charles dickens Quotes

Charles Dickens Quotes

Birth Date: 1812-02-07 (Friday, February 7th, 1812)
Date of Death: 1870-06-09 (Thursday, June 9th, 1870)

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charles dickens life timeline

Hard Times begins serialisation in Charles Dickens magazine, Household Words.Saturday, April 1st, 1854
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is published.Monday, July 11th, 1859
In a New York City theater, British author Charles Dickens gives his first public reading in the United States.Monday, December 2nd, 1867

Quotes

    • To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature. I can never close my lips where I have opened my heart.
    • The bright old day now dawns again; the cry runs through the the land, In England there shall be dear bread-in Ireland, sword and brand; And poverty, and ignorance, shall swell the rich and grand, So, rally round the rulers with the gentle iron hand, Of the fine old English Tory days; Hail to the coming time!
    • Wherever religion is resorted to as a strong drink, and as an escape from the dull, monotonous round of home, those of its ministers who pepper the highest will be the surest to please. They who strew the Eternal Path with the greatest amount of brimstone, and who most ruthlessly tread down the flowers and leaves that grow by the wayside, will be voted the most righteous; and they who enlarge with the greatest pertinacity on the difficulty of getting into heaven will be considered, by all true believers, certain of going there: though it would be hard to say by what process of reasoning this conclusion is arrived at.
    • I am quite serious when I say that I do not believe there are, on the whole earth besides, so many intensified bores as in these United States. No man can form an adequate idea of the real meaning of the word, without coming here.
    • O let us love our occupations, Bless the squire and his relations, Live upon our daily rations, And always know our proper stations.
    • La difficulte d'ecrire l'anglais m'est extremement ennuyeuse. Ah, mon Dieu ! si l'on pouvait toujours ecrire cette belle langue de France!
    • It was a good thing to have a couple of thousand people all rigid and frozen together, in the palm of one's hand.
    • I have known a vast quantity of nonsense talked about bad men not looking you in the face. Don't trust that conventional idea. Dishonesty will stare honesty out of countenance, any day in the week, if there is anything to be got by it.
    • Resisting the slow touch of a frozen finger tracing out my spine.
    • The dignity of his office is never impaired by the absence of efforts on his part to maintain it.
    • He is not, as he forcibly remarks, 'one of those fortunate men who, if they were to dive under one side of a barge stark-naked, would come up on the other with a new suit of clothes on, and a ticket for soup in the waistcoat-pocket:' neither is he one of those, whose spirit has been broken beyond redemption by misfortune and want. He is just one of the careless, good-for-nothing, happy fellows, who float, cork-like, on the surface, for the world to play at hockey with: knocked here, and there, and everywhere: now to the right, then to the left, again up in the air, and anon to the bottom, but always reappearing and bounding with the stream buoyantly and merrily along.
    • The civility which money will purchase, is rarely extended to those who have none.
    • I used to sit, think, think, thinking, till I felt as lonesome as a kitten in a wash-house copper with the lid on.
    • Reflect upon your present blessings - of which every man has many - not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.
    • Minerva House ... was 'a finishing establishment for young ladies,' where some twenty girls of the ages from thirteen to nineteen inclusive, acquired a smattering of everything and a knowledge of nothing.
    • 'I am ruminating,' said Mr. Pickwick, 'on the strange mutability of human affairs.' 'Ah! I see - in at the palace door one day, out at the window the next. Philosopher, Sir?' 'An observer of human nature, Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick. 'Ah, so am I. Most people are when they've little to do and less to get.'
    • Great men are seldom over-scrupulous in the arrangement of their attire.
    • Did it ever strike you on such a morning as this that drowning would be happiness and peace?
    • Tongue -, well that's a wery good thing when it ain't a woman's.
    • 'It's a wery remarkable circumstance, sir', said Sam, 'that poverty and oysters seems to go together.'
    • Ven you're a married man, Samivel, you'll understand a good many things as you don't understand now; but vether it's worth goin' through so much, to learn so little, as the charity-boy said ven he got to the end of the alphabet, is a matter of taste.
    • When a man bleeds inwardly, it is a dangerous thing for himself; but when he laughs inwardly, it bodes no good to other people.
