3d. each, which all persons that are subscribers to the said office are desired to pay in for their respective subscriptions, that the said wounded persons may be relieved accordingly, as they expect to be relieved if the same or the like casualty should befall them."
It is but a small matter for a man to contribute, if he gave 1s. 3d. out of his wages to relieve five wounded men of his own fraternity; but at the same time to be assured that if he is hurt or maimed he shall have the same relief, is a thing so rational that hardly anything but a hare-brained follow, that thinks of nothing, would omit entering himself into such an office.
I shall not enter further into this affair, because perhaps I may give the proposal to some persons who may set it on foot, and then the world may see the benefit of it by the execution.
The same method of friendly society, I conceive, would be a very proper proposal for widows.
We have abundance of women, who have been bred well and lived well, ruined in a few years, and perhaps left young with a houseful of children and nothing to support them, which falls generally upon the wives of the inferior clergy, or of shopkeepers and artificers.
They marry wives with perhaps 300 pounds to 1,000 pounds portion, and can settle no jointure upon them. Either they are extravagant and idle, and waste it; or trade decays; or losses or a thousand contingencies happen to bring a tradesman to poverty, and he breaks. The poor young woman, it may be, has three or four children, and is driven to a thousand shifts, while he lies in the Mint or Friars under the dilemma of a statute of bankruptcy; but if he dies, then she is absolutely undone, unless she has friends to go to.
Suppose an office to be erected, to be called an office of insurance for widows, upon the following conditions:
Two thousand women, or their husbands for them, enter their names into a register to be kept for that purpose, with the names, age, and trade of their husbands, with the place of their abode, paying at the time of their entering 5s. down with 1s. 4d. per quarter, which is to the setting up and support of an office with clerks and all proper officers for the same; for there is no maintaining such without charge. They receive every one of them a certificate sealed by the secretary of the office, and signed by the governors, for the articles hereafter mentioned:
If any one of the women become a widow at any time after six months from the date of her subscription, upon due notice given, and claim made at the office in form as shall be directed, she shall receive within six mouths after such claim made the sum of 500 pounds in money without any deductions, saving some small fees to the officers, which the trustees must settle, that they may be known.
In consideration of this, every woman so subscribing obliges herself to pay, as often as any member of the society becomes a widow, the due proportion or share, allotted to her to pay towards the 500 pounds for the said widow, provided her share does not exceed the sum of 5s.
No seamen's or soldiers' wives to be accepted into such a proposal as this, on the account before mentioned, because the contingencies of their lives are not equal to others--unless they will admit this general exception, supposing they do not die out of the kingdom.
It might also be an exception that if the widow that claimed had really, bona fide, left her by her husband to her own use, clear of all debts and legacies, 2,000 pounds, she should have no claim, the intent being to aid the poor, not add to the rich. But there lie a great many objections against such an article, as -
1. It may tempt some to forswear themselves.
2. People will order their wills so as to defraud the exception.
One exception must be made, and that is, either very unequal matches (as when a woman of nineteen marries an old man of seventy), or women who have infirm husbands--I mean, known and publicly so; to remedy which two things are to be done: