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suffering little children to come into the midst of it

This common phrase alludes to Mark 10:13-14: "And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God."

The golden waters were not there. They were flowing for the fertilization of the land where grapes are gathered from thorns, and figs from thistles.

This passage combines two allusions: one to a story in the Arabian Nights, in which a woman finds golden waters that will bring her brothers back to life, and the other to Luke 6:44: "For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes."

…she might have been lying at the bottom of a well. The poor lady was nearer Truth than she ever had been

From the proverbial saying, "Truth lies at the bottom of a well."

even Mrs. Gradgrind, emerged from the shadow in which man walketh and disquieteth himself in vain, took upon her the dread solemnity of the sages and patriarchs

The passage alludes to the burial service from the Book of Common Prayer: "For man walketh in a vain shadow, and disquieteth himself in vain.” This passage itself is taken from Psalms 39:6: "Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them."

feeding on the fat of the land

From Genesis 45:18, in which Pharoah says to Joseph: "And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land."

To which Mrs. Sparsit returned, in effect, though not of the Mohammedan persuasion: "To hear is to obey."

An echo of Scheherazade in the Arabian Nights, who frequently said the same to her husband.

like Robinson Crusoe in his ambuscade against the savages

An allusion to the novel Robinson Crusoe (1719) by Daniel Defoe; in it, the title character and Friday attack cannibals from an ambush.

the Good Samaritan was a Bad Economist

A reference to the story of the good Samaritan, related in Luke 10:29-37. In it, a man is robbed and wounded; a priest and a Levite who pass him do nothing. But a passing Samaritan helps the man, binds his wounds, and takes him to an inn, paying for the man to be cared for without expecting the money to be returned.

"until they shall be able to direct the anatomist where to strike his knife into the secrets of my soul."

The close of Louisa's speech may allude to Shakespeare's play 2 Henry VI, Act III, Scene ii, 374-6: "sometimes he calls the King/ And whispers to his pillow, as to him,/ The secrets of his overcharged soul."

Bibliographical information

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