An essay upon projects, by Daniel Defoe

Of Seamen.

Sailors are les enfants perdus, “the forlorn hope of the world;” they are fellows that bid defiance to terror, and maintain a constant war with the elements; who, by the magic of their art, trade in the very confines of death, and are always posted within shot, as I may say, of the grave. It is true, their familiarity with danger makes them despise it (for which, I hope, nobody will say they are the wiser); and custom has so hardened them that we find them the worst of men, though always in view of their last moment.

I have observed one great error in the custom of England relating to these sort of people, and which this way of friendly society would be a remedy for:

If a seaman who enters himself, or is pressed into, the king’s service be by any accident wounded or disabled, to recompense him for the loss, he receives a pension during life, which the sailors call “smart-money,” and is proportioned to their hurt, as for the loss of an eye, arm, leg, or finger, and the like: and as it is a very honourable thing, so it is but reasonable that a poor man who loses his limbs (which are his estate) in the service of the Government, and is thereby disabled from his labour to get his bread, should be provided for, and not suffer to beg or starve for want of those limbs he lost in the service of his country.

But if you come to the seamen in the merchants’ service, not the least provision is made: which has been the loss of many a good ship, with many a rich cargo, which would otherwise have been saved.

And the sailors are in the right of it, too. For instance, a merchant ship coming home from the Indies, perhaps very rich, meets with a privateer (not so strong but that she might fight him and perhaps get off); the captain calls up his crew, tells them, “Gentlemen, you see how it is; I don’t question but we may clear ourselves of this caper, if you will stand by me.” One of the crew, as willing to fight as the rest, and as far from a coward as the captain, but endowed with a little more wit than his fellows, replies, “Noble captain, we are all willing to fight, and don’t question but to beat him off; but here is the case: if we are taken, we shall be set on shore and then sent home, and lose perhaps our clothes and a little pay; but if we fight and beat the privateer, perhaps half a score of us may be wounded and lose our limbs, and then we are undone and our families. If you will sign an obligation to us that the owners or merchants shall allow a pension to such as are maimed, that we may not fight for the ship, and go a-begging ourselves, we will bring off the ship or sink by her side; otherwise I am not willing to fight, for my part.” The captain cannot do this; so they strike, and the ship and cargo are lost.

If I should turn this supposed example into a real history, and name the ship and the captain that did so, it would be too plain to be contradicted.

Wherefore, for the encouragement of sailors in the service of the merchant, I would have a friendly society erected for seamen; wherein all sailors or seafaring men, entering their names, places of abode, and the voyages they go upon at an office of insurance for seamen, and paying there a certain small quarterage of 1s. per quarter, should have a sealed certificate from the governors of the said office for the articles hereafter mentioned:

I.

If any such seaman, either in fight or by any other accident at sea, come to be disabled, he should receive from the said office the following sums of money, either in pension for life, or ready money, as he pleased:

                                  Pounds  Pounds
                    An eye         25      2
                    Both eyes     100      8
                    One leg        50      4
                    Both legs      80      6
    For the         Right hand     80      6
      loss of       Left hand      50  or  4 per annum for life
                    Right arm     100      8
                    Left arm       80      6
                    Both hands    160     12
                    Both arms     200     16

Any broken arm, or leg, or thigh, towards the cure 10 pounds If taken by the Turks, 50 pounds towards his ransom. If he become infirm and unable to go to sea or maintain himself by age or sickness 6 pounds per annum. To their wives if they are killed or drowned 50 pounds

In consideration of this, every seaman subscribing to the society shall agree to pay to the receipt of the said office his quota of the sum to be paid whenever, and as often as, such claims are made, the claims to be entered into the office and upon sufficient proof made, the governors to regulate the division and publish it in print.

