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Features

November 2012

Mining the ash heap

by Alexandra Mullen

On Henry Mayhew's magnum opus, London Labour and the London Poor.

Be no longer a chaos, but a world, or even worldkin. Produce! Produce! Were it but the pitifullest infinitesimal fraction of a product, produce it in God’s name! ’Tis the utmost thou hast in thee: out with it, then.
—Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus (1834)

Get leave to work
In this world,—’tis the best you get at all;
For God, in cursing, gives us better gifts
Than men in benediction.
—Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh (1856)

There is a cant abroad at the present day, that there is a special pleasure in industry, and hence we are taught to regard all those who object to work as appertaining to the class of natural vagabonds; but where is the man among us that loves labour?
—Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor (1861&nda ...

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Alexandra Mullen is an advisory editor at The Hudson Review.


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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 November 2012, on page 14

Copyright © 2014 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com

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