    • Keep yourself to yourself.
    • We still leave unblotted in the leaves of our statute book, for the reverence and admiration of successive ages, the just and wholesome law which declares that the sturdy felon shall be fed and clothed, and that the penniless debtor shall be left to die of starvation and nakedness. This is no fiction.
    • Please, sir, I want some more.
    • Oliver Twist has asked for more!
    • There is a passion for hunting something deeply implanted in the human breast.
    • I only know two sorts of boys. Mealy boys, and beef-faced boys.
    • But death, fires, and burglary, make all men equals...
    • 'It opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises the eyes, and softens down the temper,' said Mr. Bumble. 'So cry away.'
    • Dignity, and even holiness too, sometimes, are more questions of coat and waistcoat than some people imagine.
    • 'If the law supposes that,' said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, 'the law is a ass - a idiot. If that's the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience - by experience.'
    • Gold conjures up a mist about a man, more destructive of all his old senses and lulling to his feelings than the fumes of charcoal.
    • The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.
    • A man in public life expects to be sneered at-it is the fault of his elevated sitiwation, and not of himself.
    • May not the complaint, that common people are above their station, often take its rise in the fact of uncommon people being below theirs?
    • That sort of half sigh, which, accompanied by two or three slight nods of the head, is pity's small change in general society.
    • How can you capture the sympathies of the audience unless you have a small man, fighting against a bigger one?
    • For nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy, that we can scarcely mark their progress.
    • Although a skillful flatterer is a most delightful companion if him all to yourself, his taste becomes very doubtful when he takes to complimenting other people.
    • It is a pleasant thing to reflect upon, and furnishes a complete answer to those who contend for the gradual degeneration of the human species, that every baby born into the world is a finer one than the last.
    • What is the odds so long as the fire of soul is kindled at the taper of conwiviality, and the wing of friendship never moults a feather! What is the odds so long as the spirit is expanded by means of rosy wine, and the present moment is the least happiest of our existence!
    • She's the ornament of her sex.
    • Fan the sinking flame of hilarity with the wing of friendship; and pass the rosy wine.
    • Send forth the child and childish man together, and blush for the pride that libels our own old happy state, and gives its title to an ugly and distorted image.
    • The very dogs were all asleep, and the flies, drunk with moist sugar in the grocer's shop, forgot their wings and briskness, and baked to death in dusty corners of the window.
    • In mind, she was of a strong and vigorous turn, having from her earliest youth devoted herself with uncommon ardour to the study of the law; not wasting her speculations upon its eagle flights, which are rare, but tracing it attentively through all the slippery and eel-like crawlings in which it commonly pursues its way.
    • Under an accumulation of staggerers, no man can be considered a free agent. No man knocks himself down; if his destiny knocks him down, his destiny must pick him up again.
    • It was a maxim with Mr. Brass that the habit of paying compliments kept a man's tongue oiled without any expense; and that, as that useful member ought never to grow rusty or creak in turning on its hinges in the case of a practitioner of the law, in whom it should be always glib and easy, he lost few opportunities of improving himself by the utterance of handsome speeches and eulogistic expressions.
    • In love of home, the love of country has its rise.
    • That vague kind of penitence which holidays awaken next morning.
    • If there were no bad people, there would be no good lawyers.
    • 'Did you ever taste beer?' 'I had a sip of it once,' said the small servant. 'Here's a state of things!' cried Mr Swiveller, raising his eyes to the ceiling. 'She never tasted it - it can't be tasted in a sip!'
    • You will not have forgotten that it was a maxim with Foxey - our revered father, gentlemen - 'Always suspect everybody.' That's the maxim to go through life with!
    • And you'd find your father rather a tough customer in argeyment, Joe, if anybody was to try and tackle him.
    • Mrs Varden was a lady of what is commonly called an uncertain temper - a phrase which being interpreted signifies a temper tolerably certain to make everybody more or less uncomfortable.
    • Whether they were right or wrong in this conjecture, certain it is that minds, like bodies, will often fall into a pimpled ill-conditioned state from mere excess of comfort, and like them, are often successfully cured by remedies in themselves very nauseous and unpalatable.
