On the Sufficiency of
the Parochial System, without a Poor Rate
for the Right Management of the Poor.
On the encouragements for holding intercourse with the common people,
and the various ways of doing them good.
1. There is a certain political antipathy, the
characteristic of a whole class, which disposes many to look coldly and
adversely on, the differences of rank in the world; and which has also misled
them into a wrong philosophy, when speculating on the principles and the
mechanism of human society. The homage which is generally if not universally
felt towards men simply as the holders of wealth, or station, or family
distinction, is treated by such, not merely as a pusillanimous affection, but
as a prejudice - an illusion of the fancy which it is the prerogative of reason
to expose and to dissipate - an arbitrary or factitious sentiment, which, in
the progress of light and of larger views in the world, will at length be
extirpated from all breasts by a sounder and better education than that which
now enthrals the spirits of our race, and holds it in still remaining bondage
to the senilities of an older period at length wearing fast away. It is thus
that deference to rank is held by them to be rather a conventional feeling than
an attribute of the species - having no place of stability either as a primary
law, or even as a necessary result of laws in the Constitution of our nature.
2. This is fortunately one of those speculations which Nature is too strong for - who asserts her own supremacy, and visits the transgressor with her obvious displeasure, when the wayward resistance is made to any instinct or tendency which her own hand has implanted. This is never done with impunity; and so all history demonstrates the evils and sufferings, which, in the shape of so many chastisements, come upon society- when, broken loose from her ancient holds, the distinctions of social order are set at nought; and a universal lawlessness of spirit becomes the precursor of a universal anarchy. It is with political as with physical theories when the lessons of experience are disregarded, that experience always steadfast and true to her own processes gives forth a practical refutation of both. But when the hypothesis is of inanimate matter, all the harm cC the disappointment might be the mockery of a confident anticipation. Not so when the hypothesis is of men, to be acted on or carried into effect by a change in the framework of huma society - the misgiving of which might be followed up by a general derangement and distress in the unfortunate community that has been made the subject of some headlong adventure, some rash and reckless experiment.
Such is the invariable result, when any of the special affections of humanity are uprooted, or rather when in some period of epidemic frenzy, they for the time are kept in abeyance. The inequalities of condition in life are often spoken of as artificial. But in truth they are most thoroughly natural; and it would require the violence of a perpetual stress on the spontaneous tendencies of every society in the world to repress or overbear them. The superiority of one man to another in certain outward circumstances of his state is not artificial but natural; and the consideration in which the occupiers of the higher state are held is natural also - insomuch that the public feeling of reverence for the grandee of a neighbourhood has an ingredient of nature in it, as well as the domestic feeling of reverence for the father of a family. Now what we affirm is, that neither of these affections can with impunity be violated, or without injury being done in the one instance to the good order of a household, in the other to the good order of a commonwealth. More especially of the social affection do we aver - that when superseded in its operation, one main buttress of the social and political edifice is thereby damaged or destroyed - a lesson which the finger of history has often recorded in characters of blood; and chiefly in those seasons of revolutionary uproar, when, in the absence of this wholesome and balancing restraint, society vibrates between the fitful excesses of popular tumult and the seventies of a grinding despotism.
