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course of the year; how the race of beggars multiplied ; how the poor labourers around me either joined the motley crew, or loudly murmured against me; and how every rich neighbour eased himself of importunity by directing the suppliant to my house. But I will confess to have been greatly relieved when I found myself freed from the difficult task of a reform, by the obligation, from family reasons, of breaking up my country establishment, and coming to reside in the city ; where no one knows another's doing—where there are no neighboursno tenants—no obligations—where the beggars dare not knock at your door, ring at your bell, or peep in at your windows—and I arrived at my new house in street, breathing freely and securely—compromising willingly with smoke, cries, and organs, to live clear of the beggars, &c. My comfort was put beyond all possibility of molestation, by a visit I paid, the very day after my arrival, to a friend, well known in the benevolent and religious world; where, having begun to impart my abovementioned feelings, he vehemently interrupted me with, “ I trust you never give to beggars ! it is only doing them harm-undoing all that we have been labouring to achieve. My dear sir, we have a new plan now which answers entirely. You have, of course, heard of my pamphlet—unanswerable ! here is fortunately a copy left-here are some mendicity reports—Mr. 's reply to my pamphlet --my rejoinder-and a few tickets, which you may find useful.”
My friend was summoned to a committee, and with my hands completely full, and my head completely puzzled, I left his door—my diseased vision (which now sees beggars in every thing) beheld me instantly surrounded by my focs; and fortunately
remembering my way, I fairly ran home, being stopped only twice: once by a sweeper, whose services were irresistible; once by a lady, who restored me a pamphlet. I gave them each a ticket " for
soup and labour;" and when arrived at home, shut myself up for a week, until I had, by dint of “Reports," “ Hints and Cautions," mastered the subject, and could walk forth in the streets with all the courage with which one visits Exeter 'Change : for I had barricadoed out the beggars with answers for every species of demand ; and it is well I had done so since never was man so followed by unconquerable women ; men in bowls, on skewers, pleading dogs, and deformed children. Respectable people turned beggars when I approached, and boys offered me “matches,” in the dog-days: but I was crammed with knowledge—strong in my arguments, and reechoed firmly the cry of, “I never give to beggars.”
It was one bitter evening in December, that, followed by a half-naked wretch from street to street, and feeling my resolution failing me, I turned abrubtly round, and repeating, "I never give in the streets.” “ Then where do you give, sir,” cried the famishing creature, eagerly,—“I do not care how far I go ?"
I had just reached my own door, and in I hurried -very far from the conviction of having done right, with the countenance and figure of the rejected suppliant haunting my mental vision, while her question rang in my ears.
6 Where then do you give ?" might be asked of many who might find it difficult to reply in strict truth : and for those who, with myself, could urge, “ We subscribe to the various societies for relieving the wants of the poor: we give to any case of well-authenticated distress ; we must keep our limited means for those who de
serve assistance:" might not this be pleaded, that cases will arise when no rule, no plan, should be suffered to stifle the natural feeling ? and it does appear to me the obvious duty of doing good to all men.” There might have been “ societies” and “ associations” at the time when the poor Jew fell among thieves; and as the wounded man lay helpless by the roadside, the priest might have reflected, as he passed by, that his name stood recorded as a benefactor to mankind, therefore he was such that his exertions were exemplary, his charities regulated and unalterable; and the Levite might have required proofs of the man's character; might have doubted, as “ he looked on him,” the reality of his distress : above all, having made it a rule never to assist any one on the high-road, his conscience enables him also to “ to pass by on the other side.” It will be a happy world where no prudence is required; where no counterfeits of that really valuable quality can be admitted; but, in the meantime, as the true gem must be ascertained and preserved in this nether world, and feeling that it has baffled my research, like a true philosopher's stone, I resign to you, Madam, the labour of further investigation ; and remain, with every sentiment of respect,
Your obedient servant,
Occupy till I come, is the commission by which every one holds whatever of earthly possession is in his hands. He may have burnt the writings, and forgotten the terms on which he received the property; but that will not alter the case : they will be reproduced hereafter, and judgment entered according to the terms of this commission. It is hence impossible to form a right judgment of the use to be
made of the possession, either generally, or in any particular, without reference to this first transfer of it, from Him whose it was, to him whose otherwise it had never been, and by whom it must be restored in “the day of his returning.” This my benevolent and lively correspondent seems scarcely enough to have considered. When he found himself in the country, with house, and lands, and money, and time, an understanding mind, and, as I think, a pious heart, as he leaned over his outer gate, had he reasoned thus" My absent Lord has left me this in charge. It is not of my earning or deserving : Why do I have it? What am I to do with it? He will be here soon, and I must give account.” His first step would have been to examine the Scriptures, as to the will of God in the use of property, as far as by precept or example it has been communicated. There he would have found, that he was to visit the fatherless and widow in their affliction; to bind up the broken-hearted; to do good, and to distribute; to feed, to clothe, to comfort; whilst he had time, to do good unto all men, but especially to the household of faith. He would have learned by the - 'hole tenor of the divine law, and by the examsed pf the absent Lord, whose property he was for a season trusted with, that he was to do es much good to humanity, and win as much glory to God, as was compatible with the measure of his trust, and the time for which he might retain it. And he would have perceived that good, doing good, must mean with him, what it means with the Master who left him thus commissioned. This would have brought the question of indiscriminate alms-giving into a very narrow compass. It would not be, whether it were better for the
poor, or better for himself, to give or not to give; but
whether this was the best and utmost use to be made of the property he had to spare, according to his Lord's will.
Wanting this guide; unable to determine what is best for “ the beggars,” my friend had recourse to doing what is best “ for himself;" and fearing lest by refusing alms he should indulge his “selfishness,” and mistake it for “prudence,” he gives, or orders to be given, no matter how or to whom, his money; the thing he least values ; and reserves to himself his time, his thought, his care, his understanding mind, and pious heart, and never misgives that he thus indulges " selfishnes," and calls it 66 benevolence." And he takes for reward and encouragement, a blessing on his garden wall, which he calls the prayer of the poor and destitute. We have heard before of buying prayers with pence. Wo to the heart that would not beat with joy, while the lips of the afflicted ask Heaven for a blessing on the hand through which its bounties come; that would not hold for nought the applauses of a world, at the moment when the last breath of piety asks Jesus to reward their cares! But the prayer of vice, of carelessness, and ignorance
of lips profane, and breath unhallowed-uttered without thought, and addressed to One they regard not; are these things heard in Heaven? “ Verily they have their reward.” It is gratifying to the feelings of humanity, and repays the exercise of humanity, but it ascends no farther.
Meantime, how stands the reckoning with his Lord? What my correspondent could have spared of all the talents he had, is not for me to say; what he did spare, a summary may be made. All that was given in form of food or money; all that was charged by his servants on the charitable fund,