OUTLANDER and politics
I thought it might be fun to take a look at politics as seen in Diana Gabaldon's books. Whatever your own political leanings, I hope you'll find these quotes entertaining. Reading through them, you get the impression that some things never change!
*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***
If you haven't read all of the OUTLANDER books, there are SPOILERS below! Read at your own risk.
1) A bit of career advice from Lord John's half-brother, Edgar DeVane:
"You’ve money of your own,” he said, after a moment’s thought. “You could go into politics. Buy a pocket borough, stand for election.”2) The broadsheets Claire encounters during the Rising seem oddly familiar. The technology might be different these days, but the sentiments expressed haven't changed a bit in 250 years.
Just in time, Grey recalled his mother mentioning that Edgar himself had stood for Parliament in the last by-election, and refrained from saying that personally, he would prefer to be shot outright than to have anything to do with politics.
(From "Lord John and the Haunted Soldier" by Diana Gabaldon, in LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS. Copyright© 2007 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I turned to the next page, and nearly dropped the whole sheaf.3) Claire, talking politics at a dinner party in North Carolina in 1767:
“They did a slightly better job in rendering a likeness of your husband,” Balmerino observed, “but of course our dear Jamie does actually look somewhat like the popular English conception of a Highland thug--begging your pardon, my dear, I mean no offense. He is large, though, isn’t he?”
“Yes,” I said faintly, perusing the broadsheet’s charges.
“Didn’t realize your husband was in the habit of roasting and eating small children, did you?” said Balmerino, chortling. “I always thought his size was due to something special in his diet.”
"It’s the last one I thought you’d be interested in.” Balmerino interrupted my thoughts, flipping over the next-to-last sheet.
“The Stuart witch” proclaimed the heading. A long-nosed female with pinpoint pupils stared back at me, over a text which accused Charles Stuart of invoking “ye Pow’rs of Darkeness” in support of his unlawful cause. By retaining among his intimate entourage a well-known witch--one holding power of life and death over men, as well as the more usual power of blighting crops, drying up cattle, and causing blindness--Charles gave evidence of the fact that he had sold his own soul to the devil, and thus would “Frye in Hell Forever!” as the tract gleefully concluded.
“I assume it must be you,” Balmerino said. “Though I assure you, my dear, the picture hardly does you justice.”
"Very entertaining,” I said. I gave the sheaf back to his lordship, restraining the urge to wipe my hand on my skirt.
(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 37, "Holyrood". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
“Er ... what is the current rate of taxation, do you think?” I asked, tactfully drawing attention away from Stanhope’s spluttering.4) I love the irony of Lord John, that most Loyalist of men, being caught up in a crowd in Philadelphia celebrating the first anniversary of American independence.
Wylie pursed his lips, considering. A dandy, he wore the latest in modish wigs, and a small patch in the shape of a star beside his mouth. Under the powder, though, I thought I detected both a good-looking face and a very shrewd brain.
“Oh, considering all incidentals, I should say it can amount to as much as two per centum of all income, if one was to include the taxes on slaves. Add taxes on lands and crops, and it amounts to a bit more, perhaps.”
“Two percent!” Stanhope choked, pounding himself on the chest. “Iniquitous! Simply iniquitous!”
With vivid memories of the last IRS form I had signed, I agreed sympathetically that a two percent tax rate was a positive outrage, wondering to myself just what had become of the fiery spirit of American taxpayers over the intervening two hundred years.
(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 7, "Great Prospects Fraught With Peril". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
A racket in the street outside put a momentary stop to the festivities. There was considerable shouting and the thump of projectiles striking the front of the building. One of these--which proved to be a large, muddy rock--struck and shattered a pane of the establishment’s window, allowing the bellows of “Traitors! Renegados!” to be heard more clearly.5) And finally, a note of hope and optimism, which is something I think we desperately need as this campaign draws to a close:
“Shut your face, lickspittle!” shouted someone inside the tavern. Globs of mud and more rocks were hurled, some of these coming through the open door and broken window, along with patriotic shouts of “God Save the King!”
"Geld the Royal Brute!” shouted Grey’s earlier acquaintance in reply, and half the tavern rushed out into the street, some pausing to break legs from stools to assist in the political discussion which then ensued.
(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 58, "Independence Day". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"This world of yours, this America,” he said finally, matter-of-factly. “The freedom that ye go to. There will be a fearful price to be paid. Will it be worth it, do ye think?”
It was her turn then to be silent and think. At last she put her hand on his arm--solid, warm, steady as iron.
"Almost nothing would be worth losing you,” she whispered. “But maybe that comes close."
(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 119, "Loth to Depart". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)