marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
marycatelli
marycatelli

regency good works

ah, the lady bountiful, doing good deeds among the poor of her neighborhood. . .

She certainly existed in the Regency.  Anne, in Persuasion, has to reflect that Admiral and Mrs. Croft will look after the poor better than when her father was in residence, and Emma, besides her lofty observation that she's interested in those below the rank of farmer as well as those above -- "A degree or two lower, and a creditable appearance might interest me; I might hope to be useful to their families in some way or other." -- also indulges in one personal visit


They were now approaching the cottage, and all idle topics were superseded. Emma was very compassionate; and the distresses of the poor were as sure of relief from her personal attention and kindness, her counsel and her patience, as from her purse. She understood their ways, could allow for their ignorance and their temptations, had no romantic expectations of extraordinary virtue from those for whom education had done so little; entered into their troubles with ready sympathy, and always gave her assistance with as much intelligence as good-will. In the present instance, it was sickness and poverty together which she came to visit; and after remaining there as long as she could give comfort or advice, she quitted the cottage with such an impression of the scene as made her say to Harriet, as they walked away,
"These are the sights, Harriet, to do one good. How trifling they make every thing else appear!—I feel now as if I could think of nothing but these poor creatures all the rest of the day; and yet, who can say how soon it may all vanish from my mind?"



You might notice a certain lack of vivid details actually depicting that visit. . .

I know about Victorian home visiting in more detail, but that's later. I've read A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, but that's earlier, and the virtuous Christian old maid does turn heavily on her independent income, which my heroine ain't got.


To relate her charity, would be to relate the history of every day for twenty years; for so long has all her fortune been spent that way. She has set up near twenty poor tradesmen that had failed in their business, and saved as many from failing. She has educated several poor children, that were picked up in the streets, and put them in a way of an honest employment. As soon as any labourer is confined at home with sickness, she sends him, till he recovers, twice the value of his wages, that he may have one part to give to his family as usual, and the other to provide things convenient for his sickness.

If a family seems too large to be supported by the labour of those that can work in it, she pays their rent, and gives them something yearly towards their clothing. By this means, there are several poor families that live in a comfortable manner, and are from year to year blessing her in their prayers.



And the fun part is that it is not something that I've found covered in books about day-to-day life.
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