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Can generous Brits match 19th century generosity?

Toby Helm reports that the Telegraph Christmas Charity Appeal has already raised £318,695, more than £100,000 of it in one day. Readers called in to help support “current and ex- Service men and women and their families, through SSAFA Forces Help; severely disabled children educated at Chailey Heritage School; and impoverished families in Malawi through The MicroLoan Foundation.”

It is less well-known that Brits were amazingly generous in the 19th century. According to author James Bartholomew, "The combined incomes of London charities came to more than the revenues of several European governments". (The Welfare State We’re In) He attributes this to welfare reform and free trade, which contributed to prosperity, and a refreshing feeling of responsibility and idealism energizing most members of society.

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