3. There is a very general foreboding in our day - that, even now, we are fast ripening for such a catastrophe; and we will not say that they are the common people of our land who are altogether to blame for it. It is true that on their part there might be a criminal disike and defiance to superiors; but it is just as true that these superiors, on the other hand, might deserve the forfeiture of all that influence and respect, which their place and their circumstances could otherwise have both gotten and maintained for them. For though a reverence towards the holders of rank be natural, the resentment of their oppression is also natural; and so even would be the return of this pained and irritated feeling, though there were no higher provocative than their mere indifference or neglect. The very distance at which the rich keep themselves from the poor, were enough of itself to engender a hostile feeling in the bosoms of the latter, and to fill them with all rankling and suspicious imaginations. The alienation becomes mutual; and even though on the one side, there should be nothing more or nothing worse than the habitual inattention of minds otherwise taken up, this might bear to the general eye the aspect of a lordly or aristocratic scorn; and if so interpreted, will separate by a still wider moral interval the patrician and plebeian orders of the community from each other. It is true that this reverence of which we have spoken forms part of mans nature. But his is a compound nature, made up not of a single but of various affections-any one of which, as the affection of rank, might be neutralized, even prevailed against, by the operation of the rest. The deference for rank is by itself so strong, that, when not overborne by other influences, it mightily conduces to the stability of our social system; and for this beneficial end is inserted, we have no doubt, as a principle in the human constitution, by the author of our frame. Yet it is not so strong, but that it might be nullified, nay reversed, by passions stronger than itself; and it is of vast account therefore to the peace and well being of society, whether a tendency so wholesome shall be thwarted by conflicting or aided by conspiring forces - a difference this, for which the upper classes themselves are deeply responsible. Were all great men good men - were the natural respect for station at all times harmonized with by the natural respect for virtue - were the homage spontaneously given to every holder of superior rank strengthened by the homage given as spontaneously to the intelligence or the accomplishments of superior education, and still more by the gratitude which substantial kindness, or even but the passing attentions of frank and honest affability never fail to awaken - With such a concurrence of the natural influences all on the side of order and good will, there might still by a series of pacific changes, be the progressive amelioration of human society; so as that all anarchy and tumult might be banished from the land, and a revolution become a moral impossibility.
4. Should there ensue such a crisis then, it will not be the multitude who are alone to blame for it; but the holders of fortune and rank will have their full share of responsibility for its atrocities and its horrors. The truth is, that people of humble estate are most feelingly and gratefully alive to the notice of those whom Providence has placed in a more elevated station than their own; and never does this principle stand more demonstrably forth as a real ingredient in the constitution of our nature, than in the superior charm of those recognitions or personal kindnesses which descend from the occupiers of a higher sphere on the children of poverty and toil. Even a passing smile of courtesy on the street is not thrown away, but has in it a certain influence or power of graciousness; and this is enhanced tenfold, when any son or daughter of affluence enters the houses of the poor, and is sure to find in consequence a readier access into their hearts. It is in the power of any to make the trial and satisfy himself of the truth of this averment. Let him go at random to the lowliest of their tenements, though with nothing but a question on which he wants to be resolved, and therefore not to serve them but to serve himself with the information which he is seeking at their hands; and see whether his interrogation, if but put in the language of courtesy, is not followed up by the language of respect and of kindness back again. This, however, is but a first and faint intimation, the outset signal as it were of a disposition which might afterwards be cultivated into a most close and beneficial alliance. Instead of a question of indifference let it be a question of family interest relating for example to the education of children, and bespeaking a kind desirousness on your part to ascertain their scholarship and stimulate them onward to a higher proficiency than heretofore - we say there is not one in a hundred who would not welcome, and that most cordially, such an approximation for such an object; and with whom it might not ripen into an intercourse of charity or mutual good will, between them of the lower and you of the middle or higher classes of society. On their part there is an open door. It is for us to make it a great and effectual door of usefulness. If our commonwealth is to fall by the dark and angry passions of the multitude, there will be something more in that coming tempest than the ferocity of a misguided, there will be also in it the vengeance of a neglected population.
