Charles Richmond Henderson.

Modern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods online

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classes of inmates recognized and cared for, — the able-bodied poor,
the sick, orphans, the old, and destitute children. The religious fervor
which terminated in the Crusades gave a new impetus to the founding
of hospitals and other charitable homes. Tliese were usually the
result of private gifts and were under the care of the church, unham-
pered by civic interference. All the towns and cities were well sup-
plied with hospitals and devoted people endeavored to make sure of
their souls' salvation by contributing to their support. Synchronous
with the growth of these was the rise of various religious orders,
notable among which may be mentioned the Hospitallers. They de-
voted themselves to all good works and were unremitting in their
efforts to secure the best public service possible, and most especially

* Quoted by Miss Balch, p. 12.

^ These were not hospitals in the modern sense, but rather were refuges for
all need and distress.

^ The notable Hotel-Dieu of Paris was founded in 800 by the Bishop Saint-



did they seek to equip and work in hospitals. The steady increase
in the growth of these hospitals during the thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries appears to assert that poverty, too, must have been on the
increase, but this was not necessarily the case ; it may merely mean
that the decay of feudalism emphasized the existence of the poor and
needy now that their natural protectors were no longer responsible
for their support. People were more free to move about, and mobili-
zation of population usually means the growth of a vagrant class.
The laws of Saint Louis were quite rigorous in regard to vagabonds,
as may be seen from the following provision : "Any idler, who having
naught and earning naught, frequents taverns, shall be arrested,
questioned as to his means of livelihood, and banished from the city
if he be taken in a lie or convicted of an evil life."^ Even at this
somewhat early period, the poor flocked to Paris as they do at present,
and then as now caused much trouble to the municipal officers. As
an offset to this tendency, Saint Louis built hospitals in surrounding
towns. It was apparently easy then to get money for such institu-
tions. Religious enthusiasts gave willingly and others contributed
in the hope of saving their souls, but in the latter part of the four-
teenth century interest in charitable institutions began to wane. This
was inevitable with the political disturbances and the gradual break-
ing up of religious orders. And we find a growing lack of confidence
in the clergy manifesting itself in enactments to place hospitals under
lay control, a noteworthy change from the days when Gregory for-
bade laymen to participate in the government of charitable institu-
tions. All these upheavals helped to swell the number of beggars
roaming about and uncared for, and this in turn led to the enactment
of many measures designed to rid the country of beggary. In the
stringent ordinances of John the Good (1350) we find that all idlers
and beggars of either sex in Paris must go to work or leave the city
within three days on pain of imprisonment for the first offence, of
the pillory for the second, of branding and punishment for the third.
And all preachers were ordered to warn their hearers not to give alms
to those "sound of body and limb" who are able to work for a living.
But the efforts to rid the country of the curse of beggary were not
very successful. The time was inopportune. Pestilence and war
increased paupers and left France at the close of the fourteenth cent-

^Gerando, De la Bienfaisance Publique, IV. 483. Quoted by Miss Balch, p. 12.


ury utterly unable to cope with the situation in a satisfactory manner.
The end of the fifteenth century witnessed a change in the political
and social order. Freedom brought, as we have seen, a more pre-
carious existence to the serfs and villains, for the duties of the feudal
lord vanished with his rights. With this unsettled condition ends
what may be regarded as the first period of poor-relief in France.

The second period then may be fixed from the sixteenth century
to the Revolution, beginning after a lapse of two chaotic centuries and
ending in the fury of 1789. It is convenient here to study relief
under two heads : first, in Paris, and second, in the provinces. It is
noteworthy that all charitable institutions, whether in Paris or in the
provinces, continued to be licensed;^ but they were not obliged to
specify the particular class of persons for which they were intended.

