How far is the saying true that "Every one lives either by working, or by begging, or by stealing."' Observe: This is primarily a question merely of fact, and not of right or wrong. There may be (1) Right Work and Wrong Work; (2) Begging that is justifiable, and Begging that is unjustifiable; (3) Stealing which is pardonable, and stealing which is unpardonable. In simply placing, therefore, any class of persons under one or another of these three heads, I am not necessarily either praising or blaming the individual members of that class. Again, of two paid workers one may be greatly underpaid, and the other as greatly overpaid. But neither is this consideration embraced in the question before us. We have not to do, tonight, with the merits of any individual, nor with the value or valuelessness of any kind of work, nor yet with the equitable assignment in any particular case of the reward of work. Let us, in the first place, classify the members of English society by dividing them simply into — I. Workers, and II. NonWorkers. I. Workers, e.g.: — Manual labourers, skilled and unskilled; domestic servants; soldiers; sailors; farmers; clerks and overseers; professional men; retail and wholesale dealers; merchants and manufacturers; bankers (sleeping partners are excepted); teachers and preachers; artists, authors, and editors; high officers and Ministers of State; the Sovereign; housewives. All these are doing work, and are receiving pay in coin or kind in return for their work. Some of them may be doing unpaid (honorary) work as well as paid work; and others may be getting interest (on a capital for which they never worked) in addition to those wages of superintendence which are strictly the reward of a merchant's or manufacturer's work. Again, some of them may be working in appointed places for definite salaries, while others may be working, so to speak, "on their own hook," or, in more elegant language, "paddling their own canoe." By what mark, then, shall we distinguish the type of man who lives by his work? What is his definition? He is the man who lives upon pay, in coin or kind, which is given him in return for his personal services. And only in proportion as his means of living are derived from such pay, or from his personal labour on the soil, can he properly be said to "live by working.'' We have next to consider who are the (II.) Non-Workers of Society, and whether they may all, without exception, be properly included in the two classes, "Beggars," and "Stealers" — whether, in fact, this two-fold division of them is an exhaustive one. Now, Beggars and Thieves are alike in these respects, that they, both of them, consume without producing, enjoy without labouring, are served but render no service to others, receive but give not in return, are clever in subtraction, but failures in addition. Wherein, then, do they differ from each other? They differ, for the purposes of the present argument, only in the different dispositions of their respective victims towards them. The victim of the Beggar is a willing victim; he is influenced by custom, or by compassion for weakness, pain, or privation. On the other hand, the victim of the Thief is an unwilling victim. It may be that he is unconscious of the spoliation that is perpetrated upon him.
-- E. D. Girdlestone, quoted in the Christian Socialist, a British monthly, December, 1883.