[Page] A METHOD Concerning the Relief and Employment OF THE POOR: Humbly offer'd to the Consideration of the KING and both Houses of PARLIAMENT. Taken out of Sir Josiah Child's Writings. With somewhat added; Which the Late Renowned Judge, Sir Mathew Hale, Writ in his Book Intituled, A Discourse touching Provision for the Poor.

May true Wisdom be given, for the carry­ing on so Great and so Good a Work.

LONDON, Printed by the Advice of some in Authority, 1699.

A METHOD Concerning the Relief and Employment OF THE POOR.

IN the Discourse of this Subject, I shall first assert some Particulars, which I think are agreed by common Consent, and from thence take occasion to proceed to what is more doubtful.

1. That our Poor in England have always been in a most sad and wretched condition, some Famished for want of Bread, others starved with Cold and Nakedness, and many whole Families in all the out Parts of Cities and great Towns, commonly remain in a languishing, nasty and useless Condition, Uncom­fortable to themselves, and unprofitable to the King­dom, this is confessed and lamented by all Men.

2. That the Children of our Poor bred up in Beggary and Laziness, do by that means become not only of unhealthy Bodies, and more then ordinary subject to many loathsome Diseases, whereof very [Page 4] many die in their tender Age, and if any of them do arrive to years and strength, they are, by their idle habits contracted in their Youth, rendred for ever after indispos'd to Labour, and serve only to stock the Kingdom with Thieves and Beggars.

3. That if all our impotent Poor were provided for, and those of both Sexes, and all Ages that can do Work of any kind, employed, it would redound some Hundreds of Thousands of Pounds per Annum to the Publick Advantage.

4. That it is our Duty to GOD and Nature so to Provide for, and Employ the Poor.

5. That by so doing one of the great Sins (for which this Land ought to Mourn) would be removed.

6. That our fore-Fathers had pious Intentions towards this good Work, as appears by the many Statutes made by them to this purpose.

7. That there are Places in the World, wherein the Poor are so provided for, and employed; as in Holland, Hamborough, New-England and others, and as I am informed, now in the City of Paris.

Thus far we all agree: The first Question then that naturally occurs is,

How comes it to pass that in England we do not, nor ever did comfortably Maintain and Employ our Poor?

The common Answers to this Question are two.

  • 1. That our Laws to this purpose are as good as any in the World, but we fail in the execution.
  • 2. That formerly in the days of our Pious Ancestors the work was done, but now Charity is deceased, and that is the reason we see the Poor so neglected as now they are.

In both which Answers (I humbly conceive) the Effect is mistaken for the Cause: For tho' it cannot [Page 5] he denied, but there hath been, and is a great failure in the Execution of those Statutes which relate to the Poor; yet I say, the Cause of that failure, hath been oc­casioned by defe [...]t of the Laws themselves.

For otherwise, what is the reason that in our late times of the Confusion and Alteration, wherein al­most every Party in the Nation, at one time or other, took their turn at the Helm, and all had that Com­pass (those Laws) to Steer by, and yet none of them could, or ever did, conduct the Poor into a Harbour of security to them, and profit to the Kidgdom, i. e. none sufficiently maintained the Impotent, and employed the Indigent amongst us: And if this was never done in any Age, nor by any sort of Men whatsoever in this Kingdom, who had the use of those Laws now in force, it seemes to me a very strong Argument that it never could, nor ever will be done by those Laws, and that consequently the defect lies in the Laws themselves, not in the Men, i. e. those that should put them in Execution.

As to the second Answer to the aforesaid Que­stion, wherein want of Charity is assigned for another cause why the Poor are now so much neglected, I think it is a scandalous ungrounded accusation of our Contemporaries; for most that I converse with, are not so much troubled to part with their Money, as how to place it, that it may do good, and not hurt to the Kingdom: For, If they give to the Beggars in the Streets, or at their Doors, they fear they may do hurt by encouraging that Lazy unprofitable kind of Life; and if they give more than their Proportions in their re­spective Parishes, that (they say) is but giving to the Rich, for the Poor are not set on Work thereby, nor [Page 6] have the more given them; but only their Rich Neighbours pay the less. And for what was given in Churches to the Visited Poor, and to such as were impoverished by the Fire; we have heard of so many and great Abuses of that kind of Charity, that most men are under sad Discouragements in Relation thereunto.

