Anyone who pronounced himself satisfied with the state of the world would be regarded either as an idiot or as an unfeeling and unthinking egotist, whose satisfaction with his own life had culpably blinded him to the misery of the generality of men. From this it would be easy, though nonetheless mistaken, to conclude that the louder and more vehement a man’s protests at the current state of affairs, the more genuinely and strongly he felt about it. Many men protest too loudly, however; and it should never be forgotten that hatred of injustice is generally far stronger than love of justice, if only because of a subliminal awareness that Hamlet was quite right: use every man after his desert and who should ’scape whipping? Justice is therefore easy to respect, hard to love.

One man who habitually protested too much, to the point of tiresomeness, was Ezra Pound. Of his poetry I shall say nothing: not being fluent in Greek,...