Uh oh. Even the chapter’s title, ‘Never Wonder’, is ominous.
There was a library in town, and in the days before radio and TV, people went there, not to learn but to wonder, much to Gradgrind’s consternation: ‘Mr. Gradgrind greatly tormented his mind about what the people read in this library: a point whereon little rivers of tabular statements periodically flowed into the howling ocean of tabular statements, which no diver ever got to any depth in and came up sane. It was a disheartening circumstance, but a melancholy fact, that even these readers persisted in wondering. They wondered about human nature, human passions, human hopes and fears, the struggles, triumphs and defeats, the cares and joys and sorrows, the lives and deaths of common men and women! They sometimes, after fifteen hours’ work, sat down to read mere fables about men and women….’
Young Tom Gradgrind, however, wishes he ‘could collect all the Facts we hear so much about … and all the Figures, and all the people who found them out: and I wish I could put a thousand barrels of gunpowder under them, and blow them all up together!” ‘