Page:Our Common Land (and other short essays).djvu/165

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153
EFFECTUAL CHARITY.

flatter ourselves that it has been productive of a satisfactory state of things? We have taught our poor to live in uncertainty as to their resources, which is producing among them a reckless want of forethought, which is quite appalling. The most ordinary occurrences of their lives—the regular winter frost which stops the work of some men year by year; the changes in the labour market, caused by the London season; the expenses attending illness; the gradual approach of old age—are not dwelt on now usually among the poor as reasons for trying to provide a fund to meet them. Thus there are hundreds of our people living on the extremest brink of pauperism or starvation, learning more and more to be dependent on the chance coal-ticket, or half-crown, or blanket; and if it does not happen to be given at the moment when it is wanted, how forlorn is the position of the improvident man? But look also on the even more important question of their spirit, and of their