The office must have moving officers without doors, who shall inform themselves of such matters, and if any such circumstances appear, the office should have fourteen days' time to return their money and declare their subscriptions void.
2. No woman whose husband had any visible distemper should claim under a year after her subscription.
One grand objection against this proposal is, how you will oblige people to pay either their subscription or their quarterage.
To this I answer, by no compulsion (though that might be performed too), but altogether voluntary; only with this argument to move it, that if they do not continue their payments, they lose the benefit of their past contributions.
I know it lies as a fair objection against such a project as this, that the number of claims are so uncertain that nobody knows what they engage in when they subscribe, for so many may die annually out of two thousand as may make my payment 20 pounds or 25 pounds per annum; and if a woman happen to pay that for twenty years, though she receives the 500 pounds at last, she is a great loser; but if she dies before her husband, she has lessened his estate considerably, and brought a great loss upon him.
First, I say to this that I would have such a proposal as this be so fair and so easy, that if any person who had subscribed found the payments too high and the claims fall too often, it should be at their liberty at any time, upon notice given, to be released, and stand obliged no longer; and, if so, volenti non fit injuria. Every one knows best what their own circumstances will bear.
In the next place, because death is a contingency no man can directly calculate, and all that subscribe must take the hazard; yet that a prejudice against this notion may not be built on wrong grounds, let us examine a little the probable hazard, and see how many shall die annually out of 2,000 subscribers, accounting by the common proportion of burials to the number of the living.
Sir William Petty, in his political arithmetic, by a very ingenious calculation, brings the account of burials in London to be one in forty annually, and proves it by all the proper rules of proportioned computation; and I will take my scheme from thence.
If, then, one in forty of all the people in England die, that supposes fifty to die every year out of our two thousand subscribers; and for a woman to contribute 5s. to every one, would certainly be to agree to pay 12 pounds 10s. per annum. upon her husband's life, to receive 500 pounds when he died, and lose it if she died first; and yet this would not be a hazard beyond reason too great for the gain.
But I shall offer some reasons to prove this to be impossible in our case: first, Sir William Petty allows the city of London to contain about a million of people, and our yearly bill of mortality never yet amounted to 25,000 in the most sickly years we have had (plague years excepted); sometimes but to 20,000, which is but one in fifty. Now it is to be considered here that children and ancient people make up, one time with another, at least one-third of our bills of mortality, and our assurances lie upon none but the middling age of the people, which is the only age wherein life is anything steady; and if that be allowed, there cannot die by his computation above one in eighty of such people every year; but because I would be sure to leave room for casualty, I will allow one in fifty shall die out of our number subscribed.
Secondly, it must be allowed that our payments falling due only on the death of husbands, this one in fifty must not be reckoned upon the two thousand, for it is to be supposed at least as many women shall die as men, and then there is nothing to pay; so that one in fifty upon one thousand is the most that I can suppose shall claim the contribution in a year, which is twenty claims a year at 5s. each, and is 5 pounds per annum. And if a woman pays this for twenty years, and claims at last, she is gainer enough, and no extraordinary loser if she never claims at all.