Background.

A Christmas Carol.
  • There are people who have no human heart, and who must be crushed like savage beasts and cleared out of the way” is a quotation from Little Dorrit (Book 1, Chapter 11).

Context.

Quotation said by the landlady of the Break of Day, a boarding-house in Chalons-sur-Soane, France.

The character Rigaud has been acquitted at a trial for the murder of his wife in France. To avoid public attention he has travelled across the country to the town of Chalon, by the river Saone. Tired and hungry, he finds rest at the Break of Day, a boarding house that also has a billiard room. A group of men are talking about Rigaud’s case, unbeknown he is in the same room.

Joining in the discussion, the landlady of the Break of Day gives her rather severe views on punishment for the hardest of criminals, views which are well received by the group.

Illustration from the original publication of Little Dorrit by Phiz (Hablot Knight Browne) of Little Dorrit leaving the Marshalsea prison.

Character Profile: Rigaud.

Monsieur Rigaud (also known as Blandois/Lagnier) is a sinister criminal figure and the villain of the novel Little Dorrit. He marries a rich innkeepers widow, Madame Henri Barroneau. When his wife is murdered, Rigaud is charged with the crime and sent to prison. The novel opens with Rigaud, and another prisoner, Cavalletto, locked up in Marseille. Acquitted at his trial, Rigaud flees his notoriety across France, adopting the alias Lagnier. He stays at a boarding house in Chalons-sur-Soane where he meets Cavalletto again, telling him of plans to travel to Paris and possible England. Later on he escapes to England, adopts another alias of Blandois and attempts to blackmail Mrs.Clennam with the secret he knows about her family. He meets an unfortunate ending at the close of the novel when the Clennam mansion collapses with Rigaud inside.

Source.

Taken from the following passage in Book 1, Chapter 11 (Let Loose) of Little Dorrit:

Stay, madame! Let us see,’ returned the Swiss, argumentatively turning his cigar between his lips. ‘It may have been his unfortunate destiny. He may have been the child of circumstances. It is always possible that he had, and has, good in him if one did but know how to find it out. Philosophical philanthropy teaches—’

The rest of the little knot about the stove murmured an objection to the introduction of that threatening expression. Even the two players at dominoes glanced up from their game, as if to protest against philosophical philanthropy being brought by name into the Break of Day.

‘Hold there, you and your philanthropy,’ cried the smiling landlady, nodding her head more than ever. ‘Listen then. I am a woman, I. I know nothing of philosophical philanthropy. But I know what I have seen, and what I have looked in the face in this world here, where I find myself. And I tell you this, my friend, that there are people (men and women both, unfortunately) who have no good in them—none. That there are people whom it is necessary to detest without compromise. That there are people who must be dealt with as enemies of the human race. That there are people who have no human heart, and who must be crushed like savage beasts and cleared out of the way. They are but few, I hope; but I have seen (in this world here where I find myself, and even at the little Break of Day) that there are such people. And I do not doubt that this man—whatever they call him, I forget his name—is one of them.’

The landlady’s lively speech was received with greater favour at the Break of Day, than it would have elicited from certain amiable whitewashers of the class she so unreasonably objected to, nearer Great Britain.

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There are people who have no human heart, and who must be crushed like savage beasts and cleared out of the way.
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