“From what I’ve heard Swift say, I fancy he sympathizes with your theories,” said the Rector.
“I fear he sympathizes with my temper as well as my theories!” laughed the Squire. “As I felt the flush on my own cheek-bone, I caught the fire in his eye. But now, my dear sir, you will consent to some strong measures to prevent the village becoming a mere nest of lazzaroni? Let us try the system at any rate. I propose that we do not shut up the soup kitchen yet, but charge a small sum for the soup towards its expenses. And I want to beg you to write another of those graphic and persuasive letters, in which you have appealed to the sympathy of the public with our misfortune.”
“But, bless me!” said the Rector, “I thought you were a foe to assisting the people, even out of their own parson’s pocket.”
“Well, I taunted the doctor myself with inconsistency, but we do not propose to make a sixpenny dole of the fund. You know there are certain things they can’t do, and some help they seem fairly entitled to receive. We’ve made them burn their bedding, in the interests of the public safety, and it’s only fair they should be helped to replace it. Then there is a lot of sanitary work which can only be done by a fund for the purpose; and, if we get the money, we can employ idlers. The women will tidy their houses when they see new blankets, and the sooner the churchyard is made nice, and that monument of yours erected, and we all get into orderly, respectable ways again, the better.”