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Full text of "David Copperfield"

LIBRARY OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 

AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN 




The person charging this material is re- 
sponsible for its return to the library from 
which it was withdrawn on or before the 
Latest Date stamped below. 

Theft, mutilation, and underlining of books 
are reasons for disciplinary action and may 
result in dismissal from the University. 

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS LIBRARY AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN 



DEC 1 3 1S 



7 199J 




JAM 2 1982 

AUG 1 4 J982 

AU812 
**!* 

DPC 22 19 

JAN 1 9 19$3 



JUN 2 4 1991 
OCT 

SEP 2 2 1995 



I?! 

202002 



L161 O-1096 



I 

, *\Ki.-.; iWiirL'Ss j ' P B& ^ ^v* AN 







THE PERSONAL HISTORY 



OF 



DAVID COPPERFIELD 



BY 

CHARLES DICKENS 



IN TWO VOLUMES 
VOL. I 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS 



NEW YORK 
THE UNIVERSITY SOCIETY 

PUBLISHERS 



PREFACE 



I DO not find it easy to get sufficiently far away from this 
Book, in the first sensations of having finished it, to refer 
to it with the composure which this formal heading would 
seem to require. My interest in it, is so recent and strong, 
and my mind is so divided between pleasure and regret 
pleasure in the achievement of a long design, regret in the 
separation from many companions that I am in danger of 
wearying the reader whom I love, with personal confidences 
and private emotions. 

Besides which, all that I could say of the Story, to any 
purpose, I have endeavored to say in it. 

It would concern the reader little, perhaps, to know how 
sorrowfully the pen is laid down at the close of a two- 
years' imaginative task ; or how an Author feels as if he 
ere dismissing some portion of himself into the shadowy 
world, when a crowd of the creatures of his brain are going 
from him for ever. Yet, I have nothing else to tell; unless, 
indeed, I were to confess (which might be of less moment 
<Btill), that no one can ever believe this Narrative, in the 
reading, more than I have believed it in the writing. 

Instead of looking back, therefore, I will look forward. 

. 

,1 cannot close this Volume more agreeably to myself, than 

fit 



IV 



PREFACE. 



with a hopeful glance towards the time when I shall again 
put forth iny two green leaves once a month, and with 
faithful remembrance of the genial sun and showers the 
have fallen on these leaves of David Copperfield, and made 
me happy. 

The foregoing remarks are what I originally wrote, undei 
the head of PREFACE TO THE PERSOXAL HISTORY OF DAVIJ 
COPPERFIELD. I have nothing to add to them at tl 
time. 



CONTENTS OF VOL. I. 



CHAPTER PAQB 

I. I AM BORN ... .,,,.. 

II. I OBSERVE .......... 14 

III. I HAVE A CHANGE ........ 30 

IV. I FALL INTO DISGRACE ....... 47 

V. I AM SENT AWAY FROM HOME . . . . . .68 

VI. I ENLARGE MY ClRCLE OF ACQUAINTANCE ... 88 

VII. MY "FIRST HALF" AT SALEM HOUSE .... 96 

VIII. MY HOLIDAYS. ESPECIALLY ONE HAPPY AFTERNOON . 116 

IX. I HAVE A MEMORABLE BIRTHDAY ..... 132 

X. I BECOME NEGLECTED, AND AM PROVIDED FOR . . 145 

XI. I BEGIN LlFE ON MY OWN ACCOUNT, AND DON'T LIKE IT 167 

XII. LIKING LIFE ON MY OWN ACCOUNT NO BETTER, i FORM 

A GREAT RESOLUTION ....... 184 

XIII. THE SEQUEL OF MY RESOLUTION . . . 195 

XIV. MY AUNT MAKES UP HER MIND ABOUT ME ... 217 

XV. I MAKE ANOTHER BEGINNING ...... 234 

XVI. I AM A NEW BOY IN MORE SENSES THAN ONE . . . 245 

XVII. SOMEBODY TURNS UP ........ 269 

XVIII. A RETROSPECT ......... 288 

XIX. I LOOK ABOUT ME, AND MAKE A DISCOVERY . . . 296 

XX. STEERFORTH'S HOME ........ 314 

XXI. LITTLE EM'LY ......... 324 

XXII. SOME OLD SCENES AND SOME NEW PEOPLE . . . 345 

XXIII. I CORROBORATE MR. DlCK. ANT CHOOSE A PROFESSION . 370 

V 



Vi CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER PAGE 

XXIV. MY FIRST DISSIPATION 386 

XXV. GOOD AND BAD ANGELS 396 

XXVI. I PALL INTO CAPTIVITY 417 

XXVII. TOMMY TRADDLES 434 

XXVIII. MR. MICAWBER'S GAUNTLET 445 

XXIX. I VISIT STEERFORTH AT HIS HOME, AGAIN . . . 466 



THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF 



DAVID COPPERFIELD. 



CHAPTER I. 

I AM BORN. 

WHETHER I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, 
or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these 
pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my 
life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and 
believe) on a Friday, at twelve o'clock at night. It was 
remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, 
simultaneously. 

In consideration of the day and hour of my birth, it was 
declared by the nurse, and by some sage women in the neigh- 
borhood who had taken a lively interest in me several months 
before there was any possibility of our becoming personally 
acquainted, first, that I was destined to be unlucky in life ; 
and secondly, that I was privileged to see ghosts and spirits ; 
both these gifts inevitably attaching, as they believed, to all 
unlucky infants of either gender, born towards the small hours 
on a Friday night. 

I need say nothing here, on the first head, because nothing 
can show better than my history whether that prediction was 
verified or falsified by the result. On the second branch of 
the question, I will only remark, that unless I ran through 
that part of my inheritance while I was still a baby, I have 
not come into it yet. But I do not at all complain of having 
been kept out of this property, and if anybody else should 

VOL. Z 1 1 




2 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

be in the present enjoyment of it, he is heartily welcome to 
keep it. 

I Avas born with a caul, which was advertised for sale, in the 
newspapers, at the low price of fifteen guineas. Whether sea- 
going people were short of money about that time, or were 
short of faith and preferred cork-jackets, I don't know ; all I 
know is, that there was but one solitary bidding, and that was 
from an attorney connected with the bill-broking business, 
who offered two pounds in cash, and the balance in sherry, 
but declined to be guaranteed from drowning on any higher 
bargain. Consequently the advertisement was withdrawn at 
a dead loss -r for as to sherry, my poor dear mother's own 
sherry was in the market then and ten years afterward? 
the caul was put up in a raffle down in our part of the coun- 
try, to fifty members at half-a-crown a head, the winner to 
spend five shillings. I was present myself, and I remember 
to have felt quite uncomfortable and confused, at a part of 
myself being disposed of in that way. The caul was won, I 
recollect, by an old lady with a hand-basket, who, very reluc- 
tantly, produced from it the stipulated five shillings, all in 
halfpence, and twopence halfpenny short as it took an 
immense time and a great waste of arithmetic, to endeavor 
without any effect to prove to her. It is a fact which will be 
long remembered as remarkable down there, that she was 
never drowned, but died triumphantly in bed, at ninety-two. 
I have understood that it was, to the last, her proudest boast, 
that she never had been on the water in her life, except upon 
a bridge ; and that over her tea (to which she was extremely 
partial) she, to the last, expressed her indignation at the 
impiety of mariners and others, who had the presumption to 
go " meandering " about the world. It was in vain to repre- 
sent to her that some conveniences, tea perhaps included, 
resulted from this objectionable practice. She always re- 
turned, with greater emphasis and with an instinctive knowl- 
edge of the strength of her objection, " Let us have no 
meandering." 

Not to meander myself, at present, I will go back to my 
birth. 

I was born at Blunderstone, in Suffolk, or "thereby/' as 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 3 

they say in Scotland. I was a posthumous child. My father's 
eyes had closed upon the light of this world six months, when 
mine opened on it. There is something strange to me, even 
now, in the reflection that he never saw me ; and something 
stranger yet in the shadowy remembrance that I have of my 
first childish associations with his white gravestone in the 
churchyard, and of the indefinable compassion I used to feel 
for it lying out alone there in the dark night, when our little 
parlor was warm and bright with fire and candle, and the 
doors of our house were almost cruelly, it seemed to me 
sometimes bolted and locked against it. 

An aunt of my father's, and consequently a great-aunt of 
mine, of whom I shall have more to relate by and by, was the 
principal magnate of our family. Miss Trotwood, or Miss 
Betsey, as my poor mother always called her, when she suffi- 
ciently overcame her dread of this formidable personage to 
mention her at all (which was seldom), had been married to a 
husband younger than herself, who was very handsome, except 
in the sense of the homely adage, "handsome is, that hand- 
some does " for he was strongly suspected of having beaten 
Miss Betsey, and even of having once, on a disputed question 
of supplies, made some hasty but determined arrangements to 
throw her out of a two pair of stairs' window. These evidences 
of an incompatibility of temper induced Miss Betsey to pay 
him off, and effect a separation by mutual consent. He went 
to India with his capital, and there, according to a wild legend 
.in our family, he was once seen riding on an elephant, in com- 
pany with a Baboon ; but I think it must have been a Baboo 
or a Begum. Anyhow, from India, tidings of his death 
reached home, within ten years. How they affected my aunt, 
nobody knew ; for immediately upon the separation, she took 
her maiden name again, bought a cottage in a hamlet on the 
sea-coast a long way off, established herself there as a single 
woman with one servant, and was understood to live se- 
cluded, ever afterwards, in an inflexible retirement. 

My father had once been a favorite of hers, I believe ; but 
she was mortally affronted by his marriage, on the ground that 
my mother was " a wax doll." She had never seen my mother, 
but she knew her to be not yet twenty. My father and Miss 



4 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

Betsey never met again. He was double my mother's age 
when he married, and of but a delicate constitution. He died 
a year afterwards, and, as I have said, six months before I 
came into the world. 

This was the state of matters, on the afternoon of, what 
/ may be excused for calling, that eventful and important 
Friday. I can make no claim therefore to have known, at that 
time, how matters stood ; or to have any remembrance, founded 
on the evidence of my own senses, of what follows. 

My mother was sitting by the fire, but poorly in health, and 
very low in spirits, looking at it through her tears, and de- 
sponding heavily about herself and the fatherless little stranger, 
who was already welcomed by some grosses of prophetic pins, 
in a drawer up stairs, to a world not at all excited on the 
subject of his arrival ; my mother, I say, was sitting by the 
fire, that bright, windy March afternoon, very timid and sad, 
and very doubtful of ever coming alive out of the trial that 
was before her, when, lifting her eyes as she dried them, to 
the window opposite, she saw a strange lady coming up the 
garden. 

My mother had a sure foreboding at the second glance, that 
it was Miss Betsey. The setting sun was glowing on the 
strange lady, over the garden-fence, and she came walking up 
to the door with a fell rigidity of figure and composure of 
countenance that could have belonged to nobody else. 

When she reached the house, she gave another proof of her 
identity. My father had often hinted that she seldom con- 
ducted herself like any ordinary Christian ; and now, instead 
of ringing the bell, she came and looked in at that identical 
window, pressing the end of her nose against the glass to that 
extent, that my poor dear mother used to say it became per- 
fectly flat and white in a moment. 

She gave my mother such a turn, that I have always been 
convinced I am indebted to Miss Betsey for having been born 
on a Friday. 

My mother had left her chair in her agitation, and gone 
behind it in the corner. Miss Betsey, looking round the 
room, slowly and inquiringly, began on the other side, and 
carried her eyes on, like a Saracen's Head in a Dutch clock, 



(XF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 5 

until they reached my mother. Then she made a frown and a 
gesture to my mother, like one who was accustomed to be 
obeyed, to come and open the door. My mother went. 

" Mrs. David Copperfield, I think," said Miss Betsey ; the 
emphasis referring, perhaps, to my mother's mourning weeds^ 
and her condition. 

"Yes," said my mother, faintly. 

"Miss Trotwood," said the visitor. "You have heard of 
her, I dare say ? " 

My mother answered she had had that pleasure. And she 
had a disagreeable consciousness of not appearing to imply 
that it had been an overpowering pleasure. 

" Now you see her," said Miss Betsey. My mother bent her 
head, and begged her to walk in. 

They went into the parlor my mother had come from, the 
fire in the best room on the other side of the passage not 
being lighted not having been lighted, indeed, since my 
father's funeral ; and when they were both seated, and Miss 
Betsey said nothing, my mother, after vainly trying to restrain 
herself, began to cry. 

" Oh tut, tut, tut ! " said Miss Betsey, in a hurry. " Don't 
do that ! Come, come ! " 

My mother couldn't help it notwithstanding, so she cried 
until she had had her cry out. 

" Take off your cap, child," said Miss Betsey, " and let me 
see you." 

My mother was too much afraid of her to refuse compliance 
with this odd request, if she had any disposition to do so. 
Therefore she did as she was told, and did it with such nervous 
hands that her hair (which was luxuriant and beautiful) fell 
all about her face. 

"Why, bless my heart!" exclaimed Miss Betsey. "You 
are a very Baby ! " 

My mother was, no doubt, unusually youthful in appearance 
even for her years ; she hung her head, as if it were her fault, 
poor thing, and said, sobbing, that indeed she was afraid she 
was but a childish widow, and would be but a childish mother 
if she lived. In a short pause which ensued, she had a fancy 
that she felt Miss Betsey touch her hair, and that with no 



6 

ungentle hand ; but, looking at her, in her timid hope, she 
found that lady sitting with the skirt of her dress tucked up, 
her hands folded on one knee, and her feet upon the fender, 
frowning at the fire. 

" In the name of Heaven," said Miss Betsey, suddenly, 
"why Rookery?" 

"Do you mean the house, nia'am ? " asked my mother. 

"Why Bookery ? " said Miss Betsey. "Cookery would 
have been more to the purpose, if you had had any practical 
ideas of life, either of you." 

" The name was Mr. Copperfield's choice," returned my 
mother. "When he bought the house, he liked to think that 
there were rooks about it." 

The evening wind made such a disturbance just now, among 
some tall old elm trees at the bottom of the garden, that 
neither my mother nor Miss Betsey could forbear glancing 
that way. As the elms bent to one another, like giants who 
were whispering secrets, and after a few seconds of such repose, 
fell into a violent flurry, tossing their wild arms about, as if 
their late confidences were really too wicked for their peace 
of mind, some weather-beaten ragged old rooks'-nests, burden- 
ing their higher branches, swung like wrecks upon a storms- 
sea. 

" Where are the birds ? " asked Miss Betsey. 

" The ? " My mother had been thinking of something 
else. 

"The rooks what has become of them?" asked Miss 
Betsey. 

"There have not been any since* we have lived here," said 
my mother. "We thought Mr. Copperfield thought it 
was quite a large rookery ; but the nests were very old ones, 
and the birds have deserted them a long while." 

" David Copperfield all over ! " cried Miss Betsey. " David 
Copperfield from head to foot ! Calls a house a rookery when 
there's not a rook near it, and take the birds on trust, because 
he sees the nests ! " 

"Mr. Copperfield," returned my mother, "is dead, and if 
you dare to speak unkindly of him to me " 

My poor dear mother, I suppose, had some momentary in- 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 1 

tention of committing an assault and battery upon my aunt, 
who could easily have settled her with one hand, even if my 
mother had been in far better training for such an encounter 
than she was that evening. But it passed with the action of 
rising from her chair ; and she sat down again very meekly, 
and fainted. 

When she came to herself, or when Miss Betsey had restored- 
her, whichever it was, she found the latter standing at the 
window. The twilight was by this time shading down into 
darkness ; and dimly as they saw each other, they could not 
have done that without the aid of the fire. 

" Well ? " said Miss Betsey, coming back to her chair, as if 
she had only been taking a casual look at the prospect ; " and 
when do you expect " 

" I am all in a tremble," faltered my mother. " I don't 
know what's the matter. I shall die, I am sure ! " 

" No, no, no," said Miss Betsey. " Have some tea." 

" Oh dear me, dear me, do you think it will do me any 
good? " cried my mother, in a helpless manner. 

" Of course it will," said Miss Betsey. " It's nothing but 
fancy. What do you call your girl ? " 

" I don't know that it will be a girl, yet, ma'am," said my 
mother, innocently. 

"Bless the Baby ! " exclaimed Miss Betsey, unconsciously 
quoting the second sentiment of the pincushion in the drawee 
up stairs, but applying it to my mother instead of me, "I 
don't mean that. I mean your servant-girl." 

Peggotty," said my mother. 

" Peggotty ! " repeated Miss Betsey, with some indignation. 
" Do you mean to say, child, that any human being has gone 
into a Christian church, and got herself named Peggotty ? ' : 

"It's her surname," said my mother, faintly. "Mr. Copper- 
field called her by it, because her Christian name was the 
same as mine." 

" Here ! Peggotty ! " cried Miss Betsey, opening the parlor- 
door. " Tea. Your mistress is a little unwell. Don't dawdle." 

Having issued this mandate with as much potentiality as if 
she had been a recognized authority in the house ever since it 
had been a house, and having looked out to confront the 



8 

amazed Peggotty coining along the passage with a candle at 
the sound of a strange voice, Miss Betsey shut the door again, 
and sat down as before : with her feet on the fender, the skirt 
of her dress tucked up, and her hands folded on one knee. 

"You were speaking about its being a girl," said Miss 
Betsey. " I have no doubt it will be a girl. I have a presenti- 
' merit that it must be a girl. Now child, from the moment of 
the birth of this girl " 

" Perhaps boy," my mother took the liberty of putting in. 

" I tell you I have a presentiment that it must be a girl," 
returned Miss Betsey. " Don't contradict. From the moment 
of this girl's birth, child, I intend to be her friend. I intend 
to be her godmother, and I beg you'll call her Betsey Trot- 
wood Copperfield. There must be no mistakes in life with this 
Betsey Trotwood. There must be no trifling with her affec- 
tions, poor dear. She must be well brought up, and well 
guarded from reposing any foolish confidences where they are 
not deserved. I must make that my care." 

There was a twitch of Miss Betsey's head, after each of 
these sentences, as if her own old wrongs were working within 
her, and she repressed any plainer reference to them by strong 
constraint. So my mother suspected, at least, as she observed 
her by the low glimmer of the fire : too much scared by Miss 
Betsey, too uneasy in herself, and too subdued and bewildered 
altogether, to observe anything very clearly, or to know what 
to say. 

" And was David good to you, child ? " asked Miss Betsey, 
when she had been silent for a little while, and these motions 
of her head had gradually ceased. " Were you comfortable 
together ? " 

" We were very happy," said my mother. " Mr. Copperfield 
was only too good to me." 

" What, he spoilt you, I suppose ? " returned Miss Betsey. 

" For being quite alone and dependent on myself in this 
rough world again, yes, I fear he did indeed," sobbed my 
mother. 

" Well ! Don't cry ! " said Miss Betsey. " You were not 
equally matched, child if any two people ca.?i be equally 



OF D'AVID COPPEBFIELD. 9 

matched and s I asked the question. You were an orphan, 
weren't you ? ;: 
"Yes." 

" And a governess ? " 

" I was nursery-governess in a family where Mr. Copperfield 
came to visit. Mr. Copperfield was very kind to me, and took 
a great deal of notice of me, and paid me a good deal of atten- 
tion, and at last proposed to me. And I accepted him. And 
so we were married," said my mother, simply. 

" Ha ! Poor Baby ! " mused Miss Betsey, with her frown 
still bent upon the fire. " Do you know anything ? " 
" I beg your pardon, ma'am," faltered my mother. 
" About keeping house, for instance," said Miss Betsey. 
" Not much, I fear," returned my mother, " Not so much as 
I could wish. But Mr. Copperfield was teaching me " 

("Much he knew about it himself! ") said Miss Betsey, in 
a parenthesis." 

And I hope I should have improved, being very anxious 

to learn, and he very patient to teach, if the great misfortune 
of his death " my mother broke down again here, and could 
get no farther. 

" Well, well ! " said Miss Betsey. 

" I kept my housekeeping-book regularly, and balanced 
it with Mr. Copperfield every night," cried my mother, in 
another burst of distress, and breaking down again. 

" Well, well ! " said Miss Betsey. " Don't cry any more." 

And I am sure we never had a word of difference 

respecting it, except when Mr. Copperfield objected to my 
threes and fives being too much like each other, or to my put- 
ting curly tails to my sevens and nines," resumed my mother, 
in another burst, and breaking down again. 

"You'll make yourself ill," said Miss Betsey, "and you 
know that will not be good either for you or for my god- 
daughter. Come ! You mustn't do it ! " 

This argument had some share in quieting my mother, 
though her increasing indisposition perhaps had a larger one. 
There was an interval of silence, only broken by Miss Betsey's 
occasionally ejaculating " Ha ! " as she sat with her feet upon 
the fender. 



10 THE PEE SON AL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" David had bought an annuity for himself with his money, 
I know," said she, by and by. " What did he do for you ? " 

" Mr. Copperfield," said my mother, answering with some 
difficulty, " was so considerate and good as to secure the 
reversion of a part of it to me." 

" How much ? " asked Miss Betsey. 

" A hundred and five pounds a year," said my mother. 

" He might have done worse," said my aunt. 

The word was appropriate to the moment. My mother was 
so much worse that Peggotty, coining in with the teaboard 
and candles, and seeing at a glance how ill she was, as Miss 
Betsey might have done sooner if there had been light enough, 
conveyed her up stairs to her own room with all speed ; and 
immediately despatched Ham Peggotty, her nephew, who had 
been for some days past secreted in the house, unknown to my 
mother, as a special messenger, in case of emergency, to fetch 
the nurse and doctor. 

Those allied powers were considerably astonished, when 
they arrived within a few minutes of each other, to find an 
unknown lady of portentous appearance sitting before the 
fire, with her bonnet tied over her left arm, stopping her ears 
with jewellers' cotton. Peggotty knowing nothing about her, and 
my mother saying nothing about her, she was quite a mystery 
in the parlor ; and the fact of her having a magazine of jewel- 
lers' cotton in her pocket, and sticking the article in her ears 
in that way, did not detract from the solemnity of her presence. 

The doctor having been up stairs and come down again, 
and having satisfied himself, I suppose, that there was a 
probability of this unknown lady and himself having to sit 
there, face to face, for some hours, laid himself out to be polite 
and social. He was the meekest of his sex, the mildest of 
little men. He sidled in and out of a room, to take up the less 
space. He walked as softly as the Ghost in Hamlet, and more 
slowly. He carried his head on one side, partly in modest 
depreciation of himself, partly in modest propitiation of 
everybody else. It is nothing to say, that he hadn't a word 
to throw at a dog. He couldn't have thrown a word at a mad 
dog. He might have offered him one gently, or half a one, 
or a fragment of one ; for he spoke as slowly as he walked', 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 11 

but he wouldn't have been rude to him, and he couldn't have 
been quick with him, for any earthly consideration. 

Mr. Chillip, looking mildly at my aunt, with his head on. 
one side, and making her a little, bow, said, in allusion to the 
jewellers' cotton, as he softly touched his left ear : 

" Some local irritation, ma'am ? " 

" What ! " replied my aunt, pulling the cotton out of one 
ear like a cork. 

Mr. Chillip was so alarmed by her abruptness as he tola:' 
my mother afterwards that it was a mercy he didn't lose 
his presence of mind. But he repeated, sweetly : 

" Some local irritation, ma'am ? " 

" Nonsense ! " replied my aunt, and corked herself, again, 
at one blow. 

Mr. Chillip could do nothing after this, but sit and look at 
her feebly, as she sat and looked at the fire, until he was 
called up stairs again. After some quarter of an hour's 
absence, he returned. 

" Well ? " said my aunt, taking the cotton out of the ear 
nearest to. him. 

"Well, ma'am," returned Mr. Chillip, "we are we are 
progressing slowly, ma'am." 

" Ya a ah ! " said my aunt, with a perfect shake on the 
contemptuous interjection. And corked herself as before. 

Really really as Mr. Chillip told my mother, he was 
almost shocked; speaking in a professional point of view 
alone he was almost shocked. But he sat and looked at her, 
notwithstanding, for nearly two hours, as she sat looking at 
the fire, until he was again called out. After another absence, 
he again returned. 

" Well ? " said my aunt, taking out the cotton on that side 
again. 

"Well, ma'am," returned Mr. Chillip, "we are we are pro- 
gressing slowly, ma'am." 

"Ya a ah !" said my aunt. With such a snarl at him, 
that Mr. Chillip absolutely could not bear it. It was really 
calculated to break his spirit, he said afterwards. He pre- 
ferred to go and sit upon the stairs, in the dark and a strong 
draught, until he was again sent for. 



12 

Ham Peggotty, who went to the national school, and was ;i 
very dragon at his catechism, and who may therefore be 
regarded as a credible witness, reported next day, that hap- 
pening to peep in at the parlor-door an hour after this, he was 
instantly descried by Miss Betsey, then walking to and fro 
in a state of agitation, and pounced upon before he could make 
his escape. That there were now occasional sounds of feet and 
voices overhead which he inferred the cotton did not exclude, 
from the circumstance of his evidently being clutched by 
the lady as a victim on whom to expend her superabundant 
agitation when the sounds were loudest. That, marching him 
constantly up and down by the collar (as if he had been taking 
too much laudanum), she, at those times, shook him, rumpled 
his hair, made light of his linen, stopped Ms ears as if she 
confounded them with her own, and otherwise touzled and 
maltreated him. This was in part confirmed by his aunt, who 
saw him at half-past twelve o'clock, soon after his release, and 
affirmed that he was then as red as I was. 

The mild Mr. Chillip could not possibly bear malice at such 
a time, if at any time. He sidled into the parlor as soon as he 
was at liberty, and said to my aunt in his meekest manner : 

"Well, ma'am, I am happy to congratulate you." 

" What upon ? " said my aunt, sharply. 

Mr. Chillip was fluttered again, by the extreme severity of 
my aunt's manner; so he made her a little bow, and gave her 
a little smile, to mollify her. 

" Mercy on the man, what's he doing ! " cried my aunt, 
impatiently. " Can't he speak ? " 

" Be calm, my dear ma'am," said Mr. Chillip, in his softest 
accents. " There is no longer any occasion for uneasiness, 
ma'am. Be calm." 

It has since been considered almost a miracle that my aunt 
didn't shake him, and shake what he had to say, out of him. 
She only shook her own head at him, but in a way that made 
him quail. 

"Well, ma'am," resumed Mr. Chillip, as soon as he had 
courage, " I am happy to congratulate you. All is now over, 
ma'am, and well over." 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 13 

During the five minutes or so that Mr Chillip devoted to 
the delivery of this oration, my aunt eyed him narrowly. 

"How is she? 7 ' said my aunt, folding her arms with her 
bonnet still tied on one of them. 

" Well, ma'am, she will soon be quite comfortable, I hope," 
returned Mr. Chillip. "Quite as comfortable as we can expect 
a young mother to be, under these melancholy domestic cir- 
cumstances. There cannot be any objection to your seeing 
her presently, ma'am. It may do her good." 

"And she. How is she?" said my aunt, sharply. 

Mr. Chillip laid his head a little more on one side, and 
looked at my aunt like an amiable bird. 

The baby," said my aunt. " How is she ? ' : 

"Ma'am," returned Mr. Chillip, "I apprehended you had 
known. It's a boy." 

My aunt said never a word, but took her bonnet by the 
strings, in the manner of a sling, aimed a blow at Mr. Chillip's 
head with it, put it on bent, walked out, and never came back. 
She vanished like a discontented fairy; or like one of those 
supernatural beings whom it was popularly supposed I was 
entitled to see ; and never came back any more. 

No. I lay in my basket, and my mother lay in her bed; 
but Betsey Trotwood Copperfield was for ever in the land of 
dreams and shadows, the tremendous region whence I had so 
lately travelled; and the light upon the window of our room 
shone out upon the earthly bourne of all such travellers, and 
the mound above the ashes and the dust that once was he, 
without whom I had never been. 



14 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 



CHAPTEE II. 

I OBSERVE. 

THE first objects that assume a distinct presence before me, 
as I look far back, into the blank of my infancy, are my mother 
with her pretty hair and youthful shape, and Peggotty with 
no shape at all, and eyes so dark that they seemed to darken 
their whole neighborhood in her face, and cheeks and arms so 
hard and red that I wondered the birds didn't peck her in 
preference to apples. 

I believe I can remember these two at a little distance apart, 
dwarfed to my sight by stooping down or kneeling on the 
floor, and I going unsteadily from the one to the other. I 
have an impression on my mind which I cannot distinguish 
from actual remembrance, of the touch of Peggotty's fore- 
finger as she used to hold it out to me, and of its being rough- 
ened by needlework, like a pocket nutmeg-grater. 

This may be fancy, though I think the memory of most of 
us can go farther back into such times than many of us sup- 
pose ; just as I believe the power of observation in numbers 
of very young children to be quite wonderful for its closeness 
and accuracy. Indeed, I think that most grown men who are 
remarkable in this respect, may with greater propriety be said 
not to have lost the faculty, than to have acquired it; the 
rather, as I generally observe such men to retain a certain fresh- 
ness, and gentleness, and capacity of being pleased, which are 
also an inheritance they have preserved from their childhood. 

I might have a misgiving that I am " meandering " in stop- 
ping to say this, but that it brings me to remark that I build 
these conclusions, in part upon my own experience of myself ; 
and if it should appear from anything I may set down in this 
narrative that I was a child of close observation, or that as a 
man I have a strong memory of my childhood, I undoubtedly 
lay claim to both of these characteristics. 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 15 

Looking back, as I was saying, into the blank of my infancy, 
the first objects I can remember as standing out by themselves 
from a confusion of things, are my mother and Peggotty. 
What else do I remember ? Let me see. 

There comes out of the cloud, our house not new to me, 
but quite familiar, in its earliest remembrance. On the ground- 
floor is Peggotty's kitchen, opening into a back yard ; with a 
pigeon-house on a pole, in the centre, without any pigeons in 
it; a great dog-kennel in a corner, without any dog; and a 
quantity of fowls that look terribly tall to me, walking about, 
in a menacing and ferocious manner. There is one cock who 
gets upon a post to crow, and seems to take particular notice 
of me as I look at him through the kitchen window, who makes 
me shiver, he is so fierce. Of the geese outside the side-gate 
who come waddling after me with their long necks stretched 
out when I go that way, I dream at night : as a man environed 
by wild beasts might dream of lions. 

Here is along passage what an enormous perspective I 
make of it ! leading from Peggotty's kitchen to the front- 
door. A dark store-room opens out of it, and that is a place 
to be run past at night ; for I don't know what may be among 
those tubs and jars and old tea-chests, when there is nobody 
in there with a dimly-burning light, letting a mouldy air come 
out at the door, in which there is the smell of soap, pickles, 
pepper, candles, and coffee, all at one whiff. Then there are 
the two parlors : the parlor in which we sit of an evening, my 
mother and I and Peggotty for Peggotty is quite our com- 
panion, when her work is done and we are alone and the 
best parlor where we sit on a Sunday ; grandly, but not so 
comfortably. There is something of a doleful air about that 
room to me, for Peggotty has told me I don't know when, 
but apparently ages ago about my father's funeral, and the 
company having their black cloaks put on. One Sunday night 
my mother reads to Peggotty and me in there, how Lazarus was 
raised up from the dead. And I am so frightened that they 
are afterwards obliged to take me out of bed, and show me the 
quiet churchyard out of the bedroom window, with the dead 
all lying in their graves at rest, below the solemn moon. 

. There is nothing half so green that I know anywhere, as 



16 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

the grass of that churchyard ; nothing half so shady as its 
trees ; nothing half so quiet as its tombstones. The sheep are 
feeding there, when I kneel up, early in the morning, in my 
little bed in a closet within my mother's room, to look out at 
it ; and I see the red light shining on the sun-dial, and think 
within myself, " Is the sun-dial glad, I wonder, that it can 
tell the time again ? " 

Here is our pew in the church. What a high-backed pew ! 
With a window near it, out of which our house can be seen, 
and is seen many times during the morning's service, by Peg- 
gotty, who likes to make herself as sure as she can that it's 
not being robbed, or is not in flames. But though Peggotty's 
eye wanders, she is much offended if mine does, and frowns to 
me, as I stand upon the seat, that I am to look at the clergy- 
man. But I can't always look at him I know him without 
that white thing on, and I am afraid of his wondering why I 
stare so, and perhaps stopping the service to inquire and 
what am I to do ? It's a dreadful thing to gape, but I must 
do something. I look at my mother, but she pretends not to 
see me. I look at a boy in the aisle, and he makes faces at 
me. I look at the sunlight coining in at the open door 
through the porch, and there I see a stray sheep I don't 
mean a sinner, but mutton half making up his mind to come 
into the church. I feel that if I looked at him any longer, I 
might be tempted to say something out loud ; and what would 
become of me then ! I look up at the monumental tablets on 
the Avail, and try to think of Mr. Bodgers, late of this parish, 
and what the feelings of Mrs. Bodgers must have been, when 
affliction sore, long time Mr. Bodgers bore, and physicians 
were in vain. I wonder whether they called in Mr. Chillip, 
and he was in vain ; and if so, how he likes to be reminded of 
it once a week. I look from Mr. Chillip, in his Sunday neck- 
cloth, to the pulpit ; and think what a good place it would be 
to play in, and what a castle it would make, with another boy 
coming up the stairs to attack it, and having the velvet 
cushion with the tassels thrown down on his head. In time 
my eyes gradually shut up; and, from seeming to hear the 
clergyman singing a drowsy song in the heat, I hear nothing, 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 17 

until I fall off the seat with a crash, and am taken out, more 
dead than alive, by Peggotty, 

And now I see the outside of our house, with the latticed 
bedroom windows standing open to let in the sweet-smelling 
air, and the ragged old rooks'- nests still dangling in the elm- 
trees at the bottom of the front garden. Now I am in the 
garden at the back, beyond the yard where the empty pigeon- 
house and dog-kennel are a very preserve of butterflies, as 
I remember it, with a high fence, and a gate and padlock ; 
where the fruit clusters on the trees, riper and richer than 
fruit has ever been since, in any other garden, and where my 
mother gathers some in a basket, while I stand by, bolting 
furtive gooseberries, and trying to look unmoved. A great 
wind rises, and the summer is gone in a moment. We are 
playing in the winter twilight, dancing about the parlor. 
When my mother is out of breath and rests herself in an 
elbow-chair, I watch her winding her bright curls round her 
fingers and straightening her waist, and nobody knows better 
than I do that she likes to look so well, and is proud of being 
so pretty. 

That is among my very earliest impressions. That, and a 
sense that we were both a little afraid of Peggotty, and sub- 
mitted ourselves in most things to her direction, were among 
the first opinions if they may be so called that I ever 
derived from what I saw. 

Peggotty and I were sitting one night by the parlor fire, 
alone. I had been reading to Peggotty about crocodiles. I 
must have read very perspicuously, or the poor soul must have 
been deeply interested, for I remember she had a cloudy 
impression, after I had done, that they were a sort of vege- 
table. I was tired of reading, and dead sleepy ; but having 
leave, as a high treat, to sit up until my mother came home 
from spending the evening at a neighbor's, I would rather 
have died upon my post (of course) than have gone to bed. 
I had reached that stage of sleepiness when Peggotty seemed 
to swell and grow immensely large. I propped my eyelids 
open with my two forefingers, and looked perseveringly at her 
as she sat at work ; at the little bit of wax-candle she kept for 
her thread how old it looked, being so wrinkled in all direc- 

VOL. I 2 



18 TUE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

tions ! at the little house with a thatched roof, where the 
yard-measure lived ; at her work-box with a sliding lid, with a 
view of St. Paul's Cathedral (with a pink dome) painted on 
the top ; at the brass thimble on her finger ; at herself, whom 
I thought lovely. I felt so sleepy, that I knew if I lost sight 
of anything, for a moment, I was gone. 

" Peggotty," says I, suddenly, " were you ever married ? " 

" Lord, Master Davy ! " replied Peggotty. " What's put 
marriage in your head ! " 

She answered with such a start, that it quite awoke me. 
And then she stopped in her work, and looked at me, with her 
needle drawn out to its thread's length. 

" But were you ever married, Peggotty ? " says I. " You 
are a very handsome woman, an't you ? " 

I thought her in a different style from my mother, certainly ; 
but of another school of beauty, I considered her a perfect 
example. There was a red velvet footstool in the best parlor, 
on which my mother had painted a nosegay. The ground- 
work of that stool, and Peggotty's complexion, appeared to me 
to be one and the same thing. The stool was smooth, and 
Peggotty was rough, but that made no difference. 

" Me handsome, Davy ! " said Peggotty. " Lawk, no, my 
dear ! But what put marriage in your head ? " 

" I don't know ! You mustn't marry more than one person 
at a time, may you, Peggotty ? " 

" Certainly not," says Peggotty, with the promptest decision. 

" But if you marry a person, and the person dies, why then 
you may marry another person, mayn't you, Peggotty ? ' 

"You MAY," says Peggotty, "if you choose, my dear. 
That's a matter of opinion." 

" But what is your opinion, Peggotty ? " said I. 

I asked her and looked curiously at her, because she looked 
so curiously at me. 

" My opinion is," said Peggotty, taking her eyes from me, 
after a little indecision, and going on with her work, " that I 
never was married myself, Master Davy, and that I don't 
expect to be. That's all I know about the subject." 

" You an't cross, I suppose, Peggotty, are you ? ?; said I, 
after sitting quiet for a minute, 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 19 

I really thought she was, she had been so short with me ; 
but I was quite mistaken : for she laid aside her work (which 
was a stocking of her own) and opening her arms wide, took 
my curly head within them, and gave it a good squeeze. I 
know it was a good squeeze, because, being very plump, when- 
ever she made any little exertion after she was dressed, some 
of the buttons on the back of her gown flew off. And I recol- 
lect two bursting to the opposite side of the parlor, while she 
was hugging me. 

"Now let me hear some more about the Crorkindills,' said 
Peggotty, who was not quite right in the name yet, " for I 
an't heard half enough." 

I couldn't quite understand why Peggotty looked so queer 
or why she was so ready to go back to the crocodiles. How- 
ever, we returned to those monsters, with fresh wakefulness 
on my part, and we left their eggs in the sand for the sun to 
hatch ; and we ran away from them, and baffled them by con- 
stantly turning, which they were unable to do quickly, on 
account of their unwieldy make ; and we went into the water 
after them, as natives, and put sharp pieces of timber down 
their throats ; and in short we ran the whole crocodile gaunt- 
let. I did, at least ; but I had my doubts of Peggotty, who 
was thoughtfully sticking her needle into various parts of her 
face and arms, all the time. 

We had exhausted the crocodiles, and begun with the alliga- 
tors, when the garden-bell rang. We went out to the door ; 
and there was my mother, looking unusually pretty, I thought, 
and with her a gentleman with beautiful black hair and whis- 
kers, who had walked home with us from church last Sunday. 
As my mother stooped down on the threshold to take me in 
her arms and kiss me, the gentleman said I was a more highly 
privileged little fellow than a monarch or something like 
that ; for my later understanding comes, I am sensible, to my 

aid here. 

"What does that mean?" I asked him, over her shoulder. 

He patted me on the head ; but somehow, I didn't like him 
or his deep voice, and I was jealous that his hand should touch 
my mother's in touching me which it did. I put it away as 
well as I could. 



20 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" Oli Davy ! " remonstrated my mother. 

" Dear boy ! " said the gentleman. " I cannot wonder at his 
devotion ! " 

I never saw such a beautiful color on my mother's face 
before. She gently chid me for being rude ; and, keeping me 
close to her shawl, turned to thank the gentleman for taking 
so much trouble as to bring her home. She put out her hand 
to him as she spoke, and, as he met it with his own, she glanced, 
I thought, at me. 

" Let us say ' good night/ my fine boy," said the gentleman, 
when he had bent his head / saw him ! over my mother's 
little glove. 

" Good night ! " said I. 

" Come ! Let us be the best friends in the world ! " said the 
gentleman, laughing. " Shake hands ! " 

My right hand was in my mother's left, so I gave him the 
other. 

" Why that's the wrong hand, Davy ! " laughed the gentle- 
man. 

My mother drew my right hand forward, but I was resolved, 
for my former reason, not to give it him, and I did not. I 
gave him the other, and he shook it heartily, and said I was a 
brave fellow, and went away. 

At this minute I see him turn round in the garden, and give 
us a last look with his ill-omened black eyes, before the door 
was shut. 

Peggotty, who had not said a word or moved a finger, secured 
the fastenings instantly, and we all went into the parlor. My 
mother, contrary to her usual habit, instead of coming to the 
elbow-chair by the fire, remained at the other end of the room, 
and sat singing to herself. 

" Hope you have had a pleasant evening, ma'am," said 
Peggotty, standing as stiff as a barrel in the centre of the 
room, with a candlestick in her hand. 

" Much obliged to you, Peggotty," returned my mother, in a 
cheerful voice, "I have had a very pleasant evening." 

"A stranger or so makes an agreeable change," suggested 
Peggotty. 

" A very agreeable change, indeed," returned my mother. 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 21 

continuing to stand motionless in the middle of 
the room, and my mother resuming her singing, I fell asleep, 
though I was not so sound asleep but that I could hear voices, 
without hearing what they said. When I half awoke from 
this uncomfortable doze, I found Peggotty and my mother 
both in tears, and both talking. 

"Not such a one as this, Mr. Copperfield wouldn't have 
liked," said Peggotty. " That I say, and that I swear ! " 

" Good Heavens ! " cried my mother, " you'll drive me mad ! 
Was ever any poor girl so ill-used by her servants as I am ! 
Why do I do myself the injustice of calling myself a girl ? 
Have I never been married, Peggotty ? " 

" God knows you have, ma'am,' 7 returned Peggotty. 

"Then how can you dare," said my mother "you know I 
don't mean how can you dare, Peggotty, but how can you have 
the heart to make me so uncomfortable and say such bitter 
things to me, when you are well aware that I haven't, out of 
this place, a single friend to turn to ! " 

"The more's the reason," returned Peggotty, "for saying 
that it won't do. No! That it won't do. No! No price 
could make it do. No ! " I thought Peggotty would have 
thrown the candlestick away, she was so emphatic with it. 

" How can you be so aggravating," said my mother, shed- 
ding more tears than before, "as to talk in such an unjust 
manner! How can you go on as if it was all settled and 
arranged, Peggotty, when I tell you over and over again, you 
cruel thing, that beyond the commonest civilities nothing has 
passed! You talk of admiration. What am I to do ? If 
people are so silly as to indulge the sentiment, is it my fault ? 
What am I to do, I ask you ? Would you wish me to shave 
my head and black my face, or disfigure myself with a burn, 
or a scald, or something of that sort ? I dare say you would, 
Peggotty. I dare say you'd quite enjoy it." 

Peggotty seemed to take this aspersion very much to heart, 
I thought. 

" And my dear boy," cried my mother, coming to the elbow- 
chair in which I was, and caressing me, " my own little Davy ! 
Is it to be hinted to me that I am wanting in affection for my 
precious treasure, the dearest little fellow that ever was ! " 



22 

"Nobody never went and hinted no such a thing," said 
Peggotty. 

" You did, Peggotty ! " returned ray mother. " You know 
you did. What else was it possible to infer from what you 
said, you unkind creature, when you know as well as I do, 
that on his account only last quarter I wouldn't buy myself a 
new parasol, though that old green one is frayed the whole 
way up, and the fringe is perfectly mangy. You know it is, 
Peggotty. You can't deny it." Then, turning affectionately 
to me, with her cheek against mine, " Am I a naughty mamma 
to you, Davy ? Am I a nasty, cruel, selfish, bad mamma ? 
Say I am, my child; say f yes,' dear boy, and Peggotty will 
love you, and Peggotty's love is a great deal better than mine, 
Davy. " I don't love you at all, do I ? " 

At this, we all fell a-crying together. I think I was the 
loudest of the party, but I am sure we were all sincere about 
it. I was quite heart-broken myself, and am afraid that in 
the first transports of wounded tenderness I called Peggotty 
a "Beast." That honest creature was in deep affliction, I 
remember, and must have become quite buttonless on the 
occasion ; for a little volley of those explosives went off, when, 
after having made it up with my mother, she kneeled down by 
the elbow-chair, and made it up with me. 

We went to bed greatly dejected. My sobs kept waking 
me, for a long time; and when one very strong sob quite 
hoisted me up in bed, I found my mother sitting on the cover- 
let, and leaning over me. I fell asleep in her arms, after that, 
and slept soundly. 

Whether it was the following Sunday when I saw the gen- 
tleman again, or whether there was any greater lapse of time 
before he re-appeared, I cannot recall. I don't profess to be 
clear about dates. But there he was, in church, and he walked 
home with us afterwards. He came in, too, to look at a famous 
geranium we had, in the parlor-window. It did not appear to 
me that he took much notice of it, but before he went he asked 
my mother to give him a bit of the blossom. She begged him 
to choose it for himself, but he refused to do that I could 
not understand why so she plucked it for him, and gave it 
into his hand. He said he would never, never, part with it 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 23 

any more ; and I thought he must be quite a fool not to know 
that it would fall to pieces in a day or two. 

Peggotty began to be less with us, of an evening, than she 
had always been. My mother deferred to her very much 
more than usual, it occurred to me and we were all three 
excellent friends ; still we were different from what we used 
to be, and were not so comfortable among ourselves. Some- 
times I fancied that Peggotty perhaps objected to my mother's 
wearing all the pretty dresses she had in her drawers, or to 
her going so often to visit at that neighbor's ; but I couldn't, 
to my satisfaction, make out how it was. 

Gradually, I became used to seeing the gentleman with the 
black whiskers. I liked him no better than at first, and had 
the same uneasy jealousy of him ; but if I had any reason for 
it beyond a child's instinctive dislike, and a general idea that 
Peggotty and I could make much of my mother without any 
help, it certainly was not the reason that I might have found 
if I had been older. No such thing came into my mind, or 
near it. I could observe, in little pieces, as it were ; but as to 
making a net of a number of these pieces, and catching any- 
body in it, that was, as yet, beyond me. 

One autumn morning I was with my mother in the front 
garden, when Mr. Murdstone I knew him by that name now 
came by, on horseback. He reined up his horse to salute 
my mother, and said he was going to Lowestoft to see some 
friends who were there with a yacht, and merrily proposed to 
take me on the saddle before him if I would like the ride. 

The air was so clear and pleasant, and the horse seemed to 
like the idea of the ride so much himself, as he stood snorting 
and pawing at the garden-gate, that I had a great desire to go. 
ISo I was sent up stairs to Peggotty to be made spruce ; and in 
'<;he meantime Mr. Murdstone dismounted, and, with his horse's 
bridle drawn over his arm, walked slowly up and down on the 
outer side of the sweetbriar fence, while my mother walked 
slowly up and down on the inner to keep him company. I 
recollect Peggotty and I peeping out at them from my little 
window ; I recollect how closely they appeared to be examin- 
ing the sweetbriar between them, as they strolled along ; and 
how, from being in a perfectly angelic temper, Peggotty turned 



24 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

cross in a moment, and brushed my hair the wrong way, exces- 
sively hard. 

Mr. Murdstone and I were soon off, and trotting along on 
the green turf by the side of the road. .He held me quite 
easily with one arm, and I don't think I was restless usually ; 
but I could not make up my mind to sit in front of him with- 
out turning my head sometimes, and looking up in his face. 
He had that kind of shallow black eye I want a better word 
to express an eye that has no depth in it to be looked into - 
which, when it is abstracted, seems from some peculiarity oi 
light to be disfigured, for a moment at a time, by a cast. Sev- 
eral times when I glanced at him, I observed that appearance 
with a sort of awe, and wondered what he was thinking about 
so closely. His hair and whiskers were blacker and thicker, 
looked at so near, than even I had given them credit for being. 
A squareness about the lower part of his face, and the dotted 
indication of the strong black beard he shaved close every day, 
reminded me of the wax-work that had travelled into our 
neighborhood some half-a-year before. This, his regular eye- 
brows, and the rich white, and black, and brown, of his com- 
plexion confound his complexion, and his memory ! made 
me think him, in spite of my misgivings, a very handsome man. 
I have no doubt that my poor dear mother thought him so too. 

We went to an hotel by the sea, where two gentlemen were 
smoking cigars in a room by themselves. Each of them was 
lying on at least four chairs, and had a large rough jacket on. 
In a corner was a heap of coats and boat-cloaks, and a flag, 
all bundled up together. 

They both rolled on to their feet in an untidy sort of man- 
ner when we came in, and said " Halloa, Murdstcne ! We 
thought you were dead ! " 
. " Not yet," said Mr. Murdstone. 

" And who's this shaver ? " said one of the gentlemen, tak- 
ing hold of me. 

" That's Davy," returned Mr. Murdstone. 

"Davy who ? " said the gentleman. " Jones ? " 

" Copperfield," said Mr. Murdstone. 

" What ! Bewitching Mrs. Copperfield's incumbrance ? " 
cried the gentleman. "The pretty little widow ? " 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 25 

" Quinion," said Mr. Murdstone, " take care, if you please. 
Somebody's sharp." 

" Who is ? " asked the gentleman, laughing. 

I looked up, quickly ; being curious to know. 

" Only Brooks of Sheffield," said Mr. Murdstone. 

I was quite relieved to find it was only Brooks of Sheffield ; 
for, at first, I really thought it was I. 

There seemed to be something very comical in the reputa- 
tion of Mr. Brooks of Sheffield, for both the gentlemen laughed 
heartily when he was mentioned, and Mr. Murdstone was a 
good deal amused also. After some laughing, the gentleman 
whom he had called Quinion, said : 

" And what is the opinion of Brooks of Sheffield, in refer- 
ence to the projected business ? " 

"Why, I don't know that Brooks understands much about 
it at present," replied Mr. Murdstone ; " but he is not generally 
favorable, I believe." 

There was more laughter at this, and Mr. Quinion said he 
would ring the bell for some sherry in which to drink to 
Brooks. This he did ; and when the wine came, he made me 
have a little, with a biscuit, and, before I drank it, stand up 
and say " Confusion to Brooks of Sheffield ! " The toast was 
received with great applause, and such hearty laughter that it 
made me laugh too ; at which they laughed the more. In 
short, we quite enjoyed ourselves. 

We walked about on the cliff after that, and sat on the 
grass, and looked at things through a telescope I could 
make out nothing myself when it was put to my eye, but I 
pretended I could and then we came back to the hotel to an 
early dinner. All the time we were out, the two gentlemen 
smoked incessantly which, I thought, if I might judge from 
the smell of their rough coats, they must have been doing 
ever since the coats had first come home from the tailor's. 
I must not forget that we went on board the yacht, where 
they all three descended into the cabin, and were busy with 
some papers. I saw them quite hard at work, when I looked 
down through the open skylight. They left me, during this 
time, with a very nice man with a very large head of red hair 
and a very small shiny hat upon it, who had got a cross-barred 



26 THE PERSONAL HISTOEY AND EXPERIENCE 

shirt or waistcoat on, with. " Skylark " in capital letters across 
the chest. I thought it was his name ; and that as he lived 01 
board ship and hadn't a street-door to put his name on, he pul 
it there instead ; but when I called him Mr. Skylark, he sai( 
it meant the vessel. 

I observed all day that Mr. Murdstone was graver anc 
steadier than the two gentlemen. They were very gay an( 
careless. They joked freely with one another, but seldom wit] 
him. It appeared to me that he was more clever and col( 
than they were, and that they regarded him with somethin| 
of my own feeling. I remarked that once or twice when Mr. 
Quinion was talking, he looked at Mr. Murdstone sideways, 
if to make sure of his not being displeased; and that onc( 
when Mr. Passnidge (the other gentleman) was in high spirits, 
he trod upon his foot, and gave him a secret caution with his eyes, 
to observe Mr. Murdstone, who was sitting stern and silent. 
do I recollect that Mr. Murdstone laughed at all that day, except 
at the Sheffield joke and that, by the by, was his own. 

We went home early in the evening. It was a very fine 
evening, and my mother and he had another stroll by the 
sweet-briar, while I was sent in to get my tea. When he was 
gone, my mother asked me all about the day I had had, and 
what they had said and done. I mentioned what they had 
said about her, and she laughed, and told me they were impu- 
dent fellows who talked nonsense but I knew it pleased her. 
I knew it quite as well as I know it now. I took the oppor- 
tunity of asking if she was at all acquainted with Mr. Brooks 
of Sheffield, but she answered No, only she supposed he must 
be a manufacturer in the knife and fork way. 

Can I say of her face altered as I have reason to remem- 
ber it, perished as I know it is that it is gone, when here 
it comes before me at this instant, as distinct as any face that 
I may choose to look on in a crowded street ? Can I say 
of her innocent and girlish beauty, that it faded, and was no 
more, when its breath falls on my cheek now, as it fell that 
night ? Can I say she ever changed, when my remembrance 
brings her back to life, thus only ; and, truer to its loving 
youth than I have been, or man ever is, still holds fast what 
it cherished then ? 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 27 

I write of her just as she was when I had gone to bed after 
this talk, and she came to bid me good night. She kneeled 
down playfully by the side of the bed, and laying her chin 
upon her hands, and laughing, said : 

" What was it they said, Davy ? Tell me again. I can't 
believe it." 

" ' Bewitching ' : " I began. 

My mother put her hands upon my lips to stop me. 

" It was never bewitching," she said, laughing. " It never 
could have been bewitching, Davy. Now I know it wasn't ! " 

"Yes it was. 'Bewitching Mrs. Copperfield,'" I repeated, 
stoutly. "And ' pretty.'" 

" No, no, it was never pretty. Not pretty," interposed my 
mother, laying her fingers on my lips again. 

" Yes it was. ' Pretty little widow.' ' v 

" What foolish, impudent creatures ! " cried my mother, 
laughing and covering her face. "What ridiculous men! 
An't they ? Davy dear " 

"Well, ma." 

" Don't tell Peggotty ; she might be angry with them. I 
am dreadfully angry with them myself ; but I would rather 
Peggotty didn't know." 

I promised, of course ; and we kissed one another over and 
over again, and I soon fell fast asleep. 

It seems to me, at this distance of time, as if it were the 
next day when Peggotty broached the striking and adventur- 
ous proposition I am about to mention; but it was probably 
about two months afterwards. 

We were sitting as before, one evening (when my mother 
was out as before), in company with the stocking and the 
yard measure, and the bit of wax, and the box with Saint 
Paul's on the lid, and the crocodile book, when Peggotty, 
after looking at me several times, and opening her mouth as 
if she were going to speak, without doing it which I thought 
was merely gaping, or I should have been rather alarmed 
said coaxingly : 

"Master Davy, how should you like to go along with me 
and spend a fortnight at my brother's at Yarmouth ? 
Wouldn't that be a treat?" 



28 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" Is your brother an agreeable man, Peggotty ? ' : I 
inquired, provisionally. 

" Oh what an agreeable man he is ! " cried Peggotty, hold- 
ing up her hands. "Then there's the sea; and the boats 
and ships ; and the fishermen ; and the beach ; and Am to 
play with " 

Peggotty meant her nephew Ham, mentioned in my first 
chapter ; but she spoke of him as a morsel of English 
Grammar. 

I was flushed by her summary of delights, and replied that 
it would indeed be a treat, but what would my mother say ? 

"Why then I'll as good as bet a guinea," said Peggotty, 
intent upon my face, " that she'll let us go. I'll ask her, if 
you like, as soon as ever she comes home. There now ! " 

"But what's she to* do while we're away ? " said I, putting 
my small elbows on the table to argue the point. " She can't 
live by herself." 

If Peggotty were looking for a hole, all of a sudden, in the 
heel of that stocking, it must have been a very little one 
indeed, and not worth darning. 

" I say ! Peggotty ! She can't live by herself, you know." 

" Oh, bless you ! " said Peggotty, looking at me again at 
last. " Don't you know ? She's going to stay for a fortnight 
with Mrs. Grayper. Mrs. Grayper's going to have a lot of 
company." 

Oh ! If that was it, I was quite ready to go. I waited, 
in the utmost impatience, until my mother came home from 
Mrs. Grayper's (for it was that identical neighbor), to 
ascertain if we could get leave to carry out this great idea. 
Without being nearly so much surprised as I had expected, 
my mother entered into it readily ; and it was all arranged 
that night, and my board and lodging during the visit were 
to be paid for. 

The day soon came for our going. It was such an early 
day that it came soon, even to me, who was in a fever of 
expectation, and half afraid that an earthquake or a fiery 
mountain, or some other great convulsion of nature, might 
interpose to stop the expedition. We were to go in a carrier's 
cart, which departed in the morning after breakfast. I would 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. . 29 

have given any money to have been allowed to wrap myself 
up over-night, and sleep in my hat and boots. 

It touches me nearly now, although I tell it lightly, to 
recollect how eager I was to leave my happy home j to think 
how little I suspected what I did leave for ever. 

I am glad to recollect that when the carrier's cart was at 
the gate, and my mother stood there kissing me, a grateful 
fondness for her and for the old place I had never turned my 
back upon before, made me cry. I am glad to know that my 
mother cried too, and that I felt her heart beat against mine. 

I am glad to recollect that when the carrier began to move, 
my mother ran out at the gate, and called to him to stop, that 
she might kiss me once more. I am glad to dwell upon the 
earnestness and love with which she lifted up her face to 
mine, and did so. 

As we left her standing in the road, Mr. Murdstone came up 
to where she was, and seemed to expostulate with her for 
being so moved. I was looking back round the awning of the 
cart, and wondered what business it was of his. Peggotty, 
who was also looking back on the other side, seemed anything 
but satisfied; as the face she brought back into the cart 
denoted. 

I sat looking at Peggotty for some time, in a reverie on this 
supposititious case : whether, if she were employed to lose me 
like the boy in the fairy tale, I should be able to track my way 
home again by the buttons she would sbed. 



30 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 



CHAPTER IIL 

I HAVE A CHANGE. 

THE carrier's horse was the laziest horse in the world, I 
should hope, and shuffled along, with his head down, as if he 
liked to keep the people waiting to whom the packages were 
directed. I fancied, indeed, that he sometimes chuckled au- 
dibly ov^er this reflection, but the carrier said he was only 
troubled with a cough. 

The carrier had a way of keeping his head down, like his 
horse, and of drooping sleepily forward as he drove, with one 
of his arms on each of his knees. I say " drove," but it struck 
me that the cart would have gone to Yarmouth quite as well 
without him, for the horse did all that; and as to conversation, 
he had no idea of it but whistling. 

Peggotty had a basket of refreshments on her knee, which 
would have lasted us out handsomely, if we had been going to 
London by the same conveyance. We ate a good deal, and 
slept a good deal. Peggotty always went to sleep with her 
chin upon the handle of the basket, her hold of which never 
relaxed ; and I could not have believed unless I hagl heard her 
do it, that one defenceless woman could have snored so much. 

TVe made so many deviations up and down lanes, and were 
such a long time delivering a bedstead at a public-house, and 
calling at other places, that I was quite tired, and very glad, 
when we saw Yarmouth. It looked rather spongy and soppy, 
I thought, as I carried my eye over the great dull waste that 
lay across the river; and I could not help wondering, if the 
world were really as round as my geography-book said, how any 
part of it came to be so flat. But I reflected that Yarmouth 
might be situated at one of the poles ; which would account 
for it. 

As we drew a little nearer, and saw the whole adjacent 
prospect lying a straight low line under the sky, I hinted to 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 31 

Peggotty that a mound or so might have improved it ; and 
also that if the land had been a little more separated from the 
sea, and the town and the tide had not been quite so much 
mixed up, like toast and water, it would have been nicer. But 
Peggotty said, with greater emphasis than usual, that we must 
take things as we found them, and that for her part, she was 
proud to call herself a Yarmouth Bloater. 

When we got into the street (which was strange enough to 
me), and smelt the fish, and pitch, and oakum, and tar, and 
saw the sailors walking about, and the carts jingling up and 
down over the stones, I felt that I had done so busy a place an 
injustice ; and said as much to Peggotty, who heard my expres- 
sions of delight with great complacency, and told me it was 
well known (I suppose to those who had the good fortune to 
be born Bloaters) that Yarmouth was, upon the whole, the 
finest place in the universe. 