For example, suppose 4,000 seamen subscribe to this society, and after six months — for no man should claim sooner than six months — a merchant’s ship having engaged a privateer, there comes several claims together, as thus:—

                                                         Pounds
    A was wounded and lost one leg . . . . . . . . .        50
    B blown up with powder, and has lost an eye . . . .     25
    C had a great shot took off his arm . . . . . . . .    100
    D with a splinter had an eye struck out  . . .   . . .     25
    E was killed with a great shot; to be paid to his wife  50
                                                           ===
                                                           250

The governors hereupon settle the claims of these persons, and make publication “that whereas such and such seamen, members of the society, have in an engagement with a French privateer been so and so hurt, their claims upon the office, by the rules and agreement of the said office, being adjusted by the governors, amounts to 250 pounds, which, being equally divided among the subscribers, comes to 1s. 3d. each, which all persons that are subscribers to the said office are desired to pay in for their respective subscriptions, that the said wounded persons may be relieved accordingly, as they expect to be relieved if the same or the like casualty should befall them.”

It is but a small matter for a man to contribute, if he gave 1s. 3d. out of his wages to relieve five wounded men of his own fraternity; but at the same time to be assured that if he is hurt or maimed he shall have the same relief, is a thing so rational that hardly anything but a hare-brained follow, that thinks of nothing, would omit entering himself into such an office.

I shall not enter further into this affair, because perhaps I may give the proposal to some persons who may set it on foot, and then the world may see the benefit of it by the execution.

II. — For Widows.

The same method of friendly society, I conceive, would be a very proper proposal for widows.

We have abundance of women, who have been bred well and lived well, ruined in a few years, and perhaps left young with a houseful of children and nothing to support them, which falls generally upon the wives of the inferior clergy, or of shopkeepers and artificers.

They marry wives with perhaps 300 pounds to 1,000 pounds portion, and can settle no jointure upon them. Either they are extravagant and idle, and waste it; or trade decays; or losses or a thousand contingencies happen to bring a tradesman to poverty, and he breaks. The poor young woman, it may be, has three or four children, and is driven to a thousand shifts, while he lies in the Mint or Friars under the dilemma of a statute of bankruptcy; but if he dies, then she is absolutely undone, unless she has friends to go to.

Suppose an office to be erected, to be called an office of insurance for widows, upon the following conditions:

Two thousand women, or their husbands for them, enter their names into a register to be kept for that purpose, with the names, age, and trade of their husbands, with the place of their abode, paying at the time of their entering 5s. down with 1s. 4d. per quarter, which is to the setting up and support of an office with clerks and all proper officers for the same; for there is no maintaining such without charge. They receive every one of them a certificate sealed by the secretary of the office, and signed by the governors, for the articles hereafter mentioned:

If any one of the women become a widow at any time after six months from the date of her subscription, upon due notice given, and claim made at the office in form as shall be directed, she shall receive within six mouths after such claim made the sum of 500 pounds in money without any deductions, saving some small fees to the officers, which the trustees must settle, that they may be known.

In consideration of this, every woman so subscribing obliges herself to pay, as often as any member of the society becomes a widow, the due proportion or share, allotted to her to pay towards the 500 pounds for the said widow, provided her share does not exceed the sum of 5s.

No seamen’s or soldiers’ wives to be accepted into such a proposal as this, on the account before mentioned, because the contingencies of their lives are not equal to others — unless they will admit this general exception, supposing they do not die out of the kingdom.

It might also be an exception that if the widow that claimed had really, bona fide, left her by her husband to her own use, clear of all debts and legacies, 2,000 pounds, she should have no claim, the intent being to aid the poor, not add to the rich. But there lie a great many objections against such an article, as:—

1. It may tempt some to forswear themselves.

2. People will order their wills so as to defraud the exception.

One exception must be made, and that is, either very unequal matches (as when a woman of nineteen marries an old man of seventy), or women who have infirm husbands — I mean, known and publicly so; to remedy which two things are to be done:

1. The office must have moving officers without doors, who shall inform themselves of such matters, and if any such circumstances appear, the office should have fourteen days’ time to return their money and declare their subscriptions void.

2. No woman whose husband had any visible distemper should claim under a year after her subscription.

One grand objection against this proposal is, how you will oblige people to pay either their subscription or their quarterage.

To this I answer, by no compulsion (though that might be performed too), but altogether voluntary; only with this argument to move it, that if they do not continue their payments, they lose the benefit of their past contributions.

