Page:Our Common Land (and other short essays).djvu/173

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161
EFFECTUAL CHARITY.

with cases of relief, I feel that they possess few of the qualifications requisite for doing it wisely, and I would most seriously urge them, either to leave this branch of help entirely to others, or with deliberate purpose to set themselves to learn all that it is essential to them to know before they can do it well. For there is more at stake, a great deal more, than the wasting of their own or their friends' money: that would matter comparatively little if the effect of mistake in its use were not positively disastrous to the poor. But it is disastrous. We go into the house of a young working-man; we meet with ready gift the first need as it arises; we do not pause to remember how the effort to meet that need was a duty for the young husband and father. We discourage the quiet confidence, the careful forethought which would have made a man of him; we diminish his sense of responsibility; the way he spends his earnings begins to appear to him a matter of smaller moment-