" Here's my Am ! " screamed Peggotty, " growed out of 
knowledge ! " 

He was waiting for us, in fact, at the public-house ; and 
asked me how I found myself, like an old acquaintance. I 
did not feel, at first, that I knew him as well as he knew me, 
because he had never come to our house since the night I was 
born, and naturally he had the advantage of me. But our 
intimacy was much advanced by his taking me on his back to 
carry me home. He was, now, a huge, strong fellow of six 
feet high, broad in proportion, and round-shouldered ; but with 
a simpering boy's face and curly light hair that gave him quite 
a sheepish look. He was dressed in a canvas jacket, and a 
pair of such very stiff trousers that they would have stood 
quite as well alone, without any legs in them. And you 
couldn't so properly have said he wore a hat, as that he 
was covered in a-top, like an old building, with something 
pitchy. 

Ham carrying me on his back and a small box of ours under 
his arm, and Peggotty carrying another small box of ours, we 
turned down lanes bestrewn with bits of chips and little hil- 
locks of sand, and went past gas-works, rope-walks, boat-build- 
ers' yards, shipwrights' yards, ship-breakers' yards, caulkers' 
yards, riggers' lofts, smiths' forges, and a great litter of such 



32 THE PEE SOS AL HISTORY ASD EXPERIENCE 

places, until we eanie out upon the dull waste I had already 
seen at a distance ; when Ham said, 

" Yon's our house, Mas'r Davy ! " 

I looked in all directions, as far as I could stare over th( 
wilderness, and away at the sea, and away at the river, but nc 
house could / make out. There was a black barge, or sonu 
other kind of superannuated boat, not far off, high and dry on 
the ground, with an iron funnel sticking out of it for a chim- 
ney and smoking very cosily ; but nothing else in the way of 
a habitation that was visible to me. 

" That's not it ? " said I. " That ship-looking thing ? " 

" That's it, Mas'r Davy," returned Ham. 

If it had been Aladdin's palace, roc's egg and all, I suppose 
I could not have been more charmed with the romantic idea 
of living in it. There was a delightful door cut in the side, 
and it was roofed in, and there were little windows in it ; but 
the wonderful charm of it was, that it was a real boat which 
had no doubt been upon the water hundreds of times, and 
which had never been intended to be lived in, on dry land. 
That was the captivation of it to me. If it had ever been 
meant to be lived in. I might have thought it small, or incon- 
venient, or lonely ; but never having been designed for any 
such use, it became a perfect abode. 

It was beautifully clean inside, and as tidy as possible. 
There was a table, and a Dutch clock, and a chest of drawers, 
and on the chest of drawers there was a tea-tray with a paint- 
ing on it of a lady with a parasol, taking a walk with a mili- 
tary-looking child who was trundling a hoop. The tray was 
kept from tumbling down, by a Bible : and the tray, if it had 
tumbled down, would have smashed a quantity of cups and 
saucers and a teapot, that were grouped around the book. On 
the walls there were some common colored pictures, framed 
and glazed, of scripture subjects ; such as I have never seen 
since in the hands of pedlers, without seeing the whole inte- 
rior of Peggotty's brothers house again, at one view. Abraham 
in red going to sacrifice Isaac in blue, and Daniel in yellow 
cast into a den of green lions, were the most prominent of 
these. Over the little mantel-shelf, was a picture of the Sarah 
Jane lugger, built at Sunderland, with a real little wooden 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 



33 



stern stuck on to it ; a work of art, combining composition 
with carpentry, which I considered to be one of the most en- 
viable possessions that the world could afford. There were 
some hooks in the beams of the ceiling, the use of which I did 
not divine then; and some lockers and boxes and conveniences 
of that sort, which served for seats and eked out the chairs. 

All this, I saw in the first glance after I crossed the thresh- 
oldchildlike, according to my theory and then Peggotty 
opened a little door and showed me my bedroom. It was the 
completest and most desirable bedroom ever seen in the 
stern of the vessel ; with a little window, where the rudder 
used to go through ; a little looking-glass, just the right height 
for me, nailed against the wall, and framed with oyster- 
shells ; a little bed, which there was just room enough to get 
into; and a nosegay of seaweed in a blue mug on the table. 
The walls were whitewashed as white as milk, and the patch- 
work counterpane made my eyes quite ache with its bright- 
ness. One thing I particularly noticed in this delightful house, 
was the smell of fish; which was so searching, that when I 
took out my pocket-handkerchief to wipe my nose, I found it 
smelt exactly as if it had wrapped up a lobster. On my impart- 
ing this discovery in confidence to Peggotty, she informed me 
that her brother dealt in lobsters, crabs, and crawfish; and I 
afterwards found that a heap of these creatures, in a state ^ of 
wonderful conglomeration with one another, and never leaving 
off pinching whatever they laid hold of, were usually to be 
found in a little wooden outhouse where the pots and kettles 

were kept. 

We were welcomed by a very civil woman in a white apron, 
whom I had seen courtesying at the door when I was on Ham's 
back, about a quarter of a mile off. Likewise by a most beau- 
tiful little girl (or I thought her so) with a necklace of blu 
beads on, who wouldn't let me kiss her when I offered to, but 
ran away and hid herself. By and by, when we had dined m 
a sumptuous manner off boiled dabs, melted butter, and pota- 
toes, with a chop for me, a hairy man with a very good-natured 
face came home. As he called Peggotty "Lass," and gave her 
a hearty smack on the cheek, I had no doubt, from the general 
propriety of her conduct, that he was her brother ; and so he 



VOL. I O 



34 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

turned out being presently introduced to me as Mr. Peg- 
got ty, the master of the house. 

" Glad to see you, sir/' said Mr. Peggotty. " You'll find us 
rough, sir, but you'll find us ready." 

I thanked him and replied that I was sure I should be 
happy in such a delightful place. 

" How's your ma, sir ? " said Mr. Peggotty. " Did you 
leave her pretty jolly ? " 

I gave Mr. Peggotty to understand that she was as jolly as 
I could wish, and that she desired her compliments which 
was a polite fiction on my part. 

" I'm much obleeged to her, I'm sure," said Mr. Peggotty. 
" Well, sir, if you can make out here, for a fortnut, 'long 'wi' 
her," nodding at his sister, "and Hani, and little Em'ly, we 
shall be proud of your company." 

Having done the honors of his house in this hospitable 
manner, Mr. Peggotty went out to wash himself in a kettleful 
of hot water, remarking that " cold would never get his muck 
off." He soon returned, greatly improved in appearance; 
but so rubicund, that I couldn't help thinking his face had 
this in common with the lobsters, crabs, and crawfish, that 
it went into the hot water very black, and came out very red. 

After tea, when the door was shut and all was made snug 
(the nights being cold and misty now), it seemed to me the 
most delicious retreat that the imagination of man would con- 
ceive. To hear the wind getting up out at sea, to know that 
the fog was creeping over the desolate flat outside, and to look 
at the fire, and think that there was no house near but this 
one, and this one a boat, was like enchantment. Little Em'ly 
had overcome her shyness, and was sitting by my side upon 
the lowest and least of the lockers, which was just large enough 
for us two, and just fitted into the chimney corner. Mrs. 
Peggotty with the white apron, was knitting 011 the opposite 
side of the fire. Peggotty at her needle-work was as much at 
home with Saint Paul's and the bit of wax-candle, as if they 
had never known any other roof. Ham, who had been giving 
me my first lesson in all-fours, was trying to recollect a scheme 
of telling fortunes with the dirty cards, and was printing off 
fishy impressions of his thumb on all the cards he turned. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 35 

Mr. Peggotty was smoking his pipe. I felt it was a time for 
conversation and confidence. 

" Mr. Peggotty ! " says I. 

" Sir," says he. 

" Did you give your son the name of Ham, because you lived 
in a sort of ark ? " 

Mr. Peggotty seemed to think it a deep idea, but answered : 

"No, sir. I never giv him no name." 

" Who gave him that name, then ? " said I, putting question 
number two of the catechism to Mr. Peggotty. 

" Why, sir, his father giv it him," said Mr. Peggotty. 

" I thought you were his father ! " 

" My brother Joe was his father," said Mr. Peggotty. 

" Dead, Mr. Peggotty ? " I hinted, after a respectful pause. 

" Drowndead," said Mr. Peggotty. 

I was very much surprised that Mr. Peggotty was not 
Ham's father, and began to wonder whether I was mistaken 
about his relationship to anybody else there. I was so curious 
to know, that I made up my mind to have it out with Mr. 
Peggotty. 

" Little Em'ly," I said, glancing at her. " She is your 
daughter, isn't she, Mr. Peggotty ? " 

" No, sir. My brother-in-law, Tom, was her father." 

I couldn't help it. "--Dead, Mr. Peggotty?" I hinted, 
after another respectful silence. 

" Drowndead," said Mr. Peggotty. 

I felt the difficulty of resuming the subjec^ but had not got 
to the bottom of it yet, and must get to the bottom somehow. 

So I said : 

" Haven't you any children, Mr. Peggotty ? " 

" No, master," he answered, with a short laugh. " Pm a 
bacheldore." 

" A bachelor ! " I said, astonished. " Why, who's that, Mr. 
Peggotty ? " Pointing to the person in the apron who was 
knitting. 

" That's Missis Gummidge," said Mr. Peggotty. 

" Gummidge, Mr. Peggotty ? " 

But at this point Peggotty I mean my own peculiar 
Peggotty made such impressive motions to me not to ask 



36 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

any more questions, that I could only sit and look at all the 
silent company, until it was time to go to bed. Then, in the 
privacy of my own little cabin, she informed me that Ham 
and Em'ly were an orphan nephew and niece, whom my host 
had at different times adopted in their childhood, when they 
were left destitute ; and that Mrs. Gummidge was the widow 
of his partner in a boat, who had died very poor. He was but 
a poor man himself, said Peggotty, but as good as gold and 
as true as steel those were her similes. The only subject, 
she informed me, on which he ever showed a violent temper 
or swore an oath, was this generosity of his ; and if it were 
ever referred to by any one of them, he struck the table a 
heavy blow with his right hand (had split it on one such oc- 
casion), and swore a dreadful oath that he would be "Gormed" 
if he didn't cut and run for good, if it was ever mentioned 
again. It appeared, in answer to my inquiries, that nobody 
had the least idea of the etymology of this terrible verb pas- 
sive to be gormed ; but that they all regarded it as constitu- 
ting a most solemn imprecation. 

I was very sensible of my entertainer's goodness, and 
listened to the women's going to bed in another little crib 
like mine at the opposite end of the boat, and to him and Ham 
hanging up two hammocks for themselves on the hooks I had 
noticed in the roof, in a very luxurious state of mind, en- 
hanced by nry being sleepy. As slumber gradually stole 
upon me, I heard the wind howling out at sea and coming on 
across the flat so fiercely, that I had a lazy apprehension of 
the great deep rising in the night. But I bethought myself 
that I was in a boat, after all ; and that a man like Mr. 
Peggotty was not a bad 'person to have on board if anything 
did happen. 

Nothing happened, however, worse than morning. Almost 
as soon as it shone upon the oyster-shell frame of my mirror 
I was out of bed, and out with little Em'ly, picking up stones 
upon the beach. 

" You're quite a sailor, I supppose ? " I said to Em'ly. I 
don't know that I supposed anything of the kind, but I felt 
it an act of gallantry to say something ; and a shining sail 
close to us made such a pretty little image of itself, at the 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 37 

moment, in her bright eye, that it came into my head to say 
this. 

" No," replied Em'ly, shaking her head, " I'm afraid of the 

sea." 

"Afraid!" I said, with a becoming air of boldness, and 
looking very big at the mighty ocean. " / ain't ! " 

" Ah ! but it's cruel," said Em'ly. " I have seen it very 
cruel to some of our men. I have seen it tear a boat as big 
as our house all to pieces." 

" I hope it wasn't the boat that " 

" That father was drowiided in ? " said Em'ly. "No. Not 
that one, I never see that boat." 

" Nor him ? " I asked her. 

Little Em'ly shook her head. " Not to remember ! " 

Here was a coincidence ! I immediately went into an expla- 
nation how I had never seen my own father ; and how my 
mother and I had always lived by ourselves in the happiest 
state imaginable, and lived so then, and always meant to live 
so; and how my father's grave was in the churchyard near 
our house,' and shaded by a tree, beneath the boughs of 
which I had walked and heard the birds sing many a pleasant 
morning. But there was some differences between Em'ly's 
orphanhood and mine, it appeared. She had lost her mother 
before her father ; and where her father's grave was no one 
knew, except that it was somewhere in the depths of the 
sea. 

" Besides," said Em'ly, as she looked about for shells and 
pebbles, " your father was a gentleman and your mother is a 
lady ; and my father was a fisherman and my mother was 
a fisherman's daughter, and my uncle Dan is a fisherman." 

"Dan is Mr. Peggotty, is he ? " said I. 

"Uncle Dan yonder," answered Em'ly, nodding at the 
boat-house. 

"Yes. I mean him. He must be very good, I should 
think ? " 

" Good ? " said ' Em'ly. " If I was ever to be a lady, I'd 
give him a sky-blue coat with diamond buttons, nankeen trou- 
sers, a red velvet waistcoat, a cocked hat, a large gold watch, 
a silver pipe, and a box of money." 



38 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

I said I had no doubt that Mr. Peggotty well deserved 
these treasures. I must acknowledge that I felt it difficult to 
picture him quite at his ease in the raiment proposed for him 
by his grateful little niece, and that I was particularly doubt- 
ful of the policy of the cocked hat ; but I kept these senti- 
ments to myself. 

" Little Ein'ly had stopped and looked up at the sky in her 
enumeration of these articles, as if they were a glorious vision. 
We went on again, picking up shells and pebbles. 

" You would like to be a lady ? " I said. 

Em'ly looked at me, and laughed and nodded " yes." 

" I should like- it very much. We would all be gentlefolks 
together, then. Me, and uncle, and Ham, and Mrs. Gum- 
midge. We wouldn't mind then, when there come stormy 
weather. Not for our own sakes, I mean. We would for the 
poor fishermen's, to be sure, and we'd help 'em with money 
when they come to any hurt." 

This seemed to me to be a very satisfactory and therefore 
not at all improbable picture. I expressed my pleasure in the 
contemplation of it, and little Ern'ly was emboldened to say, 
shyly, 

" Don't you think you are afraid of the sea, now ? " 

It was quite enough to reassure me, but I have no doubt if 
I had seen a moderately large wave come tumbling in, I should 
have taken to my heels, with an awful recollection of her 
drowned relations. However, I said "No," and I added, 
" You don't seem to be, either, though you say you are ; " 
for she was walking much too near the brink of a sort of old 
jetty or wooden causeway we had strolled upon, and I was 
afraid of her falling over. 

"I'm not afraid in this way," said little Em'ly. "But I 
wake when it blows, and tremble to think of Uncle Dan and 
Ham, and believe I hear 'em crying out for help. That's why 
I should like so much to be a lady. But I'm not afraid in 
this way. Xot a bit. Look here ! " 

She started from my side, and ran along a jagged timber 
which protruded from the place we stood upon, and overhung 
the deep water at some height, without the least defence. 
The incident is so impressed on my remembrance, that if I 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 39 

were a draughtsman I could draw its form here, I daresay, 
accurately as it was that day, and little Em'ly springing 
forward to her destruction (as it appeared to me), with a look 
that I have never forgotten, directed far out to sea. 

The light, bold, fluttering little figure turned and came back 
safe to me, and I soon laughed at my fears, and at the cry I 
had uttered ; fruitlessly in any case, for there was no one near. 
But there have been times since, in my manhood, many times 
there have been, when I have thought, Is it possible, among 
the possibilities of hidden things, that in the sudden rashness 
of the child and her wild look so far off, there was any 
merciful attraction of her into danger, any tempting her 
towards him permitted on the part of her dead father, that 
her life might have a chance of ending that day. There has 
been a time since when I have wondered whether, if the life 
before her could have been revealed to me at a glance, and so 
revealed as that a child could fully comprehend it, and if her 
preservation could have depended on a motion of my hand, I 
ought to have held it up to save her. There has been a time 
since I do not say it lasted long, but it has been when I 
have asked myself the question, Would it have been better 
for little Em'ly to have had the waters close above her head 
that morning in my sight ; and when I have answered Yes. 

This may be premature. I have set it down too soon, per- 
haps. But let it stand. 

We strolled a long way, and loaded ourselves with things 
that we thought curious, and put some stranded star-fish 
carefully back into the water I hardly know enough of the 
race at this moment to be quite certain whether they had 
reason to feel obliged to us for doing so, or the reverse and 
then made our way home to Mr. Peggotty's dwelling. We 
stopped under the lee of the lobster-outhouse to exchange an 
innocent kiss, and went into breakfast glowing with health 
and pleasure. 

"Like two young mavishes," Mr. Peggotty said. I knew 
this meant, in our local dialect, like two young thrushes, and 
received it as a compliment. 

Of course I was in love with little Em'ly. I am sure I 
loved that baby quite as truly, quite as tenderly, with greater 



40 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

purity and more disinterestedness, than can enter into the best 
love of a later time of life, high and ennobling as it is. I am 
sure my fancy raised up something round that blue-eyed mite 
of a child, which etherealized, and made a very angel of her. 
If, any sunny forenoon, she had spread a little pair of wings 
and flown away before ray eyes, I don't think I should have 
regarded it as much more than I had had reason to expect. 

We used to walk about that dim old flat at Yarmouth in a 
loving manner, hours and hours. The days sported by us, 
as if Time had not grown up himself yet, but were a child 
too, and always at play. I told Em'ly I adored her, and that 
unless she confessed she adored me I should be reduced to the 
necessity of killing myself with a sword.- She said she did, 
and I have no doubt she did. 

As to any sense of inequality, or youthfulness, or other 
difficulty in our way, little Em'ly and I had no such trouble, 
because we had no future. We made no more provision for 
growing older, than we did for growing younger. We were 
the admiration of Mrs. Gummidge and Peggotty, who used to 
whisper of an evening when we sat, lovingly, on our little 
locker side by side, " Lor ! wasn't it beautiful ! " Mr. Peggotty 
smiled at us from behind his pipe, and Ham grinned all the 
evening and did nothing else. They had something of the 
sort of pleasure in us, I suppose, that they might have had in 
a pretty toy, or a pocket model of the Colosseum. 

I soon found out that Mrs. Gummidge did not always make 
herself so agreeable as she might have been expected to do, 
under the circumstances of her residence with Mr. Peggotty. 
Mrs. Gummidge's was rather a fretful disposition, and she 
whimpered more sometimes than was comfortable for other 
parties in so small an establishment. I was very sorry for 
her ; but there were moments when it would have been more 
agreeable, I thought, if Mrs. Gummidge had had a convenient 
apartment of her own to retire to, and had stopped there until 
her spirits revived. 

Mr. Peggotty went occasionally to a public house called 
The Willing Mind. I discovered this, by his being out on the 
second or third evening of our visit, and by Mrs. Gummidge's 
looking up at the Dutch clock, between eight and nine, and 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 41 

saying he was there, and that, what was more, she had known 
in the morning he would go there. 

Mrs. Gummidge had been in a low state all day, and had 
burst into tears in the forenoon, when the fire smoked. "I 
am a lone lorn crcetur'," were Mrs. G-ummidge's words, when 
that unpleasant occurrence took place, "and everythink goes 
contrairy with me." 

" Oh, it'll soon leave off/ 7 said Peggotty I again mean our 
Peggotty "and besides, you know, it's not more disagreeable 
to you than to us." 

"I feel it more," said Mrs. Gummidge. 

It was a very cold day, with cutting blasts of wind. Mrs. 
Gummidge's peculiar corner of the fireside seemed to me to be 
the warmest and snuggest in the place, as her chair was cer- 
tainly the easiest, but it didn't suit her that day at all. She 
was constantly complaining of the cold, and of its occasioning 
a visitation in her back which she called "the creeps." At 
last she shed tears on that subject, and said again that she was 
"a lone lorncreetur' and everythink went contrairy with her." 

"It is certainly very cold," said Peggotty. "Everybody 
must feel it so." 

"I feel it more than other people," said Mrs. Gummidge. 

So at dinner ; when Mrs. Gummidge was always helped 
immediately after me, to whom the preference was given as a 
visitor of distinction. The fish were small :,nd bony, and the 
potatoes were a little burnt. We all acknowledged that we 
felt this something of a disappointment ; but Mrs. Gummidge 
said she felt it more than we did, and shed tears again, and 
made that former declaration with great bitterness. 

Accordingly, when Mr. Peggotty came home about nine 
o'clock, this unfortunate Mrs. Gummidge was knitting in her 
corner in a very wretched and miserable condition. Peggotty 
had been working cheerfully. Ham had been patching up a 
great pair of water-boots ; and I, with little Em'ly by my side, 
had been reading to them. Mrs. Gummidge had never made 
any other remark than a forlorn sigh, and had never raised 
her eyes since tea. 

" Well, Mates," said Mr. Peggotty, taking his seat, " and 
how are you ? " 



42 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

* We all said something, or looked something, to welcome 
him, except Mrs. Gunirnidge, -who only shook her head over 
her knitting. 

"What's amiss," said Mr. Peggotty, with a clap of his hands. 
"Cheer up, old Mawther ! " (Mr. Peggotty meant old girl.) 

Mrs. Gummidge did not appear to be able to cheer up. 
She took out an old black silk handkerchief and wiped her 
eyes ; but instead of putting it in her pocket, kept it out, and 
wiped them again, and still kept it out, ready for use. 

" What's amiss, dame ? " said Mr. Peggotty. 

" Nothing," returned Mrs. Gummidge. " You've come from 
The Willing Mind, Dan'l ? " 

" Why yes, I've took a short spell at The Willing Mind to- 
night," said Mr. Peggotty. 

" I'm sorry I should drive you there," said Mrs. Gummidge. 

" Drive ! I don't want no driving," returned Mr. Peggotty, 
with an honest laugh. " I only go too ready." 

" Very ready," said Mrs. Gummidge, shaking her head, and 
wiping her eyes. " Yes, yes, very ready. I am sorry it should 
be along of me that you're so ready." 

" Along o' you ? It an't along o' you ! " said Mr. Peg- 
gotty. " Don't ye believe a bit on it." 

"Yes, yes, it is," cried Mrs. Gummidge. "I know what 
I am. I know that I am a lone lorn creetur' and not only 
that everythink goes contrairy with me, but that I go con- 
trairy with everybody. Yes, yes. I feel more than other 
people do, and I show it more. It's my misfortun'." 

I really couldn't help thinking, as I sat taking in all this, 
that the misfortune extended to some other members of that 
family besides Mrs. Gummidge. But Mr. Peggotty made no 
such retort, only answering with another entreaty to Mrs. 
Gummidge to cheer up. 

"I an't what I could wish myself to be," said Mrs. Gum- 
midge. " I am far from it. I know what I am. My troubles 
has made me contrairy. I feel my troubles, and they make 
me contrairy. I wish I didn't feel 'em, but I do. I wish I 
could be hardened to 'em, but I an't. I make the house un- 
comfortable. I don't wonder at it. I've made your sister so 
all day, and Master Davy." 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 43 

Here I was suddenly melted, and roared out "No, you 
haven't, Mrs. Gummidge," in great mental distress. 

"It's far from right that I should do it," said Mrs. Gum- 
midge. " It an't a fit return. I had better go into the house 
and die. I am a lone lorn creetur', and had much better not 
make myself contrairy here. If thinks must go coritrairy with 
me, and I must go contrairy myself, let me go contrairy in my 
parish. Dan'l, I'd better go into the h.ouse, and die and be a 
riddance ! " 

Mrs. Gummidge retired with these voids, and betook her- 
self to bed. When she was gone, Mr. Peggotty, who had not 
exhibited a trace of any feeling but the profoundest sympathy, 
looked round upon us, and nodding his head with a lively 
expression of that sentiment still animating his face, said in 
a whisper : 

" She's been thinking of the old 'un ! " 

I did not quite understand what old one Mrs. Gummidge 
was supposed to have fixed her mind upon, until Peggotty, 
on seeing me to bed, explained that it was the late Mr. Gum- 
midge ; and that her brother always took that for a received 
truth on such occasions, and that it always had a moving effect 
upon him. Some time after he was in his hammock that night, 
I heard him myself repeat to Ham, " Poor thing ! She's been 
thinking of the old J un ! " And whenever Mrs. Gummidge 
was overcome in a similar manner during the remainder of 
our stay (which happened some few times), he always said 
the same thing in extenuation of the circumstance, and always 
with the tenderest commiseration. 

So the fortnight slipped away, varied by nothing but the 
variation of the tide, which altered Mr. Peggotty's times of 
going out and coming in, and altered Ham's engagements 
also. When the latter was unemployed, he sometimes walked 
with us to show us the boats and ships, and once or twice he 
took us for a row. 1 don't know why one slight set of impres- 
sions should be more particularly associated with a place than 
another, though I believe this obtains with most people, in 
reference especially to the associations of their childhood. I 
never hear the name, or read the name, of Yarmouth, but I 
am reminded of a certain Sunday morning on the beach, the 



44 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

bells ringing for church, little Ein'ly leaning on my shoulder, 
Ham lazily dropping stones into the water, and the sun, away 
at sea, just breaking through the heavy mist, and showing us 
the ships, like their own shadows. 

At last the day came for going home. I bore up against 
the separation from Mr. Peggotty and Mrs. Gummidge, but 
my agony of mind at leaving little Em'ly Avas piercing. We 
went arm-in-arm to the public-house where the carrier put up, 
and I promised, on the road, to write to her. (I redeemed 
that promise afterwards, in characters larger than those in 
which apartments are usually announced in manuscript 
being to let.) We were greatly overcome at parting ; and if 
ever, in rny life, I have had a void made in my heart, I had 
one made that day. 

Now, all *the time I had been on my visit, I had been un- 
grateful to my home again, and had thought little or nothing 
about it. But I was no sooner turned towards it, than my 
reproachful young conscience seemed to point that way with 
a steady finger; and I felt, all the more for the sinking of 
my spirits, that it was my nest, and that my mother was my 
comforter and friend. 

This gained upon me as we went along ; so that the nearer 
we drew, and the more familiar the objects became that we 
passed, the more excited I was to get there, and to run into 
her arms. But Peggotty, instead of sharing in these trans- 
ports, tried to check them (though very kindly), and looked 
confused and out of sorts. 

Blunderstone Eookery would come, however, in spite of her, 
when the carrier's horse pleased and did. How well I 
recollect it, on a cold gray afternoon, with a dull sky, threat- 
ening rain ! 

The door opened, and I looked, half laughing and half cry- 
ing in my pleasant agitation, for my mother. It was not she, 
but a strange servant. 

" Why, Peggotty ! " I said, ruefully, " isn't she come home ? " 

"Yes, yes, Master Davy," said Peggotty. "She's come 
home. Wait a bit, Master Davy, and I'll I'll tell you some- 
thing." 

Between her agitation, and her natural awkwardness in get- 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 45 

ting out of the cart, Peggotty was making a most extraordinary 
festoon of herself, but I felt too blank and strange to tell her 
so. When she had got down, she took me by the hand ; led 
me, wondering, into the kitchen ; and shut the door. 

"Peggotty!" said I, quite frightened. "What's the mat- 
ter ? " 

"Nothing's the matter, bless you, Master Davy dear! ' she 
answered, assuming- an air of sprightliiiess. 

" Something's the matter, I'm sure. Where's mamma ? ' 
"Where's mamma, Master Davy?" repeated Peggotty. 
"Yes. Why hasn't she come out to the gate, and what 
have we come in here for? Oh, Peggotty!" My eyes were 
full, and I felt as if I were going to tumble down. 

"Bless the precious boy!" cried Peggotty, taking hold of 
me. " What is it ? Speak, my pet ! " 

" Not dead, too ! Oh, she's not dead, Peggotty ? > : 
Peggotty cried out No ! with an astonishing volume of 
voice ; and then sat down, and began to pant, and said I had 
given her a turn. 

I gave her a hug to take away the turn, or to give her 
another turn in the right direction, and then stood before her, 
looking at her in anxious inquiry. 

" You see, dear, I should have told you before now," said 
Peggotty, "but I hadn't an opportunity. I ought to have 
made it, perhaps, but I couldn't azackly " that was always 
the substitute for exactly, in Peggotty's militia of words 
"bring my mind to it." 

" Go on, Peggotty," said I, more frightened than before. 
"Master Davy," said Peggotty, untying her bonnet with a 
shaking hand, and speaking in a breathless sort of way. 
" What do you think ? You have got a Pa ! " 

I trembled, and turned white. Something I don't know 
what, or how connected with the grave in the churchyard, 
and the raising of the dead, seemed to strike me like an un- 
wholesome wind. 

" A new one ? " said Peggotty. 
" A new one ? " I repeated. 

Peggotty gave a gasp, as if she were swallowing something 
that was very hard, and, putting out her hand, said : 



46 THE PERSONAL III S TOE Y AND EXPERIENCE 

" Coine and see him." 

" I don't want to see him." 

" And your mamma," said Peggotty. 

I ceased to draw back, and we went straight to the best 
parlor, where she left me. On one side of the fire, sat my 
mother; on the other, Mr. Murdstone. My mother dropped 
her work, and arose hurriedly, but timidly I thought. 

"Now, Clara, my dear," said Mr. Murdstone. "Recollect! 
control yourself, always control yourself! Davy boy, how do 
you do ? " 

I gave him my hand. After a moment of suspense, I went 
and kissed my mother : she kissed me, patted me gently on 
the shoulder, and sat down again to her work. I could not 
look at her, I could not look at him, I knew quite well that 
he was looking at us both ; and I turned to the window and 
looked out there, at some shrubs that were drooping their 
heads in the cold. 

As soon as I could creep away, I crept up stairs. My old 
dear bedroom was changed, and I was to lie a long way off. I 
rambled down stairs to find anything that was like itself, so 
altered it all seemed ; and roamed into the yard. I very soon 
started back from there, for the empty dog-kennel was filled 
up with a great dog deep-mouthed and black-haired like 
Him and he was very angry at the sight of me, and sprung 
out to get at me. 



OF DAVID COPPEBFIELD. 47 



CHAPTER IV. 

I FALL INTO DISGRACE. 

IF the room to which, my bed was removed, were a sentient 
thing that could give evidence, I might appeal to it at this 
day who sleeps there now, I wonder ! to bear witness for 
me what a heavy heart I carried to it. I went up there, 
hearing the dog in the yard bark after me all the way while I 
climbed the stairs; and, looking as blank and strange upon 
the room as the room looked upon me, sat down with my 
small hands crossed, and thought. 

I thought of the oddest things. Of the shape of the room, 
of the cracks in the ceiling, of the paper on the wall, of the 
flaws in the window glass making ripples and dimples on the 
prospect, of the washing-stand being rickety on its three legs, 
and having a discontented something about it, which reminded 
me of Mrs. Gummidge under the influence of the old one. I 
was crying all the time, but, except that I was conscious of 
being cold and dejected, I am sure I never thought why I 
cried. At last in my desolation I began to consider that I was 
dreadfully in love with little Em'ly, and had been torn away 
from her to come here, where no one seemed to want me, or to 
care about me, half so much as she did. This made such a 
very miserable piece of business of it, that I rolled myself up 
in a corner of the counterpane, and cried myself to sleep. 

I was awoke by somebody saying " Here he is ! " and uncov- 
ering my hot head. My mother and Peggotty had come to look 
for me, and it was one of them who had done it. 

" Davy," said my mother. " What's the matter ? " 

I thought it very strange that she should ask me, and 
answered, "Nothing." I turned over on my face, I recollect, to 
hide my trembling lip, which answered her with greater truth. 

" Davy," said my mother. "Davy, my child ! " 

I dare say no words she could have uttered, would have 



48 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

affected me so much, then, as her calling me her child. I hid 
my tears in the bedclothes, and pressed her from me with my 
hand, when she would have raised me up. 

" This is your doing, Peggotty, you cruel thing ! " said my 
mother. " I have no doubt at all about it. How can you rec- 
oncile it to your conscience, I wonder, to prejudice my own 
boy against me, or against anybody who is dear to me ? What 
do you mean by it, Peggotty ? " 

Poor Peggotty lifted up her hands and eyes, and only an- 
swered, in a sort of paraphrase of the grace I usually repeated 
after dinner, "Lord forgive you, Mrs. Copperfleld, and for 
what you have said this minute, may you never be truly 
sorry ! " 

"It's enough to distract me," cried my mother. "In my 
honeymoon, too, when my most inveterate enemy might re- 
lent, one would think, and not envy me a little peace of mind 
and happiness. Davy, you naughty boy ! Peggotty, you savage 
creature ! Oh, dear me ! " cried my mother, turning from one 
of us to the other, in her pettish wilful manner, "what a 
troublesome world this is, when one has the most right to 
expect it to be as agreeable as possible V" 

I felt the touch of a hand that I knew was neither hers nor 
Peggotty's, and slipped to my feet at the bed-side. It was 
Mr. Murdstone's hand, and he kept it on my arm as he said : 

" What's this ? Clara, my love, have you forgotten ? - 
Firmness, my dear ! " 

" I am very sorry, Edward," said my mother. " I meant to 
' be very good, but I am so uncomfortable." 

" Indeed ! " he answered. " That's a bad hearing, so soon, 
Clara." 

" I say it's very hard I should be made so now," returned 
my mother, pouting ; "and it is very hard isn't it ?" 

He dreAV her to him, whispered in her ear, and kissed her. 
I knew as well, when I saw my mother's head lean down upon 
his shoulder, and her arm touch his neck I knew as well 
that he could mould her pliant nature into any form he chose, 
as I know, now, that he did it. 

"Go you below, my love," said Mr. Murdstone. " David 
and I \ T ill come down, together. My friend," turning a dark- 



O.F DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 49 

ening face on Peggotty, when lie had watched my mother out, 
and dismissed her with a nod and a smile: "do you know 
your mistress's name ? ' 

" She has been my mistress a long time, sir/' answered Peg= 
gotty. " I ought, to know it." 

"That's true," he answered. "But I thought I heard you, 
as I came up stairs, address her by a name that is not 
hers. She has taken mine, you know. Will you remem- 
ber that ? " 

Peggotty, with some uneasy glances at me, courtesied her- 
self out of the room without replying ; seeing, I suppose, that 
she was expected to go, and had no excuse for remaining. 
When we two were left alone, he shut the door, and sitting on 
a chair, and holding me standing before him, looked steadily 
into my eyes. I felt my own attracted, no less steadily, to 
his. As I recall our being opposed thus, face to face, I seem 
again to hear my heart beat fast and high. 

"David," he said, making his lips thin, by pressing them 
together, "if I have an obstinate horse or dog to deal with, 
what do you think I do ? " 

" I don't know." 

" I beat him." 

I had answered in a kind of breathless whisper, but I felt, 
in my silence, that my breath was shorter now. 

" I make him wince and smart. I say to myself, ' I'll con- 
quer that fellow ; ' and if it were to cost him all- the blood he 
had, I should do it. What is that upon your face ? " 

"Dirt," I said. 

He knew it was the mark of tears as well as I. But if he 
had asked the question twenty times, each time with twenty 
blows, I believe my baby heart would have burst before I 
would have told him so. 

" You have a good deal of intelligence for a little fellow," 
he said, with a grave smile that belonged to him, "and you 
understood me very well, I see. Wash that face, sir, and 
come down with me." 

He pointed to the washing-stand, which I had made out to 
be like Mrs. Gummidge, and motioned me with his head to 
obey him directly. I had little doubt then, and I have less 
VOL. i 4 



50 

doubt now, that he would have knocked me down without the 
least compunction, if I had hesitated. 

"Clara, my dear/' he said, when I had done his bidding, 
and he walked me into the parlor, with his hand still on my 
arm ; " you will not be made uncomfortable any more, I hope. 
We shall soon improve our youthful humors." 

God help me, I might have been improved for my whole 
life, I might have been made another creature perhaps for 
life, by a kind word at that season. A word of encourage- 
ment and explanation, of pity for my childish ignorance, of 
welcome home, of reassurance to me that it was home, might 
have made me dutiful to him in my heart henceforth, instead 
of in my hypocritical outside, and might have made me 
respect instead of hate him. I thought my mother was 
sorry to see me standing in the room so scared and strange, and 
that, presently, when I stole to a chair, she followed me with 
her eyes more sorrowfully still missing, perhaps, some free- 
dom in my childish tread but the word was not spoken, and 
the time for it was gone. 

We dined alone, we three together. He seemed to be very 
fond of my mother I am afraid I liked him none the better 
for that and she was very fond of him. I gathered from 
what they said, that an elder sister of his was coming to stay 
with them, and that she was expected that evening. I am not 
certain whether I found out then or afterwards, that, without 
being actively concerned in any business, he had some share 
in, or some annual charge upon the profits of, a wine-merchant's 
house in London, with which his family had been connected 
from his great-grandfather's time, and in which his sister 
had a similar interest ; but I may mention it in this place, 
whether or no. 

After dinner, when we were sitting by the fire, and I was 
meditating an escape to Peggotty without having the hardi- 
hood to slip away, lest it should offend the master of the 
house, a coach drove up to the garden-gate, and he went out 
to receive the visitor. My mother followed him. I was 
timidly following her, when she turned round at the parlor- 
door, in the dusk, and taking me in her embrace as she had 
been used to do, whispered me to love iny new father and be 



OF DAVID COPPEBFIELD. 51 

obedient to him. She did this hurriedly and secretly, as if it 
were wrong, but tenderly ; and, putting out her hand behind 
her, held mine in it, until we came near to where he was 
standing in the garden, where she let mine go, and drew hers 
through his arm. 

It was Miss Murdstone who was arrived, and a gloomy- 
looking lady she was ; dark, like her brother, whom she 
greatly resembled in face and voice ; and with very heavy eye- 
brows, nearly meeting over her large nose, as if, being disabled 
by the wrongs of her sex from wearing whiskers, she had 
carried them to that account. She brought with her two 
uncompromising hard black boxes, with her initials on the 
lids in hard brass nails. When she paid the coachman she 
took her money out of a hard steel purse, and she kept the 
purse in a very jail of a bag which hung upon her arm by a 
heavy chain, and shut up like a bite. I had never, at that 
time, seen such a metallic lady altogether as Miss Murdstone 
was. 

She was brought into the parlor with many tokens of 
welcome, and there formally recognized my mother as a new 
and near relation. Then she looked at me, and said : 

" Is that your boy, sister-in-law ? " 

My mother acknowledged me. 

" Generally speaking," said Miss Murdstone, " I don't like 
boys. How d'ye do, boy ? " 

Under these encouraging circumstances, I replied that I was 
very well, and that I hoped she was the same ; with such an 
indifferent grace, that Miss Murdstone disposed of me in two 
words : 

" Wants manner ! " 

Having uttered which with great distinctness, she begged 
the favor of being shown to her room, which became to me 
from that time forth a place of awe and dread, wherein the 
two black boxes were never seen open or known to be left 
unlocked, and where (for I peeped in once or twice when she 
was out) numerous little steel fetters and rivets, with which 
Miss Murdstone embellished herself when she was dressed, 
generally hung upon the looking-glass in formidable array. 

As well as I could make out, she had come for good, and 



52 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

had no intention of ever going again. She began to " help " 
my mother next morning, and was in and out of the store- 
closet all day, putting things to rights, and making havoc in 
the old arrangements. Almost the first remarkable thing I 
observed in Miss Murdstone was, her being constantly haunted 
by a suspicion that the servants had a man secreted somewhere 
on the premises. Under the influence of this delusion, she 
dived into the coal-cellar at the most untimely hours, and 
scarcely ever opened the door of a dark cupboard, without 
clapping it to again, in the belief that she had got him. 

Though there was nothing very airy about Miss Murdstone, 
she was a perfect Lark in point of getting up. She was up 
(and, as I believe to this hour, looking for that man) before 
anybody in the house was stirring. Peggotty gave it as her 
opinion that she even slept with one eye open ; but I could 
not concur in this idea ; for I tried it myself after hearing the 
suggestion thrown out, and found it couldn't be done. 

On the very first morning after her arrival she was up and 
ringing her bell at cock-crow. When my mother came down 
to breakfast and was going to make the tea, Miss Murdstone 
gave her a kind of peck on the cheek, which was her nearest 
approach to a kiss, and said : 

*. "Now, Clara, my dear, I am come here, you know, to relieve 
you of all the trouble I can. You're much too pretty and 
thoughtless " my mother blushed but laughed, and seemed 
not to dislike this character "to have any duties imposed 
upon you that can be undertaken by me. If you'll be so good 
as give me your keys, my dear, I'll attend to all this sort of 
thing in future." 

From that time, Miss Murdstone kept the keys in her own 
little jail all day, and under her pillow all night, and my 
mother had no more to do with them than I had. 

My mother did not suffer her authority to pass from her 
without a shadow of protest. One night when Miss Murdstone 
had been developing certain household plans to her brother, of 
which he signified his approbation, my mother suddenly began 
to cry, and said she thought she might have been consulted. 

" Clara ! " said Mr. Murdstone, sternly. " Clara ! I wonder 
at you." 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 53 

" Oh, it's very well to say you wonder, Edward ! " cried my 
mother, " and it's very well for you to talk about firmness, but 
you wouldn't like it yourself." 

Firmness, I may observe, was the grand quality on which 
both Mr. and Miss Murdstone took their 'stand. However I 
might have expressed my comprehension of it at that time, if 
[ had been called upon, I nevertheless did clearly comprehend 
in my own way, that it was another name for tyranny ; and for 
a certain gloomy, arrogant, devil's humor, that was in them 
both. The creed, as I should state it now, was this. Mr. 
Murdstone was firm ; nobody in his world was to be so firm as 
Mr. Murdstone, nobody else in his world was to be firm at all, 
for everybody was to be bent to his firmness. Miss Murdstone 
was an exception. She might be firm, but only by relationship, 
and in an inferior and tributary degree. My mother was 
another exception. She might be firm, and must be ; but only 
in bearing their firmness, and firmly believing there was no 
other firmness upon earth. 

"It's very hard," said my mother, "that in my own 
house " 

" My own house ? " repeated Mr. Murdstone. " Clara ! " 
" Oar own house, I mean," faltered my mother, evidently 
frightened "I hope you must know what I mean, Edward - 
it's very hard that in your own house I may not have a word 
to say about domestic matters. I am sure I managed very 
well before we were married. There's evidence/ 7 said my 
mother, sobbing ; " ask Feggotty if I didn't do very well when 
I wasn't interfered with ! " 

"Edward," said Miss Murdstone, "let there be an end of 
this. I go to-morrow." 

" Jane Murdstone," said her brother, " be silent ! How dare 
you to insinuate that you don't know my character better than 
your words imply ? r ' 

" I am sure," my poor mother went on, at a grievous disad- 
vantage, and with many tears, " I don't want anybody to go. 
I should be very miserable and unhappy if anybody was to go. 
I don't ask much. I am not unreasonable. I only want to be 
consulted sometimes. I am very much obliged to anybody 
who assists me, and I only want to be consulted as a mere 



54 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AXD EXPERIENCE 

form,, sometimes. I thought you were pleased, once, with ni} T 
being a little inexperienced and girlish, Edward I am sure 
you said so but yoi seem to hate me for it now, you are so 



severe." 



"Edward," said Miss Murdstone, again, "let there be an 
end of this. I go to-morrow." 

" Jane Murdstone," thundered Mr. Murdstone. " Will you 
be silent ? How dare you ? " 

Miss Murdstone made a jail-delivery of her pocket handker- 
chief, and held it before her eyes. 

"Clara," he continued, looking at my mother, "you sur- 
prise me ! You astound me ! Yes, I had a satisfaction in the 
thought of marrying an inexperienced and artless person, and 
forming her character, and infusing into it some amount of 
that firmness end decision of which it stood in need. But 
when Jane Mim stone is kind enough to come to my assistance 
in this endeavor, and to assume for my sake, a condition some- 
thing like a housekeeper's, and when she meets with a base 
return " 

" Oh, pray, pray, Edward," cried my mother, " don't accuse 
me of being ungrateful. I am sure I am not ungrateful. Xo 
one ever said I was before. I have many faults, but not that. 
Oh, don't, my dear ! " 

" When Jane Murdstone meets, I say," he went on, after 
waiting until niy mother was silent, " with a base return, that 
feeling of mine is chilled and altered." 

" Don't my love, say that ! " implored my mother, very pite- 
ously. " Oh, don't, Edward ! I can't bear to hear it. What- 
ever I am, I am affectionate. I know I am aJectiouate. I 
wouldn't say it, if I wasn't certain that I am. Ask Peggot 
I am sure she'll tell j'ou I'm affectionate." 

" There is no extent ot mere weakness, Clara," said Mr. 
Murdstone in reply, " that can have the least w sight with me. 
You lose breath." 

" Pray let us be friends," said my mother, " I couldn't live 
under coldness or unkindness. I am so sorry. I have :i great 
many defects, I know, and it's very good of you, Edward, with 
your strength of mind, to endeavor to correct them for me. 
Jane, I don't object to anything. I should be quite broken- 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 55 

hearted if you thought of leaving " My mother was too 
much overcome to go on. 

" Jane Murdstone," said Mr. Murdstone to his sister, " any 
harsh words between us are, I hope, uncommon. It is not 
my fault that so unusual an occurrence has taken place to- 
night. I was betrayed into it by another. Nor is it your 
fault. You were betrayed into it by another. Let us both 
try to forget it. And as this," he added, after these magnan- 
imous words, "is not a fit scene for the boy David go to 
bed!" 

I could hardly find the door, through the tears that stood 
in my eyes. I was so sorry for my mother's distress ; but I 
groped my way out, and groped my way up to my room in the 
dark, without even having the heart to say good night to Peg- 
gotty, or to get a candle from her. When her coming up to 
look for me, an hour or so afterwards, awoke me, she said that 
my mother had gone to bed poorly, and that Mr. and Miss 
Murdstone were sitting alone. 

Going down next morning rather earlier than usual, I paused 
outside the parlor door, on hearing my mother's voice. She 
was very earnestly and humbly entreating Miss Murdstone's 
pardon, which that lady granted, and a perfect reconciliation 
took place. I never knew my mother afterwards to give an 
opinion on any matter, without first appealing to Miss Murd- 
stone, or without having first ascertained by some sure means, 
what Miss Murdstone's opinion was ; and I never saw Miss 
Murdstone, when out of temper (she was infirm that way), 
move her hand towards her bag as if she were going to take 
out the keys and offer to resign them to my mother, without 
seeing that my mother was in a terrible fright. 

The gloomy taint that was in the Murdstone blood, dark- 
ened the Murdstone religion, which was austere and wrathful. 
I have thought, since, that its assuming that character was a 
necessary consequence of Mr. Murdstone's firmness, which 
wouldn't allow him to let anybody off from the utmost weight 
of the severest penalties he could find any excuse for. Be this 
as it may, I well remember the tremendous visages with which 
we used to go to church, and the changed air of the place. 
Again, the dreaded Sunday comes round, and I file into the 



06 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

old pew first, like a guarded captive brought to a condemned 
service. Again, Miss Murdstone, in a black velvet gown, that 
looks as if it had been made out of a pall, follows close upon 
me ; then my mother j then her husband. There is no Peggotty 
now, as in the old time. Again, I listen to Miss Murdstone 
mumbling the responses, and emphasizing all the dread words 
with a cruel relish. Again, I see her dark eyes roll round the 
church when she says " miserable sinners," as if she were call- 
ing all the congregation names. Again, I catch rare glimpses 
of my mother, moving her lips timidly between the two, with 
one of them muttering at each ear like low thunder. Again, 
I wonder with a sudden fear, whether it is likely that our good 
old clergyman can be wrong, and Mr. and Miss Murdstone 
right, and that all the angels in Heaven can be destroying 
angels. Again, if I move a finger or relax a muscle of my 
face, Miss Murdstone pokes me with her prayer-book, and 
makes my side ache. 

Yes, and again, as we walk home, I note some neighbors 
looking at my mother, and at me, and whispering. Again, as 
the three go on, arm-in-arm, and I linger behind alone, I fol- 
low some of those looks, and wonder if my mother's step be 
really not so light as I have seen it, and if the gaiety of her 
beauty be really almost worried away. Again, I wonder 
whether any of the neighbors call to mind, as I do, how we 
used to walk home together, she and I ; and I wonder stupidly 
about that, all the dreary dismal day. 

There had been some talk on occasions of my going to 
boarding-school. Mr. and Miss Murdstone had originated it, 
and my mother had of course agreed with them. Nothing, 
however, was concluded on the subject yet. In the meantime 
I learnt lessons at home. 

Shall I ever forget those lessons ! They were presided over 
nominally by my mother, but really by Mr. Murdstone and 
his sister, who were always present, and found them a favor- 
able occasion for giving my mother lessons in that miscalled 
firmness, which was the bane of both our lives. I believe I 
was kept at home for that purpose. I had been apt enough 
to learn, and willing enough, when my mother and I had 
lived alone together. I can faintly remember learning the 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 57 

alphabet at her knee. To this day, when I look upon the 
fat black letters in the primer, the puzzling novelty of their 
shapes, and the easy good-nature of and Q and S, seem to 
present themselves again before me as they used to do. But 
they recall no feeling of disgust or reluctance. On the con- 
trary, I seem to have walked along a path of flowers as far as 
the crocodile-book, and to have been cheered by the gentleness 
of my mother's voice and manner all the way. But these 
solemn lessons which succeeded those, I remember as the 
death-blow at my peace, and a grievous daily drudgery and 
misery. They were very long, very numerous, very hard 
perfectly unintelligible, some of them, to me and I was gene- 
rally as much bewildered by them as I believe my poor mother 
was herself. 

Let me remember how it used to be, and bring one morning 
back again. 

I come into the second-best parlor after breakfast, with my 
books, and an exercise-book, and a slate. My mother is ready 
for me at her writing-desk, but not half so ready as Mr. 
Murdstone in his easy-chair by the window (though he pre 
tends to be reading a book), or as Miss Murdstone, sitting 
near my mother stringing steel beads. The very sight oi 
these two has such an influence over me, that I begin to feel 
the words I have been at infinite pains to get into my head, 
all sliding away, and going I don't know where. I wonder 
where they do go, by the by ? 

I hand the first book to my mother. Perhaps it is a gram- 
mar, perhaps a history, or geography. I take a last drowning 
look at the page as I give it into her hand, and start off aloud 
at a racing pace while I have got it fresh. I trip over a word. 
Mr. Murdstone looks up. I trip over another word. Miss 
Murdstone looks up. . I redden, tumble over half-a-dozen words, 
and stop. I think my mother would show me the book if she 
dared, but she does not dare, and she says softly : 

" Oh, Davy, Davy ! " 

"Now, Clara," says Mr. Murdstone, "be firm with the boy. 
Don't say 'Oh, Davy, Davy!' That's childish. He knows 
his lesson, or he does not know it." 

"He does not know it," Miss Murdstone interposes, awfully. 



58 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" I am really afraid lie does not," says iny mother. 

"Then you see, Clara," returns Miss Murdstone, "you should 
just give him the book back, and make him know it." 

"Yes, certainly," says my mother; "that is what I intend 
to do, my dear Jane. Now, Davy, try once more, and don't be 
stupid." 

I obey the first clause of the injunction by trying once 
more, but am not so successful with the second, for I am very 
stupid. I tumble down before I get to the old place, at a 
point where I was all right before, and stop to think. But 
I can't think about the lesson. I think of the number of 
yards of net in Miss Murds tone's cap, or of the price of Mr. 
Murdstone's dressing-gown, or any such ridiculous problem 
that I have no business with, and don't want to have anything 
at all to do with. Mr. Murdstone makes a movement of im- 
patience which I have been expecting for a long time. Miss 
Murdstone does the same. My mother glances submissively 
at them, shuts the book, and lays it by as an arrear to be 
worked out when my other tasks are done. 

There is a pile of these arrears very soon, and it swells 
like a rolling snow-ball. The bigger it gets, the more stupid 
/ get. The case is so hopeless, and I feel that I am wallow- 
ing in such a bog of nonsense, that I give up all idea of 
getting out, and abandon myself to my fate. The despairing 
way in which my mother and I look at each other, as I 
blunder on, is truly melancholy. But the greatest effect in 
these miserable lessons is when my mother (thinking nobody 
is observing her) tries to give me the cue by the motion of her 
lips. At that instant, Miss Murdstone, who has been lying in 
wait for nothing else all along, says in a deep warning voice : 

"Clara!" 

My mother starts, colors, and smiles . faintly. Mr. Murd- 
stone comes out of his chair, takes the book, throws it at me, 
or boxes my ears with it, and turns me out of the room by the 
shoulders. 

Even when the lessons are done, the worst is yet to happen, 
in the shape of an appalling sum. This is invented for me, 
and delivered to me orally by Mr. Murdstone, and begins, 
"If I go into a cheesemonger's shop, and buy five thousand 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 59 

double-Gloucester cheeses at fourpence-halfpenny each, present 
payment " at which I see Miss Murdstone secretly overjoyed. 
I pour over these cheeses without any result or enlightenment 
until dinner-time ; when, having made a Mulatto of myself by 
getting the dirt of the slate into the pores of my skin, I have 
a slice of bread to help me out with the cheeses, and am con- 
sidered in disgrace for the rest of the evening. 

It seems to me, at this distance of time, as if my unfortu- 
nate studies generally took this course. I could have done 
very well if I had been without the Murds tones ; but the 
influence of the Murdstones upon me was like the fascination 
of two snakes on a wretched young bird. Even when I did 
get through the morning with tolerable credit, there was not 
much gained but dinner; for Miss Murdstone never could 
endure to see me untasked, and if I rashly made any show of 
being unemployed, called her brother's attention to me by 
saying, " Clara, my dear, there's nothing like work give your 
boy an exercise ; " which caused me to be clapped down to some 
new labor there and then. As to any recreation with other 
children of my age, I had very little of that ; for the gloomy 
theology of the Murdstones made all children out to be a 
swarm of little vipers (though there was a child once set in 
the midst of the Disciples), and held that they contaminated 
one another. 

The natural result of this treatment, continued, I suppose, 
for some six months or more, was to make me sullen, dull, and 
dogged. I was not made the less so, by my sense of being 
daily more and more shut out and alienated from my mother. 
I believe I should have been almost stupefied but for one cir- 
cumstance. 

It was this. My father had left a small collection of books 
in a little room up stairs, to which I had access (for it adjoined 
my own) and which nobody else in our house ever troubled. 
From that blessed little room, Koderick Random, Peregrine 
Pickle, Humphrey Clinker, Tom Jones, The Vicar of Wake- 
field, Don Quixote, Gil Bias, and Robinson Crusoe, came out, a 
glorious host, to keep me company. They kept alive my fancy, 
and my hope of something beyond that place and time, 
they, and the Arabian. Nights, and the Tales of the Genii, 



60 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

and did me no harm ; for whatever harm was in some of them 
was not there for me ; / knew nothing of it. It is astonishing 
to me now, how I found time, in the midst of my porings and 
blunderings over heavier themes, to read those books as I did. 
It is curious to me how I could ever have consoled myself 
under my small troubles (which were great troubles to me), 
by impersonating my favorite characters in them as I did - 
and by putting Mr. and Miss Murdstone into all the bad ones 
which I did too. I have been Tom Jones (a child's Tom 
Jones, a harmless creature) for a week together. I have sus- 
tained my own idea of Roderick Random for a month at a 
stretch, I verily believe. I had a greedy relish for a few vol- 
umes of Voyages and Travels I forget what, now that 
were on those shelves ; and for days and days I can remember 
to have gone about my region of our house, armed with the 
centre-piece out of an old set of boot-trees the perfect 
realization of Captain Somebody, of the Royal British Navy, 
in danger of being beset by savages, and resolved to sell his 
life at a great price. The Captain never lost dignity, from 
having his ears boxed with the Latin Grammar. I did ; but 
the Captain was a Captain and a hero, in despite of all the 
grammars of all the languages in the world, dead or alive. 

This was my only and my constant comfort. When I think 
of it, the picture always rises in my mind, of a summer 
evening, the boys at play in the churchyard, and I sitting on my 
bed, reading as if for life. Every barn in the neighborhood, 
every stone in the church, and every foot of the churchyard, 
had some association of its own, in my mind, connected with 
these books, and stood for some locality made famous in them. 
I have seen Tom Pipes go climbing up the church-steeple ; I 
have watched Strap, with the knapsack on his back, stopping 
to rest himself upon the wicket-gate ; and I know that Com- 
modore Trunnion held that club with Mr. Pickle, in the parlor 
of our little village alehouse. 

The reader now understands as well as I do, what I was 
when I came to that point of my youthful history to which I 
am now coming again. 

One morning when I went into the parlor with my books, 
I found my mother looking anxious, Miss Murdstone looking 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 61 

firm, and Mr. Murdstone binding something round the bottom 
of a cane a lithe and limber cane, which he left off binding 
when I came in, and poised and switched in the air. 

" I tell you, Clara," said Mr. Murdstone, " I have been often 
flogged myself." 

"To be sure; of course," said Miss Murdstone. 

" Certainly, my dear Jane," faltered my mother, meekly. 
" But but do you think it did Edward good ? " 

" Do you think it did Edward harm, Clara ? " asked Mr. 
Murdstone, gravely. 

" That's the point ! " said his sister. 

To this my mother returned, " Certainly, my dear Jane," 
and said no more. 

I felt apprehensive that I was personally interested in this 
dialogue, and sought Mr. Murdstone's eye as it lighted on 
mine. 

" Now, David," he said and I saw that cast again, as he 
said it " you must be far more careful to-day than usual." 
He gave the cane another poise, and another switch ; and hav- 
ing finished his preparation of it, laid it down beside him, with 
an expressive look, and took up his book. 

This was a good freshener to my presence of mind, as a 
beginning. I felt the words of my lessons slipping off, not 
one by one, or line by line, but by the entire page. I tried to 
lay hold of them ; but they seemed, if I may so express it, to 
have put skates on, and to skim away from me with a smooth- 
ness there was no checking. 

We began badly, and went on worse. I had come in, with 
an idea of distinguishing myself rather, conceiving that I was 
very well prepared ; but it turned out to be quite a mistake. 
Book after book was added to the heap of failures, Miss Murd- 
stone being firmly watchful of us all the time. And when we 
came at last to the five thousand cheeses (canes he made it 
that day, I remember), my mother burst out crying. 

" Clara ! " said Miss Murdstone. in her warning voice. 

"I am not quite well, my dear Jane, I think," said my 
mother. 

I saw him wink, solemnly, at his sister, as he rose and said, 
taking up the cane : 



62 THE PERSONAL III S TOE T AND EXPERIENCE 

" Why, Jane, we can hardly expect Clara to bear, with per- 
fect firmness, the worry and torment that David has occasioned 
her to-day. That would be stoical. Clara is greatly strength- 
ened and improved, but we can hardly expect so much from 
her. David, you and I will go up stairs, boy." 

As he took me out at the door, my mother ran towards us. 
Miss Murdstone said, " Clara ! are you a perfect fool ? " and 
interfered. I saw my mother stop her ears then, and I heard 
her crying. 

He walked me up to my room slowly and gravely I am 
certain he had a delight in that formal parade of executing 
justice and when we got there, suddenly twisted my head 
under his arm. 

Mr. Murdstone! Sir!" I cried to him. "Don't! Pray 
don't beat me ! I have tried to learn, sir, but I can't learn 
while you and Miss Murdstone are by. I can't indeed ! " 

" Can't you, indeed, David ? " he said. " We'll try that." 

He had my head as in a vice, but I twined round him 
somehow, and stopped him for a moment, entreating him not 
to beat me. It was only for a moment that I stopped him, 
for he cut me heavily an instant afterwards, and in the same 
instant I caught the hand with which he held me in my mouth, 
between my teeth, and bit it through. It sets my teeth on 
edge to think of it. 

