Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

car. But their

piracy for ever.

race was run, and the day had gone down on organized As the Rev. Charles Kingsley puts it-

But Scripture saith an ending to all fine things must be,

So the king's ships sailed on Aves, and quite put down were we;

All day we fought like tigers, but they burst the booms at night,

And I fled in a piragua, sore wounded from the fight.

But as I lay a-gasping a Bristol sail came by,

And brought me home to England, to beg until I die."

And thus dwindled out and expired a confederation that only needed a common principle of union to have founded a state to have taken rank amongst the great powers of the earth: one great mind, and the New Southern World might have been their own. But from the first there were the non-fusing elements of different race and creed, and their line was never renewed by themselves; yet the Brethren of the Coast, without fixed rules or any determinate object-without a real thirst for fame instigated solely by the attraction of momentary enjoyment-formed such a corporation that the annals of mankind do not offer a second like it— displayed that energy and those mental and corporeal powers by means of which great undertakings are carried into execution-and by their singular achievements have deserved, if not the admiration, at least the astonishment of posterity.

THE BRIGHT BLUE SKY.

BY CHARLES MACKAY.

THOUGH Love may fade with early prime,
As the cowslips fade on the fallow lea,
Yet Friendship cheers the face of time,
As the sunshine gilds the apple tree;
The morning's pain may be evening's gain,
And sometimes 'mid the flowers we fall;

And the sun for thee is the light to me,
And the Bright Blue Sky bends over all.

'Tis true that youthful hopes deceive,

But ever the flowers return with Spring;
The tenderest love has cause to grieve,

But still when the young birds pair they sing.
The west winds play with the leaves of May,
And the peach hangs ripe on the garden wall;
And the blossoms grow and the fountains flow,
And the Bright Blue Sky bends over all.

The Reason lives when Fancy dies,

For the season's blessings never fail ;
And Winter has often brighter skies

Than April with her sleet and hail.

Our joys and our cares are wheat and tares,

And our griefs, when ripe, like the fruit must fall;

And come what will, 'tis justice still,

For the Bright Blue Sky bends over all.

MR. TIDD PRATT ON FRIENDLY SOCIETIES.*

THE substantial advantages the members of Friendly Societies derive in the form of allowances during sickness, and in other natural misfortunes, are greatly enhanced in value, by the consciousness, that such advantages are the fruits, not of benevolence or of the charity of others, but of the members' own frugality and prudence. This feeling must be consoling in the highest degree, and must tend very much to soothe the mind in the severest afflictions, when, of all times, tranquillity is most desirable, and even necessary. Indeed, few things can be conceived more gratifying, than the enjoyment of benefits which we feel conscious results from our own exertions, raising us in our own estimation, making us feel that we are of some value in society; that we contribute to its welfare by our labour, without being burdens upon it in our misfortunes. One of the most obvious and immediate advantages that would result to the nation at large from the extensive establishment of Friendly Societies, founded on accurate calculations and sound principles, would be a sensible diminution in the poor's rates. As to the origin of self-helping societies, we learn from Theophrastus, who flourished B.C. 288, that associations of this nature were instituted by the Athenians, certain of whom had a common chest, into which monthly contributions were paid, and a fund raised for affording relief to any of the members in adverse fortune. Among the Romans, Burial Clubs were instituted, to which the payment was about 15s. entrance money, and about 2d. per month subscription, for which the sum of £2 5s. was allotted at death for funeral expenses. In Great Britain the origin of Friendly Societies may be traced to the Saxon Guilds, prior to the conquest; but the first record in England of Friendly Societies under that appellation, is not to be found till the beginning of the last century.

LEGISLATION AFFECTING FRIENDLY SOCIETIES.

In 1772, Mr. Cursitor-Baron Mazeres brought forward a plan, which passed the Commons, but which was rejected by the Lords, for establishing life annuities in parishes for the benefit of the industrious poor, to be charged upon the parochial assessments. In the following year, a bill to enable parishes to grant annuities for life to poor persons was brought into the Commons. This was the first instance of the attention of the legisla ture being called to the wisdom of protecting and encouraging these societies. The bill passed the Commons and not the Lords. In 1786, the Rev. John Ackland brought forward a plan for compulsory contributions for benefits, but this plan never came before parliament. The first Friendly Societies' Act was passed in 1793. Since that time several alterations have been made, and the whole was repealed by Act 18 and 19 Vict., c. 63, on July 23rd, 1855-the Act now in force.

