Times Don’t Change That Much

Posted on August 3rd, 2005 at 1:45 pm

I’m currently reading Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. In the chapter I’m reading at the moment a lame Italian character moves to Bleeding Heart Yard in London. This was written in 1857, almost 150 years ago:

It was uphill work for a foreigner, lame or sound, to make his way with the Bleeding Hearts. In the first place, they were vaguely persuaded that every foreigner had a knife about him; in the second, they held it to be a sound constitutional national axiom that he ought to go home to his own country. They never thought of inquiring how many of their own countrymen would be returned upon their hands from divers parts of the world, if the principle were generally recognised; they considered it particularly and peculiarly British. In the third place, they had a notion that it was a sort of Divine visitation upon a foreigner that he was not an Englishman, and that all kinds of calamities happened to his country because it did things that England did not, and did not do things that England did.

And you’ll be happy to know that this Italian character is accepted into the community:

They spoke to him in very loud voices as if he were stone deaf. They constructed sentences, by way of teaching him the language in its purity, such as were addressed by the savages to Captain Cook, or by Friday to Robinson Crusoe. Mrs Plornish was particularly ingenious in this art; and attained so much celebrity for saying ‘Me ope you leg well soon,’ that it was considered in the Yard but a very short remove indeed from speaking Italian.

You could read Little Dorrit at www.Online-Literature.com but I’d advise you to get the book.

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