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

. (page 57 of 73)
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 57 of 73)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

are allowed to continue in the employ of the society, and are enabled
to learn a useful trade. The moral aid given to the persons in whom
the society is interested is incalculable. Many return to their fam-
ilies honest men and women because of the helping hand extended in



the moment of need. The society is administered by a council under
the presidency of M. Berenger, and is supported by subscriptions
accorded by the Minister of the Interior and the general councils of
the departments ; the sale of work done under the direction of the
society; subscriptions and gifts. During the year 1899, 3,775 per-
sons were assisted; 134 of these were women and 3,641 were men.
Of the total number 3,100 were admitted to the homes, while 675
were aided without seeking admission to the asylums. The "Oeuvre
des liberes de Saint-Lazare," organized at the same time and for a
similar purpose, is doing much good. Such work is of inestimable
value to society, and is meeting with generous recognition in France.

Dwellings of the Poor, and Building Societies. — La Societe phi-
lanthropique has been interested in model tenements for some time
on account of the deplorable housing of the poor in Paris. The great
needs are more space, more air and more light. In 1888 the society
erected its first model house with accommodations for thirty-five fam-
ilies at rue Jeanne d'Arc, 45. This was so signally successful that the
society was encouraged to still further efforts and now owns three
houses with forty-five flats at boulevard de Crenelle, 65 ; and 63
flats, avenue de Saint-Maude, 3, and 58 flats, rue Hautpoul, 19. In
addition to these, there are three new houses in course of construc-
tion at rue d'Alsace, 23 and 25, to furnish accommodations for 67
families, and at rue de Clignancourt, yy, for 38 families. The dwell-
ings consist of two and three-room flats with kitchen, closets, water
and gas. The rent varies from 169 to 377 francs annually, and is
paid quarterly in advance. The net revenue is capitalized and will
be used to build other houses.

Sanitary Preventive Measures. — The factory act of 1892 has
excellent sanitary regulations referring to all places designated in the
act. The city health departments, too, insist upon the observance of
sanitary rules. The Commission des Logements Insalubres is a per-
manent body of experts whose business it is to wage war against un-
sanitary homes. The commission receives complaints and then inves-
tigates. Its reports go to the municipal council for confirmation.
The members are unpaid, with the exception of a small attendance fee
for each meeting and a fee for written reports. The lives of thou-
sands are protected every year through the efforts of this commission.
The Conseil d'Hygiene et de Salubrite is a board of health which
dates back to 1802. It is presided over by the prefect of police, and


has as members some of the ablest men in France. Its function is
largely advisory, and it has the cooperation of twenty local boards of
health. The members do notable work in the prevention of the
spread of contagious diseases, and they report cases of unsanitary
tenements. There is also a central sanitary bureau in the prefecture
of police. Numerous agents see that the health laws are enforced.
Within the last twenty-five years the municipal disinfecting service
has become highly organized. There is ample machinery in France
to prevent unsanitary conditions, but dangers can be eliminated only
by the most untiring vigilance.

Vegetable Gardens.^ — In France, as in many other countries, it
has been found wise and helpful to provide poor families with a plot
of ground, and, if necessary, furnish seeds and tools, for the produc-
tion of vegetables. This movement is in reality a kind of return to
the mediaeval custom of keeping tracts of land in common for the
cultivation of poor families. In France charitable persons and socie-
ties have organized the efforts of the poor to add to their scanty in-
come the products of their little gardens. The Society of Vincent de
Paul has made good progress in this direction. Municipal councils,
charity bureaus, societies of mutual aid have cooperated with benevo-
lent individuals in furnishing vacant lots and providing necessary
superintendence. A society has been formed in France and in Bel-
gium to foster this movement, — La Ligue du Coin de terre et du
Foyer, At the Exposition of 1900 the subject was discussed in sev-
eral sessions. In October, 1903, there were reported 134 "works,"
with control of 6,592 gardens having a total area of 269 hectares, 26
ares, 72 centiares, and it is estimated that about 40,000 persons have
received benefit. These figures do not take account of numerous
local works which are never reported to a central office.

