Idleness leads to intellectual and physical flabbiness, the desire to provide and entertain oneself with artificial interests, the need for extreme sensations, exaggerated excitability of the imagination, perversion resulting from idleness, feeble desires to order other people about, small and big clashes in family life and society, endless dimensions between equals, between inferiors and superiors, in short, swarms of grief and sufferings that people cause one another without the slightest need and which can be explained only by the expressive saying:
*FAT DOGS GO MAD*
Poverty leads to material, intellectual, moral and all kinds of sufferings: hunger, cold, ignorance from which one wishes to free oneself, forced corruption which revolts nature in even the most callous creatures, wretched drunkenness whose victim himself is ashamed, and all the motley crimes that the criminal cannot help committing. In the middle of the ladder the products of poverty meet the products of idleness; here there is less barbarity than at the bottom and less flabbiness than at the top, but more filth than anywhere; here one must scrimp and scrape because one would like to play the gentleman; one must be stingy with the cook or porter because one wants to have a good time; the children must be kept in a cold nursery because the drawing room has to be well furnished; one has to eat rotten meat to be able to afford fine clothing.
All up and down the ladder reign hate for work and the external antagonism of private interests. It is not surprising that in such circumstances work produces little, that love for one’s neighbour is to be found only in edifying books.
Little souls spend themselves in little gossips of social chaos. Wisdom and fraud appear synonymous. The term honest man means with us a simpleton, almost a dunce. Social demoralisation is also great that the conceptions of honour and justice are regarded either as characteristics of weak souls or symptoms of overenthusiastic romanticism. Our education is hypocrisy. We study without love for learning, without a sense of dignity, without feeling the need for truth. Indeed, why should we care to acquire knowledge in schools, when our life and our public are warring against all great ideas and truths, and any attempt to realise some idea of justice, of the good and of the public welfare is branded and prosecuted as a crime. What is the use of developing noble aspirations if, sooner or later, one has to join the bandwagon in order to avoid becoming a victim.
[I’m not sure who wrote this essay – it was with a batch of old documents I remember finding in my house when I was much younger. If evidence of the writer or copyright holder is presented, I’m more than happy to make the attribution]