Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Green Eagle's Reading Nook

I've had such success with my art criticism, that I thought I'd take a chance at literature, featuring the musings of the very well-to-do Mr. Podsnap, from chapter 11 of Charles Dickens' Our Mutual Friend, slightly edited:


"In the mean time a stray personage of a meek demeanour, who had wandered to the hearthrug and got among the heads of tribes assembled there in conference with Mr Podsnap, eliminated Mr Podsnap's flush and flourish by a highly unpolite remark; no less than a reference to the circumstance that some half-dozen people had lately died in the streets, of starvation. It was clearly ill-timed after dinner. It was not in good taste.

'I don't believe it,' said Mr Podsnap, putting it behind him.

The meek man was afraid we must take it as proved, because there were the Inquests and the Registrar's returns.

'Then it was their own fault,' said Mr Podsnap.

Veneering and other elders of tribes commended this way out of it. At once a short cut and a broad road.

The man of meek demeanour intimated that truly it would seem from the facts, as if starvation had been forced upon the culprits in question—as if, in their wretched manner, they had made their weak protests against it—as if they would have taken the liberty of staving it off if they could—as if they would rather not have been starved upon the whole, if perfectly agreeable to all parties.

'There is not,' said Mr Podsnap, flushing angrily, 'there is not a country in the world, sir, where so noble a provision is made for the poor as in this country.'

The meek man was quite willing to concede that, but perhaps it rendered the matter even worse, as showing that there must be something appallingly wrong somewhere.

'Where?' said Mr Podsnap.

The meek man hinted Wouldn't it be well to try, very seriously, to find out where?

'Ah!' said Mr Podsnap. 'Easy to say somewhere; not so easy to say where! But I see what you are driving at. I knew it from the first. Centralization. No. Never with my consent. Not English.'

An approving murmur arose from the heads of tribes; as saying, 'There you have him! Hold him!'

He was not aware (the meek man submitted of himself) that he was driving at any ization. He had no favourite ization that he knew of. But he certainly was more staggered by these terrible occurrences than he was by names, of howsoever so many syllables. Might he ask, was dying of destitution and neglect necessarily English?

'You know what the population of London is, I suppose,' said Mr Podsnap.

The meek man supposed he did, but supposed that had absolutely nothing to do with it, if its laws were well administered.

'And you know; at least I hope you know;' said Mr Podsnap, with severity, 'that Providence has declared that you shall have the poor always with you?'

The meek man also hoped he knew that.

'I am glad to hear it,' said Mr Podsnap with a portentous air. 'I am glad to hear it. It will render you cautious how you fly in the face of Providence.'

In reference to that absurd and irreverent conventional phrase, the meek man said, for which Mr Podsnap was not responsible, he the meek man had no fear of doing anything so impossible; but—

But Mr Podsnap felt that the time had come for flushing and flourishing this meek man down for good. So he said:

'I must decline to pursue this painful discussion. It is not pleasant to my feelings; it is repugnant to my feelings. I have said that I do not admit these things. I have also said that if they do occur (not that I admit it), the fault lies with the sufferers themselves. It is not for ME'—Mr Podsnap pointed 'me' forcibly, as adding by implication though it may be all very well for YOU—'it is not for me to impugn the workings of Providence."

Well, there you go.  Our country is the most wonderful country in the history of the world, which you dare not deny; on the other hand, conservatives are free to deny anything that they do not want to believe;  poor people are totally responsible for their fate, Centralization (or as it is known today, "big government") is the culprit- and aren't we thankful for Mr. K. Marx for graciously donating his name for this condition.  You are attacking God to question the ascendency of the rich.

So, for those of you who might have thought what is going on in this country is a new sort of phenomenon, well, the politicization of avarice has really been pretty much the same for quite a long time now.  And as long as the greedy are among us, only the names we attach to things will change- the barbarian instinct to prosper at the expense of others will ever remain the same.

2 comments:

Jean Valjean said...

It's not only the poor that we shall always have with us, but the venal, the corrupt, the place-seekers, the social climbers, the peasant-crushers.

Magpie said...

Nothing new under the sun eh?

Funny I was reading about Dickens the other week….

The case has been put that his A Christmas Carol changed perceptions of Christmas from a dreary Church service to a day of family-oriented happiness, largely defining what it means to us to this day, People didn’t use the phrase “Merry Christmas” widely before this story.

The ‘socialist’ who saved Christmas…