I write not this to divert any Man from Works of Chaity of any kind: He that gives to any in Want does well, but be that gives to Employ and Educate the Poor, so as to render them useful to the Kingdom, in my judgement does better.

And here by the way, not to leave men at a loss how to dispose of what GOD shall incline their Hearts to give for the Benefit of the Poor, I think it not impertinent to propose the Hospitals of the City, and Poor Labouring People that have many Chil­dren, and make a hard shift to sustain them by their industry, whereof there are multitudes in the out Parts of this City, as the best Objects of Charity at present.

But to return to my purpose, viz. to prove that the want of Charity likewise that is now, and always hath been in relation to the Poor, proceeds from a defect in our Laws. Ask any Charitable-minded Man, as he goes along the Streets of London, viewing the Poor, viz, Boyes, Girles, Men and Women of all Ages, and Many in good Health, &c. why he and others do not take care for the setting those poor Creatures to Work? Will he not readily answer, that he wisheth heartily it could be done, though it cost him some part of his Estate, but he is but one Man, and can do nothing towards it; giving them Money, as hath been said, being but to bring them into a liking and continuance in that way.

%[Page 7] Question 2. Wherein lyes the defect of our, present Laws relating to the Poor?

I answer, that there may be many, but I shall here take notice of one only, which I think to be Funda­mental, and which until altered, the Poor in England can never be well provided for, or Employed; and that when the said Fundamental Error is well a­mended, it is almost impossible they should lack ei [...]er Work or Maintainance.

The said radical Error I esteem to be the leaving it to the Care of every Parish to maintain their own Poor only; upon which follows the shifting off, sending or whip­ing back the poor Wanderers to the place of their Birth, or last Abode; the Practice whereof I have seen many Years in London, to signify as much as ever it will, which is just nothing of Good to the King­dom in general, or the Poor thereof, though it be sometimes by accident to so [...] of them a Punishment without effect; I say without effect, because it re­forms not the Party, nor disposeth the minds of others to Obedience, which are the true ends of all Punishment.

As for instance, a poor idle Person, that will not Work, or that no Body will employ in the Country, comes up to London, to set up the Trade of Begging, such a person probably may Begg up and down the Streets seven Years, it may be seven and twenty, before any body asketh why she doth so, and if at length she hath the ill hap in some Parish, to meet with a more Vigilant Beadle then one of twenty of them are, all he does is but to lead her the length of five or six Houses into another Parish, and then con­cludes, as his Masters the Parishoners do, that he hath [Page 8] done the part of a most diligent Officer: But suppose he should yet go further to the end of his Line, which is the end of the Law; and the perfect Execution of his Office; that is, suppose he should carry this poor wretch to a Justice of the Peace, and he should order the Delinquent to be Whipt and sent from Parish to Par­ish, to the place of her Birth or last Abode, which not one Justice of twenty (through Pity or other cause) will do; even this is a great charge upon the Country, and yet the business of the Nation it self wholly un­done: For no sooner doth the Delinquent arrive at the place assign'd, but for Shame or Idleness she pre­sently deserts it, and wanders directly back, or some other way, hoping for better Fortune, whilst the Parish to which she is sent, knowing her a Lazy, and perhaps a worse qualified person, is as willing to be rid of her, as she is to be gone from thence.

If it be here retorted upon me, that by my own confession, much of this mischief happens by the [...]on, or ill Execution of the Laws, I say, Better Execution then you have seen, you must not expect; and there was never a good Law made, that was not well execu­ted; the fault of the Law causing a failure of execution; it being natural to all men to use the remedy next at hand, and rest satisfied with shifting the Evil from their own Doors; which in regard they can so easily do, by threatning or thrusting a poor Body out of the verge of their own Parish, it is unreasonable and vain to hope that ever it will be otherwise.

For the Laws against Inmates, and empowering the Parishioners to take Security before they suffer any poor Person to inhabit amongst them; it may be they were prudent constitutions at the times they were [Page 9] made (and before England was a place of Trade) and may be so still in some Countries; but I am sure in Cities & great Towns of Trade, they are altogether im­proper, and contrary to the practice of other Cities and Trading Towns abroad. The Riches of a City, as of a Nation, consisting in the multitude of inhabitants; and if so, you must allow Inmates, or have a City of Cot­tages. And if a right course be taken for the Susten­tation of the Poor, and setting them on Work, you need invent no Stratagems to keep them out, but rather to bring them in. For, There sort of Poor to a City or Nation well managed, is in effect, the conflux of Riches to that City or Nation; and therefore the sub­til Dutch receive, and relieve, or employ all that come to them, not enquiring what Nation, much less what Parish they are of.