I know it lies as a fair objection against such a project as this, that the number of claims are so uncertain that nobody knows what they engage in when they subscribe, for so many may die annually out of two thousand as may make my payment 20 pounds or 25 pounds per annum; and if a woman happen to pay that for twenty years, though she receives the 500 pounds at last, she is a great loser; but if she dies before her husband, she has lessened his estate considerably, and brought a great loss upon him.

First, I say to this that I would have such a proposal as this be so fair and so easy, that if any person who had subscribed found the payments too high and the claims fall too often, it should be at their liberty at any time, upon notice given, to be released, and stand obliged no longer; and, if so, volenti non fit injuria. Every one knows best what their own circumstances will bear.

In the next place, because death is a contingency no man can directly calculate, and all that subscribe must take the hazard; yet that a prejudice against this notion may not be built on wrong grounds, let us examine a little the probable hazard, and see how many shall die annually out of 2,000 subscribers, accounting by the common proportion of burials to the number of the living.

Sir William Petty, in his political arithmetic, by a very ingenious calculation, brings the account of burials in London to be one in forty annually, and proves it by all the proper rules of proportioned computation; and I will take my scheme from thence.

If, then, one in forty of all the people in England die, that supposes fifty to die every year out of our two thousand subscribers; and for a woman to contribute 5s. to every one, would certainly be to agree to pay 12 pounds 10s. per annum. upon her husband’s life, to receive 500 pounds when he died, and lose it if she died first; and yet this would not be a hazard beyond reason too great for the gain.

But I shall offer some reasons to prove this to be impossible in our case: first, Sir William Petty allows the city of London to contain about a million of people, and our yearly bill of mortality never yet amounted to 25,000 in the most sickly years we have had (plague years excepted); sometimes but to 20,000, which is but one in fifty. Now it is to be considered here that children and ancient people make up, one time with another, at least one-third of our bills of mortality, and our assurances lie upon none but the middling age of the people, which is the only age wherein life is anything steady; and if that be allowed, there cannot die by his computation above one in eighty of such people every year; but because I would be sure to leave room for casualty, I will allow one in fifty shall die out of our number subscribed.

Secondly, it must be allowed that our payments falling due only on the death of husbands, this one in fifty must not be reckoned upon the two thousand, for it is to be supposed at least as many women shall die as men, and then there is nothing to pay; so that one in fifty upon one thousand is the most that I can suppose shall claim the contribution in a year, which is twenty claims a year at 5s. each, and is 5 pounds per annum. And if a woman pays this for twenty years, and claims at last, she is gainer enough, and no extraordinary loser if she never claims at all. And I verily believe any office might undertake to demand at all adventures not above 6 pounds per annum, and secure the subscriber 500 pounds in case she come to claim as a widow.

I forbear being more particular on this thought, having occasion to be larger in other prints, the experiment being resolved upon by some friends who are pleased to think this too useful a project not to be put in execution, and therefore I refer the reader to the public practice of it.

I have named these two cases as special experiments of what might be done by assurances in way of friendly society; and I believe I might, without arrogance, affirm that the same thought might be improved into methods that should prevent the general misery and poverty of mankind, and at once secure us against beggars, parish poor, almshouses, and hospitals; and by which not a creature so miserable or so poor but should claim subsistence as their due, and not ask it of charity.

I cannot believe any creature so wretchedly base as to beg of mere choice, but either it must proceed from want or sordid prodigious covetousness; and thence I affirm there can be no beggar but he ought to be either relieved or punished, or both. If a man begs for more covetousness without want, it is a baseness of soul so extremely sordid as ought to be used with the utmost contempt, and punished with the correction due to a dog. If he begs for want, that want is procured by slothfulness and idleness, or by accident; if the latter, he ought to be relieved; if the former, he ought to be punished for the cause, but at the same time relieved also, for no man ought to starve, let his crime be what it will.

I shall proceed, therefore, to a scheme by which all mankind, be he never so mean, so poor, so unable, shall gain for himself a just claim to a comfortable subsistence whosoever age or casualty shall reduce him to a necessity of making use of it. There is a poverty so far from being despicable that it is honourable, when a man by direct casualty, sudden Providence, and without any procuring of his own, is reduced to want relief from others, as by fire, shipwreck, loss of limbs, and the like.

