Monday, April 23, 2007

Charles Dicken's Satire

I read this bit in Charles Dickens' preface to his 1847 edition of Pickwick Papers:

Lest there be any wellintentioned persons who do not perceive the difference (as some such could not when Old Mortality was newly published) between religion and the cant of religion, piety and their pretence of piety, a humble reverence for the great truths of Scripture and an audacious and offensive obtrusion of its letter and not its spirit in the commonest dissensions and meanest of affairs of life, to the extraordinary confusion of ignorant minds, let them understand that it is always the latter, and never the former, which is satirized here. Further, that the latter is here satirized as being, according to all experience, inconsistent with the former, impossible of union with it, and one of the most evil and mischievous falsehoods existent in society -- whether it establish it head-quarters, for the time being, in Exeter Hall or Ebenezer Chapel or both. It may appear unnecessary to offer a word of observation on so plain a head. But it is never out of season to protest against that coarse familiarity with sacred things which is busy on the lip and idle in the heart, or against the confounding of Christianity with any class of person who, in the words of Swift, have just enough religion to make them hate, and not enough to make them love, one another.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Bob

How are you doing? how is things with politics etc there?

Phil Bradfield
N Ireland