Saturday, January 14, 2006



Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Possessed (tr. Constance Garnett), II, 5:
The enjoyment derived from charity is a haughty and immoral enjoyment. The rich man's enjoyment in his wealth, his power, and in the comparison of his importance with the poor. Charity corrupts giver and taker alike; and, what's more, does not attain its object, as it only increases poverty. Fathers who don't want to work crowd round the charitable like gamblers round the gambling-table, hoping for gain, while the pitiful farthings that are flung them are a hundred times too little.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Morgenstern (Daybreak, tr. R.J. Hollingdale), III, 185:
Beggars ought to be abolished: for one is vexed at giving to them, and vexed at not giving to them.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance:
Then again, do not tell me, as a good man did to-day, of my obligation to put all poor men in good situations. Are they my poor? I tell thee thou foolish philanthropist that I grudge the dollar, the dime, the cent, I give to such men as do not belong to me and to whom I do not belong. There is a class of persons to whom by all spiritual affinity I am bought and sold; for them I will go to prison if need be; but your miscellaneous popular charities; the education at college of fools; the building of meeting-houses to the vain end to which many now stand; alms to sots, and the thousand-fold Relief Societies;--though I confess with shame I sometimes succumb and give the dollar, it is a wicked dollar which by and by I shall have the manhood to withhold.
In chapter 38 of Middlemarch, George Eliot defines the philanthropist as "a man whose charity increases directly as the square of the distance." The literary epitome of this definition is Mrs. Jellyby in Dicken's Bleak House, whose efforts on behalf of the natives of Borrioboola-Gha in Africa are unstinting, but who shamefully neglects the welfare of her own family, to the point that her daughter Caddy finally cries out in despair, "I wish Africa was dead!"

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