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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there one finds a Cassa per la Matcrnita, a fund to which women may
contribute and which gives them right to rest and care before and after

This discussion of assistance to illegitimate infants elicited the fact
that there is a great army of the nameless in Italy, about 150,000 in all,
upon whom are spent annually not less than 15,000,000 lire; that the
immoral rxiota still exists in more than 300 communes ; and that in
many provinces about one-half of all illegitimate infants die within
the first year. It was voted to approve the inquiry as to the mother,
and most seemed to approve the search for the father as well ; and by
all means to encourage the mothers to give nurse to their own infants.

Kindergartens were approved, and manual training in public
schools. The congress divided on the proposition to feed ill-nour-
ished pupils at public expense, many thinking this should be done by
private charity.

The addresses on care of defective and feeble children revealed the
fact that Italy does not provide adequately from public funds for
their education, training and asylum.

Perhaps the most enthusiastic and unanimous votes were taken on
the judicial care of neglected children and youth, abandoned, mal-
treated and delinquent minors, the duty of the state to safeguard the
young without waiting until they have forced themslves upon the
notice of officers of law by some crime.

^B. King, Italy of To-Day, p. 227. — Riv. Ben. Pubb., 1902, p. 377.


Attention was called to the "Union of Women" in Milan for the
purpose of maintaining a central office of information for poor people
who do not know how to apply for aid among the numerous "pious
works" of a great city.

The plan of having a federation of all the agencies which care for
children was dicussed and referred to the councils of charity and the
syndics of the principal cities for their judgment.^

Cavaglieri says that Italy does not provide for the moral pro-
tection of youth until they are already proved guilty of some offense.
They may be in surroundings where they are likely to fall into evil
ways, but the state permits them to go on until the vicious habit has
taken possession of them. The regulations of prisons (1891) per-
mitted arrested and convicted youths to be placed in families, but in
practice they are retained in institutions of correction. -

Attention has been called to the fact that street playing is a cause
of disorder, moral peril and ultimately of crime. A beginning has
been made in some cities of confining the children and youth to cer-
tain open spaces where they can be supervised, the rougher leaders
prevented from becoming dominant, and yet where recreation is
free and joyous. Simple gymnastic appliances are provided and
the younger and weaker children are protected from intrusion and
injury.^ The civil code provides for guardianship of minors, but
for three-fourths of them it is a dead letter. Saredo suggests that
the communal administration be charged with this duty.

M. Preventive Work. — Pawning Agencies. Monti di Pietd,.
— For many ages, in different races, the very poor borrower has been
the servant of the lender. Borrowing to meet the demands of con-
sumption is essentially different from borrowing capital as a means
of increasing business profits. The usurer has gained an unenvi-
able reputation because he represents the pressure of necessity and
distress, and there has always been a tendency to give over this kind
of business to a class of men who were not sensitive to social con-
tempt. The church developed a doctrine on the subject which as-
sumed very definite form during the middle ages and influenced cus-
tom and legislation, as well as church discipline. In the second half

* A. Canelini, in Riv. Ben. Pubb., 1902, p. 771 ff.
*Florian and Cavaglieri, I Vagabondi, p. 527 (1897).
^ G. Saredo, Codici della Beneficenza, Int. p. xviii.



of the fifteenth century, in consequence of a strong preaching cru-
sade at Perugia directed against usury by a monk named Barnabus,
certain rich citizens contributed to the foundation of a bank for the
poor (Monti di pietd), which has served as model and inspiration for
many later establishments. Whether Italy was the country of origin
or not may be uncertain, but it is unquestionably the classic land for
development of this form of relief. From the beginning the move-
ment had the powerful alliance of the church, and various cities of
Northern Italy founded institutions of this kind, notably Milan,
Florence, Bologna, Verona, Sienna and Vicenza. From Italy the
movement extended into France, Holland and elsewhere. In Italy
the pawnshops are regarded as "mixed" institutions, partly charitable
and partly for credit.