He beat me then, as if he would have" beaten me to death. 
Above all the noise we made, I heard them running up the 
stairs, and crying out I heard my mother crying out and 
Peggotty. " Then he was gone ; and the door was locked out- 
side; and I was lying, fevered and hot, and torn, and sore, 
and raging in my puny way, upon the floor. 

How well I recollect, when I became quiet, what an unnat- 
ural stillness seemed to reign through the whole house ! How 
well I remember, when my smart and passion began to cool, 
how wicked I began to feel ! 

I sat listening for a long while, but there was not a sound. 
I crawled up from the floor, and saw my face in the glass, so 
swollen, red, and ugly that it almost frightened me. My 
stripes were sore and stiff, and made me cry afresh, when I 
moved; but they were nothing to the guilt I felt. It lay 



OF DAVID COP PERFIELD. 63 

-heavier on my breast than if I had been a most atrocious crim- 
inal, I dare say. 

It had begun to grow dark, and I had shut the window (I 
had been lying, for the most part, with my head upon the sill, 
by turns crying, dozing, and looking listlessly out), when the 
key was turned, and Miss Murdstone came in with some bread 
and meat, and milk. These she put down upon the table with- 
out a word, glaring at me the while with exemplary firmness, 
and then retired, locking the door after her. 

,Long after it was dark I sat there, wondering whether any- 
body else would come. When this appeared improbable for 
that night, I undressed, and went to bed ; and, there I began 
to wonder fearfully what would be done to me. Whether it 
was a criminal act that I had committed ? Whether I should 
be taken into custody, and sent to prison ? Whether I was at 
all in danger of being hanged ? 

I never shall forget the waking, next morning; the being 
cheerful and fresh for the first moment, and then the being 
weighed down by the stale and dismal oppression of remem- 
brance. Miss Murdstone reappeared before I was out of bed ; 
told me, in so many words, that I was free to walk in the gar- 
den for half an hour and no longer ; and retired, leaving the 
door open, that I might avail myself of that permission. 

I did so, and did so every morning of my imprisonment, 
which lasted five days. If I could have seen my mother alone, 
I should have gone down on my knees to her and besought her 
forgiveness ; but I saw no one, Miss Murdstone excepted, dur- 
ing the whole time except at evening prayers in the parlor ; 
to which I was escorted by Miss Murdstone after everybody 
else was placed; where I was stationed, a young outlaw, all 
alone by myself near the door ; and whence I was solemnly 
conducted by my jailer, before any one arose from the devo- 
tional posture. I only observed that my mother was as far off 
from me as she could be, and kept her face another way so 
that I never saw it ; and that Mr. Murdstone's hand was bound 
up in a large linen wrapper. 

The length of those five days I can convey no idea of to any 
one. They occupy the place of years in my remembrance. 
The way in which I listened to all the incidents of the house 



64 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

that made themselves audible to me ; the ringing of bells, the 
opening and shutting of doors, the murmuring of voices, the 
footsteps on the stairs ; to any laughing, whistling, or singing, 
outside, which seemed more dismal than anything else to me 
in my solitude and disgrace the uncertain pace of the hours, 
especially at night, when I would wake thinking it was morn- 
ing, and find that the family were not yet gone to bed, and 
that all the length of night had yet to come the depressed 
dreams and nightmares I had the return of day, noon, after- 
noon, evening, when the boys played in the churchyard, and J 
watched them from a distance within the room, being ashamed 
to show myself at the window lest they should know I was a 
prisoner the strange sensation of never hearing myself speak 
the fleeting intervals of something like cheerfulness, which 
came with eating and drinking, and went away with it the 
setting in of rain one evening, with a fresh smell, and its com- 
ing down faster and faster between me and the chur.ch, unti" 
it and gathering night seemed to quench me in gloom, anc 
fear, and remorse all this appears to have gone round anc 
round for years instead of days, it is so vividly and strongly 
stamped on my remembrance. 

On the last night of my restraint, I was awakened by hear- 
ing my own name spoken in a whisper. I started up in bed, 
and putting out my arms in the dark, said : 

" Is that you, Peggotty ? " 

There was no immediate answer, but presently I heard my 
name again, in a tone so very mysterious and awful, that I 
think I should have gone into a fit, if it had not occurred to me 
that it must have come through the keyhole. 

I groped my way to the door, and pr.tting my own lips to 
the keyhole, whispered : 

" Is that you, Peggotty, dear ? " 

"Yes, my own precious Davy," she replied. "Be as soft 
as a mouse, or the Cat'll hear us." 

I understood this to mean Miss Murdstone, and was sensible 
of the urgency of the case ; her room being close by. 

"How's mamma, dear Peggotty? Is she very angry with 
me?" 

I could hear Peggotty crying softly on her side of the key- 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 65 

hole, as I was doing on mine, before she answered, "No. Not 
very." 

" What is going to be done with me, Peggotty, dear ? Do 
you know ? " 

"School. Near London," was Peggotty's answer. I was 
obliged to get her to repeat it, for she spoke it the rst time 
quite down my throat, in consequence of my having forgotten 
to take my mouth away from the keyhole and put my ear 
there ; and though her words tickled me a good deal, I didn't 
hear them. 

"When Peggotty?" 

" To-morrow." 

"Is that the reason why Miss Murdstone took the clothes 
out of my drawers ? " which she had done, though I have for- 
gotten to mention it. 

" Yes," said Peggotty. " Box." 

" Sha'n't I see mamma ? " 

"Yes," said Peggotty. "Morning." 

Then Peggotty fitted her mouth close to the keyhole, and 
delivered these words through it with as much feeling and 
earnestness as a keyhole has ever been the medium of com- 
municating, I will venture to assert : shooting in each broken 
little sentence in a convulsive little burst of its own. 

" Davy, dear. If I ain't ben azackly as intimate with you. 
Lately, as I used to be. It ain't because I don't love you. 
Just as well and more, my pretty poppet. It's because 1 
thought it better for you. And for some one else besides. 
Davy, my darling, are you listening ? Can you hear ? " 

"Ye ye ye yes, Peggotty ! " I sobbed. 

" My own ! " said Peggotty, with infinite compassion. 
"What I want to say, is. That you must never forget me. 
For I'll never forget you. And I'll take as much care of your 
mamma, Davy. As ever I took of you. And I won't leave her. 
The day may come when she'll be glad to lay her poor head. 
On her stupid, cross old Peggotty's arm again. And I'll write 
to you, my dear. Though I ain't no scholar. And I'll I'll 
" Peggotty fell to kissing the keyhole, as she couldn't kiss 
ine. 

" Thank you, dear Peggotty ! " said I. " Oh, thank you ! 

VOL. 1 6 



66 THE PEE SON AL HISTORY AND 

Thank you ! Will you promise me one thing, Peggotty ? 
Will you write and tell Mr. Peggotty and little Eir.'ly and 
Mrs. Gummidge and Hani, that I am not so bad as they might 
suppose, and that I sent 'em all my love especially to little 
Em'ly ? Will you, if you please, Peggotty ? " 

The kind soul promised, and we both of us kissed the key- 
hole with the greatest affection I patted it with my hand, I 
recollect, as if it had been her honest face and parted. 
From that night there grew up in my breast, a feeling for 
Peggotty which I cannot very well define. She did not replace 
my mother ; no one could do that ; but she came into a vacancy 
in my heart, which closed upon her, and I felt towards her 
something I have never felt for any other human being. It 
was a sort of comical affection, too ; and yet if she had died, I 
cannot think what I should have done, or how I should have 
acted out the tragedy it would have been to me. 

In the morning Miss Murdstone appeared as usual, and told 
me I was going to school ; which was not altogether such news 
to me as she supposed. She also informed me that when I 
was dressed, I was to come down stairs into the parlor, and 
have my breakfast. There, I found my mother, very pale and 
with red eyes : into whose arms I ran, and begged her pardon 
from my suffering soul. 

"Oh, Davy!" she said. u That you could hurt any one I 
love ! Try to be better, pray to be better ! I forgive you ; 
but I am so grieved, Davy, that you should have such bad 
passions in your heart." 

They had persuaded her that I was a wicked fellow, and she 
was more sorry for that, than for my going away. I felt it 
sorely. I tried to eat my parting breakfast, but my tears 
dropped upon my bread-and-butter, and trickled into my tea. 
I saw my mother look at me sometimes, and then glance at the 
watchful Miss Murdstone, and then look down, or look away. 

" Master Copperfield's box there ? " said Miss Murdstone, 
when wheels were heard at the gate. 

I looked for Peggotty, but it was not she ; neither she nor 
Mr. Murdstone appeared. My former acquaintance, the car- 
rier, was at the door ; the box was taken out to his cart and 
lifted in. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 67 

" Clara ! " said Miss Murdstone, in her warning note. 

" Ready, my dear Jane," returned my mother. " Good by, 
Davy. You are going for your own good. Good by, my 
child. You will come home in the holidays, and be a better 
boy." 

" Clara ! " Miss Murdstone repeated. 

"Certainly, my dear Jane," replied my mother, who was 
holding me. " I forgive you, my dear boy. God bless you ! " 

" Clara ! " Miss Murdstone repeated. 

Miss Murdstone was good enough to take me out to the 
cart, and to say on the way that she hoped I would repent, 
before I came to a bad end ; and then I got into the cart, and 
the lazy horse walked oft' with it. 



68 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 



CHAPTER V. 

I AM SENT AWAY FROM HOME. 

WE might have gone about half a mile, and my pocket- 
handkerchief was quite wet through, when the carrier stopped 
short. 

Looking out to ascertain for what, I saw, to my amazement, 
Peggotty burst from a hedge and climb into the cart. She 
took me in both her arms, and squeezed me to her stays until 
the pressure on my nose was extremely painful, though I 
never thought of that till afterwards when I found it very 
tender. Not a single word did Peggotty speak. Releasing 
one of her arms, she put it down in her pocket to the elbow, 
and brought out some paper bags of cakes which she crammed 
into my pockets, and a purse which she put into my hand, but 
not one word did she say. After another and a final squeeze 
with both arms, she got down from the cart, and ran away ; 
and my belief is, and has always been, without a solitary 
button on her gown. I picked up one, of several that were 
rolling about, and treasured it as a keepsake for a long time. 

The carrier looked at me, as if to inquire if she were com- 
ing back. I shook my head, and said I thought not. " Then 
come up," said the carrier to the lazy horse, who came up 
accordingly. 

Having by this time cried as much as I possibly could, I 
began to think it was of no use crying any more, especially as 
neither Roderick Random, nor that Captain in the Royal 
British Navy had ever cried, that I could remember, in trying 
situations. The carrier seeing me in this resolution, proposed 
that my pocket-handkerchief should be spread upon the horse's 
back to dry. I thanked him and assented ; and particularly 
small it looked, under those circumstances. 

I had now leisure to examine the purse. It was a stiff 
leather purse, with a snap, and had three bright shillings in 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 69 

it, which Peggotty had evidently polished up with whitening, 
for iny greater delight. But its most precious contents were 
two half-crowns folded together in a bit of paper, on which 
was written, in my mother's hand, "For Davy. With my 
love." I was so overcome by this, that I asked the carrier to 
be so good as reach me my pocket-handkerchief again, but he 
said he thought I had better do without it ; and I thought I 
really had j so I wiped my eyes on my sleeve and stopped my- 
self. 

For good, too ; though, in consequence of my previous emo- 
tions, I was still occasionally seized with a stormy sob. After 
we had jogged on for some little time, I asked the carrier if 
he was going all the way. 

" All the way where ? " inquired the carrier. 

" There," I said. 

" Where's there ? " inquired the carrier. 

"Near London," I said. 

"Why that horse," said the carrier, jerking the rein to 
point him out, " would be deader than pork afore he got over 
half the ground." 

" Are you only going to Yarmouth then ? " I asked. 

"That's about it," said the carrier. "And there I shall 
take you to the stage-cutch, and the stage-cutch that'll take 
you to wherever it is." 

As this was a great deal for the carrier (whose name was 
Mr. Barkis) to say he being, as I observed in a former 
chapter, of a phlegmatic temperament, and not at all conver- 
sational I offered him a cake as a mark of attention, which 
he ate at one gulp, exactly like an elephant, and which made 
no more impression on his big face than it would have done 
on an elephant's. 

" Did she make 'em, now ? " said Mr. Barkis, always leaning 
forward, in his slouching way, on the footboard of the cart 
with an arm on each knee. 

" Peggotty, do you mean, sir ? " 

" Ah ! " said Mr. Barkis. " Her." 

" Yes. She makes all our pastry and does all our cooking." 

" Do she though ? " said Mr. Barkis. 

He made up his mouth as if to whistle, but he didn't 



70 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

whistle. He sat looking at the horse's ears, as if he saw 
something new there ; and sat so-, for a considerable time. 
By and by, he said : 

" No sweethearts, I b'lieve ? " 

" Sweetmeats did you say, Mr. Barkis ? " For I thought he 
wanted something else to eat, and had pointedly alluded to 
that description of refreshment. 

" Hearts," said Mr. Barkis. " Sweethearts ; no person walks 
with her ! " 

" With Peggotty ? " 

"Ah!" he said. "Her." 

" Oh, no. She never had a sweetheart." 

" Didn't she though ! " said Mr. Barkis. 

Again he made up his mouth to whistle, and again he didn't 
whistle, but sat looking at the horse's ears. 

" So she makes," said Mr. Barkis, after a long interval of 
reflection, " all the apple parsties, and doos all the cooking, do 
she?" 

I replied that such was the fact. 

" Well. I'll tell you what," said Mr. Barkis. " P'raps you 
might be writin' to her ? " 

" I shall certainly write to her," I rejoined. 

" Ah ! " he said, slowly turning his eyes towards me. 
" Well ! If you was writiu' to her, p'raps you'd recollect to 
say that Barkis was willin' ; would you ? " 

" That Barkis is willing," I repeated, innocently. " Is that 
all the message ? " 

"Ye es," he said, considering. "Ye es. Barkis is 
willin'." 

"But you will be at Blunderstone again to-morrow, Mr. 
Barkis," I said, faltering a little at the idea of my being far 
away from it then, " and could give your own message so much 
better." 

As he repudiated this suggestion, however, with a jerk of 
his head, and once more confirmed his previous request by 
saying, with profound gravity, " Barkis is willin'. That's the 
message," I readily undertook its transmission. While I was 
waiting for the coach in the hotel at Yarmouth that very 
afternoon, I procured a sheet of paper and an inkstand, and 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 71 

wrote a note to Peggotty which ran thus : " My dear Peggotty. 
I have come here safe. Barkis is willing. My love to 
mamma. Yours affectionately. P.S. He says he particularly 
wants you to know Barkis is willing" 

When I had taken this commission on myself prospectively, 
Mr. Barkis relapsed into perfect silence ; and I, feeling quite 
worn out by all that had happened lately, lay down on a sack 
in the cart and fell asleep. I slept soundly until we got to 
Yarmouth ; which was so entirely new and strange to me in 
the inn-yard to which we drove, that I at once abandoned a 
latent hope I had had of meeting with some of Mr. Peggotty's 
family there, perhaps even with little Em'ly herself. 

The coach was in the yard, shining very much all over, but 
without any horses to it as yet ; and it looked in that state as 
if nothing was more unlikely than its ever going to London. 
I was thinking this, and wondering what would ultimately 
become of my box, which Mr. Barkis had put down on the 
yard-pavement by the pole (he having driven up the yard to 
turn his cart), and also what would ultimately become of me, 
when a lady looked out of a bow-window where some fowls 
and joints of meat were hanging up, and said : 

" Is that the little gentleman from Blunderstone T " 

"Yes, ma'am," I said. 

" What name ? " 

" Copperfield, ma'am/ 7 I said. 

" That won't do," returned the lady. " Nobody's dinner is 
paid for here, in that name." 

" Is it Murdstone, ma'am ? " I said. 

" If you're Master Murdstone," said the lady, " why do you 
go and give another name, first ? " 

I explained to the lady how it was, who then rang a bell, 
and called out, " William ! show the coffee-room ! " Upon 
which a waiter came running out of a kitchen on the opposite 
side of the yard to show it, and seemed a good deal surprised 
when he found he was only to show it to me. 

It was a large long room with some large maps in it. I 
doubt if I could have felt much stranger if the maps had been 
real foreign countries, and I cast away in the middle of them. 
I felt it was taking a liberty to sit down, with my cap in my 



72 THE PEP SON AL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

hand, on the corner of the chair nearest the door ; and when 
the waiter laid a cloth on purpose for me, and put a set of 
castors on it, I think I must have turned red all over with 
modesty. 

He brought me some chops, and vegetables, and took the 
covers off in such a bouncing manner that I was afraid I must 
have given him some offence. But he greatly relieved my 
mind by putting a chair for me at the table, and saying very 
affably, " Xow, six-foot ! come on ! " 

I thanked him, and took my seat at the board ; but found 
it extremely difficult to handle my knife and fork with any- 
thing like dexterity, or to avoid splashing myself with the 
gravy, while he was standing opposite, staring so hard, and 
making me blush in the most dreadful manner every time I 
caught his eye. After watching me into the second chop, he said : 

"There's half a pint of ale for you. Will you have it now ? " 

I thanked him and said " Yes." Upon which he poured it 
out of a jug into a large tumbler, and held it up against the 
light, and made it look beautiful. 

" My eye ! " he said. " It seems a good deal, don't it ? " 

"It does seem a good deal," I answered, with a smile. For, 
it was quite delightful to me to find him so pleasant. He was 
a twinkling-eyed, pimple-faced man, with his hair standing 
upright all over his head ; and as he stood with one arm 
a-kimbo, holding up the glass to the light with the other hand, 
he looked quite friendly. 

" There was a gentleman here yesterday," he said " a 
stout gentleman, by the name of Topsawyer perhaps you 
know him ? " 

"No," I said, "I don't think " 

"In breeches and gaiters, broad-brimmed hat, gray coat, 
speckled choker," said the waiter. 

" No," I said bashfully, " I haven't the pleasure " 

" He came in here." said the waiter, looking at the light 
through the tumbler, Bordered a glass of this ale would 
order it I told him not drank it. and fell dead. It was 
too old for him. It oughtn't to be drawn, that's the fact," 

I was very much shocked to hear of this melancholy acci- 
dent, and said I thought I had better have some water. 




THE FRIENDLY WAITER AND I. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 73 

"Why, you see," said the waiter, still looking at the light 
through the tumbler, with one of his eyes shut up, "our peo- 
ple don't like things being ordered and left. It offends 'em. 
But I'll drink it, if you like. I'm used to it, and use is every- 
thing. I don't think it'll hurt me, if I throw my head back, 
and take it off quick. Shall I ? " 

I replied that he would much oblige me by drinking it, if 
he thought he could do it safely, but by no means otherwise. 
When he did throw his head back, and take it off quick, I had 
a horrible fear, I confess, of seeing him meet the fate of the 
lamented Mr. Topsawyer, and fall lifeless on the carpet. But 
it didn't hurt him. On the contrary, I thought he seemed the 
fresher for it. 

" What have we got here ? " he said, putting a fork into my 
dish. "Not chops ?" 

" Chops," I said. 

" Lord bless my soul ! " he exclaimed, " I didn't know they 
were chops. Why a chop's the very thing to take off the bad 
effects of that beer ! Ain't it lucky ? " 

So he took a chop by the bone in one hand, and a potato in 
the other, and ate away with a very good appetite, to my 
extreme satisfaction. He afterwards took another chop, and 
another potato ; and after that another chop and another 
potato. When we had done, he brought me a pudding, and 
having set it before me, seemed to ruminate, and to become 
absent in his mind for some moments. 

" How's the pie ? " he said, rousing himself. 

"It's a pudding," I made answer. 

" Pudding ! " he exclaimed. " Why, bless me, so it is. 
What ! " looking at it nearer. " You don't mean to say it's a 
batter-pudding ! " 

"Yes, it is indeed." 

" Why, a batter-pudding," he said, taking up a table-spoon, 
" is my favorite pudding ! Ain't that lucky ? Come on, little 
7 un, and let's see who'll get most." 

The waiter certainly got most. He entreated me more than 
once to come in and win, but what with his table-spoon to my 
tea-spoon, his despatch to my despatch, and his appetite to my 
appetite, I was left far behind at the first mouthful, and had 



74 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

no chance with him. I never saw any one enjoy a pudding so 
much, I think ; and he laughed, when it was all gone, as if his 
enjoyment of it lasted still. 

Finding him so very friendly and companionable, it was 
then that I asked for the pen and ink and paper, to write to 
Peggotty. He not only brought it immediately, but was good 
enough to look over me while I wrote the letter. When I had 
finished it, he asked me where I was going to school. 

I said, "Near London," which was all I knew. 

"Oh, my eye!" he said, looking very low-spirited, "I am 
sorry for that." 

" Why ? " I asked him. 

" Oh, Lord ! " he said, shaking his head, " that's the school 
where they broke the boy's ribs two ribs a little boy he 
was. I should say he was let jne see how old are you, 
about ? " 

I told him between eight and nine. 

" That's just his age," he said. " He was eight years and 
six months old when they broke his first rib ; eight years and 
eight months old when they broke his second, and did for 
him." 

I could not disguise from myself, or from the waiter, that 
this was an uncomfortable coincidence, and inquired how it 
was done. His answer was not cheering to my spirits, for it 
consisted of two dismal words, " With whopping." 

The blowing of the coach-horn in the yard was a seasonable 
diversion, which made me get up and hesitatingly inquire, in 
the mingled pride and diffidence of having a purse (which I 
took out of my pocket), if there were anything to pay. 

"There's a sheet of letter-paper," he returned. "Did you 
ever buy a sheet of letter-paper ? " 

I could not remember that I ever had. 

" It's dear," he said, " on account of the duty. Threepence. 
That's the way we are taxed in this country. There's nothing 
else, except the waiter. Never mind the ink. /lose by that." 

" What should you what should I how much ought I to 
what would it be right to pay the waiter, if you please ? " I 
stammered, blushing. 

" If I hadn't a family, and that family hadn't the cow-pock," 



OF DAVID COPPER FIELD. 75 

said the waiter, " I wouldn't take a sixpence. If I didn't sup- 
port a aged pairing and a lovely sister/' here the waiter was 
greatly agitated "I wouldn't take a farthing. If I had a 
good place, and was treated well here, I should beg acceptance 
of a trifle, instead of taking of it. But I live 011 broken wit- 
ties and I sleep on the coals " here the waiter burst into 
tears. 

I was very much concerned for his misfortunes, and feli; 
that any recognition short of ninepence would be mere brutal- 
ity and hardness of heart. Therefore I gave him one of my 
three bright shillings, which he received with much humility 
and veneration, and spun up with his thumb, directly after- 
wards, to try the goodness of. 

It was a little disconcerting to me, to find, when I was 
being helped up behind the coach, that I was supposed to have 
eaten all the dinner without any assistance. I discovered this, 
from overhearing the lady in the bow-window, say to the 
guard, "Take care of that child, George, or he'll burst!" and 
from observing that the women-servants who were about the 
place came out to look and giggle at me as a young phenome- 
non. My unfortunate friend the waiter, who had quite recov- 
ered his spirits, did not appear to be disturbed by this, but 
joined in the general admiration without being at all confused. 
If I had any doubt of him, I suppose this half-awakened it ; 
but I am inclined to believe that with the simple confidence of 
a child, and the natural reliance of a child upon superior years 
(qualities I am very sorry any children should prematurely 
change for worldly wisdom), I had no serious mistrust of him 
on the whole, even then. 

I felt it very hard, I must own, to be made, without deserv- 
ing it, the subject of jokes between the coachman and guard 
as to the coach drawing heavy behind, on account of my sitting 
there, and as to the greater expediency of my travelling by 
wagon. The story of my supposed appetite getting wind 
among the outside passengers, they were merry upon it like- 
wise, and asked me whether I was going to be paid for, at 
school, as two brothers or three, and whether I was contracted 
for, or went upon the regular terms ; with other pleasant 
'questions. But the worst of it was, that I knew I should be 



76 THE PERSONAL H1STOET AND EXPEEIENCE 

ashamed to eat anything, when an opportunity offered, and 
that, after a rather light dinner, I should remain hungry all 
night for I had left niy cakes behind, at the hotel, in my 
hurry. My apprehensions were realized. When we stopped 
for supper I couldn't muster courage to take any, though I 
should have liked it very much, but sat by the fire and said 
I didn't want anything. This did not save me from more 
jokes, either ; for a husky-voiced gentleman with a rough face, 
who had been eating out of a sandwich-box nearly all the way, 
except when he had been drinking out of a bottle, said I was 
like a boa-constrictor who took enough at one meal to last him 
a long time ; after which he actually brought a rash out upon 
himself with boiled beef. 

We had started from Yarmouth at three o'clock in the after- 
noon, and we were due in London about eight next morning. 
It was Midsummer weather, and the evening was very pleasant. 
When we passed through a village, I pictured to myself what 
the insides of the houses were like, and what the inhabitants 
were about ; and when boys came running after us, and got up 
behind and swung there for a little way, I wondered whether 
their fathers were alive, and whether they were happy at 
home. I had plenty to think of, therefore, besides my mind 
running continually on the kind of place I was going to 
which was an awful speculation. Sometimes, I remember, I 
resigned myself to thoughts of home and Peggotty; and to 
endeavoring, in a confused blind way, to recall how I had felt, 
and what sort of boy I used to be, before I bit Mr. Murdstone : 
which I couldn't satisfy myself about by any means, I seemed 
to have bitten him in such a remote antiquity. 

The night was not so pleasant as the evening, for it got 
chilly; and being put between two gentlemen (the rough- 
faced one and another) to prevent my tumbling off the coach, 
I was nearly smothered by their falling asleep, and completely 
blocking me up. They squeezed me so hard sometimes, that 
I could not help crying out " Oh, if you please ! " which 
they didn't like at all, because it woke them. Opposite me 
was an elderly lady in a great fur cloak, who looked in the 
dark more like a haystack than a lady, she was wrapped up to 
such a degree. This lady had a basket with her, and she 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 77 

hadn't known what to do with it for a long time, until she 
found . that on account of my legs being short, it would go 
underneath me. It cramped and hurt me so, that it made me 
perfectly miserable ; but if I moved in the least, and made a 
glass that was in the basket rattle against something else (as 
it was sure to do), she gave me the cruellest poke with her 
foot, and said, " Come, don't you fidget. Your bones are young 
enough, /'m sure ! " 

At last the sun rose, and then my companions seemed to 
sleep easier. The difficulties under which they had labored 
all night, and which had found utterance in the most terrific 
gasps and snorts, are not to be conceived. As the sun got 
higher, their sleep became lighter, and so they gradually one 
by one awoke. I recollect being very much surprised by the 
feint everybody made, then, of not having been to sleep at all, 
and by the uncommon indignation with which every one 
repelled the charge. I labor under the same kind of astonish- 
ment to this day, having invariably observed that of all human 
weaknesses, the one to which our common nature is the least 
disposed to confess (I cannot imagine why) is the weakness of 
having gone to sleep in a coach. 

What an amazing place London was to me when I saw it 
in the distance, and how I believed all the adventures of all 
my favorite heroes to be constantly enacting and re-enacting 
there, and how I vaguely made it out in my own mind to be 
fuller of wonders and wickedness than all the cities of the 
earth, I need not stop here to relate. We approached it by 
degrees, and got, in due time, to the inn in the Whitechapel 
district, for which we were bound. I forget whether it was 
the Blue Bull or the Blue Boar ; but I know it was the Blue 
Something, and that its likeness was painted up on the back 
of the coach. 

The guard's eye lighted on me as he was getting down, and 
he said at the booking-office door : 

" Is there anybody here for a yoongster booked in the name 
of Murdstone, from Bloonderstone, Sooffolk, to be left till 
called for ? " 

Nobody answered. 



78 THE PERSONAL HISTOET AND EXPERIENCE 

" Try Copperfield, if you please, sir," said I, looking help- 
lessly down. 

" Is there anybody here for a yoongster, booked in the name 
of Murdstone, from Bloonderstone, Sooffolk, but owning to 
the name of Copperfield, to be left till called for ? " said the 
guard. " Come ! Is there anybody ? ' 

No. There was nobody, I looked anxiously around; but 
the inquiry made no impression on any of the bystanders, if 
I except a man in gaiters, with one eye, who suggested that 
they had better put a brass collar round my neck, and tie me 
up in the stable. 

A ladder was brought, and I got down after the lady, who 
was like a haystack : not daring to stir, until her basket was 
removed. The coach was clear of passengers by that time, 
the luggage was very soon cleared out, the horses had been 
taken out before the luggage, and now the coach itself was 
wheeled and backed off by some hostlers, out of the way. 
Still, nobody appeared, to claim the dusty youngster from 
Blunderstone, Suffolk. 

More solitary than Robinson Crusoe, who had nobody to 
look at him, and see that he was solitary, I went into the 
booking-office, and, by invitation of the clerk on duty, passed 
behind the counter, and sat down on the scale at which they 
weighed the luggage. Here, as I sat looking at the parcels, 
packages, and books, and inhaling the smell of stables (ever 
since associated with that morning), a procession of most 
tremendous considerations began to march through my mind. 
Supposing nobody should ever fetch me, how long would they 
consent to keep me there ? Would they keep me long enough 
to spend seven shillings ? Should I sleep at night in one of 
those wooden binns, with the other luggage, and wash myself 
at the pump in the yard in the morning; or should I be 
turned out every night, and expected to come again to be left 
till called for, when the office opened next day ? Supposing 
there was no mistake in the case, and Mr. Murdstone had 
devised this plan to get rid of me, what should I do ? If they 
allowed me to remain there until my seven shillings were 
spent, I couldn't hope to remain there when I began to starve. 
That would obviously be inconvenient and unpleasant to the 



OF DAVIV COPPEHFIELD. 79 

customers, besides entailing on the Blue Whatever-it-was, the 
risk of funeral expenses. If I started off at once, and tried 
to walk back home, how could I ever find my way, how could 
I ever hope to walk so far, how could I make sure of any one 
but Peggotty, even if I got back ? If I found out the nearest 
proper authorities, and offered myself to go for a soldier, or a 
sailor, I was such a little fellow that it was most likely they 
wouldn't take me in. These thoughts, and a hundred other 
such thoughts, turned me burning hot, and made me giddy 
with apprehension and dismay. I was in the height of my 
fever when a man entered and whispered to the clerk, who 
presently slanted me off the scale, and pushed me over to him, 
as if I were weighed, bought, delivered, and paid for. 

As I went out of the office, hand in hand with this new 
acquaintance, I stole a leok at him. He was a gaunt, sallow 
young man, with hollow cheeks, and a chin almost as black as 
Mr. Murdstone's ; but there the likeness ended, for his 
whiskers were shaved off, and his hair, instead of being 
glossy, was rusty and dry. He was dressed in a suit of black 
clothes which were rather rusty and dry too, and rather short 
in the sleeves and legs ; and he had a white neckerchief on, 
that was not over-clean. I did not, and do not, suppose that 
this neckerchief was all the linen he wore, but it was all he 
showed or gave any hint of. 

"You're the new boy ? " he said. 

"Yes, sir," I said. 

I supposed I was. I didn't know. 

"I'm one of the masters at Salem. House," he said. 

I made him a bow and felt very much overawed. I was so 
ashamed to allude to a common-place thing like my box, to a 
scholar and a master at Salem House, that we had gone some 
little distance from the yard before I had the hardihood to 
mention it. We turned back on my humbly insinuating that 
it might be useful to me hereafter ; and he told the clerk that 
the carrier had instructions to call for it at noon. 

" If you please, sir," I said, when we had accomplished 
about the same distance as before, " is it far ? " 

" It's down by Blackheath," he said. 

" Is that far, sir ? " I diffidently asked, 



80 

"It's a good step," he said. "We shall go by the stage- 
coach. It's about six miles." 

I was so faint and tired, that the idea of holding out for six 
miles more, was too much for me. I took heart to tell him 
that I had had nothing all night, and that if he would allow 
me to buy something to eat, I should be very much obliged 
to him. He appeared surprised at this I see him stop and 
look at me now and after considering for a few moments, 
said he wanted to call on an old person who lived not far off, 
and that the best way would be for me to buy some bread, or 
whatever I liked best that was wholesome, and make my 
breakfast at her house, where we could get some milk. 

Accordingly we looked in at a baker's window, and after 
I had made a series of proposals to buy everything that was 
bilious in the shop, and he had rejected them one by one, we 
decided in favor of a nice little loaf of brown bread, which cost 
me threepence. Then, at a grocer's shop, we bought an egg 
and a slice of streaky bacon ; which still left what I thought a 
good deal of change, out of the second of the bright shillings, 
and made me consider London a very cheap place. These 
provisions laid in, we went on through a great noise and 
uproar that confused my weary head beyond description, and 
over a bridge which, no doubt, was London Bridge (indeed 
I think he told me so, but I was half asleep), until we came 
to the poor person's house, which was a part of some alms- 
houses, as I knew by their look, and by an inscription on a 
stone over the gate, which said they were established for 
twenty-five poor women. 

The master at Salem House lifted the latch of one of a 
number of little black doors that were all alike, and had each 
a little diamond-paned window on one side, and another little 
diamond-paned window above; and we went into the little 
house of one of these poor old women, who was blowing a fire 
to make a little saucepan boil. On seeing the master enter, 
the old woman stopped with the bellows on her knee, and said 
something that I thought sounded like " My Charley ! " but 
on seeing me come in too, she got up, and rubbing her hands 
made a confused sort of half courtesy. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 81 

" Can you cook this young genteman's breakfast for him, 
if you please ? " said the master at Salem House. 

" Can I ? " said the old woman. " Yes can I, sure ! " 

" How's Mrs. Fibbitson to-day ? " said the master, looking 
at another old woman in a large chair by the fire, who was 
such a bundle of clothes that I feel grateful to this hour for 
not having sat upon her by mistake. 

" Ah, she's poorly," said the first old woman. " It's one 
of her bad days. If the fire was to go out, through any acci- 
dent, I verily believe she' d go out too, and never come to life 
again." 

As they looked at her, I looked at her also. Although it 
was a warm day, she seemed to think of nothing but the fire. 
I fancied she was jealous even of the saucepan on it ; and I 
have reason to know that she took its impressment into the 
service of boiling my egg and broiling my bacon, in dudgeon ; 
for I saw her, with my own discomfited eyes, shake her fist 
at me once, when those culinary operations were going on, and 
no one else was looking. The sun streamed in at the little 
window, but she sat with her own back and the back of the 
large chair towards it, screening the fire as if she were 
sedulously keeping it warm, instead of it keeping her warm, 
and watching it in a most distrustful manner. The comple- 
tion of the preparations for my breakfast, by relieving the 
fire, gave her such extreme joy that she laughed aloud and 
a very unmelodious laughed she had, I must say. 

I sat down to my brown loaf, my egg, and my rasher of 
bacon, with a basin of milk besides, and made a most delicious 
meal. While I was yet in the full enjoyment of it, the old 
woman of the house said to the master : 

" Have you got your flute with you ? " 

" Yes," he returned. 

"Have a blow at it," said the old woman, coaxingly. 
" Do ! " 

The master, upon this, put his hand underneath the skirts of 
his coat, and brought out his flute in three pieces, which he 
screwed together, and began immediately to play. My impres- 
sion is, after many years of consideration, that there never 
can have been anybody in the world who played worse. He 
VOL. i 6 



82 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AXD EXPERIENCE 

made the most dismal sounds I have ever heard produced by 
any means, natural or artificial. I don't know what the tunes 
were if there were such things in the performance at all, 
which I doubt but the influence of the strain upon me was, 
first, to make me think of all my sorrows until I could hardly 
keep my tears back : then to take away my appetite ; and 
lastly to make me so sleepy that I couldn't keep my eyes 
open. They begin to close again, and I begin to nod, as the 
recollections rise fresh upon me. Once more the little room 
with its open corner cupboard, and its square-backed chairs, 
and its angular little staircase leading to the room above, and 
its three peacock's feathers displayed over the mantel-piece 
I remember wondering when I first went in, what that pea- 
cock would have thought if he had known what his finery 
was doomed to come to fades from before me, and I nod, 
and sleep. The flute becomes inaudible, the wheels of the 
coach are heard instead, and I am on my journey. The coach 
jolts, I wake with a start, and the flute has come back again, 
and the master at Salem House is sitting with his legs crossed, 
playing it dolefully, while the old woman of the house looks 
on delighted. She fades in her turn, and he fades, and all 
fades, and there is no flute, no master, no Salem House, no 
David Copperfield, no anything but heavy sleep. 

I dreamed, I thought, that once while he was blowing into 
this dismal flute, the old woman of the house, who had gone 
nearer and nearer to him in her ecstatic admiration, leaned 
over the back of his chair and gave him an affectionate squeeze 
round the neck, which stopped his playing for a moment. I 
was in the middle state between sleeping and waking, either 
then or immediately afterwards ; for, as he resumed it was 
a real fact that he had stopped playing I saw and heard the 
same old woman ask Mrs. Fibbitson if it wasn't delicious 
(meaning the flute), to which Mrs. Fibbitson replied, "Ay, 
ay ! Yes ! " and nodded at the fire : to which, I am per- 
suaded, she gave the credit of the whole performance. 

When I seemed to have been dozing a long while, the master 
at Salem House unscrewed his flute into the three pieces, put 
them up as before, and took me away. We found the coach 
very near at hand, and got upon the roof ; but I was so dead 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 83 

sleepy, that when we stopped on the road to take up some- 
body else, they put me inside where there were no passengers, 
and where I slept profoundly, until I found the coach going at 
a footpace up a steep hill among green leaves. Presently, it 
stopped, and had come to its destination. 

A short walk brought us I mean the master and me 
to Salem House, which was enclosed with a high brick wall, 
and looked very dull. Over a door in this wall was a board 
with SALEM HOUSE upon it ; and through a grating in this 
door we were surveyed, when we rang the bell, by a surly 
face, which I found, on the door being opened, belonged to a 
stout man with a bull-neck, a wooden leg, overhanging temples, 
and his hair cut close all round his head. 

" The new boy," said the master. 

The man with the wooden leg eyed me all over it didn't 
take long, for there was not much of me and locked the 
gate behind us, and took out the key. We were going up to 
the house, among some dark heavy trees, when he called after 
my conductor. 

" Hallo ! " 

We looked back, and he was standing at the door of a little 
lodge, where he lived, with a pair of boots in his hand. 

" Here ! The cobbler's been," he said, " since you've been 
out, Mr. Mell, and he says he can't mend 'em any more. He 
says there ain't a bit of the original boot left, and he wonders 
you expect it." 

With these words he threw the boots towards Mr. Mell, 
who went back a few paces to pick them up, and looked at 
them (very disconsolately, I was afraid) as we went on to- 
gether. I observed then, for the first time, that the boots he 
had on were a good deal the worse for wear, and that his 
stocking was just breaking out in one place, like a bud. 

Salem House was a square brick building with wings ; of a 
bare and unfurnished appearance. All about it was so very 
quiet, that I said to Mr. Mell I supposed the boys were out ; 
but he seemed surprised at my not knowing that it was holi- 
day-time. That all the boys were at their several homes. 
That Mr. Creakle, the proprietor, was down by the seaside 
with Mrs. and Miss Creakle ; and that I was sent in holiday- 



84 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

* 

time as a punishment for my misdoing, all of which he ex- 
plained to me as we went along. 

I gazed upon the schoolroom into which he took me, as the 
most forlorn and desolate place I had ever seen. I see it now. 
A long room, with three long rows of desks, and six of forms, 
and bristling all round with pegs for hats and slates. Scraps 
of old copy-books and exercises litter the dirty floor. Some 
silkworms' houses, made of the same materials, are scattered 
over the desks. Two miserable little white mice, left behind 
by their owner, are running up and down in a fusty castle 
made of pasteboard and wire, looking in all the corners with 
their red eyes for anything to eat. A bird, in a cage, very 
little bigger than himself, makes a mournful rattle now and 
then in hopping on his perch, two inches high, or dropping 
from it ; but neither sings nor chirps. There is a strange 
unwholesome smell upon the room, like mildewed corduroys, 
sweet apples wanting air, and rotten books. There could not 
well be more ink splashed about it, if it had been roofless from 
its first construction, and the skies had rained, snowed, hailed, 
and blown ink through the varying seasons of the year. 

Mr. Mell having left me while he took his irreparable boots 
up stairs, I went softly to the upper end of the room, observ- 
ing all this as I crept along. Suddenly I came upon a paste- 
board placard, beautifully written, which was lying on the 
desk, and bore these words " Take care of him. He bites" 

I got upon the desk immediately, apprehensive of at least a 
great dog underneath. But, though I looked all round with 
anxious eyes, I could see nothing of him. I was still engaged 
in peering about, when Mr. Mell came back, and asked me 
what I did up there. 

" I beg your pardon, sir," says I, " if you please, I'm looking 
for the dog." 

" Dog ? " says he, " What dog ? " 

"Isn't it a dog, sir?" 

"Isn't what a dog ? " 

" That's to be taken care of, sir ; that bites." 

" No, Copperfield," says he, gravely, " that's not a dog. 
That's a boy. My instructions are, Copperfield, to put this 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 85 

placard on your back. I am sorry to make such a beginning 
with you, but I must do it." 

With that, he took me down, and tied the placard, which 
was neatly constructed for the purpose, on my shoulders like 
a knapsack ; and wherever I went, afterwards, I had the con- 
solation of carrying it. 

What I suffered from that placard, nobody can imagine. 
Whether it was possible for people to see me or not, I always 
fancied that somebody was reading it. It was no relief to turn 
round and find nobody ; for wherever my back was, there I 
imagined somebody always to be. That cruel man with the 
wooden leg, aggravated my sufferings. He was in authority ; 
and if he ever saw me leaning against a tree, or a wall, or the 
house, he roared out from his lodge-door in a stupendous 
voice, " Hallo, you sir ! You Copperfield ! Show that badge 
conspicuous, or I'll report you ! " The playground was a bare 
gravelled yard, open to all the back of the house and the 
offices ; and I knew that the servants read it, and the butcher 
read it, and the baker read it ; that everybody, in a word, who 
came backwards and forwards to the house, of a morning, when 
I was ordered to walk there, read that I was to be taken care 
of, for I bit. I recollect that I positively began to have a 
dread of myself, as a kind of wild boy who did bite. 

There was an old door in this playground, on which the 
boys had a custom of carving their names. It was completely 
covered with such inscriptions. In my dread of the end of the 
vacation and their coming back, I could not read a boy's name, 
without inquiring in what tone and with what emphasis he 
would read, " Take care of him. He bites." There was one 
boy a certain J. Steerforth who cut his name very deep 
and very often, who, I conceived, would read it in a rather 
strong voice, and afterwards pull my hair. There was another 
boy, one Tommy Traddles, who I dreaded would make game 
of it, and pretend to be dreadfully frightened of me. There 
was a third, George Demple, who I fancied would sing it. 
I have looked, a little shrinking creature, at that door, until 
the owners of all the names there were five-and-forty of 
them in the school then, Mr. Mell said seemed to send me 



86 THE PERSONAL HISTOEY AND EXPERIENCE 

to Coventry by general acclamation, and to cry out, each in his 
own way, " Take care of him. He bites ! " 

It was the same with the places at the desks and forms. It 
was the same with the groves of deserted bedsteads I peeped 
at, on my way to, and when I was in, my own bed. I re- 
member dreaming night after night, of being with iny mother 
as she used to be, or of going to a party at Mr. Peg- 
gotty's, or of travelling outside the stage-coach, or of dining 
again with my unfortunate friend the waiter, and in all these 
circumstances making people scream and stare, by the unhappy 
disclosure that I had nothing on but my little night-shirt, and 
that placard. 

In the monotony of my life, and in my constant apprehen 
sion of the reopening of the school, it was such an insup- 
portable affliction ! I had long tasks every day to do with 
Mr. Mell ; but I did them, there being no Mr. and Miss 
Murdstone here, and got through them without disgrace. 
Before, and after them, I walked about supervised, as I have 
mentioned, by the man with the wooden leg. How vividly I 
call to mind the damp about the house, the green cracked 
flag stones in the court, and old leaky water-butt, and the dis- 
colored trunks of some of the grim trees, which seemed to 
have dripped more in the rain than other trees, and to have 
blown less in the sun ! At one we dined, Mr Mell and I, at 
the upper end of a long bare dining-room, full of deal tables, 
and smelling of fat. Then, we had more tasks until tea. which 
Mr. Mell drank out of a blue tea-cup, and I out of a tin pot. 
All day long, and until seven or eight in the evening, Mr. Mell. 
at his own detached desk in the schoolroom, worked hard with 
pen, ink, ruler, books, and writing-paper, making out the bills 
(as I found) for last half year. When he had put up his 
things for the night he took out his flute, and blew at it, until 
I almost thought he would gradually blow his whole being 
into the large hole at the top, and ooze away at the keys. 

I picture my small self in the dimly lighted rooms, sitting 
with my head upon my hand, listening to the doleful per- 
formance of Mr. Mell, a"nd conning to-morrow's lessons. I 
picture myself with my books shut up, still listening to the 
doleful performance of Mr. Mell, and listening through it to 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 87 

what used to be at home, and to the blowing of the wind on 
Yarmouth flats, and feeling very sad and solitary. I picture 
myself going up to bed, among the unused rooms, and sitting 
on my bedside crying for a comfortable word from Peggotty. 
I picture myself coming down stairs in the morning, and 
looking through a long ghastly gash of a stair-case window, 
at the school-bell hanging on the top of an out-house, with a 
weathercock above it; and dreading the time when it shall 
ring J. Steerforth and the rest to work : which is only second, 
in my foreboding apprehensions, to the time when the man 
with the wooden leg shall unlock the rusty gate to give admis- 
sion to the awful Mr. Creakle. I cannot think I was a very 
dangerous character in any of these aspects, but in all of them 
I carried the same warning on my back. 

Mr. Mell never said much to me, but he was never harsh to 
me. I suppose we were company to each other, without 
talking. I forgot to mention that he would talk to himself 
sometimes, and grin, and clench his fist, and grind his teeth, 
and pull his hair in an unaccountable manner. But he had 
these peculiarities : and at first they frightened me, though I 
soon got used to them. 



88 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 



CHAPTER VI 

I ENLARGE MY CIRCLE OF ACQUAINTANCE. 

I HAD led this life about a month, when the man with the 
wooden leg began to stump about with a mop and a bucket 
of water, from which I inferred that preparations were making 
to receive Mr. Creakle and the boys. I was not mistaken ; for 
the mop came into the schoolroom before long, and turned 
out Mr. Mell and me, who lived where we could, and got on 
how we could, for some days, during which we were always in 
the way of two or three young women, who had rarely shown 
themselves before, and were so continually in the midst of 
dust that I sneezed almost as much as if Salem House had 
been a great snuff-box. 

One day I was informed by Mr. Mell, that Mr. Creakle 
would be home that evening. In the evening, after tea, I 
heard that he was come. Before bed-time, I was fetched by 
the man with the wooden leg to appear before him. 

Mr. Creakle's part of the house was a good deal more com- 
fortable than ours, and he had a snug bit of garden that 
looked pleasant after the dusty playground, which was such 
a desert in miniature, that I thought no one but a camel, or 
a dromedary, could have felt at home in it. It seemed to 
me a bold thing even to take notice that the passage looked 
comfortable, as I went on my way, trembling, to Mr. Creakle's 
presence : which so abashed me, when I was ushered into it, 
that I hardly saw Mrs. Creakle or Miss Creakle (who were 
both there in the parlor), or anything but Mr. Creakle, a stout 
gentleman with a bunch of watch-chain and seals, in an arm- 
chair, with a tumbler and bottle beside him. 

" So ! " said Mr. Creakle. " This is the young gentleman 
whose teeth are to be filed ! Turn him round." 

The wooden-legged man turned me about so as to exhibit 
the placard ; and having afforded time for a full survey of it, 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 89 

turned me about again, with my face to Mr. Creakle, and 
posted himself at Mr. Creakle's side. Mr. Creakle's face was 
fiery, and his eyes were small, and deep in his head ; he had 
thick veins in his forehead, a little nose, and a large chin. 
He was bald on the top of his head ; and had some thin wet- 
looking hair that was just turning gray, brushed across each 
temple, so that the two sides interlaced on his forehead. But 
the circumstance about him which impressed me most, was, 
that he had no voice, but spoke in a whisper. The exertion 
this cost him, or the consciousness of talking in that feeble 
way, made his angry face so much more angry, and his thick 
veins so much thicker, when he spoke, that I am not surprised, 
on looking back, at this peculiarity striking me as his chief 
one. 

"Now," said Mr. Creakle. "What's the report of this 
boy ? " 

" There's nothing against him yet," returned the man with 
the wooden leg. " There has been no opportunity." 

I thought Mr. Creakle was disappointed. I thought Mrs. 
and Miss Creakle (at whom I now glanced for the first time, 
and who were, both, thin and quiet) were not disappointed. 

" Come here, sir ! " said Mr. Creakle, beckoning to me. 

" Come here ! " said the man with the wooden leg, repeat- 
ing the gesture. 

"I have the happiness of knowing your father-in-law," 
whispered Mr. Creakle, taking me by the ear ; " and a worthy 
man he is, and a man of a strong character. He knows me, 
and I know him. Do you know me ? Hey ? " said Mr. 
Creakle, pinching my ear with ferocious playfulness. 

" Not yet, sir," I said, flinching with the pain. 

" Not yet ? Hey ? " repeated Mr. Creakle. " But you will 
soon. Hey ? " 

" You will soon. Hey ? " repeated the man with the 
wooden leg. I afterwards found that he generally acted, 
with his strong voice, as Mr. Creakle's interpreter to the boys. 

I was very much frightened, and said, I hoped so, if he 
pleased. I felt, all this while, as if my ear were blazing ; he 
pinched it so hard. 

"I'll tell you what I am," whispered Mr. Creakle, letting it 



90 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

go at last, with a screw at parting that brought the water into 
my eyes. " I'm a Tartar." 

" A Tartar," said the man with the wooden leg. 

" When I say I'll do a thing, I do it," said Mr. Creakle ; " and 
when I say I will have a thing done, I will have it done." 

" Will have a thing done, I will have it done," repeated 
the man with the wooden leg. 

" I am a determined character," said Mr. Creakle. " That's 
what I am. I do my duty. That's what / do. My flesh and 
blood " he looked at Mrs. Creakle as he said this " when 
it rises against me, is not my flesh and blood. I discard it. 
Has that fellow," to the man with the wooden leg, "been 
here again ? ' ; 

" No," was the answer. 

"No," said Mr. Creakle. "He knows better. He knows 
me. Let him keep away. I say let him keep away," said 
Mr. Creakle, striking his hand upon the table, and looking at 
Mrs. Creakle, "for he knows me. Now you have begun to 
know me too, my young friend, and you may go. Take him 
away." 

I was very glad to be ordered away, for Mrs. and Miss 
Creakle were both wiping their eyes, and I felt as uncom- 
fortable for them, as I did for myself. But I had a petition 
on my mind which concerned me so nearly, that I couldn't 
help saying, though I wondered at my own courage : 

" If you please, sir " 

Mr. Creakle whispered, " Hah ? What's this ? " and bent his 
eyes upon me, as if he would have burnt me up with them. 

" If you please, sir," I faltered, " if I might be allowed (I 
am very sorry indeed, sir, for what I did) to take this writing 
off, before the boys come back " 

Whether Mr. Creakle was in earnest, or whether he only did 
it to frighten me, I don't know, but he made a burst out of his 
chair, before which I precipitately retreated, without waiting 
for the escort of the man with the wooden leg, and never once 
stopped until I reached my own bedroom, where, finding I 
was not pursued, I went to bed, as it was time, and lay quak- 
ing, for a couple of hours. 

Next morning Mr. Sharp came back. Mr. Sharp was the 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 91 

first master, and superior to Mr. Mell. Mr. Mell took his 
meals with the boys, but Mr. Sharp dined and supped at Mr. 
Creakle's table. He was a limp, delicate-looking gentleman, 
I thought, with a good deal of nose, and a way of carrying 
his head on one side, as if it were a little too heavy for him. 
His hair was very smooth and wavy ; but I was informed by 
the very first boy who came back that it was a wig (a second- 
hand one he said), and that Mr. Sharp went out every Saturday 
afternoon to get it curled. 

It was no other than Tommy Traddles who gave me this 
piece of intelligence. He was the first boy who returned. 
He introduced himself by informing me that I should find his 
name on the right-hand corner of the gate, over the top bolt ; 
upon that I said, " Traddles ? ;; to which he replied, " The 
same," and then, he asked me for a full account of myself and 
family. 

It was a happy circumstance for me that Traddles came 
back first. He enjoyed my placard so much, that he saved me 
from the embarrassment of either disclosure or concealment, 
by presenting me to every other boy who came back, great or 
small, immediately on his arrival, in this form of introduction, 
" Look here ! Here's a game ! " Happily, too, the greater 
part of the boys came back low-spirited, and were not so 
boisterous at my expense as I had expected. Some of them 
certainly did dance about me like wild Indians, and the greater 
part could not resist the temptation of pretending that I was 
a dog, and patting and smoothing me lest I should bite, and 
saying, "Lie down, sir !" and calling me Towzer. This was 
naturally confusing, among so many strangers, and cost me 
some tears, but on the whole it was much better than I had 
anticipated. 

I was not considered as being formally received into the 
school, however, until J. Steerforth arrived. Before this boy, 
who was reputed to be a great scholar, and was very good- 
looking, and at least half-a-dozen years my senior, I was carried 
as before a magistrate. He inquired, under a shed in the play- 
ground, into the particulars of my punishment, and was pleased 
to express his opinion that it was " a jolly shame ; " for which 
I became bound to him ever afterwards. 



92 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" What money have you got, Copperfield ? " he said, walk- 
ing aside with me when he had disposed of my affair in these 
terms. 

I told him seven shillings. 

" You had better give it to me to take care of," he said. 
" At least, you can if you like. You needn't if you don't like." 

I hastened to comply with his friendly suggestion, and 
opening Peggotty's purse, turned it upside down into his hand. 

" Do you want to spend anything now ? " he asked me. 

" No, thank you," I replied. 

" You can, if you like, you know," said Steerforth. " Say 
the word." 

" No, thank you, sir," I repeated. 

" Perhaps you'd like to spend a couple of shillings, or so, in 
a bottle of currant wine by and by, up in the bedroom ? " said 
Steerforth. " You belong to my bedroom, I find." 

It certainly had not occurred to me before, but I said, Yes, 
I should like that. 

"Very good," said Steerforth. "You'll be glad to spend 
another shilling or so, in almond cakes, I dare say ? '' 

I said, Yes, I should like that, too. 

"And another shilling or so in biscuits, and another in 
fruit, eh ? " said Steerforth. " I say, young Copperfield, you're 
going it ! " 

I smiled because he smiled, but I was a little troubled in 
my mind, too. t 

" Well ! " said Steerforth. " We must make it stretch as far 
as we can ; that's all. I'll do the best in my power for you. 
I can go out when I like, and I'll smuggle the prog in." With 
these words he put the money in his pocket, and kindly told 
me not to make myself uneasy ; he would take care it should 
be all right. 

He was as good as his word, if that were all right which I 
had a secret misgiving was nearly all wrong for I feared it 
was a waste of my mother's two half-crowns though I had 
preserved the piece of paper they were wrapped in ; which 
was a precious saving. When we went up stairs to bed, he 
produced the whole seven shillings' worth, and laid it out on 
my bed in the moonlight, saying: 



OF DAVID COPPEBFIELD. 93 

"There you are, young Copperfield, and a royal spread 
you've got ! " 

I couldn't think of doing the honors of the feast, at my time 
of life, while he was by j my hand shook at the very thought 
of it. I begged him to do me the favor of presiding ; and my 
request being seconded by the other boys who were in that 
room, he acceded to it, and sat upon my pillow, handing round 
the viands with perfect fairness, I must say and dispens- 
ing the currant wine in a little glass without a foot, which was 
his own property. As to me, I sat on his left hand, and the 
rest were grouped about us, on the nearest beds and on the 
floor. 

How well I recollect our sitting there, talking in whispers, 
or their talking, and iny respectfully listening, I ought rather 
to say; the moonlight falling a little way into the room, 
through the window, painting a pale window on the floor, and 
the greater part of us in shadow, except when Steerforth 
dipped a match into a phosphorus-box, when he wanted to 
look for anything on the board, and shed a blue glare over us 
that was gone directly ! A certain mysterious feeling, conse- 
quent on the darkness, the secrecy of the revel, and the whis- 
per in which everything was said, steals over me again, and I 
listen to all they tell me, with a vague feeling of solemnity 
and awe, which makes me glad that they are all so near, and 
frightens me (though I feign to laugh) when Traddles pre- 
tends to see a ghost in the corner. 

I heard all kinds of things about the school and all belong- 
ing to it. I heard that Mr. Creakle had not preferred his 
claim to being a Tartar without reason ; that he was the stern- 
est and most severe of masters ; that he laid about him, right 
and left, every day of his life, charging in among the boys like 
a trooper, and slashing away, unmercifully. That he knew 
nothing himself, but the art of slashing, being more ignorant 
(J. Steerforth said) than the lowest boy in the school ; that he 
had been, a good many years ago, a small hop-dealer in the 
Borough, and had taken to the schooling business after being 
bankrupt in hops, and making away with Mrs. Creakle's money. 
With a good deal more of that sort, which I wondered how 
they knew. 



94 THE PERSONAL BISTORT AND EXPERIENCE 

I heard that the man with the wooden leg, whose name was 
Tungay, was an obstinate barbarian who had formerly assisted 
in the hop business, but had come into the scholastic line with 
Mr. Creakle, in consequence, as was supposed among the boys, 
of his having broken his leg in Mr. Creakle's service, and hav- 
ing done a deal of dishonest work for him, and knowing his 
secrets. I heard that with the single exception of Mr. Creakle, 
Tungay considered the whole establishment, masters and boys, 
as his natural enemies, and that the only delight of his life 
was to be sour and malicious. I heard that Mr. Creakle had a 
son, who had not been Tungay's friend, and who, assisting in 
the school, had once held some remonstrance with his father 
on an occasion when its discipline was very cruelly exercised, 
and was supposed, besides, to have protested against his fath- 
er's usage of his mother. I heard that Mr. Creakle had turned 
him out of doors, in consequence ; and that Mrs. and Miss 
Creakle had been in a sad way, ever since. 

But the greatest wonder that I heard of Mr. Creakle was, 
there being one boy in the school on whom he never ventured to 
lay a hand, and that boy being J. Steerforth. Steerforth him- 
self confirmed this when it was stated, and said that he should 
like to begin to see him do it. On being asked by a mild boy 
(not me) how he would proceed if he did begin to see him do 
it, he dipped a match into his phosphorus-box on purpose to 
shed a glare over his reply, and said he would commence with 
knocking him down with a blow on the forehead from the 
seven-and-six-penny ink-bottle that was always on the mantel- 
piece. We sat in the dark for some time, breathless. 

I heard that Mr. Sharp and Mr. Mell were both supposed 
to be wretchedly paid ; and that when there was hot and cold 
meat for dinner at Mr. Creakle's table, Mr. Sharp was always 
expected to say he preferred cold ; which was again corrobo- 
rated by J. Steerforth, the only parlor-boarder. I heard that 
Mr. Sharp's wig didn't fit him ; and that he needn't be so 
" bounceable " somebody else said "bumptious " about it, 
because his own red hair was very plainly to be seen behind. 

