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Poverty and Compassion chronicles the moment in which an entire society--late Victorian England--discovered poverty and attacked it with the same combination of scientific rigor and moral fervor that characterized so much of the age. Himmelfarb shows how the public spirit of that age became the public policy of our own. It is a story of reforms and ideas, of the Salvation Army and the Fabian Society, of high idealism and moral chivalry coupled with naïveté and roaring eccentricity.