Monday, January 02, 2012

Just Sayin': Defoe on Living in Hard Times

Tis  true observation that men grow shabbily gay as they grow poor, not as they grow rich; the reason is because pride is oftener the companion of poverty than of wealth; mark then in the chief trading streets of this great city, and see how trumpery and gaudy trifles fill up the vacancies, the gaps and the intervals from whence your departed substance of trade is fled...there's the fine and famous street of Cornhill, since I remember, filled with whole-sale men, and rich shopkeepers, if I mistake not, two or three most famous periwig-makers, five or six spacious coffee-shops, three or four illustrious cake-shops and pastry men, one or two brandy-shops and the like ... the alleys where the small places were full of Notary Publics, offices of Assurance ... now are crowded with stock-jobbing brokers, buying and selling of bearskins, and tricking and sharping to get estates...
--From Defoe's Review, his proto-newspaper (and proto-blog) for 12 January 1712,
quoted in Richard West, Daniel Defoe 178-9 (1997)

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