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by : Ray
Published 25 May 2006

Interesting things that I have read recently and would like to share with you ...

- Poetry is not the thing said, but the way of saying it.
- A. E. Housman

- The proper study of mankind is man.
- Alexander Pope (Essay on Man II,2)

- The ways of God aren’t as dainty as those of the Bishop of Salisbury.
- J. Cowper Powys, Wolf Solent, Vintage ed., p. 48

- It isn’t till we are old that we begin to tell ourselves we’re not.
- Henry James, The Middle Years, The World’s Classics ed., p. 146

- For evil to triumph it is necessary only for good men to do nothing.
- Edmond Burke

- A man used to vicissitudes is not easily dejected.
- Samuel Johnson

- Few things are impossible to diligence and skill.
- Samuel Johnson

- Being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance off being drowned.
- Samuel Johnson

- Nothing is little to him that feels it with great sensibility.
- Samuel Johnson

- Every man’s affairs, however little, are important to himself.
- Samuel Johnson

- A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good.
- Samuel Johnson

- A young man should read five hours in a day, and so may acquire a good deal of knowledge.
- Samuel Johnson

- I mind my belly very studiously and very carefully, for I look upon it that he who does not mind his belly will hardly mind anything else.
- Samuel Johnson

- The Irish are a fair people : they never speak well of one another.
- Samuel Johnson

- Much may be made of a Scotsman, if he be caught young enough.
- Samuel Johnson

- That fellow seems to me to have but one idea, and that is a wrong one.
- Samuel Johnson

- How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?
- Samuel Johnson

- Intellectual pre-eminence is the highest superiority, and nations derive their highest reputation from the splendour and dignity of their writers.
- Samuel Johnson

- I should, many a good day, have blown my brains out, but for the recollection that it would have given pleasure to my mother-in-law.
- Byron

- Tragedy concerneth a high fellow
- Sydney

- to hear with eyes belongs to love’s fine wit.
- Shakespeare, Sonnet 23

- The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, strategems, and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted.
- Shakespeare, The merchant of Venise V.I. 83-88

- Your spirit has never been content within the narrow confines which nature has imposed on us.
- Cicero to Julius Caesar

- Homo homini deus est (man is a god to man): this is the great practical principle: this is the axis on which revolves the history of the world.
- Ludwig Feuerbach, in The Essence of Christianity

- Suppose a language which has no uncertainty, no whims of idiom, no cumbrous forms, no fitful shimmer of many-hued significance, no hoary archaisms ‘familiar with forgotten years’ - a patent deodorized and non-resonant language which effects the purpose of communication as perfectly and rapidly as algebraic signs. Your language may be a perfect medium of expression to science, but will never express life, which is a great deal more than science.
- George Eliot, in Essays


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain

- Tom was a glittering hero once more - the pet of the old, the envy of the young. His name even went into immortal print, for the village paper magnified him. There were some that believed he would be President, yet, if he escaped hanging.
- The Modern Library ed., p. 172

- Huck was always willing to take a hand in any enterprise that offered entertainment and required no capital, for he had a troublesome superabundance of that sort of time which is not money.
- p. 174


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

- The stars was shining, and the leaves rustled in the woods ever so mournful; and I heard an owl, away off, who-whooing about somebody that was dead, and a whippowill and a dog crying about somebody that was going to die; and the wind was trying to whisper something to me and I couldn’t make out what it was, and so it made the cold shivers run over me. Then away out in the woods I heard that kind of a sound that a ghost makes when it wants to tell about something that’s on its mind and can’t make itself understood, and so can’t rest easy in its grave and has to go about that way every night grieving. I got so down-hearted and scared, I did wish I had some company. Pretty soon a spider went crawling up my shoulder, and I flipped it off and it lit in the candle; and before I could budge it was all shrivelled up. I didn’t need anybody to tell me that that was an awful bad sign and would fetch me some bad luck, so I was scared and most shook the clothes off of me. I got up and turned around in my tracks three times and crossed my breast every time; and then I tied up a little lock of my hair with a thread to keep the witches away. But I hadn’t no confidence. You do that when you’ve lost a horse-shoe that you’ve found, instead of nailing it up over the door, but I hadn’t ever heard anybody say it was any way to keep off bad luck when you’d killed a spider.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 11

- Seemed like I’d die if I couldn’t scratch. Well, I’ve noticed that thing plenty of times since. If you are with the quality, or at a funeral, or trying to go to sleep when you ain’t sleepy - if you are anywheres where it won’t do for you to scratch, why you will itch all over in upwards of a thousand places.
- p. 13


Moby Dick, by Herman Melville

- all other earthly hues - every stately or lovely emblazoning - the sweet tinges of sunset skies and woods - yea and the gilded velvets of butterflies, and the butterfly cheeks of young girls.
- ed. Penguin Classics p. 212)

- Is it that by its indefinitiveness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way?
- p. 212

- Habit - strange thing! what cannot habit accomplish?
- p. 305)

- All men live envelopped in whalebones. All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortels realize the silent, sudden ever-present pents of life.
- p. 306

- So, when on one side you hoist in Locke’s head, you go over that way; but now, on the other side, hoist in Kant’s and you come back again; but in very poor plight. Thus some minds keep for ever trimming bod. Oh ye foolish! throw all those thunder-heads overboard, and then you will float light and bright.
- p. 357

- To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it.
- p. 497


Disgrace, by J.M. Coetzee

- He lives within his income, within his temperament, within his emotional means. Is he happy? By most measurements, yes, he believes he is. However, he has not forgotten the last chorus of Oedipus: "Call no man happy until he is dead".
- Vintage ed., p. 2

- Although he devotes hours of each day to his new discipline, he finds its first premise, as enunciated in the Communications 101 handbook, preposterous: "Human society has created language in order that we may communicate our thoughts, feelings and intentions to each other." His own opinion, which he does not air, is that the origins of speech lie in song, and the origins of song in the need to fill out with sound the overlarge and rather empty human soul.
- p. 3

- He continues to teach because it provides him with a livlihood; also because it teaches him humility, brings it home to him who he is in the world. The irony does not escape him: that the one who comes to teach learns the keenest of lessons, while those who come to learn learn nothing.
- p. 5

- He sighs. The young in one another’s arms, heedless, engrossed in the sensual music. No country, this, for old men. He seems to be spending a lot of time sighing. Regret: a regrettable note on which to go out.
- p. 190


Love and Garbage, by Ivan Klima

- I recently read an article in an American weekly about how fourteen complete idiots incapable of speech had learned "jerkish". That was the name of a language of 225 words, developed in Atlanta for mutual communications between humans and chimpanzees - for there was no doubt, the author of the article believed, that more and more unfortunate creatures would be able to talk to each other in jerkish. It occurred to me immediately that at last a language had been found in which the spirit of our age could speak, and because that language would spread rapidly from pole to pole, to the east and to the west, it would be the language of the future.
- Vintage ed., p. 48

- I was enjoying life, and so I rushed from one experience to another, until I became like some obsessive eater who, out of sheer greed for the next course, is unable to savour the one he is eating.
- p. 50

- I wanted to fall asleep, but I could feel the night creeping around me softly, like a cat out hunting, nothing mattering to it except its intended prey.
- p. 52

- The vision of paradise persists within us, and with it also the vision of togetherness. For in paradise there is no such thing as isolation, man lives there in the company of angels and in the proximity of God. In paradise we shall be ranged in a higher and eternal order, which eludes us on earth, where we are cast, where we are outcast.
- p. 179

- Out of his isolation man can be liberated not only by love but also by hate. Hate is mistakenly regarded as the opposite of love, whereas in reality it stands alongside love and the opposite of both of them is loneliness. We often believe that we are tied to someone by love, and meanwhile we’re only tied to them by hate, which we prefer to loneliness.
Hate will remain with us so long as we do not accept that loneliness is our only possible, or indeed necessary, fate.
- p. 180

- I want to wash up, but she asks me to leave everything and come to her. She’s lying down. I hold her hand. She looks at me, her eyes, as always, draw me into depths where there isn’t room for anything else, for anything except her.
- p. 183

- On the little table by the bed lie a few books. I pick up the one on top - short stories by Borges. I read her one of them. It is about a young man who is crucified for an illicit love affair.
The plot sounds outrageous to our ears, we’ve got used to the notion there’s no such thing as illicit love, or, more accurately, that all’s fair in love.
- p. 183

- Even a person who manages to lie his way through his whole life cannot escape from that one moment of truth, the moment from which there is no escape, from which he cannot lie or buy his way out.
- p. 187

- Kafka endeavored to be honest in his writing, in his profession and in his love. At the same time he realised, or at least suspected, that a person who wants to live honestly chooses torture and renunciation, a monastic life devoted to a single God, and sacrifices everything for it. He could not, at the same time, be an honest writer and an honest lover, let alone husband, even though he longed to be both. For a very brief instant he was deluded into believing that he could manage both, and that was when he wrote most of his works. Every time, however, he saw through the illusion, he froze up, and stopped motionless in torment. He’d then either lay his manuscript aside and never return to it, or sever all his ties and ask his lovers to leave him.
- p. 188

- In his depression he began to reminisce about the years he’d spent in the forced labour camp. Among the prisoners there’d been so many unforgettable characters, who, even in these conditions, were aiming at higher things. Some of them had there, in the camp, received the sacrament of baptism, he himself had secretly baptised a few of them. Thinking back to those days it was clear to him that, in spite of all he’d been through, God’s love had not abandoned mankind. He believed, for just that reason, that he’d spent the best or at least the most meaningful years of his life there.
- p. 197

- The mountain tops were beginning to emerge from the darkness and the sky above them was turning pale. The mountain rose straight up, it towered, virtually eternal, into a sky that was even more eternal, while we mortals, here only for a single winking of the divine eye, have, in our longing to fill our lives, in our longing for ecstasy, filled our brief moment with suffering.
- p. 201


The Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton

- A man must swallow a toad every morning to be sure of not meeting with anything more revolting in the day ahead.
- Chamforth (quoted in The Art of Travel, Hamish Hamilton ed., p. 7)

- Nature was at her most benevolent. It was as if, in creating this small horseshoe bay, she had chosen to atone for her ill-temper in other regions and decided for once to display only her munificence. The trees provided shade and milk, the floor of the sea was lined with shells, the sand was powdery and the colour of sun-ripened wheat, and the air - even in the shade - had enveloping, profound warmth to it so unlike the fragility of northern European heat, always prone to cede, even in midsummer, to a more assertive, proprietary chill
- p. 17

- In another paradox that Des Esseintes would have appreciated, it seems we may best be able to inhabit a place when we are not faced with the additional challenge of having to be there.
- p. 23

- Nowhere is the appeal of the airport more concentrated than in the television screens which hang in rows from terminal ceilings announcing the departure and arrival of flights and whose absence of aesthetic self-consciousness, whose workmanlike casing and pedestrian typefaces, do nothing to disguise their emotional charge or imaginative allure. Tokyo, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Warsaw, Seattle, Rio. The screens bear all the poetic resonance of the last line of James Joyce’s Ulysses: at once a record of where the novel was written and, no less importantly, a symbol of the cosmopolitan spirit behind its composition: ‘Trieste, Zurich, Paris’.
- p. 39

- It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves. The furniture insists that we cannot change because it does not; the domestic setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, but who may not be who we essentially are.
- p. 59

- If we find poetry in the service station and motel, if we are drawn to the airport or train carriage, it is perhaps because, in spite of their architectural compromises and discomforts, in spite of their garish colours and harsh lighting, we implicitly feel that these isolated places offer us a material setting for an alternative to the selfish ease, the habits and confinement of the ordinary, rooted world.
- p. 60

- Humbolt was to be away from Europe for five years. On his return, he settled in Paris and over the next twenty years published a thirty-volume account of his travels entitled ‘Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent’. The length of the work was an accurate measure of Humboldt’s achievements. Surveying these, Ralph Waldo Emerson was to write: “Humboldt was one of those wonders of the world, like Aristotle, like Julius Caesar, like the Admirable Crichton, who appear from time to time as if to show us the possibilities of the human mind, the force and the range of the faculties - a universal man’.
- p. 105

- Humboldt’s early biographer, F.A. Schwarzenberg, subtitled his life of Humboldt ‘What May be Accomplished in a Lifetime’, and summarized the areas of his extraordinary curiosity: ‘1. The knowledge of the earth and its inhabitants. 2. The discovery of the higher laws of nature, which govern the universe, men, animals, plants, and minerals. 3. The discovery of new forms of life. 4. The discovery of territories hitherto but imperfectly known, and their various productions. 5. The acquaintance with new species of the human race - their manners, language and historical traces of their culture.
- p. 107

- Anything I learnt [from my travels] would have to be justified by private benefit rather than by the interest of others. My discoveries would have to enliven me: They would have in some way to prove “life-enhancing”.
The term was Nietzsche’s. In the autumn of 1873, Friedrich Nietzsche composed an essay in which he distinguished between collecting facts like an explorer or academic and using already well-known facts for the sake of inner, psychological enrichment. Unusually for a university professor, he denigrated the former activity and praised the latter. Entitling his essay ‘On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life’, Nietzsche began with the extraordinary assertion that collecting facts in a quasi-scientific way was a sterile pursuit. The real challenge was to use facts to enhance ‘life’. He quoted a sentence from Goethe: ‘I hate everything that merely instructs me without augmenting or directly invigorating my activity’.
- p. 112

- Travel twists our curiosity according to a superficial geographical logic, as superficial as if a university course were to prescribe books according to their size rather than subject matter.
- p. 125

- There are in our existence spots of time,
That with distinct pre-eminence retain
A renovating virtue ...
That penetrates, enables us to mount,
When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen.
- Wordsworth, Ode to Immortality

This belief in small critical moments in nature explains Wordsworth’s unusually specific way of subtitling many of his poems. Foe example, the subtitle of Tintern Abbey, On revisiting the banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798, cites the exact day, month and year to suggest that a few moments in the countryside overlooking a valley could number among the most significant and useful of one’s life, and be as worthy of precise remembrance as a birthday or a wedding.
- p. 154

- We find the Works of Nature still more pleasant, the more they resemble those of Art.
- Joseph Addison, 1712 (quoted in The Art of Travel, p. 212)

- From his interest in beauty and in its possession, Ruskin arrived at five central conclusions. Firstly, that beauty is the result of a complex number of factors that affect the mind psychologically and visually. Second, that humans have an innate tendency to respond to beauty and to desire to possess it. Thirdly, that there are many lower expressions of this desire for possession, including the desire to buy souvenirs and carpets, to carve one’s name in pillars and to take photographs. Fourthly, that there is only one way to possess beauty properly and that is through understanding it, through making ourselves conscious of the factors (psychological and visual) that are responsible for it. And lastly, that the most effective way of pursuing this conscious understanding is by attempting to describe beautiful places through art, through writing or drawing them, irrespective of whether we happen to have any talent for doing so.
- p. 220

