Wednesday, 4 February 2009

The Day of the Dickens

The pic below has nothing to do with Dickens or Darwin, but is here to lend a bit of cheer to what would otherwise be nothing but the boring rantings of an old fart. It is Reb, for those who don´t know.

Birthday time for the Charles boys (and me).
Saturday is the anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens (and me).
You can see I am proud to share the day.
Charles Darwin - the big one - 200 years - is next week, so we will put him on ice until then.
I have got so much Dickens stuff that I will split it into more than one helping, so sit back down, Twist!

More people should read more Dickens. Not because he was a great social crusader - most of the things he railed against have been eliminated - in Britain at least - but because he is funny.

For a for instance, here is the beginning and end of the first chapter of Martin Chuzzlewit. If it does not make you laugh, you needn´t bother reading my blog any more, because it doesn´t any better than this.
Just one bit of pedantry: The references to people being descended from monkeys pre-dates Darwin by 16 years. Interesting, eh?

Chapter 1
Introductory, concerning the pedigree of the Chuzzlewit family

AS NO LADY OR GENTLEMAN, with any claims to polite breeding, can possibly sympathise with the Chuzzlewit Family without being first assured of the extreme antiquity of the race, it is a great satisfaction to know that it undoubtedly descended in a direct line from Adam and Eve; and was, in the very earliest times, closely connected with the agricultural interest. If it should ever be urged by grudging and malicious persons, that a Chuzzlewit, in any period of the family history, displayed an overweening amount of family pride, surely the weakness will be considered not only pardonable but laudable, when the immense superiority of the house to the rest of mankind, in respect of this its ancient origin, is taken into account.
It is remarkable that as there was, in the oldest family of which we have any record, a murderer and a vagabond, so we never fail to meet, in the records of all old families, with innumerable repetitions of the same phase of character. Indeed, it may be laid down as a general principle, that the more extended the ancestry, the greater the amount of violence and vagabondism; for in ancient days those two amusements, combining a wholesome excitement with a promising means of repairing shattered fortunes, were at once the ennobling pursuit and the healthful recreation of the Quality of this land.
Consequently, it is a source of inexpressible comfort and happiness to find, that in various periods of our history, the Chuzzlewits were actively connected with divers slaughterous conspiracies and bloody frays. It is further recorded of them, that being clad from head to heel in steel of proof, they did on many occasions lead their leather-jerkined soldiers to the death with invincible courage, and afterwards return home gracefully to their relations and friends.

Last paragraph of Chapter One
This history having, to its own perfect satisfaction, (and, consequently, to the full contentment of all its readers,) proved the Chuzzlewits to have had an origin, and to have been at one time or other of an importance which cannot fail to render them highly improving and acceptable acquaintance to all right- minded individuals, may now proceed in earnest with its task. And having shown that they must have had, by reason of their ancient birth, a pretty large share in the foundation and increase of the human family, it will one day become its province to submit, that such of its members as shall be introduced in these pages, have still many counterparts and prototypes in the Great World about us. At present it contents itself with remarking, in a general way, on this head: Firstly, that it may be safely asserted, and yet without implying any direct participation in the Manboddo doctrine touching the probability of the human race having once been monkeys, that men do play very strange and extraordinary tricks. Secondly, and yet without trenching on the Blumenbach theory as to the descendants of Adam having a vast number of qualities which belong more particularly to swine than to any other class of animals in the creation, that some men certainly are remarkable for taking uncommon good care of themselves.

2 comments: said...

I am not sure how to feel about having my photo posted above a blog entry detailing a family of vagabonds, murderers, and apes.

Still, How did you find out so much about my grandparents?

Laura said...

I have been reading Rebekah's blog for several months and I am hooked but today I discovered yours and I am in tears from laughing so much. I have read much of it to my husband and we are both regretting that we did not take the extra time to come meet you when we were in Spain last fall. I think we have found soul mates in the two of you - perhaps another time. For now I will continue to enjoy your blogs. I am so pleased to have found both of you, and the dogs and the chickens and the cat....
Thank you! I do think I must ask you to be "my friend" on Facebook though....