I confess that I have never been a big fan of Dickens. I get lost in the verbiage, and sometimes find his endings a bit dull and overdone. Still, I admit he deserves his fame as an all-time great, and he was perhaps the greatest creator of supporting characters of all time.
One of my favorites is Mr. Chadband, whom I referenced in the last post. But that post had a heavy and somber tone, and my tribute to Dickens’ creative powers would have been out of place. But I present here perhaps the best of Mr. Chadband from Bleak House:
“My friends,” says Mr. Chadband, “what is this which we now behold as being spread before us? Refreshment. Do we need refreshment then, my friends? We do. And why do we need refreshment, my friends? Because we are but mortal, because we are but sinful, because we are but of the earth, because we are not of the air. Can we fly, my friends? We cannot. Why can we not fly, my friends?”
Mr Snagsby, presuming on the success of his last point, ventures to observe in a cheerful and rather knowing tone, “No wings.” But, is immediately frowned down by Mrs Snagsby.
“I say, my friends,” pursues Mr Chadband, utterly rejecting and obliterating Mr Snagsby’s suggestion, “why can we not fly? Is it because we are calculated to walk? It is. Could we walk, my friends, without strength? We could not. What should we do without strength, my friends? Our legs would refuse to bear us, our knees would double up, our ankles would turn over, and we should come to the ground. Then from whence, my friends, in a human point of view, do we derive the strength that is necessary to our limbs? Is it,” says Chadband, glancing over the table, “from bread in various forms, from butter which is churned from the milk which is yielded unto us by the cow, from the eggs which are laid by the fowl, from ham, from tongue, from sausage, and from such like? It is. Then let us partake of the good things which are set before us! [below is a print entitled, “Mr. Chadband Makes Clear a Difficult Subject”]
[…] and uses paragraphs chock full of rhetorical questions that pile onto one another. Not as bad as Mr. Chadband from Bleak House, but I might parody this habit of Bell’s […]