These are sometimes so apparent that they command the charity of others; but there are also many families reduced to decay whose conditions are not so public, and yet their necessities as great. Innumerable circumstances reduce men to want; and pressing poverty obliges some people to make their cases public, or starve; and from thence came the custom of begging, which sloth and idleness has improved into a trade. But the method I propose, thoroughly put in practice, would remove the cause, and the effect would cease of course.

Want of consideration is the great reason why people do not provide in their youth and strength for old age and sickness; and the ensuing proposal is, in short, only this — that all persons in the time of their health and youth, while they are able to work and spare it, should lay up some small inconsiderable part of their gettings as a deposit in safe hands, to lie as a store in bank to relieve them, if by age or accident they come to be disabled, or incapable to provide for themselves; and that if God so bless them that they nor theirs never come to need it, the overplus may be employed to relieve such as shall.

If an office in the same nature with this were appointed in every county in England, I doubt not but poverty might easily be prevented, and begging wholly suppressed.

The Proposal is for a Pension Office.

That an office be erected in some convenient place, where shall be a secretary, a clerk, and a searcher, always attending.

That all sorts of people who are labouring people and of honest repute, of what calling or condition soever, men or women (beggars and soldiers excepted), who, being sound of their limbs and under fifty years of age, shall come to the said office and enter their names, trades, and places of abode into a register to be kept for that purpose, and shall pay down at the time of the said entering the sum of sixpence, and from thence one shilling per quarter, shall every one have an assurance under the seal of the said office for these following conditions:

1. Every such subscriber, if by any casualty (drunkenness and quarrels excepted) they break their limbs, dislocate joints, or are dangerously maimed or bruised, able surgeons appointed for that purpose shall take them into their care, and endeavour their cure gratis.

2. If they are at any time dangerously sick, on notice given to the said office able physicians shall be appointed to visit them, and give their prescriptions gratis.

3. If by sickness or accident, as aforesaid, they lose their limbs or eyes, so as to be visibly disabled to work, and are otherwise poor and unable to provide for themselves, they shall either be cured at the charge of the office, or be allowed a pension for subsistence during life.

4. If they become lame, aged, bedrid, or by real infirmity of body are unable to work, and otherwise incapable to provide for themselves, on proof made that it is really and honestly so they shall be taken into a college or hospital provided for that purpose, and be decently maintained during life.

5. If they are seamen, and die abroad on board the merchants’ ships they were employed in, or are cast away and drowned, or taken and die in slavery, their widows shall receive a pension during their widowhood.

6. If they were tradesmen and paid the parish rates, if by decay and failure of trade they break and are put in prison for debt, they shall receive a pension for subsistence during close imprisonment.

7. If by sickness or accidents they are reduced to extremities of poverty for a season, on a true representation to the office they shall be relieved as the governors shall see cause.

It is to be noted that in the fourth article such as by sickness and age are disabled from work, and poor, shall be taken into the house and provided for; whereas in the third article they who are blind or have lost limbs, &c., shall have pensions allowed them.

The reason of this difference is this:

A poor man or woman that has lost his hand, or leg, or sight, is visibly disabled, and we cannot be deceived; whereas other infirmities are not so easily judged of, and everybody would be claiming a pension, when but few will demand being taken into a hospital but such as are really in want.

And that this might be managed with such care and candour as a design which carries so good a face ought to be, I propose the following method for putting it into practice:

I suppose every undertaking of such a magnitude must have some principal agent to push it forward, who must manage and direct everything, always with direction of the governors.

And first I will suppose one general office erected for the great parishes of Stepney and Whitechapel; and as I shall lay down afterwards some methods to oblige all people to come in and subscribe, so I may be allowed to suppose here that all the inhabitants of those two large parishes (the meaner labouring sort, I mean) should enter their names, and that the number of them should be 100,000, as I believe they would be at least.

First, there should be named fifty of the principal inhabitants of the said parishes (of which the church-wardens for the time being, and all the justices of the peace dwelling in the bounds of the said parish, and the ministers resident for the time being, to be part) to be governors of the said office.

