obliged to satisfy their demands in order to be permitted to finish their prayers in peace and quiet. In short, these detestable vermin swarmed every where; and not only their impudence and clamorous importunity were without any bounds, but they had recourse to the most diabolical arts and most horrid crimes in prosecution of their trade. The growing number of the beg. gars, and their success, gave a kind of ëclat to their profession; and the habit of begging became so general, that it ceased to be considered as infamous, and was by degrees in a manner interwoven with the internal regulations of society. Herdsmen and shepherds who attended their flocks by the roadside were known to derive considerable advantage from the contributions which their situation enabled them to levy from passengers; and I have been assured that the wages which they received from their employers were often regulated accordingly. The children in every country village, and those even of the best farmers, made a constant practice of begging from all strangers who passed; and one hardly ever met a person on foot upon the road, particularly a woman, who did not hold out her hand and ask for charity.
Count Rumford determined to grapple with this enormous evil, by enforcing laws already in existence, and obtaining new ordinances still more efficient, by which a little military despotism was united with the habits of private almsgiving, and the relief doled out by the parochial overseers of the poor. A Military Work-house was instituted, in the suburbs of Munich-capable of receiving such beggars as were capable of working.
'It had formerly been a manufactory, but for many years had been deserted, and falling to ruins. It was now completely repaired, and in part rebuilt. A large kitchen, with a large eating-room adjoining it, and a commodious bakehouse, were added to the buildings; and workshops for carpenters, smiths, turners, and such other mechanics were established, and furnished with tools. Large halls were fitted up for spinners of hemp, for spinners of flax, for spinners of cotton, for spinners of wool, and for spinners of worsted ; and adjoining to each hall a small room was fitted up for a clerk or inspector of the hall. Halls were likewise fitted up for weavers of woolens, weavers of serges and shalloons, for linen weavers, for weavers of cotton goods, and for stocking weavers; and workshops were provided for clothiers, cloth-shearers, dyers, saddlers; besides rooins for wool-sorters, wool-carders, wool-combers, knitters, seamstresses, &c. Magazines were fitted up, as well for finished manufactures as for raw materials, and rooms for counting-houses; storerooms for the kitchen and bakehouse; and dwelling rooms for the inspectors and other officers. The whole edifice, which was very extensive, was fitted up in the neatest manner possible. In doing this, even the external appearance of the building was attended to. It was handsomely painted without as well as within.
Preparation having been made, without any public demonstration, on New Year's Day, 1790, when Munich was sure to swarm with beggars, the military were posted through the streets, and patrols of cavalry established on all the avenues leading to the capitalwith orders to arrest and take to the Town-hall all who should ask for alms. In less than one hour not a beggar was to be found in the streets. They had been taken to the Town-ball, where their names were written down, and they were dismissed to their own homes, with directions to repair next day to the Military Workhouse,' as the new establishment was called, in consequence
of its being fitted out with money from the military chest, and destined chiefly to supply the army with clothing, &c. Here they were told they would find comfortable warm rooms, a good warm dinner every day, and work for such as were able to labor, with good wages, which should be regularly paid. They might, or might not come, just as they chose, but at all events they were not to beg any more; and if they appeared in the streets, they would be apprehended. The circumstances of them all, they were told, were immediately to be inquired into, and relief granted to such as required it.
On the next day a great number of the beggars attended at the Military Work-house; the rest hid themselves; and so vigorous and effective were the measures adopted to apprehend mendicants, that after trying in vain to renew their old practices, these, too, were obliged at length to yield. The experiment having succeeded so far, it was judged advisable to appeal to the public for their support; and a paper was accordingly drawn up by Professor Babo of Munich, urging the citizens to do their utmost to rid themselves of the scourge of mendicancy, by coöperating in the new scheme. The response was general and immediate; the citizens gladly agreed to contribute, to enable the project to be fairly carried out; and, indeed, accustomed as they had been to meet the incessant demands of the beggars by as incessant giving, they saw in the new plan not only an immediate moral relief, but a prospect of pecuniary saving. Rumford's principle was, to depend entirely upon the voluntary contributions of the charitable—the names of such inhabitants as were willing to subscribe were taken down, with a note of the sum each volunteered to contribute. This sum might be altered at the pleasure of the subscriber-increased, diminished, or altogether retracted. The sums were to be collected regularly on the last Sunday of every month, by an officer who went round on purpose among the subscribers of each district. Arrangements were also made for the receipt of miscellaneous donations, both large and small; and every possible means was adopted to inspire public confidence by making the publication of all accounts imperative.
In seizing upon the beggars, Count Rumford had adopted the most practicable means for arriving at a very desirable end-the discrimination of the merely idle from the necessitous. To classify these two sorts of persons was his first object. When this was done, his work then divided itself into two parts—the reclaiming of the idle to habits of industry, and the relief of the really necessitous. The modes of operation for the one and for the other were expressly kept independent; indeed, it was one of Rumford's most careful provisions that the work-house should not wear the aspect of an institution supported by charity.
