John Shute Duncan.

Collections relative to systematic relief of the poor at different periods, and in different countries : with observations on charity, its proper objects and conduct and its influence on the welfare of nations online

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to non^mendic4ats as 3 to |. It were vain, indeed^
to reafon on the evils of a life of beggary, with one
who can vindicate th^ devotion tq it of fo large a
portion of his country's population.

Of the Roman charities, the two moft celebrated
are, the Hofpital for Pilgrims, and Monte della PietS^
or Bank for Pledges, Cafalius, in his work De Urbe
Rom4i dcfcrihes the former with enthufiaftic eulogy.
Salm'on, in the hiftorical defcriptipn of ancient and
modern Rome, has this notice of them. *' St.
*' Philippo Neri, when f^cular. Teeing how much the
^' poor pilgrims fuffered, who came to Rome, from
** various parts, to vijif tbf fepulcbres of the apojiles^
*• and obtain indulgences j no one giving them lodging;
** the pious youth, with fixteen of his companions,
^* began the great work of hofpitality in the church
^' of S. Salvatore in Campo, forming a confraternity,
♦^ under the title of the IJoly Trinity, fpr th«



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•* purpofe of exercifing charity toward their neigh-
y ** hours, and adminiftering relief to poor pilgrims ♦
** They received all pilgrioas with the greeted be-
**nevolcnce; and waftiing their feet, gate them
" food and lodging for three nights. D, Elena
*• Orfini, a Roman lady, gave a houfe for the ac-
'* commodation of female pilgrims, and this charitable
•^ work has continued pver fince. Here are buds of
« Clement Vni. and XL and that of Bened. XIV.
•* &c. as brothers and benefaftors of this pious work,
^' who, by their afliftance and good example of at-
*' tending upon and wafhing the pilgrims* feet, have
•• infpired others to the fame. Befides thefe, the
**^ poor convafcfccnts are received here, who have left
** the hcrfpitals ; relief being afforded them for three
•* days, and longer, if neceffary." [As the days of
pilgrimages, it may be hoped, are nearly at an end,
this charity may probably in future be wholly applied
to relieve the diftreffes of the relident poor, inftead
of giving bounties to indolent wanderers.J '' la
** order to avoid the great extortion cxafted by the
•* Jews for pledges of the chriftians, and to relieve
** thofe in neceffity, in 1539, byperfuafion of Gio-
** vaoni Calvo, prior of the conventual friars, a
** company of wealthy perfons was formed, wHo
" depbfitcd a certain fum of money to cftablilh a
** bank, in order to lend money to the poor, who
'* brought pledges for fecurity of their debts, with-
**out taking any intereft. This company being
'* approved by Paul III. he elefted St. Charles Bor-
•• romeo* protcftor, who formed the ftatutes. Sixtus

• The Cardinal Charles Borroraeo, called St. Charles, having
been canonized in 1610, and having merited all earthly honour by
a life dedicated to the glory of God in the benefit of mankind, en-
joined the inftitution of charitable affociations throughout all the
pariihcs of his diocefe, the archbilhopric of Milan, tn foltevo de
po-jtri infirmif for aid and fupport of the lick and difablcd. In



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«* V. gave a place in the ftre^t Coronari for this
•* purpofe. Clement VIII. removed thera, and
** granted the palace inhabited by Urban VIII. when
«' cardinal, in which are the Bank for Depofits, and
** apartments for the fuperintcndants. The money
*• lent, amounting to thirty crowns, is gratis ; but
** above that fum, two crowns are paid annually for
« every hundred. The pledges are kept here for
** eighteen months, then fold by public fale, and the
'* money lent stopped ; but the overplus of the gain
** is returned to the ownersof the pledges." — Salmon's
Ancient and Modern Rome^ voL ii. p. 152.

It may be worth while here to prefent a few plain
obfervaiions on Italian charities, by a very enlightened
French traveller, Lalande, Voyage en Italie, vol. v.
c. h. p. 166.