* The substance of a Lecture delivered in Brighton, on the 10th of May, by the Registrar of Friendly Societies in England. The arrangements for the lecture were made by the Brighton and Sussex Mutual Provident Society, but the attendance of meinbers of all Friendly Societies was invited. His Worship the Mayor occupied the chair, and the room was well filled. This paper has been reduced from a Report in the Brighton Gazette, and has since been revised by the Lecturer. It will be seen that Mr. Tidd Pratt in some measure meets the objections urged in Mr. Hardwick's article in this Number, especially referring, towards the close of his discourse, to the mischievous clause introduced last session into the Friendly Societies" Act.-ED.

THE OBJECTS AND BENEFITS OF SUCH SOCIETIES.

A number of individuals forming themselves into a society, and subscribing each a small sum, are able to secure a comfortable provision for themselves in the event of their becoming unfit for labour, which any single individual, however parsimonious and industrious, might be prevented from doing by the occurrence of any accident or an obstinate fit of sickness, throwing him out of employment and consuming his savings. There is much of importance for the founders of such societies to consider. To meet the claims from year to year is not sufficient, because increased sickness accompanies increased age; and a season of cholera, or of an unusual amount of sickness, may occur at any time; but an annual surplus should remain, especially during the first ten or fifteen years of the society's existence, to enable the fund to meet the demands for sick pay, which would certainly increase, even under the most favourable circumstances, as the members become older. A Friendly Society, during the first ten years of its existence, would probably not have more than one-half the amount of sickness claims which it would have during the next ten years. The greater the number of members in a Friendly Society, the greater would be the probability that the sickness per member would amount to the average quantity upon which the tables have been constructed; or, in other words, the larger the amount of experience, the more correct will be the average. The regulations, sometimes introduced, of limiting the number of members in a Friendly Society must therefore have an injurious effect upon the society's operations. The allowance in sickness, I submit, should not extend through life, but cease at the age of sixty, when the contributions and payments should cease. A government annuity should be subscribed for, commencing at the age at which the sickness allowances cease. Graduated tables of payments according to age are indispensable to the well-being of any society. The general law relating to sickness being, that it increases in amount with age, any body of men forming and carrying on a Friendly Society with insufficient rates of payment, or by sharing, dividing, lowering the contributions, or by any other means disposing of, as a surplus, that money which might be no surplus at all when the liabilities of the society are considered, are deceiving themselves; and this will become too painfully apparent when the members, by reason of old age or infirmity, will be least able to bear the consequences of such mismanagement; or, still worse, the widows and orphans may have cause to repent the shortsighted policy of receiving contributions insufficient to secure the promised benefits, or of sharing the money which should have buried the deceased member, and helped to support those left without a protector. Therefore it is advisable in no case to divide any portion of the funds as a bonus among the members, or to lower the contributious, &c., except under the advice of an experienced actuary. If possible, it is desirable in founding a society to limit the members to one or other class of occupation. Where this is not practicable, it is essential to take the tables of rates framed from experience of the class employed in heavy labour, because those scales, being adapted to the greater risks, always comprehend the lesser.

MEDICAL ATTENDANCE.

In all societies of this nature an arrangement should be entered into with a regular medical practitioner to attend the members in cases of sickness or accident. The charge for this attendance varies from about 2s. 6d. to 5s. per annum for each adult. This arrangement, with a rule that a member should not belong, for the same benefit, to more than one Friendly Society

at the same time, and also that the allowance in sickness should not exceed two-thirds of a member's wages when at work, would greatly tend to prevent imposition.

RELIEF IN SICKNESS AND old age.

A

I consider it advisable that full pay in sickness should not be allowed for more than six consecutive months, after which half. and then quarter pay, might be allowed. The weight of exceptional descriptions of claims, such as chronic infirmity, demanding little or no medical attention, often breaks the back of a society. The tables to which I have alluded are merely applicable to sickness in the strictest sense of the term. Another point must be fully understood that these scales of contribution contain no margin of surplus whatever applicable to expenses of management, or remuneration for medical advice. These items of expenditure should always be met by extra contributions, levied or obtained for the purpose wholesome control is exercised over any tendency to profusion where there is a specific levy for that particular purpose; confusion is avoided, and therefore any inadvertent inroad on the funds prevented. Many societies have entered into engagements to support members in old age, and few have been enabled to do so. This has arisen principally from paying too small a contribution, or from the money not having been applied with requisite care and prudence to produce a proper rate of interest. There is, however, a plan by which these payments may be secured, superior to all others, in consequence of its undoubted security; viz., by purchasing Government Annuities for such members as may desire to make a proví sion against old age. In the case of these annuities, the security for the money paid and for the performance of the contract is of such an unexceptionable character, that no objection can be urged against it, as the annuities are charged upon the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom; or, in other words, the Government is pledged and bound that the money shall be paid to the person entitled to the annuity when it becomes due. With respect to payments at death, care should be taken to work from correct tables, the payments regulated according to age, and the investments kept distinct from payments for other benefits. The most desirable mode is for a society to act as the agent of some reputable Life Office, paying over the money thereto, and delivering to each member the policy of the office as his security.