    • To be shelterless and alone in the open country, hearing the wind moan and watching for day through the whole long weary night; to listen to the falling rain, and crouch for warmth beneath the lee of some old barn or rick, or in the hollow of a tree; are dismal things-but not so dismal as the wandering up and down where shelter is, and beds and sleepers are by thousands; a houseless rejected creature.
    • 'There are strings,' said Mr Tappertit, flourishing his bread-and- cheese knife in the air, 'in the human heart that had better not be wibrated. That's what's the matter.'
    • The serjeant was describing a military life. It was all drinking, he said, except that there were frequent intervals of eating and love-making.
    • Oh gracious, why wasn't I born old and ugly?
    • The men who learn endurance, are they who call the whole world brother.
    • What is exaggeration to one class of minds and perceptions, is plain truth to another. That which is commonly called a long-sight, perceives in a prospect innumerable features and bearings non-existent to a short-sighted person. I sometimes ask myself whether there may occasionally be a difference of this kind between some writers and some readers; whether it is ALWAYS the writer who colours highly, or whether it is now and then the reader whose eye for colour is a little dull?
    • With affection beaming in one eye, and calculation shining out of the other.
    • 'Regrets,' said Martin, 'are the natural property of grey hairs; and I enjoy, in common with all other men, at least my share of such inheritance.'
    • Keep up appearances whatever you do.
    • Here's the rule for bargains - 'Do other men, for they would do you.' That's the true business precept.
    • Buy an annuity cheap, and make your life interesting to yourself and everybody else that watches the speculation.
    • Rich folks may ride on camels, but it an't so easy for 'em to see out of a needle's eye. That is my comfort, and I hope I knows it.
    • But charity begins at home, and justice begins next door.
    • Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.
    • 'Bah!' said Scrooge, 'Humbug!'
    • I should have liked, I do confess, to have had the lightest license of a child, and yet to have been man enough to know its value.
    • 'Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You're poor enough.' 'Come, then,' returned the nephew gaily. 'What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You're rich enough.'
    • 'Why do you doubt your senses?' [asks Marley's Ghost] 'Because,' said Scrooge, 'a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!'
    • 'You are fettered,' said Scrooge, trembling. 'Tell me why?' 'I wear the chain I forged in life,' replied the Ghost. 'I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.'
    • 'God bless us every one!' said Tiny Tim, the last of all.
    • Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man's child. Oh God. to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust.
    • I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.
    • He's tough, ma'am,-tough is J. B.; tough and devilish sly.
    • 'I want to know what it says,' he answered, looking steadily in her face. 'The sea Floy, what is it that it keeps on saying?'
    • 'Wal'r, my boy,' replied the Captain, 'in the Proverbs of Solomon you will find the following words, 'May we never want a friend in need, nor a bottle to give him!' When found, make a note of.'
    • Cows are my passion.
    • The bearings of this observation lays in the application on it.
    • If you could see my legs when I take my boots off, you'd form some idea of what unrequited affection is.
    • :vices are sometimes only virtues carried to excess!
    • Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.
    • A loving heart was better and stronger than wisdom:
    • 'Never,' said my aunt, 'be mean in anything; never be false; never be cruel. Avoid those three vices, Trot, and I can always be hopeful of you.'
    • He is quite a good fellow - nobody's enemy but his own.
    • Accidents will occur in the best regulated families; and in families not regulated by that pervading influence which sanctifies while it enhances the-a-I would say, in short, by the influence of Woman, in the lofty character of Wife, they may be expected with confidence, and must be borne with philosophy.
    • Let sleeping dogs lie - who wants to rouse 'em?
    • I never could have done what I have done, without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one object at a time.
    • My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest.
    • There can be no disparity in marriage like unsuitability of mind and purpose.
    • A man must take the fat with the lean.
    • Trifles make the sum of life.
    • Jarndyce and Jarndyce drones on. This scarecrow of a suit, has, in course of time, become so complicated that no man alive knows what it means. The parties to it understand it least; but it has been observed that no two Chancery lawyers can talk about it for five minutes, without coming to total disagreement as to all the premises.
    • He is a gentleman of strict conscience, disdainful of all littleness and meanness and ready on the shortest notice to die any death you may please to mention rather than give occasion for the least impeachment of his integrity. He is an honourable, obstinate, truthful, high-spirited, intensely prejudiced, perfectly unreasonable man.
