Attributing Quotes

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Whilst on board the Beagle I was quite orthodox, and I remember being heartily laughed at by several of the officers... for quoting the Bible as an unanswerable authority on some point of morality... But I had gradually come by this time, i.e., 1836 to 1839, to see that the Old Testament from its manifestly false history of the world, with the Tower of Babel, the rainbow at sign, &c., &c., and from its attributing to God the feelings of a revengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos, or the beliefs of any barbarian... By further reflecting that the clearest evidence would be requisite to make any sane man believe in the miracles by which Christianity is supported, (and that the more we know of the fixed laws of nature the more incredible do miracles become), that the men at that time were ignorant and credulous to a degree almost uncomprehensible by us, that the Gospels cannot be proved to have been written simultaneously with the events, that they differ in many important details, far too important, as it seemed to me, to be admitted as the usual inaccuracies of eyewitnesses; by such reflections as these, which I give not as having the least novelty or value, but as they influenced me, I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation. The fact that many false religions have spread over large portions of the earth like wild-fire had some weight with me. Beautiful as is the morality of the New Testament, it can be hardly denied that its perfection depends in part on the interpretation which we now put on metaphors and allegories. But I was very unwilling to give up my belief... Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was correct. I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all of my friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.

Charles Darwin
Pakistan were still just one major hurdle from victory, however, and Wasim thought he had vaulted it with Australia 132 runs short. There was a wooden, clicking noise as the ball passed Langer's bat on its way through to Moin Khan. It registered at precisely the right moment on the snickometer; there was even a small deflection, visible from the reverse-angle replay. (The reader is directed to YouTube.) But home umpire Peter Parker was having none of it. He shook his head, and Wasim was livid: 'I can't believe you didn't hear it!' 'Come on!' moaned Moin. 'Parker had earlier apologised to Langer for a poor first-innings decision-'a silly thing to do, ' in the view of his colleague Peter Willey. When the fact was publicised, the suspicion naturally arose that Pakistan had been hard done by. The umpire, it seemed, had attempted to make amends. 'I honestly believe I didn't hit it, ' Langer claimed afterwards. He was lying through his teeth, and he would lie a decade more, attributing the sound, whenever he was asked about it, to 'a clicky bat handle.' He even kept this up with his father. It is a wonder anyone believed it. 'Truth is, ' he admitted ten years later, when it no longer mattered, 'I absolutely smashed it.' 'But Langer's mendacity, and Parker's possible cowardice, is less interesting and salient for our purposes than the question of whether or not Gilchrist, too, was lying: 'I didn't hear anything-absolutely nothing.' These were his words to a press conference later that day. But many spectators heard it; Roebuck heard it; Langer's own team-mates heard it; even his father heard it. The claim is also crucially at odds with Gilchrist's own memoir, in which he affirms that 'there was a noise, but it was inconclusive.' It is difficult to say what he could mean by this. The bat had been nowhere near either pad or turf; it could only have been leather. As a 'walker' himself, Gilchrist is acclaimed for his probity. Someone ought to ask him about this episode.

Rodney Ulyate
To return to my point about the immense power that his enemies attribute to him, Orwell once wrote about the 'large, vague renown' that constituted the popular memory of Thomas Carlyle. His own reputation has long been of that kind, if not rather greater and more precise. But this is not the same as moving millions to despair and apathy (Deutscher), or spoiling the morale of a whole generation (Williams), or authoring a work of fiction that was in fact, in rather cunning disguise, the work of an entire 'culture' (Thompson). In some semi-articulated way, many major figures of the Left have thought of Orwell as an enemy, and an important and frightening one. This was true to a somewhat lesser extent in his own lifetime. And, again, the dislike or distrust can be illustrated by a simple-or at any rate a simple-minded-confusion of categories. It was widely said, and believed, of Orwell that he had written the damning sentence: 'The working classes smell.' This statement of combined snobbery and heresy was supposedly to be found in The Road to Wigan Pier; in other words-since the book was a main selection of Victor Gollancz's Left Book Club-it could be checked and consulted. But it obviously never was checked or consulted, because in those pages Orwell only says that middle-class people, such as his own immediate forebears, were convinced that the working classes smelled. Victor Gollancz himself, though hopelessly at odds with Orwell in matters of politics, issued a denial on his behalf that he had ever said, or written, that 'the working classes smell.' It made no difference. As his published correspondence shows, every time Orwell wrote anything objectionable to the Left, up would come this old charge again, having attained the mythic status that placed it beyond mere factual refutation. It feels silly even to go over this pettiness again, but the identical method-of attributing to him the outlook that he attributed to others-is employed in our own time in critical discussions of 'Inside the Whale.

Christopher Hitchens
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