The successful administration of these gardens depends upon the
wise and energetic leadership of a central committee of influential
persons, whose agent is a competent superintendent who knows how
to manage people and teach them the art of horticulture. The plots
are assigned in order of application or by lot to persons who sign the
articles of agreement.

The material result of the garden is thought by M. Riviere to be

* Louis Riviere, T-a Terre et I'Atelier Jardins ouvriers, Paris, 1904, an inter-
esting account of the movement in Europe and America.



a return of 20 to 40 francs for a gift of 5 francs ; while in direct relief
the poor family would simply have the 5 francs. But there are other
advantages : the family learns the art of horticulture under a skillful
teacher, and enjoys a variety of food which improves the health.

To these material advantages may be added the moral : energy is
evoked, self-respect is restored, the family is held together, old people
rejected by industrial employers can make themselves useful, a spirit
of sociable cooperation is awakened, gratitude is called out for bene-
factors, communistic sentiments are counteracted by the possession of
a little property, the saloon is not so much visited, young children
have a place to play in the open air, tuberculosis is less prevalent, the
habit of saving is formed, support is gained in times of industrial
depression, a taste for rural life is stimulated, a genial and hopeful
view of the future is gained. With careful planning, wise legislation
and improved means of transportation this movement will probably be
greatly promoted and become an important factor in the prevention of

Religions Missions. — The Catholic churches are found in every
locality where a need exists, and so the mission does not appear.
The work done, however, is of the same character as that undertaken
by Protestant churches in their branches or missions. The Anglican
church has a number of missionary stations in forlorn parts of Paris,
but a people dominantly Catholic do not readily respond to Protestant
effort. The Salvation Army carries on its work in France as it does
in other countries, and its evangelistic efforts meet with response from
a class but little affected by evangelization which emanates directly
from a church.




Historical Origins of the Modern System. — Italy presents
the longest record of charitable endeavor of any of the countries stud-
ied in this volume. In the first century the Jews had their societies
of mutual succor, and the early Christians imitated them and copied
many features also from the Italian associations. But it was the
Christian congregations which developed the institutions of charity in
their highest and widest forms. Thus in Italy, as in no other land,
may we study all the historical phases of charity, — congregational,
diocesan, monastic, orders, hospitals, union with the civil govern-
ment, separation of functions, conflict with the government and mod-
ern attempts to secure a division of labor and a common understand-
ing. The former ages have ha^nded down vast endowments for
benevolence, many buildings, rich traditions of heroic and self-sacri-
ficing devotion, but also many errors and defects which must be cor-
rected by wise statesmanship and patient patriotism.

In Italy, as elsewhere, the charity of the church began with the
free offerings of the congregation, and the bishop, within an ever-
widening territory of authority, was the responsible officer of relief.
To assist him the church developed a series of offices and function-
aries. With the union of the Christian Church and the Roman Em-
pire the bishops were charged with the general oversight of the poor
and large resources were placed in their hands. In the course of
time, by the side of the parish or congregational charity, grew up the
monasteries as centers of relief and refuges of the weak and dis-
tressed, and various orders came into existence whose purpose it was
to manifest the benevolent spirit of religious people.

While the parish method of helping destitute families never en-
tirely ceased, the hospital came to be the most characteristic and gen-
eral form of beneficence. The mediaeval hospital was an asylum for




all kinds of misery, and only gradually was it specialized in response
to needs and intelligence born of experience.

