“But to-day, for instance, Mr. M’Choakumchild was explaining to us about Natural Prosperity.”
“National, I think it must have been,” observed Louisa.
“Yes, it was.—But isn’t it the same?” [Sissy] timidly asked.
“You had better say, National, as he said so,” returned Louisa, with her dry reserve.
“National Prosperity. And he said, Now, this schoolroom is a Nation. And in this nation, there are fifty millions of money. Isn’t this a prosperous nation? Girl number twenty, isn’t this a prosperous nation, and a’n’t you in a thriving state?”
“What did you say?” asked Louisa.
“Miss Louisa, I said I didn’t know. I thought I couldn’t know whether it was a prosperous nation or not, and whether I was in a thriving state or not, unless I knew who had got the money, and whether any of it was mine. But that had nothing to do with it. It was not in the figures at all,” said Sissy, wiping her eyes.
“That was a great mistake of yours,” observed Louisa.—Charles Dickens, Hard Times (1854), book 1, ch. IX