It is impossible not to recognize that much of the distrust of wealth on the part of the poor has come from the mere increase of the figures employed to describe it; that we count by millions instead of by thousands, and that the word multi-millionaire has become necessary.
Greville records, fifty years ago, the registering of a will bequeathing the largest fortune ever known in England-over a million pounds, or five million dollars. Only that!
It is a great step from this to the period when all the newspapers condoled with the daughters of a single American family for being limited by their father's will to ten million dollars apiece.
There was such a general expression of sympathy that one expected to see a proposal to take up collections for them in Sunday-schools or by penny-in-a-slot boxes.
Since then, moreover, the maximum figure of wealth has increased so rapidly that it haunts the imagination, especially of the poor.
All the old theories, as that wealth would be limited, in this country, by the absence of primogeniture, or checked by cutting off the old sources of supply, such as the India trade-all these have vanished.
Then the question recurs, for those who are poor and philosophers at the same time, what is the outcome to be?