Question 3. If the defect be in our Laws, how shall we find a remedy that may be rational and consistent?

This I confess is a hard and difficult question, it is one of the Ardua Regni, & may very well deserve the most deliberat consideration of our wisest Counsellors. And if A WHOLE SESSION OF PARLIAMENT WERE EMPLOYED ON THIS SINGULAR CONCERN, I think it would be time spent as much to the Glory of GOD and good of this Nation, as in any thing that noble and worthy Patriots of their Country can be engaged in: But seeing I have adven­tured thus far, I shall humbly proceed to offer some General Proposals that have a tendency towards the effecting this great Work, which being seriously thought of and debated by a COMMITTEE, may be capable of such melioration as may render them in a great measure effectual to the Kingdom in [Page 10] general, although at present, to prevent that Com­mon Objection, that great Mutations are dangerous; I shall only propose them to be experimented in these parts of the Kingdom, which are the Vitals of our body politick, which being once made sound, the care of the rest will not be difficult.

Proposition, 1. That the City of London and West­minster, Burrough of Southwark, and all other places within the usual Lines of Communication, described within the weekly Bills of Mortality, may by Act of Parliament be associated into one Province or line of Com­munication for relief of the Poor.

2. That there be one Assembly of men (and such as they shall from time to time appoint and deputise) entrusted with the care for, and treasure of all the Poor within the said Pale or Line of Communication.

3. That the said Assembly be incorporated by Act of Parliament, with perpetual Succession by the name of Fathers of the Poor, or some other honourable and significant Title.

4. That all Constables, Church-wardens, Overseers, or other Officers in all Parishes, within the said Line, be subordinate & accomptable to the said Fathers of the Poor, and their Deputies, for, & in all things relating to the Poor.

5. That the said Fathers of the Poor may have liberty to Assess and receive into their common Treasury, for relief of their Poor, so much Money from every Pa­rish as they yearly paid to that purpose any of the three Years preceding this Constitution, and to compel the Payment thereof, but not of more.

6. That the said Fathers of the Poor, and their De­puties, may have very large and sufficient Power in all things relating to the Poor, and particularly to [Page 11] have and receive the charitable benevolence of all Persons once every Sunday in every Parish-Church, and in any other place, and at any other time or times which they shall think fit.

7. That the said Fathers of the Poor, and such as they shall authorize, may have Power to purchase Lands, erect and endow Work-houses, Hospitals and Houses of Correction, and to exercise all other Pow­ers relating to the Poor, that any number of Justices of the Peace now may do, in their Quarter Sessions or otherwise.

8. That the said Fathers of the Poor may have Power to send such Poor beyond the Seas as they shall think fit into his Majesties Plantations, taking Security for their comfor­table Maintainance during their Service, and for their freedom afterwards.

9. That the said Fathers of the Poor may have Power to erect petty Banks and Lumbards for the benefit of the Poor, if they shall find it convenient, and also to receive the one half of what is paid at all the Doors of Play-Houses [if they be continued] and have the Patent for Farthings, and to do whatever else his Ma­jesty and the Parliament shall think fit to recommend to them, or leave to their Discretion.

10. That the Treasure that shall be collected for this purpose, be accounted sacred; and that it be Fellony to misapply, conceal, lend or convert it to any other use or purpose whatsoever.

11. That there be no Oaths, or other Tests imposed upon the Fathers of the Poor, at their Admission, to bar out Nonconformists, amongst whom there will be found some excellent Instruments for this good Work, and such as will constantly attend it, for if [Page 12] they be kept out, the People will be cold in their Charity, and in their hopes of the success.