*MI y a des fondations dans plufieurs eglises pour
** diftribuer a chaque fete folennelle des dots aux
*Vpauvres lilies, foit poiir prendre le voile, foit pour
*' fe marier felon Icur gout. La fomme eft fixce, de
" meme que le nombre des filles qui viennent en
** proceiTion pour la re9evoir. Ces charites, fi fre-
" quentes et faites fi mal-apropos, font un des grands
** vices du gouvemement ou elles entretiennent la
*' faineantife.— — Quand une fille du commun a 1%

the colleftion of rules of one of thefe fbcietiesy " Regole per li
** afcritti alia carita crifliana in follievo, &c. nella parochia di S.
" Bartolomeo fotto il patrocinio di S. Luigi Gonzaga/' it is ftated^
that a large afibciation- of perfons of either fex are devoted to the
objedls ofthe inflitution, to daily and nightly attendance on the fick
poor with zeal and diligence, no kfs beneficial to the bodies ofthe
fuflPerers, who receive their bounteous aid, than to their own fouls.
Mr A. Young (Tr^v^// in Franccy^c* j^to. p» 645) fays, arti-
cle Milan, " charitable foundations in the city only amount to
" 3,000,000 Hvres, (87,500!. fterling.) In the great hofpital, there
" are commnoly from ra to 1500 lick. The ^k&. is found to ba
** exceedingly mifchievous, tor there are many that will not work,
** depending on thefe eftablifhments." ** The poj)ulation of Milaa
" is laid to be Ji6j0oo"'^ff^atkm*s Travels , Letter a4»



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*^ pfoteflion dii batard de rapoticalre d'un cardinal,
*^ elle fe fait alTarer cinq ou fix dots dans cinq ou
^^ fix eglifes, et ne veut plus apprendre ni a coudre
** ni a filer, &c.

** II n'y a prefque point de jour, ou dans quelques
" un des principaux couvens de religieux pn ne
'^ diflribue de la foupe a la porte a tous ceux qui la
*' viennent demander: le grand nombrc d'hopitaux
*^ qu*il y a dans Rome, et la facilite d'avoir le pain
** la foupe et raumone dans les couvens, y entreti-
^' ennent la faineantife et la mendicite ; et c'eft une
** chofe qui revoke que le grand norabre de mendians
** dont on eft aflailli dans les rues de Rome, ainfique
" dans celles de Naples : on y regrette bien la bonne
** police de Londres, qui a fu debarraffer totaleraent
*' les rues et les eglifes de cette verraine infupportable
*' pour les citoyens, et honteufc pour un ctat, Au
** refte c'eft bien pis a Naples,'' &c.

Charities in Germany^

The degraded charafter of the pi^or throughout
the greater part of Germany renders it difficult to
colleft fafts riefpefting them from the narratives of
travellers. In Travels through Germany, written
by Baron Riefbeck, and tranflated by the Rev. Mr.
Maty, publiflied 1787, it is faid,^" Ail the charities
** (of Vienna) depend upon the Court alone for their
" fupport. We meet here with no cure of St.
" Sulpice, to raife 300,000 livresa year for the relief
** of the neceflStous. The Archbilhop Migazzi is as
** bigoted, and as dependant on the papal hierarchy,
^' as Beaumont ; but he gives no millions of livres
" yearly out of his income to fecret diftrefs, as the
•• good Archbiihop^of Paris does. The Emprefs*s
" benevolence, of which religion is the priAciple,



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" approaches to profufion; fhe refufes relief to none
** who (land in need of her affiftancc. Her ftewafd
** has hardly any thing to lay before her but ac-
" counts of charities. Her liberality particularly
•* ihews itfelf towards widows, efpecially fuch as arc
*' of high birth. Her paniality to high bffth makes
*' her defirous that every perfon (hould live up to h&
" or her rank. With refpeft to the public foun-
^' dations^ the library, fchools, hofpitals, and poor- .
** houfeSy coft her immenfe fums. I am aflbred, that
•* the debts flie has contrafied by this liberality, (if
** they are juft debts, the liberality is at the expenfe
•• of her creditors,) amount to upwards of twenty
<* millions of guSd^rt ; and one of my friends in-
** formed me^ that ihe gives away three millions per
** annum in private charity. Who would imagine
«* nowi that under fo worthy a charafter merit often
** ftarves, whilft large fums are lavilhed upon the
*' worihlefs ? The prejudices of religion have fo far
*« gotten the better of her natural difpofition, as to
** make her refufe afliftance to an officer who had
** been crippled in her fcrvice, unlefs he would em-
'' brace the Catholic religion !''

