Page:Our Common Land (and other short essays).djvu/101

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ears.” And those words have been distinctly to proclaim that I myself have no belief whatever in the poor being one atom richer or better for the alms that reach them, that they are very distinctly worse, that I give literally no such alms myself, and should have no fear for the poor whatever if any number of people resolved to abstain from such alms. But, on the other hand, I have long felt, and feel increasingly, that it is most important to dwell on the converse of the truth.

The old forms in which charity expressed itself are past or passing away. With these forms are we to let charity itself pass? Are there no eternal laws binding us to charitable spirit and deed? Are we, who have become convinced that doles of soup, and loans of blankets, and scrubbing-brushes sold at less than cost-price, have failed to enrich any class—have helped to eat out their energy and self-reliance—thereon to tighten our purse-strings, devise new amusements for ourselves,