Essays upon several projects: or, effectual ways for advancing the interest of the nation.:
Defoe, Daniel, 1661?-1731.

The Proposal is for A PENSION-OFFICE.

THAT an Office be erected in some convenient place, where shall be a Secretary, a Clerk, and a Searcher, always attending.

That all Sorts of People, who are Labouring People, and of Honest Re|pute, of what Calling or Condition soever, Men or Women, Beggars and Soldiers excepted, who being sound of their Limbs, and under Fifty Years of Age, shall come to the said Office, and enter their Names, Trades, and Places of Abode, into a Register to be kept for that purpose, and shall Page  147 pay down at the time of the said En|tring, the Sum of Sixpence, and from thence One Shilling per Quarter; shall every one have an Assurance under the Seal of the said Office, for these following Conditions.

  • (1.) Every such Subscriber, if by any Casualty (Drunkenness and Quar|rels excepted) they break their Limbs, dislocate Joints, or are dangerously Maim'd or Bruis'd, able Surgeons appointed for that purpose shall take them into their care, and endeavour their Cure Gratis.
  • (2.) If they are at any time dange|rously Sick, on notice given to the said Office, able Physicians shall be ap|pointed to Visit them, and give their Prescriptions Gratis.
  • (3.) If by Sickness or Accident, as aforesaid, they lose their Limbs or Eyes, so as to be visibly disabled to Page  148 Work, and are otherwise Poor and unable to provide for themselves, they shall either be Cur'd at the Charge of the Office, or be allow'd a Pension for Subsistence during Life.
  • (4.) If they become Lame, Aged, Bedrid, or by real Infirmity of Bo|dy (the Pox excepted) are unable to Work, and otherwise uncapable to pro|vide for themselves, on proof made that it is really and honestly so, they shall be taken into a Colledge or Hospital provided for that purpose, and be decently maintain'd during life.
  • (5.) If they are Seamen, and die abroad on board the Merchants Ships they were employ'd in, or are cast away and drown'd, or taken and die in slavery, their Widows shall receive a Pension during their Widowhood.
  • (6.) If they were Tradesmen, and paid the Parish Rates, if by decay and failure of Trade they Break and Page  149 are put in Prison for Debt, they shall receive a Pension for Subsistence during close Imprisonment.
  • (7.) If by Sickness or Accidents they are reduc'd to extremities of Po|verty for a season, on a true repre|sentation to the Office, they shall be Reliev'd as the Governors shall see cause.

It is to be Noted, That in the 4th. Ar|ticle such as by Sickness and Age are disabled from Work, and Poor, shall be taken into the House and provided for; whereas in the 3d. Article, they who are Blind, or have lost Limbs, &c. shall have Pensions allow'd them.

The reason of this difference is this:

A Poor Man or Woman that has lost his Hand, or Leg, or Sight, is visibly disabled, and we cannot be deceiv'd, whereas other Infirmities are not so easily judg'd of, and every body Page  150 wou'd be claiming a Pension, when but few will demand being taken into an Hospital but such as are really in want.

And that this might be manag'd with such Care and Candor as a De|sign which carries so good a face ought to be, I Propose the following Method for putting it in Practice.

I suppose every Undertaking of such a magnitude must have some princi|pal Agent to push it forward, who must manage and direct every thing always with direction of the Gover|nors.

And First, I'le suppose One Gene|ral Office erected for the great Pa|rishes of Stepney and Whitechappel; and as I'le lay down afterwards some Methods to oblige all People to come in and Subscribe, so I may be allow'd to suppose here, That all the Inhabi|tants Page  151 of those Two large Parishes (the meaner Labouring sort I mean) shou'd Enter their Names, and that the number of them shou'd be a 100000, as I believe they wou'd be at least.

First, There shou'd be Nam'd 50 of the principal Inhabitants of the said Parishes (of which the Church-Wardens for the time being, and all the Justices of the Peace dwelling in the bounds of the said Parish, and the Ministers resident for the time being, to be part) to be Governors of the said Office.

The said 50 to be first Nominated by the Lord-Mayor of London for the time being, and every Vacancy to be suppli'd in 10 days at farthest, by the Majority of Voices of the rest.

The 50 to chuse a Committee of 11, to sit twice a week, of whom 3 to Page  152 be a Quorum; with a Chief Governor, a Deputy-Governor, and a Treasurer.

In the Office, a Secretary with Clerks of his own, a Register, and 2 Clerks, 4 Searchers, a Messenger, one in daily attendance under Salary, a Physician, a Surgeon, and 4 Visitors.

