Nicholas Nickleby

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Happiness is a matter of one's most ordinary everyday mode of consciousness being busy and lively and unconcerned with self. To be damned is for one's ordinary everyday mode of consciousness to be unremitting agonizing preoccupation with self.
Iris Murdoch
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The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, (or Nicholas Nickleby for short) (1838-1839), by Charles Dickens, centers around the life and adventures of a young man who must support his mother and sister after his father dies, while his Uncle Ralph thinks he will never amount to anything.


  • 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.
    • Chapter 1.
  • The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.
    • Chapter 3.
  • He had but one eye, and the popular prejudice runs in favor of two.
    • Chapter 4.
  • Subdue your appetites, my dears, and you've conquered human nature.
    • Chapter 5.
  • There are only two styles of portrait painting; the serious and the smirk.
    • Chapter 10.
  • Oh! they're too beautiful to live, much too beautiful!
    • Chapter 14.
  • A man in public life expects to be sneered at—it is the fault of his elevated sitiwation, and not of himself.
    • Chapter 14.
  • I pity his ignorance and despise him.
    • Chapter 15.
  • Quadruped lions are said to be savage, only when they are hungry; biped lions are rarely sulky longer than when their appetite for distinction remains unappeased.
    • Chapter 15.
  • Miss Knag still aimed at youth, although she had shot beyond it, years ago.
    • Chapter 17.
  • May not the complaint, that common people are above their station, often take its rise in the fact of uncommon people being below theirs?
    • Chapter 17.
  • He is a wonderfully accomplished man—most extraordinarily accomplished—reads—hem—reads every novel that comes out; I mean every novel that—hem—that has any fashion in it, of course. The fact is, that he did find so much in the books he read, applicable to his own misfortunes, and did find himself in every respect so much like the heroes—because of course he is conscious of his own superiority, as we all are, and very naturally—that he took to scorning everything, and became a genius.
    • Miss Knag, a millener’s assistant, is speaking of her brother, Mr. Mortimer Knag, a stationer and keeper of a small circulating library.
    • Chapter 18.
  • There are not a few among the disciples of charity who require, in their vocation, scarcely less excitement than the votaries of pleasure in theirs.
    • Chapter 18.
  • That sort of half sigh, which, accompanied by two or three slight nods of the head, is pity's small change in general society.
    • Chapter 18.
  • One of the many to whom, from straightened circumstances, a consequent inability to form the associations they would wish, and a disinclination to mix with the society they could obtain, London is as complete a solitude as the plains of Syria.
    • Chapter 20.
  • How can you capture the sympathies of the audience unless you have a small man, fighting against a bigger one?
    • Chapter 22.
  • 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.
    • Chapter 22.
  • Language was not powerful enough to describe the infant phenomenon. “I’ll tell you what, sir,” he said; “the talent of this child is not to be imagined. She must be seen, sir—seen—to be ever so faintly appreciated.”... The infant phenomenon, though of short stature, had a comparatively aged countenance, and had moreover been precisely the same age—not perhaps to the full extent of the memory of the oldest inhabitant, but certainly for five good years.
    • Chapter 23.
  • Making himself very amiable to the infant phenomenon, was an inebriated elderly gentleman in the last depths of shabbiness, who played the calm and virtuous old men.
    • Chapter 23.
  • "The unities, sir," he said, "are a completeness — a kind of universal dovetailedness with regard to place and time — a sort of a general oneness, if I may be allowed to use so strong an expression. I take those to be the dramatic unities, so far as I have been enabled to bestow attention upon them, and I have read much upon the subject, and thought much."
    • Chapter 24.
  • The plot was most interesting. It belonged to no particular age, people, or country, and was perhaps the more delightful on that account, as nobody’s previous information could afford the remotest glimmering of what would ever come of it.
    • Chapter 24.
  • 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.
    • Chapter 28.
  • It is a hopeless endeavour to attract people to a theatre unless they can be first brought to believe that they will never get in.
    • Chapter 30.
  • She is sitting there before me. There is the graceful outline of her form; it cannot be mistaken — there is nothing like it. The two countesses had no outlines at all, and the dowager's was a demd outline. Why is she so excruciatingly beautiful that I cannot be angry with her, even now?
    • Chapter 34.
  • A demd, damp, moist, unpleasant body!
    • Chapter 34.
  • 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.
    • Chapter 36.
  • Young men not being as a class remarkable for modesty or self-denial, especially when there is a lady in the case, when, if they colour at all, it is rather their practise to colour the story, and not themselves.
    • Chapter 43.
  • Pride is one of the seven deadly sins; but it cannot be the pride of a mother in her children, for that is a compound of two cardinal virtues — faith and hope.
    • Chapter 43.
  • There are many pleasant fictions of the law in constant operation, but there is not one so pleasant or practically humorous as that which supposes every man to be of equal value in its impartial eye, and the benefits of all laws to be equally attainable by all men, without the smallest reference to the furniture of their pockets.
    • Chapter 44.
  • There was a literary gentleman present who who had dramatised in his time two hundred and forty-seven novels as fast as they had come out—and who was a literary gentleman in consequence.
    • Chapter 48.
  • Bring in the bottled lightning, a clean tumbler, and a corkscrew.
    • Chapter 49.
  • Drinking tents were full, glasses began to clink in carriages, hampers to be unpacked, tempting provisions to be set forth, knives and forks to rattle, champagne corks to fly, eyes to brighten that were not dull before, and pickpockets to count their gains during the last heat. The attention so recently strained on one object of interest, was now divided among a hundred; and, look where you would, there was a motley assemblage of feasting, talking, begging, gambling and mummery.
    • Describing the scene at the Hampton race-course
    • Chapter 50.
  • It was not exactly a hairdresser’s; that is to say, people of a coarse and vulgar turn of mind might have called it a barber’s; for they not only cut and curled ladies elegantly, and children carefully, but shaved gentlemen easily.
    • Chapter 52.
  • When men are about to commit, or sanction the commission of some injustice, it is not uncommon for them to express pity for the object either of that or some parallel proceeding, and to feel themselves, at the time, quite virtuous and moral, and immensely superior to those who express no pity at all. This is a kind of upholding of faith above works, and is very comfortable.
    • Chapter 54.
  • Look to yourself, and heed this warning that I give you! Your day is past, and night is coming on.
    • Chapter 54.
  • He has gone to the demnition bow-wows.
    • Chapter 64.
  • My life is one demd horrid grind.
    • Chapter 64.

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