I heard that one boy, who was a coal-merchant's son, came 
as a set-off against the coal-bill, and was called 011 that account 
" Exchange or Barter " a name selected from the arithmetic- 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 95 

book as expressing this arrangement. I heard that the table- 
beer was a robbery of parents, and the pudding an imposition. 
I heard that Miss Creakle was regarded by the school in gen- 
eral as being in love with Steerforth ; and I am sure, as I sat 
in the dark, thinking of his nice voice, and his fine face, and 
his easy manner, and his curling hair, I thought it very likely. 
I heard that Mr. Mell was not a bad sort of fellow, but hadn't 
a sixpence to bless himself with ; and that there was no doubt 
that old Mrs. Mell, his mother, was as poor as Job." I thought 
of my breakfast then, and what had sounded like " my Char- 
ley ! " but I was, I am glad to remember, as mute as a mouse 
about it. 

The hearing of all this, and a good deal more, outlasted the 
banquet some time. The greater part of the guests had gone 
to bed as soon as the eating and drinking were over ; and we, 
who had remained whispering and listening half undressed, at 
last betook ourselves to bed, too. 

" Good night, young Copperfield," said Steerforth, " I'll take 
care of you." 

"You're very kind," I gratefully returned. "I am very 
much obliged to you." 

" You haven't got a sister, have you ? " said Steerforth, 
yawning. 

"No," I answered. 

"That's a pity," said Steei forth. "If you had had one, 
I should think she would have been a pretty, timid, little, 
bright-eyed sort of girl. I should have liked to know her. 
Good night, young Copperfield." 

" Good night, sir," I replied. 

I thought of him very much after I went to bed, and raised 
myself, I recollect, to look at him where he lay in the moon- 
light, with his handsome face turned up, and his head reclining 
easily on his arm. He was a person of great power in my 
eyes ; that was of course the reason of my mind running on 
him. No veiled future dimly glanced upon him in the moon- 
beams. There was no shadowy picture of his footsteps, in the 
garden that I dreamed of walking in all night. 



96 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 



CHAPTER VII. 

MY " FIRST HALF " AT SALEM HOUSE. 

SCHOOL began in earnest next day. A profound impression 
was made upon me, I remember, by the roar of voices in the 
schoolroom suddenly becoming hushed as death when Mr. 
Creakle entered after breakfast, and stood in the doorway 
looking round upon us like a giant in a story-book surveying 
his captives. 

Tungay stood at Mr. Creakle's elbow. He had no occasion, 
I thought, to cry out " Silence ! " so ferociously, for the boys 
were all struck speechless and motionless. 

Mr. Creakle was seen to speak, and Tungay was heard, to 
this effect. 

"Now, boys, this is a new half. Take care what you're 
about, in this new half. Come fresh up to the lessons, I ad- 
vise you, for I come fresh up to the punishment. I won't 
flinch. It will be of no use your rubbing yourselves ; you 
won't rub the marks out that I shall give you. Now get to 
work, every boy ! " 

When this dreadful exordium was over, and Tungay had 
stumped out again, Mr. Creakle came to where I sat, and told 
me that if I were famous for biting, he was famous for biting, 
too. He then showed me the cane, and asked me what I 
thought of that, for a tooth ? Was it a sharp tooth, hey ? 
Was it a double tooth, hey ? Had it a deep prong, hey ? Did 
it bite, hey ? Did it bite ? At every question he gave me a 
fleshy cut with it that made me writhe ; so I was very soon 
made free of Salem House (as Steerforth said), and very soon 
in tears also. 

Not that I mean to say these were special marks of dis- 
tinction, which only I received. On the contrary, a large 
majority of the boys (especially the smaller ones) were visited 
with similar instances of notice, as Mr. Creakle made the 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 97 

round of the schoolroom. Half the establishment was writh- 
ing and crying, before the day's work began ; and how much 
of it had writhed and cried before the day's work was over, I 
am really afraid to recollect, lest I should seem to exaggerate. 

I should think there never can have been a man who 
enjoyed his profession more than Mr. Creakle did. He had a 
delight in cutting at the boys, which was like the satisfaction 
of a craving appetite. I am confident that he couldn't resist 
a chubby boy, especially j that there was a fascination in such 
a subject, which made him restless in his mind, until he had 
scored and marked him for the day. I was chubby myself, 
and ought to know. I am sure when I think of the fellow 
now, my blood rises against him with the disinterested indig- 
nation I should feel if I could have known all about him 
without having ever been in his power ; but it rises hotly, 
because I know him- to have been an incapable brute, who had 
no more right to be possessed of the great trust he held, than 
to be Lord High Admiral, or Commander-in-chief : in either 
of which capacities, it is probable, that he would have done 
infinitely less mischief. 

Miserable little propitiators of a remorseless Idol, how 
abject we were to him ! what a launch in life I think it now, 
on looking back, to be so mean and servile to a man of such 
parts and pretensions ! 

Here I sit at the desk again, watching his eye humbly 
watching his eye, as he rules a cypheriiig-book for another 
victim whose hands have just been flattened by that identical 
ruler, and who is trying to wipe the sting out with a pocket- 
handkerchief. I have plenty to do. I don't watch his eye in 
idleness, but because I am morbidly attracted to it, in a dread 
desire to know what he will do next, and whether it will be 
my turn to suffer, or somebody else's. A lane of small boys 
beyond me, with the same interest in his eye, watch it too. 
I think he knows it, though he pretends he don't. He makes 
dreadful mouths as he rules the cyphering-book ; and now he 
throws his eye sideways down our lane, and we all droop over 
our books and tremble. A moment afterwards we are again 
eyeing him. An unhappy culprit, found guilty of imperfect 
exercise, approaches at his command. The culprit falters 

VOL. 1 7 



98 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

excuses, and professes a determination to do better to-morrow. 
Mr. Creakle cuts a joke before he beats him, and we laugh at 
it miserable little dogs, we laugh, with our visages as white 
as ashes, and our hearts sinking into our boots. 

Here I sit at the desk again, on a drowsy summer afternoon. 
A buzz and hum go up around me, as if the boys were so many 
blue-bottles. A cloggy sensation of the lukewarm fat of meat 
is upon me (we dined an hour or two ago), and my head is as 
heavy as so much lead. I would give the world to go to sleep. 
I sit with my eye on Mr. Creakle, blinking at him like a young 
owl ; when sleep overpowers me for a minute, he still looms 
through my slumber, ruling those cyphering-books ; until he 
softly comes behind me and wakes me to plainer perception of 
him, with a red ridge across my back. 

Here I am in the playground, with my eyes still fascinated 
by him, though I can't see him. The window at a little dis- 
tance from which I know he is having his dinner, stands for 
him, and I eye that instead. If he shows his face near it, 
mine assumes an imploring and submissive expression. If he 
looks out through the glass, the boldest boy (Steerforth 
excepted) stops in the middle of a shout or yell, and becomes 
contemplative. One day, Traddles (the most unfortunate boy 
in the world) breaks that window accidentally with a ball. I 
shudder at this moment with the tremendous sensation of 
seeing it done, and feeling that the ball has bounded on to 
Mr. Creakle's sacred head. 

Poor Traddles ! In a tight sky-blue suit that made his arms 
and legs like German sausages, or roly-poly puddings, he was 
the merriest and most miserable of all the boys. He was 
always being caned I think he was caned every day that 
half-year, except one holiday Monday when he was only ruler'd 
on both hands and was always going to write to his uncle 
about it, and never did. After laying his head on the desk 
for a little while, he would cheer up somehow, begin to laugh 
again, and draw skeletons all over his slate, before his eyes 
were dry. I used at first to wonder what comfort Traddles 
found in drawing skeletons ; and for some time looked upon 
him as a sort of hermit, who reminded himself by those 
symbols of mortality that caning couldn't last forever. But I 



OF DAVID COPPERF1ELD. 99 

believe he only did it because they were easy, and didn't want 
any features. 

He was very honorable, Traddles was ; and held it as a 
solemn duty in the boys to stand by one another. He suffered 
for this on several occasions : and particularly once, when 
Steerforth laughed in church, and the Beadle thought it was 
Traddles, and took him out. I see him now, going away in 
custody, despised by the congregation. He never said who 
was the real offender, though he smarted for it next day, and 
was imprisoned so many hours that he came forth with a 
whole churchyard-full of skeletons swarming all over his 
Latin Dictionary. But he had his reward. Steerforth said 
there was nothing of the sneak in Traddles, and we all felt 
that to be the highest praise. For my part, I could have gone 
through a good deal (though I was much less brave than 
Traddles, and nothing like so old) to have won such a recom- 
pense. 

To see Steerforth walk to church before us, arm-in-arm with 
Miss Creakle, was one or the great sights of my life. I didn't 
think Miss Creakle equal to little Em'ly in point of beauty, 
and I didn't love her (I didn't dare) ; but I thought her a 
young lady of extraordinary attractions, and in point of gen- 
tility not to be surpassed. When Steerforth, in white trousers, 
carried her parasol for her, I felt proud to know him; and 
believed that she could not choose but adore him with all her 
heart. Mr. Sharp and Mr. Mell were both notable personages 
in my eyes ; but Steerforth was to them what the sun was to 
two stars. * 

Steerforth continued his protection of me, and proved a 
very useful friend ; since nobody dared to annoy one whom he 
honored with his countenance. He couldn't or at all events 
he didn't defend me from Mr. Creakle, who was very severe 
with me ; but whenever I had been treated worse than usual, 
he always told me that I wanted a little of his pluck, and that 
he wouldn't have stood it himself ; which I felt he intended 
for encouragement, and considered to be very kind of him. 
There was one advantage, and only one that I know of, in Mr. 
Creakle's severity. He found my placard in his way when he 
came up or down behind the form on which I sat, and wanted 



100 THE PEESONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

to make a cut at me in passing ; for this reason it was soon 
taken off, and I saw it no more. 

An accidental circumstance cemented the intimacy between 
Steerforth and me, in a manner that inspired me with great 
pride and satisfaction, though it sometimes led to incon- 
venience. It happened on one occasion, when he was doing 
me the honor of talking to me in the playground, that I haz- 
arded the observation that something or somebody I forget 
what now was like something or somebody in Peregrine 
Pickle. He said nothing at the time ; but when I was going 
to bed at night, asked me if I had got that book. 

I told him no, and explained how it was that I had read it; 
and all those other books of which I have made mention. 

"And do you recollect 'them ? " Steerforth said. 

Oh yes, I replied ; I had a good memory, and I believed I 
recollected them very well. 

" Then I tell you what, young Copperfield," said Steerforth, 
" you shall tell 'em to me. I can't get to sleep very early at 
night, and I generally wake rather early in the morning. 
We'll go over 'em one after another. We'll make some regular 
Arabian Nights of it." 

I felt extremely flattered by this arrangement, and we com- 
menced carrying it into execution that very evening. What 
ravages I committed on my favorite authors in the course of 
my interpretation of them, I am not in a condition to say, and 
should be very unwilling to know ; but I had a profound faith 
in them, and I had, to the best of my belief, a simple, earnest 
manner of narrating what I did, narrate j'and these qualities 
went a long way. 

The drawback was, that I was often sleepy at night, or out 
of spirits and indisposed to resume the story ; and then it 
was rather hard work, and it must be done ; for to disappoint 
or displease Steerforth was of course out of the question. In 
the morning too, when I felt weary, and should have enjoyed 
another hour's repose very much, it was a tiresome thing to be 
roused, like the Sultana Scheherazade, and forced into a long 
story before the getting-up bell rang ; but Steerforth was reso- 
lute ; and as he explained to me, in return, my sums and 
exercises, and anything in my tasks that was too hard for me, 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 101 

I was no loser by the transaction. Let me do myself justice, 
however. I was moved by no interested or selfish motive, nor 
was I moved by fear of him. I admired and loved him, and 
his approval was return enough. It was s"o precious to me 
that I look back on these trifles, now, with an aching heart. 

Steerforth was considerate too ; and showed his considera- 
tion, in one particular instance, in an unflinching manner that 
was a little tantalizing, I suspect, to poor Traddles and the 
rest. Peggotty's promised letter what a comfortable letter 
it was ! arrived before " the half " was many weeks old ; and 
with it a cake in a perfect nest of oranges, and two bottles of 
cowslip wine. This treasure, as in duty bound, I laid at the 
feet of Steerforth, and begged him to dispense. 

" Now, I'll tell you what, young Copperfield," said he : 
"the wine shall be kept to wet your whistle when you are 
story-telling." 

I blushed at the idea, and begged him, in my modesty, not 
to think of it. But he said he had observed I was sometimes 
hoarse a little roopy was his exact expression and it should 
be, every drop, devoted to the purpose he had mentioned. 
Accordingly, it was locked up in his box, and drawn off by 
himself in a phial, and administered to me through a piece of 
quill in the cork, when I was supposed to be in want of a 
restorative. Sometimes, to make it a more sovereign specific, 
he was so kind as to squeeze orange juice into it, or to stir it 
up with ginger, or dissolve a peppermint drop in it ; and 
although I cannot assert that the flavor was improved by these 
experiments, or that it was exactly the compound one would 
have chosen for a stomachic, the last thing at night and the 
first thing in the morning, I drank it gratefully, and was very 
sensible of his attention. 

We seem to me, to have been months over Peregrine, and 
months more over the other stories. The institution never 
flagged for want of a story, I am certain ; and the wine lasted 
out almost as well as the matter. Poor Traddles I never 
think of that boy but with a strange disposition to laugh, and 
with tears in my eyes was a sort of chorus, in general ; and 
affected to be convulsed with mirth at the comic parts, and to 
be overcome with fear when there was any passage of an 



102 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

alarming character in the narrative. This rather put me out, 
very often. It was a great jest of his, I recollect, to pretend 
that he couldn't keep his teeth from chattering, whenever 
mention was made of an Alguazil in connection with the adven- 
tures of Gil Bias ; and I remember when Gil Bias met the 
captain of the robbers in Madrid, this unlucky joker counter- 
feited such an ague of terror, that he was overheard by Mr. 
Creakle, who was prowling about the passage, and handsomely 
flogged for disorderly conduct in the bedroom. 

Whatever I had within me that was romantic and dreamy, 
was encouraged by so much story-telling in the dark ; and in 
that respect the pursuit may not have been very profitable to 
me. But the being cherished as a kind of plaything in my 
room, and the consciousness that this accomplishment of mine 
was bruited about among the boys, and attracted a good deal 
of notice to me though I was the youngest there, stimulated 
me to exertion. In a school carried on by sheer cruelty, 
whether it is presided over by a dunce or not, there is not 
likely to be much learnt. I believe our boys were, generally, 
as ignorant a set as any schoolboys in existence ; they were 
too much troubled and knocked about to learn ; they could no 
more do that to advantage, than any one can do anything to 
advantage in a life of constant misfortune, torment, and worry. 
But my little vanity, and Steerforth's help, urged me on some- 
how ; and without saving me from much, if anything, in the 
way of punishment, made me, for the time I was there, an 
exception to the general body, insomuch that I did steadily 
pick up some crumbs of knowledge. 

In this I was much assisted by Mr. Mell, who had a liking 
for me that I am grateful to remember. It always gave me 
pain to observe that Steerforth treated him with systematic 
disparagement, and seldom lost an occasion of wounding his 
feelings, or inducing others to do so. This troubled me the 
more for a long time, because I had soon told Steerforth, from 
whom I could no more keep such a secret, than I could keep a 
cake or any other tangible possession, about the two old women 
Mr. Mell had taken me to see ; and I was always afraid that 
Steerforth would let it out, and twit him with it. 

We little thought, any one of us, I dare say, when I ate my 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 103 

breakfast that first morning, and went to sleep under the 
shadow of the peacock's feathers to the sound of the flute, 
what consequences would come of the introduction into those 
almshouses of my insignificant person. But the visit had its 
unforeseen consequences j and of a serious sort, too, in their 
way. 

One day when Mr. Creakle kept the house from indisposi- 
tion, which naturally diffused a lively joy through the school, 
there was a good deal of noise in the course of the morning's 
work. The great relief and satisfaction experienced by the 
boys made them difficult to manage ; and though the dreaded 
Tungay brought his wooden leg in twice or thrice, and took 
notes of the principal offenders' names, no great impression 
was made by it, as they were pretty 'sure of getting into trouble 
to-morrow, do what they would, and thought it wise, no doubt, 
to enjoy themselves to-day. 

It was, properly, a half-holiday ; being Saturday. But as 
the noise in the playground would have disturbed Mr. Creakle, 
and the weather was not favorable for going out walking, we 
were ordered into school in the afternoon, and set some lighter 
tasks than usual, which were made for the occasion. It was 
the day of the week on which Mr. Sharp went out to get his 
wig curled ; so Mr. Mell, who always did the drudgery, what- 
ever it was, kept school by himself. 

If I could associate the idea of a bull or a bear with any 
one so mild as Mr. Mell, I should think of him, in connection 
with that afternoon when the uproar was at its height, as of 
one of those animals, baited by a thousand dogs. I recall him 
bending his aching head, supported on his bony hand, over 
the book on his desk, and wretchedly endeavoring to get on 
with his tiresome work, amidst an uproar that might have 
made the Speaker of the House of Commons giddy. Boys 
started in and out of their places, playing at puss-in-the-corner 
with other boys ; there were laughing boys, singing boys, talk- 
ing boys, dancing boys, howling boys ; boys shuffled with their 
feet, boys whirled about him, grinning, making faces, mim- 
icking him behind his back and before his eyes : mimicking 
his poverty, his boots, his coat, his mother, everything belong- 
ing to him that they should have had consideration for. 



104 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" Silence ! " cried Mr. Mell, suddenly rising up, and striking 
his desk with the book. " What does this mean ! It's impos- 
sible to bear it. It's maddening. How can you do it to me, 
boys?" 

It was my book that he struck his desk with ; and as I stood 
beside him, following his eye as it glanced round the room, I 
saw the boys all stop, some suddenly surprised, some half 
afraid, and some sorry perhaps. 

Steerforth's place was at the bottom of the school, at the 
opposite end of the long room. He was lounging with his 
back against the wall, and his hands in his pockets, and looked 
at Mr. Mell with his mouth shut up as if he were whistling, 
when Mr. Mell looked at him. 

" Silence, Mr. Steerforth ! " said Mr. Mell. 

" Silence yourself," said Steerforth, turning red. " Whom 
are you talking to ? " 

" Sit down," said Mr. Mell. 

" Sit down yourself," said Steerforth, " and mind your busi- 
ness." 

There was a titter, and some applause ; but Mr. Mell was 
so white, that silence immediately succeeded ; and one boy, 
who had darted out behind him to imitate his mother again, 
changed his mind, and pretended to want a pen mended. 

" If you think, Steerforth," said Mr. Mell, " that I am not 
acquainted with the power you can establish over any mind 
here " he laid his hand, without considering what he did 
(as I supposed), upon my head " or that I have not observed 
you, within a few minutes, urging your juniors on to every 
sort of outrage against me, you. are mistaken." 

" I don't "give myself the trouble of thinking at all about 
you," said Steerforth, coolly ; " so I'm not mistaken, as it 
happens." 

"And when you make use of your position of favoritism 
here, sir," pursued Mr. Mell, with his lip trembling very 
much, " to insult a gentleman " 

" A what ? where is he ? " said Steerforth. 

Here somebody cried out, "Shame, J. Steerforth! Too 
bad ! " It was Traddles ; whom Mr. Mell instantly dis- 
comfited by bidding him hold his tongue. 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 105 

" To insult one who is not fortunate in life, sir, and who 
never gave you the least offence, and the many reasons for not 
insulting whom you are old enough and wise enough to under- 
stand," said Mr. Mell, with his lip trembling more and more, 
" you commit a mean and base action. You can sit down or 
stand up as you please, sir. Copperfield, go on." 

"Young Copperfield," said Steerforth, coming forward up 
the room, "stop a bit. I tell you what, Mr. Mell, once for 
all. When you take the liberty of calling me mean or base, 
or anything of that sort, you are an impudent beggar. You 
are always a beggar, you know ; but when you do that, you 
are an impudent beggar." 

I am not clear whether he was going to strike Mr. Mell, or 
Mr. Mell was going to strike him, or there was any such 
intention on either side. I saw a rigidity come upon the 
whole school as if they had been turned into stone, and found 
Mr. Creakle in the midst of us, with Tungay at his side, and 
Mrs. and Miss Creakle looking in at the door as if they were 
frightened. Mr. Mell, with his elbows on his desk and his 
face in his hands, sat, for some moments, quite still. 

" Mr. Mell," said Mr. Creakle, shaking him by the arm ; 
and his whisper was so audible now, that Tungay felt it 
unnecessary to repeat his words ; " you have not forgotten 
yourself, I hope ? " 

"No, sir, no," returned the Master, showing his face, and 
shaking his head, and rubbing his hands in great agitation. 

" No sir. No. I have remembered myself, I no, Mr. 
Creakle, I have not forgotten myself, I I have remembered 
myself, sir. I I could wish you had remembered me a little 
sooner, Mr. Creakle. It it would have been more kind, 
sir, more just, sir. It would have saved me something, sir." 

Mr. Creakle, looking hard at Mr. Mell, put his hand on 
Tungay's shoulder, and got his feet upon the form close by, 
and sat upon the desk. After still looking hard at Mr. Mell 
from this throne, as he shook his head, and rubbed his hands, 
and remained in the same state of agitation, Mr. Creakle 
turned to Steerforth, and said : 

"Now, sir, as he don't condescend to tell me, what is 
this?" 



106 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

Steerforth evaded the question for a little while ; looking 
in scorn and anger on his opponent, and remaining silent. 
I could not help thinking even in that interval, I remember, 
what a noble fellow he was in appearance, and how homely 
and plain Mr. Mell looked opposed to him. 

" What did he mean by talking about favorites, then ! " 
said Steerforth at length. 

" Favorites ? " repeated Mr. Creakle, with the veins in his 
forehead swelling quickly. " Who talked about favorites ? " 

"He did," said Steerforth. 

" And pray, what did you mean by that, sir ? " demanded 
Mr. Creakle, turning angrily on his assistant. 

" I meant, Mr. Creakle," he returned, in a low voice, " as I 
said ; that no pupil had a right to avail himself of his position 
of favoritism to degrade me." 

" To degrade you ? " said Mr. Creakle. " My stars ! But 
give me leave to ask you, Mr. What's-your-name ; " and here 
Mr. Creakle folded his arms, cane and all, upon his chest, and 
made such a knot of his brows that his little eyes were hardly 
visible below them ; " whether, when you talk about favorites, 
you showed proper respect to me ? To me, sir," said Mr. 
Creakle, darting his head at him suddenly, and drawing it 
back again, "the principal of this establishment, and your 
employer." 

" It was not judicious, sir, I am willing to admit," said Mr. 
Mell. " I should not have done so, if I had been cool." 

Here Steerforth struck in. 

"Then he said I was mean, and then he said I was base, 
and then I called him a beggar. If I had been cool, perhaps 
I shouldn't have called him a beggar. But I did, and I am 
ready to take the consequences of it." 

Without considering, perhaps, whether there were any con- 
sequences to be taken, I felt quite in a glow at this gallant 
speech. It made an impression on the boys, too, for there was 
a low stir among them, though no one spoke a word. 

"I am surprised, Steerforth although your candor does 
you honor," said Mr. Creakle, " does you honor, certainly 
I am surprised, Steerforth, I must say, that you should attach 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 107 

an epithet to any person employed and paid in Salem 
House, sir." 

Steerforth gave a short laugh. 

"That's not an answer, sir," said Mr. Creakle, "to my 
remark. I expect more than that from you, Steerforth." 

If Mr. Mell looked homely, in my eyes, before the hand- 
some boy, it would be quite impossible to say how homely Mr. 
Creakle looked. 

" Let him deny it," said Steerforth. 

" Deny that he is a beggar, Steerforth ? " cried Mr. Creakle. 
" Why, where does he go a begging ? " 

" If he is not a beggar himself, his near relation's one," said 
Steerforth. "It's all the same." 

He glanced at me, and Mr. Mell's hand gently patted me 
upon the shoulder. I looked up with a flush upon my face 
and remorse in my heart, but Mr. Mell's eyes were fixed on 
Steerforth. He continued to pat me kindly on the shoulder, 
but he looked at him. 

"Since you" expect me, Mr. Creakle, to justify myself," said 
Steerforth, "and to say what I mean, what I- have to say is, 
that his mother lives on charity in an almshouse." 

Mr. Mell still looked at him, and still patted me kindly on 
the shoulder, and said to himself, in a whisper, if I heard 
right : " Yes, I thought so." 

Mr. Creakle turned to his assistant, with a severe frown and 
labored politeness : 

" Now, you hear what this gentleman says, Mr. Mell. Have 
the goodness, if you please, to set him right before the as- 
sembled school." 

"He is right, sir, without correction," returned Mr. Mell, 
in the midst of a dead silence; "what he has said is true." 

"Be so good then as declare publicly, will you," said Mr. 
Creakle, putting his head on one side, and rolling his eyes 
round the school, "whether it ever came to my knowledge 
until this moment ? " 

" I believe not directly," he returned. 

"Why, you know not," said Mr. Creakle. "Don't you, 
man?" 

"I apprehend you never supposed my worldly circumstances 



108 

to be very good," replied the assistant. " You know what my 
position is, and always has been here." 

" I apprehend, if you conie to that," said Mr. Creakle, with 
his veins swelling again bigger than ever, " that you've been 
in a wrong position altogether, and mistook this for a charity 
school. Mr. Mell, we'll part if you please. The sooner the 
better." 

"There is no time," answered Mr. Mell, rising, "like the 
present." 

" Sir, to you ! " said Mr.' Creakle. 

" I take my leave of you, Mr. Creakle, and of all of you," 
said Mr. Mell, glancing round the room, and again patting me 
gently on the shoulder. "James Steerforth, the best wish I 
can leave you is, that you may come to be ashamed of what 
you have done to-day. At present I would prefer to see you 
anything rather than a friend to me, or to any one in whom I 
feel an interest." 

Once more he laid his hand upon my shoulder; and then 
taking his flute and a few books from his desk, and leaving the 
key in it for his successor, he went out of the school, with his 
property under his arm. Mr. Creakle then made a speech, 
through Tungay, in which he thanked Steerforth for asserting 
(though perhaps too warmly) the independence and respec- 
tability of Salem House ; and which he wound up by shaking 
hands with Steerforth, while we gave three cheers I did not 
quite know what for, but I suppose for Steerforth, and so 
joined in them ardently, though I felt miserable. Mr. Creakle 
then caned Tommy Traddles for being discovered in tears, 
instead of cheers, on account of Mr. Mell's departure : and 
went back to his sofa or his bed, or wherever he had come 
from. 

We were left to ourselves now, and looked very blank, I 
recollect, on one another. For myself, I felt so much self- 
reproach and contrition for my part in what had happened, 
that nothing would have enabled me to keep back my tears 
but the fear that Steerforth, who often looked at me, I saw, 
might think it unfriendly or, I should rather say, consider- 
ing our relative ages, and the feeling with which I regarded 
him, undutif ul if I showed the emotion which distressed me. 



OF DAVID COPPER FIELD. 109 

He was very angry with Traddles, and said he was glad he had 
caught it. 

Poor Traddles, who had passed the stage of lying with his 
head upon the desk, and was relieving himself as usual with a 
burst of skeletons, said he didn't care. Mr. Mell was ill-used. 

" Who has ill-used him, you girl ? " said Steerforth. 

"Why, you have," returned Traddles. 

"What have I done ? " said Steerforth. 

"What have you done?" retorted Traddles. "Hurt his 
feelings and lost him his situation." 

"His feelings!" repeated Steerforth, disdainfully. "His 
feelings will soon get the better of it, I'll be bound. His feel- 
ings are not like yours, Miss Traddles. -As to his situation 
which was a precious one, wasn't it ? do you suppose I am 
not going to write home, and take care that he gets some 
money ? Polly ? " 

We thought this intention very noble in Steerforth, whose 
mother was a widow, and rich, and would do almost anything, 
it was said, that he asked her. We were all extremely glad 
to see Traddles so put down, and exalted Steerforth to the 
skies ; especially when he told us, as he condescended to do, 
that what he had done had been done expressly for us, and for 
our cause ; and that he had conferred a great boon upon us 
by unselfishly doing it. 

But I must say that when I was going on with a story in 
the dark that night, Mr. Mell's old flute seemed more than 
once to sound mournfully in my ears ; and that when at last 
Steerforth was tired, and I lay down" in my bed, I fancied it 
playing so sorrowfully somewhere, that I was quite wretched. 

I soon forgot him in the contemplation of Steerforth, who, 
in an easy amateur way, and without any book (he seemed to 
me to know everything by heart), took some of his classes 
until a new master was found. The new master came from a 
grammar-school ; and before he entered on his duties, dined in 
the parlor one day to be introduced to Steerforth. Steerforth 
approved of him highly, and told us he was a Brick. With- 
out exactly understanding what learned distinction was meant 
by this, I respected him greatly for it, and had no doubt what- 
ever of his superior knowledge ; though he never took the 



110 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

pains with me not that / was anybody that Mr. Mell had 
taken. 

There was only one other event in this half-year out of the 
daily school-life, that made an impression on me which still 
survives. It survives for many reasons. 

One afternoon, when we were all harassed into a state of 
dire confusion, and Mr. Creakle was laying about him dread- 
fully, Tungay came in, and called out in his usual strong way : 
"Visitors for Copperfield ! " 

A few words were interchanged between him and Mr. 
Creakle, as, who the visitors were, and what room they were 
to be shown into ; and then I, who had, according to custom, 
stood up on the announcement being made, and felt quite faint 
with astonishment, was told to go by the back stairs and get 
a clean frill on, before I repaired to the dining-room. These 
orders I obeyed, in such a flutter and hurry of my young 
spirits as I had never known before ; and when I got to the 
parlor-door, and the thought came into my head that it might 
be my mother I had only thought of Mr. or Miss Murclstone 
until then I drew back my hand from the lock, and stopped 
to have a sob before I went in. 

At first I saw nobody ; but feeling a pressure against the 
door, I looked round it, and there, to my amazement, were Mr. 
Peggotty and Ham, ducking at me with their hats, and squeez- 
ing one another against the wall. I could not help laughing ; 
but it was much more in the pleasure of seeing them, than at 
the appearance they made. We shook hands in a very cordial 
way ; and I laughed and laughed, until I pulled out my pocket- 
handkerchief and wiped my eyes. 

Mr. Peggotty (who never shut his mouth once, I remember, 
during the visit) showed great concern when he saw me do 
this, and nudged Ham to say something. 

" Cheer up, Mas'r Davy bor' ! " said Hani, in his simpering 
way. " Why, how you have growed ! " 

" Am I grown ? " I said, drying my eyes. I was not crying 
at anything particular that I know of ; but somehow it made 
me cry to see old friends. 

" Growed, Mas'r Davy bor' ? Ain't he growed ! " said Ham. 

" Ain't he growed ! " said Mr. Peggotty. 



DAVID COPPEEFIELD. Ill 

They made me laugh again by laughing at each other, and 
then we all three laughed until I was in danger of crying 
again. 

" Do you know how mamma is, Mr. Peggotty ? " I said. 
" And how my dear, dear, old Peggotty is ? " 

" Oncoinmon," said Mr. Peggotty. 

" And little Em'ly and Mrs. Guminidge ? " 

" On common," said Mr. Peggotty. 

There was a silence. Mr. Peggotty, to relieve it, took two 
prodigious lobsters, and an enormous crab, and a large canvas 
bag of shrimps, out of his pockets, and piled them up in Ham's 
arms. 

" You see," said Mr. Peggotty, " knowing as you was par- 
tial to a little relish with your wittles when you was along 
with us, we took the liberty. The old Mawther biled 'em, she 
did. Mrs. Gummidge biled 'em. Yes," said Mr. Peggotty, 
slowly, who I thought appeared to stick to the subject on 
account of having no other subject ready, " Mrs. Gummidge, 
I do assure you, she biled 'em." 

I expressed my thanks ; and Mr. Peggotty, after looking at 
Ham, who stood smiling sheepishly over the shell-fish, with- 
out making any attempt to help him, said : 

" We come, you see, the wind and tide making in our favor, 
in one of our Yarmouth lugs to Gravesen'. My sister she 
wrote to me the name of this here place, and wrote to me as 
if ever I chanced to come to Gravesen', I was to come over and 
inquire for Mas'r Davy, and give her dooty, humbly wishing 
him well, and reporting of the fam'ly as they was oncommon 
toe-be-sure. Little Em'ly, you see, she'll write to my sister 
when I go back, as I see you, and as you was similarly oncom- 
mon, and so we make it quite a merry-go-rounder." 

I was obliged to consider a little before I understood what 
Mr. Peggotty meant by this figure, expressive of a complete 
circle of intelligence. I then thanked him heartily ; and said, 
with a consciousness of reddening, that I supposed little Em'ly 
was altered too, since we used to pick up shells and pebbles 
on the beach ? 

" She's getting to be a woman, that's wot she's getting to 
be," said Mr. Peggotty. " Ask him." 



\12 THE PERSONAL HISTOEY AND EXPERIENCE 

He meant Ham, who beamed with delight and assent over 
the bag of shrimps. 

" Her pretty face ! " said Mr. Peggotty, with his own shin- 
ing like a light. 

" Her learning ! " said Ham. 

" Her writing ! " said Mr. Peggotty. " Why it's as black as 
jet ! And so large it is, you might see it anywheres." 

It was perfectly delightful to behold with what enthusiasm 
Mr. Peggotty became inspired when he thought of his little 
favorite. He stands before me again, his bluff hairy face 
irradiating with a joyful love and pride, for which I can find 
no description. His honest eyes fire up, and sparkle, as if 
their depths were stirred by something bright. His broad 
chest heaves with pleasure. His strong loose hands clench 
themselves, in his earnestness ; and he emphasizes what he 
says with a right arm that shows, in my pigmy view, like a 
sledge hammer. 

Ham was quite as earnest as he. I dare say they would 
have said much more about her, if they had not been abashed 
by the unexpected coming in of Steerforth, who seeing me in 
a corner speaking with two strangers, stopped in a song he was 
singing, and said : " I didn't know you were here, young Cop^ 
perfield ! " (for it was not the usual visiting room), and crossed 
by us on his way out. 

I am not sure whether it was in the pride of having such a 
friend as Steerforth, or in the desire to explain to him how I 
came to have such a friend as Mr. Peggotty, that I called to 
him as he was going away. But I said, modestly Good 
Heaven, how it all comes back to me this long time after- 
wards ! 

" Don't go, Steerforth, if you please. These are two Yar- 
mouth boatmen very kind, good people who are relations 
of my nurse, and have come from Gravesend to see me." 

" Ay, ay ? " said Steerforth, returning. " I am glad to see 
them. How are you both ? " 

There was an ease in his manner a gay and light manner 
it was, but not swaggering which I still believe to have 
borne a kind of enchantment with it. I still believe him, in 
virtue of this carriage, his animal spirits, his delightful voice, 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 113 

his handsome face and figure, and, for aught I know, of some 
inborn power of attraction besides (which I think a few people 
possess), to have carried a spell with him to which it was a 
natural weakness to yield, and which not many persons could 
withstand. I could not but see how pleased they were with 
him, and how they seemed to open their hearts to him in a 
moment. 

" You must let them know at home, if you please, Mr. 
Peggotty," I said, " when that letter is sent, that Mr. Steer- 
forth is very kind to me, and that I don't know what I should 
ever do here without him." 

" Nonsense ! " said Steerforth, laughing. " You mustn't tell 
them anything of the sort." 

" And if Mr. Steerforth ever comes into Norfolk, or Suffolk, 
Mr. Peggotty," I said, " while I am there, you may depend 
upon it I shall bring him to Yarmouth, if he will let me, to 
see your house. You never saw such a good house, Steerforth. 
It's made out of a boat ! " 

"Made out of a boat, is it ?" said Steerforth. It's the 
right sort of house for such a thorough-built boatman." 

"So 'tis, sir, so 'tis, sir," said Ham, grinning. "You're 
right, young gen'lm'n. Mas'r Davy, bor', gen'lm'n's right. A 
thorough-built boatman ! Hor, hor ! That's what he is, too ! " 

Mr. Peggotty was no less pleased than his nephew, though 
his modesty forbade him to claim a personal compliment so 
vociferously. 

"Well, sir," he said, bowing and chuckling, and tucking in 
the ends of his neckerchief at his breast, " I thankee, sir, I 
thankee ! I do my endeavors in my line of life, sir." 

"The best of men can do no more, Mr. Peggotty," said 
Steerforth. He had got his name already. 

" I'll pound it it's wot you do yourself, sir," said Mr. 
Peggotty, shaking his head, "and wot you do well right 
well ! I thankee, sir. I'm obleeged to you, sir, for your 
welcoming manner of me. I'm rough, sir, but I'm ready 
least ways, I hope I'm ready, you understand. My house ain't 
much for to see, sir, but it's hearty at your service, if ever 
you should come along with Mas'r Davy to see it. I'm a 
reg'lar Dodman, I am," said Mr. Peggotty, by which he meant 

VOL. 1 8 



114 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

snail, and this was in allusion to his being slow to go, for he 
had attempted to go after every sentence, and had somehow or 
other come back again; "but I wish you both well, and I 
wish you happy ! " 

Ham echoed this sentiment, and we parted with them in 
the heartiest manner. I was almost tempted that evening to 
tell Steerforth about pretty little Em'ly, but I was too timid 
of mentioning her name, and too much afraid of his laughing 
at me. I remember that I thought a good deal, and in an 
uneasy sort of way, about Mr. Peggotty having said that she 
was getting on to be a woman; but I decided that was non- 
sense. 

We transported the shell-fish, or the "relish" as Mr. Peg- 
gotty had modestly called it, up into our room unobserved, 
and made a great supper that evening. But Traddles couldn't 
get happily out of it. He was too unfortunate even to come 
through a supper like anybody else. He was taken ill in the 
night quite prostrate he was in consequence of Crab ; and 
after being drugged with black draughts and blue pills, to an 
extent which Demple (whose father was a doctor) said was 
enough to undermine a horse's constitution, received a caning 
and six chapters of Greek Testament for refusing to confess. 

The rest of the half-year is a jumble in my recollection of 
the daily strife and struggle of our lives ; of the waning sum- 
mer and the changing season; of the frosty mornings when 
we were rung out of bed, and the cold, cold smell of the dark 
nights when we were rung into bed again ; of the evening 
schoolroom dimly lighted and indifferently warmed, and the 
morning schoolroom which was nothing but a great shivering 
machine; of the alternation of boiled beef with roast beef, 
and boiled mutton with roast mutton ; of clods of bread-and- 
butter, dog's-eared lesson-books, cracked slates, tear-blotted 
copy-books, canings, rulerings, hair-cuttings, rainy Sundays, 
suet-puddings, and a dirty atmosphere of ink surrounding all. 

I well remember though how the distant idea of the 
holidays, after seeming for an immense time to be a stationary 
speck, began to come towards us, and to grow and grow. How 
from counting months, we came to weeks, and then to days : 
and how I then began to be afraid that I should not be sent 



OF DAVID' COPPEEFIELD. 115 

for, and when I learnt from Steerforth that I had been sent 
for and was certainly to go home, had dim forebodings that I 
might break my leg first. How the breaking-up day changed 
its place fast, at last, from the week after next to next week, 
this week, the day after to-morrow, to-morrow, to-day, to-night 
when I was inside the Yarmouth mail, and going home. 

I had many a broken sleep inside the Yarmouth mail, and 
many an incoherent dream of all these things. But when I 
awoke at intervals, the ground outside the window was not 
the playground of Salem House, and the sound in my ears 
was not the sound of Mr. Creakle giving it to Traddles, but 
the sound of the coachman touching up the horses. 



116 



CHAPTEE VIII. 

MY HOLIDAYS. ESPECIALLY ONE HAPPY AFTERNOON. 

WHEN we arrived before day at the inn where the mail 
stopped, which was not the inn where my friend the waiter 
lived, I was shown up to a nice little bedroom, with DOLPHIN 
painted on the door. Very cold I was I know, notwithstand- 
ing the hot tea they had given me before a large fire down 
stairs ; and very glad I was to turn into the Dolphin's bed, 
pull the Dolphin's blankets round my head, and go to sleep. 

Mr. Barkis the carrier was to call for me in the morning at 
nine o'clock. I got up at eight, a little giddy from the shortness 
of my night's rest, and was ready for him before the appointed 
time. He received me exactly as if not five minutes had elapsed 
since we were last together, and I had only been into the hotel 
to get change for sixpence, or something of that sort. 

As soon as I and my box were in the cart, and the carrier 
seated, the lazy horse walked away with us all at his accus- 
tomed pace. 

" You look very well, Mr. Barkis," I said, thinking he would 
like to know it. 

Mr. Barkis rubbed his cheek with his cuff, and then looked 
at his cuff as if he expected to find some of the bloom upon 
it ; but made no other acknowledgment of the compliment. 

<C I gave your message, Mr. Barkis," I said: "I wrote to 
Peggotty." 

"Ah!" said Mr. Barkis. 

Mr. Barkis seemed gruff, and answered drily. 

" Wasn't it right, Mr. Barkis ? " I asked, after a little hesi- 
tation. 

" Why no," said Mr. Barkis. 

" Not the message ? " 

" The message was right enough, perhaps," said Mr. Barkis ; 
" but it come to an end there." 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 117 

Not understanding what he meant, I repeated inquisitively : 
" Came to an end, Mr. Barkis ? " 

"Nothing come of it," he explained, looking at me side- 
ways. " No answer." 

" There was an answer expected, was there, Mr. Barkis ? " 
said I, opening my eyes. For this was a new light to me. 

" When a man says he's willin'," said Mr. Barkis, turning 
his glance slowly on me again, "it's as much as to say, that 
man's a wait in' for a answer." 

"Well, Mr. Barkis?" 

"Well," said Mr. Barkis, carrying his eyes back to his horse's 
ears ; " that man's been awaitin' for a answer ever since." 

" Have you told her so, Mr. Barkis ? " 

"N no," growled Mr. Barkis, reflecting about it. "I 
ain't got no call to go and tell her so. I never said six words 
to her myself. I ain't a goin' to tell her so." 

" Would you like me to do it, Mr. Barkis ? " said I, doubt- 
fully. 

" You might tell her, if you would," said Mr. Barkis, with 
another slow look at me, "that Barkis was a waitin' for a 
answer. Says you what name is it ? " 

"Her name?" 

"Ah ! " said Mr. Barkis, with a nod of his head. 

"Peggotty." 

" Chrisen name ? Or nat'ral name ? " said Mr. Barkis. 

"Oh, it's not her Christian name. Her Christian name is 
Clara." 

" Is it though ! " said Mr. Barkis. 

He seemed to find an immense fund of reflection in this 
circumstance, and sat pondering and inwardly whistling for 
some time. 

" Well ! " he resumed, at length. " Says you, ' Peggotty ! 
Barkis is a waitin' for a answer.' Says she, perhaps, ' Answer 
to what ? ' Says you, ' To what I told you.' ' What is that ? ' 
says she. ' Barkis is willin',' says you." 

This extremely artful suggestion, Mr. Barkis accompanied 
with a nudge of his elbow that gave me quite a stitch in my 
side. After that, he slouched over his horse in his usual 
manner ; and made no other reference to the subject except, 



118 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

half an hour afterwards, taking a piece of chalk from his 
pocket, and writing up, inside the tilt of the cart, "Clara 
Peggotty" apparently as a private memorandum. 

Ah, what a strange feeling it was to be going home when 
it was not home, and to find that every object I looked at, 
reminded me of the happy old home, which was like a dream 
I could never dream again ! The days when my mother and 
I and Peggotty were all in all to one another, and there was 
no one to come between us, rose up before me so sorrowfully 
on the road, that I am not sure I was glad to be there not 
sure but that I would rather have remained away, and for- 
gotten it in Steerforth's company. But there I was ; and 
soon I was at our house, where the bare old elm trees wrung 
their many hands in the bleak wintry air, and shreds of the 
old rooks' nests drifted away upon the wind. 

The carrier put my box down at the garden gate, and left 
me. I walked along the path towards the house, glancing at 
the windows, and fearing at every step to see Mr. Murdstone 
or Miss Murdstone lowering out of one of them. No face 
appeared, however ; and being come to the house, and knowing 
how to open the door, before dark, without knocking, I went 
in with a quiet timid step. 

God knows how infantine the memory may have been, that 
was awakened within me by the sound of my mother's voice 
in the old parlor, when I set foot in the hall. She was singing 
in a low tone. I think I must have lain in her arms, and 
heard her singing so to me when I was but a baby. The strain 
was new to me, and yet it was so old that it filled my heart 
brimful ; like a friend come back from a long absence. 

I believed, from the solitary and thoughtful way in which 
my mother murmured her song, that she was alone. And I 
went softly into the room. She was sitting by the fire, suck- 
ling an infant, whose tiny hand she held against her neck. 
Her eyes were looking down upon its face, and she sat sing- 
ing to it. I was so far right, that she had no other companion. 

I spoke to her, and she started, and cried out. But seeing 
me, she called me her dear Davy, her own boy ! and coming 
half across the room to meet me, kneeled down upon the 
ground and kissed me, and laid my head down on her bosom 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 119 

near the little creature that was nestling there, and put its 
hand up to my lips. 

I wish I had died. I wish I had died then, with that feel- 
ing in my heart ! I should have been more fit for Heaven 
than I ever have been since. 

"He is your brother," said my mother, fondling me. 
" Davy, my pretty boy ! My poor child ! " Then she kissed 
me more and more, and clasped me round the neck. This she 
was doing when Peggotty came running in, and bounced down 
on the ground beside us, and went mad about us both for a 
quarter of an hour. 

It seemed that I had not been expected so soon, the carrier 
being much before his usual time. It seemed, too, that Mr. 
and Miss Murdstone had gone out upon a visit in the neighbor- 
hood, and would not return before night. I had never hoped 
for this. I had never thought it possible that we three could 
be together undisturbed, once more ; and I felt, for the time, 
as if the old days were come back. 

We dined together by the fireside. Peggotty was in attend- 
ance to wait upon us, but my mother wouldn't let her do it, 
and made her dine with us. I had my own old plate, with a 
brown view of a man-of-war in full sail upon it, which Peggotty 
had hoarded somewhere all the time I had been away, and 
would not have had broken, she said, for a hundred pounds. I 
had my own old mug with David on it, and my own old little 
knife and fork that wouldn't cut. 

While we were at table, I thought it a favorable occasion to 
tell Peggotty about Mr. Barkis, who, before I had finished 
what I had to tell her, began to laugh, and throw her apron 
over her face. 

" Peggotty," said my mother. " What's the matter ? " 

Peggotty only laughed the more, and held her apron tight 
over her face when my mother tried to pull it away, and sat 
as if her head were in a bag. 

" What are you doing, you stupid creature ? " said my 
mother, laughing. 

" Oh, drat the man ! " cried Peggotty. " He wants to marry me." 

" It would be a very good match for you ; wouldn't it ? " 
said my mother. 



120 THE PEE SON AL HISTOET AND EXPERIENCE 

"Oh! I don't know/' said Peggotty. "Don't ask me. I 
wouldn't have him if he was made of gold. Nor I wouldn't 
have anybody." 

" Then, why don't you tell him so, you ridiculous thing ? " 
said my mother. 

" Tell him so," retorted Peggotty, looking out of her apron. 
" He has never said a word to me about it. He knows better. 
If he was to make so bold as say a word to me, I should 
slap his face." 

Her own was as red as ever I saw it, or any other face I 
think; but she only covered it again, for a few moments at a 
time, when she was taken with a violent fit of laughter ; and 
after two or three of those attacks, went on with her dinner. 

I remarked that my mother, though she smiled when Peg- 
gotty looked at her, became more serious and thoughtful. I 
had seen at first that she was changed. Her face was very 
pretty still, but it looked careworn, and too delicate ; and her 
hand was so thin and white that it seemed to me to be almost 
transparent. But the change to which I now refer was super- 
added to this : it was in her manner, which became anxious 
and fluttered. At last she said, putting out her hand, and lay- 
ing it affectionately on the hand of her old servant : 

Peggotty dear, you are not going to be married ? r 

" Me, ma'am ? " returned Peggotty, staring. " Lord bless 
you, no ! " 

" Not just yet ? " said my mother, tenderly. 

" Never ! " cried Peggotty. 

My mother took her hand, and said : 

" Don't leave me, Peggotty. Stay with me. It will not be 
for long, perhaps. What should I ever do without you ! " 

" Me leave you, my precious ! " cried Peggotty. " Not for 
all the world and his wife. Why, what's put that in your 
silly little head ? " for Peggotty had been used of old to talk 
to my mother sometimes like a child. 

But my mother made no answer, except to thank her, and 
Peggotty went running on in her own fashion. 

" Me leave you ? I think I see myself. Peggotty go away 
from you ? I should like to catch her at it ! No, no, no," 
said Peggotty, shaking her head, and folding her arms ; " not 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 121 

she, my dear. It isn't that there ain't some Cats that would 
be well enough pleased if she did, but they sha'n't be pleased. 
They shall be aggravated. I'll stay with you till I'm a cross 
cranky old woman. And when I'm too deaf, and too lame, 
and too blind, and too mumbly for want of teeth, to be of any 
use at all, even to be found fault with, then I shall go to my 
Davy, and ask him to take me in." 

" And Peggotty," says I, " I shall be glad to see you, and 
I'll make you as welcome as a queen." 

" Bless your dear heart ! " cried Peggotty. " I know you 
will!" And she kissed me beforehand, in grateful acknowl- 
edgment of my hospitality. After that, she covered her head 
up with her apron again, and had another laugh about Mr. 
Barkis. After that, she took the baby out of its little cradle, 
and nursed it. After that, she cleared the dinner-table ; after 
that, came in with another cap on, and her workbox, and the 
yard-measure, and the bit of wax candle, all just the same as 
ever. We sat round the fire, and talked delightfully. I told 
them what a hard master Mr. Creakle was, and they pitied me 
very much. I told them what a fine fellow Steerforth was, 
and what a patron of mine, and Peggotty said she would walk 
a score of miles to see him. I took the little baby in my arms 
when it was awake, and nursed it lovingly. When it was 
asleep again, I crept close to my mother's side, according to 
my old custom, broken now a long time, and sat with my arms 
embracing her waist, and my little red cheek on her shoulder, 
and once more felt her beautiful hair drooping over me like 
an angel's wing as I used to think, I recollect and was very 
happy indeed. 

While I sat thus, looking at the fire, and seeing pictures in 
the red-hot coals, I almost believed that I had never been 
away ; that Mr. and Miss Murdstone were such pictures, and 
would vanish when the fire got low; and that there was 
nothing real in all that I remembered, save my mother, 
Peggotty, and I. 

Peggotty darned away at a stocking as long as she could 
see, and then sat with it drawn on her left hand like a glove, 
and her needle in her right, ready to take another stitch when- 
ever there was a blaze. I cannot conceive whose stockings 



122 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

they can have been that Peggotty was always darning, or 
where such an unfailing supply of stockings in want of darn- 
ing can have come from. From my earliest infancy she seems 
to have been always employed in that class of needlework, and 
never by any chance in any other. 

" I wonder," said Peggotty, who was sometimes seized with 
a fit of wondering on some most unexpected topic, " what's 
become of Davy's great-aunt ? " 

" Lor, Peggotty ! " observed my mother, rousing herself 
from a reverie, " what nonsense you talk ! " 

" Well, but I really do wonder, ma'am," said Peggotty. 

" What can have put such a person in your head ? " inquired 
my mother. "Is there nobody else in the world to come 
there ? " 

"I don't know how it is," said Peggotty, "unless it's on 
account of being stupid, but my head never can pick and 
choose its people. They come and they go, and they don't 
come and they don't go, just as they like. I wonder what's 
become of her ? " 

"How absurd you are, Peggotty," returned my mother. 
" One would suppose you wanted a second visit from her." 

"Lord forbid !" cried Peggotty. 

"Well, then, don't talk about such uncomfortable things, 
there's a good soul," said my mother. " Miss Betsey is shut up 
in her cottage by the sea, no doubt, and will remain there. At 
all events, she is not likely ever to trouble us again." 

" No ! " mused Peggotty. " ISTo, that ain't likely at all 
I wonder, if she was to die, whether she'd leave Davy any- 
thing ? " 

" Good gracious me, Peggotty," returned my mother, " what 
a nonsensical woman you are ! when you know that she took 
offence at the poor dear boy's ever being born at all ! " 

" I suppose she wouldn't be inclined to forgive him now," 
hinted Peggotty. 

" Why should she be inclined to forgive him now ? " said 
my mother, rather sharply. 

"Now that he's got a brother, I mean," said Peggotty. 

My mother immediately began to cry, and wondered how 
Peggotty dared to say such a thing. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 123 

"As if this poor little innocent in its cradle had ever done 
any harm to you or anybody else, you jealous thing ! " said 
she. " You had much better go and marry Mr. Barkis, the 
carrier. Why don't you ? " 

"I should make Miss Murdstone happy, if I was to," said 
Peggotty. 

" What a bad disposition you have, Peggotty ! " returned 
my mother. " You are as jealous of Miss Murdstone as it is 
possible for a ridiculous creature to be. You want to keep 
the keys yourself, and give out all the things, I suppose ? I 
shouldn't be surprised if you did. When you know that she 
only does it out of kindness and the best intentions I You 
know she does, Peggotty you know it well." 

Peggotty muttered something to the effect of "Bother the 
best intentions ! " and something else to the effect that there 
was a little too much of the best intentions going on. 

" I know what you mean, you cross thing," said my mother. 
" I understand you, Peggotty, perfectly. You know I do, and 
I wonder you don't color up like fire. But one point at a 
time. Miss Murdstone is the point now, Peggotty, and , you 
sha'n't escape from it. Haven't you heard her say, over and 

over again, that she thinks I am too thoughtless and too a 
a " 

" Pretty," suggested Peggotty. 

" Well," returned my mother, half laughing, " and if she is 
so silly as to say so, can I be blamed for it ? " 

" No one says you can," said Peggotty. 

" No, I should hope not, indeed ! " returned my mother. 
" Haven't you heard her say, over and over again, that on this 
account she wishes to spare me a great deal of trouble, which 
she thinks I am not suited for, and which I really don't know 
myself that I am suited for ; and isn't she up early and late, 
and going to and fro continually and doesn't she do all 
sorts of things, and grope into all sorts of places, coal-holes 
and pantries and I don't know where, that can't be very 
agreeable and do you mean to insinuate that there is not 
a sort of devotion in that ? " 

" I don't insinuate at all," said Peggotty. 

" You do, Peggotty," returned my mother. " You never do 



124 THE PERSONAL HISTORY ASD EXPERIENCE 

anything else, except your work. You are always insinuating. 
You revel in it. And when you talk of Mr. Murdstone's good 
intentions " 

" I never talked of 'em," said Peggo.tty. 

"Xo, Peggotty," returned my mother, "but you insinuated. 
That's what I told you just now. That's the worst of you. 
You witt insinuate. I said, at the moment, that I understood 
you, and you see I did. When you talk of Mr. Murdstone's 
good intentions, and pretend to slight them (for I don ? t be- 
lieve you really do, in your heart, Peggotty), you must be as 
well convinced as I am how good they are, and how they ac- 
tuate him in everything. If he seems to have been at all 
stern with a certain person, Peggotty you understand, and 
so I am sure does Davy, that I am not alluding to anybody 
present it is solely because he is satisfied that it is for a 
certain person's benefit. He naturally loves a certain person, 
on my account; and acts solely for a certain person's good. 
He is better able to judge of it than I am ; for I very well 
know that I am a weak, light, girlish creature, and that 
he is a firm, grave, serious man. And he takes," said my 
mother, with the tears which were engendered in her affec- 
tionate nature, stealing down her face, " he takes great pains 
with me ; and I ought to be very thankful to him, and very 
submissive to him even in my thoughts ; and when I am not, 
Peggotty, I worry and condemn myself, and feel doubtful of 
my own heart, and don't know what to do." 

Peggotty sat with her chin on the foot of the stocking, look- 
ing silently at the fire. 

"There, Peggotty," said my mother, changing her tone, 
" don't let us fall out with one another, for I couldn't bear it. 
You are my true friend, I know, if I have any in the world. 
When I call you a ridiculous creature, or a vexatious thing, 
or anything of that sort, Peggotty, I only mean that you are 
my true friend, and always have been, ever since the night 
when Mr. Copperfield first brought me home here, and you 
came out to the gate to meet me." 

Peggotty was not slow to respond, and ratify the treaty of 
friendship by giving me one of her best hugs. I think I had 
some glimpses of the real character of this conversation at the 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 125 

time ; but I am sure, new, that the good creature originated 
it ; and took her part in it, merely that my mother might 
comfort herself with the little contradictory summary in 
which she had indulged. The design was efficacious ; for I 
remember that my mother seemed more at ease during the 
rest of the evening, and that Peggotty observed her less. 

When we had had our tea, and the ashes were thrown up, 
and the candles snuffed, I read Peggotty a chapter out of the 
Crocodile Book, in remembrance of old times she took it 
out of her pocket: I don't know whether she had kept it 
there ever since and then we talked about Salem House, 
which brought me round again to Steerforth, who was my 
great subject. We were very happy ; and that evening, as the 
last of its race, and destined evermore to close that volume of 
my life, will never pass out of my memory. 

It was almost ten o'clock before we heard the sound of 
wheels. We all got up then ; and my mother said hurriedly 
that, as it was so late, and Mr. and Miss Murdstone approved 
of early hours for young people, perhaps I had better go to 
bed. I kissed her, and went up stairs with my candle, directly, 
before they came in. It appeared to my childish fancy, as I 
ascended to the bedroom where I had been imprisoned, that 
they brought a cold blast of air into the house which blew 
away the old familiar feeling like a feather. 

I felt uncomfortable about going down to breakfast in the 
morning, as I had never set eyes on Mr. Murdstone since the 
day when I committed my memorable offence. However, as 
it must be done, I went down, after two or three false starts 
half-way, and as many runs back on tiptoe to my own room, 
and presented myself in the parlor. 

He was standing before the fire with his back to it, while 
Miss Murdstone made the tea. He looked at me steadily as I 
entered, but made no sign of recognition whatever. 

I went up to him, after a moment of confusion, and said : 
" I beg your pardon, sir. I am very sorry for what I did, and 
I hope you will forgive me." 

" I am glad to hear you are sorry, David," he replied. 

The hand he gave me was the hand I had bitten. I could 
not restrain my eye from resting for an instant on a red spot 



126 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

upon it ; but it was uot so red as I turned, when I met that 
sinister expression in his face. 

" How do you do, ma'am," I said to Miss Murdstone. 

" Ah, dear me ! " sighed Miss Murdstone, giving me the tea- 
caddy scoop instead of her fingers. " How long are the holi- 
days ? " 

"A month, ma'am." 

" Counting from when ? " 

" From to-day, ma'am." 

"Oh ! " said Miss Murdstone. "Then here's one day off." 

She kept a calendar of the holidays in this way, and every 
morning checked a day off in exactly the same manner. She 
did it gloomily until she came to ten, but when she got into 
two figures she become more hopeful, and, as the time ad- 
vanced, even jocular. 

It was on this very first day that I had the misfortune to 
throw her, though she was not subject to such weakness in 
general, into a state of violent consternation. I came into 
the room where she and my mother were sitting ; and the baby 
(who was only a few weeks old) being on my mother's lap, I 
took it very carefully in my arms. Suddenly Miss Murd- 
stone gave such a scream that I all but dropped it. 

" My dear Jane ! " cried my mother. 

" Good heavens, Clara, do you see ? " exclaimed Miss 
Murdstone. 

" See what, my dear Jane ? " said my mother ; " where ? " 

" He's got it ! " cried Miss Murdstone. " The boy has got 
the baby ! " 

She was limp with horror ; but stiffened herself to make a 
dart at me, and take it out of my arms. Then, she turned 
faint ; and was so very ill, that they were obliged to give her 
cherry-brandy. I was solemnly interdicted by her, on her 
recovery, from touching my brother any more on any pretence 
whatever; and my poor mother, who, I could see, wished 
otherwise, meekly confirmed the interdict by saying : " No 
doubt you are right, my dear Jane." 

