April 20, 2005

Shape of Things to Come:

"At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge", said the gentlemen, taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir."

"Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge.

"Plenty of prisons," said the gentlemen, laying down the pen again.

"And the Union workhouses?" demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"

"They are. Still," returned the gentlemen, "I wish I could say they were not."

"The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?" said Scrooge.

"Both very busy."

"Oh, I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their usual course," said Scrooge. "I am very glad to hear it.

--Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.

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