12. That the said Fathers of the Poor may constant­ly wear some honourable Medal, such as the King and Parliament shall devise, besides the Green Staff which is now used in London to such like purpose (but upon extraordinary days only) to denote their Authori­ty and Office, at all times, and in all places, after the manner of the Habits in Spain, or rather, as have all the Familars of the Inquisition in most Romish Coun­tries, with admirable effect, tho to a wicked purpose; the consequence whereof will be, that the said Fathers of the Poor, being Numerous, and disperst by their Habitations and Business into most parts of their Pro­vince, will readily see any neglects of Officers, and as easily redress them; the Medal which they wear about them, being a sufficient Warrant to command Obedience from all Parish Officers wherever they come, although their Persons be not known there.

13. That the said Fathers of the Poor may have Liberty to admit into their Society, and all Powers and Priviledges equal with them, any Persons that are willing to serve GOD, their King and Country in this Pious and publick Work, the Persons desiring to be so admitted, paying at their admission 100l. or more, into the Poors Treasury, as a demonstration of the Sincerity of their Intentions to labour in and cul­tivate this most Religious Vineyard. This I only offer because the number of the said Fathers of the Poor hereafter mentioned, may be thought rather too few than too many.

14. That the said Fathers of the Poor, besides the Authority now exercised by Justices of the Peace, may [Page 13] have some less limited Powers given them, in rela­tion to the Punishment of their own, and Parish Offi­cers by pecuniary mulcts for the Poors benefit, in case of neglect, and otherwise, as his Majesty and the Parlia­ment shall think fit.

15. That the said Fathers of the Poor may have freedom to set the Poor on Work about whatsoever Manufacture they think fit, with a Non obstante to all Patents that have been or shall be granted to any Pri­vate Person or Persons for the sole Manufacture of any Commodity; the want of which priviledge, I have been told, was a prejudice to the Work-house at Clerkenwell, in the late design of setting their Poor Children about making of Hangings.

16. That all Vacancies by reason of Death of any of the said Fathers of the Poor, be perpetually supply­ed by Election of the Survivors.

Quest. 4. Who shall be the Persons entrusted with so great a Work, and such excess of Power?

This is a Question likewise of some difficulty; and the more, in regard of our present Differences in Religion; but I shall answer it as well as I can.

In general I say, They must be such as the People must have ample satisfaction in, or else the whole Design will be lost: For if the universality of the People be not satis­fied with the Persons, they will never part with their Money; but if they be well satisfied therein, they will be miraculously charitable.

Qest. 5. What sort of men the People will be most satisfied in?

I answer, I think in none so well as such only as a common Hall of the Livery-men of London shall make choice of, it being evident by the experience of many [Page 14] Ages, that the several Corporations in London are the best Administrators of what is left to ebaritable Uses, that have ever been in this Kingdom, which is mani­fest in the regular, just and prudent management of the Hospitals of London, and was wisely observed by Doctor-Collet Dean of St. Pauls, that prudent Eccle­siastick, when he left the Government of that School, and other great Revenues assigned by him for cha­ritable Uses, unto the disposition of the Mercers Company.

Object. That Country-Gentlemen, who have Power in places of their Residences, and pay out of their large Estates considerable sums towards the Main­tenance of their Poor within the aforelimited Pre­cincts, may be justly Offended if they likewise have not a share in the distribution of what shall be raised to that purpose.

Answ. The force of this Objection may be much taken off, if the City be obliged to choose but a certain number out of the City, as suppose seventy for London, ten out of Southwark for that Burrough, twenty for Westminster, this would best satisfie the People, and I think do the Work: But if it be thought too much for the City to have the choice of any more than their own seventy, the Justices of the Peace in their Quarter-Sessions may nominate and ap­point their own number of persons to assist for their respective Jurisdictions, and so to supply the vacan­cy in case of Death, &c. But all must be conjunctive, but one Body Politick, or the work will never be done.

Quest. 6. What will be the advantage to the Kingdom in general, and to the Poor in particular, that will accrue by such a Society of men, more than is enjoyed by the Laws at present?

[Page 15] I answer, innumerable and unspeakable are the Be­nefits to this Kingdom that will arise from the Con­sultatons and Debates of such a wife and honest Council, who being men so elected as aforesaid, will certainly conscionably study and labour to dis­charge their trust in this Service of GOD, their King and Country.

1. The Poor, of what quality soever, as soon as they are met with, will be immediatly relieved or set on Work where they are found, without hurry­ing them from place to place, and torturing their Bodies to no purpose.

2. Charitable minded men, will know certainly where to dispose of their Charity, so as it may be employed to right purposes.

