Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Living on credit (Dickens)

For these times:

"Responsibility, my dear Miss Summerson?" he repeated, catching at the word with the pleasantest smile, "I am the last man in the world for such a thing. I never was responsible in my life — I can't be."

"I am afraid everybody is obliged to be," said I, timidly enough: he being so much older and more clever than I.

"No, really?" said Mr Skimpole, receiving this new light with a most agreeable jocularity of surprise. "But every man's not obliged to be solvent? I am not. I never was. See, my dear Miss Summerson," he took a handful of loose silver and halfpence from his pocket, "there's so much money. I have not an idea how much. I have not the power of counting. Call it four and nine pence — call it four pound nine. They tell me I owe more than that. I dare say I do. I dare say I owe as much as good-natured people will let me owe. If they don't stop, why should I? There you have Harold Skimpole in little. If that's responsibility, I am responsible."

Charles Dickens, Bleak House (1853)

comments: 1

Pete said...

Things haven't changed much since Dickens' era - there are still too many people who have no idea how deep in debt they are.