On another occasion, when we three were together, this 
same dear baby it was truly dear to me, for our mother's 
sake was the innocent occasion of Miss Murdstone's going 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 127 

into a passion. My mother, who had been looking at its eyes 
as it lay u-poii her lap, said : 

" Davy ! come here ! " and looked at mine. 

I saw Miss Murdstone lay her beads down. 

" I declare," said my mother, gently, " they are exactly alike. 
I suppose they are mine. I think they are the color of mine. 
But they are wonderfully alike." 

" What are you talking about, Clara ? " said Miss Murd- 
stone. 

"My dear Jane," faltered rny mother, a little abashed by 
the harsh tone of this inquiry, " I find that the baby's eyes and 
Davy's are exactly alike." 

"Clara!" said Miss Murdstone, rising angrily, ''you are a 
positive fool sometimes." 

" My dear Jane," remonstrated my mother. 

"A positive fool," said Miss Murdstone. "Who else could 
compare my brother's baby with your boy ? They are not at 
all alike. They are exactly unlike. They are utterly dis- 
similar in all respects. I hope they will ever remain so. I 
will not sit here and hear such comparisons made." With that 
she stalked out, and made the door bang after her. 

In short, I was not a favorite with Miss Murdstone. In 
short, I was not a favorite there with anybody, not even 
with myself ; for those who did like me could not show it, and 
those who did not showed it so plainly that I had a sensitive 
consciousness of always appearing constrained, boorish, and 
dull. 

I felt that I made them as uncomfortable as they made me. 
If I came into the room where they were, and they were talk- 
ing together and my mother seemed cheerful, an anxious cloud 
would steal over her face from the moment of my entrance. 
If Mr. Murdstone were in his best humor, I checked him. If 
Miss Murdstone were in her worst, I intensified it. I had 
perception enough to know that my mother was the victim 
always ; that she was afraid to speak to me, or be kind to me, 
lest she should give them some offence by her manner of doing 
so, and receive a lecture afterwards ; that she was not only 
ceaselessly afraid of her own offending, but of my offending, 
and uneasily watched their looks if I only moved. Therefore 



128 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

I resolved to keep myself as much out of their way as I 
could ; and many a wintry hour did I hear the church-clock 
strike, when I was sitting in my cheerless bedroom, wrapped 
in my little great coat, poring over a book. 

In the evening, sometimes, I went and sat with Peggotty in 
the kitchen. There I was comfortable, and not afraid of 
being myself. But neither of -these resources was approved 
of in the parlor. The tormenting humor which was dominant 
there stopped them both. I was still held to be necessary to 
jny poor mother's training, and, as one of her trials, could not 
be suffered to absent myself. 

' :( David," said Mr. Murdstone, one day after dinner when I 
wa& going to leave the room as usual; " I am sorry to observe 
that you are of a sullen disposition." 

" As sulky as a bear ! " said Miss Murdstone. 

I stood still, and hung my head. 

" Now, David," said Mr. Murdstone, " a sullen, obdurate dis- 
position is, of all tempers, the worst." 

" And the boy's is, of all such dispositions that ever I have 
seen," remarked his sister, " the most confirmed and stubborn. 
I think, my dear Clara, even you must observe it ? ' 

" I beg your pardon, my dear Jane," said my mother, " but 
are you quite sure I am certain you'll excuse me, my dear 
Jane that you understand Davy ? r 

"I should be somewhat ashamed of myself, Clara," returned 
Miss Murdstone, " if I could not understand the boy, or any 
boy. I don't profess to be profound ; but I do lay claim to 
common sense." 

"No doubt, my dear Jane," returned my mother, "your 
Understanding is very vigorous " 

" Oh dear, no ! Pray don't say that, Clara,' ; interposed Miss 
Murdstone, angrily. 

"But I am sure it is," resumed my mother ; " and everybody 
knows it is. I profit so much by it myself, in many ways - 
at least I ought to that no one can be more convinced of it 
than myself ; and therefore I speak with great diffidence, my 
dear Jane, I assure you." 

"We'll say I don't understand the boy, Clara," returned 
Miss Murdstone, arranging the little fetters on her wrists. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 129 

"We'll agree, if you please, that I don't understand him at 
all. He is much too deep for me. But perhaps my brother's 
penetration may enable him to have some insight into his 
character. And I believe my brother was speaking on the 
subject when we not very decently interrupted him." 

" I think, Clara," said Mr. Murdstone, in a low grave voice, 
" that there may be better and more dispassionate judges of 
such a question than you." 

" Edward," replied my mother, timidly, " you are a far bet- 
ter judge of all questions than I pretend to be. Both you and 
Jane are. I only said " 

"You only said something weak and inconsiderate," he 
replied. " Try not to do it again, my dear Clara, and keep a 
watch upon yourself." 

My mother's lips moved, as if she answered " Yes, my dear 
Edward," but she said nothing aloud. 

"I was sorry, David, I remarked," said Mr. Murdstone, 
turning his head and his eyes stiffly towards me, "to observe 
that you are of a sullen disposition. This is not a character 
that I can suffer to develop itself before my eyes without an 
effort at improvement. You must endeavor, sir, to change it. 
We must endeavor to change it for you." 

" I beg your pardon, sir," I faltered. " I have never meant 
to be sullen since I came back." 

" Don't take refuge in a lie, sir ! " he returned, so fiercely, 
that I saw my mother involuntarily put out her trembling 
hand as if to interpose between us. " You have withdrawn 
yourself in your sullenness to your own room. You have 
kept your own room when you ought to have been here. You 
know now, once for all, that I require you to be here, and 
not there. Further, that I require you to bring obedience 
here. You know me, David, I will have it done." 

Miss Murdstone gave a hoarse chuckle. 

"I will have a respectful, prompt, and ready bearing to- 
wards myself," he continued, " and towards Jane Murdstone, 
and towards your mother. I will not have this room shunned 
as if it were infected, at the pleasure of a child. Sit down." 

He ordered me like a dog, and I obeyed like a dog. 

" One thing more," he said. " I observe that you have an 

VOL. 1 9 



130 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

attachment to low and common company. You are not to 
associate with servants. The kitchen will not improve you, 
in the many respects in which you need improvement. Of the 
woman who abets you, I say nothing since you, Clara,'' 
addressing my mother in a lower voice, " from old associations 
and long established fancies, have a weakness respecting her 
which is not yet overcome." 

" A most unaccountable delusion it is ! " cried Miss Murd- 
stone. 

"I only say," he resumed, addressing me, "that I disap- 
prove of your preferring such company as Mistress Peggotty, 
and that it is to be abandoned. Now, David, you understand 
me, and you know what will be the consequence if you fail to 
obey me to the letter." 

I knew well better perhaps than he thought, as far as my 
poor mother was concerned and I obeyed him to the letter. 
I retreated to my own room no more ; I took refuge with Peg- 
gotty no more ; but sat wearily in the parlor day after day, 
looking forward to night, and bedtime. 

What irksome constraint I underwent, sitting in the same 
attitude hours upon hours, afraid to move an arm or a leg lest 
Miss Murdstone should complain (as she did on the least 
pretence) of my restlessness, and afraid to move an eye lest it 
should light on some look of dislike or scrutiny that would 
find new cause for complaint in mine ! What intolerable 
dulness to sit listening to the ticking of the clock ; and watch- 
ing Miss Murdstone's little shiny steel beads as she strung 
them ; and wondering whether she would ever be married, and 
if so, to what sort of unhappy man ; and counting the divisions 
in the moulding on the chimney-piece ; and wandering away, 
with my eyes, to the ceiling, among the curls and corkscrews 
in the paper on the wall ! 

What walks I took alone, down muddy lanes, in the bad 
winter weather, carrying that parlor, and Mr. and Miss Murd- 
stone in it, everywhere : a monstrous load that I was obliged 
to bear, a daymare that there was no possibility of breaking 
in, a weight that brooded on my wiv.s and blunted them ! 

What meals I had in silence an.i embarrassment, always 
feeling that there were a knife and fork too many, and that 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 131 

mine ; an appetite too many, and that mine ; a plate and chair 
too many, and those mine ; a somebody too many, and that I ! 

What evenings, when the candles came, and I was expected 
to employ myself, but not daring to read an entertaining book, 
pored over some hard-headed, harder-hearted treatise on arith- 
metic ; when the tables of weights and measures set them- 
selves to tunes, as Rule Britannia, or Away with Melancholy ; 
and wouldn't stand still to be learnt, but would go threading 
my grandmother's needle through my unfortunate head, in at 
one ear and out at the other ! 

What yawns and dozes I lapsed into, in spite of all my 
care ; what starts I came out of concealed sleeps with ; what 
answers I never got, to little observations that I rarely made ; 
what a blank space I seemed, which everybody overlooked, 
and yet I was in everybody's way ; what a heavy relief it was 
to hear Miss Murdstone hail the first stroke of nine at night, 
and order me to bed ! 

Thus the holidays lagged away, until the morning came 
when Miss Murdstone said : " Here's the last day off ! " and 
gave me the closing cup of tea of the vacation. 

I was not sorry to go. I had lapsed into a stupid state ; 
but I was recovering a little and looking forward to Steer- 
forth, albeit Mr. Creakle loomed behind him. Again Mr. 
Barkis appeared at the gate, and again Miss Murdstone in her 
warning voice, said : " Clara ! " when my mother bent over 
me, to bid me farewell. 

I kissed her, and my baby brother, and was very sorry then ; 
but not sorry to go away, for the gulf between us was there, 
and the parting was there, every day. And it is not so much 
the embrace she gave me, that lives in my mind, though it was 
as fervent as could be, as what followed the embrace. 

I was in the carrier's cart when I heard her calling to me. 
I looked out, and she stood at the garden-gate alone, holding 
her baby up in her arms for me to see. It was cold still 
weather ; and not a hair of her head, or a fold of her dress, 
was stirred, as she looked intently at me, holding up her child. 

So I lost her. So I saw her afterwards, in my sleep at 
school a silent presence near my bed looking at me with 
the same intent face holding up her baby in her arms. 



o2 THE PERSONAL HISTOBY AXD EXPERIENCE 



I HAVE A MEMORABLE BIRTHDAY. 

I PASS over all that happened at school, until the anniver- 
sary of my birthday came round in March. Except that 
Steerforth was more to be admired than ever, I remember 
nothing. He was going away at the end of the half-year, if 
not sooner, and was more spirited and independent than before 
in my eyes, and therefore more engaging than before ; but 
beyond this I remember nothing. The great remembrance by 
which that time is marked in my mind, seems to have swal- 
lowed up all lesser recollections, and to exist alone. 

It is even difficult for me to believe that there was a gap of 
full two months between my return to Salem House and the 
arrival of that birthday. I can only understand that the fact 
was so, because I know it must have been so ; otherwise I 
should feel convinced that there was no interval, and that the 
one occasion trod upon the other's heels. 

How well I recollect the kind of day it was ! I smell the 
fog that hung about the place ; I see the hoar frost, ghostly, 
through it ; I feel my rimy hair fall clammy on my cheek ; I 
look along the dim perspective of the schoolroom, with a sput- 
tering candle here and there to light up the foggy morning, 
and the breath of the boys wreathing and smoking in the raw 
cold as they blow upon their fingers, and tap their feet upon 
the floor. 

It was after breakfast, and we had been summoned in from 
the playground, when Mr. Sharp entered and said: 

" David Copperfield is to go into the parlor." 

I expected a hamper from Peggotty, and brightened at the 
order. Some of the boys about me put in their claim not to 
be forgotten in the distribution of the good things, as I got 
out of my seat with great alacrity. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 133 

"Don't hurry, David," said Mr. Sharp. "There's time 
enough, my boy, don't hurry." 

I might have been surprised by the feeling tone in which he 
spoke, if I had given it a thought ; but I gave it none until 
afterwards. I hurried away to the parlor ; and there I found 
Mr. Creakle sitting at his breakfast with the cane and a news- 
paper before him, and Mrs. Creakle with an opened letter in 
her hand. But no hamper. 

"David Copperfield," said Mrs. Creakle, leading me to a 
sofa, and sitting down beside me. " I want to speak to you 
very particularly. I have something to tell you, my child." 

Mr. Creakle, at whom of course I looked, shook his head 
without looking at me, and stopped up a sigh with a very 
large piece of buttered toast. 

" You are too young to know how the world changes every 
day," said Mrs. Creakle, "and how the people in it pass away. 
But we all have to learn it, David ; some of us when we are 
young, some of us when we are old, some of us at all times of 
our lives." 

I looked at her earnestly. 

" When you came away from home at the end of the vaca- 
tion," said Mrs. Creakle, after a pause, " were they all well ? " 
After another pause, " Was ^yonr mamma well ? " 

I trembled without distinctly knowing why, and still looked 
at her earnestly, making no attempt to answer. 

" Because," said she, " I grieve to tell you that I hear this 
morning your mamma is very ill." 

A mist arose between Mrs. Creakle and me, and her figure 
seemed to move in it for an instant. Then I felt the burning 
tears run down my face, and it was steady again, 

" She is very dangerously ill," she added. 

I knew all now. 

" She is dead." 

There was no need to tell me so. I had already broken out 
into a desolate cry, and felt an orphan in the wide world. 

She was very kind to me. She kept me there all day, and 
left me alone sometimes ; and I cried, and wore myself to 
sleep, and awoke and cried again. When I could cry no more, 
I began to think ; and then the oppression on my breast was 



134 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

heaviest, and my grief a dull pain that there was no ease 
for. 

And yet my thoughts were idle ; not intent on the calamity 
that weighed upon my heart, but idly loitering near it. I 
thought of our house shut up and hushed. I thought of the 
little baby, who, Mrs. Creakle said, had been pining away for 
some time, and who, they believed, would die too. I thought 
of my father's grave in the churchyard, by our house, and of 
my mother lying there beneath the tree I knew so well. I 
stood upon a chair when I was left alone, and looked into the 
glass to see how red my eyes were, and how sorrowful my 
face was. I considered, after some hours were gone, if my 
tears were really hard to flow now, as they seemed to be, what, 
in connection with my loss, it would affect me most to think 
of when I drew near home for I was going home to the 
funeral. I am sensible of having felt that a dignity attached 
to me among the rest of the boys, and that I was important 
in my affliction. 

If ever child were stricken with sincere grief, I was. But 
I remember that this importance was a kind of satisfaction to 
me, when I walked in the playground that afternoon while the 
boys were in school. When I saw them glancing at me out 
of the windows, as they went up to their classes, I felt distin- 
guished, and looked more melancholy, and walked slower. 
When school was over, and they came out and spoke to me, I 
felt it rather good in myself not to be proud to any of them, 
and to take exactly the same notice of them all, as before. 

I was to go home next night ; not by the mail, but by the 
heavy night-coach, which was called the Farmer, and was 
principally used by country-people travelling short inter- 
mediate distances upon the road. We had no story-telling 
that evening, and Traddles insisted on lending me his pillow. 
I don't know what good he thought it would do me, for I had 
one of my own : but it was all he had to lend, poor fellow, 
except a sheet of letter-paper full of skeletons, and that he 
gave me at parting, as a soother of my sorrows and a contri- 
bution to my peace of mind. 

I left Salem House upon the morrow afternoon. I little 
thought then that I left it never to return. We travelled very 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 135 

slowly all night, and did not get into Yarmouth before nine 
or ten o'clock in the morning. I looked out for Mr. Barkis, 
but he was not there ; and instead of him a fat, short-winded, 
merry-looking, little old man in black, with rusty little bunches 
of ribbons at the knees of his breeches, black stockings, and a 
broad-brimmed hat, came puffing up to the coach-window, and 
said : 

" Master Copperfield ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

" Will you come with me, young sir, if you please," he said, 
opening the door, " and I shall have the pleasure of taking 
you home." 

I put my hand in his, wondering who he was, and we 
walked away to a shop in a narrow street, on which was 
written OMER, DRAPER, TAILOR, HABERDASHER, FUNERAL 
FURNISHER, &c. It was a close and stifling little shop ; full of 
all sorts of clothing, made and unmade, including one window 
full of beaver-hats and bonnets. We went into a little back- 
parlor behind the shop, where we found three young women 
at work on a quantity of black materials, which were heaped 
upon the table, and little bits and cuttings of which were 
littered all over the floor. There was a good fire in the room, 
and a breathless smell of warm black crape I did not know 
what the smell was then, but I know now. 

The three young women, who appeared to be very indus- 
trious and comfortable, raised their heads to look at me, and 
then went on with their work. Stitch, stitch, stitch. At the 
same time there came from a workshop across a little yard 
outside the window, a regular sound of hammering that kept 
a kind of tune : EAT tat-tat, RAT tat-tat, RAT tat-tat, with- 
out any variation. 

"Well," said my conductor to one of the three young 
women. " How do you get on, Minnie ? " 

" We shall be ready by the trying-on time," she replied 
gaily, without looking up. " Don't you be afraid, father." 

Mr. Omer took off his broad-brimmed hat, and sat down and 
panted. He was so fat that he was obliged to pant some time 
before he could say : 

"That's right." 



136 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" Father ! " said Minnie, playfully. " What a porpoise you 
do grow ! " 

" Well, I don't know how it is, my dear," he replied, con- 
sidering about it. " I am rather so." 

" You are such a comfortable man, you see," said Minnie. 
" You take things so easy." 

"No use taking 'em otherwise, my dear," said Mr. Omer. 

" No, indeed," returned his daughter. " We are all pretty 
gay here, thank Heaven ! Ain't we, father ? " 

" I hope so, my dear," said Mr. Omer. " As I have got my 
breath now, I think I'll measure this young scholar. Would 
you walk into the shop, Master Copperfield ? " 

I preceded Mr. Omer, in compliance with his request ; and 
after showing me a roll of cloth which he said was extra 
super, and too good mourning for anything short of parents, 
he took my various dimensions, and put them down in a book. 
While he was recording them he called my attention to his 
stock in trade, and to certain fashions which he said had 
" just come up," and to certain other fashions which he said 
had "just gone out." 

" And by that sort of thing we very often lose a little mint 
of money," said Mr. Omer. " But fashions are like human 
beings. They come in, nobody knows when, why, or how; 
and they go out, nobody knows when, why, or how. Every- 
thing is like life, in my opinion, if you look at it in that point 
of view." 

I was too sorrowful to discuss the question, which would 
possibly have been beyond me under any circumstances ; and 
Mr. Omer took me back into the parlor, breathing with some 
difficulty on the way. 

He then called down a little breakneck range of steps 
behind a door: "Bring up that tea and bread-and-butter!" 
which, after some time, during which I sat looking about me 
and thinking, and listening to the stitching in the room and 
the tune that was being hammered across the yard, appeared 
on a tray, and turned out to be for me. 

" I have been acquainted with you," said Mr. Omer, after 
watching me for some minutes, during which I had not made 
much impression on the breakfast, for the black things de- 



OF DAVID COPPEBFIELD. 137 

stroyed my appetite, " I have been acquainted with you a long 
time, my young friend." 

" Have you, sir ? " 

" All your life," said Mr. Omer. " I may say before it. I 
knew your father before you. He was five foot nine and a 
half, and he lays in five and twen-ty foot of ground." 

" EAT tat-tat, RAT tat-tat, RAT tat-tat," across the yard. 

" He lays in five and twen-ty foot of ground, if he lays in 
a fraction," said Mr. Omer, pleasantly. "It was either his 
request or her direction, I forget which." 

" Do you know how my little brother is, sir ? " I inquired. 

Mr. Omer shook his head. 

"RAT tat-tat, RAT tat-tat, RAT tat-tat." 

" He is in his mother's arms," said he. 

" Oh, poor little fellow ! Is he dead ? " 

" Don't mind it more than you can help," said Mr. Omer. 
"Yes. The baby's dead." 

My wounds broke out afresh at this intelligence. I left the 
scarcely tasted breakfast, and went and rested my head on 
another table in a corner of the little room, which Minnie 
hastily cleared, lest I should spot the mourning that was lying 
there with my tears. She was a pretty good-natured girl, 
and put my hair away from my eyes with a soft kind touch ; 
but she was very cheerful at having nearly finished her work 
and being in good time, and was so different from me ! 

Presently the tune left off, and a good-looking young fellow 
came across the yard into the room. He had a hammer in 
his hand, and his mouth was full of little nails, which he was 
obliged to take out before he could speak. 

" Well, Joram ! " said Mr. Omer. " How do you get on ? " 

"All right," said Joram. "Done, sir." 

Minnie colored a little, and the other two girls smiled at 
one another. 

"What! you were at it by candle-light last night, when I 
was at the club, then ? Were you ? " said Mr. Omer, shutting 
up one eye. 

" Yes," said Joram. " As you said we could make a little 
trip of it, and go over together, if it was done, Minnie and 
me and you." 



138 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

11 Oh ! I thought you were going to leave me out alto- 
gether," said Mr. Omer, laughing till he coughed. 

" As you was so good as to say that," resumed the young 
man, " why I turned to with a will, you see. Will you give 
me your opinion of it ? " 

" I will," said Mr. Omer, rising. " My dear ; " and he 
stopped and turned to me ; " would you like to see your " 

" No, father," Minnie interposed. 

"I thought it might be agreeable, my dear," said Mr. 
Omer. " But perhaps you're right." 

I can't say how I knew it was my dear, dear mother's coffin 
that they went to look at. I had never heard one making ; I 
had never seen one that I know of : but it came into my mind 
what the noise was, while it was going on ; and when the 
young man entered, I am sure I knew what he had been 
doing. 

The work being now finished, the two girls, whose names 
I had not heard, brushed the shreds and threads from their 
dresses, and went into the shop to put that to rights, and wait 
for customers. Minnie stayed behind to fold up what they 
had made, and pack it in two baskets. This she did upon her 
knees, humming a lively little tune the while. Joram, who I 
had no doubt was her lover, came in and stole a kiss from her 
while she was busy (he didn't appear to mind me, at all), and 
said her father was gone for the chaise, and he must make 
haste and get himself ready. Then he went out again ; and 
then she put her thimble and scissors in her pocket, and stuck 
a needle threaded with black thread neatly in the bosom of 
her gown, and put on her outer clothing smartly, at a little 
glass behind the door, in which I saw the reflection of her 
pleased face. 

All this I observed, sitting at the table in the corner with 
niy head leaning on my hand, and my thoughts running on 
-rery different things. The chaise soon came round to the 
front of the shop, and the baskets being put in first, I was 
put in next, and those three followed. I remember it as a 
kind of half chaise-cart, half piano-forte van, painted of a 
sombre color, and drawn by a black horse with a long tail. 
There was plenty of room for us all. 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 139 

I do not think I have ever experienced so strange a feeling 
in my life (I am wiser now, perhaps) as that of being with 
them, remembering how they had been employed, and seeing 
them enjoy the ride. I was not angry with them; I was 
more afraid of them, as if I were cast away among creatures 
with whom I had no community of nature. They were very 
cheerful. The old man sat in front to drive, and the two 
young people sat behind him, and whenever he spoke to them 
leaned forward, the one on one side of his chubby face and 
the other on the other, and made a great deal of him. They 
would have talked to me too, but I held back, and moped in 
my corner ; scared by their love-making and hilarity, though 
it was far from boisterous, and almost wondering that no 
judgment came upon them for their hardness of heart. 

So, when they stopped to bait the horse, and ate and drank 
and enjoyed themselves, I could touch nothing that they 
touched, but kept my fast unbroken. So, when we reached 
home, I dropped out of the chaise behind, as quickly as pos- 
sible, that I might not be in their company before those 
solemn windows, looking blindly on me like closed eyes once 
bright. And oh, how little need I had had to think what 
would move me to tears when I came back seeing the window 
of my mother's room, and next it that which, in the better 
time, was mine ! 

I was in Peggotty's arms before I got to the door, and she 
took me into the house. Her grief burst out when she first 
saw me ; but she controlled it soon, and spoke in whispers, 
and walked softly, as if the dead could be disturbed. She 
had not been in bed, I found, for a long time. She sat up at 
night still, and watched. As long as her poor dear pretty was 
above the ground, she said, she would never desert her. 

Mr. Murdstone took no heed of me when I went into the 
parlor where he was, but sat by the fireside, weeping silently, 
and pondering in his elbow-chair. Miss Murdstone, who was 
busy at her writing-desk, which was covered with letters and 
papers, gave me her cold finger-nails, and asked me, in an 
iron whisper, if I had been measured for my mourning. 

I said: "Yes." 



140 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" And your shirts/' said Miss Murdstone ; " have you 
brought 'em home ? " 

" Yes, ma'am. I have brought home all my clothes." 

This was all the consolation that her firmness administered 
to me. I do not doubt that she had a choice pleasure in 
exhibiting what she called her self-command, and her firm- 
ness, and her strength of mind, and her common sense, and 
the whole diabolical catalogue of her unamiable qualities, on 
such an occasion. She was particularly proud of her turn for 
business ; and she showed it now in reducing everything to 
.pen and ink, and being moved by nothing. All the rest of 
that day, and from morning to night afterwards, she sat at 
that desk ; scratching composedly with a hard pen, speaking in 
the same imperturbable whisper to everybody ; never relaxing 
a muscle of her face, or softening the tone of her voice, or 
appearing with an atom of her dress astray. 

Her brother took a book sometimes, but never read it that 
I saw. He would open it and look at it as if he were read- 
ing, but would remain for a whole hour without turning the 
leaf, and then put it down and walk to and fro in the room. 
I used to sit with folded hands watching him, and counting 
his footsteps, hour after hour. He very seldom spoke to her, 
and never to me. He seemed to be the only restless thing 
except the clocks, in the whole motionless house. 

In these days before the funeral, I saw but little of Peg- 
gotty, except that, in passing up or down stairs, I always 
found her close to the room where my mother and her baby 
lay, and except that she came to me every night, and sat by 
my bed's head while I went to sleep. A day or two before 
the burial I think it was a day or two before, but I am con- 
scious of confusion in my mind about that heavy time, with 
nothing to mark its progress she took me into the room. I 
only recollect that underneath some white covering on the bed, 
with a beautiful cleanliness and freshness all around it, there 
seemed to me to lie embodied the solemn stillness that was 
in the house ; and that when she would have turned the cover 
gently back, I cried : " no ! no ! " and held her hand. 

If the funeral had been yesterday, I could not recollect it 
better. The very air of the best parlor, when I went in at 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 141 

the door, the bright condition of the fire, the shining of the 
wine in the decanters, the patterns of the glasses and plates, 
the faint sweet smell of cake, the odor of Miss Murdstone's 
dress, and our black clothes. Mr. Chillip is in the room, and 
comes to speak to me. 

" And how is Master David ? " he says, kindly. 

I cannot tell him very well. I give him my hand, which he 
holds in his. 

" Dear me ! " says Mr. Chillip, meekly smiling, with some- 
thing shining in his eye. " Our little friends grow up around 
us. They grow out of our knowledge, ma'am ? " 

This is to Miss Murdstone, who makes no reply. 

" There is a great improvement here, ma'am ? " says Mr. 
Chillip. 

Miss Murdstone merely answers with a frown and a formal 
bend ; Mr. Chillip, discomfited, goes into a corner, keeping me 
with him, and opens his mouth no more. 

I remark this, because I remark everything that happens, 
not because I care about myself, or have done since I came 
home. And now the bell begins to sound, and Mr. Omer and 
another come to make us ready. As Peggotty was wont to 
tell me, long ago, the followers of my father to the same grave 
were made ready in the same room. 

There are Mr. Murdstone, our neighbor Mr. Grayper, Mr. 
Chillip, and I. When we go out to the door, the Bearers and 
their load are in the garden ; and they move before us down 
the path, and past the elms, and through the gate, and into the 
churchyard, where I have so often heard the birds sing on a 
summer morning. 

We stand around the grave. The day seems different to 
me from every other day, and the light not of the same color 
of a sadder color. Now there is a solemn hush, which we 
have brought from home with what is resting in the mould ; 
and while we stand bare-headed, I hear the voice of the clergy- 
man, sounding remote in the open air, and yet distinct and 
plain, saying : " I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the 
Lord ! " Then I hear sobs ; and, standing apart among the 
lookers-on, I see that good and faithful servant, whom of all 
the people upon earth I love the best, and unto whom my 



142 THE PERSONAL HISTOET AND EXPERIENCE 

childish heart is certain that the Lord will one day say : 
"Well done." 

There are many faces that I know, among the little crowd ; 
faces that I knew in church, when mine was always wondering 
there ; faces that first saw my mother, when she came to the 
village in her youthful bloom. I do not mind them I mind 
nothing but my grief and yet I see and know them all ; and 
even in the background, far away, see Minnie looking on, and 
her eye glancing on her sweetheart, who is near me. 

It is over, and the earth is filled in, and we turn to come 
away. Before us stands our house, so pretty and unchanged, 
so linked in my mind with the young idea of what is gone, 
that all my sorrow has been nothing to the sorrow it calls 
forth. But they take me on ; and Mr. Chillip talks to me ; 
and when we get home, puts some water to my lips ; and when 
I ask his leave to go up to my room, dismisses me with the 
gentleness of a woman. 

All this, I say, is yesterday's event. Events of later date 
have floated from me to the shore where all forgotten things 
will reappear, but this stands like a high rock in the ocean. 

I knew that Peggotty would come to me in my room. The 
Sabbath stillness of the time (the day was so like Sunday ! I 
have forgotten that) was suited to us both. She sat down by 
my side upon my little bed ; and holding my hand, and some- 
times putting it to her lips, and sometimes smoothing it with 
hers, as she might have comforted my little brother, told me, 
in her way, all that she had to tell concerning what had 
happened. 

"She was never well/' said Peggotty, "for a long time. 
She was uncertain in her mind, and not happy. When her 
baby was born, I thought at first she would get better, but 
she was more delicate, and sunk a little every day. She used 
to like to sit alone before her baby came, and then she cried ; 
but afterwards she used to sing to it so soft, that I once 
thought, when I heard her, it was like a voice up in the air, 
that was rising away. 

" I think she got to be more timid, and more frightened-like, 
of late ; and that a hard word was like a blow to her. But 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 143 

she was always the same to me. She never changed to her 
foolish Peggotty, didn't my sweet girl." 

Here Peggotty stopped, and softly beat upon my hand a little 
while. 

" The last time that I saw her like her own old self, was 
the night when you came home, my dear. The day you went 
away, she said to me, 'I never shall see my pretty darling 
again. Something tells me so, that tells the truth, I know. 7 

" She tried to hold up after that ; and many a time, when 
they told her she was thoughtless ' and light-hearted, made 
believe to be so; but it was all a bygone then. She never 
told her husband what she had told me she was afraid of 
saying it to anybody else till one night, a little more than a 
week before it happened, when she said to him : ' My dear, I 
think I am dying/ 

"'It's off my mind now, Peggotty,' she told me, when I 
laid her in her bed that night. ' He will believe it more and 
more, poor fellow, every day for a few days to come ; and then 
it will be past. I am very tired. If this is sleep, sit by me 
while I sleep : don't leave me. God bless both my children ! 
God protect and keep my fatherless boy ! ' 

" I never left her afterwards," said Peggotty. " She often 
talked to them two down stairs for she loved them ; she 
couldn't bear not to love any one who was about her but 
when they went away from her bedside, she always turned to 
me, as if there was rest where Peggotty was, and never fell 
asleep in any other way. 

" On the last night, in the evening, she kissed me. and said : 
' If my baby should die too, Peggotty, please let them lay him 
in my arms, and bury us together.' (It was done ; for the 
poor lamb lived but a day beyond her.) ' Let my dearest boy 
go with us to our resting-place,' she said, ' and tell him that 
his mother, when she lay here, blessed him, not once, but a 
thousand times.' ' 

Another silence followed this, and another gentle beating on 
my hand. 

" It was pretty far in the night," said Peggotty, " when she 
asked me for some drink ; and when she had taken it, gave me 
such a patient smile, the dear ! so beautiful ! 



144 THE PERSONAL HISTOEY AND EXPERIENCE 

" Daybreak had come, and the sun was rising, when she said 
to me, how kind and considerate Mr. Copperfield had always 
been to her, and how he had borne with her, and had told her, 
when she doubted herself, that a loving heart was better and 
stronger than wisdom, and that he was a happy man in hers. 
' Peggotty, my dear/ she said then, ' put me nearer to you/ for 
she was very weak. ( Lay your good arm underneath my neck/ 
she said, 'and turn me to you, for your face is going far off, 
and I want it to be near.' I put it as she asked ; and oh Davy ! 
the time had come when my first parting words to you were 
true when she was glad to lay her poor head on her stupid 
cross old Peggotty's arm and she died like a child that had 
gone to sleep ! " 

Thus ended Peggotty's narration. From the moment of my 
knowing of the death of my mother, the idea of her as she 
had been of late had vanished from me. I remembered her, 
from that instant, only as the young mother of my earliest 
impressions, who had been used to wind her bright curls round 
and round her finger, and to dance with me at twilight in the 
parlor. What Peggotty had told me now, was so far from 
bringing me back to the later period, that it rooted the earlier 
image in my mind. It may be curious, but it is true. In her 
death she winged her way back to her calm untroubled youth, 
and cancelled all the rest. 

The mother who lay in the grave, was the mother of my 
infancy ; the little creature in her arms, was myself, as I had 
once been, hushed for ever on her bosom. 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 145 



CHAPTEE X. 

I BECOME NEGLECTED, AND AM PROVIDED FOE. 

THE first act of business Miss Murdstone performed when 
the day of the solemnity was over, and light was freely 
admitted into the house, was to give Peggotty a mouth's 
warning. Much as Peggotty would have disliked such a 
service, I believe she would have retained it, for my sake, in 
preference to the best upon earth. She told me we must part, 
and told me why ; and we condoled with one another, in all 
sincerity. 

As to me or my future, not a word was said, or a step 
taken. Happy they would have been, I dare say, if they 
could have dismissed me at a month's warning too. I mus- 
tered courage once, to ask Miss Murdstone when I was going 
back to school ; and she answered, drily, she believed I was 
not going back at all. I was told nothing more. I was very 
anxious to know what was going to be done with me, and so 
was Peggotty ; but neither she nor I could pick up any infor- 
mation on the subject. 

There was one change in my condition, which, while it 
relieved me of a great deal of present uneasiness, might have 
made me, if I had been capable of considering it closely, yet 
more uncomfortable about the future. It was this. The con- 
straint that had been put upon me, was quite abandoned. I 
was so far from being required to keep my dull post in the 
parlor, that on several occasions, when I took my seat there, 
Miss Murdstone frowned to me to go away. I was so far from 
being warned off from Peggotty's society, that, provided I was 
not in Mr. Murdstone's, I was never sought out or inquired 
for. At first I was in daily dread of his taking my education 
in hand again, or of Miss Murdstone's devoting herself to it ; 
but I soon began to think that such fears were groundless, and 
that all I had to anticipate was neglect. 

TOL. I 10 



146 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

I do not conceive that this discovery gave me much pain 
then. I was still giddy with the shock of my mother's death. 
and in a kind of stunned state as to all tributary things. I 
can recollect, indeed, to have speculated, at odd times, on the 
possibility of my not being taught any more, or cared for any 
more ; and growing up to be a shabby moody man, lounging 
an idle life away, about the village ; as well as on the feasi- 
bility of my getting rid of this picture by going away some- 
where, like the hero in a story, to seek my fortune : but these 
were transient visions, day dreams I sat looking at sometimes, 
as if they were faintly painted or written on the wall of my 
room, and which, as they melted away, left the wall blank again. 

"Peggotty," I said in a thoughtful whisper, one evening, 
when I was warming my hands at the kitchen fire, " Mr. Murd- 
stone likes me less than he used to. He never liked me much, 
Peggotty ; but he would rather not even see me now, if he can 
help it." 

" Perhaps it's his sorrow," said Peggotty, stroking my hair. 

" I am sure, Peggotty, I am sorry too. If I believed it was 
his sorrow, I should not think of it at all. But it's not that; 
oh, no, it's not that." 

" How do you know it's not that ? " said Peggotty, after a 
silence. 

" Oh, his sorrow is another and quite a different thing. He 
is sorry at this moment, sitting by the fireside with Miss Murd- 
stone ; but if I was to go in, Peggotty, he would be something 
besides." 

" What would he be ? " said Peggotty. 

"Angry," I answered, with an involuntary imitation of his 
dark frown. " If he was only sorry, he wouldn't look at me 
as he does. Jam only sorry, and it makes me feel kinder." 

Peggotty said nothing for a little while ; and I warmed my 
hands as silent as she. 

" Davy," she said at length. 

" Yes, Peggotty ? " 

" I have tried, my dear, all ways I could think of all the 
ways there are, and all the ways there ain't, in short to get 
a suitable service here, in Blunderstone ; but there's no such 
a thing, iny love." 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 147 

" And what do you mean to do, Peggotty ? " said I, wistfully. 
" Do you mean to go and seek your fortune ? " 

"I expect I shall be forced to go to Yarmouth," replied 
Peggotty, " and live there." 

"You might have gone farther off," I said, brightening a 
little, " and been as bad as lost. I shall see you sometimes, 
my dear old Peggotty, there. You won't be quite at the other 
end of the world, will you ? '' 

" Contrairy-ways, please God!" cried Peggotty, with great 
animation. "As long as you are here, my pet, I shall come 
over every week of my life to see you. One day every week 
of my life ! " 

I felt a great weight taken off my mind by this promise ; 
but even this was not all, for Peggotty went on to say : 

" I'm a going, Davy, you see, to my brother's first, for an- 
other fortnight's visit just till I have had time to look about 
me, and get to be something like myself again. Now, I have 
been thinking, that perhaps, as they don't want you here at 
present, you might be let to go along with me." 

If anything short of being in a different relation to every 
one about me, Peggotty excepted, could have given me a sense 
of pleasure at that time, it would have been this project of all 
others. The idea of being again surrounded by those honest 
faces, shining welcome on me ; of renewing the peacefulness 
of the sweet Sunday morning, when the bells were ringing, 
the stones dropping in the water, and the shadowy ships break- 
ing through the mist ; of roaming up and down with little 
Em'ly, telling her my troubles, and finding charms against 
them in the shells and pebbles on the beach ; made a calm in 
my heart. It was ruffled next moment, to be sure, by a doubt 
of Miss Murdstone's giving her consent ; but even that was 
set at rest soon, for she came out to take an evening grope in 
the store-closet while we were yet in conversation, and Peg- 
gotty, with a boldness that amazed me, broached the topic on 
the spot. 

" The boy will be idle there," said Miss Murdstone, looking 
into a pickle-jar, "and idleness is the root of all evil. But, to 
be sure, he would be idle here or anywhere, in my opinion." 



148 THE PEE SON AL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

Peggotty had an angry answer ready, I could see ; but she 
swallowed it for my sake, and remained silent. 

" Humph ! " said Miss Murdstone, still keeping her eye on 
the pickles ; " it is of more importance than anything else it 
is of paramount importance that my brother should not be 
disturbed or made uncomfortable. I suppose I had better say 
yes." 

I thanked her, without making any demonstration of joy, 
lest it should induce her to withdraw her assent. Nor could I 
help thinking this a prudent course, when she looked at me 
out of the pickle-jar with as great an access of sourness as if 
her black eyes had absorbed its contents. However the per- 
mission was given, and was never retracted ; for when the 
month was out, Peggotty and I were ready to depart. 

Mr. Barkis came into the house for Peggotty 's boxes. I had 
never known him to pass the garden-gate before, but on this 
occasion he came into the house. And he gave me a look as 
he shouldered the largest box and went out, which I thought 
had meaning in it, if meaning could ever be said to find its way 
into Mr. Barkis's visage. 

Peggotty was naturally, in low spirits at leaving what had 
been her home so many years, and where the two strong attach- 
ments of her life for my mother and myself had been 
formed. She had been walking in the churchyard, too, very 
early ; and she got into the cart, and sat in it with her hand- 
kerchief at her eyes. 

So long as she remained in this condition, Mr. Barkis gave 
no sign of life whatever. He sat in his usual place and atti- 
tude, like a great stuffed figure. But when she began to look 
about her, and to speak to me, he nodded his head and grinned 
several times. I have not the least notion at whom, or what 
he meant by it. 

" It's a beautiful day, Mr. Barkis ! " I said, as an act of 
politeness. 

" It ain't bad," said Mr. Barkis, who generally qualified his 
speech, and rarely committed himself. 

"Peggotty is quite comfortable now, Mr. Barkis," I remarked, 
for his satisfaction. 

" Is she, though ! " said Mr. Barkis. 



OF DAVID COPPEBFIEZD. 149 

After reflecting about it, with a sagacious air, Mr. Barkis 
eyed her, and said : 

" Are you pretty comfortable ? " 

Peggotty laughed, and answered in the affirmative. 

" But really and truly, you know. Are you ? " growled Mr. 
Barkis, sliding nearer to her on the seat, and nudging her 
with his elbow. " Are you ? Eeally and truly pretty com- 
fortable ? Are you ? Eh ? " At each of these inquiries Mr. 
Barkis shuffled nearer to her, and gave her another nudge ; so 
that at last we were all crowded together in the left-hand 
corner of the cart, and I was so squeezed that I could hardly 
bear it. 

Peggotty calling his attention to my sufferings, Mr. Barkis 
gave me a little more room at once, and got away by degrees. 
But I could not help observing that he seemed to think he had 
hit upon a wonderful expedient for expressing himself in a 
neat, agreeable, and pointed manner, without the inconven- 
ience of inventing conversation. He manifestly chuckled 
over it for some time. By and by he turned to Peggotty again, 
and repeating, "Are you pretty comfortable, though?" bore 
down upon us as before, until the breath was nearly wedged 
out of my body. By and by he made another descent upon us 
with the same inquiry, and the same result. At length, I got 
up whenever I saw him coming, and, standing on the foot- 
board, pretended to look at the prospect ; after which I did 
very well. 

He was so polite as to stop at a public-house, expressly on 
our account, and entertain us with broiled mutton and beer. 
Even when Peggotty was in the act of drinking, he was seized 
with one of those approaches, and almost choked her. But as 
we drew nearer to the end of our journey, he had more to do 
and less time for gallantry ; and when we got on Yarmouth 
pavement, we were all too much shaken and jolted, I appre- 
hend, to have any leisure for anything else. 

Mr. Peggotty and Ham waited for us at the old place. 
They received me and Peggotty in an affectionate manner, and 
shook hands with Mr. Barkis, who, with his hat on the very 
back of his head, and a shame-faced leer upon his countenance, 
and pervading his very legs, presented but a vacant appear- 



150 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

ance, I thought. They each took one of Peggotty's trunks, 
and we were going away, when Mr. Barkis solemnly made a 
sign to me with his forefinger to come under an archway. 

"I say," growled Mr. Barkis, "it was all right." 

I looked up into his face, and answered, with an attempt to 
be very profound : " Oh ! " 

" It didn't come to a end there," said Mr. Barkis, nodding 
confidentially. " It was all right." 

Again I answered " Oh ! " 

"You know who was willin'," said my friend. "It was 
Barkis, and Barkis only." 

I nodded assent. 

" It's all right," said Mr. Barkis, shaking hands ; " I'm a 
friend of your'n. You made it all right, first. It's all right." 

In his attempts to .be particularly lucid, Mr. Barkis was so 
extremely mysterious, that I might have stood looking in his 
face for an hour, and most assuredly should have got as much 
information out of it as out of the face of a clock that had 
stopped, but for Peggotty's calling me away. As we were 
going along, she asked me what he had said ; and I told her 
he had said it was all right. 

"Like his impudence," said Peggotty, "but I don't mind 
that ! Davy dear, what should you think if I was to think 
of being married ! " 

" Why I suppose you would like me as much then, 
Peggotty, as you do now ? " I returned, after a little con- 
sideration. 

Greatly to the astonishment of the passengers in the street, 
as well as of her relations going on before, the good soul was 
obliged to stop and embrace me on the spot, with many 
protestations of her unalterable love. 

" Tell me what should you say, darling ? " she asked again, 
when this was over, and we were walking on. 

"If you were thinking of being married to Mr. Barkis, 
Peggotty ? " 

" Yes," said Peggotty. 

" I should think it would be a very good thing. For then 
you know, Peggotty, you would always have the horse and 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 151 

cart to bring you over to see ine, and could come for nothing, 
and be sure of coming." 

" The sense of the dear ! " cried Peggotty. " What I have 
been thinking of this month back ! Yes, my precious ; and I 
think I should be more independent altogether, you see ; let 
alone my working with a better heart in my own house, than 
I could in anybody else's now. I don't know what I might 
be fit for, now, as a servant to a stranger. And I shall be 
always near my pretty's resting-place," said Peggotty, musing, 
" and be able to see it when I like ; and when 1 lie down to 
rest, I may be laid not far off from rny darling girl ! " 

We neither of us said anything for a little while. 

" But I wouldn't so much as give it another thought," said 
Peggotty, cheerily, " if my Davy was anyways against it 
ot if I had been asked in church thirty times three times 
over, and was wearing out the ring in my pocket." 

" Look at me, Peggotty," I replied ; " and see if I am not 
really glad, and don't truly wish it ! " As indeed I did, with 
all my heart. 

"Well, my life," said Peggotty, giving me a squeeze, "I 
have thought of it night and day, every way I can, and I hope 
the right way; but I'll think of it again, and speak to my 
brother about it, and in the meantime we'll keep it to our- 
selves, Davy, you and me. Barkis is a good plain creetur'," 
said Peggotty, " and if I tried to do my duty by him, I think 
it would be my fault if I wasn't if I wasn't pretty com- 
fortable," said Peggotty, laughing heartily. 

This quotation from Mr. Barkis was so appropriate, and 
tickled us both so much, that we laughed again and again, and 
were quite in a pleasant humor when we came in view of Mr. 
Peggotty's cottage. 

It looked just the same, except that it may, perhaps, have 
shrunk a little in my eyes ; and Mrs. Gummidge was waiting 
at the door as if she had stood there ever since. All within 
was the same, down to the seaweed in the blue mug in my 
bedroom. I went into the outhouse to look about me ; and 
the very same lobsters, crabs, and crawfish possessed by the 
same desire to pinch the world in general, appeared to be in 
the same state of conglomeration in the same old corner. 



152 THE PEE 80^ AL HISTORY AXD EXPERIENCE 

But there was no little Em'ly to be seen, so I asked Mr. 
Peggotty where she was. 

" She's at school, sir," said Mr. Peggotty, wiping the heat 
consequent on the porterage of Peggotty s box from his fore- 
head ; "she'll be home," looking at the Dutch clock, " in from 
twenty minutes to half-an-hour's time. We all on us feel the 
loss of her, bless ye ! n 

Mrs. Gum midge moaned. 

" Cheer up, mawther ! " cried Mr. Peggotty. 

" I feel it more than anybody else," said Mrs. Gummidge ; 
" I'm a lone lorn creetur 5 , and she used to be a'most the only 
think that didn't go contrairy with me." 

Mrs. Gummidge, whimpering and shaking her head, applied 
herself to blowing the fire. Mr. Peggotty, looking round 
upon us while she was so engaged, said in a low voice, which 
he shaded with his hand : " The old 'un ! " From this I 
rightly conjectured that no improvement had taken place since 
my last visit in the state of Mrs. Guinmidge's spirits. 

Now, the whole place was, or it should have been, quite as 
delightful a place as ever ; and yet it did not impress me in 
the same way. I felt rather disappointed with it. Perhaps 
it was because little Enrly was not at home. I knew the way 
by which she would come, and presently found myself strolling 
along the path to meet her. 

A figure appeared in the distance before long, and I soon 
knew it to be Em'ly, who was a little creature still in stature. 
though she was grown. But when she drew nearer, and I 
saw her blue eyes looking bluer, and her dimpled face looking 
brighter, and her own self prettier and gayer, a curious feeling 
came over me that made me pretend not to know her, and pass 
by as if I were looking at something a long way off. I have 
done such a thing since in later life, or I am mistaken. 

Little Em'ly didn't care a bit. She saw me well enough ; 
but instead of turning round and calling after me, ran away 
laughing. This obliged me to run after her, and she ran so 
fast that we were very near the cottage before I caught her. 

"Oh, it's you, is it?" said little Em'ly. 

" Why, you knew who it was, Em'ly," said I. 

" And didn't you know who it was ? " said Em'ly. I was 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 153 

going to kiss her, but she covered her cherry lips with her 
hands, and said she wasn't a baby now, and ran away, laughing 
more than ever, into the house. 

She seemed to delight in teasing me, which was a change 
in her I wondered at very much. The tea-table was ready, 
and our little locker was put out in its old place, but instead 
of coining to sit by nie, she went and bestowed her company 
upon that grumbling Mrs. Grummidge : and on Mr. Peggotty's 
inquiring why, rumpled her hair all over her face to hide it, 
and would do nothing but laugh. 

" A little puss it is ! " said Mr. Peggotty, patting her with 
his great hand. 

" So sh' is ! so sh' is ! " cried Ham. " Mas'r Davy bor, so 
sh' is ! " and he sat and chuckled at her for some time, in a 
state of mingled admiration and delight, that made his face a 
burning red. 

Little Em'ly was spoiled by them all, in fact ; and by no 
one more than Mr. Peggotty himself, whom she could have 
coaxed into anything by only going and laying her cheek 
against his rough whisker. That was my opinion, at least, 
when I saw her do it ; and I held Mr. Peggotty to be thor- 
oughly in the right. But she was so affectionate and sweet- 
natured, and had such a pleasant manner of being both sly and 
shy at once, that she captivated me more than ever. 

She was tender-hearted, too ; for when, as we sat round the 
fire after tea, an allusion was made by Mr. Peggotty over his 
pipe to the loss I had sustained, the tears stood in her eyes, 
and she looked at me so kindly across the lable, that I felt 
quite thankful to her. 

" Ah ! " said Mr. Peggotty, taking up her curls, and running 
them over his hand like water, " here's another orphan, you 
see, sir. And here," said Mr. Peggotty, giving Ham a back- 
handed knock in the chest, " is another of 'em, though he don't 
look much like it." 

" If I had you for my guardian, Mr. Peggotty," said I, shak- 
ing my head, " I don't think I should feel much like it." 

" Well said, Mas'r Davy, bor ! " cried Ham, in an ecstasy. 
" Hoorah ! Well said ! Nor more you wouldn't ! Hor ! Hor ! " 



154 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

Here he returned Mr. Peggotty' s back-hander, and little 
Em'ly got up and kissed Mr. Peggotty. 

"And how's your friend, sir ? " said Mr. Peggotty to me. 

" Steerforth ? " said I. 

" That's the name ! " cried Mr. Peggotty, turning to Ham. 
" I knowed it was something in our way." 

" You said it was Rudderf ord," observed Ham, laughing. 

" Well ? " retorted Mr. Peggotty. " And ye steer with a 
rudder, don't ye ? It ain't fur off. How is he, sir ? " 

"He was very well indeed when I came away, Mr. Peg- 
gotty." 

" There's a friend ! " said Mr. Peggotty, stretching out his 
pipe. " There's a friend, if you talk of friends ! Why, Lord 
love my heart alive, if it ain't a treat to look at him ! " 

" He is very handsome, is he not ? " said I, my heart warm- 
ing with this praise. 

" Handsome ! " cried Mr. Peggotty. " He stands up to you 
like like a why I don't know what he don't stand up to 
you like. He's so bold ! " 

" Yes ! That's just his character," said I. " He's as brave 
as a lion, and you can't think how frank he is, Mr. Peggotty." 

" And I do suppose, now," said Mr. Peggotty, looking at me 
through the smoke of his pipe, " that in the way of book-learn- 
ing he'd take the wind out of a'most anything." 

" Yes," said I, delighted ; " he knows everything. He is 
astonishingly clever." 

"There's a friend ! " murmured Mr. Peggotty, with a grave 
toss of his head. 

"Nothing seems to cost him any trouble," said I. "He 
knows a task if he only looks at it. He is the best cricketer 
you ever saw. He will give you almost as many men as you 
like at draughts, and beat you easily." 

Mr. Peggotty gave his head another toss, as much as to 
say : " Of course he will." 

" He is such a speaker," I pursued, " that he can win any- 
body over ; and I don't know what you'd say if you were to 
hear him sing, Mr. Peggotty." 

Mr. Peggotty gave his head another toss, as much as to 
say : " I have no doubt of it." 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 155 

"Then, he's such a generous, fine, noble fellow," said I, 
-quite carried away by my favorite theme, "that it's hardly 
possible to give him as much praise as he deserves. I am 
sure I can never feel thankful enough for the generosity with 
which he has protected me, so much younger and lower in the 
school than himself." 

I was running on, very fast indeed, when my eyes rested 
on little Ein'ly's face, which was bent forward over the table, 
listening with the deepest attention, her breath held, her blue 
eyes sparkling like jewels, and the color mantling in her 
cheeks. She looked so extraordinarily earnest and pretty, 
that I stopped in a sort of wonder ; and they all observed her 
at the same time, for, as I stopped, they laughed and looked 
at her. 

" Em'ly is like me," said Peggotty, " and would like to see 

him." 

i 

Em'ly was confused by our all observing her, and hung 
down her head, and her face was covered with blushes. 
Glancing up presently through her stray curls, and seeing 
that we were all looking at her still (I am sure I, for one, 
could have looked at her for hours), she ran away, and kept 
away till it was nearly bedtime. 

I lay down in the old little bed in the stern of the boat, and 
the wind came moaning on across the flat as it had done 
before. But I could not help fancying, now, that it moaned 
of those who were gone ; and instead of thinking that the 
sea might rise in the night and float the boat away, I 
thought of the sea that had risen, since I last heard those 
sounds, and drowned my happy home. I recollect, as the 
wind and water began to sound fainter in my ears, putting 
a short clause into my prayers, petitioning that I might 
grow up to marry little Em'ly, and so dropping lovingly 
asleep. 

The days passed pretty much as they had passed before, 
except it was a great exception that little Em'ly and I 
seldom wandered on the beach now. She had tasks to learn, 
and needlework to do ; and was absent during a great part of 
each day. But I felt that we should not have had these old 
wanderings, even if it had been otherwise. Wild and full of 



156 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

childish whiins as Em'ly was, she was more of a little woman 
than I had supposed. She seemed to have got a great 
distance away from me, in little more than a year. She 
liked me, but she laughed at me, and tormented me ; and 
when I went to meet her, stole home another way. and was 
laughing at the door, when I came back, disappointed. 
The best times were when she sat quietly at work in the 
doorway, and I sat on the wooden step at her feet, reading 
to her. It seems to me at this hour, that I have never 
seen such sunlight as on those bright April afternoons ; 
that I have never seen such a sunny little figure as I used 
to see, sitting in the doorway of the old boat; that I have 
never beheld such sky, such water, such glorified ships 
sailing away into golden air. 

On the very first evening after our arrival, Mr. Barkis 
appeared in an exceedingly vacant and awkward condition, 
and with a bundle of oranges tied up in a handkerchief. 
As he made no allusion of any kind to this property, he 
was supposed to have left it behind him by accident when 
he went away ; until Ham, running after him to restore it, 
came back with the information that it was intended for 
Peggotty. After that occasion he appeared every evening at 
exactly the same hour, and always with a little bundle, to 
which he never alluded, and which he regularly put behind 
the door, and left there. These offerings of affection were 
of a most various and eccentric description. Among them 
I remember a double set of pigs' trotters, a huge pin-cushion, 
half a bushel or so of apples, a pair of jet earrings, some 
Spanish onions, a box of dominoes, a canary bird and cage, 
and a leg of pickled pork. 

Mr. Barkis's wooing, as I remember it, was altogether of a 
peculiar kind. He very seldom said anything ; but would sit 
by the fire in much the same attitude as he sat in his cart, and 
stare heavily at Peggotty, who was opposite. One night, 
being, as I suppose, inspired by love, he made a dart at the 
bit of wax candle she kept for her thread, and put it in his 
waistcoat-pocket and carried it off. After that, his great 
delight was to produce it when it was wanted, sticking to the 
lining of his pocket, in a partially melted state, and pocket it 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 157 

again when it was done with. He seemed to enjoy himself 
very much, and not to feel a all called upon to talk. Even 
when he took Peggotty out for a walk on the flats, he had no 
uneasiness on that head, I believe j contenting himself with 
now and then asking her if she was pretty comfortable ; and I 
remember that sometimes, after he was gone, Peggotty would 
throw her apron over her face, and laugh for half an hour. 
Indeed, we were all more or less amused, except that miser- 
able Mrs. Gum midge, whose courtship would appear to have 
been of an exactly parallel nature, she was so continually 
reminded by these transactions of the old one. 

At length, when the term of my visit was nearly expired, 
it was given out that Peggotty and Mr. Barkis were going to 
make a day's holiday together, and that little Em'ly and I 
were to accompany them. I had but a broken sleep the night 
before, in anticipation of the pleasure of a whole day with 
Em'ly. We were all astir betimes in the morning ; and while 
we were yet at breakfast, Mr. Barkis appeared in the distance, 
driving a chaise-cart towards the object of his affections. 

Peggotty was dressed as usual, in her neat and quiet mourn- 
ing ; but Mr. Barkis bloomed in a new blue coat, of which the 
tailor had given him such good measure, that the cuffs would 
have rendered gloves unnecessary in the coldest weather, 
while the collar was so high that it pushed his hair up on end 
on the top of his head. His bright buttons, too, were of the 
largest size. Rendered complete by drab pantaloons and a 
buff waistcoat, I thought Mr. Barkis a phenomenon of respec- 
tability. 

When we were all in a bustle outside the door, I found that 
Mr. Peggotty was prepared with an old shoe, which was to be 
thrown after us for luck, and which he offered to Mrs. Gum- 
midge for that purpose. 

" No. It had better be done by somebody else, Dan'l," said 
Mrs. Gummidge. " I'm a lone lorn creetur' myself, and every- 
think that reminds me of creeturs that ain't lone and lorn, 
goes contrairy with me." 

" Come, old gal ! " cried Mr. Peggotty. " Take and heave 
it!" 

"No, Dan'l," returned Mrs. Gummidge, whimpering and 



158 THE PEE SON AL HISTORY AXD EXPERIENCE 

shaking her head. "If I felt Jess, I could do more. You 
don't feel like ine, Dan'l ; thinks don't go contrairy with you, 
nor you with them ; you had better do it yourself." 

But here Peggotty, who had been going about from one to 
another in a hurried way, kissing everybody, called out from 
the cart, in which we all were by this time (Em'ly and I on 
two little chairs, side by side), that Mrs. Gummidge must do 
it. So Mrs. Gummidge did it; and, I am sorry to relate, cast 
a damp upon the festive character of our departure, by imme- 
diately bursting into tears, and sinking subdued into the arms 
of Ham, with the declaration that she knowed she was a 
burden, and had better be carried to the House at once. 
Which I really thought was a sensible idea, that Ham might 
have acted on. 

Away we went, however, on our holiday excursion ; and the 
first thing we did was to stop at a church, where Mr. Barkis 
tied the horse to some rails, and went in with Peggotty, 
leaving little Em'ly and me alone in the chaise. I took that 
occasion to put my arm round Em'ly's waist, and propose that 
as I was going away so very soon now, we should determine 
to be very affectionate to one another, and very happy, all day. 
Little Em'ly consenting, and allowing me to kiss her, I became 
desperate ; informing her, I recollect, that I never could love 
another, and that I was prepared to shed the blood of anybody 
who should aspire to her affections. 

How merry little Em'ly made herself about it ! With what 
a demure assumption of being immensely older and wiser than 
I, the fairy little woman said I was " a silly boy ; " and then 
laughed so charmingly that I forgot the pain of being called 
by that disparaging name, in the pleasure of looking at her. 

Mr. Barkis and Peggotty were a good while in the church, 
but came out at last, and then we drove away into the country. 
As we were going along, Mr. Barkis turned to me, and said, 
with a wink, by the by, I should hardly have thought, before, 
that he could wink : 

" What name was it as I wrote up in the cart ? " 

" Clara Peggotty," I answered. 