In Madame de StaePs eloquent and difcriminating
work on Germany, the poor (fould not be wholly
unnoticed. If they occupy but a fmall fpace, the
defeft is in the fubjeft, not in the writer.* Her
remarks are confined principally to Hamburgh.
Having noticed the fchools of Peftalozzi, for the
improvement of the poor throughout Germanic
Switzerland, {he defcribes fimilar inftitutions of
Mr. Fellenberg, in Hamburgh. " He caufes village



* Defcribing the Prater, (the Hyde-Park of Vienna,) fhe favs,
" you never meet a beggar at thefe promenades ; none are to be
** leen in Vienna 1 he chariublc eftablifhments there are regulated
** with great order and liberality : priyate and public benevolenoe
** is diredcd with a great fpirit of juftice.'*



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** fchoolmafters, tobc taught according to Peftalozzi's
** method. The labourers who cultivate his grounds
** learn pfalm tunes; and the pralfesof God arc heard
** throughout the country, fung by fimple but har-
*'monious voices, celebrating nature and its Author.
*^ Infliorr, M. de Fellenberg endeavours, by every
*^ pofEble means^ to form between the fuperior and
*^ inferior clafles a liberal tie; a bond which fliall
** not be merely dependent on the pecuniary interefts
** of the rich and the poor; It is not enough to be
*^ occupied in promoting the welfare of the lower
** claffes, with a view to ufefulnefs only: they fliould
'Valfo participate in the enjoyments of the imagina-
^ ' tion and the heart. It is in this fpirit, that en-
^^ lightened phiianthropifts have taken up the fubjeA
** of mendicity at Hamburgh. Neither dcfpotifm,
" nor fpeculative ceconomy, have any place in their

* * charitable inftitutions." [N. B. Speculative oeco-
nomy muft here be taken in a very limited fcnfe, to
a,void abfurdity.] "It was their wilh, that the
*^ unfortunate objefts of their care fhould them-
** felves dclirc the labour which was expeflcd from
*' them, as much as the bcnefaftions which were
** granted them. As the welfare of the poor was
** not with them a mean, but an end, they have not
*' ordered them employment, but have mad^ them
*' defire it. We conftantly fee in the accounts of
*^ thofe charitable inftitnrions, that the objeft of their
** founders was no lefs to make men better, than
•* to. render them more ufeful. Such is the high
** pliilofophical fpirit of liberty and wifdom, which
^^reigns in, and gives peculiarity of charafter to, this
** ancient Hanfeatic city. There is much real bene-

* * ficence in the world, and he who is not capable
** of ferving his fellow-creatures by the facrifice of
^' his time, and of his inclinations, voluntarily con«

G



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'• tributes to their weKare with ttiooey : this k ftill
'* foinrthing, and no virtue is to be difdained. But
** in mod countries, the great mafs of private, aims
** is nof wifdy direfted ; and one of the moft cmi-
** nent ferviccs whidi the Baron de Voght, and his
*' excellent countrymen, have rend^ed to the caufe
*' of humanity, is thatof (hewmg how, without new
** lacrifices, without the intervention of the ftatc,
*' private beneficence may be rendered fufficient
*' for the relief of the unfortunate. That which
•« is cficSed by individuals is particularly futted to
** Germany ; where every thing taken feparately i$
^^ better than the whole together. Cluu-itable initi«
«' tutions ought, faideed, to profpcr in the city of
*' Hamburgh. There is fo much morality amoogft
^^ its inhabitants, that for a time they paid their
*^ taxes into a fort of trunk, without any perfon
*' feeing what they brought ; thefe taxes were to
" be proponioned to the fortune of ^ch individual,
'•and when the calculation was made, they were
^^ always found to be fcrupuloufly paid. Might we
** not believe, that we were relating a circumftance
*^ belonging to the golden age, if in that golden age
" there had been private riches and public taxes I**
[A circumftance, it muftbe owned, rather improbable.]
A very interefting extraft from the Report of the
Eftablilhment at Hamfburgh, in 1799, is publilhcd
in the 12th Report of the Society for bettering the
condition of the poor. No. 10. It contains feveral
fafts, bearing ftroug internal evidence of authenticity,
and refults of cxte^vely ufeful application.