The Council of Trent gave an authoritative form to the principles
of ecclesiastical charity of the Middle Ages. Its central effort was
naturally directed to the regulation of the hospitals, where were
found the aged, the feeble, orphans, forsaken children, cripples, and
the sick. Relief was also sent to the habitations of the destitute from
the same center. Wanderers in search of employment were tempo-
rarily sheltered and sent on their way. The decisions of former
councils were confirmed, as those of Vienne. The administrators of
hospitals, unless they belonged to some order of knights or others
under the papal approval, were subjected to episcopal direction. The
bishop might censure such administrators for faults, and, if they re-
fused obedience, suspend them from theii functions. If they wasted
the income of the institutions, they were required to make restoration.
Unless the hospital was limited by its charter to a certain territory it
must shelter and aid all the needy who applied, the destitute and the
sick. If the income of a hospital was not required for its own terri-
tory, it might, under episcopal order, go to help other useful ends.
The administrator must render an annual account to the bishop, and
the bishop had the right of inspection at any time. The loan associa-
tions were under the same direction and control. Any person who
should squander the funds devoted to charity fell under anathemas
and must make restitution. The bishop must not only regulate ex-
isting charities, but also positively take upon himself all the concerns
of the poor, must be their advocate and representative.

Ratzinger remarks that the council did not make regulations in
respect to the restoration of the ancient parish system because the
means were lacking. The parish had lost its tithe, and the church
relief was dependent on the funds of hospitals or endowments. Pro-
vincial and synodal bodies were directly responsible for carrying out
the law.

Among the bishops who best illustrated the working of these laws
was Charles Borromeo, bishop of Alilan. He not only sought to
bring order into the ancient institutions, but also to enlargte their
resources, to establish parish relief on a good basis, and to inspire all
administration with the devotion which marked his own character
and conduct.^

^ G. Ratzinger, Geschichte der kirchlichen Armenpflege, pp. 46j.ff. — John How-


Coming nearer to our own times, we find that the Itahan church
developed its rehef agencies in the lines marked out by the Council
of Trent. The popes, in many instances, built up hospitals and en-
couraged their endowment. Sixtus V. sought to put an end to beg-
ging and provided for the helpless the hospice of Ponte Sisto. When
it had been enlarged. Innocent XII named it the hospice of the Apos-
tles. The poor and the orphans found refuge in its walls. The
manufacture of woolen goods was carried on to give employment to
the inmates, and at one time 800 persons were employed and they
made 30,000 yards of cloth annually. Pius VI founded in 181 5 the
hospice of Santa Maria degli Angeli, and other popes enlarged and
enriched it. Here also adults and children of both sexes were re-
ceived and work was furnished those able to labor. It employed not
few^er than 450 men and 500 women. Two orphanages existed at
Rome, one founded in 1541, the other in 1784. A school for instruc-
tion of poor children in agriculture was established in 1841, and also
an asylum for the insane and a home for the deaf. A foundling asy-
lum, founded in 1198 by Innocent III, was enlarged by Benedict XIV
in 1750, and at the close of the administration by papal authority had
3,150 children in its care. At the beginning of the nineteenth century
the church had established institutions for every form of distress '}
for orphans and neglected children ; for youth in moral peril ; for
pilgrims and wanderers visiting the sacred city ; for relief of the poor
who were ashamed to beg; for widows and for those who needed
legal advice and defense ; for discharged prisoners and their families,
and for burial of the dead. There were brotherhoods and sisterhoods
devoted to the pious task of securing funds and ministering to per-
sonal needs. Monasteries afforded shelter to strangers.

At the same time all ecclesiastical leaders who were acquainted
with the facts saw that there were many and serious defects : there
was persistent and incurable mendicancy ; there was excess of income
at certain points and no provision whatever for the destitute at others.

ard, The State of Prisons, etc., p. 107 ff., describes hospitals in Italy at end of
eighteenth century.

^A statistical survey of these institutions, with descriptions of their objects, is
given in the monumental works : Atti della commissione reale per I'inchiesta sulle
opere pie, and in the Statistica della opere pie. In Vol. I, pp. i-vii, of the latter
work is given an account of the appointment, organization and method of the Com-
mission, and Vol. VI of the "Atti" the list of 185 questions sent to institutions.



Many persons gave themselves up to indolence and lived upon chance
alms. Part of the fault was due to the economic conditions of the
time, part to the oppression of land-owners and capitalists, but part
to the absence of central supervision and control of the charitable
institutions. Into the general political and economic causes of suf-
fering we cannot here enter, but it is our task to consider the steps
taken to reform the abuses of the system of relief and then bring it
into line with modern needs and modern science.