" What name would it be as I should write up now, if there 
was a tilt here ? " 



r 




DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 159 

" Clara Peggotty, again/' I suggested. 

"Clara Peggotty BARKIS!" he returned, and burst into a 
roar of laughter that shook the chaise. 

In a word, they were married, and had gone into the church 
for no other purpose. Peggotty was resolved that it should 
be quietly done j and the clerk had given her away, and there 
had been 110 witnesses of the ceremony. She was a little con- 
fused when Mr. Barkis made this abrupt announcement of their 
union, and could not hug me enough in token of her unim- 
paired affection ; but she soon became herself again, and said 
she was very glad it was over. 

We drove to a little inn in a by road, where we were 
expected, and where we had a very comfortable dinner, and 
passed the day with great satisfaction. If Peggotty had been 
married every day for the last ten years, she could hardly 
have been more at her ease about it ; it made no sort of 
difference in her: she was just the same as ever, and went 
out for a stroll with little Em'ly and me before tea, while 
Mr. Barkis philosophically smoked his pipe, and enjoyed him- 
self, I suppose, with the contemplation of his happiness. If 
so, it sharpened his appetite ; for I distinctly call to mind that, 
although he had eaten a good deal of pork and greens at 
dinner, and had finished off with a fowl or two, he was obliged 
to have cold boiled bacon for tea, and disposed of a large 
quantity without any emotion. 

I have often thought, since, what an odd, innocent, out-of- 
the-way kind of wedding it must have been ! We got into 
the chaise again soon after dark, and drove cosily back, look- 
ing up at the stars, and talking about them. I was their chief 
exponent, and opened Mr. Barkis's mind to an amazing extent. 
I told him all I knew, but he would have believed anything I 
might have taken it into my head to impart to him ; for he 
had a profound veneration for my abilities, and informed his 
wife in my hearing, on that very occasion, that I was " a young 
Boeshus " by which I think he meant, prodigy. 

When we had exhausted the subject of the stars, or rather 
when I had exhausted the mental faculties of Mr. Barkis, 
little Em'ly and I made a cloak of an old wrapper, and sat 
under it for the rest of the journey. Ah, how I loved her ! 



160 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

What happiness (I thought) if we were married, and were 
going away anywhere to live among the trees and in the 
fields, never growing older, never growing wiser, children ever, 
rambling hand in hand through sunshine and among flowery 
meadows, laying down our heads on moss at night, in a sweet 
sleep of purity and peace, and buried by the birds when we 
were dead ! Some such picture, with no real world in it, 
bright with the light of our innocence, and vague as the stars 
afar off, was in my mind all the way. I am glad to think 
there were two such guileless hearts at Peggotty's marriage as 
little Ern'ly's and mine. I am glad to think the Loves and 
Graces took such airy forms in its homely procession. 

Well, we came to the old boat again in good time at night ; 
and there Mr. and Mrs. Barkis bade us good by, and drove 
away snugly to their own home. I felt then, for the first 
time, that I had lost Peggotty. I should have gone to bed 
with a sore heart indeed under any other roof but that which 
sheltered little Em'ly's head. 

Mr. Peggotty and Ham knew what was in my thoughts as 
well as I did, and were ready with some supper and their 
hospitable faces to drive it away. Little Em'ly came and sat 
beside me on the locker for the only time in all that visit ; 
and it was altogether a wonderful close to a wonderful day. 

It was a night tide; and soon after we went to bed, Mr. 
Peggotty and Ham went out to fish. I felt very brave at being 
left alone in the solitary house, the protector of Em'ly and 
Mrs. Gummidge, and only wished that a lion or a serpent, or 
any ill-disposed monster, would make an attack upon us, that 
I might destroy him, and cover myself with glory. But as 
nothing of the sort happened to be walking about on Yarmouth 
flats that night, I provided the best substitute I could by 
dreaming of dragons until morning. 

With morning came Peggotty ; who called to me, as usual, 
under my window as if Mr. Barkis the carrier had been from 
first to last a dream too. After breakfast she took me to her 
own home, and a beautiful little home it was. Of all the 
movables in it, I must have been most impressed by a certain 
old bureau of some dark wood in the parlor (the tile-floored 
kitchen was the general sitting-room), with a retreating top 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 161 

which opened, let down, and became a desk, within which was 
a large quarto edition of Fox's Book of Martyrs. This 
precious volume, of which I do not recollect one word, I 
immediately discovered and immediately applied myself to; 
and I never visited the house afterwards, but I kneeled on a 
chair, opened the casket where this gem was enshrined, spread 
my arms over the desk, and fell to devouring the book afresh. 
I was chiefly edified, I am afraid, by the pictures, which were 
numerous, and represented all kinds of dismal horrors ; but 
the Martyrs and Peggotty's house have been inseparable in my 
mind ever since, and are now. 

I took leave of Mr. Peggotty, and Ham, and Mrs. Gum- 
midge, and little Em'ly, that day j and passed the night at 
Peggotty's, in a little room in the roof (with the crocodile- 
book on a shelf by the bed's head), which was to be always 
mine, Peggotty said, and should always be kept for me in 
exactly the same state. 

" Young or old, Davy dear, as long as I am alive and have 
this house over my head," said Peggotty, " you shall find it as 
if I expected you here directly minute. I shall keep it every 
day, as I used to keep your old little room, my darling ; and 
if you was to go to China, you might think of it as being kept 
just the same, all the time you were away." 

I felt the truth and constancy of my dear old nurse, with all 
my heart, and thanked her as well as I could. That was not 
very well, for she spoke to me thus, with her arms round my 
neck, in the morning, and I was going home in the morning, 
and I went home in the morning, with herself and Mr. Barkis 
in the cart. They left me at the gate, not easily or lightly ; 
and it was a strange sight to me to see the cart go on, taking 
Peggotty away, and leaving me under the old elm-trees looking 
at the house in which there was no face to look on mine with 
love or liking any more. 

And now I fell into a state of neglect, which I cannot look 
back upon without compassion. I fell at once into a solitary 
condition, apart from all friendly notice, apart from the 
society of all other boys of my own age, apart from all com- 
panionship but my own spiritless thoughts, which seems to 
cast its gloom upon this paper as I write. 

VOL, I 11 



162 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

What would I have given, to have been sent to the hardest 
school that ever was kept ! to have been taught something, 
anyhow, anywhere ! No such hope dawned upon me. They 
disliked me ; and they sullenly, sternly, steadily overlooked 
me. I think Mr. Murdstone's means were straitened at about 
this time ; but it is little to the purpose. He could not bear 
me ; and in putting me from him he tried, as I believe, to put 
away the notion that I had any claim upon him and suc- 
ceeded. 

I was not actively ill-used. I was not beaten, or starved ; 
but the wrong that was done to me had no intervals of relent- 
ing, and was done in a systematic, passionless manner. Day 
after day, week after week, month after month, I was coldly 
neglected. I wonder sometimes, when I think of it, what they 
would have done if I had been taken with an illness ; whether 
I should have lain down in my lonely room, and languished 
through it in my usual solitary way, or whether anybody 
would have helped me out. 

When Mr. and Miss Murdstone were at home, I took my 
meals with them ; in their absence, I ate and drank by myself. 
At all times I lounged about the house and neighborhood 
quite disregarded, except that they were jealous of my making 
any friends : thinking, perhaps, that if I did, I might com- 
plain to some one. For this reason, though Mr. Chillip often 
asked me to go and see him (he was a widower, having, some 
years before that, lost a little small light-haired wife, whom I 
can just remember connecting in my own thoughts with a pale 
tortoise-shell cat), it was but seldom that I enjoyed the happi- 
ness of passing an afternoon in his closet of a surgery ; read- 
ing some book that was new to me, with the smell of the 
whole pharmacopoeia coming up my nose, or pounding some- 
thing in a mortar under his mild directions. 

For the same reason, added no doubt to the old dislike of 
her, I was seldom allowed to visit Peggotty. Faithful to her 
promise, she either came to see me, or met me somewhere 
near, once every week, and never empty-handed; but many 
and bitter were the disappointments I had, in being refused 
permission to pay a visit to her at her house. Some few 
times, however, at long intervals, I was allowed to go there; 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 163 

and then I found out that Mr. Barkis was something of a 
miser, or as Peggotty dutifully expressed it, was "a little 
near," and kept a heap of money in a box under his bed, 
which he pretended was only full of coats and trousers. In 
this coffer, his riches hid themselves with such a tenacious 
modesty, that the smallest instalments could only be tempted 
out by artifice ; so that Peggotty had to prepare a long and 
elaborate scheme, a very Gunpowder Plot, for every Saturday's 
expenses. 

All this time I was so conscious of the waste of any promise 
I had given, and of my being utterly neglected, that I should 
have been perfectly miserable, I have no doubt, but for the 
old books. They were my only comfort ; and I was as true 
to them as they were to me, and read them over and over I 
don't know how many times more. 

I now approach a period of my life, which I can never lose 
the remembrance of, while I remember anything: and the 
recollection of which has often, without my invocation, come 
before me like a ghost, and haunted happier times. 

I had been out one day, loitering somewhere, in the listless, 
meditative manner that my way of life engendered, when, 
turning the corner of a lane near our house, I came upon Mr. 
Murdstone walking with a gentleman. I was confused, and 
was going by them, when the gentleman cried : 

"What! Brooks!" 

" No, sir, David Copperfield," I said. 

"Don't tell me. You are Brooks," said the gentleman. 
" You are Brooks of Sheffield. That's your name." 

At these words, I observed the gentleman more attentively. 
His laugh coming to my remembrance too, I knew him to be 
Mr. Quinion, whom I had gone over to Lowestoft with Mr. 
Murdstone to see, before it is no matter I need not recall 
when. 

"And how do you get on, and where are you being edu- 
cated, Brooks ? " said Mr. Quinion. 

He had put his hand upon my shoulder, and turned me 
about, to walk with them. I did not know what to reply, and 
glanced dubiously at Mr. Murdstone. 

"He is at home at present," said the latter. "He is not 



164 THE PEE SOy AL HISTORY Ay I) EXPERIENCE 



being educated anywhere. I doirt know what to do with him. 
He is a difficult subject." 

That old, double look was on me for a moment ; and then 
his eye darkened with a frown, as it turned, in its aversion, 
elsewhere. 

" Humph ! " said Mr. Quinion, looking at us both, I thought. 
"Fine weather." 

Silence ensued, and I was considering how I could best dis- 
engage my shoulder from, his hand, and go away, when he 
said: 

" I suppose you are a pretty sharp fellow still ? Eh, 
Brooks ? " 

" Ay ! he is sharp enough," said Mr. Murdstone, impatiently. 
"You had better let him go. He will not thank you for 
troubling him." 

On this hint, Mr. Quinion released me, and I made the best 
of my way home. Looking back as I turned into the front 
garden, I saw Mr. Murdstone leaning against the wicket of the 
churchyard, and Mr. Quinion talking to him. They were both 
looking after me, and I felt that they were speaking of me. 

Mr. Quinion lay at our house that night. After breakfast, 
the next morning, I had put my chair away, and was going out 
of the room, when Mr. Murdstone called me back. He then 
gravely repaired to another table, where his sister sat herself 
at her desk. Mr. Quinion, with his hands in his pockets, stood 
looking out of window ; and I stood looking at them all. 

"David," said Mr. Murdstone, "to the young this is a 
world for action ; not for moping and droning in." 

" As you do," added his sister. 

"Jane Murdstone, leave it to me, if you please. I say, 
David, to the young this is a world for action, and not for 
moping and droning in. It is especially so for a young-boy of 
your disposition, which requires a great deal of correcting; 
and to which no greater service can be done than to force it to 
conform to the ways of the working world, and to bend it and 
break it." 

"For stubbornness won't do here," said his sister. "What 
it wants, is, to be crushed. And crushed it must be. Shall 
be, too!" 



OF DAVID COPPEBFIELD. 165 

He gave her a look, half in remonstrance, half in approval, 
and went on : 

" I suppose you know, David, that I am not rich. At any 
rate, you know it now. You have received some considerable 
education already. Education is costly ; and even if it were 
not, and I could afford it, I am of opinion that it would not be 
at all advantageous to you to be kept at a school. What is 
before you is a fight with the world ; and the sooner you begin 
it, the better." 

I think it occurred to me that I had already begun it, in my 
poor way : but it occurs to me now, whether or no. 

" You have heard ' the counting-house ' mentioned some- 
times," said Mr. Murdstone. 

" The counting-house, sir ? " I repeated. 

" Of Murdstone and Grinby, in the wine trade," he replied. 

I suppose I looked uncertain, for he went on hastily : 

" You have heard the ' counting-house ' mentioned, or the 
business, or the cellars, or the wharf, or something about it." 

" I think I have heard the business mentioned, sir," I said, 
remembering what I vaguely knew of his and his sister's 
resources. " But I don't know when." 

"It does not matter when," he returned. "Mr. Quinion 
manages that business." 

I glanced at the latter deferentially as he stood looking out 
of window. 

"Mr. Quinion suggests that it gives employment to some 
other boys, and that he sees no reason why it shouldn't, on 
the same terms, give employment to you." 

" He having," Mr. Quinion observed, in a low voice, and half 
turning round, " no other prospect, Murdstone." 

Mr. ^urdstone, with an impatient, even an angry gesture, 
resumed, without noticing what he had said : 

"Those terms are, that you will earn enough for yourself 
to provide for your eating and drinking, and pocket-money. 
Your lodging (which I have arranged for) will be paid by me. 
So will your washing " 

" Which will be kept down to my estimate,' 5 said his 
sister. 

" Your clothes will be looked : .fter for you, too," said Mr. 



166 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

Murdstone ; " as you will not be able, yet awhile, to get them 
for yourself. So you are now going to London, David, with 
Mr. Quinion, to begin the world on your own account." 

" In short, you are provided for," observed his sister ; " and 
will please to do your duty." 

Though I quite understood that the purpose of this announce- 
ment was to get rid of me, I have no distinct remembrance 
whether it pleased or frightened me. My impression is, that 
I was in a state of confusion about it, and, oscillating between 
the two points, touched neither. Xor had I much time for the 
clearing of my thoughts, as Mr. Quinion was to go upon the 
morrow. 

Behold me, on- the morrow, in a much-worn little white hat, 
with a black crape round it for my mother, a black jacket, and 
a pair of hard stiff corduroy trousers which Miss Murdstone 
considered the best armor for the legs in that fight with the 
world which was now to come off : behold me so attired, and 
with my little worldly all before me in a small trunk, sitting, 
a lone lorn child (as Mrs. Gummidge might have said), in the 
post-chaise that was carrying Mr. Quinion to the London coach 
at Yarmouth ! See, how our house and church are lessening in 
the distance ; how the grave beneath the tree is blotted out by 
intervening objects ; how the spire points upward from my old 
playground no more, and the sky is empty ! 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 167 



CHAPTEE XL 

I BEGIN LIFE ON MY OWN ACCOUNT, AND DON*T LIKE IT. 

I KNOW enough of the world now, to have almost lost the 
capacity of being much surprised by anything ; but it is mat- 
ter of some surprise to me, even now, that I can have been 
so easily thrown away at such an age. A child of excellent 
abilities, and with strong powers of observation, quick, eager, 
delicate, and soon hurt bodily or mentally, it seems wonderful 
to me that nobody should have made any sign in my behalf. 
But none was made ; and I became, at ten years old, a little 
laboring hind in the service of Murdstone and Grinby. 

Murdstone and G-rinby's warehouse was at the water side. 
It was down in Blackfriars. Modern improvements have 
altered the place ; but it was the last house at the bottom of a 
narrow street, curving down hill to the river, with some stairs 
at the end, where people took boat. It was a crazy old house 
with a wharf of its own, abutting on the water when the tide 
was in, and on the mud whrn the tide was out, and literally 
overrun with rats. Its panelled rooms, discolored with the 
dirt and smoke of a hundred years, I dare say ; its decaying 
floors and staircase ; the squeaking and scuffling of the old 
gray rats down in the cellars ; and the dirt and rottenness of 
the place ; are things, not of many years ago, in my mind, but 
of the present instant. They are all before me, just as they 
were in the evil hour when I went among them for the first 
time, with my trembling hand in Mr. Quinion's. 

Murdstone and Grinby's trade was among a good many 
kinds of people, but an important branch of it was the supply 
of wines and spirits to certain packet ships. I forget now 
where they chiefly went, but I think there were some among 
them that made voyages both to the East and West Indies. I 
know that a great many empty bottles were one of the conse- 
quences of this traffic, and that certain men and boys were 



168 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE. 

employed to examine them against the light, and reject those 
that were flawed, and to rinse and wash them. When the 
empty bottles ran short, there were labels to be pasted on full 
ones, or corks to be fitted to them, or seals to be put upon the 
corks, or finished bottles to be packed in casks. All this work 
was my work, and of the boys employed upon it I was one. 

There were three or four of us, counting me. My working 
place was established in a corner of the warehouse, where 
Mr. Quinion could see me, when he chose to stand up on the 
bottom rail of his stool in the counting-house, and look at me 
through a window above the desk. Hither, on the first morn- 
ing of my so auspiciously beginning life on my own account, 
the oldest of the regular boys was summoned to show me my 
business. His name was Mick Walker, and he wore a ragged 
apron and a paper cap. He informed me that, his father was 
a bargeman, and walked, in a black velvet head-dress, in the 
Lord Mayor's Show. He also informed me that our principal 
associate would be another boy whom he introduced by the 
to me extraordinary name of Mealy Potatoes. I discovered, 
however, that this youth had not been christened by that 
name, but that it had been bestowed upon him in the ware- 
house, on account of his complexion, which was pale or mealy. 
Mealy's father was a waterman, who had the, additional dis- 
tinction of being a fireman, and was engaged as such at one of 
the large theatres ; where some young relation of Mealy's 
I think his little sister did Imps in the Pantomimes. 

No words can express the secret agony of my soul as I sunk 
into this companionship ; compared these henceforth every-day 
associates with those of my happier childhood not to say 
with Steerforth, Traddles, and the rest of those boys ; and felt 
my hopes of growing up to be a learned and distinguished 
man crushed in my bosom. The deep remembrance of the 
sense I had, of being utterly without hope now ; of the shame 
I felt in my position ; of the misery it was to my young heart 
to believe that day by day what I had learned, and thought, 
and delighted in, and raised my fancy and my emulation up 
by, would pass away from me, little by little, never to be 
brought back any more ; cannot be written. As often as Mick 
Walker went away in the course of that forenoon, I mingled 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 169 

my tears with the water in which I was washing the bottles ; 
and sobbed as if there were a flaw in my own breast, and it 
were in danger of bursting. 

The counting-house clock was at half-past twelve, and there 
was general preparation for going to dinner, when Mr. Quinioii 
tapped at the counting-house window, and beckoned to me to 
go in. I went in, and found there a stoutish, middle-aged 
person, in a brown surtout and black tights and shoes, with no 
more hair upon his head (which was a large one, and very 
shining) than there is upon an egg, and with a very extensive 
face, which he turned full upon me. His clothes were shabby, 
but he had an imposing shirt-collar on. He carried a jaunty 
sort of a stick, with a large pair of rusty tassels to it ; and a 
quizzing-glass hung outside his coat, for ornament, I after- 
wards found, as he very seldom looked through it, and couldn't 
see anything when he did. 

" This," said Mr. Quinion, in allusion to myself, " is he." 

" This," said the stranger, with a certain condescending roll 
in his voice, and a certain indescribable air of doing something 
genteel, which impressed me very much, " is Master Copper- 
field. I hope I see you well, sir ? " 

I said I was very well, and hoped he was. I was sufficiently 
HI at ease, Heaven knows ; but it was not in my nature to 
complain much at that time of my life, so I said I was very 
well, and hoped he was. 

" I am," said the stranger,, " thank Heaven, quite well. I 
have received a letter from Mr. Murdstone, in which he men- 
tions that he would desire me to receive into an apartment in 
the rear of my house, which is at present unoccupied and is, 
in short, to be let as a in short," said the stranger, with a 
smile and in a burst of confidence, " as a bedroom the young 
beginner whom I have now the pleasure to " and the stranger 
waved his hand, and settled his chin in his shirt-collar. 

" This is Mr. Micawber," said Mr. Quinion to me. 

" Ahem ! " said the stranger, " that is my name." 

" Mr. Micawber," said Mr. Quinion, " is known to Mr. Murd- 
stone. He takes orders for us on commission, when he can 
get any. He has been written to by Mr. Murdstone, on the 
subject of your lodgings, and he will receive you as a lodger." 



170 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

"My address," said Mr. Micawber, " is Windsor Terrace, 
City Road. I in short," said Mr. Micawber, with the same 
genteel air, and in another burst of confidence "I live 
there." 

I made him a bow. 

"Under the impression," said Mr. Micawber, "that your 
peregrinations in this metropolis have not as yet been extensive, 
and that you might have some difficulty in penetrating the 
arcana of the Modern Babylon in the direction of the City 
Road in short," said Mr. Micawber, in another burst of con- 
fidence, " that you might lose yourself I shall be happy to 
call this evening, and install you in the knowledge of the 
nearest way." 

I thanked him with all my heart, for it was friendly in him 
to offer to take that trouble. 

"At what hour," said Mr. Micawber, "shall I " 

"At about eight," said Mr. Quinion. 

"At about eight," said Mr. Micawber, "I beg to wish you 
good day, Mr. Quinion. I will intrude no longer." 

So he put on his hat, and went out with his cane under his 
arm : very upright, and humming a tune when he was clear of 
the counting-house. 

Mr. Quinion then formally engaged me to be as useful as I 
could in the warehouse of Murdstone and Grinby, at a salary, 
I think, of six shillings a week. I am not clear whether 
it was six or seven. I am inclined to believe, from my 
uncertainty on this head, that it was six at first and seven 
afterwards. He paid me a week down (from his own pocket, 
I believe), and I gave Mealy sixpence out of it to get my trunk 
carried to Windsor Terrace at night : it being too heavy for 
my strength, small as it was. I paid sixpence more for my 
dinner, which was a meat pie and a turn at a neighboring 
pump ; and passed the hour which was allowed for that meal, 
in^ walking about the streets. 

At the appointed time in the evening, Mr. Micawber 
reappeared. I washed my hands and face, to do the greater 
honor to his gentility, and we walked to our house, as I 
suppose I must now call it, together ; Mr. Micawber impressing 
the names of streets, and the shapes of corner houses upon 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 171 

me, as we went along, that I might find my way back easily, 
in the morning. 

Arrived at his house in Windsor Terrace (which I noticed 
was shabby like himself, but also, like himself, made all the 
show it could), he presented me to Mrs. Micawber, a thin and 
faded lady, not at all young, who was sitting in the parlor 
(the first floor was altogether unfurnished, and the blinds 
were kept down to delude the neighbors), with a baby at her 
breast. This baby was one of twins ; and I may remark here 
that I hardly ever, in all my experience of the family, saw 
both the twins detached from Mrs. Micawber at the same 
time. One of them was always taking refreshment. 

There were two other children; Master Micawber, aged 
about four, and Miss Micawber, aged about three. These, and 
a dark-complexioned young woman, with a habit of snorting, 
who was servant to the family, and informed me, before half- 
an-hour had expired, that she was " a Orfling," and came from 
St. Luke's workhouse, in the neighborhood, completed the 
establishment. My room was at the top of the house, at the 
back ; a close chamber ; stencilled all over with an ornament 
which my young imagination represented as a blue muffin ; 
and very scantily furnished. 

" I never thought," said Mrs. Micawber when she came up, 
twin and all, to show me the apartment, and sat down to take 
breath, "before I was married, when I lived with papa and 
mamma, that I should ever find it necessary to take a lodger. 
But Mr. Micawber being in difficulties, all considerations of 
private feeling must give way." 

I said: "Yes, Ma'am." 

"Mr. Micawber's difficulties are almost overwhelming just 
at present," said Mrs. Micawber ; " and whether it is possible 
to bring him through them, I don't know. When I lived at 
home with papa and mamma, I really should have hardly 
understood what the word meant, in the sense in which I now 
employ it, but experientia does it as papa used to say." 

I cannot satisfy myself whether she told me that Mr. 
Micawber had been an officer in the Marines, or whether I 
have imagined it. I only know that I believe to this hour 
that he was in the Marines once upon a time, without knowing 



172 THE PEESONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

why. He was a sort of town traveller for a number of mis- 
cellaneous houses, now ; but made little or nothing of it, I am 
afraid. 

" If Mr. Micawber's creditors will not give him time," said 
Mrs. Micawber, " they must take the consequences ; and the 
sooner they bring it to an issue the better Blood cannot be 
obtained from a stone, neither can anything on account be 
obtained at present (not to mention law expenses) from Mr. 
Micawber." 

I never can quite understand whether my precocious self- 
dependence confused Mrs. Micawber in reference to my age, 
or whether she was so full of the subject that she would have 
talked about it to the very twins if there had been nobody 
else to communicate with, but this was the strain in which 
she began, aud she went on accordingly all the time I knew 
her. 

Poor Mrs. Micawber! She said she had tried to exert her- 
self; and so, I have no doubt, she had. The centre of the 
street-door was perfectly covered with a great brass-plate, on 
which was engraved "Mrs. Micawber's Boarding Establish- 
ment for Young Ladies ; " but I never found that any young 
lady had ever been to school there ; or that any young lady 
ever came, or proposed to come ; or that the least preparation 
was ever made to receive any young lady. The only visitors 
I ever saw or heard of, were creditors. They used to come at 
all hours, and some of them were quite ferocious. One dirty- 
faced man, I think he was a boot-maker, used to edge himself 
into the passage as early as seven o'clock in the morning, and 
call up the stairs to Mr. Micawber " Come ! You ain't out 
yet, you know. Pay us, will you ? Don't hide, you know ; 
that's mean. I wouldn't be mean if I was you. Pay us, will 
you ? You just pay us, d'ye hear ? Come ! " Receiving no 
answer to these taunts, he would mount in his wrath to the 
words "swindlers" and "robbers;" and these being ineffec- 
tual too, would sometimes go to the extremity of crossing the 
street, and roaring up at the windows of the second floor, 
where he knew Mr. Micawber was. At these times, Mr. 
Micawber would be transported with grief and mortification, 
even to the length (as I was once made aware by a scream 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 173 

from Ms wife) of making motions at himself with a razor; 
but within half an hour afterwards, he would polish up his 
shoes with extraordinary pains, and go out, humming a tune 
with a greater air of gentility than ever. Mrs. Micawber was 
quite as elastic. I have known her to be thrown into fainting 
fits by the king's taxes at three o'clock, and* to eat lamb- 
chops, breaded, and drink warm ale (paid for with two tea- 
spoons that had gone to the pawnbroker's) at four. On one 
occasion, when an execution had just been put in, coming 
home through some chance as early as six o'clock, I saw her 
lying (of course with a twin) under the grate in a swoon, with 
her hair all torn about her face ; but I never knew her more 
cheerful than she was, that very same night, over a veal- 
cutlet before the kitchen fire, telling me stories about her 
papa and mamma, and the company they used to keep. 

In this house, and with this family, I passed my leisure 
time. My own exclusive breakfast of a penny loaf and a 
pennyworth of milk, I provided myself ; I kept another small 
loaf, and a modicum of cheese, on a particular shelf of a par- 
ticular cupboard, to make my supper on when I came back at 
night. This made a hole in the six or seven shillings, I know 
well ; and I was out at the warehouse all day, and had to sup- 
port myself on that money all the week. From Monday morn- 
ing until Saturday night, I had no advice, no counsel, no 
encouragement, no consolation, no assistance, no support, of 
any kind, from any one, that I can call to mind, as I hope to 
go to Heaven ! 

I was so young and childish, and so little qualified how 
could I be otherwise ? to undertake the whole charge of my 
own existence, that often, in going to Murdstone and Grinby's, 
of a morning, I could not resist the stale pastry put out for 
sale at half-price at the pastrycooks' doors, and spent in that 
the money I should have kept for my dinner. Then, I went 
without my dinner, or bought a roll or a slice of pudding. I 
remember two pudding-shops between which I was divided, 
according to my finances. One was in a court close to St. 
Martin's Church, at the back of the church, which is now 
removed altogether. The pudding at that shop was made of 
currants, and was rather a special pudding, but was dear, two- 



174 

pennyworth not being larger than a pennyworth of more ordi- 
nary pudding. A good shop for the latter was in the Strand 
somewhere in that part which has been rebuilt since. It 
was a stout pale pudding, heavy and flabby, and with great 
flat raisins in it, stuck in whole at wide distances apart. It 
came up hot at about my time every day, and many a day did 
I dine off it. When I dined regularly and handsomely, I had 
a^aveloy and a penny-loaf, or a fourpenny plate of red beef 
from a cook's shop ; or a plate of bread and cheese and a glass 
of beer, from a miserable old public-house opposite our place 
of business, called the Lion, or the Lion and something else 
that I have forgotten. Once, I remember carrying my own 
bread (which I had brought from home in the morning) under 
my arm, wrapped in a piece of paper, like a book, and going 
to a famous alamode beef-house near Drury Lane, and order- 
ing a "small plate" of that delicacy to eat with it. What 
the waiter thought of such a strange little apparition coining 
in all alone, I don't know ; but I can see him now, staring at 
me as I ate my dinner, and bringing up the other waiter to 
look. I gave him a halfpenny for himself, and I wish he 
hadn't taken it. 

We had half-an-hour, I think, for tea. When I had money 
enough, I used to get half-a-pint of ready-made coffee and a 
slice of bread and butter. When I had none, I used to look 
at a venison-shop in Fleet Street ; or I have strolled, at such 
a time, as far as Covent Garden Market, and stared at the 
pineapples. I was fond of wandering about the Adelphi, be- 
cause it was a mysterious place, with those dark arches. I see 
myself emerging one evening from some of these arches, on a 
little public-house close to the river, with an open space before 
it, where some coal-heavers were dancing ; to look at whom 
I sat down upon a bench. I wonder what they thought of 
me ! 

I was such a child, and so little, that frequently when I 
went into the bar of a strange public-house for a glass of ale 
or porter, to moisten what I had had for dinner, they were 
afraid to give it me. I remember one hot evening I went into 
the bar of a public-house, and said to the landlord : 

" What is your best your very best ale a glass ? " For 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 175 

it was a special occasion. I don't know what. It may have 
been my birthday. 

" Twopence-halfpenny/' says the landlord, " is the price of 
the Genuine Stunning ale." 

" Then/' says I, producing the money, " just draw me a 
glass of the Genuine Stunning, if you please, with a good head 
to it." 

The landlord looked at me in return over the bar, from 
head to foot, with a strange smile on his face ; and instead of 
drawing the beer, looked round the screen and said something 
to his wife. She came out from behind it, with her work in 
her hand, and joined him in surveying me. Here we stand, 
all three, before me now. The landlord in his shirt sleeves, 
leaning against the bar window-frame ; his wife looking over 
the little half-door ; and I, in some confusion, looking up at 
them from outside the partition. They asked me a good many 
questions ; as, what my name was, how old I was, where I 
lived, how I was employed, and how I came there. To all of 
which, that I might commit nobody, I invented, I am afraid, 
appropriate answers. They served me with the ale, though I 
suspect it was not the Genuine Stunning; and the landlord's 
wife, opening the little half -door of the bar, and bending down, 
gave me my money back, and gave me a kiss that was half 
admiring, and half compassionate, but all womanly and good, 
I am sure. 

I know I do not exaggerate, unconsciously and uninten- 
tionally, the scantiness of my resources or the difficulties of 
my life. I know that if a shilling were given me by Mr. 
Quinion at any time, I spent it in a dinner or a tea. I know 
that I worked from morning until night, with common men 
and boys, a shabby child. I know that I lounged about the 
streets, insufficiently and unsatisfactorily fed. I know that 
but for the mercy of God, I might easily have been, for any 
care that was taken of me, a little robber or a little vagabond. 

Yet I held some station at Murdstone and Grinby's too. 
Besides that Mr. Quinion did what a careless man so occupied, 
and dealing with a thing so anomalous, could, to treat me as 
one upon a different footing from the rest, I never said, to 
man or boy, how it was that I came to be there, or gave the 



176 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

least indication of being sorry that I was there. That I suf. 
fered in secret, and that I suffered exquisitely, no one ever 
knew but I. How much I suffered, it is, as I have said 
already, utterly beyond my power to tell. But I kept my own 
counsel, and I did my work. I knew from the first, that, if I 
could not do my work as well as any of the rest, I could not 
hold myself above slight and contempt. I soon became at 
least as expeditious and as skilful as either of the other boys. 
Though perfectly familiar with them, my conduct and manner 
were different enough from theirs to place a space between us. 
They and the men generally spoke of me as "the little gent," 
or "the young Suffolker." A certain man named Gregory, 
who was foreman of the packers, and another named Tipp, 
who was the carman, and wore a red jacket, used to address 
me sometimes as " David : " but I think it was mostly when 
we were very confidential, and when I had made some efforts 
to entertain them, over our work, with some results of the old 
readings which were fast perishing out of my remembrance. 
Mealy Potatoes uprose once, and rebelled against my being so 
distinguished; but Mick Walker settled him in no time. 

My rescue from this kind of existence I considered quite 
hopeless, and abandoned, as such, altogether. I am solemnly 
convinced that I never for one hour was reconciled to it, or 
was otherwise than miserably unhappy ; but I bore it ; and 
even to Peggotty, partly for the love of her and partly for 
shame, never in any letter (though many passed between us) 
revealed the truth. 

Mr. Micawber's difficulties were an addition to the distressed 
state of my mind. In my forlorn state I became quite attached 
to the family, and used to walk about, busy with Mrs. Micaw- 
ber's calculations of ways and means, and heavy with the 
weight of Mr. Micawber's debts. On a Saturday night, which 
was my grand treat, partly because it was a great thing to 
walk home with six or seven shillings in my pocket, looking 
into the shops and thinking what such a sum would buy, and 
partly because I went home early, Mrs. Micawber would make 
the most heart-rending confidences to me ; also on a Sunday 
morning, when I mixed the portion of tea or coffee I had 
bought over-night, in a little shaving-pot, and sat late at my 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 177 

breakfast. It was nothing at all unusual for Mr. Micawber to 
sob violently at the beginning of one of these Saturday night 
conversations, and sing about Jack's delight being his lovely 
Nan, towards the end of it. I have known him come home 
to supper with a flood of tears, and a declaration that nothing 
was now left but a jail; and go to bed making a calculation of 
the expense of putting bow-windows to the house, "in case 
anything turned up," which was his favorite expression. And 
Mrs. Micawber was just the same. 

A curious equality of friendship, originating, I suppose, in 
our respective circumstances, sprung up between me and these 
people notwithstanding the ludicrous disparity in our years. 
But I never allowed myself to be prevailed upon to accept 
any invitation to eat and drink with them out of their stock 
(knowing that 'they got on badly with the butcher and baker, 
and had often not too much for themselves), until Mrs. Micaw- 
ber took me into her entire confidence. This she did one 
evening as follows : 

"Master Copperfield," said Mrs. Micawber, "I make no 
stranger of you, and therefore do not hesitate to say that Mr. 
Micawber's difficulties are coming to a crisis." 

It made me very miserable to hear it, and I looked at Mrs. 
Micawber's red eyes with the utmost sympathy. 

"With the exception of the heel of a Dutch cheese which 
is not adapted to the wants of a young family " said Mrs. 
Micawber, "there is really not a scrap of anything in the 
larder. I was accustomed to speak of the larder when I lived 
with papa and mamma, and I used the word almost uncon- 
sciously. What I mean to express, is, that there is nothing 
to eat in the house." 

" Dear me ! " I said, in great concern. 

I had two or three shillings of my week's money in my 
pocket from which I presume that it must have been on 
a Wednesday night when we held this conversation and I 
hastily produced them, and with heartfelt emotion begged 
Mrs. Micawber to accept them as a loan. But that lady, kiss- 
ing me, and making me put them back in my pocket, replied 
that she couldn't think of it. 

"No, my dear Master Copperfield," said she, "far be it 
VOL. i 12 



178 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

from my thoughts ! But you have a discretion beyond your 
years, and can render me another kind of service, if you will j 
and a service I will thankfully accept of." 

I begged Mrs. Micawber to name it. 

" I have parted with the plate myself," said Mrs. Micawber. 
" Six tea, two salt, and a pair of sugars, I have at different 
times borrowed money on, in secret, with my own hands. But 
the twins are a great tie ; and to me, with my recollections of 
papa and mamma, these transactions are very painful. There 
are still a few trifles that we could part with. Mr. Micawber's 
feelings would never allow him to dispose of them ; and 
Clickett " this was the girl from the workhouse " being 
of a vulgar mind, would take painful liberties if so much con- 
fidence was reposed in her. Master Copperfield, if I might 
ask you " 

I understood Mrs. Micawber now, and begged her to make 
use of me to any extent. I began to dispose of the more port- 
able articles of property that very evening ; and went out on 
a similar expedition almost every morning, before I went to 
Murdstone and Grinby's. 

Mr. Micawber had a few books on a little chiffonier, which 
he called the library ; and those went first. I carried them, 
one after another, to a bookstall in the City-road one part 
of which, near our house, was almost all bookstalls and bird- 
shops then and sold them for whatever they would bring. 
The keeper of this bookstall who lived in a little house behind 
it, used to get tipsy every night, and to be violently scolded 
by his wife every morning. More than once, when I went 
there early, I had audience of him in a turn-up bedstead, 
with a cut in his forehead or a black eye, bearing witness to 
his excesses over night (I am afraid he was quarrelsome in 
his drink), and he, with a shaking hand, endeavoring to find 
the needful shillings in one or other of the pockets of his 
clothes, which lay upon the floor, while his wife, with a baby 
in her arms and her shoes down at heel, never left off rating 
him. Sometimes he had lost his money, and then he would 
ask me to call again ; but his wife had alwaj'S got some had 
taken his, I dare say, while he was drunk and secretly com- 
pleted the bargain on the stairs, as we went down together. 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 179 

*t the pawnbroker's shop, too, I began to be very well 
known. The principal gentleman who officiated behind the 
counter, took a good deal of notice of me ; and often got me, I 
recollect, to decline a Latin noun or adjective, or to conjugate 
a Latin verb, in his ear, while he transacted my business. 
After all these occasions Mrs. Micawber made a little treat, 
which was generally a supper ; and there was a peculiar relish 
in these meals which I well remember. 

At last Mr. Micawber's difficulties came to a crisis, and he 
was arrested arly one morning, and carried over to the King's 
Bench Prison in the Borough. He told me, as he went out of 
the house, that the God of day had now gone down upon him 
and I really thought his heart was broken and mine too. 
But I heard, afterwards, that he was seen to play a lively 
game of skittles, before noon. 

On the first Sunday after he was taken there, I was to go 
and see him, and have dinner with him. I was to ask my 
way to such a place, and just short of that place I should see 
such another place, and just short of that I should see a yard, 
which I was to cross, and keep straight on until I saw a turn- 
key. All this I did ; and when at last I did see a turnkey 
(poor little fellow that I was !), and thought how, when Rod- 
erick Random was in a debtors' prison, there was a man there 
with nothing on him but an old rug, the turnkey swam before 
my dimmed eyes and my beating heart. 

Mr. Micawber was waiting for me within the gate, and we 
went up to his room (top story but one), and cried very much. 
He solemnly conjured me, I remember, to take warning by 
his fate ; and to observe that if a man had twenty pounds 
a-year for his income, and spent nineteen pounds nineteen 
shillings and sixpence, he would be happy, but that if he spent 
twenty pounds one he would be miserable. After which he 
borrowed a shilling of me for porter, gave me a written order 
on Mrs. Micawber for the amount, and put away his pocket- 
handkerchief, and cheered up. 

We sat before a little fire, with two bricks put within the 
rusted grate, one on each side, to prevent its burning too many 
coals ; until another debtor, who shared the room with Mr. 
Micawber, came in from the bakehouse with the loin of mutton 



180 THE PEE SON AL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

which was our joint-stock repast. Then I was sent up to 
" Captain Hopkins " in the room overhead, with Mr. Micaw- 
ber's compliments, and I was his young friend, and would 
Captain Hopkins lend me a knife and fork. 

Captain Hopkins lent me the knife and fork, with his com- 
pliments to Mr. Micawber. There was a very dirty lady in 
his little room, and two wan girls, his daughters, with shock 
heads of hair. I thought it was better to borrow Captain Hop- 
kins's knife and fork, than Captain Hopkins's comb. The cap- 
tain himself was in the last extremity of shabbiness, with 
large whiskers, and an old, old brown greatcoat with no other 
coat below it. I saw his bed rolled up in a corner ; and what 
plates and dishes and pots he had, on a shelf ; and I divined 
(God knows how) that though the two girls with the shock 
heads of hair were Captain Hopkins's children, the dirty lady 
was not married to Captain Hopkins. My timid station on 
his threshold was not occupied more than a couple of minutes 
at most ; but I came down again with all this in my knowl- 
edge, as surely as the knife and fork were in my hand. 

There was something gipsy-like and agreeable in the dinner, 
after all. I took back Captain Hopkins's knife and fork early 
in the afternoon, and went home to comfort Mrs. Micawber 
with an account of my visit. She fainted when she saw me 
return, and made a little jug of egg-hot afterwards to console 
us while we talked it over. 

I don't know how the household furniture came to be sold 
for the family benefit, or who sold it, except that / did not. 
Sold it was, however, and carried away in a van ; except the 
beds, a few chairs, and the kitchen table. With these posses- 
sions we encamped, as it were, in the two parlors of the 
emptied house in Windsor Terrace ; Mrs. Micawber, the chil- 
dren, the Orfling, and myself ; and lived in those rooms night 
and day. I have no idea for how long, though it seems to me 
for a long time. At last Mrs. Micawber resolved to move into 
the prison, where Mr. Micawber had now secured a room to 
himself. So I took the key of the house to the landlord, who 
was very glad to get it ; and the beds were sent over to the 
King's Bench, except mine, for which a little room was hired 
outside the walls in the neighborhood of that Institution, very 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 181 

much, to my satisfaction, since the Micawbers and I had 
become too used to one another, in our troubles, to part. The 
Orfling was likewise accommodated with an inexpensive lodg- 
ing in the same neighborhood. Mine was a quiet back-garret 
with a sloping roof, commanding a pleasant prospect of a tim- 
ber-yard ; and when I took possession of it, with the reflection 
that Mr. Micawber's troubles had come to a crisis at last, I 
thought it quite a paradise. 

All this time I was working at Murdstone and Grinby's in 
the same common way, and with the same common companions, 
and with the same sense of unmerited degradation as at first. 
But 1 never, happily for me no doubt, made a single acquaint- 
ance, or spoke to any of the many boys whom I saw daily in going 
to the warehouse, in coming from it, and in prowling about the 
streets at meal-times. I led the same secretly unhappy life ; 
but I led it. in the same lonely, self-reliant manner. The only 
changes I am conscious of are, first, that I had grown more 
shabby, and secondly, that I was now relieved of much of the 
weight of Mr. and Mrs. Micawber's cares ; for some relatives 
or friends had engaged to help them at their present pass, and 
they lived more comfortably in the prison than they had lived 
for a long while out of it. I used to breakfast with them now, 
in virtue of some arrangement, of which I have forgotten the 
details. I forget, too, at what hour the gates were opened in 
the morning, admitting of my going in ; but I know that I was 
often up at six o'clock, and that my favorite lounging-place in 
the interval was old London Bridge, where I was wont to sit 
in one of the stone recesses, watching the people going by, or to 
look over the balustrades at the sun shining in the water, and 
lighting up the golden flame on the top of the Monument. 
The Orfling met me here sometimes, to be told some astonish- 
ing fictions respecting the wharves and the Tower 5 of which I 
can say no more than that I hope I believed them myself. In 
the evening I used to go back to the prison, and walk up and 
down the parade with Mr. Micawber ; or play casino with Mrs. 
Micawber, and hear reminiscences of her papa and mamma. 
Whether Mr. Murdstone knew where I was, I am unable to 
say. I never told them at Murdstone and Grinby's. 

Mr. Micawber's affairs, although past their crisis, were very 



182 

much involved by reason of a certain " Deed," of which I used 
to hear a great deal, and which I suppose now, to have been 
some former composition with his creditors, though I was so 
far from being clear about it then, that I am conscious of hav- 
ing confounded it with those demoniacal parchments which 
are held to have, once upon a time, obtained to a great^ extent 
in Germany. At last this document appeared to be got out of 
the way, somehow ; at all events, it ceased to be the rock 
a-head it had been ; and Mrs. Micawber informed me that " her 
family" had decided that Mr. Micawber should apply for his 
release under the Insolvent Debtors' Act, which would set him 
free, she expected, in about six weeks. 

" And then," said Mr. Micawber, who was present, " I have 
no doubt I shall, please Heaven, begin to be beforehand with 
the world, and to live in a perfectly new manner, if in 
short, if anything turns up." 

By way of going in for anything that might be on the cards, 
I call to mind that Mr. Micawber, about this time, composed 
a petition to the House of Commons, praying for an alteration 
in the law of imprisonment for debt. I set down this remem- 
brance here, because it is an instance to myself of the manner 
in which I fitted my old books to my altered life, and made 
stories for myself, out of the streets, and out of men and 
women ; and how some main points in the character I shall 
unconsciously develop, I suppose, in writing my life, were 
gradually forming all this while. 

There was a club in the prison, in which Mr. Micawber, as 
a gentleman, was a great authority. Mr. Micawber had stated 
his idea of this petition to the club, and the club had strongly 
approved of the same. Wherefore Mr. Micawber (who was a 
thoroughly good-natured man, and as active a creature about 
everything but his own affairs as ever existed, and never so 
happy as when he was busy about something that could never 
be of any profit to him) set to work at the petition, invented 
it, engrossed it on an immense sheet of paper, spread it out on 
a table, and appointed a time for all the club, and all within 
the walls if they chose, to come up to his room and sign it. 

When I heard of this approaching ceremony, I was so 
anxious to see them all come in, one after another, though I 



OF DAVITS COPPEEFIELD. 183 

knew the greater part of them already, and they me, that I 
got an hour's leave of absence from Murdstone and Grinby's, 
and established myself in a corner for that purpose. As many 
of the principal members of the club as could be got into the 
small room without filling it, supported Mr. Micawber in front 
of the petition, while my old friend Captain Hopkins (who had 
washed himself, to do honor to so solemn an occasion) stationed 
himself close to it, to read it to all who were unacquainted 
with its contents. The door was then thrown open, and the 
general population began to come in, in a long file ; several 
waiting outside, while one entered, affixed his signature, and 
went out. To everybody in succession, Captain Hopkins said : 
" Have you read it ? " " No." " Would you like to hear it 
read ? " If he weakly showed the least disposition to hear it, 
Captain Hopkins, in a loud sonorous voice, gave him every 
word of it. The Captain would have read it twenty thousand 
times, if twenty thousand people would have heard him, one by 
one. I remember a certain luscious roll he gave to such phrases 
as " The people's representatives in parliament assembled," 
"Your petitioners therefore humbly approach your honorable 
house," " His gracious Majesty's unfortunate subjects," as if 
the words were something real in his mouth, and delicious to 
taste ; Mr. Micawber, meanwhile, listening with a little of an 
author's vanity, and contemplating (not severely) the spikes 
on the opposite wall. 

As I walked to and fro daily between Southwark and Black- 
frairs, and lounged about at meal-times in obscure streets, the 
stones of which may, for anything I know, be worn at this 
moment by my childish feet, I wonder how many of these 
people were wanting in the crowd that used to come filing 
before me in review again, to the echo of Captain Hopkins's 
voice ! When my thoughts go back now, to that slow agony 
of my youth, I wonder how much of the histories I invented 
for such people hangs like a mist of fancy over well-remem- 
bered facts ! When I tread the old ground, I do not wonder 
that I seem to see and pity, going on before me, an innocent, 
romantic boy, making his imaginative world out of such 
strange experiences and sordid things. 



184 THE PEE SON AL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE' 



CHAPTER XII. 

LIKING LIFE ON MY OWN ACCOUNT NO BETTER, I FORM A 

GREAT RESOLUTION. 

IN due time Mr. Micawber's petition was ripe for hearing ; 
and that gentleman was ordered to be discharged under the 
Act, to my great joy. His creditors were not implacable ; 
and Mrs. Micawber informed me that even the revengeful 
boot-maker had declared in open court that he bore him no 
malice, but th^t when money was owing to him he liked to 
be paid. He said he thought it was human nature. 

Mr. Micawber returned to the King's Bench when his case 
was over, as some fees were to be settled, and some formalities 
observed, before he could be actually released. The club 
received him with transport, and held an harmonic meeting 
that evening in his honor ; while Mrs. Micawber and I had 
a lamb's fry in private, surrounded by the sleeping family. 

" On such an occasion I will give you, Master Copperfield," 
said Mrs. Micawber, " in a little more flip," for we had been 
having some already, "the memory of my papa and mamma. ' 

"Are they dead, ma'am?" I inquired, after drinking th<* 
toast in a wineglass. 

" My mamma departed this life," said Mrs. Micawber, " before 
Mr. Micawber's difficulties commenced, or at least before the] 
became pressing. My papa lived to bail Mr. Micawber several 
times, and then expired, regretted by a numerous circle." 

Mrs. Micawber shook her head, and dropped a pious tear 
upon the twin who happened to be in hand. 

As I could hardly hope for a more favorable opportunity 
of putting a question in which I had a near interest, I said to 
Mrs. Micawber : 

" May I ask, ma'am, what you and Mr. Micawber intend to 
do, now that Mr. Micawber is out of difficulties and at liberty ? 
Have you settled yet ? " 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 185 

" My family," said Mrs. Micawber, who always said those 
two words with an air, though I never could discover who 
came under the denomination, " my family are of opinion that 
Mr. Micawber should quit London, and exert his talents in 
the country. Mr. Micawber is a man of great talent, Master 
Copperfield." 

I said I was sure of that. 

"Of great talent," repeated Mrs. Micawber. "My family 
are of opinion, that, with a little interest, something might 
be done for a man of his ability in the Custom House. The 
influence of my family being local, it is their wish that Mr. 
Micawber should go down to Plymouth. They think it indis- 
pensable that he should be upon the spot." 

" That he may be ready ? " I suggested. 

"Exactly," returned Mrs. Micawber. "That he may be 
ready in case of anything turning up." 

" And do you go too, ma'am ? " 

The events of the day, in combination with the twins, if not 
with the flip, had made Mrs. Micawber hysterical, and she 
shed tears as she replied : 

"I never will desert Mr. Micawber. Mr. Micawber may 
have concealed his difficulties from me in the first instance, 
but his sanguine temper may have led him to expect that he 
would overcome them. The pearl necklace and bracelets which 
I inherited from mamma, have been disposed of for less than 
half their value ; and the set of coral, which was the wedding 
gift of my papa, has been actually thrown away for nothing. 
But I never will desert Mr. Micawber. No ! " cried Mrs. 
Micawber, more affected than before, "I never will do it! 
It's of no use asking me ! " 

I felt quite uncomfortable as if Mrs. Micawber supposed 
I had asked her to do anything of the sort ! and sat looking 
at her in alarm. 

" Mr. Micawber has his faults. I do not deny that he is 
improvident. I do not deny that he has kept me in the dark 
as to his resources and his liabilities, both, " she went on, 
looking at the wall ; " but I never will desert Mr. Micawber ! " 

Mrs. Micawber having now raised her voice into a perfect 
scream, I was so frightened that I ran off to the club-room 



186 THE PEE SON AL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

and disturbed Mr. Micawber in the act of presiding at a long 
table, and leading the chorus of 

Gee up, Dobbin, 

Gee ho, Dobbin, 

Gee up, Dobbin, 

Gee up, and gee ho o o ! 

with the tidings that Mrs. Micawber was in an alarming 
state, upon which he immediately burst into tears, and came 
away with me with his waistcoat full of the heads and tails of 
shrimps, of which he had been partaking. 

" Emma, my angel ! " cried Mr. Micawber, running into 
the room ; " what is the matter ? " 

" I never will desert you, Micawber ! " she exclaimed. 

" My life'! " said Mr. Micawber, taking her in his arms, " I 
am perfectly aware of it." 

" He is the parent of my children ! He is the father of 
my twins ! He is the husband of my aif ections," cried Mrs. 
Micawber, struggling ; " and I ne ver will desert Mr. 
Micawber ! " 

Mr. Micawber was so deeply affected by this proof of her 
devotion (as to me, I was dissolved in tears), that he hung 
over her in a passionate manner, imploring her to look up, and 
to be calm. But the more he asked Mrs. Micawber to look 
up, the more she fixed her eyes on nothing ; and the more he 
asked her to compose herself, the more she wouldn't. Conse- 
quently Mr. Micawber was soon so overcome, that he mingled 
his tears with hers and mine ; until he begged me to do him 
the favor of taking a chair on the staircase, while he got her 
into bed. I would have taken my leave for the night, but he 
would not hear of my doing that until the strangers' bell 
should ring. So I sat at the staircase window, until he came 
out with another chair and joined me. 

" How is Mrs. Micawber now, sir ? " I said. 

"Very low," said Mr. Micawber, shaking his head; "reac- 
tion. Ah, this has been a dreadful day ! We stand alone now 

everything has gone from us ! " 

Mr. Micawber pressed my hand, and groaned, and after- 
wards shed tears. I was greatly touched, and disappointed 
too, for I had expected that we should be quite gay on 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 187 

this happy and long-looked for occasion. But Mr. and Mrs. 
Micawber were so used to their old difficulties, I think, that 
they felt quite shipwrecked when they came to consider 
that they were released from them. All their elasticity was 
departed, and I never saw them half so wretched as on this 
night ; insomuch that when the bell rang, and Mr. Micawber 
walked with me to the lodge, and parted from me there with 
a blessing, I felt quite afraid to leave him by himself, he was 
so profoundly miserable. 

But through all the confusion and lowness of spirits in 
which he had been, so unexpectedly to me, involved, I plainly 
discerned that Mr. and Mrs. Micawber and their family were 
going away from London, and that a parting between us was 
near at hand. -It was in my walk home that night, and in 
the sleepless hours which followed when I lay in bed, that the 
thought first occurred to me though I don't know how it 
came into my head which afterwards shaped itself into a 
settled resolution. 

I had grown to be so accustomed to the Micawbers, and had 
been so intimate with them in their distresses, and was so 
utterly friendless without them, that the prospect of being 
thrown upon some new shift for a lodging, and going once 
more among unknown people, was like being that moment 
turned adrift into my present life, with such a knowledge of 
it ready made, as experience had given me. All the sensitive 
feelings it wounded so cruelly, all the shame and misery it 
kept alive within my breast, became more poignant as I 
thought of this ; and I determined that the life was unen- 
durable. 

That there was no hope of escape from it, unless the escape 
was my own act, I knew quite well. I rarely heard from 
Miss Murdstone, and never from Mr. Murdstone : but two or 
three parcels of made or mended clothes had come up for me, 
consigned to Mr. Quinion, and in each there was a scrap of 
paper to the effect that J. M. trusted D. C. was applying him- 
self to business, and devoting himself wholly to his duties 
not the least hint of my ever being anything else than the 
common drudge into which I was fast settling down. 

The very next day showed me, while my mind was in the 



188 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

first agitation of what it had conceived, that Mrs. Micawber 
had not spoken of their going away without warrant. They 
took a lodging in the house where I lived, for a week ; at the 
expiration of which time they were to start for Plymouth. 
Mr. Micawber himself came down to the counting-house, ip 
the afternoon, to tell Mr. Quinion that he must relinquish me 
on the day of his departure, and to give me a high character, 
which I am sure I deserved. And Mr. Quinion, calling in 
Tipp the carman, who was a married man, and had a room to 
let, quartered me prospectively on him by our mutual 
consent, as he had every reason to think ; for I said nothing, 
though my resolution was now taken. 

I passed my evenings with Mr. and Mrs. Micawber, during 
the remaining term of our residence under the same roof ; and 
I think we became fonder of one another as the time went on. 
On the last Sunday, they invited me to dinner ; and we had 
a loin of pork and apple sauce, and a pudding. I had bought 
a spotted wooden horse over-night as a parting gift to little 
Wilkins Micawber that was the boy and a doll for little 
Emma. I had also bestowed a shilling on the Orfling, who 
was about to be disbanded. 

We had a very pleasant day, though we were all in a tender 
state about our approaching separation. 

"I shall never, Master Copperfield," said Mrs. Micawber, 
" revert to the period when Mr. Micawber was in difficulties, 
without thinking of you. Your conduct has always been of 
the most delicate and obliging description. You have never 
been a lodger. You have been a friend." 

"My dear," said Mr. Micawber; "Copperfield," for so he 
had been accustomed to call me of late, "has a heart to feel 
for the distresses of his fellow creatures when they are behind 
a cloud, and a head to plan, and a hand to in short, a gen- 
eral ability to dispose of such available property as could be 
made away with." 

I expressed my sense of this commendation, and said I was 
very sorry we were going to lose one another. 

"My dear young friend," said Mr. Micawber, "I am older 
than you ; a man of some experience in life, and and of 
some experience, in short, in difficulties, generally speaking. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 189 

At present, and until something turns up (which I am, I may 
say, hourly expecting), I have nothing to bestow but advice. 
Still my advice is so far worth taking that in short, that I 
have never taken it myself, and am the " here Mr. Micawber, 
who had been beaming and smiling, all over his head and face, 
up to the present moment, checked himself and frowned 
"the miserable wretch you behold." 

" My dear Micawber ! " urged his wife. 

" I say/ 7 returned Mr. Micawber, quite forgetting himself, 
and smiling again, "the miserable wretch you behold. My 
advice is, never do to-morrow what you can do to-day. Pro- 
crastination is the thief of time. Collar him." 

" My poor papa's maxim," Mrs. Micawber observed. 

" My dear," said Mr. Micawber, " your papa was very well 
in his way, and Heaven forbid that I should disparage him. 
Take him for all in all, we ne'er shall in short, make the 
acquaintance, probably, of anybody else possessing, at his 
time of life, the same legs for gaiters, and able to read the 
same description of print, without spectacles. But he applied 
that maxim to our marriage, my dear ; and that was so far 
prematurely entered into, in consequence, that I never re- 
covered the expense." 

Mr. Micawber looked aside at Mrs. Micawber, and added : 
"Not that I am sorry for it. Quite the contrary, my love." 
After which he was grave for a minute or so. 

"My other piece of advice, Copperfield," said Mr. Micawber, 
" you know. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expendi- 
ture nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income 
twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds aught and 
six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is 
withered, the God of day goes down upon the dreary scene, 
and and in short you are for ever floored. As I am ! " 

To make his example the more impressive, Mr. Micawber 
drank a glass of punch with an air of great enjoyment and 
satisfaction, and whistled the College Hornpipe. 

I did not fail to assure him that I would store these precepts 
in my mind, though indeed I had no need to do so, for, at the 
time, they affected me visibly. Next morning I met the whole 



190 

family at the coach-office, and saw them, with a desolate heart, 
take their places outside, at the back. 

"Master Copperfield," said Mrs. Micawber, " God bless you! 
I never can forget all that, you know, and I never would if I 
could." 

" Copperfield," said Mr. Micawber, " farewell ! Every hap- 
piness and prosperity ! If, in the progress of revolving years, 
I could persuade myself that my blighted destiny had been 
a warning to you, I should feel that I had not occupied 
another man's place in existence altogether in vain. In case 
of anything turning up (of which I am rather confident), I 
shall be extremely happy if it should be in my power to 
improve your prospects." 

I think, as Mrs. Micawber sat at the back of the coach, with 
the children, and I stood in the road looking wistfully at them, 
a mist cleared from her eyes, and she saw what a little creature 
I really was. I think so, because she beckoned to me to climb 
up, with quite a new and motherly expression in her face, and 
put her arm round my neck, and gave me just such a kiss as 
she might have given to her own boy. I had barely time to 
get down again before the coach started, and I could hardly 
see the family for the handkerchiefs they waved. It was gone 
in a minute. The Orfling and I stood looking vacantly at 
each other in the middle of the road, and then shook hands 
and said good by ; she going back, I suppose, to St. Luke's 
workhouse, as I went to begin my weary day at Murdstone 
and Grinby's. 

