By William Morris
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Extra resources for News from nowhere, or, An epoch of rest : being some chapters from a utopian romance
Yet what? (I) There were many rich people in those times. ) You see the consequences of that fact? (I) I think I do. But tell me out what they were. ) If the government habitually destroyed wealth, the country must have been poor? (I) Yes, certainly. ) Yet amidst this poverty the persons for the sake of whom the government existed insisted on being rich whatever might happen? (I) So it was. ) What must happen if in a poor country some people insist on being rich at the expense of the others? (I) Unutterable poverty for the others.
A most hearty welcome to you! " He bowed gravely, but seemed, I thought, a little disappointed with my answer. As for me, I was now looking at him harder than good manners allowed of; perhaps; for in truth his face, dried-apple-like as it was, seemed strangely familiar to me; as if I had seen it before--in a looking-glass it might be, said I to myself. "Well," said the old man, "wherever you come from, you are come among friends. And I see my kinsman Richard Hammond has an air about him as if he had brought you here for me to do something for you.
Said he: "There are but few houses between this and the outer part of the old city; but in the city we have a thickly-dwelling population. Our forefathers, in the first clearing of the slums, were not in a hurry to pull down the houses in what was called at the end of the nineteenth century the business quarter of the town, and what later got to be known as the Swindling Kens. You see, these houses, though they stood hideously thick on the ground, were roomy and fairly solid in building, and clean, because they were not used for living in, but as mere gambling booths; so the poor people from the cleared slums took them for lodgings and dwelt there, till the folk of those days had time to think of something better for them; so the buildings were pulled down so gradually that people got used to living thicker on the ground there than in most places; therefore it remains the most populous part of London, or perhaps of all these islands.