Article written by a young Hippolyte-Léon Denizard Rivail, in 1825.
“We always speak with renewed pleasure about these true friends of mankind that sacrifice their life, their rest and financial resources to the relief of their neighbors; these beings that are so rare these days are very precious, and how in the time which we currently live many people gratuitously title themselves philanthropists and hide themselves under this veil of the most sordid egoism, it is important to know of what is the true philanthropy composed in order to be able to recognize those that only possess from it a facade, and that, by a hypocrisy frequently studied for many years, they have fun abusing themselves of the public, in order to take from them what is most advantageous to their interests. What I say relative to these supposed friends of humbleness, is only to more clearly highlight the ones that truly consecrate their life to the happiness of their neighbors.
In one of my travels to Switzerland, I had the opportunity to visit a school founded under this true love for the good of the public, and that, under all aspects, should inspire the most vivid interest. Mrs. C… founded this school in a village of Mont-Jura, where she resides. Her possessions, still sufficient for her to lead a tranquil life, were not sizable enough to supply all of the necessities of such an establishment. Therefore, she suffered in seeing an innumerable quantity of children unhappy, downcast by poverty just as much as their parents, contracting all of the vices that idleness and vagrancy necessarily bring with them. She resolved to remove them from their unhappy condition and to provide those poor children a more reputable means of existence, and resources for the future as well. What an enterprise! What obstacles to overcome! Ergo, she overcame all of them. When a virtuous soul decides to do good it is very rare for them to not obtain success. Courage and a strong will are needed, and neither one were lacking.
Aided by her small fortune and by some meager resources, she brought together a certain number of girls whose only occupation was beggary, and that now receive a well-cared-for education. At the time of my visit the school had around seventy. The girls are lodged, fed, bathed, at last, entirely sustained in that home. The most important occupation of the girls, outside of the lessons, is lace-making. From the collected product, one part is invested towards the sustenance of the establishment, and the other remains at the disposal of those that earned it, and that hasten to make dignified use of it, in the sustenance of their unhappy parents.
One day I manifested my admiration for Mrs. C… for the change which she had effected in all of their souls, and I testified to her how surprised I was by the fact that she had been able to rectify those characters, in which she must have encountered some quite rebellious. – Certainly, she said to me, I had plenty of difficulty; there were characters that brought all of the vices that poverty and beggary bring with them; but with perseverance the objective is reached, and I am amply recompensed for the efforts, when I notice that I achieved it. – You must be very happy, I added, for up to this day the events were in accordance with your wishes. – Oh! How is this possible? I asked her. She responded to me: – I feel that I have done very little up to now; and I will not be completely happy until I have done all of that which is in my power; unfortunately, my means are very fragile; may the heavens aid in my intentions…
Virtuous woman, I thought as I left her, you count your moments of happiness by the number of those whom you make happy, while so many others do not count them if not for the victims of their avarice!
Many of those young women obtained positions of teachers abroad, or have other jobs that provide for them, as well as their parents, an honorable perspective, through which they know how to show recognition toward their generous benefactor.”
Le Petit Album de la Jeunesse, de Alexandre de Villiers. Paris, 1825. Translated from French by the crew at IPEAK and translated to English by the crew at Love & Charity Spiritist Center.