A good illustration is the Monti di pieta at Milan, founded in
1496. The minimum loan made is 2 lire ; the maximum is not lim-
ited ; the time for redemption is six months for certain kinds of se-
curity and a year for valuable articles. The rate of interest is 5
per cent, on sums of 10 lire or less, and for sums above 10 lire it
is 6 per cent, plus 5 per cent, for marking and 2 per cent, for storage
and packing. The depositor of more than 300 lire must pay a gov-
ernment tax. In 1896 there were 387,132 articles pledged and 7,988,-
369 lire lent.

The establishment at Rome was founded in 1539 and in 1898
lent 15,000,533 lire on 1,066,146 articles. It had a capital of 3,549,-
535.24 lire. In accordance with a new law of May 14, 1899, this
bank collects interest even on small sums, whereas previous to this
law sums of less than 5 lire were lent without interest. The rate is
from 4 to 7 per cent, according to the value and nature of the se-
curity. This is the largest bank of its kind in Italy and has a branch
at Tivoli and 14 auxiliary bureaus.

The bank at Bologna was founded in 1473 by Bernardin de Feltre,
In 1899 it had a fund of 1,041,051 lire, it lends on sums from 50
lire to 300 lire, and the rate is 7 per cent, plus a fixed rate rising from
10 lire to 2 lire. In 1896, 2,389,567 lire were lent on the security of
208,040 articles.

The Monti di Pietd di Paschi has united with its lending on
pawned articles a large credit business, with savings bank and other

In 1897 the Minister of Agriculture made an investigation of the


condition of the Monti di picta. From this inquiry it was found that
at the end of 1896 there were in Italy 555 such institutions with a
capital of 169,376,799 Hre, or, deducting obHgations, 71,986,698 Hre.^

Saz'iiigs Banks. — The government has a method of promoting
the collection of small amounts in connection with the Postoffice De-
partment. Teachers of schools and agents of societies for mutual
benefit can deposit these savings with expense for fees, and the
government pays interest on the deposits. The lowest sum which
is received is 5c. (i cent). Directors of schools inscribe the amounts
deposited in little books and in a record and represent the pupils with
the postal authorities.^

The postal savings banks were established in 1876 by virtue of
the law of March 27, 1875. In 1895 they numbered 4.777, had is-
sued 2,938,402 books, and had deposits to the value of 462,413,311
lire. On December 31, 1899, there were 3,664,618 books credited
with 628,000,000 lire of deposits.

There are also ordinary savings banks which are regulated by
the law of July 15, 1888, and July 17, 1898, and royal decree of
January 21, 1897. They acquire special privileges with incorpora-
tion; their statutes must be approved by the government; and they
are inspected by agents of the central administration.

In 1895 there were 402 ordinary savings banks, with 1,588,424
books, and deposits of 1,343,720,018 lire. In 1899 there were 1,630,-
678 books and deposits of 1,430,816,003, and a capital of 200,296,271

There are also cooperative societies which act as savings banks.
These had on December 31, 1898, 297,990 books and 233.841,979
lire deposits.

The ordinary societies of credit also had in 1895 100,570 books
and 66,016,667 deposits.

The interest rates paid was in 1886, 3.5 per cent. ; in 1899 ^^
had been reduced to 2.88 per cent.

The schools are agencies for extending the use of savings banks ;
the number of depositors among school children increased from
11,933 in 1876 to 65,062 in 1885, and to 102,832 in 1888. There was
a temporary fall to 90,974 in 1890.

^ Annuario Statistico Italiano, 1900, p. ISS-

* G. Saredo, Codice della Beneficenza Pubblica, p. 346 fT. Annuario Statis. Ital.,
1900, p. 827.



Mutual Benefit Societies. — Legal arrangements are made by law
of April 15, 1886, by which workmen may form associations for the
purpose of providing help to their members in sickness, infirmity,
old age and death. Such associations may become corporations by
conforming to the regulations, and the law exempts them from cer-
tain fees and taxes, in recognition of their beneficent features. A
consulting commission was created by royal decree (July 22, 1894)
to consider legislation relating to savings banks and mutual benefit
associations. A law of 1896 further regulated the incorporation of
societies of workingmen.

