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THE CHARITABLE BAZAARS OF DUBLIN
It has been said by a classic authority, that force without judgment is overthrown by its own impetus; and the proposition is equally true of virtue. To do good to mankind is less facile than moralists suppose. It requires something more than a mere animal impulse; and there is much ground for doubting whether the world (at least the British world) does not suffer more from the impertinent inter"ference of mistaken benevolence, than from the direct attacks of selfishness and malice on its order and happiness. Charity, more especially, (though, in a well ordered state, a duty whose exercise is limited within a narrow and comprehensible sphere,) becomes, under a government replete with abuses and fertile in factitious misery, a science requiring as much patient research, and as large a grasp of intellect, as any other department of politics. To be charitable on an extensive scale, is to legislate for the poor; and man, in his domestic capacity, (whatever may be thought of him as a citizen or a subject) is an animal made to think and to act for himself.
In the British empire, where every class of society is more or less dislocated, where the rewards of industry are subject to frequent revolutions, and where life is sustained by the most painful efforts, errors in the direction or energy of the charitable are doubly fatal. They are not only a waste of the scanty and insufficient resources of the multitudinous poor, a destruction of so much of the materials of happiness, but they are a direct and positive evil, deranging the economy of the lower orders, harassing them by needless and galling dictation, and destroying in their bosoms the principle of independence, without which there can be no virtue.
A high estimate of pecuniary charity in the scale of virtues is the result of incivilization, and a testimony of the barbarity of the governments where it prevails. Where the people are well governed and prosperous, the field for the exercise of this virtue is necessarily limited; but wherever great and terrible inequalities in human condition subsist, charity is a necessary supplement to the defective institutions out of which they arise. In the Christian world, where pecuniary liberality is dignified as a theological virtue, charity stands in the place of many more serviceable and important duties; and much of that energy which should be given to the improvement of the political and statistic condition of the country, is wasted in a vain attempt to bolster up bad systems, and to avert by eleemosynary efforts the miseries and vices accumulated by misrule. The high and influential classes are especially prone to fall into this error. Too moral and too religious to be satisfied with the wretchedness by which they are surrounded, yet too selfish, perverse, or indolent to attempt a thorough removal of its causes, they satisfy their consciences by attempting to relieve in