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EARTH HUNGER AND OTHER ESSAYS

one who was destitute of those things, but one who has a breech-loading rifle is separated from one who has not by a far wider interval. The men among whom there is the least social problem are those who are in the lowest stages of barbarism, among whom no one has such superiority over the others, in his emancipation from misery, as to make them, by contrast, feel the stress of their situation.

On the other hand, the well-to-do classes in the midst of the most civilized communities show how much has been done to enable any men to emancipate themselves and their children from the grossest ills and hardships of earthly life. But the strain is still in the same direction, and on the same lines, and by the same means; whatever can be proposed to help on the great struggle is to the purpose, and is what we want to learn from anybody who can teach us. The proposition to abolish poverty is a proposition to do the work all at onceā€”to jump to its conclusion. In view of the slow and painful efforts of the past, this is certainly an ambitious proposal.

There is a sense in which it may be said that it is easy to provide a precept for the abolition of poverty. Let every man be sober, industrious, prudent, and wise, and bring up his children to be so likewise, and poverty will be abolished in a few generations. If it is answered that men, with the best intentions, cannot fulfil this precept, because they make innocent mistakes, and fall into errors in judgment, then the demand is changed, and we are not asked for a means of abolishing poverty, but for a means of abolishing human error. If it be objected, again, that sober, industrious, and prudent men meet with misfortune, then the demand is for a means of abolishing misfortune.