- “What I know, I know; and what you know, you know. I have no more to say about it” is a quotation from Hard Times (Book 2, Chapter 5).
- Hard Times – For These Times (more commonly now known as Hard Times) is the tenth novel by Charles Dickens. It first appeared in weekly parts, published in Household Words, from April to August 1854. The shortest of Dickens’ novels, the story is set in the fictitious northern English industrial mill-town of Coketown.
Stephen Blackpool, a downtrodden millworker who works for Josiah Bounderby in one of his mills, has been summoned to Bounderby’s house. Blackpool has recently been shunned by fellow workers for not wanting to join a union movement led by Slackbridge.
Josiah Bounderby is a business associate of Mr. Gradgrind. Given to boasting about being a self-made man, he employs many of the other central characters of the novel. He has risen to a position of power and wealth from humble origins (though not as humble as he claims). He marries Mr. Gradgrind’s daughter Louisa, some 30 years his junior, in what turns out to be a loveless marriage. They have no children. Bounderby is callous, self-centred and ultimately revealed to be a liar and fraud.
Stephen stood with the open door in his hand, waiting to know if anything more were expected of him.
‘Just stop a moment,’ said Mr. Bounderby, excessively red in the face. ‘I told you, the last time you were here with a grievance, that you had better turn about and come out of that. And I also told you, if you remember, that I was up to the gold spoon look-out.’
‘I were not up to ’t myseln, sir; I do assure yo.’
‘Now it’s clear to me,’ said Mr. Bounderby, ‘that you are one of those chaps who have always got a grievance. And you go about, sowing it and raising crops. That’s the business of your life, my friend.’
Stephen shook his head, mutely protesting that indeed he had other business to do for his life.
‘You are such a waspish, raspish, ill-conditioned chap, you see,’ said Mr. Bounderby, ‘that even your own Union, the men who know you best, will have nothing to do with you. I never thought those fellows could be right in anything; but I tell you what! I so far go along with them for a novelty, that I’ll have nothing to do with you either.’
Stephen raised his eyes quickly to his face.
‘You can finish off what you’re at,’ said Mr. Bounderby, with a meaning nod, ‘and then go elsewhere.’
‘Sir, yo know weel,’ said Stephen expressively, ‘that if I canna get work wi’ yo, I canna get it elsewheer.’
Stephen glanced at Louisa again, but her eyes were raised to his no more; therefore, with a sigh, and saying, barely above his breath, ‘Heaven help us aw in this world!’ he departed.
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