Black Dwarf,  1 (1817), 199–203.

Letters of the Black Dwarf. From the Black Dwarf to the Yellow Bonze. The Betters of the People

The Black Dwarf, pseud.  [Thomas J Wooler] *


Regular Feature, Letter, Spoof


Class, Plenitude, Radicalism, Reading, Exploration, Medical Practitioners, Commerce, Light, Instruments

    Explains that by the term 'people' is meant 'all that mass of the labouring, and industrious, and ingenious mechanics, merchants, agriculturalists, and traders, whose toils are the wealth, and whose sinews are the strength of a nation [....] It means all that is valuable, all that is important in the scale of being' (199). Writing of lawyers, observes: 'No man in the whole course of a long life, did he do nothing but read, could get through half the laws which he is expected to obey. They rise like the Alps over each other. Volumes are piled on volumes; octavos refer you to quartos, which consign you for information to folios, and folios send you back again to abridgements in duodecimo' (200–01). Considers that the 'Church and the Law' provide a number of the 'people's betters', and that 'the remaining liberal profession of physic furnishes a trifling quota'. Observes that 'this class is declining in public estimation. Whether those who have no money to buy bread, deem it useless to apply to medicine, to continue the life they cannot support with necessaries; or having nothing wherewith to repay the doctor for keeping them sick, he abandons them to nature for a cure, it is not for me to say. Certain it is that the profession is not now so profitable'. Promises a subsequent account of 'those of the people's betters, who fill up the higher departments of the state'. These are so enveloped in a 'cloud of glory' that the narrator must first 'buy a pair of spectacles, an instrument ingeniously contrived to assist the organs of vision'. (203)

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