+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

                 HARD TIMES.


               CHAPTER XVIII.

THE Gradgrind party wanted assistance in
murdering the Graces. They went about
recruiting; and where could they enlist
recruits more readily, than among the fine
gentlemen who, having found out everything
to be worth nothing, were equally ready for

Moreover, the healthy spirits who had
mounted to this sublime height were
attractive to many of the Gradgrind school.
They liked fine gentlemen; they pretended
that they did not, but they did. They
became exhausted in imitation of them; and
they yaw-yawed in their speech like them;
and they served out, with an enervated air,
the little mouldy rations of political economy,
on which they regaled their disciples. There
never before was seen on earth such a
wonderful hybrid race as was thus produced.

Among the fine gentlemen not regularly
belonging to the Gradgrind school, there was
one of a good family and a better appearance,
with a happy turn of humour which had
told immensely with the House of Commons
on the occasion of his entertaining it with his
(and the Board of Directors') view of a railway
accident, in which the most careful officers
ever known, employed by the most liberal
managers ever heard of, assisted by the finest
mechanical contrivances ever devised, the
whole in action on the best line ever
constructed, had killed five people and wounded
thirty-two, by a casualty without which the
excellence of the whole system would have
been positively incomplete. Among the slain
was a cow, and among the scattered articles
unowned, a widow's cap. And the honourable
member had so tickled the House (which
has a delicate sense of humour) by putting
the cap on the cow, that it became impatient of
any serious reference to the Coroner's Inquest,
and brought the railway off with Cheers and

Now, this gentleman had a younger
brother of still better appearance than himself,
who had tried life as a Cornet of Dragoons,
and found it a bore; and had afterwards tried
it in the train of an English minister abroad,
and found it a bore; and had then strolled
to Jerusalem, and got bored there; and had
then gone yachting about the world, and got
bored everywhere. To whom this honorable
and jocular member fraternally said one day,
"Jem, there's a good opening among the hard
Fact fellows, and they want men. I wonder
you don't go in for statistics." Jem, rather
taken by the novelty of the idea, and very
hard up for a change, was as ready to " go
in" for statistics as for anything else. So, he
went in. He coached himself up with a blue
book or two; and his brother put it
about among the hard Fact fellows, and said,
"If you want to bring in, for any place, a
handsome dog who can make you a devilish
good speech, look after my brother Jem, for
he's your man." After a few dashes in the
public meeting way, Mr. Gradgrind and a
council of political sages approved of Jem,
and it was resolved to send him down to
Coketown, to become known there and in the
neighbourhood. Hence the letter Jem had
last night shown to Mrs. Sparsit, which Mr.
Bounderby now held in his hand;
superscribed, " Josiah Bounderby, Esquire, Banker,
Coketown. Specially to introduce James
Harthouse, Esquire. Thomas Gradgrind."

Within an hour of the receipt of this
dispatch and Mr. James Harthouse's card, Mr.
Bounderby put on his hat and went down to
the Hotel. There, he found Mr. James
Harthouse looking out of window, in a state of
mind so disconsolate, that he was already half
disposed to "go in" for something else.

"My name, sir," said his visitor, " is Josiah
Bounderby of Coketown."

Mr. James Harthouse was very happy
indeed (though he scarcely looked so), to have
a pleasure he had long expected.

"Coketown, sir," said Bounderby, obstinately
taking a chair, " is not the kind of place you
have been accustomed to. Therefore, if you'll
allow meor whether you will or not, for I
am a plain manI'll tell you something about
it before we go any farther."

Mr. Harthouse would be charmed.

"Don't be too sure of that,'' said
Bounderby. "I don't promise it. First of all,
you see our smoke. That's meat and drink
to us. It's the healthiest thing in the
world in all respects, and particularly for the
lungs. If you are one of those who want us