“Jack-o’-lanterns, revolutionaries, restless chaps, or clever, unscrupulous fellows”

2 April 2017 § Leave a Comment

File under “the past isn’t dead, it’s not even past.” From Galsworthy’s The White Monkey (1924).

It was all of a piece with the modern state of things. Hand to mouth, and the steady men pushed to the wall. The men to whom a pound was a pound, and not a mess of chance and paper. The men who knew that the good of the country was the strict, straight conduct of their own affairs. They were not wanted. One by one, they would get the go-by–as he had got it–in favour of Jack-o’-lanterns, revolutionaries, restless chaps, or clever, unscrupulous fellows…. It was in the air. No amount of eating your cake and wanting to have it could take the place of common honesty.

I have preserved gender anachronisms and maintained British spelling in the interest of faithfulness to the text, though it’s pretty clear that it generalizes, except that women probably don’t even “get the go-by”–since they haven’t had enough opportunities for leadership in government and finance to think of them in terms of a golden age, in which they were trusted and valued, now over.

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