- A man is born an artist as a hippopotamus is born a hippopotamus; and you can no more make yourself one than you can make yourself a giraffe.
- John Ruskin (quoted in The Art of Travel, p. 221)

- A tradesman who had studied at the Working Men’s College reported what Ruskin had told him and his fellow students at the end of their course: ‘Now, remember, gentlemen, that I have not been trying to teach you to draw, only to see. Two men are walking through Clare Market, one of them comes out at the other end not a bit wiser than when he went in; the other notices a bit of parsley hanging over the edge of a butter-woman’s basket, and carries away with him images of beauty which in the course of his daily work he incorporates with it for many a day. I want you to see things like these.
- p. 222

- Let two persons go out for a walk; the one a good sketcher, the other having no taste of the kind. Let them go down a green lane. There will be a great difference in the scene as perceived by the two individuals. The one will see a lane and trees; he will perceive the trees to be green, though he will think nothing about it; he will see that the sun shines, and that it has a cheerful effect; and that’s all! But what will the sketcher see? His eye is accustomed to search into the cause of beauty, and penetrate the minutest parts of loveliness. He looks up, and observes how the showery and sub-divided sunshine comes sprinkled down among the gleaming leaves overhead, till the air is filled with the emerald light. He will see here and there a bough emerging from the veil of leaves, he will see the jewel brightness of the emerald moss and the variegated and fantastic lichens, white and blue, purple and red, all mellowed and mingled into a single garment of beauty. Then come the cavernous trunks and the twisted roots that grasp with their snake-like coils at the steep bank, whose turfy slope is inlaid with flowers of a thousand dyes. Is not this worth seeing? Yet if you are not a sketcher you will pass along the green lane, and when you come home again, have nothing to say or to think about it, but that you went down such and such a lane.
- John Ruskin (quoted in The Art of Travel, p. 230)

- The sole cause of a man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.
- Pascal, Pensées, 136 (quoted in The Art of Travel, p. 243)


Little Dorrit, by Charles Dickens

- There was people of pretty well all sorts of trades you could name, all wanting to work, and not able to get it. There was old people, after working all their lives, going and being shut up in the Workhouse, much worse fed and lodged and treated altogether than - Mr. Plornish said manufacturers, but appeared to mean malefactors. Why, a man didn’t know where to turn himself, for a crumb of comfort. As to who was to blame for it, Mr. Plornish didn’t know who was to blame for it. He could tell you who suffered, but he couldn’t tell you whose fault it was. (*) It wasn’t his place to find out, and who’d mind what he said, if he did find out? He only know’d that it wasn’t put right by them what undertook that line of business and that it didn’t come right of itself. And in brief his illogical opinion was, that if you couldn’t do nothing for him, you had better take nothing from him for doing of it; so far as he could make out, that was about what it come to.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 158
(*) the initial title for Little Dorrit was Nobody’s Fault

- The last of the Patriarchs had always been a mighty eater, and he disposed of an immense quantity of solid food with the benignity of a good soul who was feeding someone else.
- p. 173

- Mr. Planks, who was always in a hurry, and who referred at intervals to a little dirty note-book which he kept beside him (perhaps containing the names of the defaulters he meant to look up by way of dessert), took in his victuals with a good deal of noise, a good deal of dropping about, and a puff and a snort occasionally, as if he were nearly ready to steam away.
- p. 173

- ‘We don’t know,’ said Clenham, almost in the tone of a man in pain, ‘that he will not make her happy.’
‘We don’t know,’ returned his partner, ‘that the earth will last another hundred years, but we think it highly probable.’
- p. 327

- ‘If John Barnacle,’ said Mrs. Gowan after the degeneracy of the times had been fully ascertained, ‘if John Barnacle had but abandoned his most unfortunate idea of conciliating the mob, all would have been well, and I think the country would have been preserved.’
The old lady with the high nose assented, but added that if August Stilkstocking had in a general way ordered the cavalry out with instructions to charge, she thought the country would have been preserved.
The noble Refrigerator assented, but added that if William Barnacle and Tudor Siltstocking, when they came over to one another and formed their ever memorable coalition, had boldly muzzled the newspapers, and rendered it penal for any Editor-person to presume to discuss the conduct of any appointed authority abroad or at home, he thought the country would have been preserved.
- p. 333

- A tranquil summer sunset shone upon him as he approached the end of his walk, and passed through the meadows by the river-side. He had that sense of peace, and of being lightened of a weight of care, which country quiet awakens in the dwellers in towns. Everything within his view was lovely and placid. The rich foliage of the trees, the luxuriant grass diversified with wild flowers, the little green islands in the river, the beds of rushes, the water-lilies floating on the surface of the stream, the distant voices in boats borne musically towards him on the ripple of the water and the evening air, were all expressive of rest. In the occasional leap of fish, or dip of an oar, or twittering of a bird not yet at roost, or distant barking of a dog, or lowing of a cow - in all such sounds, there was the prevailing breath of rest, which seemed to encompass him in every scent that sweetened the fragrant air. The long lines of red and gold in the sky, and the glorious track of the descending sun, were all divinely calm. Upon the purple tree-tops far away, and on the open height near at hand up which the shades were slowly creeping, there was an equal hush. Between the real landscape and its shadow in the water, there was no division ; both were so untroubled and clear, and, while so fraught with solemn mystery of life and death, so hopefully reassuming to the gazer’s soothed heart, because so tenderly and mercifully beautiful.
- p. 353

- For a gentleman who had this splendid work [to coin money] cut out for him, Mr. Merdle looked a little common, and rather as if, in the course of his vast transactions, he had accidentally made an interchange of heads with some inferior spirit. He presented himself before the two ladies in the course of a dismal stroll through his mansion, which had no apparent object but escape from the presence of the chief butler.
- p. 417

- He came in, and stood looking out at a distant window, with his hands crossed under his uneasy coat-cuffs, clasping his wrists as if he were taking himself into custody. In this attitude he fell into a reverie, from which he was only aroused by his wife’s calling to him from her ottoman, where they had been for some quarter-of-an-hour alone.
‘Eh? Yes?’ said Mr. Merdle, turning towards her. ‘What is it?’
‘What is it?’ repeated Mrs. Merdle. ‘’It is, I suppose, that you have not heard a word of my complaint.’
‘Your complaint, Mrs Merdle?’ said Mr. Merdle. ‘I didn’t know that you were suffering from a complaint. What complaint?’
‘A complaint of you,’ said Mrs. Merdle.
‘Oh! A complaint of me,’ said Mr. Merdle. ‘What is the - what have I - what may you have to complain in me, Mrs Merdle?’
In his withdrawing, abstracted, pondering way, it took him some time to shape this question. As a kind of faint attempt to convince himself that he was the master of the house, he concluded by presenting his forefinger to the parrot, who expressed his opinion on that subject by instantly driving his bill into it.
- p. 417

- Am I not a man and a brother?
- Motto on the border of a 1768 Wedgwood medallion, representing a negro in chains (referred to in Little Dorrit, p. 447)

- Mrs General was the daughter of a clerical dignitary in a cathedral town, where she had led the fashion until she was as near forty-five as a single lady can be.
- p.471

- There is no playing fast and loose with the truth, in any game, without growing the worse for it.
- p. 511

- Love lives in cottages as well as courts.
- p. 526 (English proverb)

- Thought is free.
- p. 554 (English proverb)

- All people knew (or thought they knew) that he had made himself immensely rich, and, for that reason alone, prostrated themselves before him more degradedly and less excusably than the darkest savage creeps out of his hole in the ground to propitiate, in some log or reptile, the Deity of his benighted soul.
- p. 581

- And now, fragments of ruinous enclosure, yawning window-gap and crazy wall, deserted houses, leaking wells, broken water-tanks, spectral cypress-trees, patches of tangled vine, and the changing of the track to a long, irregular, disordered lane, where everything was crumbling away, from the unsightly buildings to the jolting road - now, these objects showed that they were nearing Rome.
- p. 666

- He who touches pitch will be defiled.
- English proverb (referred to in Little Dorrit, p. 839)

- Mr Meagles went upon this pilgrimage, and encountered a number of adventures. Not the least of his difficulties was, that he never knew what was said to him, and that he pursued his enquiries among people who never knew what he said to them. Still, with an unshaken confidence that the English tongue was somehow the mother tongue of the whole world, only the people were too stupid to know it, Mr. Meagles harangued innkeepers in the most voluble manner, entered into loud explanations of the most complicated sort, and utterly renounced replies in the native language of the respondents, on the ground that they were all ‘bosh’.
- p. 840

- Every failure teaches a man something, if he will learn.
- p. 856

- They went quietly down into the roaring streets, inseparable and blessed; and as they passed along in sunshine and in shade, the noisy and the eager, and the arrogant and the froward and the vain, fretted, and chafed, and made their usual uproar.
- the closing sentence


A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

- It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
- the opening paragraph

- “I wonder,” said Mr. Lorry, pausing in his looking about, “that he keeps that reminder of his sufferings by him!”
“And why wonder at that?” was the abrupt inquiry that made him start.
It proceeded from Miss Pross, the wild red woman, strong of hand, whose acquaintance he had first made at the Royal George Hotel at Dover, and had since improved.
“I should have thought -“ Mr. Lorry began.
“Pooh! You’d have thought!” said Miss Pross; and Mr. Lorry left off.
“How do you do?” inquired that lady then - sharply, and yet as if to express that she bore him no malice.
“I am pretty well, I thank you,” answered Mr. Lorry, with meekness, “how are you?”
“Nothing to boast of, “ said Miss Pross.
“Indeed?”
“Ah, indeed!” said Miss Pross. “I am very much put out about my Ladybird.”
“Indeed?”
“For gracious sake, say something else beside ‘indeed’, or you’ll fidget me to death” said Miss Pross: whose character (dissociated from stature) was shortness.
“Really, then?” said Mr. Lorry as an amendment.
“Really, is bad enough,” returned Miss Pross, “but better. Yes, I am very much put out.”
“May I ask the cause?”
“I don’t want dozens of people who are not at all worthy of Ladybird, to come here looking after her,” said Miss Pross.
Do dozens come for that purpose?”
“Hundreds,” said Miss Pross.
It was characteristic of this lady (as of some other people before her time and since) that whenever her original proposition was questioned, she exaggerated it.
“Dear me!” said Mr. Lorry, as the safest remark he could think of.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 98

- “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”
- the closing sentence


Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

- Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea. My first most vivid and broad impression of the identity of things, seems to me to have been gained on a memorable raw afternoon towards evening. At such a time I found out for certain, that this bleak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard; and that Philip Pirrip, late of this parish, and also Georgina wife of the above, were dead and buried; and that Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias, and Roger, infant children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; and that the dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykes and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the marshes; and that the low leaden line beyond, was the river; and that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea; and that the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip.
- Penguin Classics ed., page 1

- “Hold your noise!” cried a terrible voice, as a man started up from among the graves at the side of the church porch. “Keep still, you little devil, or I’ll cut your throat!”
A fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg. A man with no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied round his head. A man who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; who limped, and shivered, and glared and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized me by the chin.
“O! Don’t cut my throat, sir,” I pleaded in terror. “Pray don’t do it, sir.”
- p. 2

- “Drat that boy,” interposed my sister, frowning at me over her work, “what a questioner he is. Ask no questions, and you’ll be told no lies.”
It was not very polite to herself, I thought, to imply that I should be told lies by her, even if I did ask questions. But she never was polite, unless there was company.
- p. 14

- In a word, I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong. I had had no intercourse with the world at that time, and I imitated none of its many inhabitants who act in this manner. Quite an untaught genius, I made the discovery of the line of action for myself.
- p. 41

- One night, I was sitting in the chimney corner with my slate, expending great effort on the production of a letter to Joe. I think it must have been a full year after our hunt upon the marshes, for it was a long time after, and it was winter and a hard frost. With an alphabet on the hearth at my feet for reference, I contrived in an hour or two to print and smear this epistle:
“mI deEr JO i opE U r krWitE wEll i opE i shAl soN B haBelL 4 2 teeDge U JO aN theN wE shOrl b sO glOdd aN wEn i M preNgtD 2 u JO woT larX an blEvE ME inF xn PiP.”
There was no indispensable necessity for my communicating with Joe by letter, inasmuch as he sat beside me and we were alone. But, I delivered this written communication (slate and all) with my own hand, and Joe received it as a miracle of erudition.
“I say, Pip, old chap!” cried Joe, opening his blue eyes wide, “what a scholar you are! An’t you?”
“I should like to be,” said I, glancing at the slate as he held it: with a misgiving that the writing was rather hilly.
- p. 44

- Though she called me “boy” so often, and with a carelessness that was far from complimentary, she was of about my own age. She seemed much older than I, of course, being a girl, and beautiful and self-possessed; and she was as scornful of me as if she had been one-and-twenty, and a queen.
- p. 56

- “Look at me,” said Miss Havisham. “You are not afraid of a woman who has never seen the sun since you were born?”
I regret to state that I was not afraid of telling the enormous lie comprehended in the answer “No”.
- p. 58

- My sister’s bringing up had made me sensitive. In the little world in which children have their existence whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt, as injustice. It may be only small injustice that the child can be exposed to; but the child is small, and its world is small, and its rocking-horse stands as many hands high, according to scale, as a big-boned Irish hunter.
- p. 63

- In a by-yard there was a wilderness of empty casks, which had a certain sour remembrance of better days lingering about them; but it was too sour to be accepted as a sample of the beer that was gone - and in this respect I remember those recluses as being like most others.
- p. 63

- “Do you want to be a gentleman, to spite her or to gain her over?” Biddy quietly asked me, after a pause.
“I don’t know,” I moodily answered.
”Because, if it is to spite her,” Biddy pursued, “I should think - but you know best - that might be better and more independently done by caring nothing for her words. And if it is to gain her over, I should think - but you know best - she was not worth gaining over.”
Exactly what I myself had thought, many times. Exactly what was perfectly manifest to me at the moment. But how could I, a poor dazed village lad, avoid that wonderful inconsistency into which the best and wisest of men fall every day?
- p. 129

- We Britons had at that time particularly settled that it was treasonable to doubt our having and our being the best of everything: otherwise, while I was scared by the immensity of London, I think I might have had some faint doubts whether it was not rather ugly, crooked, narrow and dirty.
- p. 163

- “Is it a very wicked place?” I asked, more for the sake of saying something than for information.
“You may get cheated, robbed and murdered in London. But there are plenty of people anywhere, who’ll do that for you”.
“If there is bad blood between you and them” said I, to soften it off a little.
“Oh, I don’t know about bad blood” returned Mr. Wemmick, “there’s not much bad blood about. They’ll do it, if there’s anything to be got by it.”
“That makes it worse”.
You think so?” returned Mr. Wemmick. “Much about the same, I should say.”
- p. 172

