The Savour of Salt: A Henry Salt Anthology. Edited by George Hendrick and Willene Hendrick. Centaur Press. £12.95
Henry Salt was a man of letters with a vast bibliography to his name. He displayed, moreover, great moral passion, sympathy and understanding for a more equitable economic system, concern for the conservation of wild flowers and natural areas and for better treatment of animals. He deserves more recognition than he has received from the Labour Movement.
Born in 1851, his life was devoted to many humanitarian causes which were both unpopular and misunderstood. Salt applied to himself the principles in which he believed. An ethical socialist, he joined the New Fellowship (influenced by Henry David Thoreau and Emerson rather than Marx and Hyndman) and later supported the Fabian Society until he resigned over the Society’s support for the Boer War. He died in 1939, neglected by the socialist movement which he had long served.
The Hendricks’ have celebrated the anniversary of the death of this compassionate man with a fine selection of his writings that will appeal to all ‘green’ readers of New Ground. Salt was committed to some of the most important causes; ethical socialism, conservation, animal rights, vegetarianism and other humanitarian movements of his time.
He was supported by many of his friends in his battle against the prejudices of individual and institution alike — Edward Carpenter, G.W. Foote, William Morris, Bernard Shaw and W.M. Hyndman to name but a few. The selection pays tribute to this child of privilege who, as a classical scholar, gave up ‘The Good Life’ for ‘The Simple Life’, which he found more congenial and in keeping with his views.
Full of passionate feelings and keen observation, Salt’s essays remain relevant and compelling. Readers who seek a socialist resolution to our problems will find in Salt an exceptional human being who had no time for hypocrisy.
John F.C. Pontin
New Ground, Summer 1990