There are two classes of mutual benefit societies, those "recog-
nized" and having corporate powers, and those which exist in fact
but have no jural rights. In 1895 there were reported in both classes
6,725 societies, of which 6,587 reported a membership of 994,183.^

Reformed Prostitutes.^ — By royal decree of October 21, 1891,
the office of public security is required, in case it discovers a woman
of ill-repute who wishes to return to an honest life, to give her en-
couragement. The officer is commanded to bring to her help the
service of benevolent associations formed for such rescue work ; and
the prefects, and other representatives of government are asked to
promote the establishment of such societies. Young girls under six-
teen years of age may be placed under the supervision of relatives
or other suitable guardians.

Societies for Aiding Discharged Prisoners.^ — In the communes,
districts and provinces of the kingdom private citizens are encouraged
to take the initiative in giving counsel and assistance to persons who
wish to return to honesty and industry after a period of incarcera-
tion. The rules of the society must be approved by the Minister
of the Interior. Six months before the day of liberation of a con-
vict, who has made a request to be placed under the care of the
society, the president designates a member who is to care for him, and
from that moment he is permitted to communicate with and visit the
person to be liberated, so that he may become acquainted with his
condition. The central administration may grant a subsidy in case
a society opens an asylum or offers employment to those under its
protection, or supports a Bureau of Employment, or assists the fami-

^ G. Saredo, o. c, p. 340. Ann. Stat. Ital., 1900, p. 830.

'^ Ibid., op. ci., p. 356.

^ Ibid., o. c, p. 351. C. R. Henderson, Modern Prison Systems, pp. 305-306.


lies of convicts; and the interest on certain funds and the proceeds
of certain legacies may be devoted to the same purposes. The so-
ciety of patronage may accept the responsibiHty for the conduct of
minors entrusted to them, in order to avoid prolonged imprisonment.

The expense of maintaining an aged person in the Pio Albergo
Trivulzio, which entertained about 800 people, was about i lira per
day. If a workman began to contribute 12 lire a year from the time
he was 30 years of age he would at 70 have to his credit more than
1,500 lire, which would give him a right to shelter for his remaining
days, under the cooperative plan of a savings bank at Bologna.^

As early as 1859 the eminent statesman, Cavour, made plans for
insuring Italian workmen, but the time was not ripe for carrying
them into effect. One is reminded of that other founder of a united
nationality, Bismarck, who lived at a moment more favorable for
the realization of the idea of national care of its toiling citizens. The
Cassa Nazionale is not compulsory but voluntary, and provides for
invalidism or old age.^

At Verona, in 1901, a Labor Bureau was established with the
object of bringing employers and employes together, furnishing in-
formation in regard to the demand for labor, a medium of concilia-
tion in case of disputes, a fund for the unemployed, and other means
of assistance to laboring men. Both capitalists and laborers were ad-
mitted to membership and given representation in administration.^

It is claimed that each Italian Parliament has considered some
aspect of the conditions and needs of workingmen. As early as
1850 Camillo Cavour offered the draft of a law on pensions for
laboring men. But the crowding political events of the following
years connected with the unification of Italy absorbed attention
and made the plan financially impracticable. Meantime the wage
workers and Socialists have come to be a much greater power
than in former years, and, with the development of industry, the need
of better provision for old age has become greater and more appar-
ent. Charity itself begins to see the meaning of Ricardo's saying,
that the best means of helping the poor is to place them in a position
where thcv do not require assistance. Poor-relief necessarily offends
against the dignity of human nature, no matter how well it is ad-

^ Riv. Ben. Pubb., March, 1901, p. 323.
'Ibid., March, 1901, p. 314.
^ Ibid., June 1901, p. 494.