Louis XIV harmonized the administration of the large charitable
institutions in the capital. The letters-patent of 1690 made of the
Bureau of the Hotel-Dieu a sort of superior council for the discussion
of questions of general order. It was composed of the archbishop of
Paris, and five other important personages, all laymen. In 1607, the
hospital St. Louis, and in 1637, the Home for Incurables, later called
the Hospital Laennec, were founded, and these were administered by
the Bureau of I'Hotel Dieu. Formerly the Home for Incurables had
controlled its own funds. Hospitals abounded in Paris, and it is
claimed- that in 1786 with a population of 660,000 souls there were 48
establishments capable of accommodating 20,341 persons as follows :

L'Hotel-Dieu et Saint Louis 2,500

Les Incurables 426

Les Menages 382

L'Hospital general 12,000

L'Hospital royal et des Invalides 3,ooo

Maison de fous de Charenton 692

Hospital militaire du Gros-Caillon 264

Les Quinze-Vingts ,. . 300

Divers (Charite, Necker, Cochin, etc.) 'j'j'j

Nombre des hospitalises 20,341

^ Derouin, Traite Theorique et Pratique d' Assistance Publique, I, p. 14. Here-
after the author's name only will be used in referring to this work.

*Terron, Memoires sur les hospitaux de Paris, 1788, p. 24. Quoted by Derouin,
pp. 17 and 18.

5j5 modern methods of charity

The revenue of these was reckoned at eight million Hvres at the
time of the Revolution. To recapitulate, we find :

1. The administration of I'Hotel-Dieu, first in the hands of the
clerg>', had been made laical at the beginning of the i6th century.

2. The municipality of Paris did not exercise the regulative
power over I'Hotel-Dieu given by the acts of 1505, but in 1544 insti-
tuted Bureaus for the poor.

3. The king in 1656 effected a centralization of administrative
power by the creation of a general bureau.

4. Each institution enjoyed a measure of autonomy.

5. Each institution, having revenue accruing from its own en-
dowment, was granted privileges and exemptions. In regard to
relief to the poor in the provinces, many difficulties appeared. An
edict of 1543 gave to bailiffs, seneschals and other justices the care of
lazarettos in so far as the selection of persons to handle their revenue
was concerned. That this was not altogether satisfactory is seen from
the great number of acts that were passed in the half century follow-
ing. In 1606 Henri IV ordered a general reform in regard to the
auditing of hospital accounts. This was not efficacious and was
renewed by Louis XIII in 1612. In 1656 the king opened in Paris
a general hospital for mendicants of the city and environs. This only
served to attract beggars from the country and rendered the problem
of relief more complex. As an antidote to this, an edict of 1662
ordained the establishment of a general hospital in every city and
town of importance. A law of 1666 prohibited the opening of any
hospitals whatsoever without express permission of the king ac-
corded in letters patent. This principle holds to-day, for the state
alone has power to create moral bodies, but it was interpreted by the
king to confer on him the opposite right, the suppression of corpora-
tions no longer filling a social need. Thus by an edict of 1672, the
king gave to the Orders of Notre Dame and Mont-Carmel and Saint-
Lazare the wealth of other institutions which were no longer neces-
sary for the public good. This led to complicated legal difficulties,
but finally the law of 1698 determined the manner of administration
of hospitals created or enriched by the earlier edicts and this method
remained in use in many cases until the Revolution.

A declaration of 1698 gave to each establishment a bureau of
management composed of (i) members by virtue of office, as the



mayor, consuls, principal justice; (2) members elected by the gen-
eral assembly.

There were in the kingdom before the Revolution, according to
Dupin,^ 740 civil hospitals, besides 130 small establishments of three
or four beds. All these were capable of caring for 110,000 persons,
25,000 sick, 40,000 children, and 40,000 old people and others inca-
pacitated for work. Their revenues were valued at about thirty
million livres.

It is claimed- that the chief advance made by charity in the i8th
century, and particularly in the reign of Louis XIII, was in the field
of medical assistance. Free consultations outside of the hospitals
had been established under Louis XIV. During the reign of Louis
XV filled medicine chests were distributed among the poor in the
country. The spirit of reform in sanitation and hygiene was at work
and it was none too soon, for in the hospitals could be found five and
six patients in one bed, and frequently each was suffering from a dif-
ferent loathsome or contagious disease. The publicity given to these
horrors led to most bitter discussions in regard to the value of hos-
pitals. Many urged their disuse, others advocated their speedy
multiplication. A middle course was adopted and four general and
several special hospitals were then opened. The dying years of this
period were brightened by agitation by Philippe Pinel for more hu-
mane treatment of the insane ; the invention by Valentine Haiiy of
raised type for the blind ; the invention of the sign language by
Abbe I'Epee, and the working out of an educational system for deaf
mutes by Abbe I'Epee and Abbe Sicard.^ The period of the Revolu-
tion was characterized by much doctrinaire Biscussion of principles of
assistance, but by small results. The men of the Revolution felt that
with the gift of liberty to each individual, the state should guarantee
him the minimum means of existence either in aid or work. "L'Etat
doit a tous les citoyens une subsistence assuree" was their belief.

