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Mr.Micawber on happiness

23 Sep

Last night we went to see Simon Callow perform The Mystery of Charles Dickens at the Playhouse Theatre in London (where we live). One of the famous Dickensian maxims that he worked into the performance was Mr Wilkins Micawber’s, “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”  (from David Copperfield)

For many people, I imagine, Mr.Micawber’s pronouncement expresses one of the givens of happiness. Money may not make you happy – indeed, it’s worth noting that Micawber doesn’t want a lot of money, just enough, or a bit more than enough. But without enough money, it’s very difficult indeed to be happy.  This is certainly true for me. I want not to have to worry about money. But I don’t want a lot of it. I feel sure that too much would make me miserable.

Mr. Micawber Conducts David Home, by Harold Copping, 1924.

From Character Sketches from Dickens, facing p. 102.  Scanned image, caption, and commentary by Philip V. Allingham. See