But with no intention of passing many more weary days 
there. No. I had resolved to run away. To go, by some 
means or other, down into the country, to the only relation I 
had in the world, and tell my story to my aunt, Miss Betsey. 

I have already observed that I don't know how this desperate 
idea came into my brain. But, once there, it remained there ; 
and hardened into a purpose than which I have never enter- 
tained a more determined purpose in my life. I am far from 
sure that I believed there was anything hopeful in it, but my 
mind was thoroughly made up that it must be carried into 
execution. 

Again, and again, and a hundred times again, since the night 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 191 

when the thought had first occurred to me and banished sleep. 
I had gone over that old story of my poor mother's about my 
birth, which it had been one of my great delights in the old 
time to hear her tell, and which I knew by heart. My aunt 
walked into that story, and walked out of it, a dread and 
awful personage ; but there was one little trait in her behavior 
which I liked to dwell on, and which gave me some faint 
shadow of encouragement. I could not forget how my mother 
had thought that she felt her touch her pretty hair with no 
ungentle hand ; and though it might have been altogether my 
mother's fancy, and might have had no foundation whatever in 
fact, I made a little picture, out of it, of my terrible aunt 
relenting towards the girlish beauty that I recollected so well, 
and loved so much, which softened the whole narrative. It is 
very possible that it had been in my mind a long, time, and 
had gradually engendered my determination. 

As I did not even know where Miss Betsey lived, I wrote a 
long letter to Peggotty, and asked her, incidentally, if she 
remembered ; pretending that I had heard of such a lady living 
at a certain place I named at random, and had a curiosity to 
know if it were the same. In the course of that letter I told 
Peggotty that I had a particular occasion for half a guinea ; 
and that if she could lend me that sum until I could repay it, I 
should be very much obliged to her, and would tell her after- 
wards what I had wanted it for. 

Peggotty 's answer soon arrived, and was, as usual, full of 
affectionate devotion. She enclosed the half guinea (I was 
afraid she must have had a world of trouble to get it out of 
Mr. Barkis's box), and told me that Miss Betsey lived near 
Dover, but whether at Dover itself, at Hythe, Sandgate, or 
Folkstone, she could not say. One of our men, however, 
informing me on my asking him about these places, that they 
were all close together, I deemed this enough for my object, 
and resolved to set out at the end of that week. 

Being a very honest little creature, and unwilling to disgrace 
the memory I was going to leave behind me at Murdstone and 
Grinby's, I considered myself bound to remain until Saturday 
night ; and, as I had been paid a week's wages in advance 
when I first came there, not to present myself in the counting- 



192 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

house at the usual hour to receive roy stipend. For this express 
reason, I had borrowed the half-guinea, that I might not be 
without a fund for my travelling-expenses. Accordingly, when 
the Saturday night came, and we were all waiting in the ware- 
house to be paid, and Tipp, the carman, who always took 
precedence, went in first to draw his money, I shook Mick 
Walker by the hand ; asked him when it came to his turn to 
be paid, to say to Mr. Quinion that I had gone to move my box 
to Tipp's ; and, bidding a last good night to Mealy Potatoes, 
ran away. 

My box was at my old lodging over the water, and I had writ- 
ten a direction for it on the back of one of our address cards that 
we nailed on the casks : " Master David, to be left till called 
for at the coach-office, Dover." This I had in my pocket 
ready to put on the box, after I should have got it out of the 
house ; and as I went towards my lodging I looked about me 
for some one who would help me to carry it to the booking- 
office. 

There was a long-legged young man with a very little empty 
donkey-cart, standing near the Obelisk, in the Blackfriars 
Road, whose eye I caught as I was going by, and who, address- 
ing me as " Sixpenn'orth of bad ha'pence," hoped " I should 
know him agin to swear to " in allusion, I have no doubt, to 
my staring at him. I stopped to >assure him that I had not 
done so in bad manners, but uncertain whether he might or 
might not like a job. 

" Wot job ? " said the long-legged young man. 

"To move a box," I answered. 

" Wot box ? " said the long-legged young man. 

I told him mine, which was down that street there, and 
which I wanted him to take to the Dover coach-office for six- 
pence. 

" Done with you for a tanner ! " said the long-legged young 
man, and directly got upon his cart, which was nothing but a 
large wooden tray on wheels, and rattled away at such a rate 
that it was as much as I could do to keep pace with the 
donkey. 

There was a defiant manner about this young man, and par- 
ticularly about the way in which he chewed straw as he spoke 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 193 

tc me, that I did not much like ; as the bargain was made, 
however, I took him up stairs to the room I was leaving, and 
we brought the box down, and put it on his cart. Now, I was 
unwilling to put the direction-card on there, lest any of my 
landlord's family should fathom what I was doing, and detain 
me ; so I said to the young man that I would be glad if he 
would stop for a minute, when he came to the dead-wall of the 
King's Bench Prison. The words were no sooner out of my 
mouth, than he rattled away, as if he, my box, the cart, and 
the donkey, were all equally mad; and I was quite out of 
breath with running and calling after him, when I caught him 
at the place appointed. 

Being much flushed and excited I tumbled my half-guinea 
out of my pocket in pulling the card out. I put it in my 
^aouth for safety, and though my hands trembled a good deal, 
had just tied the card on very much to my satisfaction, when 
T felt myself violently chucked under the chin by the long- 
legged young man, and saw my half-guinea fly out of my 
mouth into his hand. 

" Wot ! " said the young man, seizing me by my jacket 
collar, with a frightful grin. " This is a pollis case, is it ? 
You're a going to bolt, are you ? Come to the pollis, you 
young warnrin, come to the pollis ! " 

" You give me my money back, if you please," said I, very 
much frightened; "and leave me alone." 

" Come to the pollis ! " said the young man. " You shall 
prove it yourn to the pollis." 

" Give me my box and money, will you," I cried, bursting 
into tears. 

The young man still replied : " Come to the pollis ! " and 
was dragging me against the donkey in a violent manner, as if 
there were any affinity between that animal and a magistrate, 
when he changed his mind, jumped into the cart, sat upon my 
box, and exclaiming that he would drive to the pollis straight, 
rattled away harder than ever. 

I ran after him as fast as I could, but I had no breath to 

call out with, and should not have dared to call out, now, if I 

had. I narrowly escaped being run over, twenty times at 

least, in half a mile. Now I lost him, now I saw him, now I 

VOL. i 13 



194 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

lost him, now I was cut .at with a whip, now shouted at, now 
down in the mud, now up again, now running into somebody's 
arms, now running headlong at a post. At length, confused 
by fright and heat, and doubting whether half London might 
not by this time be turning out for my apprehension, I left 
the young man to go where he would with my box and money ; 
and, panting and crying, but never stopping, faced about for 
Greenwich, which I had understood was on the Dover Road : 
taking very little more out of the world, towards the retreat 
of my aunt, Miss Betsey, than I had brought into it, on the 
night when my arrival gave her so much umbrage. 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 195 



CHAPTEE XIII. 

THE SEQUEL OF MT RESOLUTION. 

FOR anything I know, I may have had some wild idea of 
running all the way to Dover, when I gave up the pursuit of 
the young man with the donkey cart, and started for Green- 
wich. My scattered senses were soon collected as to that 
point, if I had ; for I came to a stop in the Kent Road, at a 
terrace with a piece of water before it, and a great foolish 
image in the middle, blowing a dry shell. Here I sat down 
on a door-step, quite spent and exhausted with the efforts I 
had already made, and with hardly breath enough to cry for 
the loss of my box and half-guinea. 

It was by this time dark ; I heard the clock strike ten, as 
I sat resting. But it was a summer night fortunately, and 
fine weather. When I had recovered my breath, and had got 
rid of a stifling sensation in my throat, I rose up and went on. 
In the midst of my distress, I had no notion of going back. I 
doubt if I should have had any, though there had been a Swiss 
snow-drift in the Kent Road. 

But my standing possessed of only three-halfpence in the 
world (and I am sure I wonder how they came to be left in 
my pocket on a Saturday night !) troubled me none the less 
because I went on. I began to picture to myself, as a scrap 
of newspaper intelligence, my being found dead in a day or 
two, under some hedge ; and I trudged on miserably, though 
as fast as I could, until I happened to pass a little shop, where 
it was written up that ladies' and gentlemen's wardrobes, 
were bought, and that the best price was given for rags, btfhes, 
and kitchen-stuff. The master of this shop was sitting at the 
door in his shirt sleeves, smoking ; and as there were a great 
many coats and pairs of trousers dangling from the low ceiling, 
and only two feeble candles burning inside to show what they 
were, I fancied that he looked like a man of a revengeful dis- 



196 TEE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

position, who had hung all his enemies, and was enjoying 
himself. 

My late experiences with Mr. and Mrs. Micawber suggested 
to me that here might be a means of keeping off the wolf for 
a little while. I went up the next by-street, took off my 
waistcoat, rolled it neatly under my arm, and came back to 
the shop door. " If you please, sir," I said, " I am to sell this 
for a fair price." 

Mr. Dolloby Dolloby was the name over the shop door, at 
least took the waistcoat, stood his pipe on its head against 
the door-post, went into the shop, followed by me, snuffed the 
two candles with his fingers, spread the waistcoat on the 
counter, and looked at it there, held it up against the light, 
and looked at it there, and ultimately said : 

" What do you call a price, now, for this here little weskit ? 7) 

" Oh ! you know best, sir," I returned, modestly. 

" I can't be buyer and seller too," said Mr. Dolloby. " Put 
a price on this here little weskit." 

"Would eighteenpence be" I hinted, after some hesita- 
tion. 

Mr. Dolloby rolled it up again, and gave it me back. " I 
should rob my family," he said, " if I was to offer ninepence 
for it." 

This was a disagreeable way of putting the Ifusiness ; because 
it imposed upon me, a perfect stranger, the unpleasantness of 
asking Mr. Dolloby to rob his family on my account. My cir- 
cumstances being so very pressing, however, I said I would 
take ninepence for it, if he pleased. Mr. Dolloby, not without 
some grumbling, gave ninepence. I wished him good night, 
and walked out of the shop, the richer by that sum, and the 
poorer by a waistcoat. But when I buttoned my jacket, that 
was not much. 

Indeed, I foresaw pretty clearly that my jacket would go 
next, and that I should have to make . the best of my way to 
Dover in a shirt and a pair of trousers, and might deem myself 
lucky if I got there even in that trim. But my mind did not 
run so much on this as might be supposed. Beyond a general 
impression of the distance before me, and of the young man 
the donkey-cart having used me cruelly, I think I had 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 197 

no very urgent sense of my difficulties when I once again set 
off with my ninepence in my pocket. 

A plan had occurred to me for passing the night, which I 
was going to carry into execution. This was, to lie behind 
the wall at the back of my old school, in a corner where there 
used to be a haystack. I imagined it would be a kind of com- 
pany to have the boys, and the bedroom where I used to tell 
the stories, so near me : although the boys would know noth- 
ing of my being there, and the bedroom would yield me no 
shelter. 

I had had a hard day's work, and was pretty well jaded 
when I came climbing ont, at last, upon the level of Black- 
heath. It cost me some trouble to find out Salem House ; but 
I found it, and I found a haystack in the corner, and I lay 
down by it ; having first walked round the wall, and looked up 
at the windows, and seen that all was dark and silent within. 
Never shall I forget the lonely sensation of first lying down, 
without a roof above my head ! 

Sleep came upon me as it came on many other outcasts, 
against whom house-doors were locked, and house-dogs barked, 
that night and I dreamed of lying on my old school-bed, 
talking to the boys in my room ; and found myself sitting up- 
right, with Steerforth's name upon my lips, looking wildly at 
the stars that were glistening and glimmering above me. 
When I remembered where I was at that untimely hour, a 
feeling stole upon me that made me get up, afraid of I don't 
know what, and walk about. But the fainter glimmering of the 
stars, and the pale light in the sky where the day was coming, 
reassured me : and my eyes being very heavy, I lay down 
again, and slept though with a knowledge in my sleep that 
it was cold until the warm beams of the sun, and the ring- 
ing of the getting-up bell at Salem House, awoke me. If I 
could have hoped that Steerforth was there, I would have 
lurked about until he came out alone; but I knew he must 
have left long since. Traddles still remained, perhaps, but it 
was very doubtful ; and I had not sufficient confidence in his 
discretion or good luck, however strong my reliance was on 
his good-nature, to wish to trust him with my situation. So I 
crept away from the wall as Mr. Oreakle's boys were getting 



198 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

up, and struck into the long dusty track which I had first 
known to be the Dover Road when I was one of them, and 
when I little expected that any eyes would ever see me the 
wayfarer I was now, upon it. 

What a different Sunday morning from the old Sunday 
morning at Yarmouth ! In due time I heard the church-bells 
ringing, as I plodded on : and I met people who were going to 
church ; and I passed a church or two where the congregation 
were inside, and the sound of singing came out into the sun- 
shine, while the beadle sat and cooled himself in the shade of 
the porch, or stood beneath the yew-tree, with his hand to his 
forehead, glowering at me going by. But the peace and rest 
of the old Sunday morning were on everything, except me. 
That was the difference. I felt quite wicked in my dirt and 
dust, and with my tangled hair. But for the quiet picture I 
had conjured up, of my mother in her youth and beauty, weep- 
ing by the fire, and my aunt relenting to her, I hardly think I 
should have had courage to go on until next day. But it 
always went before me, and I followed. 

I got, that Sunday, through three-and-twenty miles on the 
straight road, though not very easily, for I was new to that 
kind of toil. I see myself, as evening closes in, coming over 
the bridge at Rochester, footsore and tired, and eating bread 
that I had bought for supper. One or two little houses, with 
the notice, " Lodgings for Travellers," hanging out, had tempted 
me ; but I was afraid of spending the few pence I had, and was 
even more afraid of the vicious looks of the trampers I had 
met or overtaken. I sought no shelter, therefore, but the sky ; 
and toiling into Chatham, which, in that night's aspect, is a 
mere dream of chalk, and drawbridges, and mastless ships in a 
muddy river, roofed like Noah's arks, crept, at last, upon a 
sort of grass-grown battery overhanging a lane, where a sentry 
was walking to and fro. Here I lay down, near a cannon ; 
and, happy in the society of the sentry's footsteps, though he 
knew no more of my being above him than the boys at Salem 
House had known of my lying by the wall, slept soundly until 
morning. 

Very stiff and sore of foot I was in the morning, and quite 
dazed by the beating of drums and marching of troops, which 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 199 

seemed to hem me in on every side when I went down towards 
the long narrow street. Feeling that I could go but a very 
little way that day, if I were to reserve any strength for get- 
ting to my journey's end, I resolved to make the sale of my 
jacket its principal business. Accordingly, I took the jacket 
off, that I might learn to do without it; and carrying it 
under my arm, began a tour of inspection of the various 
slop-shops. 

-r-It was a likely place to sell a jacket in ; for the dealers in 
second-hand clothes were numerous, and were, generally speak- 
ing, on the look-out for customers at their shop doors. But, 
as most of them had, hanging up among their stock, an officer's 
coat or two, epaulettes and all, I was rendered timid by the 
costly nature of their dealings, and walked about for a long 
time without offering my merchandise to any one. 

This modesty of mine directed my attention to the marine- 
store shops, and such shops as Mr. Dolloby's, in preference to 
the regular dealers. At last I found one that I thought looked 
promising, at the corner of a dirty lane, ending in an inclosure 
full of stinging nettles, against the palings of which some 
second-hand sailors' clothes, that seemed to have overflowed 
the shop, were fluttering among some cots, and rusty guns, 
and oilskin hats, and certain trays full of so many old rusty 
keys of so many sizes that they seemed various enough to open 
all the doors in the world. 

Into this shop, which was low and small, and which was 
darkened rather than lighted by a little window, overhung 
with clothes, and was descended into by some steps, I went 
with a palpitating heart ; which was not relieved when an 
ugly old man, with the lower part of his face all covered with 
a stubbly gray beard, rushed out of a dirty den behind it, and 
seized me by the hair of my head. He was a dreadful old 
man to look at, in a filthy flannel waistcoat, and smelling terri- 
bly of rum. His bedstead, covered with a tumbled and ragged 
piece of patchwork, was in the den he had come from, where 
another little window showed a prospect of more stinging net- 
tles, and a lame donkey. 

" Oh, what do you want ? " grinned this old man, in a fierce, 
monotonous whine. "Oh, my eyes and limbs, what do you 



200 THE PERSONAL BISTORT AND EXPERIENCE 

want ? Oh, my lungs and liver, what do you want ? Oh, 
goroo, goroo ! " 

I was so much dismayed by these words, and particularly 
by the repetition of the last unknown one, which was a kind 
of rattle in his throat, that I could make no answer ; hereupon 
the old man, still holding me by the hair, repeated : 

" Oh, what do you want ? Oh, my eyes and limbs, what do 
you want ? Oh, my lungs and liver, what do you want ? Oh, 
goroo ! " which he screwed out of himself, with an energy that 
made his eyes start in his head. 

" I wanted to know," I said, trembling, " if you would buy 
a jacket." 

" Oh, let's see the jacket ! " cried the old man. " Oh, my 
heart on fire, show the jacket to us ! Oh, my eyes and limbs, 
bring the jacket out ! " 

With that he took his trembling hands, which were like the 
claws of a great bird, out of my hair ; and put on a pair of 
spectacles, not at all ornamental to his inflamed eyes. 

" Oh, how much for the jacket ? " cried the old man, after 
examining it. " Oh goroo ! how much for the jacket ? " 

" Half-a-crown," I answered, recovering myself. 

" Oh, my lungs and liver," cried the old man, " no ! Oh, my 
eyes, no ! Oh, my limbs, no ! Eighteenpence. Goroo ! " 

Every time he uttered this ejaculation, his eyes seemed to 
be in danger of starting out ; and every sentence he spoke, he 
delivered in a sort of tune, always exactly the same, and more 
like a gust of wind, which begins low, mounts up high, and 
falls again, than any other comparison I can find for it. 

" Well," said I, glad to have closed the bargain, " I'll take 
eighteenpence." 

" Oh, my liver ! " cried the old man, throwing the jacket on 
a shelf. " Get out of the shop ! Oh, my lungs, get out of the 
shop! Oh, my eyes and limbs goroo ! don't ask for money 
make it an exchange." 

I never was so frightened in my 2 life, before or since ; but I 
told him humbly that I wanted money, and that nothing else 
was of any use to me, but that I would wait for it, as he de- 
sired, outside, and had no wish to hurry him. So I went out- 
side, and sat down in the shade in a corner. And I sat there 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 201 

so many hours, that the shade became sunlight, and the sun- 
light became shade again, and still I sat there waiting for the 
money. 

There never was such another drunken madman in that line 
of business, I hope. That he was well known in the neighbor- 
hood, and enjoyed the reputation of having sold himself to the 
devil, I soon understood from the visits he received from the 
boys, who continually came skirmishing about the shop, shout- 
ing that legend, and calling to him to bring out his gold. " You 
ain't poor, you know, Charley, as you pretend. Bring out 
your gold. Bring out some of the gold you sold yourself to 
the devil for. Come ! It's in the lining of the mattress, 
Charley. Rip it open and let's have some ! " This, and many 
offers to lend him a knife for the purpose, exasperated him to 
such a degree, that the whole day was a succession of rushes 
on his part, and flights on the part of the boys. Sometimes 
in his rage he would take me for one of them, and come at me, 
mouthing as if he were going to tear me in pieces; then, 
remembering me, just in time, would dive into the shop, and 
lie upon his bed, as I thought from the sound of his voice, 
yelling in a frantic way, to his own windy tune, the Death of 
Nelson ; with an Oh ! before every line, and innumerable 
Groroos interspersed. As if this were not bad enough for me, 
the boys, connecting me with the establishment, on account of 
the patience and perseverance with which I sat outside, half- 
dressed, pelted me, and used me very ill all day. 

He made many attempts to induce me to consent to an ex- 
change ; at one time coming out with a fishing rod, at another 
with a fiddle, at another with a cocked hat, at another with a 
flute. But I resisted all these overtures, and sat there in 
desperation ; each time asking him, with tears in my eyes, for 
my money or my jacket. At last he began to pay me in half- 
pence at a time ; and he was full two hours getting by easy 
stages to a shilling. 

" Oh, my eyes and limbs ! " he then cried, peeping hideously 
out of the shop, after a long pause, " will you go for twopence 
more ? " 

I can't," I said ; " I shall be starved." 

" Oh, my lungs and liver, will you go for threepence ? " 



202 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" I would go for nothing if I could," I said, " but I want the 
money badly." 

" Oh, go roo ! " (it is really impossible to express how he 
twisted this ejaculation out of himself, as he peeped round the 
doorpost at me, showing nothing but his crafty old head) ; 
" will you go for f ourpence ? " 

I was so faint and weary that I closed with this offer ; and 
taking the money out of his claw, not without trembling, 
went away more hungry and thirsty than I had ever been, a 
little before sunset. But at an expense of threepence I soon 
refreshed myself completely ; and, being in better spirits 
then, limped seven miles upon my road. 

My bed at night was under another haystack, where I rested 
comfortably, after having washed my blistered feet in a stream, 
and dressed them as well as I was able, with some cool leaves. 
When I took the road again next morning, I found that it lay 
through a succession of hop-grounds and orchards. It was 
sufficiently late in the year for the orchards to be ruddy with 
ripe apples ; and in a few places the hop-pickers were already 
at work. I thought it all extremely beautiful, and made up 
my mind to sleep among the hops that night : imagining some 
cheerful companionship in the long perspective of poles, with 
the graceful leaves twining round them. 

The trainpers were worse than ever that day, and inspired 
me with a dread that is yet quite fresh in my mind. Some of 
them were most ferocious-looking ruffians, who stared at me 
as I went by ; and stopped, perhaps, and called after me to 
come back and speak to them ; and when I took to my heels, 
stoned me. I recollect one young fellow a tinker, I suppose, 
from his wallet and brazier who had a woman with him, 
and who faced about and stared at me thus ; and then roared 
to me in such a tremendous voice to coine back, that I halted 
and looked round. 

"Come here when you're called," said the tinker, "or I'll 
rip your young body open." 

I thought it best to go back. As I drew nearer to them, 
trying to propitiate the tinker with my looks, I observed that 
the woman had a black eye. 



OF DAVID COPPEBFIELD. 203 

" Where are you going ? " said the tinker, gripping the 
bosom of my shirt with his blackened hand. 

" I am going to Dover," I said. 

" Where do you come from ? " asked the tinker, giving his 
hand another turn in my shirt, to hold me more securely. 

" I come from London," I said. 

" What lay are you upon ? " asked the tinker. " Are you 
a prig ? " 

"N no," I said. 

" Ain't you, by G- ? If you make a brag of your honesty 
to me," said the tinker, " I'll knock your brains out." 

With his disengaged hand he made a menace of striking me, 
and then looked at me from head to foot. 

" Have you got the price of a pint of beer about you ? " said 
the tinker. "If you have, out with it, afore I take it away ! " 

I should certainly have produced it, but that I met the 
woman's look, and saw her very slightly shake her head, and 
form " No ! " with her lips. 

"I am very poor," I said, attempting to smile, "and have 
got no money." 

" Why, what do you mean ? " said the tinker, looking so 
sternly at me, that I almost feared he saw the money in my 
pocket. 

" Sir ! " I stammered. 

"What do you mean," said the tinker, "by wearing my 
brother's silk handkercher ? Give it over here ! " And 
he had mine off my neck in a moment, and tossed it to the 
woman. 

The woman burst into a fit of laughter, as if she thought 
this a joke, and tossed it back to me, nodded once, as slightly 
as before, and made the word " Go ! " with her lips. Before I 
could obey, however, the tinker seized the handkerchief out of 
my hand with a roughness that threw me away like a feather, 
and putting it loosely round his own neck, turned upon 
the woman with an oath, and knocked her down. I never 
shall forget seeing her fall backward on the hard road, and 
lie there with her bonnet tumbled off, and her hair all 
whitened in the dust ; nor, when I looked back from a dis- 
tance, seeing her sitting on the pathway, which was a bank 



204- THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

by the roadside, wiping the blood from her face with a corner 
of her shawl, while he went on ahead. 

This adventure frightened me so, that afterwards, when I 
saw any of these people coming, I turned back until I could 
find a hiding-place, where I remained until they had gone out 
of sight; which happened so often, that I was very seriously 
delayed. But under this difficulty, as under all the other 
difficulties of my journey, I seemed to be sustained and led 
on by my fanciful picture of my mother in her youth, before 
I came into the world. It always kept me company. It was 
there, among the hops, when I lay down to sleep; it was 
with me on my waking in the morning; it went before me 
all day. I have associated it, ever since, with the sunny 
street of Canterbury, dozing as it were in the hot light ; and 
with the sight of its old houses and gateways, and the stately, 
gray Cathedral, with the rooks sailing round the towers. 
When I came, at last, upon the bare, wide downs near Dover, 
it relieved the solitary aspect of the scene with hope; and 
not until I reached that first great aim of my journey, and 
actually set foot in the town itself, on the sixth day of my 
flight, did it desert me. But then, strange to say, when I 
stood with my ragged shoes, and my dusty, sunburnt, half- 
clothed figure, in the place so long desired, it seemed to vanish 
like a dream, and to leave me helpless and dispirited. 

I inquired about my aunt among the boatmen first, and 
received various answers. One said she lived in the South 
Foreland Light, and had singed her whiskers by doing so ; 
another, that she was made fast to the great buoy outside the 
harbor, and could only be visited at half-tide ; a third, that 
she was locked up in Maidstone Jail for child-stealing ; a 
fourth, that she was seen to mount a broom, in the last high 
wind, and make direct for Calais. The fly-drivers, among 
whom I inquired next, were equally jocose and equally dis- 
respectful : and the shopkeepers, not liking my appearance, 
generally replied, without hearing what I had to say, that 
they had got nothing for me. I felt more miserable and des- 
titute than I had done at any period of my running away. 
My money was all gone, I had nothing left to dispose of ; I 



OF DA VII) COPPERFIELD. 205 

was hungry, thirsty, and worn out ; and seemed as distant 
from my end as if I had remained in London. 

The morning had worn away in these inquiries, and I was 
sitting on the step of an empty shop at a street corner, 
near the market-place, deliberating upon wandering towards 
those other places which had been mentioned, when a fly- 
driver, coming by with his carriage, dropped a horsecloth. 
Something good-natured in the man's face, as I handed it up, 
encouraged me to ask him if he could tell me where Miss 
Trotwood lived; though I had asked the question so often, 
that it almost died upon my lips. 

" Trotwood," said he. " Let me see. I know the name, too. 
Old lady?" 

"Yes,". I said, "rather." 

" Pretty stiff in the back ? " said he, making himself 
upright. 

" Yes," I said. " I should think it very likely." 

" Carries a bag ? " said he " bag with a dood deal of room 
in it is grumsh, and comes down upon you, sharp ? ' : 

My heart sank within me as I acknowledged the undoubted 
accuracy of this description. 

"Why then, I tell you what," said he. "If you go up 
there," pointing with his whip towards the heights, "and 
keep right on till you come to some houses facing the sea, I 
think you'll hear of her. My opinion is, she won't stand 
anything, so here's a penny for you." 

I accepted the gift thankfully, and bought a loaf with it. 
Despatching this refreshment by the way, I went in the direc- 
tion my friend had indicated, and walked on a good distance 
without coming to the houses he had mentioned. At length 
I saw some before me ; and approaching them, went into a 
little shop (it was what we used to call a general shop, at 
home), and inquired if they could have the goodness to tell 
me where Miss Trotwood lived. I addressed myself to a man 
behind the counter, who was weighing some rice for a young 
woman ; but the latter, taking the inquiry to herself, turned 
round quickly. 

" My mistress ? " she said. " What do you want with her, 
boy ? " 



206 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

"I want," I replied, "to speak to her, if you please." 

" To beg of her, you mean," retorted the damsel. 

"No," I said, " indeed." But suddenly remembering that 
in truth I came for no other purpose, I held my peace in 
confusion, and felt my face burn. 

My aunt's handmaid, as I supposed she was from what she 
had said, put her rice in a little basket and walked out of tli j 
shop ; telling me that I could follow her, if I wanted to know 
where Miss Trotwood lived. I needed no second permission ; 
though I was by this time in such a state of consternation and 
agitation, that my legs shook under me. I followed the young 
woman, and we soon came to a very neat little cottage with 
cheerful bow-windows : in front of it, a small square gravelled 
court or garden full of flowers, carefully tended, and smelling 
'deliciously. 

" This is Miss Trotwood's," said the young woman. " Now 
you know; and that's all I have got to say." With which 
words she hurried into the house, as if to shake off the respon- 
sibility of my appearance ; and left me standing at the garden- 
gate, looking disconsolately over the top of it towards the 
parlor-window, where a muslin curtain partly undrawn in 
the middle, a large round green screen or fan fastened on to 
the window-sill, a small table, and a great chair, suggested to 
me that my aunt might be at that moment seated in awful state. 

My shoes were by this time in a woful condition. The 
soles had shed themselves bit by bit, and the upper leathers 
had broken and burst until the very shape and form of shoes 
had departed from them. My hat (which had served me for 
a nightcap, too) was so crushed and bent, that no old battered 
handleless saucepan on a dunghill need have been ashamed to 
vie with it. My shirt and trousers, stained with heat, dew, 
grass, and the Kentish soil on which I had slept and torn 
besides might have frightened the birds from my aunt's 
garden, as I stood at the gate. My hair had known no comb 
or brush since I left London. My face, neck, and hands, from 
unaccustomed exposure to the air and sun, were burnt to a 
berry-brown. From head to foot I was powdered almost as 
white with chalk and dust, as if I had come out of a lime-kiln. 
In this plight, and with a strong consciousness of it, I waited 



^^~-'i '-.' - ".' 't 




I MAKE MYSELF KNOWN TO MY AUNT, 



OF DAVII> COPPEEFIELD. 207 

to introduce myself to, and make my first impression on, my 
formidable aunt. 

The unbroken stillness of the parlor-window leading me to 
infer, after a while, that she was not there, I lifted up my 
eyes to the window above it, where I saw a florid, pleasant- 
looking gentleman, with a gray head, who shut up one eye in 
a grotesque manner, nodded his head at me several times, 
shook it at me as often, laughed, and went away. 

I had been discomposed enough before ; but I was so much 
the more discomposed by this unexpected behavior, that I was 
011 the point of slinking off, to think how I had best proceed, 
when there came out of the house a lady with her handker- 
chief tied over her cap, and a pair of gardening gloves on her 
hands, wearing a gardening pocket like a tollman's apron, and 
carrying a great knife. I knew her immediately to be Miss 
Betsey, for she came stalking out of the house exactly as my 
poor mother had so often described her stalking up our garden 
at Blunderstone Rookery. 

" Go away ! " said Miss Betsey, shaking her head, and mak- 
ing a distant chop in the air with her knife. " Go along ! No 
boys here ! " 

I watched her, with my heart at my lips, as she marched 
to a corner of her garden, and stooped to dig up some little 
root there. Then, without a scrap of courage, but with a great 
deal of desperation, I went softly in and stood beside her, 
touching her with my finger. 

" If you please, ma'am," I began. 

She started and looked up. 

" If you please, aunt." 

"En?" exclaimed Miss Betsey, in a tone of amazement I 
have never heard approached. 

" If you please, aunt, I am your nephew." 

" Oh, Lord ! " said my aunt. And sat flat down in the 
garden-path. 

"I am David Copperfield, of Blunderstone, in Suffolk 
where you came, on the night when I was born, and saw my 
dear mamma. I have been very unhappy since she died. I 
have been slighted, and taught nothing, and thrown upon my- 
self, and put to work not fit for me. It made me run away to 



208 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

you. I was robbed at first setting out, and have walked all 
the way, and have never slept in a bed since I began the 
journey." Here my self-support gave way all at once; and 
with a movement of my hands, intended to show her my 
ragged state, and call it to witness that I had suffered some- 
thing, I broke into a passion of crying, which I suppose had 
been pent up within me all the week. 

My aunt, with every sort of expression but wonder dis- 
charged from her countenance, sat on the gravel, staring at 
me, until I began to cry ; when she got up in a great hurry, 
collared me, and took me into the parlor. Her first proceeding 
there was to unlock a tall press, bring out several bottles, and 
pour some of the contents of each into my mouth. I think 
they must have been taken out at random, for I am sure I 
tasted aniseed water, anchovy sauce, and salad dressing. 
When she had administered these restoratives, as I was still 
quite hysterical, and unable to control my sobs, she put me. 
on the sofa, with a shawl under my head, and the handker- 
chief from her own head under my feet, lest I should sully the 
cover ; and then, sitting herself down behind the green fan or 
screen I have already mentioned, so that I could not see her 
face, ejaculated at intervals, " Mercy on us ! " letting those 
exclamations off like minute guns. 

After a time she rang the bell. "Janet," said my aunt, 
when her servant came in. " Go up stairs, give my compli- 
ments to Mr. Dick, and say I wish to speak to him." 

Janet looked a little surprised to see me lying stiffly on the 
sofa (I was afraid to move lest it should be displeasing to my 
aunt), but went on her errand. My aunt, with her hands 
behind her, walked up and down the room, until the gentleman 
w r ho had squinted at me from the upper window came in 
laughing. 

" Mr. Dick," said my aunt, " don't be a fool, because nobody 
can be more discreet than you can, when you choose. We all 
know that. So don't be a fool, whatever you are." 

The gentleman w^as serious immediately, and looked at me, 
I thought, as if he would entreat me to say nothing about the 
window. 

"Mr. Dick," said my aunt, "you have heard me mention 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 209 

David Copperfield ? Now don't pretend not to have a memory, 
because you and I know better." 

"David Copperfield?" said Mr. Dick, who did not appear 
to me to remember much about it. "David Copperfield ? Oh 
yes, to be sure, David, certainly." 

"Well," said my aunt, "this is his boy his son. He 
would be. as like his father as it's possible to be, if he was not 
so like his mother, too." 

" His son ? " said Mr. Dick. "David's son ? Indeed ! " 

" Yes," pursued my aunt, " and he has done a pretty piece 
of business. He has run away. Ah ! His sister, Betsey 
Trotwood, never would have run away." My aunt shook .her 
head firmly, confident in the character and behavior of the girl 
who never was born. 

" Oh ! you think she wouldn't have run away ? " said Mr. 
Dick. 

"Bless and save the man," exclaimed my aunt, sharply, 
"how he talks ! Don't I know she wouldn't ? She would 
have lived with her god-mother, and we should have been de- 
voted to one another. Where, in the name of wonder, should 
his sister, Betsey Trotwood, have run from, or to ? " 

" Nowhere," said Mr. Dick. 

"Well then," returned my aunt, softened by the reply, 
" how can you pretend to be wool-gathering, Dick, when you 
are as sharp as a surgeon's lancet ? Now, here you see young 
David Copperfield, and the question I put to you is, what shall 
I do with him?" 

" What shall you do with him ? " said Mr. Dick, feebly, 
scratching his head. " Oh ! do with him ? " 

"Yes," said my aunt, with a grave look, and her forefinger 
held up. "Come ! I want some very sound advice." 

" Why, if I was you," said Mr. Dick, considering, and look- 
ing vacantly at me, "I should " The contemplation of me 
seemed to inspire him with a sudden idea, and he added, 
briskly, "I should wash him ! " 

" Janetj" said my aunt, turning round with a quiet triumph, 
-which I did not then understand, " Mr. Dick sets us all right. 
Heat the bath ! " 

Although I was deeply interested in this dialogue, I could 

VOL. I 14 



210 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPEDIENCE 

not help observing my aunt, Mr. Dick, and Janet, while it 
was in progress, and completing a survey I had already been 
engaged in making of the room. 

My aunt was a tall, hard-featured lady, but by no means 
ill-looking. There was an inflexibility in her face, in her 
voice, in her gait and carriage, amply sufficient to account 
for the effect she had made upon a gentle creature, like my 
mother ; but her features were rather handsome than other- 
wise, though unbending and austere. I particularly noticed 
that she had a very quick, bright eye. Her hair, which was 
gray, was arranged in two plain divisions, under what I believe 
would be called a mob-cap; I mean a cap, much more common 
then than now, with side-pieces fastening under the chin. Her 
dress was of a lavender color, and perfectly neat ; but scantily 
made, as if she desired to be as little encumbered as possible. 
I remember that I thought it, in form, more like a riding- 
habit with the superfluous skirt cut off, than anything else. 
She wore at her side a gentleman's gold watch, if I might 
judge from its size and make, with an appropriate chain 
and seals ; she had some linen at her throat not unlike a 
shirt-collar, and things at her wrists like little shirt-wrist- 
bands. 

Mr. Dick, as I have already said, was gray-headed and 
florid : I should have said all about him, in saying so, had 
not his head been curiously bowed not by age ; it reminded 
me of one of Mr. Creakle's boys' heads after a beating and 
his gray eyes prominent and large, with a strange kind of 
watery brightness in them that made me, in combination with 
his vacant manner, his submission to my aunt, and his childish 
delight when she praised him, suspect him of being a little 
mad, though, if he were mad, how he came to be there puzzled 
me extremely. He was dressed like any other ordinary gen- 
tleman, in a loose gray morning coat and waistcoat, and white 
trousers ; and had his watch in his fob, and his money in his 
pockets : which he rattled as if he were very proud of it. 

Janet was a pretty blooming girl, of about nineteen or 
twenty, and a perfect picture of neatness. Though I made 
no further observation of her at the moment, I may mention 
here what I did not discover until afterwards, namely, that 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELI). 211 

she was one of a series of protegees whom my aunt had taken 
into her service expressly to educate in a renouncement of 
mankind, and who had generally completed their abjuration 
by marrying the baker. 

The room was as neat as Janet or my aunt. As I laid 
down my pen, a moment since, to think of it, the air from 
the sea came blowing in again, mixed with the perfume of the 
flowers ; and I saw the old-fashioned furniture brightly rubbed 
and polished, my aunt's inviolable chair and table by the round 
green fan in the bow-window, the drugget-covered carpet, the 
cat, the kettle-holder, the two canaries, the old china, the 
punch-bowl full of dried rose leaves, the tall press guarding 
all sorts of bottles and pots, and, wonderfully out of keeping 
with the rest, my dusty self upon the sofa, taking note of 
everything. 

Janet had gone away to get the bath ready, when my aunt, 
to my great alarm, became in one moment rigid with indig- 
nation, and had hardly voice to cry out, " Janet ! Donkeys ! " 

Upon which, Janet came running up the stairs as if the 
house were in flames, darted out on a little piece of green in 
front, and warned off two saddle-donkeys, lady ridden, that 
had presumed to set hoof upon it ; while my aunt, rushing 
out of the house, seized the bridle of a third animal laden 
with a bestriding child, turned him, led him forth from those 
sacred precincts, and boxed the ears of the unlucky urchin in 
attendance who had dared to profane that hallowed ground. 

To this hour I don't know whether my aunt had any lawful 
right of way over that patch of green ; but she had settled it 
in her own mind that she had, and it was all the same to her. 
The one great outrage of her life, demanding to be constantly, 
avenged, was the passage of a donkey over that immaculate 
spot. In whatever occupation she was engaged, however 
interesting to her the conversation in which she was taking 
part, a donkey turned the current of her ideas in a moment, 
and she was upon him straight. Jugs of water, and watering- 
pots, were kept in secret places ready to be discharged on the 
offending boys ; sticks were laid in ambush behind the door ; 
sallies were made at all hours ; and incessant war prevailed. 
Perhaps this was an agreeable excitement to the donkey-boys ; 



212 THE PEE SOS AL HISTOPY ASD 

or perhaps the more sagacious of the donkeys, understanding 
how the case stood, delighted with constitutional obstinacy in 
coming that way. I only know that there were three alarms 
before the bath was ready ; and that on the occasion of the 
last and most desperate of all, I saw my aunt engage, single- 
handed, with a sandy-headed lad of fifteen, and bump his 
sandy head against her own gate, before he seemed to com- 
prehend what was the matter. These interruptions were the 
more ridiculous to me, because she was giving me broth out 
of a table-spoon at the time (having firmly persuaded herself 
that I was actually starving, and must receive nourishment 
at first in very small quantities), and, while my mouth was 
yet open to receive the spoon, she would put it back into the 
basin, cry " Janet ! Donkeys ! " and go out to the assault. 

The bath was a great comfort. For I began to be sensible 
of acute pains in my limbs from lying out in the fields, and 
was now so tired and low that I could hardly keep myself 
awake for five minutes together. When I had bathed they 
(I mean my aunt and Janet) enrobed me in a shirt and a pair 
of trousers belonging to Mr. Dick, and tied me up in two or 
three great shawls. What sort of bundle I looked like, I 
don't know, but I felt a very hot one. Feeling also very 
faint and drowsy, I soon lay down on the sofa again and fell 
asleep. 

It might have been a dream, originating in the fancy which 
had occupied my mind so long, but I awoke with the impression 
that my aunt had come and bent over me, and had put my 
hair away from my face, and laid my head more comfortably, 
and had then stood looking at me. The words, "Pretty, 
fellow," or " Poor fellow," seemed to be in my ears, too ; but 
certainly there was nothing else, when I awoke, to lead me to 
believe that they had been uttered by my aunt, who sat in the 
bow-window gazing at the sea from behind the green fan, 
which was mounted on a kind of swivel, and turned any way. 

We dined soon after I awoke, off a roast fowl and a pud- 
ding ; I sitting at table, not unlike a trussed bird myself, and 
moving my arms with considerable difficulty. But as my 
aunt had swathed me up. I made no complaint of being incon- 
venienced. All this time, I was deeply anxious to know what 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 213 

she was going to do with me ; but she took her dinner in pro- 
found silence, except when she occasionally fixed her eyes on 
me sitting opposite, and said, " Mercy upon us ! " which did 
not by any means relieve my anxiety. 

The cloth being drawn, and some sherry put upon the 
table (of which I had a glass), my aunt sent up for Mr. Dick 
again, who joined us, and looked as wise as he could when 
she requested him to attend to my story, which she elicited 
from me, gradually, by a course of questions. During my 
recital, she kept her eyes on Mr. Dick, who I thought would 
have gone to sleep but for that, and who, whensoever he 
lapsed into a smile, was checked by a frown from my aunt. 

" Whatever possessed that poor unfortunate Baby, that she 
must go and be married again," said my aunt, when I had 
finished, "/can't conceive." 

"Perhaps she fell in love with her second husband," Mr. 
Dick suggested. 

" Fell in love ! " repeated my aunt, " What do you mean ? 
What business had she to do it ? " 

" Perhaps," Mr. Dick simpered, after thinking a little, " she 
did it for pleasure." 

" Pleasure, indeed ! " replied my aunt. " A mighty pleas- 
ure for the poor baby to fix her simple faith upon any dog of 
a fellow, certain to ill-use her in some way or other. What 
did she propose to herself, I should like to know ! She had 
had one husband. She had seen David Copperfield out of the 
world, who was always running after wax dolls from his 
cradle. She had got a baby oh, there were a pair of babies 
when she gave birth to this child, sitting here, that Friday 
night ! and what more did she want ? " 

Mr. Dick secretly shook his head at me, as if he thought 
there was no getting over this. 

" She couldn't even have a baby like anybody else," said 
my aunt. " Where was this child's sister, Betsey Trotwood ! 
Not forthcoming. Don't tell me ! " 

Mr. Dick seemed quite frightened. 

"That little man of a doctor, with his head on one side," 
said my aunt, " Jellips, or whatever his name was, what was 
he about ? All he could do, was to say to me, like a robin 



214 THE PERSONAL HISTORY A.SD EXPERIENCE 

redbreast as lie is ' It's a boy.' A boy ! Yah, the im- 
becility of the whole set of 'em ! " 

The heartiness of the ejaculation startled Mr. Dick exceed- 
ingly ; and me, too, if I am to tell the truth. 

"And then, as if this was not enough, and she had not 
stood sufficiently in the light of this child's sister, Betsey 
Trotwood," said my aunt, " she marries a second time goes 
and marries a Murderer or a man with a name like it and 
stands in this child's light ! And the natural consequence is, 
as anybody but a baby might have foreseen, that he prowls 
and wanders. He's as like Cain before he was grown up, as 
he can be." 

Mr. Dick looked hard at me, as if to identify me in this 
character. 

"And then there's that woman with the Pagan name." 
said my aunt, "that Peggotty, she goes and gets married 
next. Because she has not seen enough of the evil attending 
such things, she goes and gets married next, as the child re- 
lates. I only hope," said my aunt, shaking her head, "that 
her husband is one of those Poker husbands who abound in 
the newspapers, and will beat her well with one." 

I could not bear to hear my old nurse so described, and made 
the subject of such a wish. I told my aunt that indeed she 
was mistaken. That, Peggotty was the best, the truest, the 
most faithful, most devoted, and most self-denying friend and 
servant in the world ; who had ever loved me dearly, who had 
ever loved my mother dearly; who had held my mother's 
dying head upon her arm, on whose face my mother had im- 
printed her last grateful kiss. And my remembrance of them 
both, choking me, I broke down as I was trying to say that 
her home was my home, and that all she had was mine, and 
that I would have gone to her for shelter, but for her humble 
station, which made me fear that I might bring some trouble 
on her I broke down, I say, as I was trying to say so, and 
laid my face in my hands upon the table. 

" Well, well ! " said my aunt, " the child is right to stand 
by those who have stood by him Janet ! Donkt 

I thoroughly believe that but for those unfortunate donkeys, 
we should have come to a good understanding; for my aunt 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 215 

had laid her hand on. my shoulder, and the impulse was upon 
me, thus emboldened, to embrace her and beseech her protec- 
tion. But the interruption, and the disorder she was thrown 
into by the struggle outside, put an end to all softer ideas for 
the present ; and kept my aunt indignantly declaiming to Mr. 
Dick about her determination to appeal for redress to the laws 
of her country, and to bring actions for trespass against the 
whole donkey proprietorship of Dover, until tea-time. 

After tea, we sat at the window on the look out, as I 
imagined, from my aunt's sharp expression of face, for more 
invaders until dusk, when Janet set candles, and a back- 
gammon-board, on the table, and pulled down the blinds. 

" Now, Mr. Dick," said my aunt, with her grave look, and 
her forefinger up as before, " I am going to ask you another 
question. Look at this child." 

" David's son ? " said Mr. Dick, with an attentive, puzzled 
face. 

"Exactly so," returned my aunt. "What would you do 
with him, now ? " 

" Do with David's son ? " said Mr. Dick. 

" Ay," replied my aunt, " with David's son ? " 

"Oh!" said Mr. Dick. "Yes. Do with I should put 
him to bed." 

" Janet ! " cried my aunt, with the same complacent triumph 
that I had remarked before. " Mr. Dick sets us all right. If 
the bed is ready, we'll take him up to it." 

Janet reporting it to be quite ready, I was taken up to it ; 
kindly, but in some sort like a prisoner; my aunt going in 
front, and Janet bringing up the rear. The only circumstance 
which gave me any new hope, was my aunt's stopping on the 
stairs to inquire about a smell of fire that was prevalent there ; 
and Janet replying that she had been making tinder down in 
the kitchen, of my old shirt. But there were no other clothes 
in my room than the odd heap of things I wore ; and when 
I was left there, with a little taper which my aunt fore-warned 
me would burn exactly five minutes, I heard them lock my 
door on the outside. Turning these things over in my mind, 
I deemed it possible that my aunt, who could know nothing 
of me, might suspect that I had a habit of running away, 



216 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

and took precautions, on that account, to have me in safe 
keeping. 

The room was a pleasant one, at the top of the house, over- 
looking the sea, on which the moon was shining brilliantly. 
After I had said my prayers, and the candle had burnt out, I 
remember how I still sat looking at the moonlight on the 
water, as if I could hope to read my fortune in it, as in a 
bright book ; or to see my mother with her child, coming from 
Heaven, along that shining path, to look upon me as she had 
looked when I last saw her sweet face. I remember how the 
solemn feeling with which at length I turned my eyes away, 
yielded to the sensation of gratitude and rest which the sight 
of the white-curtained bed and how much more the lying 
softly down upon it, nestling in the snow-white sheets ! 
inspired. I remember how I thought of all the solitary places 
under the night sky where I had slept, and how I prayed that 
I never might be houseless any more, and never might forget 
the houseless. I remember how I seem to float, then, down 
the melancholy glory of that track upon the sea, away into the 
world of dreams. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 217 



CHAPTER XIV. 

MY AUNT MAKES UP HER MIND ABOUT ME. 

ON going down in the morning, I found my aunt musing 
so profoundly over the breakfast-table, with her elbow on the 
tray, that the contents of the urn had overflowed the teapot 
and were laying the whole table-cloth under water, when my 
entrance put her meditations to flight. I felt sure that I had 
been the subject of her reflections, and was more than ever 
anxious to know her intentions towards me. Yet I dared not 
express my anxiety, lest it should give her offence. 

My eyes, however, not being so much under control as my 
tongue, were attracted towards my aunt very often during 
breakfast. I never could look at her for a few moments 
together but I found her looking at me in an odd thoughtful 
manner, as if I were an immense way off, instead of being on 
the other side of the small round table. When she had finished 
her breakfast, my aunt very deliberately leaned back in her 
chair, knitted her brows, folded her arms, and contemplated me 
at her leisure, with such a fixedness of attention that I was 
quite overpowered by embarrassment. Not having as yet 
finished my own breakfast, I attempted to hide my confusion 
by proceeding with it ; but my knife tumbled over my fork, 
my fork tripped up my knife, I chipped bits of bacon a 
surprising height into the air instead of cutting them for my 
own eating, and choked myself with my tea, which persisted in 
going the wrong way instead of the right one, until I gave in 
altogether, and sat blushing under my aunt's close scrutiny. 

"Hallo !" said my aunt, after a long time. 

I looked up, and met her sharp bright glance respectfully. 

"I have written to him," said my aunt. 

To ?" 

" To your father-in-law," said my aunt. " I have sent him 



THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

a letter that I'll trouble him to attend to, or he and I will fall 
out, I can tell him ! " 

" Does he know where I am, aunt ? " I inquired, alarmed. 

" I have told him," said my aunt, with a nod. 

" Shall I be given up to him ? " I faltered. 

" I don't know," said my aunt. " We shall see." 

" Oh ! I can't think what I shall do," I exclaimed, " if I have 
to go back to Mr. Murdstone ! " 

"I don't know anything about it," said my aunt, shaking 
her head. " I can't say, I am sure. We shall see." 

My spirits sank under these words, and I became very down- 
cast and heavy of heart. My aunt, without appearing to take 
much heed of me, put on a coarse apron with a bib, which she 
took out of the press ; washed up the teacups with her own 
hands ; and, when everything was washed and set in the tray 
again, and the cloth folded and put on the top of the whole, 
rang for Janet to remove it. She next swept up the crumbs 
with a little broom (putting on a pair of gloves first), until 
there did not appear to be one microscopic speck left on the 
carpet ; next dusted and arranged the room, which was dusted 
and arranged to a hair's breadth already. When all these 
tasks were performed to her satisfaction, she took off the 
gloves and apron, folded them up, put them in the particular 
corner of the press from which they had been taken, brought 
out her work-box to her own table in the open window, and sat 
down, with the green fan between her and the light, to work. 

" I wish you'd go up stairs," said my aunt, as she threaded 
her needle, "and give my compliments to Mr. Dick, and I'll 
be glad to know how he gets on with his Memorial." 

I rose with all alacrity, to acquit myself of this commission. 

"I suppose," said my aunt, eyeing me as narrowly as she 
had eyed the needle in threading it, "you think Mr. Dick a 
short name, eh ? " 

"I thought it was rather a short name, yesterday," I 
confessed. 

" You are not to suppose that he hasn't got a longer name, if 
he chose to use it," said my aunt, with a loftier air. " Babley 
Mr. Richard Babley that's the gentleman's true name." 

I was going to suggest, with a modest sense of my youth 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 219 

and the familiarity I had already been guilty of, that I had 
better give him the full benefit of that name, when my aunt 
went on to say : 

" But don't you call him by it, whatever you do. He can't 
bear his name. That's a peculiarity of his. Though I don't 
know that it's much of a peculiarity, either ; for he has been 
ill-used enough, by some that bear it, to have a mortal antip- 
athy for it, Heaven knows. Mr. Dick is his name here, and 
everywhere else, now if he ever went anywhere else, which 
he don't. So take care, child, you don't call him anything 
but Mr. Dick." 

I promised to obey, and went up stairs with my message ; 
thinking, as I went, that if Mr. Dick had been working at his 
Memorial long, at the same rate as I had seen him working at 
it, through the open door, when I came down, he was probably 
getting on very well indeed. I found him still driving at it 
with a long pen, and his head almost laid upon the paper. He 
was so intent upon it, that I had ample leisure to observe the 
large paper kite in a corner, the confusion of bundles of manu- 
script, the number of pens, and, above all, the quantity of ink 
(which he seemed to have in, in half gallon jars by the dozen), 
before he observed my being present. 

" Ha ! Phoebus ! " said Mr. Dick, laying down his pen. " How 
does the world go ? I'll tell you what," he added, in a lower 
tone, " I shouldn't wish it to be mentioned, but it's a " here 
he beckoned to me, and put his lips close to my ear " it's a 
mad world. Mad as bedlam, boy ! " said Mr. Dick, taking 
snuff from a round box on the table, and laughing heartily. 

Without presuming to give my opinion on this question, I 
delivered my message. 

" Well," said Mr. Dick, in answer, " my compliments to her, 
and I I believe I have made a start. I think I have made 
a start," said Mr. Dick, passing his hand among his gray hair, 
and casting anything but a confident look at his manuscript. 
"You have been to school ? " 

" Yes, sir," I answered, " for a short time." 

" Do you recollect the date," said Mr. Dick, looking earnestly 
at me, and taking up his pen to note it down, "when King 
Charles the First had his head cut off ? " 



220 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

I said I believed it happened in the year sixteen hundred 
and forty-nine. 

"Well," returned Mr. Dick, scratching his ear with his 
pen, and looking dubiously at me. " So the books say ; but I 
don't see how that can be. Because, if it was so long ago, 
how could the people about him have made that mistake of 
putting some of the trouble out of his head, after it was taken 
off, into mine ?" 

I was very much surprised by the inquiry ; but could give 
no information on this point. 

" It's very strange," said Mr. Dick, with a despondent look 
upon his papers, and with his hand among his hair again, 
" that I never can get that quite right. I never can make 
that perfectly clear. But no matter, no matter ! " he said 
cheerfully, and rousing himself, "there's time enough! My 
compliments to Miss Trotwood, I am getting on very well 
indeed." 

I was going away, when he directed my attention to the kite. 

" What do you think of that for a kite ? " he said. 

I answered that it was a beautiful one. I should think it 
must have been as much as seven feet high. 

" I made it. We'll go and fly it, you and I," said Mr. Dick. 
" Do you see this ? " 

He showed me that it was covered with manuscript, very 
closely and laboriously written; but so plainly, that as I 
looked along the lines, I thought I saw some allusion to King 
Charles the First's head again, in one or two places. 

" There's plenty of string," said Mr. Dick, " and when it 
flies high it takes the facts a long way. That's my manner of 
diffusing 'em. I don't know where they may come down. It's 
according to circumstances, and the wind, and so forth ; but I 
take my chance of that." 

His face was so very mild and pleasant, and had something 
so reverend in it, though it was hale and heart} 7 , that I was 
not sure but that he was having a good-humored jest with me. 
So I laughed, and he laughed, and we parted the best friends 
possible. 

"Well, child," said my aunt, when I went down stairs. 
" And what of Mr. Dick, this morning ? " 



OF DAVID COPPEBFIELD. 221 

I informed her that he sent his compliments, and was get- 
ting on very well indeed. 

" What do you think of him ? " said my aunt. 

I had some shadowy idea of endeavoring to evade the ques- 
tion by replying that I thought him a very nice gentleman ; 
but my aunt was not to be so put off, for she laid her work 
down in her lap, and said, folding her hands upon it : 

" Come ! Your sister Betsey Trotwood would have told me 
what she thought of any one, directly. Be as like your sister 
as you can, and speak out ! " 

" Is he is Mr. Dick I ask because I don't know, aunt 
is he at all out of his mind, then ? " I stammered ; for I felt I 
was on dangerous ground. 

"Not a morsel," said my aunt. 

" Oh, indeed ! " I observed, faintly. 

"If there is anything in the world," said my aunt, with 
great decision and force of manner, " that Mr. Dick is not, it's 
that." 

I had nothing better to offer, than another timid " Oh, in- 
deed ! " 

" He has been called mad," said my aunt. " I have a selfish 
pleasure in saying he has been called mad, or I should not 
have had the benefit of his society and advice for these last 
ten years and upwards in fact, ever since your sister, Betsey 
Trotwood, disappointed me." 

" So long as that ? " I said. 

" And nice people they were, who had the audacity to call 
him mad," pursued my aunt. " Mr. Dick is a sort of distant 
connection of mine it doesn't matter how ; I needn't enter 
into that. If it hadn't been for me, his own brother would 
have shut him up for life. That's all." 

I am afraid it was hypocritical in me, but seeing that my 
aunt felt strongly on the subject, I tried to look as if I felt 
strongly too. 

" A proud fool ! " said my aunt. " Because his brother was 
a little eccentric though he is not half so eccentric as a good 
many people he didn't like to have him visible about his 
house, and sent him away to some private asylum-place; 
though he had been left to his particular care by their deceased 



222 THE PEE SON AL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

father, who thought him almost a natural. And a wise man 
he must have been to think so ! Mad himself, no doubt." 

Again, as my aunt looked quite convinced, I endeavored to 
look quite convinced also. 

" So I stepped in," said my aunt, " and made him an offer. 
I said, your brother's sane a great deal more sane than you 
are, or ever will be, it is to be hoped. Let him have his little 
income, and come and live with me. I am not afraid of him, 
/ am not proud, J am ready to take care of him, and shall not 
ill-treat him as some people (besides the asylum-folks) have 
done. After a good deal of squabbling," said my aunt, " I got 
him ; and he has been here ever since. He is the most 
friendly and amenable creature in existence ; and as for advice ! 
But nobody knows what that man's mind is, except myself." 

My aunt smoothed her dress and shook her head, as if she 
smoothed defiance of the whole world out of the one, and 
shook it out of the other. 

" He had a favorite sister," said my aunt, " a good creature, 
and very kind to him. But she did what they all do took a 
husband. And he did what they all do made her wretched. 
It had such an effect upon the mind of Mr. Dick (that's not 
madness I hope !) that, combined with his fear of his brother, 
and his sense of his unkindness, it threw him into a fever. 
That was before he came to me, but the recollection of it is 
oppressive to him even now. Did he say anything to you 
about King Charles the First, child ? " 

"Yes, aunt." 

" Ah ! " said my aunt, rubbing her nose as if she were a 
little vexed. " That's his allegorical way of expressing it. 
He connects his illness with great disturbance and agitation, 
naturally, and that's the figure, or the simile, or whatever it's 
called, which he chooses to use. And why shouldn't he, if he 
thinks proper ! " 

I said: "Certainly, aunt." 

" It's not "a business-like way of speaking," said my aunt, 
" nor a worldly way. I am aware of that ; and that's the rea- 
son why I insist upon it, that there sha'n't be a word about it 
in his Memorial." 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 223 

" Is it a Memorial about his own history that he is writing, 
aunt ? " 

" Yes, child," said my aunt, rubbing her nose again. " He 
is memorializing the Lord Chancellor, or the Lord Somebody 
or other one of those people, at all events, who are paid to 
be memorialized about his affairs. I suppose it will go in, 
one of these days. He hasn't been able to draw it up yet, 
without introducing that mode of expressing himself ; but it 
don't signify ; it keeps him employed." 

