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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
July, 1998 [Etext #1400]
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GREAT EXPECTATIONS [1867 Edition]
by Charles Dickens
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
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 dikes 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 gray, 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.
"Oh! Don't cut my throat, sir," I pleaded in terror. "Pray don't do
"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.