Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

figure, it is suggested, would be 3s. 6d. per head of population. Expenditure above this limit is termed excess expenditure.' It is then proposed to take a small standard rate in the pound (4d. is the sum suggested) which, worked out on the rateable value of different unions, will give results varying according to the relative wealth of each. This sum should then be deducted from the standard of expenditure arrived at as above, and a primary grant from the State should be given to cover this difference. A secondary grant should then be given in respect of the excess expenditure to the extent, it is suggested, of one third. An instance will show the operation of the grant more clearly.

3,877

The population of Helston Union is 22,157, and 3s. 6d.
per head gives as a

Standard expenditure
The assessed value is 64,3921., and a rate of 4d. thereon
gives a

Standard rate of

1,073

The primary grant, therefore, will be

£2,804

The actual expenditure of the guardians in 1898-99
amounted to
Deduct from this the standard erpenditure
This gives the excess expenditure

0,155
3,877

£2,278

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

An elaborate table is given on p. 78, showing how the scheme would work out in different unions. The proportion of expenditure met by grants is highest where the assessed value per head of population is lowest. In a poor union (e.g. where the assessed value is 31. per inhabitant), when the expenditure per inhabitant is at the moderate rate of 4s., a grant of 2s. 8d., or 66.7 per cent., would be given, and a rate of 5.3d. would be needed to pay the balance. As expenditure rises, the proportion, but not the amount, paid by grant would fall, while the rate per pound would rise, till in a poor union, when the

expenditure is 118. per inhabitant, the grant would be 58. per inhabitant, or 45.5 per cent., leaving the balance to be raised by a 2s. rate.

In a rich union (e.g. where the assessed value is 91. per inhabitant), when the expenditure per inhabitant is at the moderate rate of 4s., a grant of 8d., or 16.7 per cent., would be given, and a rate of 4•4d. would be needed to pay the balance. When the expenditure in such a union has risen to 11s. per inhabitant, 3s., or 27:3 per cent., would be received from the grant, and a rate of 10.7d. would be required to raise the balance.

The proposal has an appearance of equity. The richer unions do not, of course, lose the advantage of their high assessment, and their rate per pound will always be low; but the proportion of the grant which they receive will always be less than that received by the poorer unions. At present, and under the scheme recommended by the majority, as has been pointed out, a policy extravagant in itself (e.g. the classification of the senile as lunatics), and also a policy not in accordance with the most enlightened opinion of the day (e.g. the unnecessary continuance of poor-law schools and teachers), gives, and will give, a financial advantage to the local ratepayer. This is not as it should be; and it is one of the merits of Lord Balfour's scheme that this sinister influence would cease.

The danger of course remains--and it is inseparable from any scheme of grants-in-aid-that with a decrease of his burdens the vigilance of the local ratepayer is apt to be relaxed. The only limit to the expenditure of a certain class of local administrator is his fear of the revolt of the ratepayer. If the ratepayer's burdens and fears are diminished, the probability is that expenditure will leap forward with a bound. Lord Balfour indeed proposes, as we understand it, that the proposed .block' grants shall still be under the control of the Local Government Board, and that they shall only be payable if the Board is satisfied that the public services are being properly performed. It is characteristic, however, of the times that the malfeasance principally in the mind of the authors of the scheme is the inclination of the local authorities to spend too little. At the present time the influence of the Local Government Board is strongly exercised in favour of very

elaborate, not to say sumptuous, buildings and appliances. The consequence is that every year the burden of paying for the medical treatment of the poorer classes is thrown more and more on the public authority. The same complaint which we hear made against the voluntary hospitals (viz. that gratuitous treatment is given to many who could afford, and ought to pay) is made against the poor-law infirmaries. It is not suggested that the class here treated are in a position to pay high medical fees; but the gratuity of the present system, which every year is made more attractive, is a bar to the development of provident medical insurance, which, though popular in a limited way with the working class, is yet prevented from spreading and playing its legitimate part in solving a very difficult question.