ministered. After long discussion, much conflict of opinion and
careful investigations, on March 17, 1898, the Parliament passed the
bill, under the leadership of Luigi Luzzatti and Francesco Guicciar-
dini, in favor of men injured at work ; and on July 17, 1898, the Cassa
Nazionale di Previdenza was established. It was admitted that, with-
out the help of society, subsidies and administrative direction, the
multitude of unskilled laborers could not save enough to provide for
the absolute necessities of old age and the unfitness for labor which
comes with disease and increasing liability to discharge from the
workshop. Under the new law, which marks the beginning of a
national policy, the state encourages thrift by adding to each man's
savings as much as he contributes to the national fund. There were
already many mutual benefit societies which kept securely the vol-
untary deposits of wage earners ; but now that the state offers to
double these sums, many of the associations have made their mem-
bers also participators in the advantages of the Cassa Nadonale.
Both men and women are admitted to these privileges, if wage work-
ers, and receive an old age pension, beginning with the age of 60
years, if they have been contributors for 25 years. But if they have
been made incapable of labor through sickness or accident they may
receive a pension even before they are 60 years of age, if they have
been subscribers for five years. The rate of pension is determined by
the amount one has paid in as premiums ; but he may not give more
than 100 lire annually nor less than six. The payments must not be
less than 50 centesimi monthly. If, indeed, they choose to pay less
than six lire in a year they do not secure the additional state subsidy.
The capital of the fund is large and growing. Originally the state
contributed to it 10,000,000 lire, and continues to pay in the sums aris-
ing from certain extraordinary sources of income.^ The interest is
divided among the contributors.

There are two forms of subscriptions : that of Miitualita and that
of Contribnti riservati. Under the contract oiMutualita the working-
man requires that, in case of his death before reaching the age of
60 years, the money paid in by him shall go to pension those who,
being on the same list with him, have reached the age of 60 years.
Under the contract of Confributi riservati the workingman secures

^The fund in 1902 was 14,000,000 lire, and, counting other funds devoted to the
purpose, 20,000,000 lire. Article by Azio Samarani, Riv. Ben. Pubb., 1902, pp.


a pension for surviving wife, minor children, parents or grand-
parents, if he dies before his own claim is valid. Carefully itemized
accounts are kept with each subscriber. While the calculations vary
with circumstances an approximately correct statement of benefits
would be : A workingman who begins to subscribe at 20 years of
age and pays 6 lire annually in the list of Miitnalita, at 60 years of
age will receive about 180 lire per year; by paying 12 lire annually
he will secure a pension of 260 lire, and by paying 18 lire will secure
a pension of 350 lire. On the plan of Contribnti riscrvati the pen-
sions will be, respectively, 150, 208, and 265 lire. In a private com-
pany the workingman would have to pay in 40 years 1,000 lire to
secure a pension of 85 lire, and the security would be inferior to that
of the state. Thus it is possible for the workingman to look forward
to a serene old age, undismayed by the prospect of the humiliation
and disgrace of dependence on charity, and of hearing his own chil-
dren pray that he may die so that there will be one less mouth to

But the system is voluntary, as distinguished from the compul-
sory system of the German Empire, and it remains to be seen whether
the laborers of Italy, especially the poorest who need it most, can be
induced to make use of the system. Perhaps it is too early to form
an opinion; but at present the outlook is not very bright. In 1903
a very small number had inscribed their names, only about 20,000
persons. Private persons join with the government in persuading
wage earners to become subscribers to the fund. Registration is
made without a fee, and payments may be made at any postoffice or
local office of the fund.^

Factory Laws. — A law regulating the labor of children and
women was approved by the Chamber of Deputies March 23, 1902.
Children under 12 years of age may not be employed in factories.
In certain unwholesome and dangerous occupations the minimum age
is 15 years, and a medical certificate is required showing that such
persons are able to do the work. Night work is forbidden in the
case of persons under 15 years, and women are hereafter to be kept
from night work. Fines collected for violations of the law are paid
over to the old age pension fund.

' References on old age pensions and accident insurance : Bolton King, Italy of
To-Day, p. 216 ff. Report of Industrial Commission, Vol. XVI. Rivisti Ben.
Pubb., March, 1903, p. 210; Jan., 1901, p. 60-63 ; 1902, p. 498 ft.


