It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
from the first chapter of A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens has recently been jumping in hops and starts onto my favorite authors list, and A Tale of Two Cities is now very, very high in my favorite books. It is a work of genius, I think. As the back of the book says:
"With dramatic eloquence, he [Dickens] brings to life a time of terror and treason, a starving people rising in frenzy and hate to overthrow a corrupt and decadent regime. With insight and compassion, he casts his novel of unforgetable scenes with memorable characters: the sinister Madame Defarge, knitting her patterns of death; the gentle Lucie Manette, unswerving in her devotion to her broken father; and the heroic Sydney Carton, who gives his life for the love of a woman who will never be his."
Dear Sydney Carton. If he lived and could read what this back cover says.........
Poor Sydney Carton, believing all his life that he was useless, and it was no use trying. He thought he was a failure compared to Mr. Stryver. But even before the end, as you can see from their treatment of their respective admiration for Lucie, it is Sydney who is shown to be the real honorable, noble gentleman. And then his kindness to the poor seamstress at the very end.....
"You comfort me so much! I am so ignorant. Am I to kiss you now? Is the moment come?"
She kisses his lips; he kisses hers; they solemnly bless each other. The spare hand does not tremble as he releases it; nothing worse than a sweet, bright constancy is in the patient face. She goes next before him—is gone; the knitting-women count Twenty-Two.
"I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."
The murmuring of many voices, the upturning of many faces, the pressing on of many footsteps in the outskirts of the crowd, so that it swells forward in a mass, like one great heave of water, all flashes away. Twenty-Three.
********************They said of him, about the city that night, that it was the peacefullest man's face ever beheld there. Many added that he looked sublime and prophetic.
********************"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."