3. House-keepers will be freed from the intoler­able Incumbrance of Beggars at their Door.

4. The Plantations will be regularly supplyed with Servants, and those that are sent thither well provided for.

5. The said Assembly will doubtless appoint some of their own Members to visit and relieve such as are Sick, as often as there shall be occasion, together with poor Labouring Families both in City and Suburbs.

6. Poor Children will be instructed in Learning and Arts, and thereby rendred serviceable to their Coun­try, and many other worthy Acts done for publick good by the joint deliberation of so many prudent and pious Men, assisted with such a Power and Purse, more then can be fore-seen or expressed by a private Person.

Quest. 7. What shall all the Poor of these Cities and Countries, being very numerous, be employed about!

%[Page 16] This question will be answer'd best by the said Assembly themselves when they have met & consul­ted together, who cannot be presumed deficient of Invention to set all the Poor on Work, especially since they may easily have Admirable Presidents from the Practice of Holland in this particular, & have alrea­dy very good ones of their own, in theOrders of their Hospitals of Christ-Church and Bridewell in London; the Girles may be employed in mending the Cloathes of the Aged, in Spinning, Carding, and other Linnen Manu­factures, and many in Sowing Linnen for the Exchange, or any House-keeper that will put out Linnen to the Matrons that have the Govenment of them.

The Boys in picking Okam, making Pins, rasping Wood, making Hangings, or any other Manufacture of any kind, which whether it turns to present profit or not, is not much material, the great business of the Nation being first but to keep the Poor, from Beg­ging and Starving, and en [...]ring such as are able to Labour and Discipline, that they may be hereafter useful Members to the Kingdom: But to conclude, I say the wisest Man living solitary cannot propose or imagine such excellent ways & methods as will be in­vented be the united Wisdom of so garve an Assembly.

The sitting of the said Assembly, I humbly con­ceive, ought to be de Die in Dlem; the Quoram not more then thirteen; whether they shall Yearly, Monthlyor Weekly choose a President, how they shall distribute themselves into the several quarters of the Communication, what Treasurers and other Officers to Employ, and where, and how many, will be best de­termined by themselves, and that without diffculty; because many that will probably be Members of the [Page 17] said Assembly, have already had large experience of the Government of the Hospitals of London: The man­ner of Election of the said Fathers of the Poor, I humbly suppose, cannot possibly be better contrived then af­ter the same way which the East-India Company choose their Committee, which will prevent the Con­fusion, Irregularity and Incertitude that may attend the Election of Voices, or holding up of Hands; especially because the Persons to be Elected at one time will be very many; the said manner Proposed is, Every Elector, viz. every Livery-Man, to bring to Guild-Hall at the appointed day for Elections, a List of the whole number of Persons, such as he think: fit that are to be Elected, and deliver the same openly unto such Persons as the Lord Mayor, Alder­men, and Common-Council-Men shall appoint to make the Scrutiny; which Persons so entrusted, with the said Scrutiny, seven, or ten days after, as shall be thought fit, at another Common Hall may declare who are the Persons Elected by the Majority of Votes.

If it be here Objected to the whole purpose of this Treatise, that this work may as well be done in distinct Parishes, if all Parishes where oblidged to Build Work-Houses, and Employ their Poor therein; as Dorchester, and some others have done, with good success.

I answer, That such attempts have been made in many places to my knowledge, with very good in­tents and strenuous Endeavours, but all that ever I heard of, proved vain & ineffectual (as I fear will that of Clarken-well) except that single Instance of the Town of Dorchester, which yet signifies nothing [Page 18] in relation to the Kingdom in general, besides all other places cannot do the like, nor doth the Town of Dorchester entertain any but their own Poor only, and Whip away all others; whereas that which I design is to propose such a Foundation, as shall be large, wise, honest and rich enough to maintain & employ all Poor that come within the Pale of their Commu­nication, without enquiring where they were Born, or last Inhabited: Which I dare affirm with Humi­lity, that nothing but a National, or at least such a Provincial Purse can so well do, nor any persons in this Kingdom, but such only as shall be prickt out by Popular Election for the reason before al­ledged, viz. That in my Opinion three fourths at least of the Stock must issue from the Charity of the People; as I doubt not but it will to a greater propor­tion, if they be satisfied in the Managers thereof; but if otherwise, not the fortieth; I might say not the hundreth part.

