« PreviousContinue »
will in the profferer, and therefore awakening no personal feelings of affection and gratitude in the receiver, degrades and hardens him whom want forces to accept it. It is a feature, not of class, but of human nature, that the benefits which are given in love and sympathy, open the heart, and improve the character of him who enjoys them in gratitude, and repays them with love; while that which is given reluctantly, contemptuously, or indifferently, curses him that gives and him that takes. Thus it is that the receipt of parish relief is felt so deeply to degrade the pauper, that the best of the working class will rather starve-often do rather starve, than apply for it; and that the charity of associations, doles of Christmas blankets, and so forth, given by rule, and taken as a right, are found to demoralize labour and produce imposture. Charity, in proportion as it is wisely given by individual kindness, avoids these evil consequences; its influence often reaches far beyond the mere physical wants to which it applies, softens the hearts which were hardening in a sense of neglect from man and injustice in the distribution of the gifts of God,-turns resentment into gratitude, and bitterness into hope and thankfulness.
The rich do not suffer less than their working neighbours from the want of friendly personal intercourse with another class than their own. Confined to the society of those whose views and ideas are cast in the same mould by similar worldly circumstances, their intellects and their hearts are cramped and narrowed. It is astonishing within. what close limits the feelings, the ideas, the knowledge, of men even of culture and intellect, whose lives have been passed in the higher circles of society, are confined. The rich, especially when young, suffer terribly from the want of their natural occupation, and often become luxurious, indolent, and vicious; their minds, empty and unguarded, plunge into vice or dissipation with an energy often proportioned to their capabilities for higher and nobler interests. I have frequently heard fathers, whose No. 91.-VOL. XVI.
lives had passed in the hard work which at once kept them clear of such temptations, and enabled them to accumulate large fortunes, express doubt and fear lest, in bequeathing wealth to their children, they should be placing them in a worse position, not only as regards happiness in another world, but even for their own true welfare in this, than those who have no other heritage than a good education, and a fair start in life. "What am I to slave and save for? To accumulate a large fortune only to bring my children to grief and debauchery?" -I heard a very clever and successful man say this once, and the thought occurs to most such men who think at all.
The absence of interests and affections beyond the narrow circle of the family often acts with fatal effect on the nature of men who have not begun life under the enervating influence of inherited riches and luxury. Many a man of business, who in youth was generous and liberal, and gifted with sympathies and noble thoughts, is found in later life to have shrunk into selfish, cold, hard indifference; less liberal now that he has amassed wealth than when he was beginning to labour for it; less useful in this world, less fitted for another, than before he underwent the trials and the discipline of a life which, nevertheless, may have been exemplary in honour and integrity, and in the performance of all the duties which fell within the narrow sphere within which it has moved.
Should we have such fears for our children if we knew that they, and those around them-that the society whose opinions would influence their standard of duty-recognised the essential obligations which wealth, education, leisure, and talent impose; if the expenditure of a certain portion of time, means, and talents on some object of utility to those less fortunate, were considered as much a part of the proprieties, incumbent on a man of a certain fortune, as is a carriage, or suitable dress? If a neglect of these duties were considered a breach of trust as assuredly it is-would the man of business have so fallen away
from the promise of his youth; would his soul have been thus starved and withered, if he had been taught to feel, if he had lived among fellow-citizens who felt, that a considerable portion of their time and wealth was due to those whose labour helps to enrich them? The wrong which estrangement from the rich inflicts upon the poor-the withdrawal of the cultivated from the ignorant-is palpable and intelligible to all. The evil which the same alienation exerts upon the wealthier classes is of a character less easy to make apparent to minds used to regard the existing state of things without alarm or dissatisfaction. But it is certain that the latter evil, falling on the spiritual part of the man, and starving the highest attributes of his nature, is deeper and more injurious than the consequences of the same isolation upon the poor.