    • 'Oh, dear no, miss,' he said. 'This is a London particular.' I had never heard of such a thing. 'A fog, miss,' said the young gentleman. 'Oh, indeed!' said I.
    • I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. Mankind will surely not deny to Harold Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies!
    • Not to put too fine a point on it.
    • He had a cane, he had an eye-glass, he had a snuff-box, he had rings, he had wristbands, he had everything but any touch of nature; he was not like youth, he was not like age, he was not like anything in the world but a model of deportment.
    • Mr. Chadband is a large yellow man, with a fat smile, and a general appearance of having a good deal of train oil in his system.
    • It's my old girl that advises. She has the head. But I never own to it before her. Discipline must be maintained.
    • It is a melancholy truth that even great men have their poor relations.
    • Take care, while you are young, that you can think in those days, 'I never whitened a hair of her dear head, I never marked a sorrowful line in her face!' For of all the many things that you can think when you are a man, you had better have that by you, Woolwich!
    • Dead, your Majesty. Dead, my lords and gentlemen. Dead, Right Reverends and Wrong Reverends of every order. Dead, men and women, born with Heavenly compassion in your hearts. And dying thus around us every day.
    • Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!
    • Oh my friends, the down-trodden operatives of Coketown! Oh my friends and fellow-countrymen, the slaves of an ironhanded and a grinding despotism! Oh my friends and fellow-sufferers, and fellow-workmen, and fellow-men! I tell you that the hour is come, when we must rally round one another as One united power, and crumble into dust the oppressors that too long have battened upon the plunder of our families, upon the sweat of our brows, upon the labour of our hands, upon the strength of our sinews, upon the God-created glorious rights of Humanity, and upon the holy and eternal privileges of Brotherhood!
    • There is a wisdom of the Head, and ... there is a wisdom of the Heart.
    • A prison taint was on everything there. The imprisoned air, the imprisoned light, the imprisoned damps, the imprisoned men, were all deteriorated by confinement. As the captive men were faded and haggard, so the iron was rusty, the stone was slimy, the wood was rotten, the air was faint, the light was dim. Like a well, like a vault, like a tomb, the prison had no knowledge of the brightness outside; and would have kept its polluted atmosphere intact, in one of the spice islands of the Indian Ocean.
    • I am the only child of parents who weighed, measured, and priced everything; for whom what could not be weighed, measured, and priced, had no existence.
    • The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government. No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office.
    • Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving - HOW NOT TO DO IT.
    • A person who can't pay, gets another person who can't pay, to guarantee that he can pay. Like a person with two wooden legs getting another person with two wooden legs, to guarantee that he has got two natural legs. It don't make either of them able to do a walking match.
    • I revere the memory of Mr. F. as an estimable man and most indulgent husband, only necessary to mention Asparagus and it appeared or to hint at any little delicate thing to drink and it came like magic in a pint bottle; it was not ecstasy but it was comfort.
    • 'Papa is a preferable mode of address,' observed Mrs General. 'Father is rather vulgar, my dear. The word Papa, besides, gives a pretty form to the lips. Papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes, and prism are all very good words for the lips: especially prunes and prism. You will find it serviceable, in the formation of a demeanour, if you sometimes say to yourself in company - on entering a room, for instance - Papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism, prunes and prism.
    • Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving HOW NOT TO DO IT.
    • Once a gentleman, and always a gentleman.
    • 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 direct 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.
    • A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.
    • Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms. Sow the same seed of rapacious license and oppression over again, and it will surely yield the same fruit according to its kind.
    • 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.
    • Mrs. Joe was a very clean housekeeper, but had an exquisite art of making her cleanliness more uncomfortable and unacceptable than the dirt itself. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, and some people do the same by religion.
    • 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.
    • My guiding star always is, Get hold of portable property.
    • Throughout life, our worst weaknesses and meannesses are usually committed for the sake of the people we most despise.
    • Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings welded together...
    • All the truth of my position came flashing on me; and its disappointments, dangers, disgraces, consequences of all kinds, rushed in in such a multitude that I was borne down by them and had to struggle for every breath I drew.
    • Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There's no better rule.
