I’m just reading Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend (main comment so far: there are about a million characters and I can’t remember who is who), and came across this little gem. Silas Wegg has been offered some money to go and read a book for Mr Boffin, who’s illiterate.
“Half a crown,” said Wegg, meditating. “Yes. (It ain’t much, sir.) Half a crown.”
“Per week, you know.”
“Per week. Yes. As to the amount of strain upon the intellect now. Was you thinking at all of poetry?” Mr Wegg inquired, musing.
“Would it come dearer?” Mr Boffin asked.
“It would come dearer,’ Mr Wegg returned. ‘For when a person comes to grind off poetry night after night, it is but right he should expect to be paid for its weakening effect on his mind.”