The Torture Garden Excerpt: Robbery and Business
To take something from a person and keep it for oneself: that is robbery. To take something from a person and then turn it over to another in exchange for as much money as you can get: that is business. Robbery is so much more stupid, since it is satisfied with a single, frequently dangerous profit; whereas in business it can be doubled without danger.
It was in this moral atmosphere that in some way or other I grew up and developed entirely alone, with no other text than the daily example of my parents. Among the shopkeeping classes children are generally left to their own devices, for no one has time to bother with their education. They educate themselves as best they can, at the mercy of their own dispositions and the pernicious influences of that environment, which is generally degrading and confined. Spontaneously, and without the need of any outward pressure, I contributed my own portion of emulation or invention to the family swindles. From the age of ten I had no other concept of life than theft, and I was convinced—oh, quite ingenuously I assure you—that to ‘rope people in’ constituted the foundation of all social intercourse.