Page:Homes of the London Poor.djvu/38

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36
HOMES OF THE LONDON POOR.

There would be no interference, no entering their rooms uninvited, no offer of money or the necessaries of life. But when occasion presented itself, I should give them any help I could, such as I might offer without insult to other friends—sympathy in their distresses; advice, help, and counsel in their difficulties; introductions that might be of use to them; means of education; visits to the country; a lent book when not able to work; a bunch of flowers brought on purpose; an invitation to any entertainment, in a room built at the back of my own house, which would be likely to give them pleasure. I am convinced that one of the evils of much that is done for the poor springs from the want of delicacy felt, and courtesy shown, towards them, and that we cannot beneficially help them in any spirit different to that, in which we help those who are better off. The help may differ in amount, because their needs are greater. It should not differ in kind.

To sum up: my endeavors in ruling these people should be to maintain perfect strictness in our business relations, perfect respectfulness in our personal relations.

These principles of government and plans of action were not theoretical: they had not been thought out in the study, but had been worked out in the course of practical dealings with individual cases. And though I am able thus to formulate them, I want it understood that they are essentially living, that they are not mere dead rules, but principles the application of which is varying from day to day. I can say, for example, "It is our plan to keep some repairs as employment for men out of work;" but it needs the true instinct to apply this plan beneficially—the time to give the work, its kind, its amount, above all the mode of offering it, have to be felt out fresh on each fresh occasion, and the circumstances and characters vary so that each case is new.

The practical carrying out in Blank Court of these various plans of action involved, as may readily be imagined, a great deal of personal supervision. Hence the "lot o'