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According to the parable of the Elm and the Vine in the quasi-Biblical Shepherd of Hermas, the rich and the poor should be in a relationship of mutual support.
Those with wealth are in need of the prayers of the poor for their salvation and can only earn them by acts of charity.
In the third section of that novel, Mr Boffin decides to cure his ward Bella Wilfer of her obsession with wealth and position by appearing to become a miser.
Taking her with him on a round of the bookshops, Mr Boffin would say, 'Now, look well all round, my dear, for a Life of a Miser, or any book of that sort; any Lives of odd characters who may have been Misers.' ....
The popularity of such accounts is attested by the seven editions printed in the book's first year and the many later reprintings under various titles.
Others include John Little (who appears in Merryweather), Reverend Mr Jones of Blewbury (also in Merryweather) and Dick Jarrel, whose surname was really Jarrett and an account of whom appeared in the Annual Register for 1806.
The many volumes of this publication also figured among Mr Boffin's purchases.
Accounts of misers were included in such 19th century works as G. Wilson's four-volume compendium of short biographies, The Eccentric Mirror (1807).
Such books were put to comic use by Charles Dickens in Our Mutual Friend (serialised 1864/5), with its cutting analysis of Victorian capitalism.