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[ Also see Books Books (Last Lines) Books (Quotes) Quotations ]

Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge's name was good upon `Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to.
  Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
      - Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol [1843]

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.
      - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities [1859]

In the year 1775, there stood upon the borders of Epping Forest, at a distance of about twelve miles from London--measuring from the Standard in Cornhill, or rather from the spot on or near to which the Standard used to be in days of yore--a house of public entertainment called the Maypole; which in fact was demonstrated to all such travellers as could neither read or write (and sixty years ago a vast number both of travellers and stay-at-homes were in this condition) by the emblem reared on the roadside over against the house, which, if not of those goodly proportions that Maypoles were wont to present in olden times, was a fair young ash, thirty feet in height, and straight as any arrow that ever English yeoman drew.
      - Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge [1841]

London. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln's Inn Hall. Implacable November weather.
      - Charles Dickens, Bleak House [1852]

Dombey sat in the corner of the darkened room in the great arm-chair by the bedside, and Son lay tucked up warm in a little basket bedstead, carefully disposed on a low settee immediately in front of the fire and close to it, as if his constitution were analogous to that of a muffin, and it was essential to toast him brown while he was very new.
      - Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son [1848]

My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.
      - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations [1861]

'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!'
      - Charles Dickens, Hard Times [1854] (ch. 1)

Thirty years ago, Marseilles lay burning in the sun, one day.
      - Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit [1855]

Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born; on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events; the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.
      - Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist [1838]

In these times of ours, though concerning the exact year there is no need to be precise, a boat of dirty and disreputable appearance, with two figures in it, floated on the Thames, between Southwark Bridge which is of iron, and London Bridge which is of stone, as an autumn evening was closing in.
      - Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend [1864]

The kettle did it! Don't tell me what Mrs. Peerybingle said. I know better.
      - Charles Dickens, The Cricket on the Hearth [1845]

As no lady or gentleman, with any claims to polite breeding, can possibly sympathise with the Chuzzlewit Family without being first assured of the extreme antiquity of the race, it is a great satisfaction to know that it undoubtedly descended in a direct line from Adam and Eve; and was, in the very earliest times, closely connected with the agricultural interest. If it should ever be urged by grudging and malicious persons, that a Chuzzlewit, in any period of the family history, displayed an overweening amount of family pride, surely the weakness will be considered not only pardonable but laudable, when the immense superiority of the house to the rest of mankind, in respect of this its ancient origin, is taken into account.
      - Charles Dickens,
        The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit [1844]

There once lived in a sequestered part of the county of Devonshire, one Mr Godfrey Nickleby, a worthy gentleman, who taking it into his head rather late in life that he must get married, and not being young enough or rich enough to aspire to the hand of a lady of fortune, had wedded an old flame out of mere attachment, who in her turn had taken him for the same reason: thus two people who cannot afford to play cards for money, sometimes sit down to a quiet game for love.
      - Charles Dickens,
        The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby [1839]

An ancient English Cathedral Tower? How can the ancient Cathedral Tower be here!
      - Charles Dickens,
        The Mystery of Edwin Drood [1870]

Although I am an old man, night is generally my time for walking.
      - Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop [1840]

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. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o'clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously. In consideration of the day and hour of my birth, it was declared by the nurse, and by some sage women in the neighbourhood who had taken a lively interest in me several months before there was any possibility of our becoming personally acquainted, first, that I was destined to be unlucky in life; and secondly, that I was privileged to see ghosts and spirits; both these gifts inevitably attaching, as they believed, to all unlucky infants of either gender, born towards the small hours on a Friday night.
      - Charles Dickens,
        The Personal History of David Copperfield [1850]

The first ray of light which illumines the gloom, and converts into a dazzling brilliancy that obscurity in which the earlier history of the public career of the immortal Pickwick would appear to be involved, is derived from the perusal of the following entry in the Transactions of the Pickwick Club, which the editor of these papers feels the highest pleasure in laying before his readers, as a proof of the careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination, with which his search among the multifarious documents confided to him has been conducted.
      - Charles Dickens,
        The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club [1836]

The Marquis de Croismare's reply, if he does reply, will serve as the opening lines of this tale. Before writing to him I wanted to know what he was like. He is a man of the world, he has had a distinguished military career, is elderly, a widower with a daughter and two sons whom he loves and who return his affection. He is well born, enlightened, intelligent and witty, is fond of the arts and above all has an original mind.
      - Denis Diderot, Memoirs of a Nun [1760],
        (Leonard Tancock translation)

I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the North, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got high up, near to the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.
      - Isak Dinesen (pseudonym of Karen Blixen),
        Out of Africa [1937]

During the first quarter of the last century, seaside resorts became the fashion, even in those countries of Northern Europe within the minds of whose people the sea had hitherto held the role of the devil, the cold and voracious hereditary foe of humanity.
      - Isak Dinesen (pseudonym of Karen Blixen),
        Seven Gothic Tales [1934]

The fair girl who was playing a banjo and singing to the wounded soldiers suddenly stopped, and, turning to the surgeon, whispered:
  "What's that?"
    "It sounds like a mob--"
      - Thomas Dixon, Jr., The Clansman [1905]

"Quick--a glass of water!" A man sprang to his feet, beckoning to an usher.
  When he reached the seat, the woman had recovered by a supreme effort of will and sat erect, her face flushed with anger at her own weakness.
    "Thank you, I am quite well now," she said with dignity.
      - Thomas Dixon, Jr., The One Woman [1903] (ch. I)

The message came to me, at the second check of the hunt, that a countryman and a clansman needed me. The ground was heavy, the day raw, and it was a drag, too fast for fun and too tame for sport. So I blessed the countryman and the clansman, and turned my back on the field.
      - Brian Oswald Donn-Byrne (used pseudonym Donn Byrne),
        Messer Marco Polo [1921]

Oh the infantree the infantree
  With the dirt behind their ears

        but another question and a very important one is raised.
      - John Roderigo Dos Passos, 1919 [1932],
        (2nd part of U.S.A. trilogy)

It was that emancipated race
  That was chargin up the hill
    Up to where them insurrectos
      Was afightin fit to kill

          General Miles with his gaudy uniform and spirited charger was the center for all eyes especially as his steed was extremely restless.
      - John Roderigo Dos Passos,
        The 42nd Parallel [1930] (Newsreel I),
        (1st part of U.S.A. trilogy)

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