The said fifty to be first nominated by the Lord Mayor of London for the time being, and every vacancy to be supplied in ten days at farthest by the majority of voices of the rest.

The fifty to choose a committee of eleven, to sit twice a week, of whom three to be a quorum; with a chief governor, a deputy-governor, and a treasurer.

In the office, a secretary with clerks of his own, a registrar and two clerks, four searchers, a messenger (one in daily attendance under salary), a physician, a surgeon, and four visitors.

In the hospital, more or less (according to the number of people entertained), a housekeeper, a steward, nurses, a porter, and a chaplain.

For the support of this office, and that the deposit money might go to none but the persons and uses for whom it is paid, and that it might not be said officers and salaries was the chief end of the undertaking (as in many a project it has been), I propose that the manager or undertaker, whom I mentioned before, be the secretary, who shall have a clerk allowed him, whose business it shall be to keep the register, take the entries, and give out the tickets (sealed by the governors and signed by himself), and to enter always the payment of quarterage of every subscriber. And that there may be no fraud or connivance, and too great trust be not reposed in the said secretary, every subscriber who brings his quarterage is to put it into a great chest, locked up with eleven locks, every member of the committee to keep a key, so that it cannot be opened but in the presence of them all; and every time a subscriber pays his quarterage, the secretary shall give him a sealed ticket thus [Christmas 96] which shall be allowed as the receipt of quarterage for that quarter.

Note. — The reason why every subscriber shall take a receipt or ticket for his quarterage is because this must be the standing law of the office — that if any subscribers fail to pay their quarterage, they shall never claim after it until double so much be paid, nor not at all that quarter, whatever befalls them.

The secretary should be allowed to have 2d. for every ticket of entry he gives out, and ld. for every receipt he gives for quarterage, to be accounted for as follows:

One-third to himself in lieu of salary, he being to pay three clerks out of it.

One-third to the clerks and other officers among them.

And one-third to defray the incident charge of the office.

                     Thus calculated.                Per annum.
    100,000 subscribers paying 1d.
            each every quarter                     Pounds s.  d.
                                                   1,666   3   4
                                                   =============
      One-third    To the secretary
                     per annum and
                     three clerks                    555   7   9
                                    Pounds per annum.
                 { To a registrar        100 }
                 { To a clerk             50 }
                 { To four searchers     100 }       550   0   0
      One-third  { To a physician        100 }
                 { To a surgeon          100 }
                 { To four visitors      100 }
                 { To ten committee-men,     }
                 {    5s. each sitting,      }
                 {       twice per week      }
      One-third  {             is        260 }
      to incident{ To a clerk of             }
      charges,   {    committees          50 }
      such as    { To a messenger         40 }        560  15   7
                 { A house for the office 40 }
                 { A house for the           }
                 {    hospital           100 }
                 { Contingencies          70 }
                                  15s. 7d.         ==============
                                                    1,666   3   4

All the charge being thus paid out of such a trifle as ld. per quarter, the next consideration is to examine what the incomes of this subscription may be, and in time what may be the demands upon it.

                                               Pounds  s.  d.
    If 100,000 persons subscribe, they
        pay down at their entering each
        6d., which is                           2,500   0   0
    And the first year’s payment is in
        stock at 1s. per quarter               20,000   0   0
    It must be allowed that under three
        months the subscriptions will not
        be well complete; so the payment
        of quarterage shall not begin but
        from the day after the books are
        full, or shut up; and from thence
        one year is to pass before any
        claim can be made; and the money
        coming in at separate times, I
        suppose no improvement upon it for
        the first year, except of the
        2,500 pounds, which, lent to the king
        on some good fund at 7 pounds per cent.
        interest, advances the first year         175   0   0
    The quarterage of the second year,
        abating for 1,000 claims               19,800   0   0
    And the interest of the first year’s
        money at the end of the second year,
        lent to the king, as aforesaid, at
        7 per cent. interest, is                1,774  10   0
    The quarterage of the third year, abating
        for claims                             19,400   0   0
    The interest of former cash to the end of
        the third year                          3,284   8   0
                                               ==============
    Income of three years                      66,933  18   0

Note. — Any persons may pay 2s. up to 5s. quarterly, if they please, and upon a claim will be allowed in proportion.

