William Wordsworth - Horace - Proverbs - Trading Places 1983 - Tony Parsons - William Shakespeare - Mike Tyson - Oscar Wilde - George Orwell -
She had a tall man’s height or more
No bonnet screened her from the heat
A long drab-coloured coat she wore
A mantle reaching to her feet
Before me begging did she stand
Pouring out sorrows like the sea
Grief after grief on English land
Such woes I knew could never be. William Wordsworth, Beggars
A beggar amidst great riches. Horace, Odes
Beggars can’t be choosers. Mid-16th century proverb
Anything. A quarter. A nickel. Anything. Trading Places 1983 starring Dan Aykroyd & Eddie Murphy & Ralph Bellamy & Don Ameche & Denholm Elliott & Jamie Lee Curtis & Kristin Holby & Paul Greason et al, director John Landis, Eddie begging before Heritage Club
Once you have a man with no legs you never go back, baby. ibid. Eddie begging woman en passant
I never saw a beggar yet who would recognize guilt if it bit him on his unwashed ass. Tony Parsons, Dispatches from the Front Line of Popular Culture, 1994
You taught me first to beg, and now methinks
You teach me how a beggar should be answered. William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice IV i 440
Sometimes I put on a ski mask and dress in old clothes, go out on the streets and beg for quarters. Mike Tyson
As for begging, it is safer to beg than to take, but it is finer to take than to beg. Oscar Wilde
With all this, he had neither fear, nor regret, nor shame, nor self-pity. He had paced his position, and made a philosophy for himself. Being a beggar, he said, was not his fault, and he refused either to have any compunction about it or to let it trouble him. Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London
While I was with Bozo he taught me something about the technique of London begging. There is more in it that one might suppose. Beggars vary greatly, and there is a sharp social line between those who merely cadge and those who attempt to give some value for money. ibid.
The most prosperous beggars are street acrobats and street photographers. On a good pitch – a theatre queue, for instance – a street acrobat will often earn five pounds a week. Street photographers can earn about the same, but they are dependent on fine weather. ibid.
Below screevers come the people who sing hymns, or sell matches, or bootlaces, or envelopes containing a few grains of lavender – called, euphemistically, perfume. All these people are frankly beggars, exploiting an appearance of misery, and none of them takes on an average more than half a crown a day. ibid.
It is worth saying something about the social position of beggars, for when one has consorted with them, and found that they are ordinary human beings, one cannot help being struck by the curious attitude that society takes towards them. People seem to feel that there is some essential difference between beggars and ordinary ‘working’ men. They are a race apart – outcomes, like criminals and prostitutes. ibid.
Yet if one looks closely one sees that there is no essential difference between a beggar’s livelihood and that of numberless respectable people. Beggars do not work, it is said; but then, what is work? A navy works by swinging a pick. An accountant works by adding up figures. A beggar works by standing out of doors in all weathers and getting varicose veins, chronic bronchitis etc. It is a trade like any other; quite useless, of course – but, then, many reputable trades are quite useless. ibid.
Money has become the grand test of virtue. By this test beggars fail, and for this they are despised. ibid.