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BOOK II: 2. Mr. James Harthouse
THE Gradgrind party wanted assistance in cutting the throats of the Graces. They went
about recruiting; and where could they enlist recruits more hopefully, than among the
fine gentlemen who, having found out everything to be worth nothing, were equally
ready for anything?
Moreover, the healthy spirits who had mounted to this sublime height were attractive to
many of the Gradgrind school. They liked fine gentlemen; they pretended that they did
not, but they did. They became exhausted in imitation of them; and they yaw-yawed in
their speech like them; and they served out, with an enervated air, the little mouldy
rations of political economy, on which they regaled their disciples. There never before
was seen on earth such a wonderful hybrid race as was thus produced.
Among the fine gentlemen not regularly belonging to the Gradgrind school, there was
one of a good family and a better appearance, with a happy turn of humour which had
told immensely with the House of Commons on the occasion of his entertaining it with
his (and the Board of Directors) view of a railway accident, in which the most careful
officers ever known, employed by the most liberal managers ever heard of, assisted by
the finest mechanical contrivances ever devised, the whole in action on the best line
ever constructed, had killed five people and wounded thirty-two, by a casualty without
which the excellence of the whole system would have been positively incomplete.
Among the slain was a cow, and among the scattered articles unowned, a widow's cap.
And the honourable member had so tickled the House (which has a delicate sense of
humour) by putting the cap on the cow, that it became impatient of any serious
reference to the Coroner's Inquest, and brought the railway off with Cheers and
Now, this gentleman had a younger brother of still better appearance than himself, who
had tried life as a Cornet of Dragoons, and found it a bore; and had afterwards tried it in
the train of an English minister abroad, and found it a bore; and had then strolled to
Jerusalem, and got bored there; and had then gone yachting about the world, and got
bored everywhere. To whom this honourable and jocular, member fraternally said one
day, 'Jem, there's a good opening among the hard Fact fellows, and they want men. I
wonder you don't go in for statistics.' Jem, rather taken by the novelty of the idea, and
very hard up for a change, was as ready to 'go in' for statistics as for anything else. So,
he went in. He coached himself up with a blue-book or two; and his brother put it about
among the hard Fact fellows, and said, 'If you want to bring in, for any place, a
handsome dog who can make you a devilish good speech, look after my brother Jem,
for he's your man.' After a few dashes in the public meeting way, Mr. Gradgrind and a
council of political sages approved of Jem, and it was resolved to send him down to
Coketown, to become known there and in the neighbourhood. Hence the letter Jem had
last night shown to Mrs. Sparsit, which Mr. Bounderby now held in his hand;