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The optimist is a better reformer than the pessimist; and the man who believes life to be
excellent is the man who alters it most. It seems a paradox, yet the reason of it is very plain.
The pessimist can be enraged at evil. But only the optimist can be surprised at it. From the
reformer is required a simplicity of surprise. He must have a faculty of a violent and virgin
astonishment. It is not enough that he should think injustice distressing; he must think
injustice absurd, an anomaly in existence, a matter less for tears than for a shattering laughter.
On the other hand, the pessimists can hardly curse even the blackest thing; for they can hardly
see it against its black and eternal background. Nothing is bad, because everything is bad.
Life in prison is infamous - like life anywhere else. The fires of persecution are vile - like the stars.
We perpetually find this paradox of a contented discontent.

It has been often said, very truly, that religion is the thing that makes the ordinary man
feel extraordinary; it is an equally important truth that religion is the thing that makes
the extraordinary man feel ordinary.

Art indeed copies life in not copying life, for life copies nothing. Dickens' art is like life
because, like life, it is irresponsible, because, like life, it is incredible.

His literary life was a triumphal procession; he died drunken with glory. And behind all
this nine years' wonder that filled the world, behind his gigantic tours and his ten thousand
editions, the crowded lectures and the crashing brass, behind all the thing we really see is
the flushed face of a little boy singing music-hall songs to a circle of aunts and uncles.

But of all the strange ways in which the human being proves that he is not a rational being,
whatever else he is, no case is so mysterious and unaccountable as the secrecy of childhood.

Dickens was destined to show with inspired symbolism all the immense virtues of the democracy.
He was to show them as the most humorous part of our civilization; which they certainly are.
He was to show them as the most promptly and practically compassionate part of our
civilization; which they certainly are. The democracy has a hundred exuberant good qualities;
the democracy has only one outstanding sin - it is not democratic.

The matter can only be roughly stated in one way.
Dickens did not strictly make a literature; he made a mythology.

For all politeness is a long poem, since it is full of recurrences.

That essential madness is the idea that the good patriot is the man who feels at ease about his country.

For there is but an inch of difference between the cushioned chamber and the padded cell.

...the man who has found a truth dances about like a boy who has found a shilling;
he breaks into extravagances,
as the gothic Christian churches broke into gargoyles.

And a child who has once had to respect a kind and capable woman of the lower classes will
respect the lower classes for ever. The true way to overcome the evil of class distinctions is
not to denounce them as revolutionists denounce them, but to ignore them as children ignore them.

For when you break the great laws, you do not get liberty, you do even get anarchy.
You get the small laws.

It is a great mistake to suppose love unites and unifies men. Love diversifies them, because
love is directed towards individuality. The thing that really unites men and makes them like
to each other is hatred. Thus, for instance, the more we love Germany the more pleased we shall
that Germany should be different from ourselves, should keep her own ritual and conviviality
and we ours. But the more we hate Germany the more we shall copy German guns and German
fortifications in order to be armed against Germany. The more modern nations detest each other
the more meekly they follow each other; for all competition is in its nature only a furious plagiarism.

Cruelty to animals is cruelty and a vile thing; but cruelty to a man is not cruelty, it is treason.
Tyranny over man is not tyranny, it is rebellion, for man is royal. Now, the practical weakness
of the vast mass of modern pity for the poor and the oppressed is precisely that it is merely pity;
the pity is pitiful, but not respectful. Men feel that the cruelty to the poor is a kind of cruelty to
animals. They never feel that it is an injustice to equals; nay, it is treachery to comrades. This dark,
scientific pity, this brutal pity, has an elemental sincerity of its own; but it is entirely useless for all
ends of social reform. Democracy swept Europe with the sabre when it was founded upon the
Rights of Man. It has done literally nothing at all since it has been founded only upon the wrongs of man.

In everybody there is a certain thing that loves babies,
that fears death, that likes sunlight: that thing enjoys Dickens...
And when I say everybody understands Dickens
I do not mean that he is suited to the untaught intelligence.
I mean that he is so plain that even scholars can understand him.