Charles Dickens

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Humbug: Elwes inspired the character Ebenezer Scrooge CREDIT: HERITAGE IMAGES

The Man Who Inspired Scrooge

“Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it,” wrote Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol..

Vast inherited wealth did nothing to deter one Georgian gentleman from his mission to be a legendary skinflint. John Elwes was an 18th century MP who was so notorious for scrimping and saving, he made Scrooge look extravagant. Mr. Elwes was a miser in the fullest acceptation of the term, and to obtain gold there was no sacrifice that he thought too great; yet he possessed qualities and traits of amiability, that won for him, in spite of his ruling vice, the respect and friendship of many worthy men.

There can be no better example of money not buying happiness than the fabulously wealthy but unbelievably stingy John Elwes, the man widely credited with inspiring the character of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol .

Elwes, seems to have learnt his miserable monetary tendencies from his family. His mother inherited about £100,000 when his father died in 1718, equivalent to a couple of hundred million today, but reputedly starved herself to death because she was too mean to fork out on mundane things such as personal well-being.

The greatest influence on young John’s stinginess, however, was his desire to impress his baronet uncle, Sir Harvey Elwes. Though a typically extravagant rich youth, John changed his ways to try to curry favour with Sir Harvey, an eye on his fabulous fortune.

John Elwes (1714-1789) was born John Meggot. He was orphaned at an early age. His father, a wealthy London brewer named Robert Meggot, was a respected Southwark brewer and died when the boy was only four. His grandfather was Sir George Meggot, MP for Southwark, His mother, Amy, was the granddaughter of Sir Gervase Elwes, 1st Baronet and MP for Suffolk.

His mother, Amy Elwes, died not too long after his father. When she died, the family fortune, an estimated £100,000 (about $29 million today), passed to her son. With her death, he inherited the family estate including Marcham Park at Marcham in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire), purchased by his father in 1717.

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The Ugliest Political Emotion – Pity

No, not envy…which is the chosen weapon of the left usually…now they are using a more despicable weapon…pity.

Brendan O’Neill at The Telegraph explains.

One of my abiding memories from childhood is of the time my dad told the local priest to sling his hook. A newbie in our parish in a rough-ish part of north-west London, the priest was knocking on the doors of the most churchgoing families and introducing himself. Standing imperiously in our living room, he asked my dad where he was from in Ireland. “Connemara”, my dad replied. Whereupon the priest put on his best sad face and said: “Aah – from one rough part of the world to another, oh dear.” My dad – a lifelong despiser of pity – told him to get out. “We don’t need people like that feeling sorry for us”, he told me and my brothers, “especially when there’s nothing to be sorry for!” The priest was all enthusiastic smiles and handshakes when we arrived at Mass the following Sunday.

Maybe this is one of the reasons I have always hated pity. In my view, there’s no uglier emotion in the pantheon of political feelings than pity, especially for “the poor”, whom it treats as an agency-lacking blob that must be cooed over and cared for by better-informed sections of society. The high-handed manner in which that priest expressed his feelings of sorrow for us – even though we had a nice house, an actual minibus (you need one when you have a family of eight), a TV and so on – taught me at a very early age that pity is a most selfish emotion. It’s not about helping the pitied but rather about making the pitier himself feel puffed up, through allowing him to make a big, public display of his ability to feel bad for the less well-off. As the old saying goes, “Friends help; others pity”.   Read more »

The Green Religion

It used to be that we complained about evangelists and called then god botherers…they seem innocuous in comparison to the army of green evangelists, whom I call the Green Taliban, who are proselytising their message.

People are waking up to the Green Taliban though:

Charles Dickens must be turning in his grave. We have a government that tells struggling families here at home to buck up and shell out to build wind farms in the developing world. Here, there are mothers worrying about stretching a very limited budget to cover Christmas lunch, with turkey and trimmings, and presents that don’t all come from PoundLand; but the Coalition doesn’t worry about the hardships under its nose, concentrating instead on those who suffer in distant lands. Dickens would have recognised this instantly as Mrs Jellaby charity – the mother in Bleak House who is obsessed with charitable work for the missions, while her own brood is starving in her kitchen.

How did this tragicomic state of affairs come to pass? The Tories (some of them at least) got not God but Green.

Fanatical, self-righteous, and bent on evangelisation, the green religion stalks the land. Its priests preach apocalyptic visions of a future so bleak that ordinary mortals fear for our lives – even in the face of evidence to the contrary. Now, the green lobby want to spread the word to the Third World. Yes, let there be wind turbines across Africa, and low carbon farming across Colombia! And let it all happen with the British taxpayer footing the bill – to the tune of £2 billion!