The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby is among my favorite novels. And the RSC stage production thereof is the Best.Thing.Ever.
One paragraph from the first chapter of the book haunts me in these economic times. It is as true today as (I assume) it was then. One half expects old Ralph himself to appear as a talking head on Fox News espousing the virtues of reduced regulations in the financial markets.
Before it offers its phantom pots of gold to the rabble on Main Street, the pseudo-wizards of Wall Street (10cc got it right, too) often caution (with fingers crossed), “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Yet that’s what they continue to sell in that fairyland of legalized gambling with rigged tables and stacked decks.
It turns out that the statement is not true. The same collateral damage of the financiers’ greed litters the paths of history from Dickens’ time until today – probably before and after as well.
Thus I offer this snippet of brilliant prophetic prose from Mr. Dickens:
Speculation is a round game; the players see little or nothing of
their cards at first starting; gains MAY be great–and so may
losses. The run of luck went against Mr Nickleby. A mania
prevailed, a bubble burst, four stock-brokers took villa residences at Florence, four hundred nobodies were ruined, and among them Mr. Nickleby.
Look around. The nobodies are increasing while the villas continue to be scooped up at head-spinning rates.