    • Ch. 40
    • 'And if it's proud to have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts,' Miss Jenny struck in, flushed, 'she is proud. And if it's not, she is NOT.'
    • Money and goods are certainly the best of references.
    • Professionally he declines and falls, and as a friend he drops into poetry.
    • I want to be something so much worthier than the doll in the doll's house.
    • I don't care whether I am a Minx or a Sphinx.
    • 'And if it's proud to have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts,' Miss Jenny struck in, flushed, 'she is proud.'
    • That's the state to live and die in!...R-r-rich!
    • We must scrunch or be scrunched.
    • 'No one is useless in this world,' retorted the Secretary, 'who lightens the burden of it for any one else.'
    • A day wasted on others is not wasted on one's self.
    • Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.
    • The Northern onslaught upon slavery was no more than a piece of specious humbug designed to conceal its desire for economic control of the Southern states.
    • 'Well, every one for himself, and Providence for us all--as the elephant said when he danced among the chickens.'
    • The soul of Hogarth has migrated into the body of Dickens.
    • There is no contemporary English writer whose works are read so generally through the whole house, who can give pleasure to the servants as well as to the mistress, to the children as well as to the master.
    • He describes London like a special correspondent for posterity.
    • The greatest of superficial novelists... It were, in our opinion, an offense against humanity to place Mr Dickens among the greatest novelists.
    • A splendid muse of fiction hath Charles Dickens, But now and then just as the interest thickens He stilts his pathos, and the reader sickens.
    • He had a large loving mind and the strongest sympathy with the poorer classes. He felt sure a better feeling, and much greater union of classes, would take place in time. And I pray earnestly it may.
    • Dickens was a pure modernist - a leader of the steam-whistle party par excellence - and he had no understanding of any power of antiquity except a sort of jackdaw sentiment for cathedral towers. He knew nothing of the nobler power of superstition - was essentially a stage manager, and used everything for effect on the pit. His Christmas meant mistletoe and pudding - neither resurrection from dead, nor rising of new stars, nor teaching of wise men, nor shepherds. His hero is essentially the ironmaster.
    • The art of Dickens was the most exquisite of arts: it was the art of enjoying everybody. Dickens, being a very human writer, had to be a very human being; he had his faults and sensibilities in a strong degree; and I do not for a moment maintain that he enjoyed everybody in his daily life. But he enjoyed everybody in his books: and everybody has enjoyed everybody in his books even till to-day. His books are full of baffled villains stalking out or cowardly bullies kicked downstairs. But the villains and cowards are such delightful people that the reader always hopes the villain will put his head through a side window and make a last remark; or that the bully will say one more thing, even from the bottom of the stairs. The reader really hopes this; and he cannot get rid of the fancy that the author hopes so too.
    • Dickens did not merely believe in the brotherhood of man in the weak modern way; he was the brotherhood of man, and knew it was a brotherhood in sin as well as in aspiration.
    • There is a heartlessness behind his sentimentally overflowing style.
    • When people say Dickens exaggerates, it seems to me they can have no eyes and no ears. They probably have only notions of what things and people are: they accept them conventionally at their diplomatic value. Their minds run on in the region of discourse, where there are masks only, and no faces; ideas and no facts; they have little sense for those living grimaces that play from moment to moment on the countenance of the world.
    • His eye brings in almost too rich a harvest for him to deal with, and gives him an aloofness and a hardness which freeze his sentimentalism and make it seem a concession to the public, a veil thrown over the penetrating glance which left to itself pierced to the bone. With such a power at his command Dickens made his books blaze up, not by tightening the plot or sharpening the wit, but by throwing another handful of people on the fire.
    • It does not matter that Dicken's world is not lifelike; it is alive.
    • Dickens attacked English institutions with a ferocity that has never since been approached. Yet he managed to do it without making himself hated, and, more than this, the very people he attacked have swallowed him so completely that he has become a national institution himself.
    • Of all the Victorian novelists, he was probably the most antagonistic to the Victorian age itself.
    • My own experience in reading Dickens...is to be bounced between violent admiration and violent distaste almost every couple of paragraphs, and this is too uncomfortable a condition to be much alleviated by an inward recital of one's duty not to be fastidious, to gulp the stuff down in gobbets like a man.
    • charles dickens

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