In 1789, theftreetsof Ham- 101799, icarccly a beggar

bargh were crowded with beg- was to be feen ; every neceffi-

gars, many of ^m ftrangers ; tons inl^abitanc receiving, under

all b great diflrefs ; the inodell kind and regular care and in-

and deferving perifhing un- fpedion, iure and beneficial

heard and anknown^ for want relief. 1q tea yoars^ 3081



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of a (hare in that relief which
the ftreet beggar anticipated
by fraud and importunity.
446 perfons were in the houfe
of corrc^ion, beiidc« prtfoners.
5. The diftreffes, and the
conduft of the poor were al-
iBoft unknown, except to a few
clerica] and medical men.
When the dire^lors and infpec-
tors made their firll inquiries,
they viiited fome narrow courts
inhabited entirely by beggars,
loft to fociety, and fcarcely pre-
fer ving the human form; courts,
which benevolence approached
with a degree of alarm and
horror.



10. There w«re 7391 pau-
pers, 4087 women, 1079 men,
and 2225 children, be£des
perfons in hofpitals. Mendi-
city, fpreading like infection,
and paralyiing the induftry and
energy of the poor, wa» become
an epidemic difeafe among the
lower claffes of life.



poor ftrangcrs were relieved
and returned to their places of
habitation. Not more in the
whole than 147 perfons in the
Hoofe.

5. There are now 180 In»
fpcftors 5 five pKyficians, and
five furgeons, who regalarly
vifit every part of Hamburgh.
Each houfe is numbered, and
there are 2200 poor perfons
employed (perhaps this means
fome one in every houfe, or
nearly fo, to which the benefit
of the charity has extended)
to brmg the infpedors imme*
diate information of any diftrefs
or diforder in the city. Thus
are vice and mifery diminiftied
among the poor; and virtue
and patriotifm increafed among
the rich.

10. There are ( 1 799) at pre-
fcnt 3090 paupers, fed and
clothed, and obliged to do fuch
work as they are capable of.
Of thefe, 1692 are aged per-
fons, from 60 to 100 years of
age ; 1097 maimed or difeafed
perfons of middle age, and 401
children, the greater part of
whoni are very young.

Tbe members of this inftitution in Hamburgh
vx^uiKarily engaged themfelves to pay each a finf,
in cafe of fuch deviation from the true principles
upon which the poor ouglu tolte aififted, as the giving
indifcriminate alms, without inveftigating and af-
certaining the wauts of the obje&. Account of Ma-
nagement of Poor in Hamburghy by Mr. Voght^ p. 15.

Mandeville remarks of Holland, (Fable of Bees,
Remark 2.) *' The country is fo fmall and po-
*' pulous, ^ that there is not land enough (though

