By Juan Luis Vives
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Extra info for On Assistance to the Poor
If the hospitals cannot accommodate all the diseased beggars, one or more homes should be built, as many as are necessary, where they can be treated separately. A doctor, a pharmacist, and male and female nurses should be hired. Doing this is what nature (as well as a builder of ships) does, locating the repugnant in one place so that it may not offend the rest of the body. Likewise, those afflicted with a loathsome or contagious disease should sleep and eat their food in a place apart so that their repulsive condition, or the infection itself, may not creep over the rest of the population—or else there will never be an end to disease.
The method of taking a census, as specified by Vives, was adopted. In the cities and towns, the mayor—and in the country, the parson or churchwarden was to provide the statistics of the poor of the district and to maintain the records ready for inspection at all times. Two men named as “collectors” were to take pledges of alms from the self-supporting citizenry. Were the parishioner reluctant to contribute a share, he was then obliged to appear before the bishop, a threatening confrontation for the 1540s and 1550s.
The blind should not be allowed to sit idle or wander about aimlessly. There are many occupations in which they might be employed. Some are suited for academic training; these should be allowed to study since their aptitude for letters is no small thing. Others are suited to the art of music; they could sing, pluck the lute, or play the flute. Others might turn weavers’ wheels, work treadmills, tread winepresses, or blow bellows in the smithies. Still other blind are particularly skilled in making little boxes and chests, fruit-baskets and cages.