Nobody’s Story – 1853 – A Christmas tale
He lived on the bank of a mighty river, broad and deep, always silently rolling on to a vast undiscovered ocean. It had rolled on, since the world began. It had changed its course sometimes would flow until Time should be no more.
He lived in a busy place, with no hope of ever being rich enough to live a month without doing hard work. But he was reassured by the thought that God knows, he laboured with a cheerful will. Beyond this destiny he had no prospect, and he sought none.
His neighbourhood clamoured, he had nothing to do with it, that was the Bigwig family. They raised statues to people and to horses and he could not understand why, he laboured on.
The Bigwig family did his thinking and managed things for him, in return for the money he paid over. He didn’t need to understand or think. The Bigwigs told him the clamour and statues meant honour, glory and merit.
He accepted this explanation, but could not find a statue to those whose knowledge had rescued him, none to those who had saved he and his family from disease, or those whose boldness had raised them from serfdom and none to those whose skill filled the working man’s world with wonders. Instead, the statues were of those of whom he knew no good and others he knew ill of.
He decided to forget this and returned home to his wife, old before her time, his children, stunted by poor nutrition, though cherished by him. He did however have a desire for his children to be taught, so tthey would better understand.
The Bigwig family could not agree on the need for education, some thought it a primary task, But others disagreed and they argued before the Law and the Church.
He saw that Ignorance was responsible for his daughter become a slatterny drudge, it was why his son was drawn to low sensuality and crime. He appealed to the Bigwigs explaining that he believed working peoople were in need of mental refreshment and recreation.
But the Bigwigs greeted this with an uproar. Some considered showing him the wonders of the world, the greatness of creation, the mighty changes of time, the workings of nature and the beauties of art. Others raised petitions and preached against this, There was much name-calling as a result.
He couldn’t undertsand how his innocent request could provoke such a furore. But the developing news of a pestilence that was slaying labourers by the thousand overtook them. He didn’t have any concept of fleeing it, he watched as those dearest to him died.
A priest came to him, but offered no solutions, no glimpse of Heaven. His Master came to him dressed in black, his wife and only child had been taken too. He offered to comfort him, but the Master blamed the labourers for living unhealthily and immorally for the disease.
He replied that we cannot live healthily and decently, unless they who undertook to manage us provide the means. We cannot be instructed unless they will teach us, we cannot be rationally amused, unless they will amuse us. But the Master dismissed this and labourers’ trouble-making.
He declared he is Nobody, trouble never began with him, and it never can end with him. Initially the Bigwigs saw the reason in what he said and united with him to make things better, But the fears of the pestilence receded and soon they were back to arguments on the way forward.
The pestilence returned and took some of the brawlers, but none concluded that they had anything to do with this. So Nobody lived and died in the old way.
The narrator concluded that the story of Nobody is the story of the rank and file of the earth, who leave no name behind them. Let us think of them this year at the Christmas fire, and not forget them when it is burnt out.