The Convention in 1793 proclaimed the following principles :*

I. Poor-relief being a national debt, the wealth of hospitals,
foundations and endowments for the poor shall be sold for the profit
of the nation.^

^ Le Baron Dupin, Histoire de rAdministration des secours publics, p. 13.

* Miss Balch, p. 64. * Ibid.

* Montesquieu, Esprit des loij XXIII, p. 29. Quoted by Derouin, I, p. 23.
'Decret du 19 mars 1793, Art. S-


2. Public relief is a sacred debt, and it is for the law to deter-
mine the extent and application of it.^

3. Fathers and mothers unable to support their families are en-
titled to aid from the nation.^

4. A man's domicile is the place to which the needy must look
for relief.^

The only immediate result of the reform programme was a dimi-
nution of hospital funds ; no reforms resulted, and the Revolutionary
years contributed nothing of value toward the solution of the problem
of charity. Visionary schemes for the obliteration of poverty came
to naught, and the legislation of the time can only be regarded as a
side light on the vagaries of the period.*

The modern period may conveniently be regarded as ushered in
by the dawning days of the 19th century. Charity was in a chaotic
condition, and the Directoire had neither the time nor the inclination
to elaborate a new plan for poor-relief; so it simply reestab-
lished an organization similar to that existing in pre-Revolutionary
days, and regulated by three laws :

1. Relating to hospitals and almshouses."^

2. Relating to Bureaus of Charity.^

3. Relating to needy children.'^

Provision for the insane was made by the law of June 30, 1838,
and it was not until 1893 that a law was passed providing for the
treatment of the ill in their homes. In addition to the foregoing
classes of charitable enterprise, there are some others which must be
enumerated to make the classification complete. These are either of
a purely local or special character, and are as follows : The general
administration of public relief in Paris, the national institutions of
charity, the inter-communal institutions, the departmental institu-
tions, and the communal institutions. Such then is the machinery

^Declaration des droits de rhomme, du 28 mai 1793, Art. la.
*Decret du 28 juin 1793, Art. i.

* Decret du 24 vendemiaire an II title V, Art. la.

* Perhaps it would be fair to add that the ideas of the Revolution relating to
the prevention of pauperism, though crude and impractical, have entered into the
recent movements to establish government insurance on a scientific basis, as in
Germany. — C. R. H.

' Loi du 16 vendemiaire an V (7 Octobre, 1796).

* Loi du 7 frimaire an V (28 Novembre, 1796).
^ Loi du 27 frimaire an V (17 Decembre, 1796).



which is in use in France for the distribution of aid to the helpless.
To facilitate administration, by a decree of 1886/ all branches of
public relief were united under a board known as the "Directoire de
I'Assistance Publique," and this was divided into four committees
having charge of^ (i) national institutions, beggary, the insane; (2)
children; (3) communal hospitals and asylums, bureaux de bienfai-
sance, public hygiene ; and (4) benefit societies, monts-de-piete. In
1888 there was established the "Conseil Superieur de I'Assistance
Publique,"^ composed of about 60 members. The Conseil formu-
lated the following rules as a guide in its work :

1. Public aid is due those who, either temporarily or perma-
nently, are unable to support themselves.

2. Public aid is due only in default of other aid.

3. Public aid is in essence communal.

4. Public relief is a work of national solidarity.

The aim of this Conseil is the reorganization of methods of poor-
relief, and the ability of the men composing it leads to the belief that
their aim will be realized at no very distant date.

This mere outline of the rise and development of public assistance
in France simply serves as a background for the detailed account of
existing methods that is to follow.

A. Public Poor-Relief. — Since 1806 about 80 laws have been
passed, arranging for and regulating the distribution of poor-relief
in France, and as a result of this legislation we find the state the con-
trolling and supervising body with power, —

1. To create relief establishments.

2. To name the officers of these.

3. To control directly.

4. To give full authority.

5. To grant support.

6. Immediate supervision over general relief institutions.

The state, the department and the commune each has its duty in
regard to public relief, but properly speaking the question of assist-
ance may be said to rest with the state or the commune. The differ-
ence between state and communal institutions is simply that they,
while legal entities, function in and for the state or commune accord-
ing as they are under the authority of the one or the other. Under

' Derouin, I, p. 35. ^ Miss Balch, p. 164. 'Derouin, I, p. 35.



the old legislation, any institution for public relief, whether a hos-
pital, bureau of charity, or bureau of relief, might be created by
authority of the government. As early as 1806 this principle was
recognized. Institutions established before this time are regarded
as having a regular legal existence, and therefore to be maintained at
public expense.

Classes of Indigent IV ho Have Claim. — The people who are tem-
porarily unable to support themselves form a considerable proportion
of the population of Paris. Many of those who come in from the
country seeking employment are unable to obtain it and thus swell
the ranks of those who sooner or later must apply for aid. Relief
given to the strong who are unable to find work is of necessity lim-
ited, as the first care is for those who through various infirmities are
incapable of self-support, and so there has grown up a large body of
social malcontents ready to burst forth into bitterness at all times.

The following are the classes of indigent who have claims. At
the International Congress of Charity held in Paris in 1887 the prin-
ciple that public relief is due those who are temporarily or perma-
nently unable to provide themselves with the necessities of life, was
enunciated and such persons are classed as follows :

1. Children, whether orphans or not, who are abandoned, and
without parents' care.

2. The insane.

3. The sick.

4. The old and infirm. The able-bodied unemployed are not
considered legitimate objects of charity in a general classification, but
each local bureau may investigate cases, and bestow aid as it deems
wise in accordance with the funds at its disposal. The indigent
known to be incapable of supporting themselves permanently receive
an amount varying from thirty francs a month to three francs a
month in summer, and five francs a month in winter. Persons re-
ceiving such aid have their names placed on annual lists compiled by
an employe termed the visitor. Great care is taken with these lists
so that there may be no duplication of aid by diflferent organizations.

Law of Outdoor and Indoor Relief} — The prevailing principle in
France is that aid shall be administered at home whenever possible,
and institutional aid given only when rendered imperative by the

' Law of 1893.


nature of the case. While in the different communes of France the
management of all institutions for relief is vested in an administrative
body distinct from that of the bureau of charity, in Paris, by virtue
of a special law^ a single administrative body directs indoor and out-
door relief. This body, under the authority of the prefect of the
Seine and the Minister of the Interior, consists of a responsible di-
rector and an advisory board. The director is named by the Minister
of the Interior upon the suggestion of the prefect of the Seine.

His duties are: (i) To supervise all services; (2) to prepare
the budgets ; (3) to order expenditure ; (4) to make a statement of his
administration; (5) to represent in law all institutions or bureaus as
plaintiff or defendant ; (6) to care for all needy and orphan children ;
(7) to assist the advisory board in its meetings f (8) he is, finally, by
virtue of his office, a recognized member of all communities for public
relief work.

The advisory board or council of superintendence is composed as
follows: (i) The Prefect of the Seine; (2) the Prefect of Police;
(3) ten representatives of the municipal council; (4) two mayors or
their deputies; (5) two officers of bureaus of charity; (6) one coun-
cillor of state; (7) a member of the Court of Appeal; (8) one prac-
ticing physician from the hospitals and almshouses; (9) a practicing
accoucheur from the hospitals; (10) one practicing physician from
the medical relief service; (11) a professor of the faculty of medi-
cine; (12) a member of the Chamber of Commerce; (13) an honor-
ary and working member of the "Conseils de Prud'hommes ;" (14)
nine other members. All of these members excepting the first are
appointed by the President upon nomination by the Minister of the