- Herbert Pocket had a frank and easy way with him that was very taking. I had never seen anyone then, and I have never seen anyone since, who more strongly expressed to me, in every look and tone, a natural incapacity to do anything secret and mean. There was something wonderfully hopeful about his general air, and something that at the same time whispered to me he would never be very successful or rich.
- p. 178

- Her father was a country gentleman down in your part of the world, and was a brewer. I don’t know why it should be a crack thing to be a brewer; but it is indispensable that while you cannot possible be genteel and bake, you may be as genteel as never was and brew. You see it every day.
- p. 179

- “Take another glass of wine, and excuse my mentioning that society as a body does not expect one to be so strongly conscientious in emptying one’s glass, as to turn it bottom upwards with the rim on one’s nose.”
- p. 180

- But that he was not to be, without ignorance or prejudice, mistaken for a gentleman, my father most strongly asseverates; because it is a principle of his that no man who was not a gentleman at heart ever was, since the world began, a true gentleman in manner. He says, no varnish can hide the grain of the wood; and that the more varnish you put on, the more the grain will express itself.
- p. 181

- Lifting the latch of a gate, we passed direct into a little garden overlooking the river, where Mr. Pocket’s children were playing about. And unless I deceive myself on a point where my interests or prepossessions are certainly not concerned, I saw that Mr. and Mrs Pocket’s children were not growing up or being brought up, but were tumbling up.
- p. 186

- “Master Alick and Miss Jane,” cried one of the nurses to two of the children, “if you go a bouncing up against them bushes you’ll fall over into the river and be drownded, and what’ll your pa say then!”
- p. 186

- The punch being very nice, we sat there drinking it and talking, until it was almost nine o’clock...The interval between that time and supper, Wemmick devoted to showing me his collection of curiosities.
- p. 208

- All other swindlers upon earth are nothing to the self-swindlers.
- p. 225

- The unqualified truth is, that when I loved Estella with the love of a man, I loved her simply because I found her irresistible. Once for all, I knew to my sorrow, often and often, if not always, that I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be. Once for all; I loved her none the less because I knew it, and it had no more influence in restraining me, than if I had devoutly believed her to be human perfection.
- p. 232

- I’ll tell you,” said she, in the same hurried, passionate whisper, “what real love is. It is blind devotion, unquestioning self-humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against yourself and against the whole world, giving up your whole heart and soul to the soul to the smiter - as I did!
- p. 240

- Still my position was a distinguished one, and I was not at all dissatisfied with it, until Fate threw me in the way of that unlimited miscreant, Trabb’s boy.
Casting my eyes along the street at a certain point of my progress, I beheld Trabb’s boy approaching, lashing himself with an empty blue bag. Deeming that a serene and unconscious contemplation of him would best beseem me, and would be most likely to quell his evil mind, I advanced with that expression of countenance, and was rather congratulating myself on my success, when suddenly the knees of Trabb’s boy smote together, his hair uprose, his cap fell off, he trembled violently in every limb, staggered out into the road, and crying to the populace, “Hold me! I’m so frightened!” feigned to be in a paroxysm of terror and contrition, occasioned by the dignity of my appearance. As I passed him, his teeth loudly chattered in his head, and with every mark of extreme humiliation, he prostrated himself in the dust.
This was a hard thing to bear, but this was nothing. I had not advanced another two hundred yards, when, to my inexpressible terror, amazement, and indignation, I again beheld Trabb’s boy approaching. He was coming round a narrow corner. His blue bag was slung over his shoulder, honest industry beamed in his eyes, a determination to proceed to Trabb’s with cheerful briskness was indicated in his gait. With a shock he became aware of me, and was severely visited as before, but this time his motion was rotatory, and he staggered round and round me with knees more afflicted, and with uplifted hands as if beseeching for mercy. His sufferings were hailed with the greatest joy by a knot of spectators, and I felt utterly confounded.
I had not got as much further down the street as the post-office, when I again beheld Trabb’s boy shooting round by a back way. This time, he was entirely changed. He wore the blue bag in the manner of my great-coat, and was strutting along the pavement towards me on the opposite side of the street, attended by a company of delighted young friends to whom he from time to time exclaimed with a wave of his hand, “Don’t know yah!” Words cannot state the amount of aggravation and injury wreaked upon me by Trabb’s boy, when, passing abreast of me, he pulled up his shirt-collar, twined his side-hair, struck an arm akimbo, and smirked extravagantly by, wriggling his elbows and body, and drawling to his attendants, “Don’t know yah, don’t know yah, pon my soul don’t know yah!”. The disgrace attendant on his immediately afterwards taking to crowing and pursuing me across the bridge with crows, as from an exceedingly dejected fowl who had known me when I was a blacksmith, culminated the disgrace with which I left the town, and was, so to speak, ejected by it into the open country.
- p. 245

- The bill paid, and the waiter remembered, and the ostler not forgotten, and the chambermaid taken into consideration - in a word, the whole house bribed into a state of contempt and animosity, and Estella’s purse much lightened - we got into our post-coach and drove away.
- p. 268

- at about two o’clock in the morning, he became so deeply despondent again as to talk of buying a rifle and going to America, with a general purpose of compelling buffaloes to make his fortune.
- p. 273

- We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as people could make up their minds to give us. We were always more or less miserable, and most of our acquaintance were in the same condition. There was a gay fiction among us that we were constantly enjoying ourselves, and a skeleton truth that we never did. To the best of my belief, our case was in the last aspect a rather common one.
- p. 274

- The Aged prepared such a haystack of buttered toast, that I could scarcely see him over it as it simmered on an iron stand hooked on to the top-bar; while Miss Skiffins brewed such a jorum of tea, that the pig in the back premises became strongly excited, and repeatedly expressed his desire to participate in the entertainment.
- p. 296

- And could I look upon her without compassion, seeing her punishment in the ruin she was, in her profound unfitness for this earth on which she was placed, in the vanity of sorrow which had become a master mania, like the vanity of penitence, the vanity of remorse, the vanity of unworthiness, and other monstrous vanities that have been curses in this world?
- p. 399

- But they were both happily relieved by the opportune appearance of Mike, the client with the fur caps and the habit of wiping his nose on his sleeve, whom I had seen on the very first day of my appearance within these walls. This individual, who, either in his own person or in that of some member of his family, seemed to be always in trouble (which in that place meant Newgate), called to announce that his eldest daughter was taken up on suspicion of shoplifting. As he imparted this melancholy circumstance to Wemmick, Mr. Jaggers standing magisterially before the fire and taking no share in the proceedings, Mike’s eye happened to twinkle with a tear.
“What are you about?” demanded Wemmick, with the utmost indignation. “What do you come snivelling here for?”
“I didn’t go to do it, Mr. Wemmick.”
“You did,” said Wemmick. “How dare you? You’re not in a fit state to come here, if you can’t come here without spluttering like a bad pen. What do you mean by it?”
“A man can’t help his feelings, Mr. Wemmick” pleaded Mike.
“His what?” demanded Wemmick quite savagely. “Say that again!”
“Now, look here my man,” said Mr. Jaggers, advancing a step, and pointing to the door. “Get out of this office. I’ll have no feelings here. Get out.”
“It serves you right,” said Wemmick, “Get out.”
So the unfortunate Mike very humbly withdrew, and Mr. Jaggers and Wemmick appeared to have re-established their good understanding, and went to work again with an air of refreshment upon them as if they had just had lunch.
- p. 415


Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens

- Mr. Podsnap was well to do, and stood very high in Mr. Podsnap’s opinion. Beginning with a good inheritance, he had married a good inheritance, and had thriven exceedingly in the Marine Insurance way, and was quite satisfied. He never could make out why everybody was not quite satisfied, and he felt conscious that he set a brilliant social example in being particularly well satisfied with most things, and, above all, with himself.
Thus happily acquainted with his own merit and importance, Mr. Podsnap settled that whatever he put behind him he put out of existence. There was a dignified conclusiveness - not to add a grand convenience - in this way of getting rid of disagreeables which had done much towards establishing Mr. Podsnap in his lofty place in Mr. Podsnap’s satisfaction. “I don’t want to know about it; I don’t choose to discuss it; I don’t admit it!” Mr. Podsnap had even acquired a peculiar flourish of his right arm in often clearing the world of its most difficult problems, by sweeping them behind him (and consequently sheer away) with those words and a flushed face. For they affronted him.
Mr. Podsnap’s world was not a very large world, morally; no, nor ever geographically: seeing that although his business was sustained upon commerce with other countries, he considered other countries, with that important reservation, a mistake, and of their manners and customs would conclusively observe, “Not English!” when, Presto! With a flourish of the arm, and a flush of the face, they were swept away.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 131

- The wind sawed, and the sawdust whirled. The shrubs wrung their many hands, bemoaning that they had been over-persuaded by the sun to bud; the young leaves pined; the sparrows repented of their early marriages, like men and women; the colours of the rainbow were discernable, not in floral spring, but in the faces of the people whom it nibbled and pinched. And ever the wind sawed, and the sawdust whirled.
- p. 147

- “This is not a flowery neighbourhood. It’s anything but that. And yet as I sit at work, I smell miles of flowers. I smell roses, till I think I see the rose-leaves lying in heaps, bushels, on the floor. I smell fallen leaves, till I put down my hand - so - and expect to make them rustle. I smell the white and the pink May in the hedges, and all sorts of flowers that I never was among. For I have seen very few flowers indeed, in my life.”
“Pleasant fancies to have, Jenny dear!” said her friend: with a glance towards Eugene as if she would have asked him whether they were given the child in compensation for her losses.
“So I think, Lizzie, when they come to me. And the birds I hear! Oh!” cried the little creature, holding out her hand and looking upward, “how they sing!”
There was something in the face and action for the moment, quite inspired and beautiful. Then the chin dropped musingly upon the hand again.
“I dare say my birds sing better than other birds, and my flowers smell better than other flowers. For when I was a little child,” in a tone as though it were ages ago, “the children that I used to see early in the morning were very different from any others that I ever saw. They were not like me; they were not chilled, anxious, ragged or beaten; they were never in pain. They were not like the children of the neighbours; they never made me tremble all over, by setting up shrill noises, and they never mocked me. Such numbers of them too! All in white dresses, and with something shining on the borders, and on their heads, that I have never been able to imitate with my work, though I know it so well. They used to come down in long bright slanting rows, and say all together, ‘Who is this in pain! Who is this in pain!’ When I told them who it was, they answered, ‘Come and play with us!’ When I said ‘I never play! I can’t play!’ they swept about me and took me up, and made me light. Then it was all delicious ease and rest till they laid me down and said, all together, ‘Have patience, and we will come again.’ Whenever they came back, I used to know they were coming before I saw the long bright rows, by hearing them ask, all together a long way off, ‘Who is this in pain! Who is this in pain!’ And I used to cry out, ‘O my blessed children, it’s poor me. Have pity on me. Take me up and make me light!’”
- p. 238

- A man stumbled against him as he turned away, who mumbled some maudlin apology. Looking after this man, Eugene saw him go in at the door by which he himself had just come out.
On the man’s stumbling into the room, Lizzie rose to leave it.
“Don’t go away, Miss Hexam,” he said in a submissive manner, speaking thickly and with difficulty. “Don’t fly from unfortunate man in shattered state of health. Give poor invalid honor of your company. It ain’t - ain’t catching.”
Lizzie murmured that she had something to do in her own room, and went away upstairs.
“How’s my Jenny?” said the man, timidly. “How’s my Jenny Wren, best of children, object dearest affections broken-hearted invalid?”
To which the person of the house, stretching out her arm in an attitude of command, replied with irresponsive asperity: “Go along with you! Go along into your corner! Get into your corner directly!”
The wretched spectacle made as if he would have offered some remonstrance, but not venturing to resist the person of the house, thought better of it, and went and sat down on a particular chair of disgrace.
“Oh-h-h!” cried the person of the house, pointing her little finger, “You bad old boy! Oh-h-h you naughty, wicked creature! What do you mean by it?”
The shaking figure, unnerved and disjointed from head to foot, put out its two hands a little way, as making overtures of peace and reconciliation. Abject tears stood in its eyes, and stained the blotched red of its cheeks. The swollen lead-coloured under lip trembled with a shameful whine. The whole indecorous threadbare ruin, from the broken shoes to the prematurely-grey scanty hair, grovelled. Not with any sense worthy to be called a sense, of this dire reversal of the places of parent and child, but in a pitiful expostulation to be let off from a scolding.
I know your tricks and your manners,” cried Miss Wren. “Í know where you’ve been to!” (which indeed it did not require discernment to discover). “Oh, you disgraceful old chap!”
The very breathing of the figure was contemptible, as it laboured and rattled in that operation, like a blundering clock.
“Slave, slave, slave, from morning to night,” pursued the person of the house, “and all for this! What do you mean by it?”
There was something in that emphasized “What,” which absurdly frightened the figure. As often as the person of the house worked her way round to it - even as soon as he saw that it was coming - he collapsed in an extra degree.
“I wish you had been taken up, and locked up,” said the person of the house. “I wish you had been poked into cells and black holes, and run over by rats and spiders and beetles. I know their tricks and their manners, and they’d have tickled you nicely. Ain’t you ashamed of yourself?”
“Yes, my dear,” stammered the father.
“Then,” said the person of the house, terrifying him by a grand muster of her spirits and forces before recurring to the emphatic word, “What do you mean by it?”
“Circumstances over which had no control,” was the miserable creature’s plea in extenuation.
I’ll circumstance you and control you too,” retorted the person of the house, speaking with vehement sharpness, “if you talk in that way. I’ll give you in charge to the police, and have you fined five shillings when you can’t pay, and then I won’t pay the money for you, and you’ll be transported for life. How should you like to be transported for life?”
“Shouldn’t like it. Poor shattered invalid. Trouble nobody long,” cried the wretched figure.
“Come, come!” said the person of the house, tapping the table near her in a business-like manner, and shaking her head and her chin; “you know what you’ve got to do. Put down your money this instant.”
- p. 239

- The doctor came in too, to see how it fared with Johnny. And he and Rokesmith stood together, looking down with compassion on him.
“What is it, Johnny?” Rokesmith was the questioner, and put an arm around the poor baby as he made a struggle.
“Him!” said the little fellow. “Those!”
The doctor was quick to understand children, and, taking the horse, the ark, the yellow bird, and the man in the Guards, from Johnny’s bed, softly placed them on that of his next neighbour, the mite with the broken leg.
With a weary and yet a pleased smile, and with an action as if he stretched his little figure out to rest, the child heaved his body on the sustaining arm, and seeking Rokesmith’s face with his lips said:
“A kiss for the boofer lady”.
Having now bequeathed all he had to dispose of, and arranged his affairs in this world, Johnny, thus speaking, left it.
- p. 327

