Monday, July 07, 2014


Temptations of the Poor

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), Sermon 4, in The Yale Edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson, Vol. 14: Sermons, edd. ‎Jean H. Hagstrum and ‎James Gray (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978), pp. 46-47:
[W]hat may not be expected from him, who is pushed forward into sin by the impulse of poverty, who lives in continual want of what he sees wasted by thousands in negligent extravagance, and whose pain is every moment aggravated by the contempt of those whom nature has subjected to the same necessities with himself, and who are only his superior by that wealth which they know not how to possess with moderation or decency?

How strongly may such a man be tempted to declare war upon the prosperous and the great! With what obstinacy and fury may he rush on from one outrage to another, impelled on one part, by the pressure of necessity, and attracted on the other, by the prospect of happiness: of happiness, which he sees sufficient to elevate those that possess it above the consideration of their own nature, and to turn them away from their own flesh; that happiness, which appears greater, by being compared with his own misery, and which he admires the more, because he cannot approach it. He that finds in himself every natural power of enjoyment, will envy the tables of the luxurious, and the splendour of the proud; he who feels the cold of nakedness, and the faintness of hunger, cannot but be provoked to snatch that bread which is devoured by excess, and that raiment which is only worn as the decoration of vanity. Resentment may easily combine with want, and incite him to return neglect with violence.

Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945), March of the Weavers, from the series Weavers' Revolt

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?