No Greater Love— II

S M Chen
5 min readJan 9, 2024

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

  • Charles Dickens (1812–1870), English writer

Considered by many the greatest novelist of the Victorian era, English writer Charles Dickens created many memorable characters.

So indelible were some they continue to live in our vernacular, imbedded in our consciousness.

For example, if one utters the single word “Scrooge” one usually need not elaborate further.

Unless the hearer has been on a space station, living under a rock, or is of different culture, that appellation invokes a skinflint, a miser, who, by grace, may see the error of his ways, and change them before it is too late.

It might be akin to imagining a slice of lemon and seeing what that mere thought does to the salivary output.

One of Dickens’ major novels was “A Tale of Two Cities.”

Set in the major cities of London and Paris during the time of the French Revolution, it had an interesting premise.

Some cynics might say a flawed one.

Near the novel’s end, one protagonist, Sydney Carton, goes to the guillotine in the stead of another. He makes the ultimate sacrifice so that the woman he loves can be with the man she loves.

Yet this is what he said as he awaited the blade.

“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.”

Once a hard drinker with no purpose in life, Carton went to his death with perhaps a smile on his face and peace in his heart.

One could be excused for averring this was merely art, a figment of the fevered imagination of Dickens. It might never happen in real life.

Who would do that?

Well, sometimes life does recapitulate art.

With his usual excellence, prolific writer Barry Gander describes the death of Russian cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov.

Interested readers can access the full essay here: