Charles Dickens

"Whether common ones as to callings and earnings," pursued Joe,

reflectively, "mightn't be the better of continuing for a keep

company with common ones, instead of going out to play with

oncommon ones - which reminds me to hope that there were a flag,


"No, Joe."

"(I'm sorry there weren't a flag, Pip). Whether that might be, or

mightn't be, is a thing as can't be looked into now, without

putting your sister on the Rampage; and that's a thing not to be

thought of, as being done intentional. Lookee here, Pip, at what is

said to you by a true friend. Which this to you the true friend

say. If you can't get to be oncommon through going straight, you'll

never get to do it through going crooked. So don't tell no more on

'em, Pip, and live well and die happy."

"You are not angry with me, Joe?"

"No, old chap. But bearing in mind that them were which I

meantersay of a stunning and outdacious sort - alluding to them

which bordered on weal-cutlets and dog-fighting - a sincere

wellwisher would adwise, Pip, their being dropped into your

meditations, when you go up-stairs to bed. That's all, old chap,

and don't never do it no more."

When I got up to my little room and said my prayers, I did not

forget Joe's recommendation, and yet my young mind was in that

disturbed and unthankful state, that I thought long after I laid me

down, how common Estella would consider Joe, a mere blacksmith: how

thick his boots, and how coarse his hands. I thought how Joe and my

sister were then sitting in the kitchen, and how I had come up to

bed from the kitchen, and how Miss Havisham and Estella never sat

in a kitchen, but were far above the level of such common doings. I

fell asleep recalling what I "used to do" when I was at Miss

Havisham's; as though I had been there weeks or months, instead of

hours; and as though it were quite an old subject of remembrance,

instead of one that had arisen only that day.

That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me.

But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck

out of it, and think how different its course would have been.

Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain

of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound

you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.

Chapter 10

The felicitous idea occurred to me a morning or two later when I

woke, that the best step I could take towards making myself

uncommon was to get out of Biddy everything she knew. In pursuance

of this luminous conception I mentioned to Biddy when I went to Mr.

Wopsle's great-aunt's at night, that I had a particular reason for

wishing to get on in life, and that I should feel very much obliged

to her if she would impart all her learning to me. Biddy, who was

the most obliging of girls, immediately said she would, and indeed

began to carry out her promise within five minutes.

The Educational scheme or Course established by Mr. Wopsle's

great-aunt may be resolved into the following synopsis. The pupils

ate apples and put straws down one another's backs, until Mr

Wopsle's great-aunt collected her energies, and made an

indiscriminate totter at them with a birch-rod. After receiving the

charge with every mark of derision, the pupils formed in line and

buzzingly passed a ragged book from hand to hand. The book had an

alphabet in it, some figures and tables, and a little spelling -

that is to say, it had had once. As soon as this volume began to

circulate, Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt fell into a state of coma;

arising either from sleep or a rheumatic paroxysm. The pupils then

entered among themselves upon a competitive examination on the

subject of Boots, with the view of ascertaining who could tread the

hardest upon whose toes. This mental exercise lasted until Biddy

made a rush at them and distributed three defaced Bibles (shaped as

if they had been unskilfully cut off the chump-end of something),

more illegibly printed at the best than any curiosities of

literature I have since met with, speckled all over with ironmould,

and having various specimens of the insect world smashed between

their leaves.