Wednesday, February 04, 2009

As if we ourselves had made the world

'Pooh! What could I do? Oh, don't we live absurdly artificial lives? Now why should a family who, through no fault of their own, are in the most wretched straits, shut themselves up and hide it like a disgrace? Don't you think we hold a great many very nonsensical ideas about self-respect and independence and so on? If I were in want, I know two or three people to whom I should forthwith go and ask for succour; if they thought the worse of me for it, I should tell them they ought to be ashamed of themselves. We act, indeed, as if we ourselves had made the world and were bound to pretend it an admirable piece of work without a screw loose anywhere. I always say the world's about as bad a place as one could well imagine, at all events for most people who live in it, and that it's our plain duty to help each other without grimacings. The death of this poor man has distressed me more than I can tell you: it does seem such a monstrously cruel thing. There's his employer, a man called Dagworthy, who never knew what it was to be without luxuries,--I'm not in the habit of listening to scandal, but I believe there's a great deal of truth in certain stories told about his selfishness and want of feeling. I consider Mr. Dagworthy this poor man's murderer; it was his bounden duty to see that a man in his employment was paid enough to live upon,--and Mr. Hood was not. Imagine what suffering must have brought about such an end as this. A sad case,--say people. I call it a case of crime that enjoys impunity.'

--George Gissing, A Life's Morning

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