24 March 2014

Holy Poverty

Émile Souvestre, An Attic Philosopher in Paris; A Peep at the World from a Garret, Being the Journal of a Happy Man (New York: D. Appleton, 1892), pp. 44-45:
O beloved and gentle Poverty! pardon me for having for a moment wished to fly from thee, as I would from Want. Stay here forever with thy charming sisters, Pity, Patience, Sobriety, and Solitude; be ye my queens and my instructors; teach me the stern duties of life; remove far from my abode the weakness of heart and giddiness of head which follow prosperity. Holy poverty! teach me to endure without complaining, to impart without grudging, to seek the end of life higher than in pleasure, farther off than in power. Thou givest the body strength, thou makest the mind more firm; and, thanks to thee, this life, to which the rich attach themselves as to a rock, becomes a bark of which death may cut the cable without awakening all our fears.
This is the conclusion of the third chapter, in which the narrator decides not to enter into financial speculations that might have made him rich but could also have ruined him (or at the very least disturbed his peace of mind).

Illustrated edition of Un philosophe sous les toits: journal d'un homme heureux (Paris: Michel-Lévy Frères, 1872) here.

A related post: Too Much Concerned About a Little Poverty