5. One fears to indulge so far as to give, though no more than an adequate description, of this intercourse with the common people and its attendant results - lest he should be charged with luxuriating in the picturesque; and carrying his readers through a sort of moral fairy-land greatly too beautiful for this our rough and actual world. It is all the more fortunate that the means and materials for observation are within our reach-so that any man may test and ascertain for himself what, in sober earnest, the experimental truth of the thing in question really is. Let him assume then for the enterprise on which we would set him, a given population, say of the worst and poorest - for the lower down, both in the moral and the economical scale, the better for the purpose of a substantial verification. Let the number not exceed what any lay office-bearer of the church might easily and beneficially overtake. Let him however not be afraid of three hundred as too many for either the strength or time he may have to bestow on this undertaking. But we must provide him with an errand which might explain and justify his entrance into every house of this his special and selected territory; and we shall only at present single out one from the many, wherewith, in the course of his growing intimacy with the people, he might afterwards charge himself. Let us suppose it then to be his resolute aim, so to influence and control the habit of all the families, as that each boy within its limits shall learn to read, and each girl to sew. For carrying this benevolent purpose into effect, let him look out the best and nearest seminaries which might suit the convenience of the children; and then let him try all which can be effected by counsel and persuasion for gaining the consent of parents - and never desisting from the prosecution of his self-imposed task, so long as there remained any exceptions in his district to a universal attendance on the means of education. He will be astonished to find how near he shall have gotten to a full accomplishment of his object; and it will greatly expedite his success, if he make a study of the best and most judicious methods for helping it forward. A little personal trouble on his part will be of prevailing force with the parents in the way of securing their co-operation. In particular it is not to be told how kindly it will be taken, should he give an occasional half hour of an evening to inspect and examine the scholarship of his juvenile clients - whether in single families, or in little groups from a few of the contiguous households. I will say nothing now of pecuniary advances - whether in presents of books, or prizes, or the payment of fees. One of the most pleasing discoveries perhaps which awaits him, is to find how marvellously little he need be called upon for any sacrifice of this kind; and what I want you to understand, is the influence for good that might be obtained by nothing more than a series of cheap and easy attentions-involving the occasional appearance of himself in the dwelling- places, and occasional acts of converse and companionship with the inmates. Let any man who delights in doing good, and has a taste for the cordialities of human intercourse, but embark in the walk which I have now pointed out for him; and he will not miss, even of a present reward, in the reciprocations of confidence and kindness which meet him on his path. But on this we must not expatiate else we shall provoke the incredulity of those hard and heartless utilitarians who imagine that nothing can be true which is beautiful, and that nothing can be beautiful which is true. They will suspect us of dealing in fancy pictures; and, merely because they are realities which are pleasing to look at, or admit of being feelingly told would they repudiate them as so many glittering imaginations fit only for the poets pen - instead of being, what in plain earnest they are, the realities of truth and soberness.
6. In this question, the experimental is all on our side; and the ideal all on the side of our antagonists. When they think of the plebeian swarms who are huddled together in wretched tenements, throughout the lanes and alleys, the dark and dismal and putrid recesses of a large city, there is the apprehension in their minds of something so thoroughly outlandish, that they are positively afraid of entering these unexplored habitations - standing in the same terror of their inmates, that they would of unknown animals. It was in 1822 that I made a round among the poorest houses which we took at random in the parish of St Giles, London, along with Mr Joseph Butterworth, of Russel Square, who told me, that it was only a few months before since they had made the discovery of the movement being safe. We met the same reception that we should experience everywhere - one of perfect civility, even though on our part we had nothing more substantial than civility to offer - a mere question respecting the state of their health, the comfort of their houses, or the scholarship of their children. Instead of ours being the imaginations of poetry, theirs are the imaginations of fear - the great difference in point of authority betwixt us being, that theirs are the fancies of men who keep at a distance; ours the findings of men who have come close to the subject of contemplation, and, on our repeated and personal encounter therewith, tell what we have seen with our eyes and heard with our ears. We affirm nothing so fantastic or sentimental, as that our first appearance is to operate like a spell on the affections of the natives; or with something like the instant force of love at first sight, to bind us together by an affinity of trusty and sworn companionship. We speak not yet of their companionable virtues, but of their companionable manners; and that what is kindly meant on our part, will be kindly taken upon theirs. It is to the initial facilities that we are now attending, by which the common people encourage and open up a way for our future household intercourse with themselves and their families - leading to an acquaintanceship convertible, if made to overspread the whole communities, into the best results, both on the economics and the morals of the general population. In other words, the barrier in the way of this hopeful and beneficial interchange, does not lie in any unwillingness or in aught that is ungainly and repulsive on their part; but in our own selfish indolence, our own callous insensibility to the considerations and the calls of Christian patriotism. And we repeat, that, should the fearful crisis of a sweeping and destructive anarchy be now awaiting us, it will lie as much, we think culpably and inexcusably more so, at the door of the higher as of the lower orders in the commonwealth.