In the Hospital, more or less, accord|ing to the Number of People enter|tain'd, a Housekeeper, a Steward, Nurses, a Porter, and a Chaplain.

For the Support of this Office, and that the deposite Money might go to none but the Persons and Uses for whom it is paid, and that it might not be said Officers and Salaries was the chief end of the Undertaking, as in many a Project it has been; I pro|pose, That the Manager, or Under|taker, who I mention'd before, be the Secretary, who shall have a Clerk allow'd him, whose business it shall be to keep the Register, take the En|tries, Page  153 and give out the Tickets Seal'd by the Governors, and Sign'd by him|self, and to Enter always the Payment of Quarteridge of every Subscriber. And that there may be no Fraud or Con|nivance, and too great Trust be not re|pos'd in the said Secretary, every Sub|scriber who brings his Quarteridge, is to put it into a great Chest, lockt up with 11 Locks, every Member of the Committee to keep a Key, so that it cannot be open'd but in the Presence of them all; and every time a Subscri|ber pays his Quarteridge, the Secre|tary shall give him a Seal'd Ticket, thus Christmas 96 which shall be allow'd as the Receipt of Quarteridge for that Quarter.

Note, The reason why every Subscri|ber shall take a Receipt or Ticket for his Quarteridge, is because this must be the standing Law of thePage  154Office, that if any Subscriber fail to pay their Quarteridge, they shall never Claim after it, until double so much be paid, nor not at all that Quarter, whatever befalls them.

The Secretary shou'd be allow'd to have 2 d. for every Ticket of Entry he gives out, and 1 d. for every Receipt he gives for Quarteridge, to be ac|counted for as follows:

  • One Third to himself in lieu of Salary, he being to Pay Three Clerks out of it.
  • One Third to the Clerks, and other Officers among them.
  • And One Third to defray the inci|dent Charge of the Office.
Thus Calculated. Page  155
  Per Ann.
      l. s. d.
  100000 Subscribers paying 1 d. each every Quarter is   1666 3 4
One Third To the Secretary per Ann. and Three Clerks   555 7 9
    l. Per Ann.      
One Third To a Register 100 550 0 0
To a Clerk 50
To 4 Searchers 100
To a Physician 100
To a Surgeon 100
To Four Visitors 100
One Third To Incident Charges, such as To Ten Committee-Men, 5 s. each sitting twice per Week is 260 560 15 7
To a Clerk of Com|mittees 50
To a Messenger 40
A House for the Office 40
A House for the Hospital 100
Contingencies 70
    15 s. 7 d.      
      1666 3 4

All the Charge being thus paid out of such a Trifle as 1 d. per Quarter, the next Consideration is to examine what the Incomes of this Subscription may be, and in time what may be the Demands upon it.

Page  156
  l. s. d.
If 100 000 persons subscribe, they pay down at their entring, each 6 d. which is 2500 00 00
And the first year's Payment is in Stock at 1 s. per Quarter 20000 00 00
It must be allow'd, that under Three Months the Subscriptions will not be well compleat; so the Payment of Quarteridge shall not begin but from the Day after the Books are full, or shut up; and from thence one year is to pass before any Claim can be made; and the Money coming in at sepa|rate times, I suppose no Improvement upon it for the first year, except of the 2500, which lent to the King on some good Fund, at 7 l. per Cent. Interest, advances the first year, 175 00 00
The Quarteridge of the Second year, abating for 1000 Claims, 19800 00 00
And the Interest of the first year's Mo|ney, at the end of the second year, lent to the King, as aforesaid, at 7 per Cent. Inte|rest, is 1774 10 00
The Quarteridge of the Third year, abating for Claims, 19400 00 00
The Interest of former Cash, to the end of the Third Year, 3284 08 00
Income of Three Years 66933 18 00

Note, Any person may pay 2 s. up to 5 s. Quarterly, if they please, and upon a Claim, will be allow'd in proportion.

Page  157 To assign what shall be the Charge upon this, where Contingency has so great a share, is not to be done; but by way of Political Arithmetick a pro|bable Guess may be made.

'Tis to be noted, That the Pensions I propose to be paid to Persons claim|ing by the Third, Fifth, and Sixth Articles, are thus; Every Person who paid 1 s. Quarterly, shall re|ceive 12 d. Weekly, and so in pro|portion, every 12 d. paid Quarterly by any one Person, to receive so ma|ny Shillings Weekly, if they come to claim a Pension.

