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horrors of a workhouse with the thought of a pauper's funeral at the end; and I do affirm that there is no subject the working classes of the country think so keenly about as what is to become of them in old age, and there is no reform moré urgently required, or which would meet with the unanimous enthusiasm of the people more, than an alteration of the Poor Law with regard to the treatment of the aged poor.
Almost the only suggestions at present are various forms of Old Age Pensions, so that when a person reaches the age of 60 or 65 he or she shall be entitled to 58. per week or some larger sum. In all the proposals it is admitted that the pension must be conditional : that the person shall, through a long period of life, have contributed regularly towards securing the pension, and to this contribution Parliament shall add a certain amount. It is no doubt desirable that an annuity shall be obtainable by every industrious man or woman who is able to fulfil these conditions.
Sir Francis Burdett, in his scheme published in the Times last year, states that to obtain 78. per week at 65 a person must contribute 21. a year for 45 years, and he seemed to think that even the poorest, if thrifty, would do this. I trust he is right, and certainly the State should help all such; but the difficulty appears to be whether it will ever be possible to impress upon our young men and women the necessity of their beginning to provide for their old age. A few, no doubt, will do so, but the great majority would think old age so remote, the chances of life so uncertain, that they would prefer trusting to Providence or to chance, and spend their earnings in other ways.
Again, the few who began to contribute might, in middle age, under the stress of ill health, possibly to wife or family, lasting for weeks or years, find it absolutely impossible to spare the 9d. a week out of their wages or savings; or even through no fault of their own might be compelled to obtain some assistance from the rates, and thus would lose their claim to a pension. In any case, the pension system could not come into practical form until the expiration of forty years, unless the contributions were higher; but the need of reform is urgent, and it seems very doubtful whether a system of insuring an annuity could really in a generation touch the thrifty working classes, unless based on a socialistic doctrine that the State, irrespective of contributions, shall confer a living wage upon all incapacitated ranks of whatever age.
The reform in the Poor Law which I have ventured to submit to the House of Commons in a bill last session, and again this session, is to provide Cottage Homes for the aged deserving poor. The scheme is, broadly, that every Parish Council, with a sufficient population, may be permitted to provide a cottage within its area for the use of its aged deserving poor ; that the Parish Council shall itself
determine whether an applicant has lived such an industrious, deserving life as to entitle him or her to the privilege of this cottage. The cottage or home shall be of the same description as the ordinary labourers' houses in the parish; no cottage shall contain more than ten or less than three inmates; a respectable woman or couple shall be appointed to keep house and look after the old people. The expenses of maintaining the cottages will probably be about 161. or 201. for each inmate. This I propose to raise as to by the Parish Council, } by the County Council, and by a Parliamentary Grant, and to give the County Council powers of inspection, so as to insure that the homes are suitable and the inmates properly treated. In country parishes it would be necessary to group a sufficient number to form a population of 1,500 or 2,000, which would be done under the authority of the County Council ; in large towns and boroughs the Town Councils would be the authority in place of the Parish Council, and in the case of County Boroughs they would have the sole control.
If this proposal were adopted, the deserving poor would be able to look forward to old age without fear; they would feel a home would be provided for them among their own neighbours and in the district they had passed their lives in ; and in the larger towns a classification would be introduced impossible under the Poor Law, giving a distinct reward for an industrious, deserving life. The plan would not interfere with the ordinary working of the Poor Law; it would only remove a certain class outside its powers—a class which of all others is worthy of the sympathy of their fellow men—and it would not interfere with a scheme of Old Age Pensions.
Children are boarded out, to a great extent, and will be entirely removed from the workhouses when the best system of dealing with
is determined. Imbeciles should also be removed from the workhouses into suitable Asylums; unfortunate women and the sick should be tended in Cottage Hospitals at the expense of the rates. Tramps should be transferred to the care of the Police, and the Police rate; then many of the country workhouses could be abolished, and the “undeserving’idle poor could be centralised under suitable discipline, and a real much-needed reform carried out.
To all proposals for assisting the aged poor the objection will be raised that the inducements for thrift will be lessened: I beliere the Cottage Home Scheme will do this less than any offer of Old Age Pensions. The Parish Councils will soon learn to discriminate between the deserving and undeserving, as they will not wish their own friends and relations to consort with the idler and drunkard; the cottage will be a 'home' independent of the Poor Law Authority, and will take the place of the Alms Houses which are such a boon in many places.
JoΗΝ ΗΤΤΟΥ. .
A SURREY GARDEN
ALThough the authoress of Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden begins with an announcement that she is not going to write a gardening book nor a cookery book, she has done much to enlarge our enjoyment of things pleasant to the eye and good for food. Not only from a patient study of horticultural literature, but from the success of practical experience, Mrs. Earle excites our admiration of the beautiful and instructs our appreciation of the useful, in happy illustration of the Horatian rule :
Omne tulit punctum, qui miscuit utile dulci.
