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the most beneficial to the community, would lose the incitement of its golden dreams; and sloth, of all the vices of the individual the most pernicious to the community, would be released from its worst apprehensions. But to be uncertain in the degree which the public weal demands, the fortunes of the individual must be governed, as we see they are, by an intricate combination of causes, of which no sagacity of human forecast may predict or avert the event. The consequence must be, that the individual's means of subsistence will not
always correspond with other circumstances, -that they will sometimes fall greatly short of what belongs to the particular sphere which upon the whole he is best qualified to fill with advantage to the community of which he is a member. This is the evil to which the name of poverty properly belongs. The man who hath food to eat and raiment to put on is not poor, because his diet is plain and his apparel homely; but he is truly poor whose means of subsistence are insufficient for his proper place in society, as determined by the general complication of his
circumstances,-by his birth, his education, his bodily strength, and his mental endowments. By the means of subsistence, I understand not the means of superfluous gratifications; but that present competency which every individual must possess in order to be in a capacity to derive a support from his industry in the proper business of his calling. In every condition of life, something more is wanting to a man's support, than that he should earn by his industry, from day to day, the price of lodging, food, and raiment, for himself and for his family. The common labourer must be furnished with his mattock and his spade; the tradesman must have wherewithal to purchase the commodities from the sale of which he is to derive his livelihood; in commerce, a large capital must often be expended upon the expectation of a slow and distant return of profit; those who are destined to the liberal professions are to be qualified for the part which they are to sustain in life, by a long and expensive course of education; and they who are born to hereditary honours, if they succeed, as too often is the case, to estates
encumbered by the misfortunes or misconduct of their ancestors, are restrained, by the decorums of their rank, from seeking a reparation of their fortunes in any mercenary occupation.
Without something therefore of a previous competency, it is evident, that in every rank of life the individual's industry will be insufficient to his support. The want of this previous competency is poverty; which, with respect to the whole, is indeed, in a certain sense, no evil: It is the necessary result of that instability of the individual's prosperity which is so far from an evil that it is essential to the general good. Yet the difficulty is a calamity to those on whom it lights, -a calamity against which no elevation of rank secures.
Nor is it any indication of inconsistency and contradiction in the management of the world, however it may seem to superficial inquirers, that the distinctions of rank, which the purposes of civil life demand, should be occasionally, as it may seem, confounded, and the different orders
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