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the Christian emperors aided in these works of love. The
duty of helping the poor and miserable was even turned into
an obligation by illogical thinkers. Jerome says that the
words " unrighteous mammon " are justified by the fact that
all riches come from iniquity ; one cannot gain unless another
loses—that same absurd notion which has been expressed
more than once by political economists. In the same strain
' the interest of money was condemned, partly because Jew
could not lend to Jew, partly because usury was taken with-
out work. Even communistic notions prevailed, such as the
declaration of Ambrose that " nature has created the right
of community, and it is usurpation that has made property.*'
But such statements are to be ascribed to the desire of pious
rhetoricians to draw men from their covetousness by doctrines
most opposed to it. The efforts of humanity were, if not
always judicious, generally in the right direction. In the
middle ages charity took the same course in the cities, where
a multitude of hospitals for the sick, the poor, and other
sufferers were founded ; while in the country the serfs on the
lands of seigniors had little help except through the clergy.
The monasteries were open to the needy and even to the
beggar, in whose laziness and vagabondage the monks did
not see as much to find fault with as we do now.
It has been sometimes said that the suppression of the
monasteries in England took away from the poor their princi-
pal friends, and that thenceforth the help of state law became
necessary. Mr. Hallam considers this to be an unfounded
opinion. " The blind eleemosynary spirit/' says he, " in-
^culcated by the Romish church is notoriously the cause, not
the cure of beggary and wretchedness. The monastic foun-
dations, scattered in different countries, but by no means at
regular distances, could never answer the end of local and
limited succor, meted out in just proportion to the demands
of poverty. ... It is by no means probable that the poor
in general were placed in a worse condition by the dissolution
[of the monasteries] ; nor are we to forget that the class to
whom the abbey lands have fallen, have been distinguished
VOL. II.—27