Page:Our Common Land (and other short essays).djvu/32

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DISTRICT VISITING.

and schools, and thousands of souls to see to, have inherited systems of relief in their parishes which they hardly have time to reform, and the gigantic pressure of daily duty perpetuates many unwise plans, though many, I am well aware, are being abolished. How far the best still falls below what they would like to see let the clergy themselves say. I believe most of them, if asked, would reply: "I have tried honestly to make my system of relief as satisfactory as I could, but it is far from my ideal." And this is so from another cause. You can never make a system of relief good without perfect administration, far-sighted watchfulness in each individual case; and this is specially true in an age in which bad systems of relief have trained the people to improvidence. Given your entirely enlightened clergyman, he cannot in a large London parish do much more than see to his people when the crisis of distress has come. He cannot watch over them before it comes, yet it is then that distress is preventable.