Friday, June 12, 2015


Not One Green Spot Left

George Gissing (1857-1903), Demos: A Story of English Socialism, chapter VII (Hubert Eldon speaking with Richard Mutimer):
'You are changing the appearance of the valley,' he said, veiling by his tone the irony which was evident in his choice of words.

Richard glanced at him, then walked to the window, with his hands in his pockets, and gave himself the pleasure of a glimpse of the furnace-chimney above the opposite houses. He laughed.

'I hope to change it a good deal more. In a year or two you won't know the place.'

'I fear not.'

Mutimer glanced again at his visitor.

'Why do you fear?' he asked, with less command of his voice.

'I of course understand your point of view. Personally, I prefer nature.'

Hubert endeavoured to smile, that his personal preferences might lose something of their edge.

'You prefer nature,' Mutimer repeated, coming back to his chair, on the seat of which he rested a foot. 'Well, I can't say that I do. The Wanley Iron Works will soon mean bread to several hundred families; how many would the grass support?'
Id. (Hubert Eldon speaking with his mother):
'Shall I tell you how I felt in talking with him? I seemed to be holding a dialogue with the twentieth century, and you may think what that means.'

'Ah, it's a long way off, Hubert.'

'I wish it were farther.The man was openly exultant; he stood for Demos grasping the sceptre. I am glad, mother, that you leave Wanley before the air is poisoned.'

'Mr. Mutimer does not see that side of the question?'

'Not he! Do you imagine the twentieth century will leave one green spot on the earth's surface?'

'My dear, it will always be necessary to grow grass and corn.'

'By no means; depend upon it. Such things will be cultivated by chemical processes. There will not be one inch left to nature; the very oceans will somehow be tamed, the snow-mountains will be levelled. And with nature will perish art. What has a hungry Demos to do with the beautiful?'

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