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Edith Nesbit (married name Edith Bland; 15 August 1858 – 4 May 1924) was an English author and poet; she published her books for children under the name of E. Nesbit.
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The Story of the Amulet (1906)
- And now from the window of a four-wheeled cab the Queen of Babylon beheld the wonders of London. Buckingham Palace she thought uninteresting; Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament little better. But she liked the Tower, and the River, and the ships filled her with wonder and delight.
‘But how badly you keep your slaves. How wretched and poor and neglected they seem,’ she said, as the cab rattled along the Mile End Road.
‘They aren’t slaves; they’re working-people,’ said Jane.
‘Of course they’re working. That’s what slaves are. Don’t you tell me. Do you suppose I don’t know a slave’s face when I see it? Why don’t their masters see that they’re better fed and better clothed? Tell me in three words.’
No one answered. The wage-system of modern England is a little difficult to explain in three words even if you understand it—which the children didn’t.
‘You’ll have a revolt of your slaves if you’re not careful,’ said the Queen.
‘Oh, no,’ said Cyril; ‘you see they have votes—that makes them safe not to revolt. It makes all the difference. Father told me so.’
‘What is this vote?’ asked the Queen. ‘Is it a charm? What do they do with it?’
‘I don’t know,’ said the harassed Cyril; ‘it’s just a vote, that’s all! They don’t do anything particular with it.’
‘I see,’ said the Queen; ‘a sort of plaything.'
- Ch. 8: The Queen in London
Quotes about Nesbit
- I do not know how far Nesbit consciously intended The Magic City to be an allegory of the human condition. It was only after I descended from the trees, and tasted the joys and sorrows of becoming a scientist, that I began to meditate upon the magic city and to see in it a mirror image of the big world that I was entering. I was plunged into the big world abruptly, like Philip. The big world, wherever I looked, was full of human tragedy. I came upon the scene and found myself playing roles that were half serious and half preposterous. And that is the way it has continued ever since.
- Freeman Dyson, Disturbing The Universe (1979), Ch. 1 : The Magic City