Caspar von Voght

1752 - 1839


Account of the Management

of the Poor in Hamburgh,

between the Years 1788 and 1794








To the Right Hon. George Rose, M. P.



A COPY of the following work, published in 1796, was put into the hands of a Gentleman, who, at a parish meeting, had forcibly stated the injurious consequences from offering subsistence independent of labor, and the policy and true charity of providing some employment for the distressed poor. The pamphlet contained such evidence of the benevolence and profound political wisdom of its Author, and so much valuable information founded on experience, that we were satisfied we could not render a more essential benefit to society, at the present crisis, than by reprinting and circulating it. Through the medium of Messrs. D. H. & I. A. Rucker and Co. a letter has been received from Baron Von Voght, dated Flotberg (near Altona), 7 Feb. 1817, which has assured us of his free permission to republish the work; and that his observations in various countries, during a period of more than twenty years, on the interesting subject of the guardianship of the poor, had invariably confirmed the correctness of the opinions and regulations which it contains.

We are anxious, on the present occasion, to offer this interesting work to the public under the sanction of your name, as an acknowledgment of the high sense we entertain of your exertions to improve the condition of the laboring classes.

The noble and intelligent Author has pointed out in the clearest manner, some of the causes which have tended to increase pauperism in this country, even at a period of unprecedented demand for labor; and the inevitable consequences of departing from that principle of sound policy on which our poor laws are founded, "that employment, and not alms, should be given to those who have the ability to work, however small that ability may be." Situation and circumstances must determine the mode of employment; but the principle should be invariably adhered to; and no labor should be considered as unprofitable, that preserves the laborer in habits of industry.

Some legislative measure may be required to give permanence to any system adopted upon the principles here recommended; and to accomplish an effectual superintendance, perhaps a division of the large and populous parishes will appear the most obvious and practical method. By extending the present system of education, and the establishment of provident institutions, religion, morality, and industry, will then unite to ameliorate the condition of the lower orders of society, and thereby prevent crimes and consequent misery.


With great respect,

We are, Sir,

Your most obedient servants,