We cannot say that, from a theoretical point of view, we like the system of grants-in-aid; we should prefer to see equalisation brought about by adopting a large, perhaps a very large, area of administration; and more than all, we should like to see administration placed in the hands of persons whose action would be inspired, not by local prejudice and indifference, but by the most statesmanlike and scientific views of the time. At present we fear that our poor-law expenditure is governed by the pressure of a policy of drift. Neither the local constituencies nor the Local Government Board appear to hold any brief to watch the higher interests of the independence of the poor. The Local Government Board, after a long and honourable record, has of late years succumbed to popular prejudice; and, until outside pressure, inevitable under the present licence of administration, is relaxed, even the Local Government Board will find it difficult to assume a statesmanlike attitude. Lord Balfour's scheme seems to us an immense advance on present methods; it is, however, open to this objection, that it creates no really efficient check on extravagant expenditure, which, in poorlaw matters, may also be purely mischievous expenditure. This was, of course, beyond the reference to the Commission; but we hope that, when the Government comes to consider its proposals, this aspect of the question will not be overlooked.

(29)

Art. II.-FÉNELON AND HIS CRITICS. 1. François de Fénelon. By Viscount St Cyres, late

student of Christ Church. London: Methuen, 1901. 2. Fénelon, his Friends and Enemies. By E. K. Sanders.

London : Longmans, 1901. 3. Fénelon et Bossuet. Par L. Crouslé, Professeur à la

Faculté des Lettres. Two vols. Paris: Champion, 1894. 4. Histoire de Fénelon. Par le Cardinal de Bausset.

Paris, 1850.
And other works.

So familiar to us is Fénelon already, his reputation is so universally established,' says Cardinal de Bausset at the beginning of his long task, that it may seem superfluous, and perhaps impossible, to make him better known. His memory is no less dear to strangers than to France. His most commendable works have been rendered into all languages. They are among the few that, by general consent, fascinate childhood, shed light on riper years, and spread a charm over the decline of life.' These praises furnish the text of a panegyric in four volumes, which Lord Peterborough, the wild · Mordanto,' writing from Cambrai to Locke, has anticipated in a sentence. On my word, I must quit this place as soon as possible, for if I stay here another week, I shall be a Christian in spite of myself. By the side of such a witness, even Joseph de Maistre can hardly exaggerate. •Do we wish,' exclaims the latter, 'to paint ideal greatness ? Let us try to imagine something which surpasses Fénelonwe shall not succeed.' Last of all, Mr John Morley—not without a glance at his masters, the philosophers of the eighteenth century-has written: “When we turn to modern literature from Fénelon's pages, who does not feel that the world has lost a sacred accent, as if some ineffable essence had passed out from our hcarts? '

Charm is the quality which we associate with this delightful name. It lingers about Fénelon's writings, though we have ceased to read them, but still more about the man, who is a saint in the eyes of multitudes not attracted by official sanctity; who is thought to have preached toleration while minister of a crusade against the Huguenots; who was certainly a lover of his kind

during the fierce and bloody war of the Spanish Succession; and an apostle of liberty that dared to withstand Louis XIV. Fénelon speaks, it is said, with the accents of a Hebrew prophet; he is a man of modern taste and tone when French literature was apeing the Latins with Corneille, or had tricked out the Greeks in feeble elegance with Racine; and, to crown all, he is a martyr, spending half a life in disgrace, thanks to the machinations of the Court faction, which dreaded his incorruptible goodness. Such is the Fénelon of our dreams. What was the reality ?

This question, at all times a disputable one, has lately been stirred among French critics with immense fervour, with an erudition that has searched into old documents and new under concentrated lights, and with a tenacity of opposed convictions which leaves the reader as bewildered as that good man in the Latin comedy. Incertior sum multo quam dudum,' he will probably exclaim, when he has finished studying the works recited in our opening list, and the many that might be added. Fénelon, like Cardinal Newman, belongs to the world's debate. Materials, in both instances, are not lacking on which to form a judgment; friends and enemies appear in the witness-box to tell us all they know; but when we have done our best in the way of elucidating these complex and versatile personalities, we doubt whether something has not escaped us; they seem too fluent to be fixed, too abundant in their very outpourings for simplicity, reserved in the flush of self-portraiture. They are most attachable, yet always stand aloof from the disciples to whom they yield themselves most readily. With explanations of their acts or their meaning they never have done. But we are never tired of hearing about them; and one more attempt to sketch the character of Fénelon, after the latest authorities, may be suffered, if only we do not pretend to have solved the problem which has baffled so many acute historians.

Pathos and polemics will always attend on Fénelon's appearance in theology or letters. He would not be discussed so warmly at this moment in France had not M. Brunetière set himself to champion the great name of Bossuet-greater, as he contends, than the greatest ; above Molière, Pascal, Victor Hugo. Bossuet and Fénelon

« AnteriorContinuar »