Charles Dickens Reflecting on the Poor

Timothy Taylor at the Conversable Economist has drawn attention to a stirring account from a nonfiction work by Charles Dickens, penned in the first person as he observed subhuman conditions in the district of Whitechapel, on the east end of London. The narrative was published January 26, 1856, in Household Words, a journal edited by Dickens, a “two-penny weekly magazine of original short fiction and crusading social journalism was launched to widespread publicity on 30 March 1850.” The full impact of what the author has to say can be summed up:

“Stop and guess! What is to be the end of a state of society that leaves us here!”

…I know that the unreasonable disciples of a reasonable school, demented disciples who push arithmetic and political economy beyond all bounds of sense (not to speak of such a weakness as humanity), and hold them to be all-sufficient for every case, can easily prove that such things ought to be, and that no man has any business to mind them. Without disparaging those indispensable sciences in their sanity, I utterly renounce and abominate them in their insanity; and I address people with a respect for the spirit of the New Testament, who do mind such things, and who think them infamous in our streets.

Read the full account (5 pages) embedded below and pause not for false or token guilt, but for reflection and some sort of action since a century and a half later, there are still poor and needy to be found:

Comments are closed.