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To be a perpetual giver, and not to do more harm than good, is so difficult, as I believe to be next to impossible. Whoever gives often, and gives much, is sure to be found out, in spite of all attempts åt secrecy: and the consequence is, that expectations are excited, and means resorted to, which are productive of a tone of dependence and sycophancy throughout the neighbourhood, or class, within the sphere of the bounty. Great givers can scarcely avoid being imposed upon, and one example of success has something of the same effect that a prize in the lottery used to have. It may benefit one; though even that is not often so, but the fame of it unsettles many. Giving in the usual way to what my correspondent calls pauper applicants and begging-letter impostors, is now generally admitted to be pernicious, though still much persisted in. But what makes pauper applicants, and beggingletter imposters but giving? And what would be the consequence if such objects were rejected, and the sums distributed among them were confined to larger bounties to fewer persons? If it became a system, however specious in appearance, and beneficial in the outset, would it not infallibly become as poisonous as those it was designed to supplant ? Would it not, in the end, infect a higher grade with all the symptoms and evils of pauperism ? Straitened circumstances, in all conditions, are, in almost all cases, attributable, more or less, to indolence, imprudence, or absolute extravagance. Where it is not so, it is the exception, and it is the exception only that is really deserving of encouragement. But there can be no system for the relief of exceptions. They are in their nature objects of casualty only. Then givers themselves are often too indolent to make sufficient inquiries, or to be great observers.
(To be continued.)
Published also monthly with the Periodicals, stitched in a wrapper.
IBOTSON AND PALMER, PRINTERS, SAVOY STREET, STRAND.
BY THOMAS WALKER, M. A.
TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE,
BARRISTER AT LAW, AND ONE OF THE POLICE MAGISTRATES OF THE METROPOLIS.
PUBLISHED EVERY WEDNESDAY AT 12 O'CLOCK, BY H. RENSHAW,
356, STRAND, NEARLY OPPOSITE WELLINGTON STREET.
No. XXIX.] WEDNESDAY, DEC. 2, 1835. [Price 1d.
Address to the Reader.
ADDRESS TO THE READER. DEAR READER, If I had known what I now know, I would not have concluded my first volume till the last number of last month, giving timely notice that it was expedient I should take a holiday. London living and authorship do not go on well together. My writings have latterly drawn upon me more numerous and cordial invitations than usual, which is a gratifying sign of approbation, but of somewhat ruinous consequences. Conviviality, though without what is ordinarily called excess, during the greater part of the week, and hard fagging during the remainder, with a sacrifice of exercise and sleep, must tell, and if I were to go on without intermission, I must make myself a slave, with at the same time great danger of falling off. I have therefore determined to suspend my labours till the first Wednesday in March, and feeling the expediency of such a step, I think it best to take it at once. What portion of my present indisposition
for writing, or whether any, is attributable to the mere continuance of my weekly efforts, I cannot at all determine ; but undoubtedly, if I had lived according to my own precepts, and had given up a portion of each day to composition, I should have felt myself in a much more favourable humour than I now do. Delay, I find on inquiry, is the common failing of authors, and an independence of the habits of society is more difficult than those who are not situated as I am, can well conceive. A respite will, therefore, not only give me fresh vigour for writing, but you a fresh appetite for reading, for I cannot but fear that a constant supply from the same pen, might produce in the end a certain want of relish. Diet, however good, ought now and then to be changed. I have already given you a sufficient course of mine to produce some effect, if it ever will; and if you should feel inclined to return to it, it will have something of the charm of novelty. The same phraseology and turn of thinking will not be always haunting you. After a first acquaintance, a temporary separation is almost always productive of agreeable results, and so I trust it will be with
work many subjects of importance have suggested themselves to me for the first time, which I wish to have leisure to turn over in my mind, and I wish to read over carefully what I have already written, in order to supply any omissions I may find, and take up those subjects upon which I have only lightly touched. Many of the articles were written so completely off-hand, that I have entirely forgotten them, as I have never given them a second perusal. The reasons why I have fixed the first Wednesday in March for the resumption of my numbers, are, first, because three months will afford me ample time to recover my tone; secondly, because I shall have sufficient opportunity for attending to persons and matters, of late somewhat neglected ; and lastly, because during the short days my publication requires so much writing by candle-light, which I wish to avoid before I suffer
any inconvenience, which hitherto I have fortunately escaped. It will be my aim, during the interval between this time and March, to put myself into the best state for renewing my labours with effect. Diet, sleep, and exercise, are the chief points to be attended to, and difficult it is to attend to them in this metropolis. If one could but succeed in uniting the advantages of solitude with those of society, it would be glorious. One of my principal objects throughout my numbers has been to facilitate such an union, by rendering the mode of living more simple and rational, and I shall labour again in the same cause. In the mean time I wish you, by a short anticipation, the compliments of the season. I have only to add, that my publisher will suppose his orders to continue in force, except where notice is given to the contrary before the appearance of my next number; and subscribers in the country wishing to have the continuation, are requested to direct their booksellers accordingly.
It is from indolence frequently that people are givers, instead of spenders of their money, and they will seldom take very much trouble either in giving or refusing. Large gifts have undoubtedly, occasionally, produced the happiest consequences, both on individuals and on whole families; but the question is, whether a system of bestowing surplus funds in large donations would be beneficial or not. I think the system would not be beneficial, because the difficulty and trouble of discrimination would be too great, and imposition and sycophancy would meet with more encouragement than merit; so that society would be a loser. I think occasional donations of large sums are to be recommended, but that no rule can be laid down. The question then arises, what the rich, who are liberally disposed, are to do with their surplus means. In the first place, I believe that the man who spends his money well, does more good in the long run than he who gives it, and that there is no way of diffusing so much happiness as by the liberal employment of industry or genius. Those who have more money than they want, cannot, in my opinion, do better than bestow it in the promotion of public improvements; for then they not only benefit individuals of different classes, by affording them scope for their talents and employment for their industry, but the public is benefited also. A local improvement will frequently do more to promote the convenience and good morals of a community than any thing that can be devised, and I sometimes wonder that the wealthy do not oftener turn their attention in that direca tion. Such a spirit, generally adopted by individuals and by combinations of individuals, would soon produce a change for the better both in town and country, and it is a species of liberality, in which there is no mixture of evil. For ury own part, I have a particular pleasure in watching the progress of local improvements, and in the reflection that the benefits derived from them are of general diffusion. I have said that spending money well does more good than giving it. I shall in a future number consider to what extent the injunctions in the New Testament with respect to alms-giving are applicable to the present state of things in this country.