- Pleasant Riderhood had it, in the blood, or had been trained, to regard seamen, within certain limits, as her prey. Show her a man in a blue jacket, and, figuratively speaking, she pinned him instantly. Yet all things considered, she was not of an evil mind or an unkindly disposition. For, observe how many things were to be considered according to her own unfortunate experience. Show Pleasant Riderhood a Wedding in the street, and she only saw two people taking out a regular license to quarrel and fight. Show her a Christening, and she saw a little heathen personage having a quite superfluous name bestowed upon it, inasmuch as it would be commonly addressed by some abusive epithet: which little personage was not in the least wanted by anybody, and would be shoved and banged out of everybody’s way, until it should grow big enough to shove and bang. Show her a Funeral, and she saw an unremunerative ceremony in the nature of a black masquerade, conferring a temporary gentility on the performers, at an immense expense, and representing the only formal party ever given by the deceased. Show her a live father, and she saw but a duplicate of her own father, who from her infancy had been taken with fits and starts of discharging his duty to her, which duty was always incorporated in the form of a fist or leather strap, and being discharged hurt her. All things considered, therefore, Pleasant Riderhood was not so very, very bad. There was even a touch of romance in her - of such romance as could creep into Limehouse Hole - and maybe sometimes of a summer evening, when she stood with folded arms at her shop-door, looking from the reeking street to the sky where the sun was setting, she may have had some vaporous visions of far-off islands in the southern seas or elsewhere (not being geographically particular), where it would be good to roam with a congenial partner among groves of bread-fruit, waiting for ships to be wafted from the hollow ports of civilization. For, sailors to be got the better of, were essential to Miss Pleasant’s Eden.
- p. 345

- A grey dusty withered evening in London city has not a hopeful aspect. The closed warehouses and offices have an air of death about them, and the national dread of colour has an air of mourning. The towers and steeples of the many house-encompassed churches, dark and dingy as the sky that seems descending on them, are no relief to the general gloom; a sun-dial on a church-wall has the look, in its useless black shade, of having failed in its business enterprise and stopped payment for ever; melancholy waifs and strays of house-keepers and porters sweep melancholy waifs and strays of papers and pins into the kennels, and other more melancholy waifs and strays explore them, searching and stooping and poking for anything to sell. The set of humanity outward from the City is as a set of prisoners departing from gaol, and dismal Newgate seems quite as fit a stronghold for the mighty Lord Mayor as his own state-dwelling.
- p. 386

- Taking her eyes off her newspaper, and pausing with a suspended expression of countenance, as if she must finish the paragraph in hand before undertaking any other business whatever, Miss Abbey demanded, with some slight asperity: “Now then, what’s for you?”
“Could we see Miss Potterson?” asked the old man, uncovering his head.
“You not only could, but you can and you do,” replied the hostess.
- p. 433

- What to believe, in the course of his reading, was Mr. Boffin’s chief literary difficulty indeed; for some time he was divided in his mind between half, all, or none; at length, when he decided, as a moderate man, to compound with half, the question still remained, which half? And that stumbling-block he never got over.
- p. 470

- Most illogical, inconsequential, and light-handed this; but travellers in the valley of the shadow of death are apt to be light-headed; and worn-out old people of low estate have a trick of reasoning as indifferently as they live, and doubtless would appreciate our Poor Law more philosophically on a income of ten thousand a year.
- p. 504

- But, for all that, they had a very pleasant walk. The trees were bare of leaves, and the river was bare of water lilies; but the sky was not bare of its beautiful blue, and the water reflected it, and a delicious wind ran with the stream, touching the surface crisply. Perhaps the old mirror was never yet made by human hands, which, if all the images it has in its time reflected could pass across its surface again, would fail to reveal some scene of horror or distress. But the great serene mirror of the river seemed as if it might have reproduced all it had ever reflected between those placid banks, and brought nothing to the light save what was peaceful, pastoral, and blooming.
- p. 514

- “You charm me, Mortimer, with your reading of my weaknesses. (By-the-by, that very word, Reading, in its critical use, always charms me. An actress’s Reading of a chambermaid, a dancer’s Reading of a hornpipe, a singer’s Reading of a song, a marine-painter’s Reading of the sea, the kettle-drum’s Reading of an instrumental passage, are phrases ever youthful and delightful.)”
- p. 532

- “I reflected - clearly reflected for the first time - that in bending my neck to the yoke I was willing to wear, I bent the unwilling necks of the whole Jewish people. For it is not, in Christian countries, with the Jews as with other peoples. Men say, ‘This is a bad Greek, but there are good Greeks. This is a bad Turk, but there are good Turks.’ Not so with the Jews. Men find the bad among us easily enough - among what peoples are the bad not easily found? - but they take the worst of us as samples of the best; they take the lowest of us as presentations of the highest; and they say ‘All Jews are alike.’ If, doing what I was content to do here, because I was grateful for the past and have small need of money now, I had been a Christian, I could have done it, compromising no one but my individual self. But doing it as a Jew, I could not choose but compromise the Jews of all conditions and all countries.
- p. 707”


The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by Charles Dickens

- An ancient English Cathedral town? How can the ancient English Cathedral town be here? The well-known massive grey square tower of its old cathedral? How can that be here! There is no spike of rusty iron in the air, between the eye and it, from any point of the real prospect. What is the spike that intervenes, and who has it set up? Maybe, it is set up by the Sultan’s orders for the impaling of a horde of Turkish robbers, one by one. It is so, for cymbals clash, and the Sultan goes by to his palace in long procession. Ten thousand scimitars flash in the sunlight, and thrice ten thousand dancing-girls strew flowers. Then, follow white elephants caparisoned in countless gorgeous colours, and infinite in number and attendants. Still, the Cathedral tower rises in the background, where it cannot be, and still no writhing figure is on the grim spike. Stay! Is the spike so low a thing as the rusty spike on the top of a post of an old bedstead that has tumbled all awry? Some vague period of drowsy laughter must be devoted to the consideration of this possibility.
Shaking from head to foot, the man whose scattered consciousness has thus fantastically pieced itself together, at length rises, supports his trembling frame upon his arms, and looks around. He is in the meanest and closest of small rooms.
- the opening paragraph

- A drowsy city, Cloisterham, whose inhabitants seem to suppose, with an inconsistency more strange than rare, that all its changes lie behind it, and that there are no more to come.
p. 23

- the smallest worm will turn, being trodden on
- Shakespeare, Henry VI pt. 3, II.ii.17 (referred to in Edwin Drood, p. 58)

- "So long as a man rides his hobby-horse peacefully and quietly along the king’s Highway, and neither compels you or me to get up behind him, -, pray, Sir, what have either you or I to do with it?"
- Laurence Sterne, Tristam Shandy, vol. I, ch. 7 (referred to in Edwin Drood, p. 237)

- A brilliant morning shines on the old city. Its antiquities and ruins are surpassingly beautiful, with the lusty ivy gleaming in the sun, and the rich trees waving in the balmy air. Changes of glorious light from moving boughs, songs of birds, scents from gardens, woods and fields - or rather, from the one great garden of the whole cultivated island in its yielding time - penetrate into the Cathedral, subdue its earthly odour, and preach the Resurrection and the Life. The cold stone tombs of centuries ago grow warm, and flecks of brightness dart into the sternest marble corners of the building, fluttering there like wings.
- the beginning of the last page of of the first half of Edwin Drood, written by Dickens on the day he died unexpectedly at the age of 58.


The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith

- Mma Ramotswe smiled at her old friend. You can go through life and make new friends every year - every month practically - but there was never any substitute for those friendships of childhood that survive into adult years. Those are the ones in which we are bound to one another with hoops of steel.
She reached out and touched Dr Maketsi on the arm, gently, as old friends will sometimes do when they have nothing more to say.
- David Philip ed., p. 212

- He said nothing. There were times when you simply had to speak, or you would have your lifetime ahead to regret not speaking. But every time he had tried to speak to her of what was in his heart, he had failed. He had already asked her to marry him and that had not been a great success. He did not have a great deal of confidence, at least with people; cars were different, of course.
"I am very happy sitting here with you..."
She turned to him. "What did you say?"
"I said, please marry me, Mma Ramotswe. I am just J.L.B. Matekoni, that’s all, but please marry me and make me happy."
"Of course I will," said Mma Ramotswe.
- the closing paragraph


The Eustace Diamonds, by Anthony Trollope

- It was admitted by all her friends, and also by her enemies - who were in truth the more numerous and active body of the two - that Lizzie Greystock had done very well with herself.
- the opening sentence

- “She looks like a beautiful animal that you are afraid to caress for fear it should bite you; - an animal that would be beautiful if its eyes were not so restless, and its teeth so sharp and so white.”
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 147

- Lady Fawn talked about Parliament, and professed to pity a poor lover who was so bound to his country that he could not see his mistress above once a fortnight. “But there’ll be a good time coming next month,” she said; - for it was near July. “Though the girls can’t make their claims felt, the grouse can.”
- p. 202

- To be alone with a girl to whom he is not engaged, is a man’s delight; - to be alone with the man to whom she is engaged is the woman’s.
- p. 204

- “I daresay the play may be very bad,” she said, “but it can hardly be so bad as real life.”
- p. 505

- Evil-doing will be spoken of with bated breath and soft words even by policemen, when the evil-doer comes in a carriage, and with a title.
- p. 714


Middlemarch, by George Eliot

- The mistakes that we male and female mortals make when we have our own way might fairly raise some wonder that we are so fond of it.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 73

- Mary was fond of her own thoughts, and could amuse herself well sitting in twilight with her hands in her lap; for, having early had strong reason to believe that things were not likely to be arranged for her peculiar satisfaction, she wasted no time in astonishment and annoyance at that fact.
- p. 314

- But it is one thing to like defiance, and another thing to like its consequences.
- p. 462


The Mill on The Floss, by George Eliot

- Mr. Tulliver did not willingly write a letter, and found the relation between spoken and written language, briefly known as spelling, one of the most puzzling things in this puzzling world.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 138

- “Mr. Stelling was ... not quite competent to his high offices; but incompetent gentlemen must live, and without private fortune, it is difficult to see how they could all live genteely if they had nothing to do with education or government.
- p. 178

- The desire to know that one has not looked an absolute fright during a few hours of conversation may be construed as lying within the bounds of a laudable benevolent consideration for others. And Lucy had so much of this benevolence in her nature that I am inclined to think her small egoisms were impregnated with it, just as there are people not altogether unknown to you, whose small benevolences have a predominant and somewhat rank odour of egoism.
- p. 384

- One gets a bad habit of being unhappy.
- p. 388

- The happiest women, like the happiest nations, have no history.
- p. 400

- “You really have enjoyed the music tonight, haven’t you, Maggie?”
“O yes, that is what prevents me from feeling sleepy. I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music. At other times one is conscious of carrying a weight.”
- p. 401

- ‘Character’ - says Novalis, in one of his questionable aphorisms - ‘character is destiny’. But not the whole of our destiny. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, was speculative and irresolute, and we have a great tragedy in consequence. But if his father had lived to a good old age, and his uncle had died an early death, we can conceive Hamlet’s having married Ophelia and got through life with a reputation of sanity notwithstanding many soliloquies, and some moody sarcasms towards the fair daughter of Polonius, to say nothing of the frankest incivility to his father-in-law.
- p. 418

- I should like to know what is the proper function of women if it is not to make reasons for husbands to stay at home and still stronger reasons for bachelors to go out.
- p. 421


Silas Marner, by George Eliot

- You hardly know your own mind enough to make both your legs walk one way.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 72

- Justice Malam was naturally regarded in Tarley and Raveloe as a man of capacious mind, seeing that he could draw much wider conclusions without evidence than could be expected of his neighbours who were not on the Commission of the Peace.
- p. 75

- It seemed surprising that Ben Withrop, who loved his quart-pot and his joke, got along so well with Dolly; but she took her husband’s jokes and joviality as patiently as everything else, considering that ‘men would be so,’ and viewing the stronger sex in the light of animals whom it had pleased Heaven to make naturally troublesome, like bulls and turkey-cocks.
- p. 80

- She actually said ‘mate’ for ‘meat,’ ‘’appen’ for ‘perhaps,’ and ‘oss’ for ‘horse,’ which, to young ladies living in good Lytherly society, who habitually said ’orse, even in domestic privacy, and only said ’appen on the right occasions, was necessarily shocking.
- p. 93

- In old days there were angels who came and took men by the hand and led them away from the city of destruction. We see no white-winged angels now. But yet men are led away from threatening destruction: a hand is put into theirs, which leads them forth gently towards a calm and bright land, so that they look no more backward; and the hand may be a little child’s.
- p. 131


Cancer Ward, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

- The permanent mutter - information you hadn’t asked for alternating with the music you hadn’t chosen (and quite unrelated to the mood you happened to be in) - was a theft of time, a diffusion and an entropy of the spirit, convenient and agreeable to the inert but intolerable to those with initiative. Epicurus’s fool with eternity in hand would probably find listening to the radio the only way to bear it.
- Vintage Classics ed., p. 273

- To Oleg exile was full of laughter and elation, and for that the Kadmins, an old couple he knew, were mainly responsible. The husband, Nikolai Ivanovitch, was a gynaecologist and his wife was called Elena Alexandrovna. Whatever happened to the exiled Kadmins, they kept saying, “Isn’t that fine? Things are so much better than they used to be. How lucky we are to have landed in such a nice part of the world!”
If they managed to get hold of a loaf of white bread - how wonderful! If they found a two-volume edition of Puastovsky in the bookshop - splendid! There was a good film on at the centre that day - marvellous! A dental technician had arrived to provide new dentures - excellent! Another gynaecologist had been sent there, a woman, an exile too - very good! Let her do the gynaecology and the illegal abortions, Nikolai Ivanovitch would take care of the general practice. There’d be less money but more peace of mind. And the sunsets over the steppe, orange, pink, flame-red, crimson and purple - superlative! Nikolai Ivanovitch, a small, slender man with greying hair, would take his wife by the arm (she was plump and growing heavy, partly through ill-health; he was as quick as she was slow) and they would march off solemnly past the last house of the village to watch the sun go down.
- p. 289

- In Ush-Terek in the year 1954, when the hydrogen bomb was already invented and people were chasing after standard lamps in the capital, this paraffin lamp on the round home-made table transformed the little clay hovel into a luxurious drawing-room of two centuries ago. What a triumph! As the three of them sat round it, Elena Alexandrovna would remark with feeling, “You know, Oleg, life is so good. Apart from childhood, these have been the happiest days of my life.”
And obviously she was right. It is not our level of prosperity that makes for happiness but the kinship of heart to heart and the way we look at the world. Both attitudes lie within our power, so that a man is happy as long as he chooses to be happy, and no one can stop him.
- p. 290

- The men in the ward were talking about the exiled minorities. Vadim had raised his head from his geology, looked at Rusanov, shrugged his shoulders and said so quietly that only Rusanov could hear, “There must have been something in it. They wouldn’t exile people for nothing in our country.”
By making such a correct observation Vadim had shown himself a thoroughly intelligent man of unshakeable principles.
- p. 334