7. Having now said enough of the access which there is to familiar converse with the common people, and that in virtue of a welcome and willingness from themselves having we trust convinced the reader that this is not a romance of Arcadia, but a thing of as firm and home-bred staple as any of the every-day occurrences in human life - let us now, with all plainness and brevity, unfold our own views of the account to which this intimacy, strengthening by every new visit to a family, or every new movement through an appointed district of families, might be turned. We suppose our philanthropist to have charged himself with a population of from two to three hundred, or somewhere about fifty families; and we shall now specify what a few of the various concerns are, on which, with a very little personal trouble and with almost no perceptible expense of time or money he might prove of substantial use to them.
8. We have already instanced the topic of education, as forming one of the most profitable occasions for this sort of intercourse. It branches into a great variety of distinct objects, all of which might be advocated on the same principle; and which, with certain precautions to be explained afterwards, might be presented without alloy, to the unmingled good of the people among whom you expatiate. We have already spoken of the week-day scholarship, both in reading and sewing, which it were well to foster till the habit had become universal. This applies chiefly to the young - among whom I have recommended it as your endeavour -to promote a general school-going. But there is another and higher scholarship applicable to the men and women of all ages - wherewith even the secular philanthropist, who leaves the higher department of spiritual usefulness to others, might properly and beneficially charge himself. We mean the scholarship of Christian instruction; and for the advancement of which, he might at least do all that in him lies to promote a habit of universal church.going. He will find at the outset of his connexion with such a territory as that in which we have placed him, that the great majority of the people go nowhere; and should there be a preaching station or a new church provided for their vicinity, he will find, that the same influential suasion which told on the attendance of the children at school, will not be altogether inoperative when brought to bear on the adult population, with a view to their Sabbath attendance on the lessons of Christianity. It is true that the subject of our present argument is on the best and likeliest means for helping forward the interest of the common people in things temporal the well-being of their present life. But aware of the prodigious efficacy, even for these secular objects, which lies in the operation of moral causes - we should say of the functionary who hath chosen this, the secular good of the people, for his appropriate walk - that he is not out of place, when he lends a helping hand, both toward the erection of a church for the people of his charge, and the forming of a congregation out of their families. And on the same principle of its being quite in character, that he should help forward a church though he does not preach in it, might he help forward a Sabbath-school though he should not teach it. He might set the little institute agoing. He might provide the services of a teacher. He might stimulate the attendance of the young; or even of the parents, should the readings and the addresses promise to be of wholesome effect on their own consciences and the order of their households. And many are the nameless other services, of object akin to education; and by which, through the medium of books, he might raise the standard of intelligence and worth throughout the families of his vineyard. If he be not enough of an ecclesiastical functionary to press home the lessons of the Bible on their hearts, he may at least see that in every house there shall be a Bible. He may circulate tracts, whether or not he should expound and urge the subject of them. Nor is it necessary that the humble literature in which he deals should be all of a sacred character. He might, and by the instrumentality of popular authorship, be most usefully employed in adding to the resources and enjoyments of the life that now is - as by means of a district library, in which I should rejoice to find works of household and cottage economy, works of civil and natural history, works explanatory of the various processes of artisanship, works of travel and miscellaneous information purified of all that was fitted to vitiate either the principles or the taste, even works of science as far as it could be made palpable and that was fitted to enlarge and elevate the plebeian understanding. An increasing demand for such as these would afford the pleasing evidence of an increasing sobriety - a substitution for the concourse of evening parties in haunts of low and sordid indulgence, of a better habitude among the people a growing taste for the rational and social firesides of their now more virtuous and happier homes.
