Tuesday, October 05, 2021

A Melmotte

You can keep your house free from him, and so can I mine.  But we set no example to the nation at large.  They who do set the example go to his feasts, and of course he is seen at theirs in return.  And yet these leaders of the fashion know, --  at any rate they believe, -- that he is what he is because he has been a swindler greater than other swindlers.

What follows as a natural consequence?  Men reconcile themselves to swindling.  Though they themselves mean to be honest, dishonesty of itself is no longer odious to them.  Then there comes the jealousy that others should be growing rich with the approval of all the world -- and the natural aptitude to do what all the world approves.  It seems to me that the existence of a Melmotte is not compatible with a wholesome state of things in general.

-- Anthony Trollope (24 April 1815 – 6 December 1882), successful and prolific English novelist of the Victorian era, The Way We Live Now, Clerical Charities (1875), page 29, h/t @John Dickerson

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