Hard Times: For These Times
Charles Dickens was born in London in 1812. His father was a clerk in the Navy Pay
Office, but around 1820 was sent to debtor’s prison, and young Charles was forced to
support the family by working ten-hour days pasting labels on jars of shoe polish. After a
few months his father inherited £450 and was able to get out of prison, but Charles’
mother insisted that he carry on working at the blacking factory. He subsequently worked
for 18 months in a law office, and then became a journalist. His first fiction,
was serialized in 1836. By 1840 he was the most famous
novelist in Britain, and a keen critic of child labor and the inequities of early industrial
was Dickens’ tenth novel. It is not generally rated among his best;
Dickens wrote it in a hurry, primarily to revive the flagging sales of his periodical
. It is famous for the heartless character Mr. Gradgrind and its
portrayal of “Coketown,” a fictitious industrial city based on the real town of Preston
CHAPTER I - THE ONE THING NEEDFUL
'NOW, what I want is, Facts.
Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts.
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
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.
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
The speaker's obstinate carriage, square coat, square legs, square