9. We know not, we shall not say a more proud, but a more pleasing triumph, or one that gives truer delight to the feelings and well exercised faculties of a benevolent mind, than what may be called the prosperous management of human nature. We before spoke of a school for sewing. A humble seminary of this sort might be taught by one of the female householders, and held in her own apartment. A most beautiful supplement to this education, is that each scholar in her turn should have the care and keeping of this apartment, and with the special object that the home of her own parents should have the benefit of those habits in respect of cleanliness and good order which she had herself acquired. I had this management introduced into little institutes of my own within my city parish in Glasgow, and with the effect of a great and visible improvement in the interior of many of its plebeian habitations. Now this is a service which if he but lay himself out for it could be efficiently done by our visitor of a district. He could take cognizance of every such amelioration in the economy of his households, and give it the encouragement of his applause. His habitual calls might give rise to a habitual preparation for receiving him; and in this way may he be the instrument of raising the taste and comfort of the families. And whatever made for the health as well as comfort of the inmates might come most properly within the scope of his benevolent consideration. By his influence with landlords, or a little outlay on his own part, or the aid and co-operation of a medical friend, he might carry useful alterations into effect at the doors of the houses or in the tenements themselves - or by some such signal service as helping on the drainage of a street, or the removal of obstructions and nuisances, may earn for himself throughout the little vicinity the credit of a public bernifactor. A deal of substantive good might be done in this way - which, as being the manifestation and evidence of his undoubted good-will, will place him on vantage-ground for a still higher good, and arm his future persuasions with a moral force which in many instances will prove irresistible.
10. What as yet we have mainly required of our philanthropist is the sacrifice of his time and trouble - for with one slight exception, that of a pecuniary advance for the public health of his district, we have not yet spoken of his liberalities in money. Now then, it may be said, is the first time in which this element makes its appearance; and it may perhaps awaken your surprise - it may seem to your eyes like a reversal of the ordinary process that I introduce it to your notice, not as passing from the pocket of the visitor into the hands of the people, but as passing in the opposite direction or from the pockets of the people into the hands of the visitor. It may not perhaps be the first thing he does; but the first thing we tell him to do, is not to give, but to get from them - an advice which we could offer fearlessly and unblushingly, even in the poorest districts to which we have ever had access, whether in town or country. We shall explain afterwards wherein it is that the great healthfulness of our process lies; but meanwhile we may - give a few instances, in which, while devising to the best of our judgment for their good, we, instead of lavishing upon them from our own means, draw on the capabilities of the people themselves. We do so, when we exact a payment, it may be in small monthly or weekly pittances, for their education. We do so, when we collect at Sabbath-schools for the expenses of the concern. We do so when we seek their contributions in pennies or halfpennies a week for the formation and maintenance of a library which we make their own. But this is only teaching them to help themselves - a most useful lesson however - though we need not stop at this, for by right management, we shall find in them an equal readiness, and not only a prompt but productive liberality in helping others also. For example, we can make an effective appeal to them in behalf of missions, in behalf of church or school extension, or any other of the best and likeliest schemes of Christian philanthropy which are now afloat in the world. We shall have no difficulty in obtaining their consent to organize an association amongst them, which, on the system of small and frequent payments, will, from the number of individual contributions, yield a far larger amount than is generally counted on. Their interest in these things could easily be kept up and extended by monthly meetings, at which might be read in their hearing all the information of chief moment which comes out periodically; and this, of itself, is eminently fitted to beget a higher cast of sentiment, and altogether to exalt the popular intelligence by supplying it with larger and loftier contemplations than before. One most precious effect of such arrangements is, that, instead of recipients, the people become donors and dispensers of charity - and that too in the highest of its walks - an invaluable habit, not only as a moral barrier against certain degeneracies, but as the guarantee of other habits, in themselves the main ingredients of plebeian virtue, and which powerfully subserve the blessed result of a well-principled and well- conditioned population.
