A couple of years back I was given a set of Dicken’s novels, and have been reading them intermittently over that time. I’ve just started reading ‘Our Mutual Friend’ – which has been harder-going than several of the other books I’ve seen so far… but there have been a couple of nice little sections which I thought I would note here.
“The wood forming the chimney-pieces, beams, partitions, floors, and doors, of the Six Jolly Fellowship-Porters, seemed in its old age fraught with confused memories of its youth. In many places it had become gnarled and riven, according to the manner of old trees; knots started out of it; and here and there it seemed to twist itself into some likeness of boughs. In this state of second childhood, it had an air of being in its own way garrulous about its early life. Not without reason was it often asserted by the regular frequenters of the Porters, that when the light shone full upon the grain of certain panels, and particularly upon an old corner cupboard of walnut-wood in the bar, you might trace little forests there, and tiny trees like the parent tree, in full umbrageous leaf.”
And here on luck and the human condition to imagine things that never happened as things that would have gone well:
“So, Twemlow goes home to Duke Street, St. James’s, to take a plate of mutton broth with a chop in it, and a look at the marriage service, in order that he may cut in at the right place to-morrow; and he is low, and feels it dull over the livery stable-yard, and is distinctly aware of a dint in his heart, made by the most adorable bridesmaids. For, the poor little harmless gentleman once had his fancy, like the rest of us, and she didn’t answer (as she often does not), and he thinks the adorable bridesmaid is like the fancy as she was then (which she is not at all), and that if the fancy had not married someone else for money, but had married him for love, he and she would have been happy (which they wouldn’t have been), and that she has a tenderness for him still (whereas her toughness is a proverb). Brooding over the fire, with his dried little head in his dried little hands, and his dried little elbows on his dried little knees, Twemlow is melancholy.”