Charles Dickens

Great Expectations


Charles Dickens

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Great Expectations Page 01



Charles Dickens

Chapter 1

My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip,

my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more

explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called


I give Pirrip as my father's family name, on the authority of his

tombstone and my sister - Mrs. Joe Gargery, who married the

blacksmith. As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw

any likeness of either of them (for their days were long before the

days of photographs), my first fancies regarding what they were

like, were unreasonably derived from their tombstones. The shape of

the letters on my father's, gave me an odd idea that he was a

square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the character

and turn of the inscription, "Also Georgiana Wife of the Above," I

drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly.

To five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long,

which were arranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were

sacred to the memory of five little brothers of mine - who gave up

trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal

struggle - I am indebted for a belief I religiously entertained

that they had all been born on their backs with their hands in

their trousers-pockets, and had never taken them out in this state

of existence.

Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river

wound, twenty miles of the sea. My first most vivid and broad

impression of the identity of things, seems to me to have been

gained on a memorable raw afternoon towards evening. At such a time

I found out for certain, that this bleak place overgrown with

nettles was the churchyard; and that Philip Pirrip, late of this

parish, and also Georgiana wife of the above, were dead and buried;

and that Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias, and Roger, infant

children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; and that the

dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykes

and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the

marshes; and that the low leaden line beyond, was the river; and

that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was

the sea; and that the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it

all and beginning to cry, was Pip.

"Hold your noise!" cried a terrible voice, as a man started up from

among the graves at the side of the church porch. "Keep still, you

little devil, or I'll cut your throat!"

A fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg. A

man with no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied

round his head. A man who had been soaked in water, and smothered

in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by

nettles, and torn by briars; who limped, and shivered, and glared

and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized me

by the chin.

"O! Don't cut my throat, sir," I pleaded in terror. "Pray don't do

it, sir."

"Tell us your name!" said the man. "Quick!"

"Pip, sir."

"Once more," said the man, staring at me. "Give it mouth!"

"Pip. Pip, sir."

"Show us where you live," said the man. "Pint out the place!"

I pointed to where our village lay, on the flat in-shore among the

alder-trees and pollards, a mile or more from the church.

The man, after looking at me for a moment, turned me upside down,

and emptied my pockets. There was nothing in them but a piece of

bread. When the church came to itself - for he was so sudden and

strong that he made it go head over heels before me, and I saw the

steeple under my feet - when the church came to itself, I say, I

was seated on a high tombstone, trembling, while he ate the bread


"You young dog," said the man, licking his lips, "what fat cheeks

you ha' got."

I believe they were fat, though I was at that time undersized for

my years, and not strong.