11. It may be felt that we are now going beyond the limits of a strict secular philanthropy; and, doubtless, such is the close alliance between the moral and the economical - such the intimate dependence which the comfort of a people has upon their character - that we cannot bestow a full entertainment on the one topic, without trenching upon the other, and so as to establish a line of continuity in our argument from things earthly to things spiritual. Nevertheless, as there is a real distinction between the two services - so is it of great importance to the well-being of a people, that, in their behalf they should be undertaken by separate and distinct agents; or, that in the arrangements of a benevolent association, as of a church devising for the whole good of the families in a given neighbourhood - they should be vested in distinct office-bearers. But this is a matter which will fall to - be adjusted afterwards; and, meanwhile, we can confidently aver of the philanthropist who limits himself to the services which we have now assigned for him, or who even acquits himself well and in the spirit of kindness of greatly fewer than these - that he will earn by it a mighty influence for good over the people whom he has thus selected as the objects of his care. They will not look unmoved on these his labours of love. It is not in nature that they should; for there is a spell and a sway in human kindness, if it but give the unequivocal tokens of its reality, which even the hardiest and most ungainly of our race feel to be irresistible. This is a law which has been mainly lost sight of in the innumerable projects of our day for the amelioration of society - the sweetening effect of mere acquaintanceship, though it should amount to no more than courtesy, between the men of higher and men of humbler rank in the commonwealth; and still more should it rise to cordiality, when it will be found that there are a moral action and reaction in the world of spirits, which, like the reciprocities of the material system, have been established by an all-wise Creator, to maintain the harmony and stability of the whole.
12. But we were going to submit one of the best services, at least of the secular class, which our little community could possibly receive at the hands of a benefactor a service too in which money is concerned not yet however money passing from the philanthropists to the people, but money belonging to the people and passing from them into the keeping and care of philanthropists. We mean the help and encouragement which should be given to a habit of accumulation, and more especially by providing for all its little proceeds a place of secure custody in a savings bank. We may afterwards state, though it must be in the briefest possible manner, the effect of this habit, should it become general, in elevating and that permanently the condition of labourers, by its sure influence on the wages of labour. Its moral benefits, are palpable both as a counteractive to dissipation and connected with the high qualities of foresight sobriety and self-command; and also as begetting a sense of property, and so giving them to feel a stake and an interest in the cause of social order, in the peace and stability of the commonwealth thereby providing for their good citizenship, as well as for the respectability and comfort of their families. Certain it is that notwithstanding the absolute amount of such deposits over the whole empire, if one inquire piecemeal, whether among workmen congregated in villages or in the streets of our larger towns, he will find that the habit is very far from general; and can only be made so, by the attentions of the benevolent being given piecemeal, each to his own separate group of contiguous families. It were no difficult achievement for each to make it general within the limits of his own selected walk - and to spread it from household to household, by making the example of one neighbour tell in argument on the practice of another. As it is, we have but rare and scattered instances of such economy among the common people. They have been too much left to find their own way to these most useful depositories for their humble savings. The district visitor could bring the aggressive principle to beat on the habit of repairing to a savings bank, as well as on the habit of attendance on schools or churches - and we are sure with a tenfold greater result than before, so as to make it nearly universal within his own portion of the territory.
