I am happy to report that my back is doing much better now. Not quite good as new yet, but rapidly getting there.
In this previous post I mentioned that spending a lot of time flat on your back does allow you to get a lot of reading done. Lately I’ve been having a go at Bleak House, by Charles Dickens of course, first serialized in 1852 and 1853. The upside of a Dickens novel is that he wrote truly beautiful sentences. The downside is that he was never in much of a hurry to move the story along. But that’s just perfect for my present situation, since I haven’t been doing much “moving along” myself lately.
Anyway, here’s a cool paragraph:
Sir Leicester is generally in a complacent state, and rarely bored. When he has nothing else to do, he can always contemplate his own greatness. It is a considerable advantage to a man, to have so inexhaustible a subject. After reading his letters, he leans back in his corner of the carriage, and generally reviews his importance to society.
That, my friends, is good writing. It also helps set up my latest contribution to the “It Has Always Been Thus,” file. Try to read the following without thinking of a phrase like, “Inside the Beltway.”
Then there is my Lord Boodle, of considerable reputation with his party, who has known what office is, and who tells Sir Leicester Dedlock with much gravity, after dinner, that he really does not see to what the present age is tending. A debate is not what a debate used to be; the House is not what the House used to be; even a Cabinet is not what it formerly was. He perceives with astonishment, that supposing the present Government to be overthrown, the limited choice of the Crown, in the formation of a new Ministry, would lie between Lord Coodle and Sir Thomas Doodle — supposing it to be impossible for the Duke of Foodle to act with Goodle, which may be assumed to be the case in consequence of the breach arising out of that affair with Hoodle. Then, giving the Home Department and the Leadership of the House of Commons to Joodle, the Exchequer to Koodle, the Colonies to Loodle, and the Foreign Office to Moodle, what are you to do with Noodle? You can’t offer him the Presidency of the Council; that is reserved for Poodle. You can’t put him in the Woods and Forests; that is hardly good enough for Quoddle. What follows? That the country is shipwrecked, lost, gone to pieces (as is made manifest to the patriotism of Sir Leicester Dedlock), because you can’t provide for Noodle!
On the other hand, the Right Honourable William Buffy, M. P., contends across the table with someone else, that the shipwreck of the country — about which there is no doubt; it is only the manner of it that is in question — is attributable to Cuffy. If you had done with Cuffy what you ought to have done when he first came into Parliament, and had prevented him from going over to Duffy, you would have got him into alliance with Fuffy, you would have had with you the weight attaching as a smart debater to Guffy, you would have brought to bear upon the elections the wealth of Huffy, you would have got in for three counties Juffy, Kuffy and Luffy, and you would have strengthened your administration by the official knowledge and the business habits of Muffy. All this, instead of being as you now are, dependent on the mere caprice of Puffy!
As to this point, and as to some minor topics, there are differences of opinion; but it is perfectly clear to the brilliant and distinguished circle, all round, that nobody is in question but Boodle and his retinue, and Buffy and his retinue. These are the great actors for whom the stage is reserved. A People there are, no doubt — a certain large number of supernumeraries, who are to be occasionally addressed, and relied upon for shouts and choruses, as on the theatrical stage; but Boodle and Buffy, their followers and families, their heirs, executors, administrators, and assigns, are the born first-actors, managers, and leaders, and no others can appear upon the scene for ever and ever.
Nope. Nothing familiar in that!