Poetry is not the thing said, but the way of saying it.
- A. E. Housman

- The proper study of mankind is man.
- Alexander Pope (Essay on Man II,2)

- The ways of God aren’t as dainty as those of the Bishop of Salisbury.
- J. Cowper Powys, Wolf Solent, Vintage ed., p. 48

- It isn’t till we are old that we begin to tell ourselves we’re not.
- Henry James, The Middle Years, The World’s Classics ed., p. 146

- For evil to triumph it is necessary only for good men to do nothing.
- Edmond Burke

- A man used to vicissitudes is not easily dejected.
- Samuel Johnson

- Few things are impossible to diligence and skill.
- Samuel Johnson

- Being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance off being drowned.
- Samuel Johnson

- Nothing is little to him that feels it with great sensibility.
- Samuel Johnson

- Every man’s affairs, however little, are important to himself.
- Samuel Johnson

- A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good.
- Samuel Johnson

- A young man should read five hours in a day, and so may acquire a good deal of knowledge.
- Samuel Johnson

- I mind my belly very studiously and very carefully, for I look upon it that he who does not mind his belly will hardly mind anything else.
- Samuel Johnson

- The Irish are a fair people : they never speak well of one another.
- Samuel Johnson

- Much may be made of a Scotsman, if he be caught young enough.
- Samuel Johnson

- That fellow seems to me to have but one idea, and that is a wrong one.
- Samuel Johnson

- How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?
- Samuel Johnson

- Intellectual pre-eminence is the highest superiority, and nations derive their highest reputation from the splendour and dignity of their writers.
- Samuel Johnson

- I should, many a good day, have blown my brains out, but for the recollection that it would have given pleasure to my mother-in-law.
- Byron

- Tragedy concerneth a high fellow
- Sydney

- to hear with eyes belongs to love’s fine wit.
- Shakespeare, Sonnet 23

- The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, strategems, and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted.
- Shakespeare, The merchant of Venise V.I. 83-88

- Your spirit has never been content within the narrow confines which nature has imposed on us.
- Cicero to Julius Caesar

- Homo homini deus est (man is a god to man): this is the great practical principle: this is the axis on which revolves the history of the world.
- Ludwig Feuerbach, in The Essence of Christianity

- Suppose a language which has no uncertainty, no whims of idiom, no cumbrous forms, no fitful shimmer of many-hued significance, no hoary archaisms ‘familiar with forgotten years’ - a patent deodorized and non-resonant language which effects the purpose of communication as perfectly and rapidly as algebraic signs. Your language may be a perfect medium of expression to science, but will never express life, which is a great deal more than science.
- George Eliot, in Essays


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain

- Tom was a glittering hero once more - the pet of the old, the envy of the young. His name even went into immortal print, for the village paper magnified him. There were some that believed he would be President, yet, if he escaped hanging.
- The Modern Library ed., p. 172

- Huck was always willing to take a hand in any enterprise that offered entertainment and required no capital, for he had a troublesome superabundance of that sort of time which is not money.
- p. 174


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

- The stars was shining, and the leaves rustled in the woods ever so mournful; and I heard an owl, away off, who-whooing about somebody that was dead, and a whippowill and a dog crying about somebody that was going to die; and the wind was trying to whisper something to me and I couldn’t make out what it was, and so it made the cold shivers run over me. Then away out in the woods I heard that kind of a sound that a ghost makes when it wants to tell about something that’s on its mind and can’t make itself understood, and so can’t rest easy in its grave and has to go about that way every night grieving. I got so down-hearted and scared, I did wish I had some company. Pretty soon a spider went crawling up my shoulder, and I flipped it off and it lit in the candle; and before I could budge it was all shrivelled up. I didn’t need anybody to tell me that that was an awful bad sign and would fetch me some bad luck, so I was scared and most shook the clothes off of me. I got up and turned around in my tracks three times and crossed my breast every time; and then I tied up a little lock of my hair with a thread to keep the witches away. But I hadn’t no confidence. You do that when you’ve lost a horse-shoe that you’ve found, instead of nailing it up over the door, but I hadn’t ever heard anybody say it was any way to keep off bad luck when you’d killed a spider.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 11

- Seemed like I’d die if I couldn’t scratch. Well, I’ve noticed that thing plenty of times since. If you are with the quality, or at a funeral, or trying to go to sleep when you ain’t sleepy - if you are anywheres where it won’t do for you to scratch, why you will itch all over in upwards of a thousand places.
- p. 13


Moby Dick, by Herman Melville

- all other earthly hues - every stately or lovely emblazoning - the sweet tinges of sunset skies and woods - yea and the gilded velvets of butterflies, and the butterfly cheeks of young girls.
- ed. Penguin Classics p. 212)

- Is it that by its indefinitiveness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way?
- p. 212

- Habit - strange thing! what cannot habit accomplish?
- p. 305)

- All men live envelopped in whalebones. All are born with halters round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortels realize the silent, sudden ever-present pents of life.
- p. 306

- So, when on one side you hoist in Locke’s head, you go over that way; but now, on the other side, hoist in Kant’s and you come back again; but in very poor plight. Thus some minds keep for ever trimming bod. Oh ye foolish! throw all those thunder-heads overboard, and then you will float light and bright.
- p. 357

- To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it.
- p. 497


Disgrace, by J.M. Coetzee

- He lives within his income, within his temperament, within his emotional means. Is he happy? By most measurements, yes, he believes he is. However, he has not forgotten the last chorus of Oedipus: "Call no man happy until he is dead".
- Vintage ed., p. 2

- Although he devotes hours of each day to his new discipline, he finds its first premise, as enunciated in the Communications 101 handbook, preposterous: "Human society has created language in order that we may communicate our thoughts, feelings and intentions to each other." His own opinion, which he does not air, is that the origins of speech lie in song, and the origins of song in the need to fill out with sound the overlarge and rather empty human soul.
- p. 3

- He continues to teach because it provides him with a livlihood; also because it teaches him humility, brings it home to him who he is in the world. The irony does not escape him: that the one who comes to teach learns the keenest of lessons, while those who come to learn learn nothing.
- p. 5

- He sighs. The young in one another’s arms, heedless, engrossed in the sensual music. No country, this, for old men. He seems to be spending a lot of time sighing. Regret: a regrettable note on which to go out.
- p. 190


Love and Garbage, by Ivan Klima

- I recently read an article in an American weekly about how fourteen complete idiots incapable of speech had learned "jerkish". That was the name of a language of 225 words, developed in Atlanta for mutual communications between humans and chimpanzees - for there was no doubt, the author of the article believed, that more and more unfortunate creatures would be able to talk to each other in jerkish. It occurred to me immediately that at last a language had been found in which the spirit of our age could speak, and because that language would spread rapidly from pole to pole, to the east and to the west, it would be the language of the future.
- Vintage ed., p. 48

- I was enjoying life, and so I rushed from one experience to another, until I became like some obsessive eater who, out of sheer greed for the next course, is unable to savour the one he is eating.
- p. 50

- I wanted to fall asleep, but I could feel the night creeping around me softly, like a cat out hunting, nothing mattering to it except its intended prey.
- p. 52

- The vision of paradise persists within us, and with it also the vision of togetherness. For in paradise there is no such thing as isolation, man lives there in the company of angels and in the proximity of God. In paradise we shall be ranged in a higher and eternal order, which eludes us on earth, where we are cast, where we are outcast.
- p. 179

- Out of his isolation man can be liberated not only by love but also by hate. Hate is mistakenly regarded as the opposite of love, whereas in reality it stands alongside love and the opposite of both of them is loneliness. We often believe that we are tied to someone by love, and meanwhile we’re only tied to them by hate, which we prefer to loneliness.
Hate will remain with us so long as we do not accept that loneliness is our only possible, or indeed necessary, fate.
- p. 180

- I want to wash up, but she asks me to leave everything and come to her. She’s lying down. I hold her hand. She looks at me, her eyes, as always, draw me into depths where there isn’t room for anything else, for anything except her.
- p. 183

- On the little table by the bed lie a few books. I pick up the one on top - short stories by Borges. I read her one of them. It is about a young man who is crucified for an illicit love affair.
The plot sounds outrageous to our ears, we’ve got used to the notion there’s no such thing as illicit love, or, more accurately, that all’s fair in love.
- p. 183

- Even a person who manages to lie his way through his whole life cannot escape from that one moment of truth, the moment from which there is no escape, from which he cannot lie or buy his way out.
- p. 187

- Kafka endeavored to be honest in his writing, in his profession and in his love. At the same time he realised, or at least suspected, that a person who wants to live honestly chooses torture and renunciation, a monastic life devoted to a single God, and sacrifices everything for it. He could not, at the same time, be an honest writer and an honest lover, let alone husband, even though he longed to be both. For a very brief instant he was deluded into believing that he could manage both, and that was when he wrote most of his works. Every time, however, he saw through the illusion, he froze up, and stopped motionless in torment. He’d then either lay his manuscript aside and never return to it, or sever all his ties and ask his lovers to leave him.
- p. 188

- In his depression he began to reminisce about the years he’d spent in the forced labour camp. Among the prisoners there’d been so many unforgettable characters, who, even in these conditions, were aiming at higher things. Some of them had there, in the camp, received the sacrament of baptism, he himself had secretly baptised a few of them. Thinking back to those days it was clear to him that, in spite of all he’d been through, God’s love had not abandoned mankind. He believed, for just that reason, that he’d spent the best or at least the most meaningful years of his life there.
- p. 197

- The mountain tops were beginning to emerge from the darkness and the sky above them was turning pale. The mountain rose straight up, it towered, virtually eternal, into a sky that was even more eternal, while we mortals, here only for a single winking of the divine eye, have, in our longing to fill our lives, in our longing for ecstasy, filled our brief moment with suffering.
- p. 201


The Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton

- A man must swallow a toad every morning to be sure of not meeting with anything more revolting in the day ahead.
- Chamforth (quoted in The Art of Travel, Hamish Hamilton ed., p. 7)

- Nature was at her most benevolent. It was as if, in creating this small horseshoe bay, she had chosen to atone for her ill-temper in other regions and decided for once to display only her munificence. The trees provided shade and milk, the floor of the sea was lined with shells, the sand was powdery and the colour of sun-ripened wheat, and the air - even in the shade - had enveloping, profound warmth to it so unlike the fragility of northern European heat, always prone to cede, even in midsummer, to a more assertive, proprietary chill
- p. 17

- In another paradox that Des Esseintes would have appreciated, it seems we may best be able to inhabit a place when we are not faced with the additional challenge of having to be there.
- p. 23

- Nowhere is the appeal of the airport more concentrated than in the television screens which hang in rows from terminal ceilings announcing the departure and arrival of flights and whose absence of aesthetic self-consciousness, whose workmanlike casing and pedestrian typefaces, do nothing to disguise their emotional charge or imaginative allure. Tokyo, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Warsaw, Seattle, Rio. The screens bear all the poetic resonance of the last line of James Joyce’s Ulysses: at once a record of where the novel was written and, no less importantly, a symbol of the cosmopolitan spirit behind its composition: ‘Trieste, Zurich, Paris’.
- p. 39

- It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves. The furniture insists that we cannot change because it does not; the domestic setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, but who may not be who we essentially are.
- p. 59

- If we find poetry in the service station and motel, if we are drawn to the airport or train carriage, it is perhaps because, in spite of their architectural compromises and discomforts, in spite of their garish colours and harsh lighting, we implicitly feel that these isolated places offer us a material setting for an alternative to the selfish ease, the habits and confinement of the ordinary, rooted world.
- p. 60

- Humbolt was to be away from Europe for five years. On his return, he settled in Paris and over the next twenty years published a thirty-volume account of his travels entitled ‘Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent’. The length of the work was an accurate measure of Humboldt’s achievements. Surveying these, Ralph Waldo Emerson was to write: “Humboldt was one of those wonders of the world, like Aristotle, like Julius Caesar, like the Admirable Crichton, who appear from time to time as if to show us the possibilities of the human mind, the force and the range of the faculties - a universal man’.
- p. 105

- Humboldt’s early biographer, F.A. Schwarzenberg, subtitled his life of Humboldt ‘What May be Accomplished in a Lifetime’, and summarized the areas of his extraordinary curiosity: ‘1. The knowledge of the earth and its inhabitants. 2. The discovery of the higher laws of nature, which govern the universe, men, animals, plants, and minerals. 3. The discovery of new forms of life. 4. The discovery of territories hitherto but imperfectly known, and their various productions. 5. The acquaintance with new species of the human race - their manners, language and historical traces of their culture.
- p. 107

- Anything I learnt [from my travels] would have to be justified by private benefit rather than by the interest of others. My discoveries would have to enliven me: They would have in some way to prove “life-enhancing”.
The term was Nietzsche’s. In the autumn of 1873, Friedrich Nietzsche composed an essay in which he distinguished between collecting facts like an explorer or academic and using already well-known facts for the sake of inner, psychological enrichment. Unusually for a university professor, he denigrated the former activity and praised the latter. Entitling his essay ‘On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life’, Nietzsche began with the extraordinary assertion that collecting facts in a quasi-scientific way was a sterile pursuit. The real challenge was to use facts to enhance ‘life’. He quoted a sentence from Goethe: ‘I hate everything that merely instructs me without augmenting or directly invigorating my activity’.
- p. 112

- Travel twists our curiosity according to a superficial geographical logic, as superficial as if a university course were to prescribe books according to their size rather than subject matter.
- p. 125

- There are in our existence spots of time,
That with distinct pre-eminence retain
A renovating virtue ...
That penetrates, enables us to mount,
When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen.
- Wordsworth, Ode to Immortality

This belief in small critical moments in nature explains Wordsworth’s unusually specific way of subtitling many of his poems. Foe example, the subtitle of Tintern Abbey, On revisiting the banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798, cites the exact day, month and year to suggest that a few moments in the countryside overlooking a valley could number among the most significant and useful of one’s life, and be as worthy of precise remembrance as a birthday or a wedding.
- p. 154

- We find the Works of Nature still more pleasant, the more they resemble those of Art.
- Joseph Addison, 1712 (quoted in The Art of Travel, p. 212)

- From his interest in beauty and in its possession, Ruskin arrived at five central conclusions. Firstly, that beauty is the result of a complex number of factors that affect the mind psychologically and visually. Second, that humans have an innate tendency to respond to beauty and to desire to possess it. Thirdly, that there are many lower expressions of this desire for possession, including the desire to buy souvenirs and carpets, to carve one’s name in pillars and to take photographs. Fourthly, that there is only one way to possess beauty properly and that is through understanding it, through making ourselves conscious of the factors (psychological and visual) that are responsible for it. And lastly, that the most effective way of pursuing this conscious understanding is by attempting to describe beautiful places through art, through writing or drawing them, irrespective of whether we happen to have any talent for doing so.
- p. 220