The combination is made more precious by reason of its rarity. The language of the amateur florist is too often of the flowers flowery to exuberance; it is prone, as we gardeners express it, to run to leaf.' There is too much discursive and sentimental rhapsody, but the information is as scarce as plums upon a tree when the blossoms have been frozen in May, or as particles of pineapple in a penny ice. We are transported to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, to the Gardens of the Hesperides and Alcinous, although, like Betsy Prig with reference to Mrs. Harris, we don't believe there's no sich person.' Amid the roses of Persia we
Wax faint with the odour of Gul in her bloom,
and should die in aromatic pain were we not hurried away to be introduced to Anacreon and Sappho and Mrs. Hemans, and the poets of all times and climes.
The arrangement of this book is excellent. It demonstrates a fact wbich has not received the grateful recognition it deserves—the continuous succession of beautiful flowers in our gardens throughout the year, reminding us of Tennyson's charming verse:
The daughters of the year,
· Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, by Mrs. C. W. Earle, London (Smith, Elder, & Co.), 1897.
Though our conversation is so much occupied by indecorous discourse upon our beastly climate,' our samples of weather,' and we verify the sarcasm of the loquacious Frenchman, our lively neighbour the Gaul,' that were it not for our atmospheric mutations we should have nothing to say to each other; yet in no other country is it possible to maintain such a sequence of flowers as by intelligent culture in our own. In sunnier lands you may have at certain seasons a more extensive and gorgeous display, but when this shall fade the extremes of heat and cold will prevent those new accessions of colours, fragrance, and form which we enjoy, where, as Dryden wrote:
Betwixt th' extremes, two happier climates hold
The pageant at the Jubilee of our beloved Queen was magnifical exceedingly, but what shall we say of a procession which occupies the year in passing, from the advanced guard of the aconite to the rearguard of the Christmas rose ! The first aconite! Does any flower in summer give the same pleasure ?' It is indeed the announcement of all the coming glory, like the bright solitary star which glitters just before
the floor of heaven
It needs no cultivation, flourishing in waste places under trees, unlike the Christmas rose, which should have generous treatment when the leaves and buds are developing, and hand-glasses to protect it from heavy rain and snow.
A small span of wall should be devoted, when it is possible, to a plant of Chimonanthus fragrans, which produces its fragrant flowers in January, and also to the yellow jasmine, which 'cheers th' ungenial day' with its abundance of golden bloom.
In January, flowers being few, Mrs. Earle gives us easy instructions how to brighten our homes and solace our hearts in the winter of our discontent' with the silvery seed-vessels of honesty,' with the
tints of the everlastings' (Helichrysum), with gourds, with pots of ivy trained on the canes of the bamboo, with aspidistras, with Ficus elastica, whose monarchy, enthroned on every London staircase, there has been none for generations to dispute, and with such flowers grown under glass as may be available-violets, Roman hyacinths, tulips, narcissus, &c. Moreover, and that the nose of the florist may also have its consolations, on the backs of our armchairs thin Liberty silk oblong bags, like miniature saddle-bags, filled with dried lavender, sweet verbena, and sweet geranium leaves. This mixture is much more fragrant than the lavender alone. The visitor who leans back upon his chair wonders from where the sweet scent comes,' like the mariners who discovered Araby the Blessed, when the breeze bore
its perfumes over the sea, before they saw the shore. . An infinite variety of palms and other trees may be purchased from the nurseryman for the decoration of the drawing-room during the winter months. One of the best is Araucaria excelsa, but it soon becomes too large.
The only information which we have from the Surrey Garden concerning February flowers, this is essentially the month of forced bulbs,' evokes a protest from those of us who share Keble's admiration of the snowdrop
Thou first born of the year's delight,
Pride of the dewy glade,
Thy vestal robes array'd;
from those of us who have loved the crocus from our childhood; from some of us especially who can remember it, acres of it, growing in the meadows by Nottingham Town, fields of the Cloth of Gold; from those who stoop to gaze upon a group of Iris reticulata with a fondness which is almost maternal.
Nevertheless it will be shown hereafter that this February chapter contains much information of interest and utility. In March we welcome the first development of our beautiful flowering shrubs. The fragrant mezereon, the glowing Pyrus japonica, best on a wall, but admirable as a bush, in close conjunction with its sister in white, and the lovely Prunus Pisardi with its star-like blossoms and its ruddy leaves. The Ribes and Forsythia begin to bloom, and will soon be followed by an infinite variety of colour, scent, and form—the laburnum brightest, the lilac sweetest of them all. Of comparative novelties none more charming than Malus Pyrus floribundus.
But the glory of March is the narcissus, and no flower in these later years has so largely and deservedly extended its dominions. Always a favourite, the daffydowndilly of our childhood, it has been so improved in quality by the enterprise of the explorer and the skill of the florist, and is so readily multiplied by its own generous fecundity, that it is now grown by thousands where formerly by units. It is quite hardy, and will thrive anywhere except in cold wet clay. It has manifold diversities of size and form, from the tiny cups, hoops, and bells of the miniature narcissus which flower just above the ground in February, to the grand chalices of Emperor and Sir Watkin ; and infinite gradations of colour, from pure white to rich golden yellow. It is cheap, because it increases so rapidly that if you take up a bulb after two or three years' healthy growth, you will find a dozen eggs under the parental hen. It adapts itself to all positions : charming in beds of its own, in groups on the herbaceous border, but most attractive on lawns and banks of grass, because there it looks as to the manner born, and the Art is Nature.'
In April and May, when the tulip, resplendent as Harlequin in