Page:Our Common Land (and other short essays).djvu/65

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53
VOLUNTEER VISITORS.

the stake being freedom and home. She plays high: she wins, or loses. We charitable people first of all never investigated the case to learn what it really was, what the character of the people was, whether the home was worth keeping together, whether with or without club-money it would cost more than we were ready or able to give; we raised hopes which it is a chance whether we fulfil; we met the want before us without thought; we forgot to consider the influence of that action on the life. Such gifts are uncertain, insufficient, based on no knowledge. Let us imagine that in another case we give to a man whose income is small; what is the effect on his character of these irregular doles? Do they not lead him to trust to them, to spend up to the last penny what he earns, and hope for help when work slackens or altogether fails? Does he try, cost what it may, to provide for sickness, for times when trade is dull and employment scarce? Yet though we have by our gifts encouraged