- A man is born an artist as a hippopotamus is born a hippopotamus; and you can no more make yourself one than you can make yourself a giraffe.
- John Ruskin (quoted in The Art of Travel, p. 221)

- A tradesman who had studied at the Working Men’s College reported what Ruskin had told him and his fellow students at the end of their course: ‘Now, remember, gentlemen, that I have not been trying to teach you to draw, only to see. Two men are walking through Clare Market, one of them comes out at the other end not a bit wiser than when he went in; the other notices a bit of parsley hanging over the edge of a butter-woman’s basket, and carries away with him images of beauty which in the course of his daily work he incorporates with it for many a day. I want you to see things like these.
- p. 222

- Let two persons go out for a walk; the one a good sketcher, the other having no taste of the kind. Let them go down a green lane. There will be a great difference in the scene as perceived by the two individuals. The one will see a lane and trees; he will perceive the trees to be green, though he will think nothing about it; he will see that the sun shines, and that it has a cheerful effect; and that’s all! But what will the sketcher see? His eye is accustomed to search into the cause of beauty, and penetrate the minutest parts of loveliness. He looks up, and observes how the showery and sub-divided sunshine comes sprinkled down among the gleaming leaves overhead, till the air is filled with the emerald light. He will see here and there a bough emerging from the veil of leaves, he will see the jewel brightness of the emerald moss and the variegated and fantastic lichens, white and blue, purple and red, all mellowed and mingled into a single garment of beauty. Then come the cavernous trunks and the twisted roots that grasp with their snake-like coils at the steep bank, whose turfy slope is inlaid with flowers of a thousand dyes. Is not this worth seeing? Yet if you are not a sketcher you will pass along the green lane, and when you come home again, have nothing to say or to think about it, but that you went down such and such a lane.
- John Ruskin (quoted in The Art of Travel, p. 230)

- The sole cause of a man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.
- Pascal, Pensées, 136 (quoted in The Art of Travel, p. 243)


Little Dorrit, by Charles Dickens

- There was people of pretty well all sorts of trades you could name, all wanting to work, and not able to get it. There was old people, after working all their lives, going and being shut up in the Workhouse, much worse fed and lodged and treated altogether than - Mr. Plornish said manufacturers, but appeared to mean malefactors. Why, a man didn’t know where to turn himself, for a crumb of comfort. As to who was to blame for it, Mr. Plornish didn’t know who was to blame for it. He could tell you who suffered, but he couldn’t tell you whose fault it was. (*) It wasn’t his place to find out, and who’d mind what he said, if he did find out? He only know’d that it wasn’t put right by them what undertook that line of business and that it didn’t come right of itself. And in brief his illogical opinion was, that if you couldn’t do nothing for him, you had better take nothing from him for doing of it; so far as he could make out, that was about what it come to.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 158
(*) the initial title for Little Dorrit was Nobody’s Fault

- The last of the Patriarchs had always been a mighty eater, and he disposed of an immense quantity of solid food with the benignity of a good soul who was feeding someone else.
- p. 173

- Mr. Planks, who was always in a hurry, and who referred at intervals to a little dirty note-book which he kept beside him (perhaps containing the names of the defaulters he meant to look up by way of dessert), took in his victuals with a good deal of noise, a good deal of dropping about, and a puff and a snort occasionally, as if he were nearly ready to steam away.
- p. 173

- ‘We don’t know,’ said Clenham, almost in the tone of a man in pain, ‘that he will not make her happy.’
‘We don’t know,’ returned his partner, ‘that the earth will last another hundred years, but we think it highly probable.’
- p. 327

- ‘If John Barnacle,’ said Mrs. Gowan after the degeneracy of the times had been fully ascertained, ‘if John Barnacle had but abandoned his most unfortunate idea of conciliating the mob, all would have been well, and I think the country would have been preserved.’
The old lady with the high nose assented, but added that if August Stilkstocking had in a general way ordered the cavalry out with instructions to charge, she thought the country would have been preserved.
The noble Refrigerator assented, but added that if William Barnacle and Tudor Siltstocking, when they came over to one another and formed their ever memorable coalition, had boldly muzzled the newspapers, and rendered it penal for any Editor-person to presume to discuss the conduct of any appointed authority abroad or at home, he thought the country would have been preserved.
- p. 333

- A tranquil summer sunset shone upon him as he approached the end of his walk, and passed through the meadows by the river-side. He had that sense of peace, and of being lightened of a weight of care, which country quiet awakens in the dwellers in towns. Everything within his view was lovely and placid. The rich foliage of the trees, the luxuriant grass diversified with wild flowers, the little green islands in the river, the beds of rushes, the water-lilies floating on the surface of the stream, the distant voices in boats borne musically towards him on the ripple of the water and the evening air, were all expressive of rest. In the occasional leap of fish, or dip of an oar, or twittering of a bird not yet at roost, or distant barking of a dog, or lowing of a cow - in all such sounds, there was the prevailing breath of rest, which seemed to encompass him in every scent that sweetened the fragrant air. The long lines of red and gold in the sky, and the glorious track of the descending sun, were all divinely calm. Upon the purple tree-tops far away, and on the open height near at hand up which the shades were slowly creeping, there was an equal hush. Between the real landscape and its shadow in the water, there was no division ; both were so untroubled and clear, and, while so fraught with solemn mystery of life and death, so hopefully reassuming to the gazer’s soothed heart, because so tenderly and mercifully beautiful.
- p. 353

- For a gentleman who had this splendid work [to coin money] cut out for him, Mr. Merdle looked a little common, and rather as if, in the course of his vast transactions, he had accidentally made an interchange of heads with some inferior spirit. He presented himself before the two ladies in the course of a dismal stroll through his mansion, which had no apparent object but escape from the presence of the chief butler.
- p. 417

- He came in, and stood looking out at a distant window, with his hands crossed under his uneasy coat-cuffs, clasping his wrists as if he were taking himself into custody. In this attitude he fell into a reverie, from which he was only aroused by his wife’s calling to him from her ottoman, where they had been for some quarter-of-an-hour alone.
‘Eh? Yes?’ said Mr. Merdle, turning towards her. ‘What is it?’
‘What is it?’ repeated Mrs. Merdle. ‘’It is, I suppose, that you have not heard a word of my complaint.’
‘Your complaint, Mrs Merdle?’ said Mr. Merdle. ‘I didn’t know that you were suffering from a complaint. What complaint?’
‘A complaint of you,’ said Mrs. Merdle.
‘Oh! A complaint of me,’ said Mr. Merdle. ‘What is the - what have I - what may you have to complain in me, Mrs Merdle?’
In his withdrawing, abstracted, pondering way, it took him some time to shape this question. As a kind of faint attempt to convince himself that he was the master of the house, he concluded by presenting his forefinger to the parrot, who expressed his opinion on that subject by instantly driving his bill into it.
- p. 417

- Am I not a man and a brother?
- Motto on the border of a 1768 Wedgwood medallion, representing a negro in chains (referred to in Little Dorrit, p. 447)

- Mrs General was the daughter of a clerical dignitary in a cathedral town, where she had led the fashion until she was as near forty-five as a single lady can be.
- p.471

- There is no playing fast and loose with the truth, in any game, without growing the worse for it.
- p. 511

- Love lives in cottages as well as courts.
- p. 526 (English proverb)

- Thought is free.
- p. 554 (English proverb)

- All people knew (or thought they knew) that he had made himself immensely rich, and, for that reason alone, prostrated themselves before him more degradedly and less excusably than the darkest savage creeps out of his hole in the ground to propitiate, in some log or reptile, the Deity of his benighted soul.
- p. 581

- And now, fragments of ruinous enclosure, yawning window-gap and crazy wall, deserted houses, leaking wells, broken water-tanks, spectral cypress-trees, patches of tangled vine, and the changing of the track to a long, irregular, disordered lane, where everything was crumbling away, from the unsightly buildings to the jolting road - now, these objects showed that they were nearing Rome.
- p. 666

- He who touches pitch will be defiled.
- English proverb (referred to in Little Dorrit, p. 839)

- Mr Meagles went upon this pilgrimage, and encountered a number of adventures. Not the least of his difficulties was, that he never knew what was said to him, and that he pursued his enquiries among people who never knew what he said to them. Still, with an unshaken confidence that the English tongue was somehow the mother tongue of the whole world, only the people were too stupid to know it, Mr. Meagles harangued innkeepers in the most voluble manner, entered into loud explanations of the most complicated sort, and utterly renounced replies in the native language of the respondents, on the ground that they were all ‘bosh’.
- p. 840

- Every failure teaches a man something, if he will learn.
- p. 856

- They went quietly down into the roaring streets, inseparable and blessed; and as they passed along in sunshine and in shade, the noisy and the eager, and the arrogant and the froward and the vain, fretted, and chafed, and made their usual uproar.
- the closing sentence


A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

- It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
- the opening paragraph

- “I wonder,” said Mr. Lorry, pausing in his looking about, “that he keeps that reminder of his sufferings by him!”
“And why wonder at that?” was the abrupt inquiry that made him start.
It proceeded from Miss Pross, the wild red woman, strong of hand, whose acquaintance he had first made at the Royal George Hotel at Dover, and had since improved.
“I should have thought -“ Mr. Lorry began.
“Pooh! You’d have thought!” said Miss Pross; and Mr. Lorry left off.
“How do you do?” inquired that lady then - sharply, and yet as if to express that she bore him no malice.
“I am pretty well, I thank you,” answered Mr. Lorry, with meekness, “how are you?”
“Nothing to boast of, “ said Miss Pross.
“Indeed?”
“Ah, indeed!” said Miss Pross. “I am very much put out about my Ladybird.”
“Indeed?”
“For gracious sake, say something else beside ‘indeed’, or you’ll fidget me to death” said Miss Pross: whose character (dissociated from stature) was shortness.
“Really, then?” said Mr. Lorry as an amendment.
“Really, is bad enough,” returned Miss Pross, “but better. Yes, I am very much put out.”
“May I ask the cause?”
“I don’t want dozens of people who are not at all worthy of Ladybird, to come here looking after her,” said Miss Pross.
Do dozens come for that purpose?”
“Hundreds,” said Miss Pross.
It was characteristic of this lady (as of some other people before her time and since) that whenever her original proposition was questioned, she exaggerated it.
“Dear me!” said Mr. Lorry, as the safest remark he could think of.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 98

- “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”
- the closing sentence


Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

- Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea. My first most vivid and broad impression of the identity of things, seems to me to have been gained on a memorable raw afternoon towards evening. At such a time I found out for certain, that this bleak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard; and that Philip Pirrip, late of this parish, and also Georgina wife of the above, were dead and buried; and that Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias, and Roger, infant children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; and that the dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykes and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the marshes; and that the low leaden line beyond, was the river; and that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea; and that the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip.
- Penguin Classics ed., page 1

- “Hold your noise!” cried a terrible voice, as a man started up from among the graves at the side of the church porch. “Keep still, you little devil, or I’ll cut your throat!”
A fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg. A man with no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied round his head. A man who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; who limped, and shivered, and glared and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized me by the chin.
“O! Don’t cut my throat, sir,” I pleaded in terror. “Pray don’t do it, sir.”
- p. 2

- “Drat that boy,” interposed my sister, frowning at me over her work, “what a questioner he is. Ask no questions, and you’ll be told no lies.”
It was not very polite to herself, I thought, to imply that I should be told lies by her, even if I did ask questions. But she never was polite, unless there was company.
- p. 14

- In a word, I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong. I had had no intercourse with the world at that time, and I imitated none of its many inhabitants who act in this manner. Quite an untaught genius, I made the discovery of the line of action for myself.
- p. 41

- One night, I was sitting in the chimney corner with my slate, expending great effort on the production of a letter to Joe. I think it must have been a full year after our hunt upon the marshes, for it was a long time after, and it was winter and a hard frost. With an alphabet on the hearth at my feet for reference, I contrived in an hour or two to print and smear this epistle:
“mI deEr JO i opE U r krWitE wEll i opE i shAl soN B haBelL 4 2 teeDge U JO aN theN wE shOrl b sO glOdd aN wEn i M preNgtD 2 u JO woT larX an blEvE ME inF xn PiP.”
There was no indispensable necessity for my communicating with Joe by letter, inasmuch as he sat beside me and we were alone. But, I delivered this written communication (slate and all) with my own hand, and Joe received it as a miracle of erudition.
“I say, Pip, old chap!” cried Joe, opening his blue eyes wide, “what a scholar you are! An’t you?”
“I should like to be,” said I, glancing at the slate as he held it: with a misgiving that the writing was rather hilly.
- p. 44

- Though she called me “boy” so often, and with a carelessness that was far from complimentary, she was of about my own age. She seemed much older than I, of course, being a girl, and beautiful and self-possessed; and she was as scornful of me as if she had been one-and-twenty, and a queen.
- p. 56

- “Look at me,” said Miss Havisham. “You are not afraid of a woman who has never seen the sun since you were born?”
I regret to state that I was not afraid of telling the enormous lie comprehended in the answer “No”.
- p. 58

- My sister’s bringing up had made me sensitive. In the little world in which children have their existence whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt, as injustice. It may be only small injustice that the child can be exposed to; but the child is small, and its world is small, and its rocking-horse stands as many hands high, according to scale, as a big-boned Irish hunter.
- p. 63

- In a by-yard there was a wilderness of empty casks, which had a certain sour remembrance of better days lingering about them; but it was too sour to be accepted as a sample of the beer that was gone - and in this respect I remember those recluses as being like most others.
- p. 63

- “Do you want to be a gentleman, to spite her or to gain her over?” Biddy quietly asked me, after a pause.
“I don’t know,” I moodily answered.
”Because, if it is to spite her,” Biddy pursued, “I should think - but you know best - that might be better and more independently done by caring nothing for her words. And if it is to gain her over, I should think - but you know best - she was not worth gaining over.”
Exactly what I myself had thought, many times. Exactly what was perfectly manifest to me at the moment. But how could I, a poor dazed village lad, avoid that wonderful inconsistency into which the best and wisest of men fall every day?
- p. 129

- We Britons had at that time particularly settled that it was treasonable to doubt our having and our being the best of everything: otherwise, while I was scared by the immensity of London, I think I might have had some faint doubts whether it was not rather ugly, crooked, narrow and dirty.
- p. 163

- “Is it a very wicked place?” I asked, more for the sake of saying something than for information.
“You may get cheated, robbed and murdered in London. But there are plenty of people anywhere, who’ll do that for you”.
“If there is bad blood between you and them” said I, to soften it off a little.
“Oh, I don’t know about bad blood” returned Mr. Wemmick, “there’s not much bad blood about. They’ll do it, if there’s anything to be got by it.”
“That makes it worse”.
You think so?” returned Mr. Wemmick. “Much about the same, I should say.”
- p. 172