It must be granted that there is an improved feeling on these subjects among the rich. There are now comparatively few who would not admit, if seriously taken to task upon the point, that the enjoyment of so large a share of the gifts of God imposes upon the wealthy the duty of ministering to the wants of the poor. Most thoughtful men of leisure would allow that no man has a right to be idle, and that the possession of means which exempt a man from working for pay indicates to him as his proper sphere of work that portion of the labour necessary to the wellbeing of society which cannot be paid in money; the performance of those offices of service to the poor, whether towards individuals or masses, which must be left to voluntary effort, and which should not be exacted of the scanty leisure of those who have to labour for their bread. That these things are rather admitted than felt; that those who heartily acknowledge and endeavour to act on them are as yet a small minority; that our charities bear so shameful a disproportion to our wealth; that so much of their income comes from those who are not rich, and so much of their work is done by those who have little leisure, is principally due to the
fact that the magnitude of the work, the long and gradual accumulation of barriers between the rich (especially between the idle rich) and the poor, and the extremely perplexing circumstances under which, in our great towns, benevolence must grapple with destitution and disease, with vice and misery-discourage all merely individual attempts to deal with them at large, and make the selection and limitation of a particular field of labour, leaving to the left and right a mass of untouched evil every whit as great as that chosen for operation, appear impracticable, and if practicable, capricious and unsatisfactory. The hopelessness of desultory personal efforts, the unsatisfactory results of mechanical charity working by organization and by rule, dishearten the earnest and afford excuse to the indifferent: and the admission that beneficence is the duty of wealth remains an inoperative opinion, or relieves itself in mere donations of money to charitable institutions, principally because no ready means of giving safe, useful, and personal effect to the energies and wealth of the benevolent as yet presents itself. Much energy or ability that now remains idle or useless would be available to the cause of charity; much wealth that is now squandered would be well bestowed; a much wider and more operative sense of the duty of public service, of the responsibilites of leisure and riches, would be diffused among their possessors, if obvious channels were at hand into which those who have time and means could turn their efforts, with some security that they would do more good than harm, and a reasonable hope that while they were doing one portion of the good work the duties they were compelled to leave on either hand would be taken up by other fellow-labourers.
It would be a great thing to suggest means whereby this may be, in part at least, accomplished; whereby the actual and potential charity of the country, especially in the greater towns, may be rendered more available for the cure of its evils: whereby the existing arrangements for this purpose may be
rendered more efficient than they are, much waste prevented, many abuses rectified, and the work of charity made more complete, effectual, and satisfactory than at present; by which the whole force of benevolence at our command may be brought to bear with the greatest advantage upon the suffering at our door. It would be a great thing to indicate the manner in which, by a combination of the resources and advantages of organization with the free exercise of individual energy and personal kindness, the difficulties which at present dishearten, hinder, or absolutely prevent mere individual action may be smoothed away or reduced within manageable compass; while the evils and imperfections which attend on mere organized charity working by rule and mechanism, may be avoided.
In the meantime an earnest warning as to the nature of that renewed intercourse between rich and poor, which has been described as the great social need of the age, may not be thrown away. There must be nothing of assumed superiority, nothing of patronage in the tone of the rich man if he would give to others or derive himself the full benefit of such intercourse. Patronage is resented by the poor: the spirit which dictates it precludes the rich from reaping the internal benefit of
their own charity. The rich man must come to the poor as a friend who has much to gain as well as to give, to learn as well as to teach; as a brother who, having received from God more of this world's good things, does not on that account pretend to claim any superiority over his brother. He must advise, not as a master, but as a friend; he must sympathise, not as a superior, but as an equal in all that forms the ground of sympathy; he must give, not as patron to dependent, but as brother to brother. Coming in such a temper he will find the poor man ready to acknowledge whatever title to respect is personal to himself, to look up to him as a man of education, of character, of refinement. But, if he pride himself upon his wealth, as raising him above the poor, he approaches them in a temper which excludes sympathy, and renders real gratitude very difficult by rendering respect impossible. The poor despise the purseproud man not one whit less than do the well born and well educated; and, despising, his gifts cannot make them love him. The men who most influence the poor are those who give most of their heart where they give their help; they who receive most reverence from them are those who treat them with most respect for a common and equal humanity.
BY WILLIAM JONES.
Ir is an olden ditty, full of tenderness and pity,
Full of leaven, hearts uneven, full of life's mosaic play,
When vice held wide dominion, and each courtier was a minion,
To a king with cap and bells, in the ages passed away!
