Murdering The Innocents
THOMAS GRADGRIND, sir. A man of realities. A man of facts and calculations. A man who proceeds upon the principle that two and two are four, and nothing over, and who is not to be talked into allowing for anything over. Thomas Gradgrind, sir peremptorily Thomas Thomas Gradgrind. With a rule and a pair of scales, and the multiplication table always in his pocket, sir, ready to weigh and measure any parcel of human nature, and tell you exactly what it comes to. It is a mere question of figures, a case of simple arithmetic. You might hope to get some other nonsensical belief into the head of George Gradgrind, or Augustus Gradgrind, or John Gradgrind, or Joseph Gradgrind (all supposititious, non- existent persons), but into the head of Thomas Gradgrind - no, sir!
In such terms Mr Gradgrind always mentally introduced himself, whether to his private circle of acquaintance, or to the public in general. In such terms, no doubt, substituting the words boys and girls, for sir, Thomas Gradgrind now presented Thomas Gradgrind to the little pitchers before him, who were to be filled so full of facts.
Indeed, as he eagerly sparkled at them from the cellarage before mentioned, he seemed a kind of cannon loaded to the muzzle with facts, and prepared to blow them clean out of the regions of childhood at one discharge. He seemed a galvanizing apparatus, too, charged with a grim mechanical substitute for the tender young imaginations that were to be stormed away.
Girl number twenty, said Mr Gradgrind, squarely pointing with his square forefinger, I dont know that girl. Who is that girl?
Sissy Jupe, sir, explained number twenty, blushing, standing up, and curtseying.
Sissy is not a name, said Mr Gradgrind. Dont call yourself Sissy. Call yourself Cecilia.
Its father as calls me Sissy, sir, returned the young girl in a trembling voice, and with another curtsey.
Then he has no business to do it, said Mr Gradgrind. Tell him he mustnt. Cecilia Jupe. Let me see. What is your father?
He belongs to the horse-riding, if you please, sir.
Mr Gradgrind frowned, and waved off the objectionable calling with his hand.
We dont want to know anything about that, here. You mustnt tell us about that, here. Your father breaks horses, dont he?
If you please, sir, when they can get any to break, they do break horses in the ring, sir.
You mustnt tell us about the ring, here. Very well, then. Describe your father as a horsebreaker. He doctors sick horses, I dare say?
Oh yes, sir.
Very well, then. He is a veterinary surgeon, a farrier, and horsebreaker. Give me your definition of a horse.
(Sissy Jupe thrown into the greatest alarm by this demand.)
Girl number twenty unable to define a horse! said Mr Gradgrind, for the general behoof of all the little pitchers. Girl number twenty possessed of no facts, in reference to one of the commonest of animals! Some boys definition of a horse. Bitzer, yours.
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