Sketches by Boz by Charles Dickens.
SKETCHES BY BOZ
CHAPTER I - THE BEADLE. THE PARISH ENGINE. THE SCHOOLMASTER.
How much is conveyed in those two short words - 'The Parish!' And
with how many tales of distress and misery, of broken fortune and
ruined hopes, too often of unrelieved wretchedness and successful
knavery, are they associated! A poor man, with small earnings, and
a large family, just manages to live on from hand to mouth, and to
procure food from day to day; he has barely sufficient to satisfy
the present cravings of nature, and can take no heed of the future.
His taxes are in arrear, quarter-day passes by, another quarter-day
arrives: he can procure no more quarter for himself, and is
summoned by - the parish. His goods are distrained, his children
are crying with cold and hunger, and the very bed on which his sick
wife is lying, is dragged from beneath her. What can he do? To
whom is he to apply for relief? To private charity? To benevolent
individuals? Certainly not - there is his parish. There are the