13. But let us now resume the consideration of that in which after all the great power of our philanthropist liea. There is immense material benefit rendered to the people by the various services which we have now specified; but these he could not have done without their own co-operation, and this it had been impossible to carry without a certain mastery over their affections. He had no authority to force, save that moral authority, which has gained for itself a willing obedience, at once spontaneous and sure. It is his good will which has earned for him their good will. His attentions, the time and trouble which he takes, are the simple expedients, by which he gets his ascendancy over them. They indicate his kind feeling toward themselves and their families; and herein lies the great secret of his power. It may be difficult to explain, but easy to perceive, how this power should become tenfold more effective, by the concentration of these various good offices on the contiguous households of one and the same locality. There is in it somewhat like the strength of an epidemic influence, which spreads by infection, and more amalgamates the people both with him and with each other. We wonder not that Lord Melbourne in one of his speeches should have expressed such jealousy of these household visitations - for though he misconceived the object of them, as if it had been to poison the inmates with a feeling of hostility to government, he did not in the least overrate their power the power not by which a demagogue, whose element is agitation, inflames the passions of a restless and excited multitude whom he has lured from their occupations and their homes, but the power of Christian charity over human hearts; and which if once made to pervade, by the assumption of district after district, the great bulk and body of a population, would, in the privacies of domestic life, lay a deep foundation of peace and righteousness, not to be unsettled by those fiery spirits who now live by the impostures which they practise on a deluded and misled because a neglected commonalty who are an easy prey to the bad, only because the good have not yet found their way to them. And it is incalculable by how little a sacrifice each may acquire for himself a lordship for good, and the best of all, because over the hearts of his own little community. I will not tell him beforehand, but leave him to the surprise of his own experience, when he finds by how few hours in the week, or such odd half hours of the time as he may have at his own disposal, he may obtain that mastery, which will open a way for him to the fulfilment of all his wishes. The passing run even of a few minutes among the households is not without its efficacy. Let him ever and anon be making presentation of himself to the same eyes; and he will be the talk of people on the same stair - the object of a common reference and recognition among the inmates of his own locality. And a common object does beget a common sympathy. It is thus that the same numerical amount of attentions and good offices done to fifty families far apart from each other does not tell with half the influence they have, when discharged upon them in a state of juxtaposition - concentrated, as it were, within the limits of one and the same territory. It is marvellous how soon at this rate he might become the familiar of all, and even the friend, the intimate and confidential friend of a few, and these the best among the families of this little neighbourhood; and so it is that all the bland and beneficent influences of a village economy can be most easily set up in the moral wilderness of a city, in the very heart and deepest interior of a crowded metropolis.
14. What we most desiderate in an agent of charity, is to have one with the taste and the inclinations of a thorough localist - one who rejoices in a home-walk, and would like better that it should be pervaded thoroughly, than that he should scatter his regards among the thousand objects of a wide and distant philanthropy. I would rather that he restrained his ambition for what is great, so as that he might give himself wholly to the little which he can fully overtake. Better do one thing completely and well, than a hundred things partially and superficially. It is not to the magnificent survey of him, whose eyes like those of Solomons fool are on all the ends of the earth, that I would look for any solid contribution to the amelioration of our species; but to the humble painstaking of many single labourers, each giving himself duteously and devotedly to his own manageable sphere, and satisfied that he has not lived in vain, if he have raised the tone of character, or added to the comfort by rectifying and improving the habits of fifty families. The result universal is made up of many items, and can only be arrived at by a summation of particulars. For the book of philanthropy, like that of philosophy, is a book of many pages; and it is not to universalists that we look for the completion of either, but to the manifold assiduities of those, who, whether by patient study on the one field or persevering action on the other, each fill up a single leaf or a single line of them. It is not by one great simultaneous effort, that even a single city is to be overtaken; but by the piece-meal and successive efforts of men engaged in the humbler but more practicable: task of making out one district after another, and one parish after another - each labouring unseen by the general eye on his own little domain; but where the want of eclat and magnitude is amply repaired by the nearer approach which can be made to the objects of our benevolence, and so the more intense because the less divided affection - like that which plays in secret within the bosom of families and homes. We read in the New Testament parables, that each possessor of so many talents who turned them to full account was rewarded by the charge of as many cities. Certain it is, as we have already said, that there is a delight, one of the best and purest we can enjoy, in the prosperous management of human nature; and it looks as if this, one of the pleasures of the good here, were followed up by a larger enjoyment of the same in the realms of light and blessedness hereafter. We know that there will be service there. And if they who turn others into righteousness shall shine as the stars in the firmament, - we may guess -from this their sightlier elevation, that there will be superintendence there as if the little that was well done on earth were to be followed up by larger powers and opportunities of well-doing in that region on high where charity never faileth.
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