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out appearing materially to diminish their
number.

That they continued to " increase, multiply,
and replenish the earth," overflowing all
bounds, overpowering by mere populousness
all the severe laws against them of whipping,
burning in the hand, in the forehead or the
breast, and hanging, and filling the whole
country with alarm, is evident by the very
act itself of Elizabeth.

Amongst these hereditary paupers who, as
we have said, were found in Stockington, there
was a family of the name of Deg. This family
had never failed to demand and enjoy what it
held to be its share of its ancient inheritance.
It appeared from the parish records, that they
had practised in different periods the crafts of
shoemaking, tailoring, and chimney-sweeping;
but since the invention of the stocking-frame,
they had, one and all of them, followed the
profession of stocking weavers, or as they were
there called, stockingers. This was a trade
which required no extreme exertion of the
physical or intellectual powers. To sit in a
frame, and throw the arms to and fro, was a
thing that might either be carried to a degree
of extreme diligence, or be let down into
a mere apology for idleness. An " idle
stockinger" was there no very uncommon
phrase, and the Degs were always classed
under that head. Nothing could be more
admirably adapted than this trade for building
a plan of parish relief upon. The Degs
did not pretend to be absolutely without work,
or the parish authorities would soon have
set them to some real labour,—a thing that
they particularly recoiled from, having a very
old adage in the family, that " hard work was
enough to kill a man." The Degs were seldom,
therefore, out of work, but they did not get
enough to meet and tie. They had but little
work if times were bad, and if they were good,
they had large families, and sickly wives or
children. Be times what they would, therefore,
the Degs were due and successful attendants
at the parish pay-table. Nay, so much
was this a matter of course, that they came at
length not even to trouble themselves to
receive their pay, but sent their young
children for it; and it was duly paid. Did
any parish officer, indeed, turn restive, and
decline to pay a Deg, he soon found himself
summoned before a magistrate, and such pleas
of sickness, want of work, and poor earnings
brought up, that he most likely got a sharp
rebuke from the benevolent but uninquiring
magistrate, and acquired a character for hard-heartedness
that stuck to him.

So parish overseers learnt to let the Degs
alone; and their children regularly brought
up to receive the parish money for their
parents, were impatient as they grew up to
receive it for themselves. Marriages in the
Deg family were consequently very early, and
there were plenty of instances of married
Degs claiming parish relief under the age of
twenty, on the plea of being the parent of
two children. One such precocious individual
being asked by a rather verdant officer why
he had married before he was able to maintain
a family, replied, in much astonishment,
that he had married in order to maintain
himself by parish assistance. That he never
had been able to maintain himself by his
labour, nor ever expected to do it; his only
hope, therefore, lay in marrying, and becoming
the father of two children, to which patriarchal
rank he had now attained, and demanded
his " pay."

Thus had lived and flourished the Degs on
their ancient patrimony, the parish, for upwards
of two hundred years. Nay, we have
no doubt whatever that, if it could have been
traced, they had enjoyed an ancestry of
paupers as long as the pedigree of Sir Roger
Rockville himself. In the days of the most
perfect villenage, they had, doubtless, eaten
the bread of idleness, and claimed it as a
right. They were numerous, improvident,
ragged in dress, and fond of an alehouse and
of gossip. Like the blood of Sir Roger, their
blood had become peculiar through a long
persistence of the same circumstances. It
was become pure pauper blood. The Degs
married, if not entirely among Degs, yet
amongst the same class. None but a pauper
would dream of marrying a Deg. The Degs,
therefore, were in constitution, in mind, in
habit, and in inclination, paupers. But a pure
and unmixed class of this kind does not die
out like an aristocratic stereotype. It increases
and multiplies. The lower the grade,
the more prolific, as is sometimes seen on a
large and even national scale. The Degs
threatened, therefore, to become a most formidable
clan in the lower purlieus of Stock-
ington, but luckily there is so much virtue
even in evils, that one, not rarely cures
another. War, the great evil, cleared the
town of Degs.

Fond of idleness, of indulgence, of money
easily got, and as easily spent, the Degs were
rapidly drained off by recruiting parties
during the last war. The young men enlisted,
and were marched away; the young women
married soldiers that were quartered in the
town from time to time, and marched away
with them. There were, eventually, none of
the once numerous Degs left except a few old
people, whom death was sure to draft off at no
distant period with his regiment of the line
which has no end. Parish overseers, magistrates,
and master manufacturers, felicitated
themselves at this unhoped-for deliverance
from the ancient family of the Degs.

But one cold, clear, winter evening, the east
wind piping its sharp sibilant ditty in the
bare shorn hedges, and poking his sharp fingers
into the sides of well broad-clothed men by
way of passing jest, Mr. Spires, a great manufacturer
of Stockington, driving in his gig
some seven miles from the town, passed a
poor woman with a stout child on her back.
The large ruddy-looking man in the prime of

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