Friday, April 27, 2012

Fielding on the Poor

Henry Fielding is best known for his picaresque novels Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones, but he also dabbled in the social issues his day. The title of this recently acquired treatise by Fielding, A Proposal for Making an Effectual Provision for the Poor, for Amending Their Morals, and for Rendering them Useful Members of Society (London: A. Millar, 1753), expresses his view of the poor fairly succinctly. They were morally lacking and not fit members of society. His proposal was little more than a debtor's prison that could accommodate 5,000 paupers and 600 petty criminals. There were cells and a whipping post as well as a chapel.

The proposed structure was never built, but served as a model for the rebuilding of Newgate Prison.  Ironically, our copy has been sumptuously rebound by Riviere and Son complete with gilt edges.

Ask for Rare HV61.F53 1753.

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