In all modern countries, including not only the Protestant nations
like Germany and England, but also France, it has been found neces-
sary for the government to intervene in an increasing measure in the
administration of relief. In Italy this movement is also observed,
although, as was natural, it was modified by the peculiarities of the
social situation. Italy was the country where the church of Rome
had its center, and, up to recent times, this church was also itself a
political power. Church and government were in one state united.
The clergy had been, from time immemorial, the almoners of relief.
They had been instrumental in securing the foundation of numerous
wealthy charitable trusts whose income was enormous, and whose
institutions (opcre pie) were found in all parts of the peninsula.
Governmental supervision and interference, at the best, would neces-
sarily be regarded by a large part of the people, especially by those
devoted to the church, with suspicion and opposition. Yet statesmen
were sustained by the nation in the determination to bring these
numerous trusts into harmony with the requirements of modern

Governmental action has taken three forms : repressive, as in the
suppression of vagabondage ; regulative, as in the supervision of
voluntary and church charities ; and supplementary, as where local
and general governments have furnished subsidies.

Very much of the merely repressive action of governments came
under the criminal code and police regulations of health and safety,
and do not form a part of our study of the poor law.

Governmental Intervention before i8po. — Previous to the unifica-
tion of the kingdom the tendency to bring charitable enterprises
under political control manifested itself in various states, as in Sar-
dinia, Lombardy, and quite radically in Romagna in the laws of
1859 ; while Tuscany in the same period did not attempt any general
regulation, but left the charitable societies to be governed by their



own statutes. In the Neapolitan provinces in 1812 there were con-
stituted Consign aegli ospidi for the management of most of the en-
dowed charities, and these arrangements were for the most part re-
tained in the legislation of 1845-58. The drift toward state care of
all indigent citizens was distinctly recognized years before the con-
solidation of united Italy (March 17, 1861). Thus Count Cavour,
in his speech of February 17, 185 1, said : "I believe that there exists
a great prejudice against legal charity, yet it may be predicted that
every community, when it arrives at a certain stage of development,
must of necessity recur to legal charity. Experience will show in a
not distant future how legal charity, well administered, governed by
wise rules, may produce immense benefits, without the evil effects
which some fear." Cavour, while quite young, had studied care-
fully the famous report of the English Poor Commission of 1834.^

The Law of 1862. — The first national legislation affecting charity
was distinctly regulative, and not supplementary and direct and this
feature appears plainly in the very title : Icgge suW amministrazione
delle opere pie. There had already been, in some states, an organ for
centralizing the different relief agencies (congregacione di carita),
and this idea was assimilated into the new law. To the legal organ
were subjected various charities, and also the care of the insane and
of foundlings, since these were matters which most frequently re-
quired prompt use of civil authority. In 1888 the communes were
required to furnish medical relief to the destitute sick. When a com-
mune had too small an income for the purpose, or too few patients, it
might unite with adjoining communes to provide a corps of physi-
cians, surgeons and midwives. The law of June 30, 1889, on public
safety, went further and obliged the communes to aid all poor persons
who were unable to labor. Not only was mendicancy forbidden, but
positive measures of relief were provided for those who, without per-
sonal fault, were compelled to beg. Existing funds were to be drawn
upon to meet the cost. If the commune could not bear the expense
without raising its tax rate, the state agreed to help it. These regu-
lations of provincial and communal law, of public safety and health,
remained in force even after the poor law of 1862 was displaced by
the new law of 1890.

Inadequacy of the Reforms Before i8po. — There were very great

^ Odoardo Luchini, Le instituzioni pubbliche di beneficenza, p. xxviii, Introduc-


funds with large income from existing charities previous to 1890, and
these were steadily growing. And yet complaints of defect came
from many sources. Minister Depretis said in 1879, in the Chamber
of Deputies, that there was no proper and complete record of prop-
erty, and that neither accounts nor reports were reliable.

