Tuesday, October 17, 2006
The Whole Duty of Man
Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit
, Book I, chap. XIII:
'A fresh night!' said Arthur.
'Yes, it's pretty fresh,' assented Pancks. 'As a stranger you feel the climate more than I do, I dare say. Indeed I haven't got time to feel it.'
'You lead such a busy life?'
'Yes, I have always some of 'em to look up, or something to look after. But I like business,' said Pancks, getting on a little faster. 'What's a man made for?'
'For nothing else?' said Clennam.
Pancks put the counter question, 'What else?' It packed up, in the smallest compass, a weight that had rested on Clennam's life; and he made no answer.
'That's what I ask our weekly tenants,' said Pancks. 'Some of 'em will pull long faces to me, and say, Poor as you see us, master, we're always grinding, drudging, toiling, every minute we're awake.
I say to them, What else are you made for? It shuts them up. They haven't a word to answer. What else are you made for? That clinches it.'
'Ah dear, dear, dear!' sighed Clennam.
'Here am I,' said Pancks, pursuing his argument with the weekly tenant. 'What else do you suppose I think I am made for? Nothing.
Rattle me out of bed early, set me going, give me as short a time as you like to bolt my meals in, and keep me at it. Keep me always at it, and I'll keep you always at it, you keep somebody else always at it. There you are with the Whole Duty of Man in a commercial country.'