- ‘The miserable little being was usually summoned into another world, and there gathered to the fathers it had never known in this‘ is a quotation from Oliver Twist (Chapter 2).
- Oliver Twist, subtitled The Parish Boy’s Progress, is the second novel by Charles Dickens, first published as a monthly serial in Bentley’s Miscellany, from February 1837 to April 1839. The story revolves around the life of an orphan boy and his harsh early years.
In this paragraph, Charles Dickens is attacking the Board that runs the workhouse in which Oliver finds himself.
Oliver Twist Chapter 2.
Following the death of his mother (Chapter 1) and with no family to care for him, the orphaned baby Oliver falls under the care of parish authorities. He is initially brought up ‘by hand’ (spoon or bottle-fed as a young infant), before being ‘farmed’ out to a branch workhouse with around 20-30 pauper boys, where he is mistreated and underfed. The workhouse is a grim and oppressive place, and the chapter depicts the harsh conditions that the children there are subjected to. The chapter introduces characters responsible for overseeing the workhouse including the parish beadle, Mr. Bumble; the master, Mr. Limbkins, and the greedy matron, Mrs. Mann. After being slowly starved, the boys decide to ask the master for more food, and Oliver is chosen to perform the daunting task. After dinner, Oliver rises from the table and standing in front of the master asks ‘Please, sir, I want some more.’ He instantly incurs the wrath of the workhouse officials and is put into solitary confinement. The next day a reward is offered for anyone that would lie, to have Oliver as an apprentice, thereby taking him off the hands of the parish.
Taken from the following passage in Chapter 2 (Treats of Oliver Twist’s Growth, Education, and Board) of Oliver Twist:
Everybody knows the story of another experimental philosopher who had a great theory about a horse being able to live without eating, and who demonstrated it so well, that he had got his own horse down to a straw a day, and would unquestionably have rendered him a very spirited and rampacious animal on nothing at all, if he had not died, four-and-twenty hours before he was to have had his first comfortable bait of air. Unfortunately for, the experimental philosophy of the female to whose protecting care Oliver Twist was delivered over, a similar result usually attended the operation of her system; for at the very moment when the child had contrived to exist upon the smallest possible portion of the weakest possible food, it did perversely happen in eight and a half cases out of ten, either that it sickened from want and cold, or fell into the fire from neglect, or got half-smothered by accident; in any one of which cases, the miserable little being was usually summoned into another world, and there gathered to the fathers it had never known in this.
Occasionally, when there was some more than usually interesting inquest upon a parish child who had been overlooked in turning up a bedstead, or inadvertently scalded to death when there happened to be a washing—though the latter accident was very scarce, anything approaching to a washing being of rare occurrence in the farm—the jury would take it into their heads to ask troublesome questions, or the parishioners would rebelliously affix their signatures to a remonstrance. But these impertinences were speedily checked by the evidence of the surgeon, and the testimony of the beadle; the former of whom had always opened the body and found nothing inside (which was very probable indeed), and the latter of whom invariably swore whatever the parish wanted; which was very self-devotional. Besides, the board made periodical pilgrimages to the farm, and always sent the beadle the day before, to say they were going. The children were neat and clean to behold, when they went; and what more would the people have!
It cannot be expected that this system of farming would produce any very extraordinary or luxuriant crop. Oliver Twist’s ninth birthday found him a pale thin child, somewhat diminutive in stature, and decidedly small in circumference. But nature or inheritance had implanted a good sturdy spirit in Oliver’s breast. It had had plenty of room to expand, thanks to the spare diet of the establishment; and perhaps to this circumstance may be attributed his having any ninth birth-day at all. Be this as it may, however, it was his ninth birthday; and he was keeping it in the coal-cellar with a select party of two other young gentleman, who, after participating with him in a sound thrashing, had been locked up for atrociously presuming to be hungry, when Mrs. Mann, the good lady of the house, was unexpectedly startled by the apparition of Mr. Bumble, the beadle, striving to undo the wicket of the garden-gate.
The protagonist of the novel named after him, Oliver Twist is an orphan child, born at a workhouse where his mother died giving birth. With no father, the orphan Oliver is cruelly raised in both the care of the parish authorities and as an apprentice to an undertaker. Oliver runs away to a new life in London, where he is recruited into a gang of thieves run by Fagin and the brutal Bill Sikes. Despite this troubled upbringing, Oliver maintains a pious innocence, and his good nature brings him to the attention of wealthy benefactors.
Have Your Say.
Give your view on ‘The miserable little being was usually summoned into another world, and there gathered to the fathers it had never known in this‘.
- If you like this, we think you might also be interested in these related quotations: