Hard times by charles dickens

Hard Times

By Charles Dickens

BOOK THE FIRST – SOWING

CHAPTER I – THE ONE THING NEEDFUL

‘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!’

The scene was a plain, bare, monotonous vault of a school-room, and
The speaker’s square forefinger emphasized his observations by
Underscoring every sentence with a line on the schoolmaster’s
Sleeve. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s square wall of a
Forehead, which had his eyebrows for its base, while his eyes found
Commodious cellarage in two dark caves, overshadowed by the wall.
The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s mouth, which was wide,
Thin, and hard set. The emphasis was helped by the speaker’s
Voice, which was inflexible, dry, and dictatorial. The emphasis
Was helped by the speaker’s hair, which bristled on the skirts of
His bald head, a plantation of firs to keep the wind from its
Shining surface, all covered with knobs, like the crust of a plum
Pie, as if the head had scarcely warehouse-room for the hard facts
Stored inside. The speaker’s obstinate carriage, square coat,
Square legs, square shoulders, – nay, his very neckcloth, trained
To take him by the throat with an unaccommodating grasp, like a
Stubborn fact, as it was, – all helped the emphasis.

‘In this life, we want nothing but Facts, sir; nothing but Facts!’

The speaker, and the schoolmaster, and the third grown person
Present, all backed a little, and swept with their eyes the
Inclined plane of little vessels then and there arranged in order,
Ready to have imperial gallons of facts poured into them until they
Were full to the brim.

CHAPTER II – MURDERING THE INNOCENTS

THOMAS GRADGRIND, sir. A man of realities. A man of facts and
Calculations. A man who proceeds upon the principle that two and
Two are four, and nothing over, and who is not to be talked into
Allowing for anything over. Thomas Gradgrind, sir – peremptorily
Thomas – Thomas Gradgrind. With a rule and a pair of scales, and
The multiplication table always in his pocket, sir, ready to weigh
And measure any parcel of human nature, and tell you exactly what
It comes to. It is a mere question of figures, a case of simple
Arithmetic. You might hope to get some other nonsensical belief
Into the head of George Gradgrind, or Augustus Gradgrind, or John
Gradgrind, or Joseph Gradgrind (all supposititious, non-existent
Persons), but into the head of Thomas Gradgrind – no, sir!

In such terms Mr. Gradgrind always mentally introduced himself,
Whether to his private circle of acquaintance, or to the public in
General. In such terms, no doubt, substituting the words ‘boys and
Girls,’ for ‘sir,’ Thomas Gradgrind now presented Thomas Gradgrind
To the little pitchers before him, who were to be filled so full of
Facts.

Indeed, as he eagerly sparkled at them from the cellarage before
Mentioned, he seemed a kind of cannon loaded to the muzzle with
Facts, and prepared to blow them clean out of the regions of
Childhood at one discharge. He seemed a galvanizing apparatus,
Too, charged with a grim mechanical substitute for the tender young
Imaginations that were to be stormed away.



the life of american youth
Hard times by charles dickens