Saturday, October 10, 2020
Stephen Utz (Connecticut), Boz Among the Radicals: Dickens Records a Turning Point in Tax History:
Charles Dickens recorded many trials conduct by his friend, the attorney Thomas Talfourd. Dickens was only twenty-two years old when he recorded the trial of the Weekly True Sun's principal officers for their challenge to the Whig Parliament's rejection of an income tax. Liberal members of Parliament and the public opposed the trial. Dickens' perfect capture of the trial attorneys' and defendants' speeches at the trial reveals his understanding of the issues and his apparent sympathy with the defendants' cause. Yet he later stood back from all this, with the apparent exception of his parting of the ways with Harriet Martineau, his partner in the publishing venture of Dickens' middle years, which have been his rejection of her taking the same side the Whigs had taken in 1934. ...
What did Dickens think of tax reform? In Sketches by Boz, the “parlour orator” rants that “The window tax isn’t freedom!” — a recognizable jibe at Althorp’s 1834 solution to the problem of the assessed taxes. But did Dickens himself care? His thoughts on the subject are perhaps only implied by the comment that the “red-faced” sort to which the parlor orator belonged were not interesting.