The first Year no Claim is allow'd; so the Bank has in Stock compleatly 22500 l. From thence we are to consider the Number of Claims.

Sir William Petty, in his Political A|rithmetick, supposes not above one Page  158 in 40 to dye per Ann. out of the whole number of people; and I can by no means allow, that the Circumstances of our Claims will be as frequent as Death; for these Reasons:

  • (1.) Our Subscriptions respect all persons grown, and in the Prime of their Age; past the first, and provi|ding against the last part of Danger. Sir William's Account including Chil|dren and Old People, which always makes up One Third of the Bills of Mortality.
  • (2.) Our Claims will fall thin at first, for several Years; and let but the Money increase for Ten Years, as it does in the Account for Three Years, 'twould be almost sufficient to maintain the whole Number.
  • (3.) Allow that Casualty and Po|verty are our Debtor-side; Health, Prosperity, and Death, are the Cre|ditor-side of the Account; and in all Page  159 probable Accounts, those Three Arti|cles will carry off Three Fourth Parts of the Number, as follows: If 1 in 40 shall dye Annually, as no doubt they shall, and more, that is 2500 a year, which in 20 Years is 50000 of the Number, I hope I may be allow'd One Third to be out of condition to claim, apparently living wihtout the help of Charity; and One Third in Health of Body, and able to work; which put together, makes 83332; so it leaves 16668 to make Claims of Charity and Pensions in the first 20 years, and One half of them must, according to Sir William Petty, Die on our hands in 20 years; so there remains but 8334.

But to put it out of doubt, beyond the proportion to be guess'd at, I'le allow they shall fall thus;

The First Year, we are to note, none can claim, and the Second Year thePage  160Number must be very few, but in|creasing; wherefore I suppose,

  l.
One in every 500 shall claim the second year, which is 200, The Charge whereof is 500
One in every 100 the third year, is 1000; the Charge, 2500
Together with the former 200, 500
  3000
To carry on the Calculation.
  l. s. d.
We find the Stock at the end of the 3d year, 66933 18 0
The Quarteridge of the 4th year, abating as before, 19000 00 0
Interest of the Stock, 4882 17 6
The Quarteridge of the 5th year, 18600 00 0
Interest of the Stock, 6473 00 0
  115879 15 6
Page  161
  l. s. d.
The Charge 3000 00 0
2000 to fall the 4th Year 5000 00 0
And the Old con|tinued 3000 00 0
2000 the 5th Year 5000 00 0
The Old continued 11000 00 0
  27000 00 0

By this computation the Stock is increased above the Charge in Five years 89379 l. 15 s. 6 d. and yet here are sundry Articles to be considered on both sides of the Account, that will necessarily increase the Stock and diminish the Charge.

Page  162
  l. s. d.
First, In the Five years time 6200 ha|ving claim'd Charity, the Number being a|bated for in the reckon|ing above for Stock, it may be allow'd New Subscriptions will be taken in to keep the Number full, which in Five years amounts to 3400 00 0
Their Sixpences is 155 00 0
  3555 00 0
Which added to 115879 l. 15 s. 6 d. Augments the Stock to 119434 15 6
Page  163
  l. s. d.
Six thousand two hundred persons claim|ing help, which falls to be sure, on the Aged and Infirm, I think, at a modest com|putation, in Five years time 500 of them may be dead, which, without allowing an|nually, we take at an Abatement of 4000 l. out of the Charge 4000 00 0
Which reduces the Charge to 23000 00 0

Besides this, the Interest of the Quarteridge, which is supposed in the former Account to lie dead till the Year is out, which cast up from Page  164 Quarter to Quarter, allowing it to be put out Quarterly, as it may well be, amounts to by computation for Five Year, 5250 l.

From the 5th year, as near as can be computed, the Number of Pensio|ners being so great I make no doubt but they shall Die off of the hands of the Undertaker as fast as they shall fall in, excepting so much difference as the Payment of every Year, which the Interest of the Stock shall supply.

For Example:

  l. s. d.
At the end of the Fifth Year the Stock in hand 94629 15 6
The Payment of the Sixth Year 20000 00 0
Interest of the Stock 5408 04 0
  120037 19 6
Page  165
  l. s. d.
Allow an over|plus Charge for keep|ing in the House, which will be dear|er than Pensions, 10000 l. per Ann. 10000 00 0
Charge of the 6th Year 22500 00 0
Balance in Cash 87537 19 6
  120037 19 6

This also is to be allow'd, That all those Persons who are kept by the Of|fice in the House shall have Employ|ment provided for them, whereby no Persons shall be kept Idle, the Works to be suited to every one's Capacity without Rigour, only some distincti|on to those who are most willing to Page  166 Work; the Profits of the said Work to the Stock of the House.