To assign what shall be the charge upon this, where contingency has so great a share, is not to be done; but by way of political arithmetic a probable guess may be made.

It is to be noted that the pensions I propose to be paid to persons claiming by the third, fifth, and sixth articles are thus: every person who paid 1s. quarterly shall receive 12d. weekly, and so in proportion every 12d. paid quarterly by any one person to receive so many shillings weekly, if they come to claim a pension.

The first year no claim is allowed; so the bank has in stock completely 22,500 pounds. From thence we are to consider the number of claims.

Sir William Petty, in his “Political Arithmetic,” supposes not above one in forty to die per annum out of the whole number of people; and I can by no means allow that the circumstances of our claims will be as frequent as death, for these reasons:

1. Our subscriptions respect all persons grown and in the prime of their age; past the first, and providing against the last, part of danger (Sir William’s account including children and old people, which always make up one-third of the bills of mortality).

2. Our claims will fall thin at first for several years; and let but the money increase for ten years, as it does in the account for three years, it would be almost sufficient to maintain the whole number.

3. Allow that casualty and poverty are our debtor side; health, prosperity, and death are the creditor side of the account; and in all probable accounts those three articles will carry off three fourth-parts of the number, as follows: If one in forty shall die annually (as no doubt they shall, and more), that is 2,500 a year, which in twenty years is 50,000 of the number; I hope I may be allowed one-third to be out of condition to claim, apparently living without the help of charity, and one third in health and body, and able to work; which, put together, make 83,332; so it leaves 16,668 to make claims of charity and pensions in the first twenty years, and one-half of them must, according to Sir William Petty, die on our hands in twenty years; so there remains but 8,334.

But to put it out of doubt, beyond the proportion to be guessed at, I will allow they shall fall thus:

The first year, we are to note, none can claim; and the second year the number must be very few, but increasing: wherefore I suppose

    One in every 500 shall claim the second year,         Pounds
           which is 200; the charge whereof is               500
    One in every 100 the third year is 1,000; the charge   2,500
    Together with the former 200                             500
                                                          ======
                                                           3,500
    To carry on the calculation.
                                                      Pounds  s.  d.
    We find the stock at the end of the third year    66,933  18   0
    The quarterage of the fourth year, abating as
            before                                    19,000   0   0
    Interest of the stock                              4,882  17   6
    The quarterage of the fifth year                  18,600   0   0
    Interest of the stock                              6,473   0   0
                                                    ================
                                                     115,889  15   6
    The charge                                         3,000   0   0
    2,000 to fall the fourth year                      5,000   0   0
    And the old continued                              3,500   0   0
    2,000 the fifth year                               5,000   0   0
    The old continued                                 11,000   0   0
                                                     ===============
                                                      27,500   0   0

By this computation the stock is increased above the charge in five years 89,379 pounds 15s. 6d.; and yet here are sundry articles to be considered on both sides of the account that will necessarily increase the stock and diminish the charge:

    First, in the five years’ time 6,200 having
        claimed charity, the number being abated
        for in the reckoning above for stock, it
        may be allowed new subscriptions will be
        taken in to keep the number full, which
        in five years amounts to                       3,400    0   0
    Their sixpences is                                   115    0   0
                                                      ===============
                                                       3,555    0   0
    Which added to 115,889 pounds 15s. 6d. augments
        be stock to                                  119,444   15   6
    Six thousand two hundred persons claiming
        help, which falls, to be sure, on the aged
        and infirm, I think, at a modest computation,
        in five years’ time 500 of them may be dead,
        which, without allowing annually, we take
        at an abatement of 4,000 pounds out of the
        charge                                         4,000    0   0
    Which reduces the charge to                       23,500    0   0

Besides this, the interest of the quarterage, which is supposed in the former account to lie dead till the year is out, which cast up from quarter to quarter, allowing it to be put out quarterly, as it may well be, amounts to, by computation for five years, 5,250 pounds.

From the fifth year, as near as can be computed, the number of pensioners being so great, I make no doubt but they shall die off the hands of the undertaker as fast as they shall fall in, excepting, so much difference as the payment of every year, which the interest of the stock shall supply.

    For example:                                      Pounds    s.   d.
    At the end of the fifth year the stock in hand     94,629   15    6
    The payment of the sixth year                      20,000    0    0
    Interest of the stock                               5,408    4    0
                                                     ==================
                                                      120,037   19    6
    Allow an overplus charge for keeping in the house,
          which will be dearer than pensions, 10,000
          pounds per annum                             10,000    0    0
    Charge of the sixth year                           22,500    0    0
    Balance in cash                                    87,537   19    6
                                                     ==================
                                                      120,037   19    6

This also is to be allowed — that all those persons who are kept by the office in the house shall have employment provided for them, whereby no persons shall be kept idle, the works to be suited to every one’s capacity without rigour, only some distinction to those who are most willing to work; the profits of the said work to the stock of the house.

Besides this, there may great and very profitable methods be found out to improve the stock beyond the settled interest of 7 per cent., which perhaps may not always be to be had, for the Exchequer is not always borrowing money; but a bank of 80,000 pounds, employed by faithful hands, need not want opportunities of great, and very considerable improvement.

Also it would be a very good object for persons who die rich to leave legacies to, which in time might be very well supposed to raise a standing revenue to it.

I will not say but various contingencies may alter the charge of this undertaking, and swell the claims beyond proportion further than I extend it; but all that, and much more, is sufficiently answered in the calculations by above 80,000 pounds in stock to provide for it.

As to the calculation being made on a vast number of subscribers, and more than, perhaps, will be allowed likely to subscribe, I think the proportion may hold good in a few as well as in a great many; and perhaps if 20,000 subscribed, it might be as effectual. I am indeed willing to think all men should have sense enough to see the usefulness of such a design, and be persuaded by their interest to engage in it; but some men have less prudence than brutes, and will make no provision against age till it comes; and to deal with such, two ways might be used by authority to compel them.

1. The churchwardens and justices of peace should send the beadle of the parish, with an officer belonging to this office, about to the poorer parishioners to tell them that, since such honourable provision is made for them to secure themselves in old age from poverty and distress, they should expect no relief from the parish if they refused to enter themselves, and by sparing so small a part of their earnings to prevent future misery.

2. The churchwardens of every parish might refuse the removal of persons and families into their parish but upon their having entered into this office.

3. All persons should be publicly desired to forbear giving anything to beggars, and all common beggars suppressed after a certain time; for this would effectually suppress beggary at last.

And, to oblige the parishes to do this on behalf of such a project, the governor of the house should secure the parish against all charges coming upon them from any person who did subscribe and pay the quarterage, and that would most certainly oblige any parish to endeavour that all the labouring meaner people in the parish should enter their names; for in time it would most certainly take all the poor in the parish off of their hands.

I know that by law no parish can refuse to relieve any person or family fallen into distress; and therefore to send them word they must expect no relief, would seem a vain threatening. But thus far the parish may do: they shall be esteemed as persons who deserve no relief, and shall be used accordingly; for who indeed would ever pity that man in his distress who at the expense of two pots of beer a month might have prevented it, and would not spare it?

As to my calculations, on which I do not depend either, I say this: if they are probable, and that in five years’ time a subscription of a hundred thousand persons would have 87,537 pounds 19s. 6d. in cash, all charges paid, I desire any one but to reflect what will not such a sum do. For instance, were it laid out in the Million Lottery tickets, which are now sold at 6 pounds each, and bring in 1 pound per annum for fifteen years, every 1,000 pounds so laid out pays back in time 2,500 pounds, and that time would be as fast as it would be wanted, and therefore be as good as money; or if laid out in improving rents, as ground-rents with buildings to devolve in time, there is no question but a revenue would be raised in time to maintain one-third part of the number of subscribers, if they should come to claim charity.

And I desire any man to consider the present state of this kingdom, and tell me, if all the people of England, old and young, rich and poor, were to pay into one common bank 4s. per annum a head, and that 4s. duly and honestly managed, whether the overplus paid by those who die off, and by those who never come to want, would not in all probability maintain all that should be poor, and for ever banish beggary and poverty out of the kingdom.

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