But since never to have it, and to have lost it, are synonymous in the effect, I wonder how it came to pass that in the settlement of that hospital they made no provision for persons born without the use of their reason, such as we call fools, or, more properly, naturals.
We use such in England with the last contempt, which I think is a strange error, since though they are useless to the commonwealth, they are only so by God's direct providence, and no previous fault.
I think it would very well become this wise age to take care of such; and perhaps they are a particular rent-charge on the great family of mankind, left by the Maker of us all, like a younger brother, who though the estate be given from him, yet his father expected the heir should take some care of him.
If I were to be asked, Who ought in particular to be charged with this work? I would answer in general those who have a portion of understanding extraordinary. Not that I would lay a tax upon any man's brains, or discourage wit by appointing wise men to maintain fools; but, some tribute is due to God's goodness for bestowing extraordinary gifts; and who can it be better paid to than such as suffer for want of the same bounty?
For the providing, therefore, some subsistence for such that natural defects may not be exposed:
It is proposed that a fool-house be erected, either by public authority, or by the city, or by an Act of Parliament, into which all that are naturals or born fools, without respect or distinction, should be admitted and maintained.
For the maintenance of this, a small stated contribution, settled by the authority of an Act of Parliament, without any damage to the persons paying the same, might be very easily raised by a tax upon learning, to be paid by the authors of books:
Every book that shall be printed in folio, from 40 sheets and upwards, to pay at the licensing (for the whole impression) 5 pounds Under 40 sheets 40s Every quarto 20s Every octavo of 10 sheets and upward 20s Every octavo under 10 sheets, and every bound book in 12mo 10s Every stitched pamphlet 2s Reprinted copies the same rates.
This tax to be paid into the Chamber of London for the space of twenty years, would, without question, raise a fund sufficient to build and purchase a settlement for this house.
I suppose this little tax being to be raised at so few places as the printing-presses, or the licensers of books, and consequently the charge but very small in gathering, might bring in about 1,500 pounds per annum for the term of twenty years, which would perform the work to the degree following:
The house should be plain and decent (for I don't think the ostentation of buildings necessary or suitable to works of charity), and be built somewhere out of town for the sake of the air.
The building to cost about 1,000 pounds, or, if the revenue exceed, to cost 2,000 pounds at most, and the salaries mean in proportion.
In the House. Per annum. A steward 30 pounds A purveyor 20 A cook 20 A butler 20 Six women to assist the cook and clean the house, 4 pounds each 24 Six nurses to tend the people, 3 pounds each 18 A chaplain 20 ==== 152 A hundred alms-people at 8 pounds per annum, diet, &c. 800 ==== 952 The table for the officers, and contingencies, and clothes for the alms-people, and firing, put together 500 An auditor of the accounts, a committee of the governors, and two clerks.