Page:Our Common Land (and other short essays).djvu/167

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155
EFFECTUAL CHARITY.

blankets, or the children better fed for the free distribution of soup? Or is it consistent with our ideal that there should be this body of people dependent for the most ordinary necessities of life on the gifts of another class? Rely upon it, if we foster this state of things it will continue to increase.

Here we are, however, in the midst of this alms-giving, aimless, thoughtless, ineffectual to achieve any object its donors had in view. It is a gigantic system, or rather no system, which has grown up around us. What is our duty with regard to it? Specially what is the duty of those of us who are, in any sense of the word, trustees of charitable funds?

There is a society which you all know well enough by name—the Charity Organisation Society—which has set itself to help distributors of alms in two important ways. First, it has offered to examine, free of all charge, carefully, for anyone who wants to learn about them, the circumstances and character of ap-