‘I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me.‘ is a quotation from A Tale of Two Cities (Book 2, Chapter 4).
A Tale of Two Cities is the twelfth novel by Charles Dickens, originally published in weekly installments between April 1859 and November 1859. It is one of two historical novels by Dickens (the other being Barnaby Rudge). The plot centres on the years leading up to the French Revolution and culminates in the Jacobean Reign of Terror.
This quotation is said by the character Sydney Carton, a barrister with a drink problem. Here, he is talking to Charles Darney in a tavern following a trial in which he helped Darney to be acquited of charges of being a French spy. Carton is letting the alcohol do the talking, wallowing in self-pity.
Taken from the following passage towards the end of Book 2, Chapter 4 of A Tale of Two Cities:
“Do you think I particularly like you?”
“Really, Mr. Carton,” returned the other, oddly disconcerted, “I have not asked myself the question.”
“But ask yourself the question now.”
“You have acted as if you do; but I don’t think you do.”
“I don’t think I do,” said Carton. “I begin to have a very good opinion of your understanding.”
“Nevertheless,” pursued Darnay, rising to ring the bell, “there is nothing in that, I hope, to prevent my calling the reckoning, and our parting without ill-blood on either side.”
Carton rejoining, “Nothing in life!” Darnay rang. “Do you call the whole reckoning?” said Carton. On his answering in the affirmative, “Then bring me another pint of this same wine, drawer, and come and wake me at ten.”
The bill being paid, Charles Darnay rose and wished him good night. Without returning the wish, Carton rose too, with something of a threat of defiance in his manner, and said, “A last word, Mr. Darnay: you think I am drunk?”
“I think you have been drinking, Mr. Carton.”
“Think? You know I have been drinking.”
“Since I must say so, I know it.”
“Then you shall likewise know why. I am a disappointed drudge, sir. I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me.”
“Much to be regretted. You might have used your talents better.”
“May be so, Mr. Darnay; may be not. Don’t let your sober face elate you, however; you don’t know what it may come to. Good night!”
When he was left alone, this strange being took up a candle, went to a glass that hung against the wall, and surveyed himself minutely in it.
“Do you particularly like the man?” he muttered, at his own image; “why should you particularly like a man who resembles you? There is nothing in you to like; you know that. Ah, confound you! What a change you have made in yourself! A good reason for taking to a man, that he shows you what you have fallen away from, and what you might have been! Change places with him, and would you have been looked at by those blue eyes as he was, and commiserated by that agitated face as he was? Come on, and have it out in plain words! You hate the fellow.”
He resorted to his pint of wine for consolation, drank it all in a few minutes, and fell asleep on his arms, with his hair straggling over the table, and a long winding-sheet in the candle dripping down upon him.
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