PLACES OF MEETING.

It is justly stated that a great foe to economy in conducting the affairs of these societies, is the holding the periodical meetings at public-houses. The positive waste of money arising from this very frequent, but objectionable, practice, is greater than, without examination, will be believed. More than two millions of persons in England and Wales are now members of Friendly Societies, and in most of the old societies each person does not, on an average, spend less than five or six shillings per annum, including the monthly meetings and the yearly feasts. The annual expenditure for what is, in many cases, a worse than useless purpose, will therefore not fall short of a very large annual sum. As well as the pecuniary advantage to be gained by the discontinuance of this system, much moral good would be effected, the formation of habits of intemperance being frequently laid by men who, with the best original intentions, became members of such societies. If other buildings cannot be obtained, the landlord should be paid for the room, no refreshment allowed to be supplied during business, and every discouragement given to members staying at the house for the purpose of drinking. There does not appear to me to be any necessity for meetings being held so frequently as once a month. If they were to meet quarterly, or even half-yearly, abundant

opportunity would be afforded for the members to become acquainted with the state and management of their respective societies. The ordinary affairs of the society could be safely confided from meeting to meeting in the hands of a eommittee. A similar practice prevails in most of the London Insurance Offices, however extensive their transactions may be, general meetings of the members of these large bodies rarely taking place oftener than once a year. The practice is not found to produce any inconvenience whatever. At the same time I advocate the payments being made monthly, the stewards, clerks, or other officers, being empowered to receive them. Annual feasts, or anniversary meetings, I hold to be desirable, provided no portion of the funds are applied towards the expenses, and the attendance of members and friends is voluntary.

INVESTMENT of funds.

The funds of Friendly Societies must be invested in accordance with the Act of Parliament, and any other investment is not only illegal, but any trustee or other officer who should invest any part of the funds on other security than that provided by the Act, is personally liable to repay the money, and may be proceeded against before justices.

NUMBER OF FRIENDLY SOCIETIES IN ENGLAND AND WALES.

The number of societies enrolled and certified since 1793 is about 26,000, of which nearly 7,000 have ceased to exist. The number now in existence is nearly 20,000, and the number of members 2,500,000. The Manchester Unity had, on 1st January last, 287,573 members, the income during the last year for sick and funeral relief was £211,685, the total payments in sickness was £141,234, and funeral donations £45,778. The Ancient Order of Foresters had, on the same date, 148,562 financial and 2,016 honorary members; contributed about £70,000 per annum for siek pay, and £25,000 for funeral donations.

ESTABLISHMENT ON SOUND PRINCIPLES.

A society to be established on sound principles should provide for medical attendance; the establishment of a sick fund, to which no member should be admitted under 16 or over 40 years of age, and the sick allowance to cease at 60. The sum to be paid for this allowance by a person aged between 16 and 23 (for example) would be 1s. per month for 10s. per week when sick. Full pay for six months, half for six months, and a quarter during the remainder of sickness. The sick pay should not amount to more than two-thirds of the man's earnings in health.

Old age should be provided for by Government Annuities being purchased under 16 and 17 Vict., c. 45; and a system of endowments added to this would be found, with insurance at death, to combine all that is necessary to constitute a good society.

CAUSES OF FAILURE.

Insufficiency of contributions to meet the payments, particularly those relating to superannuation or old age pay, is a frequent source of failure in societies of this nature. But other causes sometimes contribute; such as the contributions not being regulated according to age; the granting of sick pay until death, or to a period when infirmity became sickness; the allowing sick pay in cases of insanity or chronic ailments; the non-division of funds according to the peculiar benefits; and the misappropriation of funds. With respect to the latter cause of failure in benefit societies, I have frequently found their funds, instead of being invested pursuant to Act of Parliament, deposited at interest with the officers or members, or in the hands of bankers, brewers, and publicans; in loan societies, and in benefit building societies, and in many instances the parties holding becoming insolvent. I am not aware of any male Friendly Society, formed for

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »