Do you know what it is to be poor?
Not poor with the arrogant poverty complained of by certain people who have five or six thousand a year to live upon, and who yet swear they can hardly manage to make both ends meet……but really poor
Downright, cruelly, hideously poor, a poverty that is graceless… sordid…miserable
Poverty that compels you to dress in your one suit of clothes till it is worn threadbare
Poverty that denies you clean linen on account of the ruinous charges of washerwomen
Poverty that robs you of your own self-respect, and causes you to slink along the streets vaguely abashed, instead of walking erect among your fellow-men in independent ease,
This is the sort of poverty I mean.
This the grinding curse that keeps down noble aspiration under a load of ignoble care;
this the moral cancer that eats into the heart of an otherwise well-intentioned human creature and makes envious and malignant, inclined to the use of dynamite.
Seeing the fat idle woman passing by in her luxurious carriage, lolling back lazily, her face mottled with the purple and red signs of superfluous eating
Observing the brainless and sensual man of fashion smoking and dawdling away the hours in the Park, as if all the world and its millions of honest hard workers were created solely for the casual diversion of the so-called ‘upper’ classes
then good blood turns to gall, suffering spirit rises in fierce rebellion, cries out:
Why in God’s name, should this injustice be?
Why should a worthless lounger have his pockets full of gold by mere chance and heritage, while I, toiling wearily from morn till midnight, can scarce afford myself a satisfying meal?
Why should the wicked flourish like a green bay-tree?
I have often thought about it. Now however I believe I could help to solve the problem out of my own personal experience. But … such an experience!
Who will credit it? Who will believe that anything so strange and terrific ever chanced to the lot of a mortal?
No one. Yet it is true…truer than much so-called truth.
Moreover I know that many live through many such incidents as occur to me, under precisely the same influence, conscious perhaps at times, that they are in the tangles of sin, but too weak of will to break the net in which they have become voluntarily imprisoned.
Will they be taught, I wonder, the lesson I have learned? In the same bitter school, under the same formidable taskmaster?
Will they realize as I have been forced to do,–aye, to the very fibres of my intellectual perception,–the vast, individual, active Mind, which behind all matter, works unceasingly, though silently, a very eternal and positive God? If so, then dark problems will become clear to them, and what seems injustice in the world will prove pure equity!
But I do not write with any hope of either persuading or enlightening my fellow-men. I know their obstinacy too well…I gauge it by my own.
My proud belief in myself was, at one time, not to be outdone by any human unit on the face of the globe. And I am aware that others are in similar case. I merely intend to relate the various incidents of my career in due order exactly as they happened…leaving to more confident heads the business of propounding and answering the riddles of human existence as best they may.
THE SORROWS OF SATAN
THE STRANGE EXPERIENCE OF ONE
GEOFFREY TEMPEST, MILLIONAIRE
BY MARIE CORELLI