Nicholas Nickleby

monthly serial; novel by Charles Dickens; published 1838–1839

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.

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.


The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again. Kate will be a beautiful woman, and I so proud to hear them say so, and mother so happy to be with us once again, and all these sad times forgotten.
Formalities, formalities, must not be neglected in civilized society.
  • 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.
    • Ch. 1
  • The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again. Kate will be a beautiful woman, and I so proud to hear them say so, and mother so happy to be with us once again, and all these sad times forgotten.
    • Ch. 3
  • He had but one eye, and the popular prejudice runs in favor of two.
    • Ch. 4
  • Subdue your appetites, my dears, and you've conquered human nature.
    • Ch. 5
  • There are only two styles of portrait painting; the serious and the smirk.
    • Ch. 10
  • Of all fruitless errands, sending a tear to look after a day that is gone is the most fruitless.
    • Ch. 10
  • Oh! they're too beautiful to live, much too beautiful!
    • Ch. 14
  • A man in public life expects to be sneered at—it is the fault of his elevated sitiwation, and not of himself.
    • Ch. 14
  • I pity his ignorance and despise him.
    • Ch. 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.
    • Ch. 15
  • Miss Knag still aimed at youth, although she had shot beyond it, years ago.
    • Ch. 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?
    • Ch. 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.
  • It was a satisfactory thing to hear that the old gentleman was going to lead a new life, for it was pretty evident that his old one would not last him much longer.
    • Chapter 18
  • Miss Knag, a millener’s assistant, is speaking of her brother, Mr. Mortimer Knag, a stationer and keeper of a small circulating library
    • Ch. 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.
    • Ch. 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.
    • Ch. 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.
    • Ch. 20
  • How can you capture the sympathies of the audience unless you have a small man, fighting against a bigger one?
    • Ch. 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.
    • Ch. 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.
    • Ch. 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.
    • Ch. 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."
    • Ch. 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.
    • Ch. 24
  • Formalities, formalities, must not be neglected in civilized society.
    • Ch. 27
  • Wine in; truth out.
    • Ch. 27
  • She began to think too, that Sir Mulberry was not quite so agreeable a creature as she had at first supposed him; for, although a skilful flatterer is a most delightful companion if you can keep him all to yourself, his taste becomes very doubtful when he takes to complimenting other people.
    • Ch. 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.
    • Ch. 30
  • "So it is a very long time to look back upon in years, though, somehow or other, thank Heaven, the solitary days roll away peacefully and happily enough," replied the miniature painter.
    • Ch. 31
  • There was a christening party at the largest coffin-maker's, and a funeral hatchment had stopped some great improvements in the bravest mansion. Life and death went hand in hand; wealth and poverty stood side by side; repletion and starvation laid the down together.
    • Ch. 32
  • 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?
    • Ch. 34
  • A demd, damp, moist, unpleasant body!
    • Ch. 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.
    • Ch. 36
  • Mystery and disappointment are not absolutely indispensable to the growth of love, but they are very often its powerful auxiliaries. "Out of sight, out of mind," is well enough as a proverb applicable to cases of friendship, though absence is not always necessary to hollowness of heart even between friends, and truth and honesty, like precious stones, are perhaps most easily imitated at a distance, when the counterfeits often pass for real. Love, however, is very materially assisted by a warm and active imagination, which has a long memory, and will thrive for a considerable time on very slight and sparing food.
    • Ch. 40
  • 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.
    • Ch. 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.
    • Ch. 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.
    • Ch. 44
  • There was a literary gentleman present 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.
    • Ch. 48
  • Bring in the bottled lightning, a clean tumbler, and a corkscrew.
    • Ch. 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, Ch. 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.
    • Ch. 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.
    • Ch. 54
  • Look to yourself, and heed this warning that I give you! Your day is past, and night is coming on.
    • Ch. 54
  • He has gone to the demnition bow-wows.
    • Ch. 64
  • My life is one demd horrid grind.
    • Ch. 64

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