A dream of time steals o'er us,-little Nelly is before us,
Sweet and simple, cheeks of dimple, witching eyes, and black-brown hair, In the play-house pit she stands, with a basket in her hands,
And the gallants cluster near to see a serving-maid so fair!
But Nelly knows them well, and she makes her good looks tell,
King and nobles gather round, and the Thespian wreath is bound
There is Rochester, sad rake, clever, selfish, who could break
Dorset, Sedley, Killigrew,-a strange and motley crew
Whose jests, and feats, and mad conceits, have been surpassed by few;
Yet borne along, by passions strong, with Nell licentious drifted!
The artist has pourtrayed saucy Nell, the witty jade!
Voice beguiling, features smiling, all her winsome traits display'd;
-Brow saturnine, eyes large and fine,-a form of kingly pride.
And Nelly seems reproving, the monarch weak and loving,
Some prank, no doubt, she has found out, her warning finger moving,
Time its varied shades is casting-to the Palace death is hasting,
"Draw the shrouding blind away, that I see once more the day,"
They crown his drooping head, as the parting spirit fled,
-He sighed ""Tis well, forget not Nell!" and England's king lay dead!
It is an olden ditty, full of tenderness and pity,
Full of leaven, hearts uneven,-full of life's mosaic play,
When vice held wide dominion, and each courtier was a minion,
To a king with cap and bells in the ages passed away!
A FRENCH RELIGIOUS MEMOIR.
Ir is customary with many critics of the press and of society at the present day to decry the bad taste of what is called the "Evangelical" section of our religious public, in its excessive addiction to the details of pietistic biography. The circulars of Low Church publishers teem, it is notorious, with little memoirs of Christians young and old-some telling their own tale in diaries and letters, where daily meditations, self-accusations, and transports, form the subject-matter of every communication, and religious self-consciousness is submitted to the minutest dissection; some conveying the admiring description of friends to whom the life of the saint appears a model fit to be held up for the imitation of all to come. Who cannot at once call to mind a host of such edifying records, from the "Dairyman's Daughter of Legh Richmond downwards? We know the sort of books, and the sort of titles: "The Gathered Sheaf;" "The Morning Promise;" "Perfect Peace ;" "The Faithful Shepherd :" not to mention more plain-spoken memoirs of distinguished saints in the different professions of life, soldiers and sailors, bankers and members of parliament, duchesses and divines memorable sometimes, be it added, for other things besides the unquestioned piety and the free communication of religious faith and feelings which afford the motive for their biography.
In that portion of society, we repeat, in which Evangelical views have fallen somewhat into discredit, and Anglican views have come into fashion, nothing is more common than to find fault with these revelations of personal piety:thoughts too sacred for publicationcommunings of the soul with God. What, it is said, will become of all simplicity and humility of character if every religious emotion is dragged to
light, and made matter of fulsome praise or sentimental display?
There is truth, no doubt, in these objections; though we think they are often carried too far. The genuine
records of human life and character will have an irresistible interest for most people, which it is needless to deny ourselves; and, the more of such records we peruse, the wider basis we shall find for those inductions on which the only true philosophy of our complex nature can rest. We might say more as to the effect which-sectarian prejudice apart-the example of brave and busy men actuated in their most secret hours by an abiding sense of God's presence may and ought to have on thoughtful minds. And it is one of the glories of 'Evangelical" pietism in particular, that so many brave and busy men in our English land have been inspired by it. Our purpose, here, however, is not to defend religious biography on philosophical or practical grounds, but only to point out how great is the mistake of those who conceive the love of exhibiting devotional processes, which has obtained so widely among the Evangelicals of our own country and generation, to be really at all distinctive of or peculiar to their way of viewing the bearings of the religious principle on thought and action.
If our modern "Ritualists were asked to what type of ecclesiastical sentiment (we do not speak here of dogma) they consider themselves most to assimilate, they would doubtless point with pride and satisfaction to that of Continental Romanism. Now it so happens that from the Continental Romanists there have emanated lately certain biographical records, than which none of our aforesaid Low Church or Evangelical memoirs are more full of the workings of self-analysis, of spiritual pulse