The Pickwick Papers: Charity

‘What do you think? Is there any chance of their permanent reformation?’

Perker shrugged his shoulders doubtfully, but observing Mr. Pickwick’s anxious and disappointed look, rejoined:

‘Of course there is a chance. I hope it may prove a good one. They are unquestionably penitent now; but then, you know, they have the recollection of very recent suffering fresh upon them. What they may become, when that fades away, is a problem that neither you nor I can solve. However, my dear sir,’ added Perker, laying his hand on Mr. Pickwick’s shoulder, ‘your object is equally honourable, whatever the result is. Whether that species of benevolence which is so very cautious and long-sighted that it is seldom exercised at all, lest its owner should be imposed upon, and so wounded in his self-love, be real charity or a worldly counterfeit, I leave to wiser heads than mine to determine. But if those two fellows were to commit a burglary to-morrow, my opinion of this action would be equally high.’

—Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers