Background.

The magistrates shivered under a single bite of his finger. Thieves and thief-takers hung in dread rapture on his words, and shrank when a hair of his eyebrows turned in their direction.” is a quotation from Great Expectations (Chapter 24).

Great Expectations is Charles Dickens‘s thirteenth novel first published between 1860 and 1861.

 

Context.

This quote describes the lawyer Jaggers., a man who instilled fear in both members of the judiciary and criminals alike.

Quotation taken from the following closing passage of Chapter 24 of Great Expectations:

For several reasons, and not least because I didn’t clearly know what Mr. Jaggers would be found to be “at,” I replied in the affirmative. We dived into the City, and came up in a crowded police-court, where a blood-relation (in the murderous sense) of the deceased, with the fanciful taste in brooches, was standing at the bar, uncomfortably chewing something; while my guardian had a woman under examination or cross-examination,—I don’t know which,—and was striking her, and the bench, and everybody present, with awe. If anybody, of whatsoever degree, said a word that he didn’t approve of, he instantly required to have it “taken down.” If anybody wouldn’t make an admission, he said, “I’ll have it out of you!” and if anybody made an admission, he said, “Now I have got you!” The magistrates shivered under a single bite of his finger. Thieves and thief-takers hung in dread rapture on his words, and shrank when a hair of his eyebrows turned in their direction. Which side he was on I couldn’t make out, for he seemed to me to be grinding the whole place in a mill; I only know that when I stole out on tiptoe, he was not on the side of the bench; for, he was making the legs of the old gentleman who presided, quite convulsive under the table, by his denunciations of his conduct as the representative of British law and justice in that chair that day.

 

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