Besides this there may great and very profitable Methods be found out to improve the Stock beyond the set|led Interest of 7 per Cent. which per|haps may not always be to be had, for the Exchequer is not always bor|rowing Money; but a Bank of 80000 l. employ'd by faithful hands, need not want opportunities of great and very considerable Improvement.

Also it wou'd be a very good Ob|ject for Persons who Die Rich to leave Legacies to, which in time might be very well suppos'd to raise a standing Revenue to it.

I won't say but various Contingen|cies may alter the Charge of this Un|dertaking, and swell the Claims be|yond proportion, further than I ex|tend it; but all that, and much more, is sufficiently answer'd in the Calcula|tions, Page  167 by above 80000 l. in Stock to Provide for it.

As to the Calculation being made on a vast Number of Subscribers, and more than, perhaps, will be allow'd likely to Subscribe, I think the pro|portion may hold good in a few, as well as in a great many; and, per|haps, if 20000 Subscrib'd, it might be as effectual; I am indeed willing to think all Men shou'd have sense enough to see the usefulness of such a Design, and be perswaded by their In|terest to engage in it; but some Men have less Prudence than Brutes, and will make no provision against Age till it comes; and to deal with such, Two ways might be us'd by Authori|ty to Compel them.

  • (1.) The Church-Wardens and Justices of Peace shou'd send the Beadle of the Parish, with an Officer belonging to this Office, about to the Page  168 Poorer Parishioners to tell them, That since such Honourable Provision is made for them to secure themselves in Old Age from Poverty and Distress, they shou'd expect no Relief from the Parish, if they refus'd to Enter them|selves, and by sparing so small a part of their Earnings to prevent future Misery.
  • (2.) The Church-Wardens of every Parish might refuse the removal of Persons and Families into their Parish but upon their having Entred into this Office.
  • (3.) All Persons shou'd be pub|lickly desir'd to forbear giving any thing to Beggars; and all common Beggars suppress'd after a certain time; for this wou'd effectually suppress Beggery at last.

And to oblige the Parishes to do this on behalf of such a Project, the Governor of the House shou'd secure Page  169 the Parish against all Charges coming upon them from any Person who did Subscribe and pay the Quarteridge, and that wou'd most certainly oblige any Parish to endeavour that all the La|bouring Meaner People in the Parish shou'd enter their Names; for in time 'twou'd most certainly take all the Poor in the Parish off of their hands.

I know that by Law no Parish can refuse to Relieve any Person or Fami|ly fallen into Distress, and therefore to send them word they must expect no Relief, wou'd seem a vain threat|ning; but thus far the Parish may do, they shall be esteem'd as Persons who deserve no Relief, and shall be us'd accordingly; For who, indeed, wou'd ever pity that Man in his Distress, who at the expence of Two Pots of Beer a Month, might have prevented it, and wou'd not spare it?

As to my Calculations, on which I Page  170 do not depend neither, I say this, if they are probable, and that in Five years time a Subscription of a Hun|dred thousand Persons wou'd have 87537 l. 19 s. 6 d. in Cash, all Charges paid, I desire any one but to reflect what will not such a Sum do; for instance, were it laid out in the Million Lottery Tickets, which are now Sold at 6 l. each, and bring in 1 l. per Ann. for Fifteen Years, every 1000 l. so laid out, pays back in time 2500 l. and that time wou'd be as fast as it wou'd be wanted, and there|fore be as good as Money; or if laid out in improving Rents, as Ground-Rents with Buildings to devolve in time, there is no question but a Reve|nue wou'd be rais'd in time to Maintain One third part of the Number of Subscribers, if they shou'd come to Claim Charity.

And I desire any Man to con|sider Page  171 the present State of this King|dom, and tell me, if all the People of England, Old and Young, Rich and Poor, were to Pay into one common Bank, 4 s. per Ann. a Head, and that 4 s. duly and honestly ma|nag'd, Whether the overplus paid by those who Die off, and by those who never come to Want, wou'd not in all probability Maintain all that shou'd be Poor, and for ever Banish Beggery and Poverty out of the Kingdom.