A Tale of Two Cities – Quotes

Quotation per se are usually meant to invoke a goosebumpy feeling because of their profound, yet, simple and intrinsic nature.

Well, not all of them. I for one have another parameter all together which obviously does not preclude the former. Exquisite language!!! A very simple statement written with such glorious verbosity that can heighten the impact of an otherwise mundane paragraph.

The following are some that I found beautiful in terms of brevity as well as permanence!

  1. 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. (Book 1- Chp 1)
  2. It is likely enough that, rooted in the woods of France and Norway, there were growing trees, when that sufferer was put to death, already marked by the Woodman, Fate, to come down and be sawn into boards, to make a certain movable framework with a sack and a knife in it, terrible in history. (Book 1- Chp 1)
  3. Death is Nature’s remedy for all things, and why not Legislation’s? Accordingly, the forger was put to Death; the utterer of a bad note was put to Death; the unlawful opener of a letter was put to Death; the purloiner of forty shillings and sixpence was put to Death; the holder of a horse at Tellson’s door, who made off with it, was put to Death. (Book 2- Chp 1)
  4. The sort of interest with which this man was stared and breathed at, was not a sort that elevated humanity … The form that was to be doomed to be so shamefully mangled, was the sight; the immortal creature that was to be so butchered and torn asunder, yielded the sensation. Whatever gloss the various spectators put upon the interest, according to their several arts and powers of self-deceit, the interest was, at the root of it, Ogreish. (Book 2- Chp 2)
  5. But the comfort was, that all the company at the grand hotel of Monseigneur were perfectly dressed. If the Day of Judgement had only been ascertained to be a dress day, everybody there would have been eternally correct. (Book 2- Chp 7)
  6. “Repression is the only lasting philosophy. The dark deference of fear and slavery, my friend,” observed the Marquis, “will keep the dogs obedient to the whip, as long as this roof,” looking up to it, “shuts out the sky.” (Book 2- Chp 9)
  7. But it is your weakness that you sometimes need to see your victim and your opportunity, to sustain you. Sustain yourself without that. When the time comes, let loose a tiger and a devil; but wait for the time with the tiger and the devil chained–not shown—yet always ready. (Book 2- Chp 16)
  8. So wicked do destruction and secrecy appear to honest minds, that Mr. Lorry and Miss Pross, while engaged in the commission of their deeds and in the removal of its traces, almost felt, and almost looked, like accomplices in a horrible crime. (Book 2- Chp 19)
  9. Every pulse and heart of Saint Antoine was on high-fever strain and at high-fever heat. Every living creature there held life as of no account, and was demented with a passionate readiness to sacrifice it. (Book 2- Chp 21)
  10. Far and wide lay a ruined country, yielding nothing but desolation. Every green leaf, every blade of grass and blade of grain, was as shrivelled and poor as the miserable people. (Book 2- Chp 23)
  11. As an emotion of the mind will express itself through any covering of the body, so the paleness which his situation engendered came through the brown upon his cheek, showing the soul to be stronger than the sun. (Book 2- Chp 41)
  12. The great grindstone, Earth, had turned when Mr. Lorry looked out again, and the sun was red on the courtyard. But the lesser grindstone stood alone there in the calm morning air, with a red upon it the sun had never given, and would never take away. (Book 3- Chp 2)
  13. … Three hundred thousand men, summoned to rise against the tyrants of the earth, rose from all the varying soils of France, as if the dragon’s teeth had been sown broadcast, and had yielded fruit equally on hill and plain, on rock, in gravel, and alluvial mud, under the bright sky of the south and under the cloud of the north, in fell and forest, in the vineyards and the olive-grounds, and among the crossed grass and the stubble of the corn, along the fruitful banks of the broad river and in the sand of the seashore. (Book 3- Chp 4)
  14. What private solicitude could rear itself against the deluge of the year one of liberty- the deluge rising from below, not falling from above, and with the windows of heaven shut, not opened! (Book 3- Chp 4)
  15. In seasons of pestilence, some of us will have a secret attraction to the disease– a terrible passing inclination to die of it. And all of us have like wonders hidden in our breasts, only needing circumstances to evoke them. (Book 3- Chp 6)
  16. Ay! Louder, Vengeance, much louder, and still she will scarcely hear thee. Louder yet, Vengeance, with a little oath or so added, and yet it will hardly bring her. Send other women up and down to seek her, lingering somewhere; and yet, although the messengers have done dread deeds, it is questionable whether of their own wills they will go far enough to find her! (Book 3- Chp 6)
  17. 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. (Book 3- Chp 15)
Siddiqui F.

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