- Herbert Pocket had a frank and easy way with him that was very taking. I had never seen anyone then, and I have never seen anyone since, who more strongly expressed to me, in every look and tone, a natural incapacity to do anything secret and mean. There was something wonderfully hopeful about his general air, and something that at the same time whispered to me he would never be very successful or rich.
- p. 178

- Her father was a country gentleman down in your part of the world, and was a brewer. I don’t know why it should be a crack thing to be a brewer; but it is indispensable that while you cannot possible be genteel and bake, you may be as genteel as never was and brew. You see it every day.
- p. 179

- “Take another glass of wine, and excuse my mentioning that society as a body does not expect one to be so strongly conscientious in emptying one’s glass, as to turn it bottom upwards with the rim on one’s nose.”
- p. 180

- But that he was not to be, without ignorance or prejudice, mistaken for a gentleman, my father most strongly asseverates; because it is a principle of his that no man who was not a gentleman at heart ever was, since the world began, a true gentleman in manner. He says, no varnish can hide the grain of the wood; and that the more varnish you put on, the more the grain will express itself.
- p. 181

- Lifting the latch of a gate, we passed direct into a little garden overlooking the river, where Mr. Pocket’s children were playing about. And unless I deceive myself on a point where my interests or prepossessions are certainly not concerned, I saw that Mr. and Mrs Pocket’s children were not growing up or being brought up, but were tumbling up.
- p. 186

- “Master Alick and Miss Jane,” cried one of the nurses to two of the children, “if you go a bouncing up against them bushes you’ll fall over into the river and be drownded, and what’ll your pa say then!”
- p. 186

- The punch being very nice, we sat there drinking it and talking, until it was almost nine o’clock...The interval between that time and supper, Wemmick devoted to showing me his collection of curiosities.
- p. 208

- All other swindlers upon earth are nothing to the self-swindlers.
- p. 225

- The unqualified truth is, that when I loved Estella with the love of a man, I loved her simply because I found her irresistible. Once for all, I knew to my sorrow, often and often, if not always, that I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be. Once for all; I loved her none the less because I knew it, and it had no more influence in restraining me, than if I had devoutly believed her to be human perfection.
- p. 232

- I’ll tell you,” said she, in the same hurried, passionate whisper, “what real love is. It is blind devotion, unquestioning self-humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against yourself and against the whole world, giving up your whole heart and soul to the soul to the smiter - as I did!
- p. 240

- Still my position was a distinguished one, and I was not at all dissatisfied with it, until Fate threw me in the way of that unlimited miscreant, Trabb’s boy.
Casting my eyes along the street at a certain point of my progress, I beheld Trabb’s boy approaching, lashing himself with an empty blue bag. Deeming that a serene and unconscious contemplation of him would best beseem me, and would be most likely to quell his evil mind, I advanced with that expression of countenance, and was rather congratulating myself on my success, when suddenly the knees of Trabb’s boy smote together, his hair uprose, his cap fell off, he trembled violently in every limb, staggered out into the road, and crying to the populace, “Hold me! I’m so frightened!” feigned to be in a paroxysm of terror and contrition, occasioned by the dignity of my appearance. As I passed him, his teeth loudly chattered in his head, and with every mark of extreme humiliation, he prostrated himself in the dust.
This was a hard thing to bear, but this was nothing. I had not advanced another two hundred yards, when, to my inexpressible terror, amazement, and indignation, I again beheld Trabb’s boy approaching. He was coming round a narrow corner. His blue bag was slung over his shoulder, honest industry beamed in his eyes, a determination to proceed to Trabb’s with cheerful briskness was indicated in his gait. With a shock he became aware of me, and was severely visited as before, but this time his motion was rotatory, and he staggered round and round me with knees more afflicted, and with uplifted hands as if beseeching for mercy. His sufferings were hailed with the greatest joy by a knot of spectators, and I felt utterly confounded.
I had not got as much further down the street as the post-office, when I again beheld Trabb’s boy shooting round by a back way. This time, he was entirely changed. He wore the blue bag in the manner of my great-coat, and was strutting along the pavement towards me on the opposite side of the street, attended by a company of delighted young friends to whom he from time to time exclaimed with a wave of his hand, “Don’t know yah!” Words cannot state the amount of aggravation and injury wreaked upon me by Trabb’s boy, when, passing abreast of me, he pulled up his shirt-collar, twined his side-hair, struck an arm akimbo, and smirked extravagantly by, wriggling his elbows and body, and drawling to his attendants, “Don’t know yah, don’t know yah, pon my soul don’t know yah!”. The disgrace attendant on his immediately afterwards taking to crowing and pursuing me across the bridge with crows, as from an exceedingly dejected fowl who had known me when I was a blacksmith, culminated the disgrace with which I left the town, and was, so to speak, ejected by it into the open country.
- p. 245

- The bill paid, and the waiter remembered, and the ostler not forgotten, and the chambermaid taken into consideration - in a word, the whole house bribed into a state of contempt and animosity, and Estella’s purse much lightened - we got into our post-coach and drove away.
- p. 268

- at about two o’clock in the morning, he became so deeply despondent again as to talk of buying a rifle and going to America, with a general purpose of compelling buffaloes to make his fortune.
- p. 273

- We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as people could make up their minds to give us. We were always more or less miserable, and most of our acquaintance were in the same condition. There was a gay fiction among us that we were constantly enjoying ourselves, and a skeleton truth that we never did. To the best of my belief, our case was in the last aspect a rather common one.
- p. 274

- The Aged prepared such a haystack of buttered toast, that I could scarcely see him over it as it simmered on an iron stand hooked on to the top-bar; while Miss Skiffins brewed such a jorum of tea, that the pig in the back premises became strongly excited, and repeatedly expressed his desire to participate in the entertainment.
- p. 296

- And could I look upon her without compassion, seeing her punishment in the ruin she was, in her profound unfitness for this earth on which she was placed, in the vanity of sorrow which had become a master mania, like the vanity of penitence, the vanity of remorse, the vanity of unworthiness, and other monstrous vanities that have been curses in this world?
- p. 399

- But they were both happily relieved by the opportune appearance of Mike, the client with the fur caps and the habit of wiping his nose on his sleeve, whom I had seen on the very first day of my appearance within these walls. This individual, who, either in his own person or in that of some member of his family, seemed to be always in trouble (which in that place meant Newgate), called to announce that his eldest daughter was taken up on suspicion of shoplifting. As he imparted this melancholy circumstance to Wemmick, Mr. Jaggers standing magisterially before the fire and taking no share in the proceedings, Mike’s eye happened to twinkle with a tear.
“What are you about?” demanded Wemmick, with the utmost indignation. “What do you come snivelling here for?”
“I didn’t go to do it, Mr. Wemmick.”
“You did,” said Wemmick. “How dare you? You’re not in a fit state to come here, if you can’t come here without spluttering like a bad pen. What do you mean by it?”
“A man can’t help his feelings, Mr. Wemmick” pleaded Mike.
“His what?” demanded Wemmick quite savagely. “Say that again!”
“Now, look here my man,” said Mr. Jaggers, advancing a step, and pointing to the door. “Get out of this office. I’ll have no feelings here. Get out.”
“It serves you right,” said Wemmick, “Get out.”
So the unfortunate Mike very humbly withdrew, and Mr. Jaggers and Wemmick appeared to have re-established their good understanding, and went to work again with an air of refreshment upon them as if they had just had lunch.
- p. 415


Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens

- Mr. Podsnap was well to do, and stood very high in Mr. Podsnap’s opinion. Beginning with a good inheritance, he had married a good inheritance, and had thriven exceedingly in the Marine Insurance way, and was quite satisfied. He never could make out why everybody was not quite satisfied, and he felt conscious that he set a brilliant social example in being particularly well satisfied with most things, and, above all, with himself.
Thus happily acquainted with his own merit and importance, Mr. Podsnap settled that whatever he put behind him he put out of existence. There was a dignified conclusiveness - not to add a grand convenience - in this way of getting rid of disagreeables which had done much towards establishing Mr. Podsnap in his lofty place in Mr. Podsnap’s satisfaction. “I don’t want to know about it; I don’t choose to discuss it; I don’t admit it!” Mr. Podsnap had even acquired a peculiar flourish of his right arm in often clearing the world of its most difficult problems, by sweeping them behind him (and consequently sheer away) with those words and a flushed face. For they affronted him.
Mr. Podsnap’s world was not a very large world, morally; no, nor ever geographically: seeing that although his business was sustained upon commerce with other countries, he considered other countries, with that important reservation, a mistake, and of their manners and customs would conclusively observe, “Not English!” when, Presto! With a flourish of the arm, and a flush of the face, they were swept away.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 131

- The wind sawed, and the sawdust whirled. The shrubs wrung their many hands, bemoaning that they had been over-persuaded by the sun to bud; the young leaves pined; the sparrows repented of their early marriages, like men and women; the colours of the rainbow were discernable, not in floral spring, but in the faces of the people whom it nibbled and pinched. And ever the wind sawed, and the sawdust whirled.
- p. 147

- “This is not a flowery neighbourhood. It’s anything but that. And yet as I sit at work, I smell miles of flowers. I smell roses, till I think I see the rose-leaves lying in heaps, bushels, on the floor. I smell fallen leaves, till I put down my hand - so - and expect to make them rustle. I smell the white and the pink May in the hedges, and all sorts of flowers that I never was among. For I have seen very few flowers indeed, in my life.”
“Pleasant fancies to have, Jenny dear!” said her friend: with a glance towards Eugene as if she would have asked him whether they were given the child in compensation for her losses.
“So I think, Lizzie, when they come to me. And the birds I hear! Oh!” cried the little creature, holding out her hand and looking upward, “how they sing!”
There was something in the face and action for the moment, quite inspired and beautiful. Then the chin dropped musingly upon the hand again.
“I dare say my birds sing better than other birds, and my flowers smell better than other flowers. For when I was a little child,” in a tone as though it were ages ago, “the children that I used to see early in the morning were very different from any others that I ever saw. They were not like me; they were not chilled, anxious, ragged or beaten; they were never in pain. They were not like the children of the neighbours; they never made me tremble all over, by setting up shrill noises, and they never mocked me. Such numbers of them too! All in white dresses, and with something shining on the borders, and on their heads, that I have never been able to imitate with my work, though I know it so well. They used to come down in long bright slanting rows, and say all together, ‘Who is this in pain! Who is this in pain!’ When I told them who it was, they answered, ‘Come and play with us!’ When I said ‘I never play! I can’t play!’ they swept about me and took me up, and made me light. Then it was all delicious ease and rest till they laid me down and said, all together, ‘Have patience, and we will come again.’ Whenever they came back, I used to know they were coming before I saw the long bright rows, by hearing them ask, all together a long way off, ‘Who is this in pain! Who is this in pain!’ And I used to cry out, ‘O my blessed children, it’s poor me. Have pity on me. Take me up and make me light!’”
- p. 238

- A man stumbled against him as he turned away, who mumbled some maudlin apology. Looking after this man, Eugene saw him go in at the door by which he himself had just come out.
On the man’s stumbling into the room, Lizzie rose to leave it.
“Don’t go away, Miss Hexam,” he said in a submissive manner, speaking thickly and with difficulty. “Don’t fly from unfortunate man in shattered state of health. Give poor invalid honor of your company. It ain’t - ain’t catching.”
Lizzie murmured that she had something to do in her own room, and went away upstairs.
“How’s my Jenny?” said the man, timidly. “How’s my Jenny Wren, best of children, object dearest affections broken-hearted invalid?”
To which the person of the house, stretching out her arm in an attitude of command, replied with irresponsive asperity: “Go along with you! Go along into your corner! Get into your corner directly!”
The wretched spectacle made as if he would have offered some remonstrance, but not venturing to resist the person of the house, thought better of it, and went and sat down on a particular chair of disgrace.
“Oh-h-h!” cried the person of the house, pointing her little finger, “You bad old boy! Oh-h-h you naughty, wicked creature! What do you mean by it?”
The shaking figure, unnerved and disjointed from head to foot, put out its two hands a little way, as making overtures of peace and reconciliation. Abject tears stood in its eyes, and stained the blotched red of its cheeks. The swollen lead-coloured under lip trembled with a shameful whine. The whole indecorous threadbare ruin, from the broken shoes to the prematurely-grey scanty hair, grovelled. Not with any sense worthy to be called a sense, of this dire reversal of the places of parent and child, but in a pitiful expostulation to be let off from a scolding.
I know your tricks and your manners,” cried Miss Wren. “Í know where you’ve been to!” (which indeed it did not require discernment to discover). “Oh, you disgraceful old chap!”
The very breathing of the figure was contemptible, as it laboured and rattled in that operation, like a blundering clock.
“Slave, slave, slave, from morning to night,” pursued the person of the house, “and all for this! What do you mean by it?”
There was something in that emphasized “What,” which absurdly frightened the figure. As often as the person of the house worked her way round to it - even as soon as he saw that it was coming - he collapsed in an extra degree.
“I wish you had been taken up, and locked up,” said the person of the house. “I wish you had been poked into cells and black holes, and run over by rats and spiders and beetles. I know their tricks and their manners, and they’d have tickled you nicely. Ain’t you ashamed of yourself?”
“Yes, my dear,” stammered the father.
“Then,” said the person of the house, terrifying him by a grand muster of her spirits and forces before recurring to the emphatic word, “What do you mean by it?”
“Circumstances over which had no control,” was the miserable creature’s plea in extenuation.
I’ll circumstance you and control you too,” retorted the person of the house, speaking with vehement sharpness, “if you talk in that way. I’ll give you in charge to the police, and have you fined five shillings when you can’t pay, and then I won’t pay the money for you, and you’ll be transported for life. How should you like to be transported for life?”
“Shouldn’t like it. Poor shattered invalid. Trouble nobody long,” cried the wretched figure.
“Come, come!” said the person of the house, tapping the table near her in a business-like manner, and shaking her head and her chin; “you know what you’ve got to do. Put down your money this instant.”
- p. 239

- The doctor came in too, to see how it fared with Johnny. And he and Rokesmith stood together, looking down with compassion on him.
“What is it, Johnny?” Rokesmith was the questioner, and put an arm around the poor baby as he made a struggle.
“Him!” said the little fellow. “Those!”
The doctor was quick to understand children, and, taking the horse, the ark, the yellow bird, and the man in the Guards, from Johnny’s bed, softly placed them on that of his next neighbour, the mite with the broken leg.
With a weary and yet a pleased smile, and with an action as if he stretched his little figure out to rest, the child heaved his body on the sustaining arm, and seeking Rokesmith’s face with his lips said:
“A kiss for the boofer lady”.
Having now bequeathed all he had to dispose of, and arranged his affairs in this world, Johnny, thus speaking, left it.
- p. 327

