Page:Our Common Land (and other short essays).djvu/175

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163
EFFECTUAL CHARITY.

her engagements, and we give her, when her story or tears move us, a few shillings. We ease our own feelings by doing this, but what besides have we done. We have not fortified her for the battle of life; we have not cultivated in her the habit of deliberate arrangement as to the best expenditure of her scanty means. We have done something to teach her how easy it is, if she gets into debt and the brokers are put in, to go round to one house after another and get a few shillings from each, and having met the difficulty for the moment to begin involving herself in another. Look at her a few years later. The sincere grief of the widowed mother has been degraded into a means of begging; the ready tears come, or appear to come, at call; the sacred grief is for everyone to see in hopes someone may alleviate it with half-a-crown. The sense of a right to be helped has grown, the sense of her own duty has diminished. Work has not paid so well that it has been steadily per-