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18. Sorrows of the Millionaire 百万富翁的悲哀

by George Bernard Shaw

The millionaire class, a small but growing one into which any of us may be flung tomorrow by the accidents of commerce, is perhaps the most neglected in the community. As far as I know, this is the first tract that has ever been written for millionaires.


In the advertisements of the manufacturers of the country, I find that everything is produced for the million and nothing for the millionaire. Children, boys, youth, “gents”, ladies, artisans, professional men, even peers, and kings, are catered for; but the millionaire’s custom is evidently not worth having; there are too few of him. Whilst the poorest have their Rag Fair, a duly organized and busy market in Houndsditch, where you can buy a boot for a penny, you may search the world in vain for the market where the £50 boot, the special dear line of hats at forty guineas, the cloth of gold bicycling suit, and the Cleopatra claret, four pearls to the bottle, can be purchased wholesale.


Thus the unfortunate millionaire has the responsibility of prodigious wealth without the possibility of enjoying himself more than any ordinary rich man. Indeed, in many things he cannot enjoy himself more than many poor men do, nor even so much; for a drum major is better dressed; a trainer’s stable lad often rides a better horse; the first-class carriage is shared by office boys taking their young ladies out for the evening; everybody who goes down to Brighton for Sunday rides in the Pullman car; and of what use is it to be able to pay for a peacock’s brain sandwich when there is nothing to be had but ham or beef?


The injustice of his state of things has not been sufficiently considered. A man with an income of £25 a year can multiply his comfort beyond all calculation by doubling his income. A man with £50 a year can at least quadruple his comfort by doubling his income. Probably up to even £250 a year doubled income means doubled comfort. After that the increment of comfort grows less in proportion to the increment of income until a point is reached at which the victim is satiated and even surfeited with everything that money can procure. To expect him to enjoy another hundred thousand pounds because men like money, is exactly as if you were to expect a confectioner’s shop-boy to enjoy two hours more work a day because boys are fond of sweets. What can the wretched millionaire do that needs a million? Does he want a fleet of yachts, a Rotten Row full of carriages, an army of servants, a whole city of town houses, or a continent for a game preserve? Can he attend more than one theatre in one evening, or wear more than one suit at a time, or digest more meals than his butler? Is it a luxury to have more money to take care of, more begging letters to read, and to be cut off from those delicious Alnaschar dreams in which the poor man, sitting down to consider what he will do in the always possible event of some unknown relative leaving him a fortune, forgets his privation.


And yet there is no sympathy for this hidden sorrow of Plutocracy. The poor alone are pitied. Societies spring up in all directions to relieve all sorts of comparatively happy people, from discharged prisoners in the first rapture of their regained liberty to children revelling in the luxury of an unlimited appetite; but no hand is stretched out to the millionaire, except to beg. In all our dealing with him lies implicit the delusion that he has nothing to complain of, and that he ought to be ashamed of rolling in wealth whilst others are starving.


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