G 2



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** hardly an inch of it is unimproved) to feed the tenth
*' part of its inhabitants. The Dutch endeavour
*' to promote as much frugality among their fubjefts
•* as poffible, not becaufe it is a virtue, but becaufe
** it is, generally fpeaking, their intereft." How-
ever, our lateft traveller in Holland (Sir John Carr,
1 807) obferves, " I found that the received opinioQ
** or there being no beggars in Holland is erroneous.
** I was frequently befet by thefefons and daughters
*' of forrow or idlenefs, who preferred their petition
" with indefatigable purfuit, but in fo gentle a tone,
** that it was evident they were fearful of the
^ * police. There arc fo many afylums for paupers,
^^ that a Dutchman, acquainted with the legiilative
** provision made for them, always confiders a
** beggar as a lawlefs vagabond. Holland is juftly
*' celebrated for its public charities. In Rotter-
** dam, before the laft war, there were many bene-
* * volcnt inftitutions, fome of which have inevitably
** languifhed, and others expired, in confcquence of
*^ the ufually impoverifliing effefts of long hoftility.*'
The devaftation of the continent, the general con-
fcquence of debility from bad government, and of the
overwhelming violence of mad ambition, renders ail
enquiry into exifting inftitutions ufelcfs.* Whenever
good government fhall be eftabl-fhed in any portion of
Europe, which an intertial combination of force, or
the conient of the furrounding countries, Ihall render
worthy to be called a ftate; then ufeful inftitutions for
the indigent and infir* will, no doubt, be eftabliftied,
differing probably in many particulars from thofe
which have hitherto been known on the Continent,
except perhaps in Hamburgh.

• This and fome fimilar paflagcs were written, while the Conti-
nent of £urope was almoft wholly fubjed to Bonaparte, his brothers,
and generals. Thanks to God for the heart-cheering change !



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ti



[ 83 ]

in a mpft valuable bpok, entitled " Inquiries con-
cerning the Poor, by John M'Farlan, D. D. one
'* of the minifters of Canongate, Edinburgh, 1782,'*
p. 202, c. viii. the obfervations on the police of
Holland, relating to the poor, are highly interefting.
For a full cxtraft of the laws of the United Provinces
refpefting the poor, he refers to Poftlethwayte's Difl",
of Commerce. He (hews the good efFeft of general
fimple manners; of frugal and fober habits, prevalent
throughout all claffes ; of the attentive encourage-
ment of induftry by example and reward ; and the
benefit of a rigorous police repreiHng mendicity.
" There are (he admits) a few vagrant beggars, but
" thefe are feldom natives. In every great town,
'* there is a public corrcftion houfe, in which
" the provifion allowed is of the pooreft kind j
" even for this they arc compelled to work. They
*' earn their hard fare by rafping lignum vitse, &c.
" No corporal puniftxment can be fo great a terror
** to perlons of a flothful or of a vicious difpofition.
** But, feft. ii. where there are fo many tlioufands
" employed in the meaneft occupations, there rauft
" be a great number daily reduced to indigence,
" from caufes wLich no induftry and no forcfight
" could have prevented. The poor of ibis defcrip-
" tion ought to be provided for, and perhaps there is
" no country in the world, where greater attention
** is paid to them than in this.

" The immediate charge of the poor is committed
" to the Confiftory, compofcd of the elders and dea-
" cons of the church, who are generally of the
" moft refpefiablc and iutelligeut clafs of citizens.
** They are at particular pains to enquire into the
" characters, the circumftances, and the real ftate
" of all the poor within their diftrids. They have
'^hofpitals, like our charity work-houfes, for the



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** poon They have alfo Prweniers^ dieap lodging
«' and boarding houfes/*

Public taxes, and the rate of wages, are faid to
be higher in Holland, than even in Great-Britain.
Money for the poor is chiefly raifed by collections ia
the churches, where every fermon contains an appeal
to the charity of the congregation. " The elo*
" qucnce of the preacher, it is laid, contributes much
*• to the amount of the colleftion ; but the fobriety
^* and regularity of the people may be confidered
^* as a more certain caufe of its abundance. Therr
** are fome fmall taxes impofed, for the benefit of
** the poor,— on public diverfions, on markets, on
** marriages, and on private baptifms. In garrifon
^' towns, the Sovereign allows a tax for the poor
" to be collefted from every pcrfon going out or
^' coming in at the gate during divine ferrice, and
** at certain other fixed hours. In fome places,
*• orphans are hired from hofpitals to attend fune-
^' rals ; thus the pomp becomes a charitable fund.
** The expenfe of the hofpiials is in general defrayed
" by the intercft of a capital ftock,* which the
" overfcers have accumulated from legacies, inherit-
** ances of thofe who die in the houfe, donations,
*' favJDgs, and, chiefly, profits of the work done io
« the houfe/'

