Is it right for heart to be too often in the right place? The epitome of the bleeding heart liberal.Can pity be the artists worst enemy?
John Galsworthy’s father became a lawyer but thought little of that dusty profession in Victorian England; he moved into finance, made a large fortune, which he reinvested in property, and over a considerable period of time had an anuual income 12,000 pounds a year.He was the senior member of the Forsyte family in Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga- The Man of Property, who veiled “under a Jove-like serenity that perpetual antagonism deep-seated in the bosom of a director towards his shareholders.”
He was, his son wrote in a direct description, a tough, quick-tempered, lonely man with ” a very strong vein of fastidiousness, and such essential deep love of domination, that he found, perhaps, few men of his own age and standing to whom he did not feel natively superior.”
Galsworthy did not seem to have minded being sent away to a prep school and then Harrow. There, in what he later called “the mills of gentility, ….we were debarred from any real interest in philosophy, history, art, literature and music, or any advancing notions in social life or politics. ” Like many other subsequently distinguished son of the Establishment such as Stanley Baldwin and Winston Churchill, he made no particular mark.
…New figures on income levels released this week confirm what many in the United States struggling to make ends meet already knew: it is a country in the midst of a poverty crisis that will define a generation.
Soaring poverty rates and a decade of stagnation in prosperity levels even for wealthier Americans emerge as the gloomy headlines from a new Census Bureau survey showing that 46.2 million people in the country were subsisting below the poverty level last year, more than has been seen in any year since the surveys began 52 years ago.
Last year an additional 2.6 million Americans fell below the poverty threshold, set at $22,113 for a family of four. Moreover, median household incomes dipped to a level not seen since 1997… Read More:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/almost-1-in-6-americans-living-below-poverty-line-2354789.html
He did, however, begin to turn into “something of a swell,” a process he extended at New College, Oxford. To all appearances he spent his time strolling through the more fashionable streets of the university town, cultivating a “nonchalant and languid manner,” playing walk-on parts for the university dramatic society and becoming an expert on horse racing. He cultivated a small group of suitably born friends, and made a point of overspending his allowance; and habitually pawned his watch near the end of every term. a
Back in London, Galsworthy’s allowance, now 350 per year for a twenty-five year old, was called to the bar, and though briefless, he moved out of the family house and shared a flat in Victoria street with an Oxford friend. Gradually, his mental horizons began to widen. Religion was very much under discussion; Galsworthy was not a believer, but, he suggested, “The great thing, I take it, is to cultivate a stiff upper lip…”
More important, he suddenly began to notice what was under his nose in this world. And what he saw shocked yet fascinated him horribly. Almost the only service that his father required of him, apart from dancing attendance on the family, was that from time to time he should act as rent collector. His duties took him to the poorer parts of London. He became almost obsessed with slum life. He describes himself at this time in a passage written nine years later in the novel The Island Pharisees:
John Noble dined with me yesterday; the poor fellow tried to persuade me to stand for Parliament. Why should I think myself fit to legislate for the unhappy wretches one sees about in the streets? If people’s faces are a fair test of their happiness, I’ d rather not feel in any way responsible….
The streets, in fact, after his long absence in the East, afforded him much food for thought: the curious smugness of the passers-by; the utterly unending bustle; the fearful medley of miserable, over-driven women, and full-fed men, with leering, bull-beef eyes, whom he saw everywhere–in club windows, on their beats, on box seats, on the steps of hotels, discharging dilatory duties; the appalling chaos of hard-eyed, capable dames with defiant clothes, and white-cheeked hunted-looking men; of splendid creatures in their cabs, and cadging creatures in their broken hats–the callousness and the monotony!Read More:http://www.online-literature.com/john-galsworthy/island-pharisees/3/
“few are guilty but all are responsible” – a. j. heschel.