Housing. — An exhibit was presented at the Exposition at Paris,
in 1900, by the Committee on Houses for the Poor at Florence, which
was estabhshed in 1885 and opened a lodging house for needy persons
without distinction of nationality or creed. In 1886-7 they cared
for 15,760 persons, of whom 257 were foreigners. In 1887-8 they
entertained 16,002 persons, 335 of whom were strangers. Since
then the committee has built 6 houses for the poor, with 3 apart-
ments in each ; each apartment has 2 to 4 rooms, with bath and water
closet in each apartment. These apartments are rented by the week
or month, and contain 176 families with 901 persons. The capital
is 540,000 lire in real estate. Its principal revenues come from
annual sales and festivals of charity. This may be taken as an
example of the movement which attracts wide interest in Italian




Historical Introduction. — The poor laws of Belgium, at first
based upon the German system, were supplanted by the French
laws during the connection of Belgium with France. But the
French system was not in harmony with the spirit of the people
of Belgium, and with the separation from France there began a
movement directed toward the former system.

The first step in the reorganization was the reinstatement of
the law of 1818, relating to settlement. It provided for relief in
the commune in which the person was located at the time and if
it happened that this commune was not the legal settlement of
the person, then the commune in which relief had been given was
entitled to recompense from the proper commune. The law also
lengthened the time for gaining a settlement to four years. A
provision in the law of 1825 charged the communes with the cost
of the maintenance of vagrants in the almshouses, with a reserva-
tion making it the duty of the state to share the expense.

After the separation from Holland, the system of equalization
was taken up again. It related to children and provided that
one-half the expense of the maintenance of foundlings, abandoned
children and orphans whose parents are unknown should be de-
frayed by the communes in which they were exposed, abandoned
or found, and that the other half of the expense should be borne
by the provinces.

The law of 1836 contained two provisions relating to equaliza-
tion. The first provided that the expense of the care of the in-
sane poor as well as the poor in almshouses should be defrayed
by the communes. The second provided that the communes
should defray the expense of the care of children and of the deaf
mutes with the reservation that the state or provinces should



grant assistance in case the regular services of the communes
were inadequate.

In 1845 the period for gaining a legal settlement was raised
to eight years. The objection was made that the former period
had given rise to many arbitrary arrangements of the burden of
relief. However, the reform did not bring any permanent solu-
tion. Complaints arose in regard to the severity of the applica-
tion of a law for such a long period and also from the heavy
burdens which it placed upon the communes.

After many changes, the law brought about a condition that
may be called a codification of the laws up to this time. It in-
cluded the following subjects: (i) The place of settlement; (2)
methods of relief; (3) the duty of the communes in relation to the
provinces and the state as well as plans for the establishment
of an equalization of the burden of relief and the treatment of
difficulties relating to it.

By the law of 1876, the obligation of the communes to lend
pecuniary assistance to the hospitals,^ and bureaus of charity in
case of the inadequacy of income of the last two was extended to
include all kinds of public charity. The law of 1876, also, pro-
vided for relief in the communes where need for it occurred, in
case it was urgent; the commune which gave aid being entitled,
however, to remuneration from the commune in which the indi-
vidual had his legal settlement. But his commune could demand
that he be sent home if his condition would permit or if he was
not receiving special treatment in hospital or other institution.
The legal settlement upon which the title to relief depends is,
first of all, in the commune in which the person is born. By the
terms of the law of 1876 the time for acquiring a new settlement
was five years.

The law of 1891 related to public relief, medical relief and the
repression of vagrancy and beggary. The judgment as to the
efficacy of the law varied greatly and only the part concerned
with vagrancy and beggary received wide support. The legisla-
tion of 1891 does not abandon the basis of optional poor-relief on
which it has always stood. In accordance with this law, the
hospitals and bureaus of charity defray the expenses of poor-
relief as far as possible. However, there was a noticeable tend-

^ Very nearly equivalent to our English "home" or asylum.


ency toward public poor-relief in two directions •} (a) the obliga-
tion of the communes to make the required contributions in case
of the inadequacy of the means of the hospitals and bureaus of
charity; (b) in case of the incapacity of the communes, the larger
divisions of the state must share the expenses. The division of
the expenses of charity was upon the principle that the place of
settlement should assist though in a limited manner in compari-
son with the German system. The commune in which the indi-
vidual became indigent was under obligation to give him aid
but in case it was not his legal settlement, it could demand his
transference if the condition of his health permitted. The com-
mune had a right to recompense for the outlay incurred in aid
only for the following cases: (i) orphan children under six-

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 62 of 73)