I propose the Majority of the said Fathers of the Poor to be Citizens (though I am none my self) because I think a great share of the Money to be employed, must and will come from them, if ever the Work be well done, as also, because their Habitations are nearest the Center of their Business, and they best acquainted with all affairs of this Nature, by their Experience in the Government of the Hospitals.

Earnestly to desire and endeavour that the Poor of England should be better provided for and em­ployed, is a Work that was much studied by my de­ceased Father, and therefore though I be as ready to confess, as any shall be to charge me, with Disability to propose a Model of Laws for this great Affair, [Page 91] yet I hope the more Ingenuous will pardon me for endeavouring to give aim towards it, since it is so much my duty, which in this particular I shall be careful to Perform (though I may be too remiss in others) as shall appear by MORE VISIBLE AND APPARENT DEMONSTRATIONS, if ever this design, or any other (that is like to effect what is desired) succeed.

I. C.

This following, Judge HALE writ (with much more to the same purpose) in his Book, Intituled, A Discourse touching Provision for the Poor.

WE have very severe Laws against Theft, possi­bly more severe than most other Nations, yea, and than the Offence simply considered deserves; and there is so little to be said in defence of the severity of the Law herein, but the multitude of the Offen­ders, and the design of the Law rather to terrifie them punish: ut metus in omnes paena in paucos: But it is most apparent that the Law is frustrated of its Design therein; for altho more suffer at one Sessions at Newgate for Stealing, and Breaking up Houses, and Picking of Pockets, and such other Larcenaries, than suffer in some other Countries for all Offences in three Years, yet the Goals are never the emptier: Necessity and Poverty and want of a due Provision for the Employment of Indigent persons, and the custom of a loose and Idle Life, daily supply with advantage, the number of those who are taken off by the Sentence of the Law: And doubtless, as the mul­titude of Poor and necessitous, and uneducated Per­sons increase, the multitude of Malefactors will in­crease, notwithstanding the Examples of Severity.

So that upon the whole account, the Prudence of Prevention, as it is more Christian, so it will be more [Page 21] effectual that the Prudence of Remedy. The pre­vention of Poverty, Idleness, and a loose and disor­derly Education, even of Poor Children, would do more good in this Kingdom, than all the Gibbets Cau­terisations, and Whipping-Posts and Goals in this Kingdom, and would render these kind of Disci­plines less necessary and less frequent Pref.

In that State that things are, our Populousness, which should be a blessing to the Kingdom, becomes the Burden of it; by breading up whole Families, and Succesful Generations, in a meer. Trade of Idle­ness, Thieving, Begging, and a Barbarous kind of Life, which must in time prodigiously increase and overgrow the whole face of the Kingdom, and eat out the heart of it, unless care be taken to prevent it. p. 32.

He Concludes his Book thus, viz.

That it would be a Work of great Humanity (to relieve and imploy the Poor) and such as we owe to those of our own Nature as we are men. The wise GOD did tell his ancient People that the Poor should be always among them; 1. to exercise their Liber­ality and Charity in supporting the wants of some by the abundance of others And 2. to Exercise their Discretion and Industry to think of and set on foot such means as might put them in a Course of honest Imployment, and encourage them in it. They that are Rich are Stewards of their Wealth, and they that are wise are Stewards of their Wisdom unto the Great MASTER of the Family of Haven and Earth, to whom they must give an account of both, and one (I am sure) of the best accounts they can [Page 22] give of both is, to imploy them in the [...]formation and Relief of those that want both or either.

2. A work that as well becomes a Christian as any: Christianity commending Charity as one of the Principial Vertues, and indeed the ill Provision for the Poor in England, is one of the greatest Repro­ches to us in relation to our Christian Profession.

The want of a due Provision for Education and Relief of the Poor in the way of Industry, is that which fills the Goals with Malefactors, and fills the Kingdom with Idle and unprofitable persons, that consumes the Stock of the Kingdom without improv­ing it, and that will daily encrease even to a Deso­lation in time. And this Error in the first Concocti­on is never remediable but by Gibbits and Whipping. But there must be a Sound Prudent and Resolved Method for an Industrious Education of the Poor, and that will give better remedy against these Cor­ruptions than any Penalties can.


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