Hard Times HTML version
BOOK I: 3. A Loophole
MR. GRADGRIND walked homeward from the school, in a state of considerable
satisfaction. It was his school, and he intended it to be a model. He intended every child
in it to be a model - just as the young Gradgrinds were all models.
There were five young Gradgrinds, and they were models every one. They had been
lectured at, from their tenderest years; coursed, like little hares. Almost as soon as they
could run alone, they had been made to run to the lecture-room. The first object with
which they had an association, or of which they had a remembrance, was a large black
board with a dry Ogre chalking ghastly white figures on it.
Not that they knew, by name or nature, anything about an Ogre Fact forbid! I only use
the word to express a monster in a lecturing castle, with Heaven knows how many
heads manipulated into one, taking childhood captive, and dragging it into gloomy
statistical dens by the hair.
No little Gradgrind had ever seen a face in the moon; it was up in the moon before it
could speak distinctly. No little Gradgrind had ever learnt the silly jingle, Twinkle,
twinkle, little star; how I wonder what you are! No little Gradgrind had ever known
wonder on the subject, each little Gradgrind having at five years old dissected the Great
Bear like a Professor Owen, and driven Charles's Wain like a locomotive engine-driver.
No little Gradgrind had ever associated a cow in a field with that famous cow with the
crumpled horn who tossed the dog who worried the cat who killed the rat who ate the
malt, or with that yet more famous cow who swallowed Tom Thumb: it had never heard
of those celebrities, and had only been introduced to a cow as a graminivorous
ruminating quadruped with several stomachs.
To his matter-of-fact home, which was called Stone Lodge, Mr. Gradgrind directed his
steps. He had virtually retired from the wholesale hardware trade before he built Stone
Lodge, and was now looking about for a suitable opportunity of making an arithmetical
figure in Parliament. Stone Lodge was situated on a moor within a mile or two of a great
town - called Coketown in the present faithful guide-book.
A very regular feature on the face of the country, Stone Lodge was. Not the least
disguise toned down or shaded off that uncompromising fact in the landscape. A great
square house, with a heavy portico darkening the principal windows, as its master's
heavy brows overshadowed his eyes. A calculated, cast up, balanced, and proved
house. Six windows on this side of the door, six on that side; a total of twelve in this
wing, a total of twelve in the other wing; four-and-twenty carried over to the back wings.
A lawn and garden and an infant avenue, all ruled straight like a botanical account-
book. Gas and ventilation, drainage and water-service, all of the primest quality. Iron
clamps and girders, fire-proof from top to bottom; mechanical lifts for the housemaids,
with all their brushes and brooms; everything that heart could desire.