By royal decree of June 3, 1880, a commission of notable special-
ists was appointed to make a scientific study of the whole situation, to
report the statistical facts and descriptions and to make recommend-
ations to the national legislature. This commission held 118 sessions
and was dissolved in February, 1889. Its report^ belongs to the
classics of the subject, and is a mine of valuable information and wise

In all Italy there were counted 21,764 foundations, whose value
at the date of the report was estimated at 1,724,000,000 lire.

To understand the development one must take into account the
facts which shaped it :^ the former absence of national unity in the
Italian peninsula ; the warm climate, especially in the southern states,
which renders it less imperative to have a thoroughly organized public
administration with abundant and regular income ; and the unhappy
conflicts between ecclesiastical authorities and men of state, which
make cooperation of public administration with private charity more
difficult to secure and maintain. The political ambition of the nation
was to secure national unity, and their hope was fulfilled, but at the
same time there was the desire of ecclesiastics to retain and of other
parties to secure the ascendency in administration.

The poverty of many of the people of Italy is indicated by these
facts : the annual income is ij i6s. 8d. per head of population ; while
in Great Britain it is £ 31, in France £26, in Saxony £20 7s., in Prussia
£17 2s., in Austria £8. The wages of artisans and laborers are low,
the usual rates for unskilled labor being 16-29 cents per day.^ Signor
Ferrero is quoted as saying : "Italians have been used for two cent-
uries to live on half-rations." Taxes are heavy and fall heavily on
the poor. The income tax was 17 per cent, in Italy, as compared

^Atti della Commissione Reale per I'inchiesta sulla opere pie, Roma, 1884-92,
9 vols, already published.

*Art. by F. S. Nitti in Economic Review, Vol. II, 1892. — The Nation, Feb. 20,
1890, "The Patrimony of the Poor in Italy." — Special consular report on Vagrancy
and Public Charities in Foreign Countries, Washington, 1893.

"Bolton King, Italy To-Day (1901), p. 126.



with 12 in France, 8 in Germany and 6 in England. There is much
advance since i860; wealth has increased 17 per cent., although taxes
have risen 30 per cent.

A. The Present System of Relief, under the Law of 1890.

Funds. The Customary Almsgiving. — Italy is not singular in
the matter of indiscriminate almsgiving and its manifestations in
mendicancy, although there are reasons for its being more general and
persistent than in some other lands. The gifts of individuals consti-
tute a constant but irregular and unmeasured source of aid. It would
be impossible to secure reliable statistics, as to the amount thus
spent, with good intentions but with unhappy results, in the entire

Associations and Boards of Trust receive gifts and care for en-
dowments, and it is these funds, some of them established centuries
ago, which require our special attention. From piety and fear, from
pity and pride, from patriotism and ostentation, as everywhere, these
funds have flowed a mighty and deepening stream ; our reverence
for humanity compels us to hope, where we are incompetent to judge,
that moral motives have been the chief inspiration of these contribu-
tions in the past and present ages. The purposes of benefactors and
founders are usually more easily discovered than their motives, for
the former are stated in the deeds of gift, the wills, and other docu-
ments which have been preserved.

The third source of funds for relief are the subsidies furnished by
communes, provinces and the central government to supplement the
other sources of charity.

The total resources of Italian charity were estimated in 1901 at
about 150,000,000 lire, of which subsidies from provinces and com-
munes constituted, in 1880, 52.2 million lire and 64.7 million in 1895.
The larger part of the income goes to medical relief (13.5 million),
foundling asylums (9.9 million), care of insane (7.8 million), hos-
pitals (6.15 million), and Boards of Charity (1.9 million). The
provinces bore the entire cost of caring for the insane and a great
part (5.97 million) for foundling asylums; while the communes bore
almost all the cost for outdoor and indoor medical relief.

The state expends a large sum for the relief of the unemployed,
but seeks to reduce this expenditure as far as possible. The state

^ Letter of W. D. Foulke, Outlook, Feb. 20, 1904.



derives 15 to 16 million lire annually from charitable corporations,
for their buildings are not exempt from taxation.

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 57 of 73)