Of course there was some confusion and some mistakes in receiving 2,600 mendicants of both sexes and various ages into a single establishment in one week. But soon, by distributing them among the various halls, and assigning to each his particular place, they were brought into such order as to enable the inspectors and instructors to begin their operations. Those who understood any kind of work were placed in the apartments where the work they understood was carried on; and the others being classed according to their sexes, and as much as possible according to their ages, were placed under the immediate care of the different instructors.
Every care was taken to promote the comfort of the people while at work, and to render their work agreeable to them. It being winter, the rooms were well warmed by fires kept regularly burning; the whole establishment was swept twice every day; attention was paid to the ventilation; as far as elegance was possible in halls devoted to work, it was consulted ; and the kindest usage was the order of the institution. The people arrived at the establishment at a fixed hour in the morning; they continued at work till the hour of dinner, when they repaired to the dining-hall, where they were furnished with a good dinner of white bread and fine rich soup; and after some hours of further work, they were dismissed as from any other manufactory, and had all the rest of their time at their own disposal. Besides the dinner-hour, which was allowed as relaxation to all in the establishment, two additional hours, one in the morning, the other in the afternoon were allowed to the children, during which they were assembled in one of the halls, and tanght reading, writing, and arithmetic, by a master paid for the
purpose; and as the regular hours of labor were not longer than in any other manufactory, neither they nor the adults were overworked. Lastly, every person in the establishment were regularly paid the wages fixed for the sort of labor he was employed in. The main feature of the scheme was, to impress upon those who attended the establishment that they were not necessarily paupers by their attendance there, but workmen entitled to the wages they received.
The work-house,' says Rumford, ' was merely a manufactory, like any other manufactory, supported by its own private capital, which capital has no connection with any fund destined for the poor.'
In six years the net profits of the establishment amounted to one hundred thousand florins—the streets of Munich were entirely free of mendicants, and the citizens had the satisfaction of reflecting that a number of their fellow-creatures, formerly loathsome, vicious, and wretched, were now living in cleanliness, propriety, and happi
On the merits of the institution in this point of view, hear the words of Count Rumford himself. After alluding to the expertness which the members of the establishment acquired in the variour manufactures, he proceeds: ‘But what was quite surprising, and at the same time interesting in the highest degree, was the apparent and rapid change which was produced in their manners. The kind usage they met with, and the comforts they enjoyed, seemed to have softened their hearts, and awakened in them sentiments as new and surprising to themselves as they were interesting to those about them. The melancholy gloom of misery, the air of
, 'uneasiness and embarrassment, disappeared by little and little from their countenances, and were succeeded by a timid dawn of cheerfulness, rendered most exquisitely interesting by a certain mixture of silent gratitude which no language can describe. In the infancy of this establishment, when these poor creatures were first brought together, I used very frequently to visit them, to speak kindly to them, and to encourage them; and I seldom passed through the halls where they were at work without being a witness to the most moving scenes. Objects formerly the most miserable and wretched, whom I had seen for years as beggars in the street; young women, perhaps the unhappy victims of seduction, who, having lost their reputation, and being turned adrift in the world without a friend and without a home, were reduced to the necessity of begging to sustain a miserable existence, now recognized me as their benefactor, and with tears dropping fast from their cheeks, continued their work in the most expressive silence. If they were asked what the matter was with them, the answer was: “Nichts” [“Nothing"], accompanied by a look of affectionate regard and gratitude so touching, as frequently to draw tears from the most insensible of the bystanders. Why should I not mention the marks of affectionate respect which I received from the poor people for whose happiness I interested myself! Will it be reckoned vanity if I mention the concern which the
of Munich expressed in so affecting a manner when I was dangerously ill ?—that they went publicly in a body in procession to the cathedral church, where they had divine service performed, and put up public prayers for my recovery—that, four years afterward, on hearing that I was again dangerously ill at Naples, they of their own accord set apart an hour each evening, after they had finished their work in the Military Work-house, to pray for me; for me-a private person—a stranger—a Protestant !
To deal with the destitution and suffering which could not be provided for in the Work-house, the entire management of the poor of Munich was committed to a Board, composed of four high officials, who served without pay, and who were authorized to choose each a councilor, who also served without pay. The only paid officers of the Board were the secretary and clerks, and these received their stipends direct from the treasury. The whole town was divided into sixteen districts, in each of which was an inspector whose services were purely voluntary and unpaid, and who was assisted in his work of inspection and relief by a priest, a physician, a surgeon, and an apothecary. Every house was numbered, and every application for relief was made to the inspector-whose business it was to visit by himself, or assistant, the residence of the applicant, and find how much could be earned by himself or members of the family for his and their support—and then to assist first in giving facilities for work, and then to supply any deficiency in means of living by donations in food, clothing, or money. The cost of this scheme for five years was less than 200,000 florins ($50,000). Satisfied that the support of a given number of its inhabitants where its internal produce depends as much apon the state of its Art of Cookery as upon its Agriculture,' the Count addressed himself at once to methods of economizing food and fuel, and of increasing the variety and number of cheap wholesome dishes accessible to the poor. We can not follow him in all his devices and inventions, but the whole civilized world is now enjoying the economy and comforts of his stoves, ranges, boilers, chimneys, and household utensils, invented, improved, and adapted by this indefatigable worker in the field of household economy.