An essay upon projects, by Daniel Defoe

A Charity–Lottery.

That a lottery be set up by the authority of the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen, for a hundred thousand tickets, at twenty shillings each, to be drawn by the known way and method of drawing lotteries, as the million-lottery was drawn, in which no allowance to be made to anybody, but the fortunate to receive the full sum of one hundred thousand pounds put in, without discount, and yet this double advantage to follow:

1. That an immediate sum of one hundred thousand pounds shall be raised and paid into the Exchequer for the public use.

2. A sum of above twenty thousand pounds be gained, to be put into the hands of known trustees, to be laid out in a charity for the maintenance of the poor.

That as soon as the money shall be come in, it shall be paid into the Exchequer, either on some good fund, if any suitable, or on the credit of the Exchequer; and that when the lottery is drawn, the fortunate to receive tallies or bills from the Exchequer for their money, payable at four years.

The Exchequer receives this money, and gives out tallies according to the prizes, when it is drawn, all payable at four years; and the interest of this money for four years is struck in tallies proportioned to the maintenance; which no parish would refuse that subsisted them wholly before.

I make no question but that if such a hospital was erected within a mile or two of the city, one great circumstance would happen, viz., that the common sort of people, who are very much addicted to rambling in the fields, would make this house the customary walk, to divert themselves with the objects to be seen there, and to make what they call sport with the calamity of others, as is now shamefully allowed in Bedlam.

To prevent this, and that the condition of such, which deserves pity, not contempt, might not be the more exposed by this charity, it should be ordered: that the steward of the house be in commission of the peace within the precincts of the house only, and authorised to punish by limited fines or otherwise any person that shall offer any abuse to the poor alms-people, or shall offer to make sport at their condition.

If any person at reading of this should be so impertinent as to ask to what purpose I would appoint a chaplain in a hospital of fools, I could answer him very well by saying, for the use of the other persons, officers, and attendants in the house. But besides that, pray, why not a chaplain for fools, as well as for knaves, since both, though in a different manner, are incapable of reaping any benefit by religion, unless by some invisible influence they are made docile; and since the same secret power can restore these to their reason, as must make the other sensible, pray why not a chaplain? Idiots indeed were denied the communion in the primitive churches, but I never read they were not to be prayed for, or were not admitted to hear.

If we allow any religion, and a Divine Supreme Power, whose influence works invisibly on the hearts of men (as he must be worse than the people we talk of, who denies it), we must allow at the same time that Power can restore the reasoning faculty to an idiot, and it is our part to use the proper means of supplicating Heaven to that end, leaving the disposing part to the issue of unalterable Providence.

The wisdom of Providence has not left us without examples of some of the most stupid natural idiots in the world who have been restored to their reason, or, as one would think, had reason infused after a long life of idiotism; perhaps, among other wise ends, to confute that sordid supposition that idiots have no souls.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/d/defoe/daniel/d31es/chapter11.html

Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:37