- Pleasant Riderhood had it, in the blood, or had been trained, to regard seamen, within certain limits, as her prey. Show her a man in a blue jacket, and, figuratively speaking, she pinned him instantly. Yet all things considered, she was not of an evil mind or an unkindly disposition. For, observe how many things were to be considered according to her own unfortunate experience. Show Pleasant Riderhood a Wedding in the street, and she only saw two people taking out a regular license to quarrel and fight. Show her a Christening, and she saw a little heathen personage having a quite superfluous name bestowed upon it, inasmuch as it would be commonly addressed by some abusive epithet: which little personage was not in the least wanted by anybody, and would be shoved and banged out of everybody’s way, until it should grow big enough to shove and bang. Show her a Funeral, and she saw an unremunerative ceremony in the nature of a black masquerade, conferring a temporary gentility on the performers, at an immense expense, and representing the only formal party ever given by the deceased. Show her a live father, and she saw but a duplicate of her own father, who from her infancy had been taken with fits and starts of discharging his duty to her, which duty was always incorporated in the form of a fist or leather strap, and being discharged hurt her. All things considered, therefore, Pleasant Riderhood was not so very, very bad. There was even a touch of romance in her - of such romance as could creep into Limehouse Hole - and maybe sometimes of a summer evening, when she stood with folded arms at her shop-door, looking from the reeking street to the sky where the sun was setting, she may have had some vaporous visions of far-off islands in the southern seas or elsewhere (not being geographically particular), where it would be good to roam with a congenial partner among groves of bread-fruit, waiting for ships to be wafted from the hollow ports of civilization. For, sailors to be got the better of, were essential to Miss Pleasant’s Eden.
- p. 345

- A grey dusty withered evening in London city has not a hopeful aspect. The closed warehouses and offices have an air of death about them, and the national dread of colour has an air of mourning. The towers and steeples of the many house-encompassed churches, dark and dingy as the sky that seems descending on them, are no relief to the general gloom; a sun-dial on a church-wall has the look, in its useless black shade, of having failed in its business enterprise and stopped payment for ever; melancholy waifs and strays of house-keepers and porters sweep melancholy waifs and strays of papers and pins into the kennels, and other more melancholy waifs and strays explore them, searching and stooping and poking for anything to sell. The set of humanity outward from the City is as a set of prisoners departing from gaol, and dismal Newgate seems quite as fit a stronghold for the mighty Lord Mayor as his own state-dwelling.
- p. 386

- Taking her eyes off her newspaper, and pausing with a suspended expression of countenance, as if she must finish the paragraph in hand before undertaking any other business whatever, Miss Abbey demanded, with some slight asperity: “Now then, what’s for you?”
“Could we see Miss Potterson?” asked the old man, uncovering his head.
“You not only could, but you can and you do,” replied the hostess.
- p. 433

- What to believe, in the course of his reading, was Mr. Boffin’s chief literary difficulty indeed; for some time he was divided in his mind between half, all, or none; at length, when he decided, as a moderate man, to compound with half, the question still remained, which half? And that stumbling-block he never got over.
- p. 470

- Most illogical, inconsequential, and light-handed this; but travellers in the valley of the shadow of death are apt to be light-headed; and worn-out old people of low estate have a trick of reasoning as indifferently as they live, and doubtless would appreciate our Poor Law more philosophically on a income of ten thousand a year.
- p. 504

- But, for all that, they had a very pleasant walk. The trees were bare of leaves, and the river was bare of water lilies; but the sky was not bare of its beautiful blue, and the water reflected it, and a delicious wind ran with the stream, touching the surface crisply. Perhaps the old mirror was never yet made by human hands, which, if all the images it has in its time reflected could pass across its surface again, would fail to reveal some scene of horror or distress. But the great serene mirror of the river seemed as if it might have reproduced all it had ever reflected between those placid banks, and brought nothing to the light save what was peaceful, pastoral, and blooming.
- p. 514

- “You charm me, Mortimer, with your reading of my weaknesses. (By-the-by, that very word, Reading, in its critical use, always charms me. An actress’s Reading of a chambermaid, a dancer’s Reading of a hornpipe, a singer’s Reading of a song, a marine-painter’s Reading of the sea, the kettle-drum’s Reading of an instrumental passage, are phrases ever youthful and delightful.)”
- p. 532

- “I reflected - clearly reflected for the first time - that in bending my neck to the yoke I was willing to wear, I bent the unwilling necks of the whole Jewish people. For it is not, in Christian countries, with the Jews as with other peoples. Men say, ‘This is a bad Greek, but there are good Greeks. This is a bad Turk, but there are good Turks.’ Not so with the Jews. Men find the bad among us easily enough - among what peoples are the bad not easily found? - but they take the worst of us as samples of the best; they take the lowest of us as presentations of the highest; and they say ‘All Jews are alike.’ If, doing what I was content to do here, because I was grateful for the past and have small need of money now, I had been a Christian, I could have done it, compromising no one but my individual self. But doing it as a Jew, I could not choose but compromise the Jews of all conditions and all countries.
- p. 707”


The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by Charles Dickens

- An ancient English Cathedral town? How can the ancient English Cathedral town be here? The well-known massive grey square tower of its old cathedral? How can that be here! There is no spike of rusty iron in the air, between the eye and it, from any point of the real prospect. What is the spike that intervenes, and who has it set up? Maybe, it is set up by the Sultan’s orders for the impaling of a horde of Turkish robbers, one by one. It is so, for cymbals clash, and the Sultan goes by to his palace in long procession. Ten thousand scimitars flash in the sunlight, and thrice ten thousand dancing-girls strew flowers. Then, follow white elephants caparisoned in countless gorgeous colours, and infinite in number and attendants. Still, the Cathedral tower rises in the background, where it cannot be, and still no writhing figure is on the grim spike. Stay! Is the spike so low a thing as the rusty spike on the top of a post of an old bedstead that has tumbled all awry? Some vague period of drowsy laughter must be devoted to the consideration of this possibility.
Shaking from head to foot, the man whose scattered consciousness has thus fantastically pieced itself together, at length rises, supports his trembling frame upon his arms, and looks around. He is in the meanest and closest of small rooms.
- the opening paragraph

- A drowsy city, Cloisterham, whose inhabitants seem to suppose, with an inconsistency more strange than rare, that all its changes lie behind it, and that there are no more to come.
p. 23

- the smallest worm will turn, being trodden on
- Shakespeare, Henry VI pt. 3, II.ii.17 (referred to in Edwin Drood, p. 58)

- "So long as a man rides his hobby-horse peacefully and quietly along the king’s Highway, and neither compels you or me to get up behind him, -, pray, Sir, what have either you or I to do with it?"
- Laurence Sterne, Tristam Shandy, vol. I, ch. 7 (referred to in Edwin Drood, p. 237)

- A brilliant morning shines on the old city. Its antiquities and ruins are surpassingly beautiful, with the lusty ivy gleaming in the sun, and the rich trees waving in the balmy air. Changes of glorious light from moving boughs, songs of birds, scents from gardens, woods and fields - or rather, from the one great garden of the whole cultivated island in its yielding time - penetrate into the Cathedral, subdue its earthly odour, and preach the Resurrection and the Life. The cold stone tombs of centuries ago grow warm, and flecks of brightness dart into the sternest marble corners of the building, fluttering there like wings.
- the beginning of the last page of of the first half of Edwin Drood, written by Dickens on the day he died unexpectedly at the age of 58.


The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith

- Mma Ramotswe smiled at her old friend. You can go through life and make new friends every year - every month practically - but there was never any substitute for those friendships of childhood that survive into adult years. Those are the ones in which we are bound to one another with hoops of steel.
She reached out and touched Dr Maketsi on the arm, gently, as old friends will sometimes do when they have nothing more to say.
- David Philip ed., p. 212

- He said nothing. There were times when you simply had to speak, or you would have your lifetime ahead to regret not speaking. But every time he had tried to speak to her of what was in his heart, he had failed. He had already asked her to marry him and that had not been a great success. He did not have a great deal of confidence, at least with people; cars were different, of course.
"I am very happy sitting here with you..."
She turned to him. "What did you say?"
"I said, please marry me, Mma Ramotswe. I am just J.L.B. Matekoni, that’s all, but please marry me and make me happy."
"Of course I will," said Mma Ramotswe.
- the closing paragraph


The Eustace Diamonds, by Anthony Trollope

- It was admitted by all her friends, and also by her enemies - who were in truth the more numerous and active body of the two - that Lizzie Greystock had done very well with herself.
- the opening sentence

- “She looks like a beautiful animal that you are afraid to caress for fear it should bite you; - an animal that would be beautiful if its eyes were not so restless, and its teeth so sharp and so white.”
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 147

- Lady Fawn talked about Parliament, and professed to pity a poor lover who was so bound to his country that he could not see his mistress above once a fortnight. “But there’ll be a good time coming next month,” she said; - for it was near July. “Though the girls can’t make their claims felt, the grouse can.”
- p. 202

- To be alone with a girl to whom he is not engaged, is a man’s delight; - to be alone with the man to whom she is engaged is the woman’s.
- p. 204

- “I daresay the play may be very bad,” she said, “but it can hardly be so bad as real life.”
- p. 505

- Evil-doing will be spoken of with bated breath and soft words even by policemen, when the evil-doer comes in a carriage, and with a title.
- p. 714


Middlemarch, by George Eliot

- The mistakes that we male and female mortals make when we have our own way might fairly raise some wonder that we are so fond of it.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 73

- Mary was fond of her own thoughts, and could amuse herself well sitting in twilight with her hands in her lap; for, having early had strong reason to believe that things were not likely to be arranged for her peculiar satisfaction, she wasted no time in astonishment and annoyance at that fact.
- p. 314

- But it is one thing to like defiance, and another thing to like its consequences.
- p. 462


The Mill on The Floss, by George Eliot

- Mr. Tulliver did not willingly write a letter, and found the relation between spoken and written language, briefly known as spelling, one of the most puzzling things in this puzzling world.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 138

- “Mr. Stelling was ... not quite competent to his high offices; but incompetent gentlemen must live, and without private fortune, it is difficult to see how they could all live genteely if they had nothing to do with education or government.
- p. 178

- The desire to know that one has not looked an absolute fright during a few hours of conversation may be construed as lying within the bounds of a laudable benevolent consideration for others. And Lucy had so much of this benevolence in her nature that I am inclined to think her small egoisms were impregnated with it, just as there are people not altogether unknown to you, whose small benevolences have a predominant and somewhat rank odour of egoism.
- p. 384

- One gets a bad habit of being unhappy.
- p. 388

- The happiest women, like the happiest nations, have no history.
- p. 400

- “You really have enjoyed the music tonight, haven’t you, Maggie?”
“O yes, that is what prevents me from feeling sleepy. I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music. At other times one is conscious of carrying a weight.”
- p. 401

- ‘Character’ - says Novalis, in one of his questionable aphorisms - ‘character is destiny’. But not the whole of our destiny. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, was speculative and irresolute, and we have a great tragedy in consequence. But if his father had lived to a good old age, and his uncle had died an early death, we can conceive Hamlet’s having married Ophelia and got through life with a reputation of sanity notwithstanding many soliloquies, and some moody sarcasms towards the fair daughter of Polonius, to say nothing of the frankest incivility to his father-in-law.
- p. 418

- I should like to know what is the proper function of women if it is not to make reasons for husbands to stay at home and still stronger reasons for bachelors to go out.
- p. 421


Silas Marner, by George Eliot

- You hardly know your own mind enough to make both your legs walk one way.
- Penguin Classics ed., p. 72

- Justice Malam was naturally regarded in Tarley and Raveloe as a man of capacious mind, seeing that he could draw much wider conclusions without evidence than could be expected of his neighbours who were not on the Commission of the Peace.
- p. 75

- It seemed surprising that Ben Withrop, who loved his quart-pot and his joke, got along so well with Dolly; but she took her husband’s jokes and joviality as patiently as everything else, considering that ‘men would be so,’ and viewing the stronger sex in the light of animals whom it had pleased Heaven to make naturally troublesome, like bulls and turkey-cocks.
- p. 80

- She actually said ‘mate’ for ‘meat,’ ‘’appen’ for ‘perhaps,’ and ‘oss’ for ‘horse,’ which, to young ladies living in good Lytherly society, who habitually said ’orse, even in domestic privacy, and only said ’appen on the right occasions, was necessarily shocking.
- p. 93

- In old days there were angels who came and took men by the hand and led them away from the city of destruction. We see no white-winged angels now. But yet men are led away from threatening destruction: a hand is put into theirs, which leads them forth gently towards a calm and bright land, so that they look no more backward; and the hand may be a little child’s.
- p. 131


Cancer Ward, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

- The permanent mutter - information you hadn’t asked for alternating with the music you hadn’t chosen (and quite unrelated to the mood you happened to be in) - was a theft of time, a diffusion and an entropy of the spirit, convenient and agreeable to the inert but intolerable to those with initiative. Epicurus’s fool with eternity in hand would probably find listening to the radio the only way to bear it.
- Vintage Classics ed., p. 273

- To Oleg exile was full of laughter and elation, and for that the Kadmins, an old couple he knew, were mainly responsible. The husband, Nikolai Ivanovitch, was a gynaecologist and his wife was called Elena Alexandrovna. Whatever happened to the exiled Kadmins, they kept saying, “Isn’t that fine? Things are so much better than they used to be. How lucky we are to have landed in such a nice part of the world!”
If they managed to get hold of a loaf of white bread - how wonderful! If they found a two-volume edition of Puastovsky in the bookshop - splendid! There was a good film on at the centre that day - marvellous! A dental technician had arrived to provide new dentures - excellent! Another gynaecologist had been sent there, a woman, an exile too - very good! Let her do the gynaecology and the illegal abortions, Nikolai Ivanovitch would take care of the general practice. There’d be less money but more peace of mind. And the sunsets over the steppe, orange, pink, flame-red, crimson and purple - superlative! Nikolai Ivanovitch, a small, slender man with greying hair, would take his wife by the arm (she was plump and growing heavy, partly through ill-health; he was as quick as she was slow) and they would march off solemnly past the last house of the village to watch the sun go down.
- p. 289

- In Ush-Terek in the year 1954, when the hydrogen bomb was already invented and people were chasing after standard lamps in the capital, this paraffin lamp on the round home-made table transformed the little clay hovel into a luxurious drawing-room of two centuries ago. What a triumph! As the three of them sat round it, Elena Alexandrovna would remark with feeling, “You know, Oleg, life is so good. Apart from childhood, these have been the happiest days of my life.”
And obviously she was right. It is not our level of prosperity that makes for happiness but the kinship of heart to heart and the way we look at the world. Both attitudes lie within our power, so that a man is happy as long as he chooses to be happy, and no one can stop him.
- p. 290

- The men in the ward were talking about the exiled minorities. Vadim had raised his head from his geology, looked at Rusanov, shrugged his shoulders and said so quietly that only Rusanov could hear, “There must have been something in it. They wouldn’t exile people for nothing in our country.”
By making such a correct observation Vadim had shown himself a thoroughly intelligent man of unshakeable principles.
- p. 334