Little Dorrit was the eleventh novel from Charles Dickens, serialised between 1855 and 1857. A rags to riches story set in the 1820’s, Little Dorrit centres around the changing fortunes of the Dorrit family.
Until civil service reforms of the mid nineteenth century, jobs in government offices were often filled through family connections. In Little Dorrit, Dickens pokes fun at this patronage with the Barnacle family who control the Circumlocution Office.
Taken from this longer, and more satirical, reference to the Barnacle family:
The Barnacles were a very high family, and a very large family. They were dispersed all over the public offices, and held all sorts of public places. Either the nation was under a load of obligation to the Barnacles, or the Barnacles were under a load of obligation to the nation. It was not quite unanimously settled which; the Barnacles having their opinion, the nation theirs.
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