Organization. — The administrative personnel consists of in all
509 persons, whose duties are clearly outlined, ranging from those
of the general secretary to the friendly visitor, with salaries of from
15,000 fr. to 1,800 fr. There is opportunity for advancement in the
service. This very complete organization controls public poor-relief
in France. The titles of the officials are : i general secretary, 2 in-
spectors, 4 division chiefs, 17 bureau chiefs, 17 assistant bureau
chiefs, I inspector of rural property, 42 directors, 30 managers of
institutions, 20 secretary-treasurers of bureaus of charity, 39 head

^January 10, 1849. * Decree of the President, April 24, 1847.


bookkeepers, 80 bookkeepers' clerks, 90 copying clerks, 100 perma-
nent assistants, 58 visitors. Their duties are indicated in the titles.

Relief of Persons at Home. — As indicated elsewhere, needy per-
sons are rendered aid in their homes in the form of monthly pensions,
medical attention and nursing. All this is extended only after care-
ful and searching investigation.

Outdoor relief is confined chiefly to the twenty bureaux de bien-
faisance of Paris, and was reorganized by a public decree of 1886,
which was not entirely satisfactory, as it modified the organization
without furnishing additional funds. A later law of 1895 specified
the mode of procedure, and took away from the bureau the power of
preparing their own lists of beneficiaries, which was their work under
the law of 1886. The Director of Public Relief prepares the lists
now for each year, and important revisions are made from time to
time. Each bureau has the right to propose names for the lists and
the cases are then carefully investigated by the central office. The
budget of 1900 gave to the bureaux de bienfaisance 6,968,674 francs
to carry on the work of outdoor relief.

Sources of funds. — Public poor-relief as organized in France re-
ceives funds from the following sources :

( I ) Funds accruing from the real estate and personal property of
institutions, given in the first place by the state or private individuals.
(2) Moneys given by virtue of special laws. (3) Gifts and legacies
to special institutions. Charitable persons frequently contribute
largely to public institutions. (4) Moneys left to the various terri-
torial communities and by these used for charitable purposes. In
1896, 1,216 bequests were made to public institutions and 106 to those
of a private character. The money value of the former was 18,069,-
696 francs, and of the latter 2,513,566 francs. (5) The general
funds of the state. (6) Special funds set apart for charity, as, for
example, a ten per cent, tax on all theatre tickets and on the gross
revenues of all places of amusement. This tax amounts to about four
million francs a year. (7) Annual appropriations by the municipal

C. Private Charity. — Private charity in France covers a wide
range, as wide in fact as public charity, for in all fields of benevolence
private initiative is at work. Institutions for the sick and the old and
the needy are springing up on every side, and are doing in a smaller
way just what the larger public ones have undertaken. The results



obtained by private charitable undertakings and the rapidity with
which these have developed in a short space of time furnish the best
proof of the social utility of the methods of relief they have adopted.
They have had to surmount difficulties, it is true. The indifference
of the public at times has been disheartening, but they have been able
to meet expenses and in many cases to extend their work. Private
charity always suffers more or less from a too fickle public opinion.
The attention of the people is easily diverted and so the support be-
comes uncertain. The French charities have to meet this difficulty
continually, and it is only by the utmost perseverance on the part of
those interested that many institutions dependent upon general con-
tributions survive. The term private charity as used in France in-
cludes : (i) Alms given freely to the poor by charitably disposed
people with or without inquiry concerning the cause of their need.
(2) Aid given by private institutions of charity. These establish-
ments have their own organization, and their special purpose. In
France private institutions of this kind may or may not be recognized
by the government as public utilities, that is, they may or may not
enjoy a legal existence. Even when recognized, they still remain
private institutions. Recognition usually results from some signifi-
cant merit. Public relief, on the other hand, includes all public aid
given, whether by the state, department or commune, and public
institutions created by law of the state, department or commune, but
which are, however, dismembered parts of these territorial commu-
nities. These institutions are national, departmental or communal ac-
cording to the function they perform. The administration of each of
these is in the hands of an officer chosen by the state and assisted by
a council or a directing commission. In the directing commission the

Online LibraryCharles Richmond HendersonModern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods → online text (page 53 of 73)