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mixed and levelled, by a calamity like this, universally incidental. It is indeed by this expedient that the merciful providence of God guards civil life against the ruin which would otherwise result from the unlimited progress of its own refinements. The accumulation of power in the higher ranks, were they secure against the chances of life and the shocks of fortune,
that is, in other words, were the constitution of the world such, that wealth should always correspond with other advantages in some invariable proportion, would so separate the interests of the different orders, that every state would split into so many distinct communities as it should contain degrees: These again would subdivide, according to the inequalities of fortune and other advantages which should obtain in each; till, in the progress of the evil, civil society would be dissipated and shivered into its minutest parts, by the uncontrolled operation of the very principles to which it owes its existence.
Thus it appears that poverty is indeed a real evil in the life of the individual; which
nevertheless the common good demands, and the constitution of the world accordingly admits.
But so wonderfully hath Providence interwoven the public and the private good, that, while the common weal requires that the life of the individual should be obnoxious to this contingency, the public is nevertheless interested in the relief of real poverty, wherever the calamity alights; for Providence hath so ordained, that so long as the individual languishes in poverty, the public must want the services of a useful member. This indeed would not be the case, nor would the calamity to the individual be what it generally is, were the transition easy in civil society from one rank to another. But the truth is, that as our abilities for any particular employment are generally the result of habits to which we have been formed in an early part of life, combined perhaps with what is more unconquerable than habit-the natural bent of genius, a man who is the best qualified to be serviceable to the community and to
himself in any one situation of life is by that very ability the most disqualified for the business of any other.
This is readily understood, if the supposition be made of a sudden transition from It is the lower stations to the higher. easily perceived, that the qualifications of a mechanic or a tradesman would be of no advantage in the pulpit, at the bar, or in the senate, -that the clumsy hand of the common labourer would be ill employed in finishing the delicate parts of any nice machine. But though it may be less obvious, it is not less true, that the difficulty would be just the same in descending from the higher to the lower stations; as there is still the same contrariety of habit to create it. At the tradesman's counter or the attorney's desk, the accomplishments of the statesman or the scholar would be rather of disservice; the mechanic's delicacy of hand would but unfit him for the labours of the anvil; and he who has once shone in the gay circles of a court, should he attempt in the hour of distress to put his hand to the plough, would be unable to
earn any better wages than the ridicule of every peasant in the village.
Thus, every man's ability of finding a subsistence for himself, and of being serviceable to the public, is limited by his habits and his genius to a certain sphere; which may not improperly be called the sphere of his political activity. Poverty, obstructing political activity in its proper sphere, arrests and mortifies the powers of the citizen, rendering him not more miserable in himself than useless to the community; which, for its own sake, must free the captive from the chain which binds him, in order to regain his services. So that, in truth, when it is said, as it is most truly said, that the evil of poverty is a public good, the proposition is to be admitted under a particular interpretation : The danger of poverty threatening the individual is the good; poverty in act (if I may borrow an expression from the schools) is to the community as well as to the sufferer an evil; And since, in the formal nature of the thing, it is an evil from which the individual cannot be extricated by any H S
efforts of his own, policy, no less than humanity, enjoins that the community relieve him.
Nor will the argument from political expedience fail, if in some instances of poverty the evil to the public must remain This is when the individual is relieved. indeed the case when the calamity arises from causes which go beyond the obstruction of the political activity of the citizen to the extinction of the natural powers of the animal; as when the limbs are lost or rendered useless by disease, or when the bodily strength or the mental faculties are exhausted by old age. To deny relief in such instances, upon a pretence that the political reason for it vanishes because the public can receive no immediate benefit from the alleviation of the evil, would be to act in contradiction to the very first principles or rather to the first idea of all civil association; which is that of a union of the powers of the many to supply the wants and help the infirmities of the solitary