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indeed little pleasure where charity is rendered unneceffary by municipal law; but were that law laid afide, the gratification of pity would become one of our sweetest enjoyments. Charity, like other affections, is envigorated by exercise, and no less enfeebled by difufe. Providence withal hath fcattered benevolence among the fons of men with a liberal hand: and notwithstanding the obstruction of municipal law, feldom is there found one fo obdurate, as to refift the impulfe of compaffion, when a proper object is prefented. In a wellregulated government, promoting industry and virtue, the perfons who need charity are not many; and fuch perfons may with affurance depend on the charity of their neighbours *.

It may at the fame time be boldly affirmed, that those who need charity, would be more comfortably provided for by the plan of Providence, than by any legal eftablishment. Creatures loathsome by dif

*The Italians are not more remarkable for a charitable difpofition, than their neighbours. No fewer however than feventy thoufand mendicant friars live there upon voluntary charity; and I have not heard that any one of them ever died of want.


eafe or naftiness, affect the air in a poorhouse; and have little chance for life, without more care and kindliness than can be expected from fervants, rendered callous by continual fcenes of mifery. Confider, on the other hand, the confequences of voluntary charity, equally agreeable to the giver and receiver. The kindly connection it forms between them, grows stronger and stronger by reiteration; and fquallid poverty, far from being an obstruction, excites a degree of pity, proportioned to the diftrefs. It may happen for a wonder, that an indigent person is overlooked; but for one who will fuffer by fuch neglect, multitudes fuffer by compelled charity.

But what I infift on with peculiar fatiffaction is, that natural charity is an illustrious support to virtue. Indigent virtue can never fail of relief, because it never fails to enflame compaffion. Indigent vice, on the contrary, raises indignation more than pity (a); and therefore can have little profpect of relief. What a glorious encitement to industry and virtue, and how

(a) Elements of Criticifin, ch. 2. part 7.

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difcouraging to idlenefs and vice! Will it be thought chimerical to observe further, that to leave the indigent on Providence, will tend to improve manners as well as virtue among the lower claffes? No man can think himself fecure against being reduced to depend on his neighbours for bread. The influence of that thought, will make every one folicitous to acquire the good will of others. Lamentable it is, that fo beautiful a ftructure fhould be razed to the foundation by municipal law, which, in providing for the poor, makes no diftinction between virtue and vice. The execution of the poor-laws would be impracticable, were fuch a distinction attempted by enquiring into the conduct and character of every pauper. Where are judges to be found who will patiently follow out fuch a dark and intricate expifcation? To accomplish the task, a man must abandon every other concern.

In the first English ftatutes mentioned above, the legislature appear carefully to have avoided compulsory charity: every measure for promoting voluntary charity was first try'd, before the fatal blow was truck, empowering parifh-officers to im


pofe a tax for the poor. The legislature certainly did not forefee the baneful confequences: but how came they not to fee that they were diftrufting Providence, de-` claring in effect, that the plan established by our Maker for the poor, is infufficient? Many are the municipal laws that enforce the laws of nature, by additional rewards and punishments; but it was fingularly bold to abolifh the natural law of charity, by establishing a legal tax in its ftead. Men will always be mending: what a confufed jumble do they make, when they attempt to mend the laws of Nature! Leave Nature to her own operations: she underftands them the best.

Few regulations are more plausible than what are political; and yet few are more deceitful. A writer, blind with partiality for his country, makes the following obfervations upon the 43° Elifab. establishing a maintenance for the poor. "Laws: "have been enacted in many other coun-> "tries, which have punished the idle beg66. gar, and exhorted the rich to extend "their charity to the poor: but it is "culiar to the humanity of England, to "have made their fupport a matter of obligation

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"obligation and neceffity on the more "wealthy. The English seem to be the "first nation in Europe in science, arts, "and arms they likewife are poffeffed "of the freest and most perfect of confti

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tutions, and the bleffings confequential (6 to that freedom. If virtues in an indi"vidual are sometimes fuppofed to be re"warded in this world, I do not think it "too prefumptuous to fuppofe, that na"tional virtues may likewife meet with "their reward. England hath, to its pe"culiar honour, not only made their poor "free, but hath provided a certain and

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folid establishment to prevent their ne"ceffities and indigence, when they a"rife from what the law calls the act of "God: and are not these beneficent and "humane attentions to the miseries of our "fellow-creatures, the first of those poor "pleas which we are capable of offering, "in behalf of our imperfections, to an all"wife and merciful Creator!" To this writer I oppose another, whofe reflections" are more found. "In England, there is an act of the legislature, obliging every

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་ parish to maintain its own poor. Scarce any man living, who has not feen the


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