** Bcfides the ftated and weekly colle^ions, there
** are more general contributions made by the
" Confiftory ; who go about, particularly four times
" in the year, when the holy facramenc is admi-
" niftered, and folicit every family from whom alms
^* may be expcfted.'*

From a review of the Dutch poor laws and regu-
lations, (Dr. M. juflly obferves,) " it does not appear
" that they are materially diflferent from our own.
i^ The admired method of their providing for their



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[ 87 ]

"** poor feenw to arife rather from the ftrift execution
*^ of the law, and the fidelity of the adminiftrators,
^* than from any peculiar excellency of the laws them-
•* feives. Were ^re equally attentive in maintaining
** a ftrift police, and in a frugal and judicious diftri-
** bution of the poor's money, there is reafon to
•' think that the poor might be better provided for,
*^ and more eafily maintained, in England than in
*« Holland."

The ftate of mendicity in one remarkable town
k detailed with an intcrefting minutencfs, which
demands the peculiar attention of thofe who feel
anxiety for the improvement of the general condition
of the poor. I refer to Count Rumford'sHiJiory
fftAe Public Eftah^lift)fneni for ihe Poor at Munich
in Bavaria. ** L^ws (fays he, c. i.) were not
*^ wanting to oblige each community in the country
** to provide for its own poor ; but thefe laws had
** been fo long neglefled, and beggary had become
** fo general, that extraordinary meafures, and the
•' moft indefatigable exertions, were neceffary to put
*♦ a fl:q> to this evil. The number of itinerant beg-
** gars of both fcxes, and all ages, as well foreigners
** as natives, who ftrollcd about the country in all
^* directions, levying contributions from the indus-
** trious inhabitants, Itealing and robbing, and
** leading a life of indolence and the mod fliamclefs
*' debauchery, was quite incredible ; and fo nume-
** rous were the fwarms of beggars in all the great
*' towns, and particularly in the capital, fo great
*' their impudence, and fo perfcvering their impor-
** tunity, that it was almoft' irapolTible to crofs the
" flrects without being attacked, and abfolutely
" forced to fatisfy their clamorous demands. And
" thefe beggars were in general by no means fuch
•* as, from «^ge or bodily infirmities, were unable by



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[ 88 ]

** their labour to earn their livelihood i but they
** were, for the moft part, ftout, ftrong, healthy,
*' fturdy beggars; who, loft to every fenfe of fhame,
" had embraced the profeffion from choice, not ne-
" cefEty ; and who not unfrequently added infolence
'' and threats to their importunity, and extorted that
•* from fear, which they could not procure by their
" arts of diffimulation." They filled the public
walks and the churches, difturbing all ads of devo-
tion; and rufhed into private houfes, of which the
ftreet-dpors were for a moment. left unguarded.
They continually expofed their children in the ftreets,
that their unafFeded cries might attraft pity. P.
19. "A beggar who goes about from houfe to houfe
'^ to afk for alms, has many opportunities to fteal.
** No wonder that thieving and robbing fliould be
^* prevalent, where beggars are numerous. That
** this was the cafe in Bavaria will not be doubted
" by thofe who are informed, that in the four years
"immediately fuccceding the introduftion of the
" mcafures adopted for putting an end to mendicity,
" and clearing the country of beggars, thieves, rob-
'* bers, &c. above ten thoufand of thefe vagabonds,
" foreigners and natives, were aftually arretted, (with
" the aid of four regiments of cavalry,) and delivered
** over to the civil magiftrates; and that in taking
** up the beggars in Munich, and providing for thofe
^^ who ftoodin need of public affiflance, no lefs than
"2600 were entered upon the lifts in one week;
" though the uhole number of the inhabitants of
" the city of Munich, probably, does not amount to
** more than 60,000, even including the fuburbs.'*
The funds for a very extenfive tftabliflimcnt to
provide work for the able-bodied and unemployed,
and various aid for the infirm poor, were " derived


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Online LibraryJohn Shute DuncanCollections relative to systematic relief of the poor at different periods, and in different countries : with observations on charity, its proper objects and conduct and its influence on the welfare of nations → online text (page 7 of 16)