"The Mysterious Island" by Jules Verne (1874)
"'I was within the law and within my rights,' he added. 'Throughout all my travels, I did whatever good was possible, and whatever evil was necessary. Justice does not always mean forgiveness!'
"'These words met only with silence, and again _________ spoke:
"'What do you think of me, gentlemen?'
"Cyrus Smith stretched out his hand and answered gravely:
"'__________, your mistake was to believe you could bring back the past. You struggled against progress, which is a good and necessary thing. This is an error that some admire and others condemn, but God alone can judge of its virtue, and human reason can only pardon it. A man who errs through what he believes to be good intentions may well be denounced, but he will always be esteemed. Some may find much to praise in your error, and your name has nothing to fear from the judgment of history. History loves heroic follies, even as it condemns their consequences.'"
"The Mysterious Island" is one of Verne's later novels, presaging a string of darker, less popular works that you're not likely to find in your local bookstore. By the time it appeared on Paris bookshelves, Verne was already a man celebrated throughout France, and his "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," "Journey to the Center of the Earth," and "Around the World in 80 Days" had found an eager audience in both Europe and the United States.
The novel is largely a story of survival, pitting four Americans against the island where they find themselves stranded, against the predations of pirates, and against a mysterious, reclusive figure who assists them at certain key points in the narrative. If you haven't read the novel, you might already know who this reclusive figure is. If you don't know, and don't want to know, I suggest avoiding both the Wikipedia entry on this book and the book's introductory sections.
Compared to Verne's other, more popular novels, I'd have to say that this one is really lacking in dramatic tension. If Verne had only started the narrative much later, after the colonists had established themselves on the island, and just before their discovery of the fifth castaway, this book would have been so much better. As it is, the story drags on for more than 100 pages, and it isn't until the second half that things really get going.
There are also some scientific and chronological problems present in "The Mysterious Island," but I think that these can be excused. Verne was, after all, writing this thing in the late 1800s, and it is easy to see how certain scientific inconsistencies might have got by him. The chronological issues are perhaps more glaring, but don't appear until the end of the book, and don't really interfere with one's enjoyment of the story.
My greatest difficulty with this book was the psychology of the characters. They spend four years on the island, and their desire to escape their confinement is, until the very end of the book, absent from their daily lives. You would think that the colonists would be trying to escape the island from their first week there, but instead they spend much of the book contentedly building sheepfolds, and windmills, and planting wheat. Wouldn't they miss the families they left behind? Wouldn't they want to leave? Even despite the vast distances they would have to travel, I think that a perilous sea journey would be preferable to a slow, lonely exile in the middle of the Pacific.
Aside from this question of psychology, "The Mysterious Island" is still a good book, and I would still recommend it, especially if you've read Verne's other, more famous novels. As an adventure story it largely succeeds, and its flaws can be overlooked in most instances.