In fact, I found out afterwards that Mr. Dick had been for 
upwards of ten years endeavoring to keep King Charles the 
First out of the Memorial ; but he had been constantly getting 
into it, and was there now. 

"I say again," said my aunt, "nobody knows what that 
man's mind is except myself ; and he's the most amenable and 
friendly creature in existence. If he likes to fly a kite some- 
times, what of that ! Franklin used to fly a kite. He was a 
Quaker, or something of that sort, if I am not mistaken. And 
a Quaker flying a kite is a much more ridiculous object than 
anybody else." 

If I could have supposed that my aunt had recounted these 
particulars for my especial behoof, and as a piece of confidence 
in me, I should have felt very much distinguished, and should 
have augured favorably from such a mark of her good opinion. 
But I could hardly help observing that she had launched into 
them, chiefly because the question was raised in her own mind, 
and with very little reference to me, though she had addressed 
herself to me in the absence of anybody else. 

At the same time, I must say that the generosity of her 
championship of poor harmless Mr. Dick, not only inspired 
my young breast with some selfish hope for myself, but 
warmed it unselfishly towards her. I believe that I began to 
know that there was something about my aunt, notwithstand- 
ing her many eccentricities and odd humors, to be honored and 
trusted in. Though she was just as sharp that day, as on the 
day before, and was in and out about the donkeys just as 
often, and was thrown into a tremendous state of indignation, 
when a young man, going by, ogled Janet at a window (which 
was one of the gravest misdemeanors that could be committed 



224 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

against my aunt's dignity), she seemed to me to command 
more of my respect, if not less of my fear. 

The anxiety I underwent, in the interval which necessarily 
elapsed before a reply could be received to her letter to Mr. 
Murdstone, was extreme ; but I made an endeavor to suppress 
it, and to be as agreeable as I could in a quiet way, both to 
my aunt and Mr. Dick. The latter and I would have gone 
out to fly the great kite ; but that I had still no other clothes 
than the anything but ornamental garments with which I had 
been decorated on the first day, and which confined me to the 
house, except for an hour after dark, when my aunt, for my 
health's sake, paraded me up and down on the cliff outside 
before going to bed. At length the reply from Mr. Murdstone 
came, and my aunt informed me, to my infinite terror, that he 
was coming to speak to her himself on the next day. On the 
next day, still bundled up in my curious habiliments I sat 
counting the time, flushed and heated by the conflict of sinking 
hopes and rising fears within me; and waiting to be startled 
by the sight of the gloomy face, whose non-arrival startled me 
every minute. 

My aunt was a little more imperious and stern than usual, 
but I observed no other token of her preparing herself to 
receive the visitor so much dreaded by me. She sat at work 
in the window, and I sat by, with my thoughts running astray 
on all possible and impossible results of Mr. Murdstone's visit, 
until pretty late in the afternoon. Our dinner had been 
indefinitely postponed; but it was growing so late, that my 
aunt had ordered it to be got ready, when she gave a sudden 
alarm of donkeys, and to my consternation and amazement, I 
beheld Miss Murdstone, on a side-saddle, ride deliberately 
over the sacred piece of green, and stop in front of the house, 
looking about her. 

" Go along with you ! " cried my aunt, shaking her head 
and her fist at the window. "You have no business there. 
How dare you trespass ? Go along ! Oh, you bold-faced 
thing ! " 

My aunt was so exasperated by the coolness with which 
Miss Murdstone looked about her, that I really believe she 
was motionless, and unable for the moment to dart out accord- 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 225 

ing to custom. I seized the opportunity to inform her who it 
was ; and that the gentleman now coming near the offendei 
(for the way up was very steep, and he had dropped behind), 
was Mr. Murdstone himself. 

"I don't care who it is ! " cried my aunt, still shaking her 
head, and gesticulating anything but welcome from the bow- 
window. " I won't be trespassed upon. I won't allow it. 
Go away ! Janet, turn him round. Lead him off ! " and I 
saw, from behind my aunt, a sort of hurried battle-piece, in 
which the donkey stood resisting everybody, with all his four 
legs planted different ways, while Janet tried to pull him round 
by the bridle, Mr. Murdstone tried to lead him on, Miss 
Murdstone struck at Janet with a parasol, and several boys, 
who had come to see the engagement, shouted vigorously. 
But my aunt, suddenly descrying among them the young 
malefactor who was the donkey's guardian, and who was one 
of the most inveterate offenders against her, though hardly in 
his teens, rushed out to the scene of action, pounced upon him, 
captured him, dragged him, with his jacket over his head, and 
his heels grinding the ground, into the garden, and, calling 
upon Janet to fetch the constables and justices that he might 
be taken, tried, and executed on the spot, held him at bay 
there. This part of the business, however, did not last long ; 
for the young rascal, being expert at a variety of feints and 
dodges, of which my aunt had no conception, soon went 
whooping away, leaving some deep impressions of his nailed 
boots in the flower-beds, and taking his donkey in triumph 
with him. 

Miss Murdstone, during the latter portion of the contest, 
had dismounted, and was now waiting with her brother at the 
bottom of the steps, until my aunt should be at leisure to 
receive them. My aunt, a little ruffled by the combat, 
marched past them into the house, with great dignity, and 
took no notice of their presence, until they were announced 
by Janet. 

" Shall I go away, aunt ? " I asked, trembling. 

" No, sir," said my aunt. " Certainly not ! " With which 
she pushed me into a corner near her, and fenced me in with 
a chair, as if it were a prison or a bar of justice. This 
VOL.I 16 



position I continued to occupy during the whole interview, and 
from it I now saw Mr. and Miss Murdstone enter the room. 

" Oh ! " said my aunt, " I was not aware at first to whom 
I had the pleasure of objecting. But I don't allow anybody 
to ride over that turf. I make no exceptions. I don't allow 
anybody to do it." 

"Your regulation is rather awkward to strangers," said 
Miss Murdstone. 

" Is it ! " said my aunt. 

Mr. Murdstone seemed afraid of a renewal of hostilities, 
and interposing began : 

" Miss Trotwood ! " 

" I beg your pardon," observed my aunt, with a keen look. 
"You are the Mr. Murdstone who married the widow of my 
late nephew, David Copperfield, of Blunderstone Kookery ? 
Though why Kookery, / don't know ! " 

" I am," said Mr. Murdstone. 

" You'll excuse my saying, sir," returned my aunt, " that I 
think it would have been a much better and happier thing if 
you had left that poor child alone." 

"I so far agree with what Miss Trotwood has remarked," 
observed Miss Murdstone, bridling, "that I consider our 
lamented Clara to have been, in all essential respects, a mere 
child." 

" It is a comfort to you and me, ma'am," said my aunt, 
" who are getting on in life, and are not likely to be made 
unhappy by our personal attractions, that nobody can say the 
same of us." 

" No doubt ! " returned Miss Murdstone, though, I thought, 
not with a very ready or gracious assent. " And it certainly 
might have been, as you say, a better and happier thing for 
my brother if he had never entered into such a marriage. I 
have always been of that opinion." 

"I have no doubt you have," said my aunt. "Janet," 
ringing the bell, " my compliments to Mr. Dick, and beg him 
to come down." 

Until he came, my aunt sat perfectly upright and stiff, 
frowning at the wall. When he came my aunt performed the 
ceremony of introduction. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 227 

" Mr Dick. An old and intimate friend. On whose judg- 
ment/' said my aunt, with emphasis, as an admonition to Mr. 
Dick, who was biting his forefinger, and looking rather foolish, 
"I rely." 

Mr. Dick took his finger out of his mouth, on this hint, and 
stood among the group, with a grave and attentive expression 
of face. My aunt inclined her head to Mr. Murdstone, who 
went on : 

" Miss Trotwood : on the receipt of your letter, I considered 
it an act of greater justice to myself, and perhaps of more 
respect to you " 

" Thank you," said my aunt, still eyeing him keenly. "You 
needn't mind me." 

" To answer it in person, however inconvenient the journey," 
pursued Mr. Murdstone, "rather than by letter. This un- 
happy boy who has run away from his friends and his occu- 
pation " 

"And whose appearance," interposed his sister, directing 
general attention to me in my indefinable costume, "is 
perfectly scandalous and disgraceful." 

"Jane Murdstone," said her brother, "have the goodness 
not to interrupt me. This unhappy boy, Miss Trotwood, has 
been the occasion of much domestic trouble and uneasiness ; 
both during the lifetime of my late dear wife, and since. He 
has a sullen, rebellious spirit ; a violent temper ; and an 
untoward, intractable disposition. Both my sister and myself 
have endeavored to correct his vices, but ineffectually. And I 
have felt we both have felt, I may say ; my sister being 
fully in my confidence that it is right you should receive 
this grave and dispassionate assurance from our lips." 

" It can hardly be necessary for me to confirm anything 
stated by my brother," said Miss Murdstone ; " but I beg to 
observe, that, of all the boys in the world, I believe this is 
the worst boy." 

" Strong ! " said my aunt, shortly. 

"But not at all too strong for the facts," returned Miss 
Murdstone. 

" Ha ! " said my aunt. " Well, sir ? " 

" I have my own opinions," resumed Mr. Murdstone, whose 



228 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

face darkened more and more, the more he and my aunt 
observed each other, which they did very narrowly, "as to 
the best mode of bringing him up j they are founded, in 
part, on my knowledge of him, and in part on my knowledge 
of my own means and resources. I am responsible for them 
to myself, I act upon them, and I say no more about them. 
It is enough that I place this boy under the eye of a friend 
of my own, in a respectable business ; that it does not please 
him ; that he runs away from it ; makes himself a common 
vagabond about the country ; and comes here, in rags, to 
appeal to you, Miss Trotwood. I wish to set before you, 
honorably, the exact consequences so far as they are within 
my knowledge of your abetting him in this appeal." 

"But about the respectable business first/' said my aunt. 
" If he had been your own boy you would have put him to it, 
just the same I suppose ? " 

" If he had been my brother's own boy," returned Miss 
Murdstone, striking in, "his character, I trust, would have 
been altogether different." 

" Or if the poor child, his mother, had been alive, he would 
still have gone into the respectable business, would he ? " said 
my aunt. 

" I believe," said Mr. Murdstone, with an inclination of his 
head, " that Clara would have disputed nothing which myself 
and my sister Jane Murdstone were agreed was for the best." 

Miss Murdstone confirmed this with an audible murmur. 

" Humph ! " said my aunt. ' " Unfortunate baby ! " 

Mr. Dick, who had been rattling his money all this time, 
was rattling it so loudly now, that my aunt felt it necessary to 
check him with a look, before saying : 

" The poor child's annuity died with her ? " 

" Died with her," replied Mr. Murdstone. 

" And there was no settlement of the little property the 
house and garden the what's-its-name Rookery without any 
rooks in it upon her boy ? " 

" It had been left to her, unconditionally, by her first hus- 
band," Mr. Murdstone began, when my aunt caught him up 
with the greatest irascibility and impatience. 

" Good Lord, man, there's no occasion to say that. Left to 



OF DAVID COPPEBFIELD. 229 

her unconditionally ! I think I see David Copperfield looking 
forward to any condition of any sort or kind, though, it stared 
him point-blank in the face ! Of course, it was left to her 
unconditionally. But when she married again when she 
took that most disastrous step of marrying you, in short," 
said my aunt, " to be plain did no one put in a word for the 
boy at that time ? " 

" My late wife loved her second husband, madam," said Mr. 
Murdstone, "and trusted implicitly in him." 

" Your late wife, sir, was a most unworldly, most unhappy, 
most unfortunate baby," returned my aunt, shaking her head 
at him. "That's what she was. And, now, what have you 
got to say next ? " 

" Merely, this, Miss Trotwood," he returned. " I am here 
to take David back to take him back unconditionally, to dis- 
pose of him as I think proper, and to deal with him as I think 
right. I am not here to make any promise, or give any pledge 
to anybody. You may possibly have some idea, Miss Trot- 
wood, of abetting him in his running away, and in his com- 
plaints to you. Your manner, which I must say does not seem 
intended to propitiate, induces me to think it possible. Now 
I must caution you that if you abet him once, you abet him 
for good and all ; if you step in between him and me, now, you 
must step in, Miss Trotwood, for ever. I cannot trifle, or be 
trifled with. I am here, for the first and last time, to take him 
away. Is he ready to go ? If he is not and you tell me he 
is not ; on any pretence ; it is indifferent to me what my 
doors are shut against him henceforth, and yours, I take it for 
granted, are open to him." 

To this address, my aunt had listened with the closest 
attention, sitting perfectly upright, with her hands folded on 
one knee, and looking grimly on the speaker. When he had 
finished, she turned her eyes so as to command Miss Murd- 
stone, without otherwise disturbing her attitude, and said : 

"Well, ma'am, have you got anything to remark ? " 

" Indeed, Miss Trotwood," said Miss Murdstone, " all that I 
could say has been so well said by my brother, and all that 
I know to be the fact has been so plainly stated by him, that 
I have nothing to add except my thanks for your politeness. 



230 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

For your very great politeness, I am sure/' said Miss Murd- 
stone ; with, an irony which no more affected my aunt than it 
discomposed the cannon I had slept by at Chatham. 

"And what does the boy say ? " said my aunt. "Are you 
ready to go, David ? " 

I answered no, and entreated her not to let me go. I said 
that neither Mr. nor Miss Murdstone had ever liked me, or had 
ever been kind to me. That they had made my mamma, who 
always loved me dearly, unhappy about me, and that I knew 
it well, and that Peggotty knew it. I said that I had beei? 
more miserable than I thought anybody could believe who only 
knew how young I was. And I begged and prayed my aunt 
I forget in what terms now, but I remember that they 
affected me very much then to befriend and protect me, for 
my father's sake. 

" Mr. Dick," said my aunt, " what shall I do with this child ? r 

Mr. Dick considered, hesitated, brightened, and rejoined. 
" Have him measured for a suit of clothes, directly." 

"Mr. Dick," said my aunt, triumphantly, "give me your 
hand, for your common sense is invaluable." Having shaken 
it with great cordiality, she pulled me towards her, and said to 
Mr. Murdstone : 

" You can go when you like ; I'll take my chance with the 
boy. If he's all you say he is, at least I can do as much for 
him then, as you have done. But I don't believe a word of it." 

"Miss Trotwood," rejoined Mr. Murdstone, shrugging his 
shoulders, as he rose, " if you were a gentleman " 

" Bah ! stuff and nonsense ! " said my aunt. " Don't talk to 
me!" 

" How exquisitely polite ! " exclaimed Miss Murdstone, 
rising. " Overpowering, really ! " 

" Do you think I don't know," said my aunt, turning a deaf 
ear to the sister, and continuing to address the brother, and 
to shake her head at him with infinite expression, " what kind 
of life you must have led that poor, unhappy, misdirected 
baby ? Do you think I don't know what a woful day it was 
for the soft little creature when you first came in her way 
smirking, and making great eyes at her, I'll be bound, as if 
you couldn't say boh ! to a goose ! " 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 231 

" I never heard anything so elegant ! " said Miss Murdstone. 

"Do you think I can't understand you as well as if I had 
een you," pursued my aunt, "now that I do see and hear 
you which I tell you candidly, is anything but a pleasure to 
me ? Oh yes, bless us ! who so smooth and silky as Mr. 
Murdstone at first ! The poor, benighted innocent had never 
seen such a man. He was made of sweetness. He worshipped 
her. He doted on her boy tenderly $oted on him ! He was 
to be another father to him, and they were all to live together 
in a garden of roses, weren't they ? Ugh ! Get along with 
you, do ! " said my aunt. 

" I never heard anything like this person in my life ! " 
exclaimed Miss Murdstone. 

"And when you had made sure of the poor little fool," 
said my aunt " God forgive me that I should call her so, and 
she gone where you won't go in a hurry because you had 
not done wrong enough to her and hers, you must begin to 
train her, must you ? begin to break her, like a poor caged 
bird, and wear her deluded life away, in teaching her to sing 
your notes ? " 

"This is either insanity or intoxication," said Miss Murd- 
stone, in a perfect agony at not being able to turn the current 
of my aunt's address towards herself ; " and my suspicion is, 
that it's intoxication." 

Miss Betsey, without taking the least notice of the interrup- 
tion, continued to address herself to Mr. Murdstone, as if there 
had been no such thing. 

"Mr. Murdstone," she said, shaking her finger at him, "you 
were a tyrant to the simple baby, and you broke her heart. 
She was a loving baby I know that ; I knew it years before 
you ever saw her and through the best part of her weakness, 
you gave her the wounds she died of. There is the truth for 
your comfort, however you like it. And you and your instru- 
ments may make the most of it." 

"Allow me to inquire, Miss Trotwood," interposed Miss 
Murdstone, " whom you are pleased to call, in a choice of words 
in which I am not experienced, my brother's instruments ? " 

Still stone deaf to the voice, and utterly unmoved by it, 
Miss Betsey pursued her discourse. 



232 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" It was clear enough, as I have told you, years before you 
ever saw her and why in the mysterious dispensations of 
Providence, you ever did see her, is more than humanity can 
comprehend it was clear enough that the poor soft little 
thing would marry somebody, at some time or other ; but I 
did hope it wouldn't have been as bad as it has turned out. 
That was the time, Mr. Murdstone, when she gave birth to her 
boy here," said my aunt ; " to the poor child you sometimes 
tormented her through afterwards, which is a disagreeable 
remembrance, and makes the sight of him odious now. Aye, 
aye ! you needn't wince ! " said my aunt. " I know it's true 
without that." 

He had stood by the door, all this while, observant of her 
with a smile upon his face, though his black eyebrows were 
heavily contracted. I remarked now, that, though the smile 
was on his face still, his color had gone in a moment, and he 
seemed to breathe as if he had been running. 

"Good day, sir," said my aunt, "and good by ! G-ood day 
to you, too, ma'am," said my aunt, turning suddenly upon 
his sister. "Let me see you ride a donkey over my green 
again, and as sure as you have a head upon your shoulders, 
I'll knock your bonnet off, and tread upon it ! " 

It would require a painter, and no common painter too, to 
depict my aunt's face as she delivered herself of this very 
unexpected sentiment, and Miss Murdstone's face as she heard 
it. But the manner of the speech, no less than the matter, 
was so fiery, that Miss Murdstone, without a word in answer, 
discreetly put her arm through her brother's, and walked 
haughtily out of the cottage ; my aunt remaining in the 
window looking after them; prepared, I have no doubt, in 
case of the donkey's re-appearance, to carry her threat into 
instant execution. 

No attempt at defiance being made, however, her face 
gradually relaxed, and became so pleasant that I was embold- 
ened to kiss and thank her ; which I did with great heartiness, 
and with both my arms clasped round her neck. I then shook 
hands with Mr. Dick, who shook hands with me a great many 
times, and hailed this happy close of the proceedings with 
repeated bursts of laughter. 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 233 

"You'll consider yourself guardian, jointly with, me, of this 
child, Mr. Dick," said my aunt. 

" I shall be delighted," said Mr. Dick, " to be the guardian 
of David's son." 

"Very good," returned my aunt, "that's settled. I have 
been thinking, do you know, Mr. Dick, that I might call him 
Trotwood ? " 

"Certainly, certainly. Call him Trotwood, certainly," said 
Mr. Dick. "David's son's Trotwood." 

" Trotwood Copperfield, you mean," returned my aunt. 

"Yes, to be sure. Yes. Trotwood Copperfield," said Mr. 
Dick, a little abashed. 

My aunt took so kindly to the notion, that some ready-made 
clothes, which were purchased for me that afternoon, were 
marked " Trotwood Copperfield," in her own handwriting, and 
in indelible marking-ink, before I put them on; and it was 
settled that all the other clothes which were ordered to be 
made for me (a complete outfit was bespoke that afternoon) 
should be marked in the same way. 

Thus I began my new life, in a new name, and with every- 
thing new about me. Now that the state of doubt was over, I 
felt, for many days, like one in a dream. I never thought that 
I had a curious couple of guardians, in my aunt and Mr. Dick. 
I never thought of anything about myself, distinctly. The two 
things clearest in my mind were, that a remoteness had come 
upon the old Blunderstone life which seemed to lie in the 
haze of an immeasurable distance ; and that a curtain had for 
ever fallen on my life at Murdstone and Grinby's. No one 
has ever raised that curtain since. I have lifted it for a 
moment, even in this narrative with a reluctant hand, and 
dropped it gladly. The remembrance of that life is fraught 
with so much pain to me, with so much mental suffering and 
want of hope, that I have never had the courage even to 
examine how long I was doomed to lead it. Whether it lasted 
for a year, or more, or less, I do not know. I only know that 
it was, and ce.ased to be j and that I have written, and there I 
leave it. 



234 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 



CHAPTER XV. 

I MAKE ANOTHER BEGINNING. 

MR. DICK and I soon became the best of friends, and very 
often, when his day's work was done, went out together to fly 
the great kite. Every day of his life he had a long sitting at 
the Memorial, which never made the least progress, however 
hard he labored, for King Charles the First always strayed 
into it, sooner or later, and then it was thrown aside, and 
another one begun. The patience and hope with which he 
bore these perpetual disappointments, the mild perception he 
had that there was something wrong about King Charles the 
First, the feeble efforts he made to keep him out, and the cer- 
tainty with which he came in, and tumbled the Memorial out 
of all shape, made a deep impression on me. What Mr. Dick 
supposed would come of the Memorial, if it were completed ; 
where he thought it was to go, or^ what he thought it was to 
do ; he knew no more than anybody else, I believe. Nor was 
it at all necessary that he should trouble himself with such 
questions, for if anything were certain under the sun, it was 
certain that the Memorial never would be finished. 

It was quite an affecting sight, I used to think, to see him 
with the kite when it was up a great height in the air. What 
he had told me, in his room, about his belief in its dissemi- 
nating the statements pasted on it, which were nothing but 
old leaves of abortive Memorials, might have been a fancy 
with him sometimes ; but not when he was out, looking up 
at the kite in the sky, and feeling it pull and tug at his hand. 
He never looked so serene as he did then. I used to fancy, as 
I sat by him of an evening, on a green slope, and saw him 
watch the kite high in the quiet air, that it lifted his mind 
out of its confusion, and bore it (such was my boyish thought) 
into the skies. As he wound the string in, and it came lower 
and lower down out of the beautiful light, until it fluttered to 



OF DAVID COPPERF1ELD. 235 

the ground, and lay there like a dead thing, he seemed to 
wake gradually out of a dream ; and I remember to have seen 
him take it up, and look about him in a lost way, as if they 
had both come down togther, so that I pitied him with all my 
heart. 

While I advanced in friendship and intimacy with Mr. 
Dick, I did not go backward in the favor of his staunch friend, 
my aunt. She took so kindly to me, that, in the course of a 
few weeks, she shortened my adopted name of Trotwood into 
Trot ; and even encouraged me to hope that if I went on as I 
had begun, I might take equal rank in her affections with my 
sister Betsey Trotwood. 

" Trot," said my aunt one evening, when the backgammon- 
board was placed as usual for herself and Mr. Dick, " we must 
not forget your education." 

This was my only subject of anxiety, and I felt quite de- 
lighted by her referring to it. 

" Should you like to go to school at Canterbury ? r - said my 
aunt. 

I replied that I should like it very much, as it was so near 
her. 

" Good," said my aunt. " Should you like to go to-morrow ? " 

Being already no stranger to the general rapidity of my 
aunt's evolutions, I was not surprised by the suddenness of 
the proposal, and said : " Yes." 

" Good," said my aunt again. " Janet, hire the gray pony 
and chaise to-morrow morning at ten o'clock, and pack up 
Master Trot wood's clothes to-night." 

I was greatly elated by these orders ; but my heart smote 
me for my selfishness, when I witnessed their effect on Mr. 
Dick, who was so low-spirited at the prospect of our separa- 
tion, and played so ill in consequence, that my aunt, after giv- 
ing him several admonitory raps on the knuckles with her 
dicebox, shut up the board, and declined to play with him any 
more. But, on hearing from 'my aunt that I should sometimes 
come over on a Saturday, and that he could sometimes come 
over and see me on a Wednesday, he revived ; and vowed to 
make another kite for those occasions, of proportions greatly 
surpassing the present one. In the morning he was down- 



236 

hearted again, and would have sustained himself by giving me 
all the money he had in his possession, gold and silver too, if 
my aunt had not interposed, and limited the gift to five shil- 
lings, which, at his earnest petition, were afterwards increased 
to ten. We parted at the garden gate in a most affectionate 
manner, and Mr. Dick did not go into the house until my aunt 
had driven me out of sight of it. 

My aunt, who was perfectly indifferent to public opinion, 
drove the gray pony through Dover in a masterly manner ; 
sitting high and stiff like a stage coachman, keeping a steady 
eye upon him wherever he went, and making a point of not 
letting him have his own way in any respect. When we came 
into the country road, she permitted him to relax a little, how- 
ever ; and looking at me down in a valley of cushion by her 
side, asked me whether I was happy. 

"Very happy indeed, thank you, aunt," I said. 

She was much gratified ; and both her hands being occupied, 
patted me on the head with her whip. 

" Is it a large school, aunt ? " I asked. 

" Why, I don't know," said my aunt. " We are going to Mr. 
Wickfield's first." 

" Does he keep a school ? " I asked. 

" No, Trot," said my aunt. " He keeps an office." 

I asked for no more information about Mr. Wickfield, as 
she offered none, and we conversed on other subjects until we 
came to Canterbury, where, as it was market-day, my aunt had 
a great opportunity of insinuating the gray pony among carts, 
baskets, vegetables, and hucksters' goods. The hair-breadth 
turns and twists we made, drew down upon us a variety of 
speeches from the people standing about, which were not 
always complimentary; but my aunt drove on with perfect 
indifference, and I dare say would have taken her own way 
with as much coolness through an enemy's country. 

At length we stopped before a very old house bulging out 
over the road ; a house with long low lattice-windows bulging 
out still farther, and beams with carved heads on the ends bulg- 
ing out too, so that I fancied the whole house was leaning for- 
ward trying to see who was passing on the narrow pavement 
below. It was quite spotless in its cleanliness. The old-fash- 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 237 

ioned brass knocker on the low arched door, ornamented with 
carved garlands of fruit and flowers, twinkled like a star ; the 
two stone steps descending to the door were as white as if 
they had been covered with fair linen ; and all the angles and 
corners, and carvings and mouldings, and quaint little panes of 
glass, and quainter little windows, though as old as the hills, 
were as pure as any snow that ever fell upon the hills. 

When the pony-chaise stopped at the door, and my eyes were 
intent upon the house, I saw a cadaverous face appear at a 
small window on the ground floor (in a little round tower that 
formed one side of the house), and quickly disappear. The 
low arched door then opened, and the face came out. It was 
quite as cadaverous as it had looked in the window, though in 
the grain of it there was that tinge of red which is sometimes 
to be observed in the skins of red-haired people. It belonged 
to a red-haired person a youth of fifteen, as I take it now, 
but looking much older whose hair was cropped as close as the 
closest stubble ; who had hardly any eyebrows, and no eye- 
lashes, and eyes of a red-brown j so unsheltered and unshaded, 
that I remember wondering how he went to sleep. He was 
high-shouldered and bony ; dressed in decent black, with a 
white wisp of a neckcloth ; buttoned up to the throat ; and 
had a long, lank, skeleton hand, which particularly attracted 
my attention, as he stood at the pony's head, rubbing his chin 
with it, and looking up at us in the chaise. 

" Is Mr. Wickfield at home, Uriah Heep ? " said my aunt. 

" Mr. Wickfield's at home, ma'am," said Uriah Heep, " if 
you'll please to walk in there " pointing with his long hand 
to the room he meant. 

We got out ; and leaving him to hold the pony, went into a 
long low parlor looking towards the street, from the window 
of which I caught a glimpse, as I went in, of Uriah Heep 
breathing into the pony's nostrils, and immediately covering 
them with his hand, as if he were putting some spell upon 
him. Opposite to the tall old chimney-piece, were two por- 
traits : one of a gentleman with gray hair (though not by any 
means an old man) and black eyebrows, who was looking over 
some papers tied together with red tape ; the other, of a lady, 



238 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

with a very placid and sweet expression of face, who was look- 
ing at me. 

I believe I was turning about in search of Uriah's picture, 
when, a door at the farther end of the room opening, a gentle- 
man entered, at sight of whom I turned to the first-mentioned 
portrait again, to make quite sure that it had not come out of 
its frame. But it was stationary ; and as the gentleman ad- 
vanced into the light, I saw that he was some years older than 
when he had had his picture painted. 

" Miss Betsey Trotwood," said the gentleman, " pray walk 
in. I was engaged for the moment, but you'll excuse my 
being busy. You know my motive. I have but one in life." 

Miss Betsey thanked him, and we went into his room, which 
was furnished as an office, with books, papers, tin boxes, and 
so forth. It looked into a garden, and had an iron safe let 
into the wall; so immediately over the mantel-shelf that I 
wondered, as I sat down, how the sweeps got round it when 
they swept the chimney. 

" Well, Miss Trotwood," said Mr. Wickfield ; for I soon 
found that it was he, and that he was a lawyer, and steward 
of the estates of a rich gentleman of the county ; " what wind 
blows you here ? Not an ill wind, I hope ? '' 

" No," replied my aunt, " I have not come for any law." 

"That's right, ma'am," said Mr. Wickfield. " You had bet- 
ter come for anything else." 

His hair was quite white now, though his eyebrows were 
still black. He had a very agreeable face, and, I thought, was 
handsome. There was a certain richness in his complexion, 
which I had been long accustomed, under Peggotty's tuition, 
to connect with port wine ; and I fancied it was in his voice 
too, and referred his growing corpulency to the same cause. 
He was very cleanly dressed, in a blue coat, striped waistcoat, 
and nankeen trousers ; and his fine frilled shirt and cambric 
neckcloth looked unusually soft and white, reminding my 
strolling fancy (I call to mind) of the plumage on the breast 
of a swan. 

" This is my nephew," said my aunt. 

" Wasn't aware you had . one, Miss Trotwood," said Mr. 
Wickfield. 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 239 

" My grand-nephew, that is to say," observed my aunt. 

"Wasn't aware you had a grand-nephew, I give you my 
word," said Mr. Wickfield. 

" I have adopted him," said my aunt, with a wave of her 
hand, importing that his knowledge and his ignorance were all 
one to her, " and I have brought him here, to put him to a 
school where he may be thoroughly well taught, and well 
treated. Now tell me where that school is, and what it is, 
and all about it." 

" Before I can advise you properly," said Mr. Wickfield, 
" the old question you know. What's your motive in this ? '" 

" Deuce take the man ! " exclaimed my aunt. " Always 
fishing for motives, when they're on the surface ! Why, to 
make the child happy and useful." 

" It must be a mixed motive, I think," said Mr. Wickfield, 
shaking his head and smiling incredulously. 

" A mixed fiddlestick ! " returned my aunt. " You claim 
to have one plain motive in all you do yourself. You don't 
suppose, I hope, that you are the only plain dealer in the 
world ? " 

" Ay, but I have only one motive in life, Miss Trotwood," 
he rejoined, smiling. " Other people have dozens, scores, 
hundreds. I have only one. There's the difference. How- 
ever, that's beside the question. The best school ? What- 
ever the motive, you want the best ? " 

My aunt nodded assent. 

"At the best we have," said Mr. Wickfield, considering, 
"your nephew couldn't board just now." 

" But he could board somewhere else, I suppose ? " sug- 
gested my aunt. 

Mr. Wickfield thought I could. After a little discussion, 
he proposed to take my aunt to the school, that she might see 
it and judge for herself; also, to take her, with the same 
object, to two or three houses where he thought I could be 
boarded. My aunt embracing the proposal, we were all three 
going out together, when he stopped and said : 

"Our little friend here might have some motive, perhaps, 
for objecting to the arrangements. I think we had better 
leave him behind ? " 



240 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

My aunt seemed disposed to contest the point ; but to facili- 
tate matters I said I would gladly remain behind, if they 
pleased ; and returned into Mr. Wickfield's office, where I sat 
down again, in the chair I had first occupied,- to await their 
return. 

It so happened that this chair was opposite a narrow pas- 
sage, which ended in the little circular room where I had seen 
Uriah Heep's pale face looking out of window. Uriah, 
having taken the pony to a neighboring stable, was at work 
at a desk in this room, which had a brass frame on the top to 
hang papers upon, and on which the writing he was making 
a copy of was then hanging. Though his face was towards 
me, I thought, for some time, the writing being between us, 
that he could not see me ; but looking that way more atten- 
tively, it made me uncomfortable to observe that, every now 
and then, his sleepless eyes would come below the writing, 
like two red suns, and stealthily stare at me for I dare say & 
whole minute at a time, during which his pen went, or pre- 
tended to go, as cleverly as ever. I made several attempts to 
get out of their way such as standing on a chair to look at 
a map on the other side of the room, and poring over the 
columns of a Kentish newspaper but they always attracted 
me back again ; and whenever I looked towards those two red 
suns, I was sure to find them, either just rising or just 
setting. 

At length, much to my relief, my aunt and Mr. Wickfield 
came back, after a pretty long absence. They were not so 
successful as I could have wished ; for though the advantages 
of the school were undeniable, my aunt had not approved of 
any of the boarding-houses proposed for me. 

" It's very unfortunate," said my aunt. " I don't know 
what to do, Trot." 

" It does happen unfortunately," said Mr. Wickfield. " But 
I'll tell you what you can do, Miss Trotwood." 

"What's that ? " inquired my aunt. 

"Leave your nephew here, for the present. He's a quiet 
fellow. He won't disturb me at all. It's a capital house 
for study. As quiet as a monastery, and almost as roomy. 
Leave him here." 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 241 

My aunt evidently liked the offer, though she was delicate 
of accepting it. So did I. 

"Come, Miss Trotwood," said Mr. Wickfield. "This is 
the way out of the difficulty. It's only a temporary arrange- 
ment, you know. If it don't act well, or don't quite accord 
with our mutual convenience, he can easily go to the right 
about. There will be time to find some better place for him 
in the meanwhile. You had better determine to leave him 
here for the present ! " 

" I am very much obliged to you," said my aunt ; " and so 
is he, I see ; but " 

" Come ! I know what you mean," cried Mr. Wickfield. 
" You shall not be- oppressed by the receipt of favors, Miss 
Trotwood. You may pay for him if you like. We won't be 
hard about terms, but you shall pay if you will." 

" On that understanding," said my aunt, " though it doesn't 
lessen the real obligation, I shall be very glad to leave him." 

" Then come and see my little housekeeper," said Mr. Wick- 
field. 

We accordingly went up a wonderful old staircase with a 
balustrade so broad that we might have gone up that, almost 
as easily and into a shady old drawing-room, lighted by 
some three or four of the quaint windows I had looked up at 
from the street : which had old oak seats in them, that seemed 
to have come of the same trees as the shining oak floor, and 
the great beams in the ceiling. It was a prettily furnished 
room, with a piano and some lively furniture in red and green, 
and some flowers. It seemed to be all old nooks and corners ; 
and in every nook and corner there was some queer little 
table, or cupboard, or bookcase, or seat, or something or other, 
that made me think there was not such another good corner in 
the room ; until I looked at the next one, and found it equal 
to it, if not better. On everything there was the same air of 
retirement and cleanliness that marked the house outside. 

Mr. Wickfield tapped at a door in a corner of the panelled 
wall, and a girl of about my own age came quickly out and 
kissed him. On her face, I saw immediately the placid and 
sweet expression of the lady whose picture had looked at me 
down stairs. It seemed to my imagination as if the portrait 
VOL.I 16 



24:2 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AXD EXPEHIEX' K 

had grown womanly, and the original remained a child. 
Although her face was quite bright and happy, there was a 
tranquillity about it, and about her a quiet, good, calm 
spirit, that I never have forgotten; that I never shall 
forget. 

This was his little housekeeper, his daughter Agnes, Mr. 
Wickfield said. When I heard how he said it, and saw how 
he held her hand, I guessed what the one motive of his life 
was. 

She had a little basket-trifle hanging at her side, with keys 
in it ; and she looked as staid and as discreet a housekeeper 
as the old house could have. She listened to her father as he 
told her about me, with a pleasant face ; and when he had con- 
cluded, proposed to my aunt that we should go up stairs and 
see my room. We all went together ; she before us. And a 
glorious old room it was, with more oak beams, and diamond 
panes, and the broad balustrade going all the way up to it. 

I cannot call to mind where or when, in my childhood, I 
had seen a stained glass window in a church. Nor do I recol- 
lect its subject. But I know that when I saw her turn round, 
in the grave light of the old staircase, and wait for us, above, 
I thought of that window ; and that I associated something of 
its tranquil brightness with Agnes Wickfield ever afterwards. 

My aunt was as happy as I was, in the arrangement made 
for me ; and we went down to the drawing-room again, well 
pleased and gratified. As she would not hear of staying to 
dinner, lest she should by any chance fail to arrive at home 
with the gray pony before dark; and as I apprehend Mr. 
Wickfield knew her too well, to argue any point with her ; 
some lunch was provided for her there, and Agnes went back 
to her governess, and Mr. Wickfield to his office. So we were 
left to take leave of one another without any restraint. 

She told me that everything would be arranged for me by 
Mr. Wickfield, and that I should want for nothing, and gave 
me the kindest words and the best advice. 

" Trot," said my aunt in conclusion, " be a credit to your- 
self, to me, and Mr. Dick, and Heaven be with you ! " 

I was greatly overcome, and could only thank her, again 
and again, and send my love to Mr. Dick. 



OF DAVID COPPEBFIELD. 243 

" Xever," said my aunt, " be mean in anything ; never be 
false ; never be cruel. Avoid those three vices, Trot, and I 
can always be hopeful of you." 

I promised, as well as I could, that I would not abuse her 
kindness or forget her admonition. 

" The pony's at the door," said my aunt, " and I am off ! 
Stay here." 

With these words she embraced me hastily, and went out 
of the room, shutting the door after her. At first I was star- 
tled by so abrupt a departure, and almost feared I had dis- 
pleased her ; but when I looked into the street, and saw how 
dejectedly she got into the chaise, and drove away without 
looking up, I understood her better, and did not do her that 
injustice. 

By five o'clock, which was Mr. Wickfield's dinner-hour, I 
had mustered up my spirits again, and was ready for my knife 
and fork. The cloth was only laid for us two ; but Agnes 
was waiting in the drawing-room before dinner, went down 
with her father, and sat opposite to him at table. I doubted 
whether he could have dined without her. 

We did not stay there, after dinner, but came up stairs into 
the drawing-room again : in one snug corner of which, Agnes 
set glasses for her father, and a decanter of port wine. I 
thought he would have missed its usual flavor, if it had been 
put there for him by any other hands. 

There he sat, taking his wine, and taking a good deal of it, 
for two hours ; while Agnes played on the piano, worked, and 
talked to him and me. He was, for the most part, gay and 
cheerful with us ; but sometimes his eyes rested on her, and he 
fell into a brooding state, and was silent. She always observed 
this -quickly, as I thought, and always roused him with a ques- 
tion or caress. Then he came out of his meditation, and drank 
more wine. 

Agnes' made the tea, and presided over it; and the time 
passed away after it, as after dinner, until she went to bed ; 
when her father took her in his arms and kissed her, and, she 
oeing gone, ordered candles in his office. Then I went to bed 
too. 

But in the course of the evening I had rambled down to the 



244 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

door, and a little way along the street, that I might have 
another peep at the old houses, and the gray Cathedral ; and 
might think of my coining through that old city on my jour- 
ney, and of my passing the very house I 'lived in, without 
knowing it. As I came back, I saw Uriah Heep shutting up 
the office; and feeling friendly towards everybody, went in 
and spoke to him, and at parting, gave him my hand. But 
oh, what a clammy hand his was ! as ghostly to the touch as 
to the sight ! I rubbed mine afterwards, to warm it, and to 
rub his off. 

It was such an uncomfortable hand, that, when I went to 
my room, it was still cold and wet upon my memory. Lean- 
ing out of window, and seeing one of the faces on the beam- 
ends looking at me sideways, I fancied it was Uriah Heep got 
up there somehow, and shut him out in a hurry. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 245 



CHAPTEE XVI. 

I AM A NEW BOY IN MORE SENSES THAN ONE. 

NEXT morning, after breakfast, I entered on school life 
again. I went, accompanied by Mr. Wickfield, to the scene 
of my future studies a grave building in a court-yard, with 
a learned air about it that seemed very well suited to the 
stray rooks and jackdaws who came down from the Cathedral 
towers to walk with a clerkly bearing on the grass-plot and 
was introduced to my new master, Dr. Strong. 

Dr. Strong looked almost as rusty, to my thinking, as the 
tall iron rails and gates outside the house ; and almost as stiff 
and heavy as the great stone urns that flanked them, and were 
set up, on the top of the red-brick wall, at regular distances 
all round the court, like sublimated skittles, for Time to play 
at. He was in his library (I mean Dr. Strong was), with his 
clothes not particularly well brushed, and his hair not partic- 
ularly well combed ; his knee-smalls unbraced ; his long black 
gaiters unbuttoned ; and his shoes yawning like two caverns 
on the hearth-rug. Turning upon me a lustreless eye, that 
reminded me of a long-forgotten blind old horse who once used 
to crop the grass, and tumble over the graves in Blunderstone 
churchyard, he said he was glad to see me : and then he gave 
me his hand ; which I didn't know what to do with, as it did 
nothing for itself. 

But, sitting at work, not far off from Dr. Strong, was a very 
pretty young lady whom he called Annie, and who was his 
daughter, I supposed who got me out of my difficulty by 
kneeling down to put Dr. Strong's shoes on, and button his 
gaiters, which she did with great cheerfulness and quickness. 
When she had finished, and we were going out to the school- 
room, I was much surprised to hear Mr. Wickfield, in bidding 
her good morning, address her as " Mrs. Strong ; " and I was 
wondering could she be Doctor Strong's son's wife, or could 



246 

she be Mrs. Doctor Strong, when Dr. Strong himself uncon- 
sciously enlightened me. 

"By the by, Wickfield," he said, stopping in a passage 
with his hand on my shoulder; "you have not found any 
suitable provision for my wife's cousin yet ? " 

"No," said Mr. Wickfield. "No. Not yet." 

" I could wish it done as soon as it can be done, Wickfield," 
said Doctor Strong, " for Jack Maldon is needy, and idle ; 
and of those two bad things, worse things sometimes come. 
What does Doctor Watts say," he added, looking at me, and 
moving his head to the time of his quotation, " ' Satan finds 
some mischief still for idle hands to do.' ' 

" Egad, doctor," returned Mr. Wickfield, " if Doctor Watts 
knew mankind, he might have written, with as much truth, 
' Satan finds some mischief still, for busy hands to do.' The 
busy people achieve their full share of mischief in the world, 
you may rely upon it. What have the people been about 
who have been the busiest in getting money, and in getting 
power, this century or two ? No mischief ? " 

"Jack Maldon will never be very busy in getting either, I 
expect," said Doctor Strong, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. 

" Perhaps not," said Mr. Wickfield ; " and you bring me 
back to the question, with an apology for digressing. No, I 
have not been able to dispose of Mr. Jack Maldon yet. I 
believe," he said this with some hesitation, "I penetrate your 
motive, and it makes the thing more difficult." 

"My motive," returned Doctor Strong, "is to make some 
suitable provision for a cousin, and an old playfellow of 
Annie's." 

" Yes, I know," said Mr. Wickfield ; " at home or abroad." 

" Aye ! " replied the Doctor, apparently wondering why he 
emphasized those words so much. " At home or abroad." 

" Your own expression, you know," said Mr. Wickfield. 
" Or abroad." 

" Surely," the Doctor answered. " Surely. One or other." 

" One or other ? Have you no choice ? " asked Mr. 
Wickfield. 

" No," returned the Doctor. 

" No ? " with astonishment. 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 247 

"Not the least." 

" No motive/' said Mr. Wickfield, " for meaning abroad, and 
not at home ? " 

" No/' returned the Doctor. 

"I am bound to believe you, and of course I do believe 
you/' said Mr. Wickfield. " It might have simplified my 
office very much, if I had known it before. But I confess I 
entertained another impression." 

Doctor Strong regarded him with a puzzled and doubting 
look, which almost immediately subsided into a smile that 
gave me great encouragement ; for it was full of amiability 
and sweetness, and there was a simplicity in it, and indeed in 
his whole manner, when the studious, pondering frost upon 
it was got through, very attractive and hopeful to a young 
scholar like me. Eepeating " no," and " not the least," and 
other short assurances to the same purport, Doctor Strong 
jogged on before us, at a queer, uneven pace ; and we 
followed : Mr. Wickfield looking grave, I observed, and shak- 
ing his head to himself, without knowing that I saw him. 

The school-room was a pretty large hall, on the quietest 
side of the house, confronted by the stately stare of some 
half-dozen of the great urns, and commanding a peep of an 
old secluded garden belonging to the Doctor, where the 
peaches were ripening on the sunny south wall. There were 
two great aloes, in tubs, on the turf outside the windows ; the 
broad hard leaves of which plant (looking as if they were 
made of painted tin) have ever since, by association, been 
symbolical to me of silence and retirement. About five-and- 
twenty boys were studiously engaged at their books when we 
went in, but they rose to give the Doctor good morning, and 
remained standing when they saw Mr. Wickfield and me. 

" A new boy, young gentlemen," said the Doctor ; " Trot- 
wood Copperfield." 

One Adams, who was the head-boy, then stepped out of 
his place and welcomed me. He looked like a young clergy- 
man, in his white cravat, but he was very affable and good- 
humored ; and he showed me my place, and presented me to 
the masters in a gentlemanly way that would have put me 
at my ease, if anything could. 



248 THE PERSONAL HISTOEY AND EXPERIENCE 

It seemed to me so long, however, since I had been among 
such boys, or among any companions of my own age, except 
Mick Walker and Mealy Potatoes, that I felt as strange as ever 
I have done in all my life. I was so conscious of having 
passed through scenes of which they could have no knowledge, 
and of having acquired experiences foreign to my age, appear- 
ance, and condition as one of them, that I half believed it was 
an imposture to come there as an ordinary little schoolboy. I 
had become, in the Murdstone and Grinby time, however short 
or long it may have been, so unused to the sports and games 
of boys, that I knew I was awkward and inexperienced in the 
commonest things belonging to them. Whatever I had learnt, 
had so slipped away from me in the sordid cares of my life 
from day to night, that now, when I was examined about what 
I knew, I knew nothing, and was put into the lowest form of 
the school. But, troubled as I was, by my want of boyish 
skill, and of book-learning too, I was made infinitely more 
uncomfortable by the consideration, that, in what I did know, 
I was much farther removed from my companions than in 
what I did not. My mind ran upon what they would think, 
if they knew of my familiar acquaintance with the King's 
Bench Prison ? Was there anything about me which would 
reveal my proceedings in connection with the Micawber family 
all those pawnings, and sellings, and suppers in spite of 
myself? Suppose some of the boys had seen me coming 
through Canterbury, wayworn and ragged, and should find me 
out ? What would they say, who made so light of money, if 
they could know how I scraped my halfpence together, for 
the purchase of my daily saveloy and beer, or my slices of 
pudding ? How would it affect them, who were so innocent 
of London life, and London streets, to discover how knowing 
I was (and was ashamed to be) in some of the meanest phases 
of both ? All this ran in my head so much, on that first day 
at Dr. Strong's, that I felt distrustful of my slightest look 
and gesture ; shrunk within myself whensoever I was ap- 
proached by one of my new school-fellows ; and hurried off the 
minute school was over, afraid of committing myself in my 
response to any friendly notice or advance. 

But there was such an influence in Mr. Wickfield's old 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 249 

house, that when I knocked at it, with my new school-books 
under my arm, I began to feel my uneasiness softening away. 
As I went up to my airy old room, the grave shadow of the 
staircase seemed to fall upon my doubts and fears, and to make 
the past more indistinct. I sat there, sturdily conning my 
books, until dinner time (we were out of school for good at 
three) ; and went down, hopeful of becoming a passable sort 
of boy yet. 

Agnes was in the drawing-room, waiting for her father, who 
was detained by some one in his office. She met me with her 
pleasant smile, and asked me how I liked the school. I told 
her I should like it very much, I hoped ; but I was a little 
strange to it at first. 

" You have never been to school," I said, " have you ? " 

" Oh yes ! Every day." 

" Ah, but you mean here, at your own home ? " 

" Papa couldn't spare me to go anywhere else," she answered, 
smiling and shaking her head. " His housekeeper must be in 
his house, you know." 

" He is very fond of you, I am sure," I said. 

She nodded " Yes," and went to the door to listen for his 
coming up, that she might meet him on the stairs. But, as he 
was not there, she came back again. 

" Mamma has been dead ever since I was born," she said, in 
her quiet way. " I only know her picture, down stairs. I 
saw you looking at it yesterday. Did you think whose it 
was ? ' I told her yes, because it was so like herself. 

"Papa says so, too," said Agnes, pleased. "Hark ! That's 
papa now ? " 

Her bright calm face lighted up with pleasure as she went 
to meet him, and as they came in, hand in hand. He greeted 
me cordially ; and told me I should certainly be happy under 
Doctor Strong, who was one of the gentlest of men. 

" There may me some, perhaps I don't know that there 
are who abuse his kindness," said Mr. Wickfield. "Never 
be one of those, Trotwood, in anything. He is the least suspi- 
cious of mankind ; and whether that's a merit, or whether it's 
a blemish, it deserves consideration in all dealings with the 
Doctor, great or small." 



250 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

He spoke, I thought, as if he were weary, or dissatisfied 
with something; but I did not pursue the question in my 
mind, for dinner was just then announced, and we went down 
and took the same seats as before. 

We had scarcely done so, when Uriah Heep put in his red 
head and his lank hand at the door, and said : 

" Here's Mr. Maldon begs the favor of a word, sir." 

"I am but this moment quit of Mr. Maldon," said his 
master. 

" Yes, sir," returned Uriah ; " but Mr. Maldon has come 
back, and he begs the favor of a word." 

As he held the door open with his hand, Uriah looked at 
me, and looked at Agnes, and looked at the dishes, and looked 
at the plates, and looked at every object in the room, I thought, 
yet seemed to look at nothing ; he made such an appearance 
all the while of keeping his red eyes dutifully on his master. 

"I beg your pardon. It's only to say, on reflection," ob- 
served a voice behind Uriah, as Uriah's head was pushed 
away, and the speaker's substituted "pray excuse me for 
this intrusion that as it seems I have no choice in the matter, 
the sooner I go abroad the better. My cousin Annie did say, 
when we talked of it, that she liked to have her friends 
within reach rather than to have them banished, and the old 
Doctor " 

" Doctor Strong, was that ? " Mr. Wickfield interposed, 
gravely. 

" Doctor Strong of course," returned the other; "I call him 
the old Doctor it's all the same you know." 

" I don't know," returned Mr. Wickfield. 

"Well, Doctor Strong," said the other "Doctor Strong 
was of the same mind, I believed. But as it appears from the 
course you take with me that he has changed his mind, why 
there's no more to be said, except that the sooner I am off the 
better. Therefore, I thought I'd come back and say, that 
the sooner I am off the better. When a plunge is to be made 
into the water, it's of no use lingering on the bank." 

" There shall be as little lingering as possible, in your case, 
Mr. Maldon, you may depend upon it," said Mr. Wickfield. 

"Thank'ee," said the other. "Much obliged. I don't 



OF DAVID COPPER FIELD. 251 

want to look a gift-horse in the mouth, which is not a gracious 
thing to do; otherwise, I dare say, my cousin Annie could 
easily arrange it in her own way. I suppose Annie would 
only have to say to the old Doctor " 

" Meaning that Mrs. Strong would only have to say to her 
husband do I follow you ? " said Mr. Wickfield. 

" Quite so," returned the other, " would only have to say, 
that she wanted such and such a thing to be so and so ; and 
it would be so and so, as a matter of course." 

" And why as a matter of course, Mr. Maldon ? " asked Mr. 
Wickfield, sedately eating his dinner, 

" Why, because Annie's a charming young girl, and the old 
Doctor Doctor Strong, I mean is not quite a charming 
young boy," said Mr. Jack Maldon, laughing. " No offence to 
anybody, Mr. Wickfield. I only mean that I suppose some 
compensation is fair and reasonable in that sort of marriage." 

" Compensation to the lady, sir ? " asked Mr. Wickfield, 
gravely. 

"To the lady, sir," Mr. Jack Maldon answered, laughing. 
But appearing to remark that Mr. Wickfield went on with his 
dinner in the same sedate, immovable manner, and that there 
was no hope of making him relax a muscle of his face, he 
added : 

"However, I have said what I came back to say, and, with 
another apology for this intrusion, I may take myself off. Of 
course I shall observe your directions, in considering the matter 
as one to be arranged between you and me solely, and not to 
be referred to, up at the Doctor's." 

" Have you dined ? " asked Mr. Wickfield, with a motion of 
his hand towards the table. 

" Thank'ee. I am going to dine," said Mr. Maldon, " with 
my cousin Annie. Good by ! " 

Mr. Wickfield, without rising, looked after him thought- 
fully as he went out. He was rather a shallow sort of young 
gentleman, I thought, with a handsome face, a rapid utterance, 
and a confident bold air. And this was the first I ever saw of 
Mr. Jack Maldon; whom I had not expected to see so soon, 
when 1 heard the Doctor speak of him that morning. 

When we had dined, we went up stairs again, where every- 



252 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

thing went on exactly as on the previous day. Agnes set the 
glasses and decanters in the same corner, and Mr. Wickfield 
sat down to drink, and drank a good deal. Agnes played the 
piano to him, sat by him, and worked and talked, and played 
some games at dominoes with me. In good time she made 
tea ; and afterwards, when I brought down my books, looked 
into them, and showed me what she knew of them (which was 
no slight matter, though she said it was), and what was the 
best way to learn and understand them. I see her, with her 
modest, orderly, placid manner, and I hear her beautiful calm 
voice, as I write these words. The influence for all good, 
which she came to exercise over me at a later time, begins 
already to descend upon my breast. I love little Em'ly, and 
I don't love Agnes no, not at all in that way but I feel 
that there are goodness, peace, and truth, wherever Agnes is ; 
and that the soft light of the colored window in the church, 
seen long ago, falls on her always, and on me when I am near 
her, and on everything around. 

The time having come for her withdrawal for the night, 
and she having left us, I gave Mr. Wickfield my hand, pre- 
paratory to going away myself. But he checked me and said : 
"Should you like to stay with us, Trotwood, or to go else- 
where ? " 

" To stay," I answered, quickly. 

" You are sure ? " 

"If you please. If I may ! " 

"Why, it's but a dull life that we lead here, boy, I am 
afraid," he said. 

" Not more dull for me than Agnes, sir. Not dull at all ! " 

"Than Agnes," he repeated, walking slowly to the great 
chimney-piece, and leaning against it. " Than Agnes ! " 

He had drank wine that evening (or I-fancied it), until his 
eyes were blood-shot. Not that I could see them now, for 
they were cast down, and shaded by his hand; but I had 
noticed them a little while before. 

"Now I wonder," he muttered, "whether my Agnes tires 
of me. When should I ever tire of her ! But that's different 
that's quite different." 

He was musing not speaking to me ; so I remained quiet. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 253 

" A dull old house/ 7 he said, " and a monotonous life ; but 
I must have her near me. I must keep her near me. If the 
thought that I may die and leave my darling, or that my 
darling may die and leave me, comes, like a spectre to distress 
my happiest hours, and is only to be drowned in " 

He did not supply the word; but pacing slowly to the place 
where he had sat, and mechanically going through the action 
of pouring wine from the empty decanter, set it down and 
paced back again. 

" If it is miserable to bear when she is here," he said, 
" what would it be and she away ? No, no, no. I cannot 
try that." 

He leaned against the chimney-piece, brooding so long that 
I could not decide whether to run the risk of disturbing him 
by going, or to remain quietly where I was, until he should 
come out of his reverie. At length he roused himself, and 
looked about the room until his eyes encountered mine. 

" Stay with us, Trotwood, eh ? " he said in his usual 
manner, and as if he were answering something I had just 
said. " I am glad of it. You are company to us both. It 
is wholesome to have you here. Wholesome for me, whole- 
some for Agnes, wholesome perhaps for all of us." 

"I am sure it is for me, sir," I said. "I am so glad to 
be here." 

" That's a fine fellow ! " said Mr. Wickfield. " As long as 
you are glad to be here, you shall stay here." He shook 
hands with me upon it, and clapped me on the back; and told 
me that when I had anything to do at night after Agnes had 
left us, or when I wished to read for my own pleasure, I was 
free to come down to his room, if he were there, and if I 
desired it for company's sake, and to sit with him. I thanked 
him for his consideration ; and, as he went down soon after- 
wards, and I was not tired, went down too, with a book in 
my hand, to avail myself, for half-an-hour, of his permission. 

But, seeing a light in the little round office, and imme- 
diately feeling myself attracted towards Uriah Heep, who had 
a sort of fascination for me, I went in there instead. I found 
Uriah reading a great fat book, with such demonstrative 
attention, that his lank forefinger followed up every line as 



254 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

he read, and made clammy tracks along the page (or so I 
fully believed) like a snail. 

" You are working late to-night, Uriah," says I. 

" Yes, Master Copperfield," says Uriah. 

As I was getting on the stool opposite, to talk to him more 
conveniently, I observed that he had not such a thing as a 
smile about him, and that he could only widen his mouth and 
make two hard creases down his cheeks, one on each side, to 
stand for one. 

"I am not doing office-work, Master Copperfield," said 
Uriah. 

" What work, then ? " I asked. 

"I am improving my legal knowledge, Master Copperfield," 
said Uriah. " I am going through Tidd's Practice. Oh, what 
a writer Mr. Tidd is, Master Copperfield ! " 

My stool was such a tower of observation, that as I watched 
him reading on again, after this rapturous exclamation, and 
following up the lines with his forefinger, I observed that his 
nostrils, which were thin and pointed, with sharp dints in 
them, had a singular and most uncomfortable way of expand- 
ing and contracting themselves that they seemed to twinkle 
instead of his eyes, which hardly ever twinkled at all. 

" I suppose you are quite a great lawyer ? '' I said, after 
looking at him for some time. 

"Me, Master Copperfield?" said Uriah. "Oh, no! I'm 
a very umble person." 

It was no fancy of mine about his hands, I observed ; for 
he frequently ground the palms against each other as if to 
squeeze them dry and warm, besides often wiping them, in a 
stealthy way, on his pocket-handkerchief. 

"I am well aware that I am the umblest person going," 
said Uriah Heep, modestly ; " let the other be where he may. 
My mother is likewise a very umble person. We live in a 
umble abode, Master Copperfield, but have much to be thank- 
ful for. My father's former calling was umble. He was a 
sexton." 

" What is he now ? " I asked. 

" He is a partaker of glory at present, Master Copperfield," 
said Uriah Heep. " But we have much to be thankful for. 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 255 

How much have I to be thankful for in living with Mr. Wick- 
field ! " 

I asked Uriah if he had been with Mr. Wickfield long ? 

" I have been with him going on four year, Master Copper- 
field/' said Uriah; shutting up his book, after carefully mark- 
ing the place where he had left off. " Since a year after my 
father's death. How much have I to be thankful for, in that ! 
How much have I to be thankful for, in Mr. Wickfield's kind 
intention to give me my articles, which would otherwise not 
lay within the umble means of mother and self ! " 

"Then, when your articled time is over, you'll be a regular 
lawyer, I suppose ? " said I. 

"With the blessing of Providence, Master Copperfield," 
returned Uriah. 

"Perhaps you'll be a partner in Mr. Wickfield's business, 
one of these days," I said, to make myself agreeable ; " and it 
will be Wickfield and Heep, or Heep late Wickfield." 

" Oh, no, Master Copperfield," returned Uriah, shaking his 
head, " I am much too umble for that ! " 

He certainly did look uncommonly like the carved face on 
the beam outside my window, as he sat, in his humility, eyeing 
me sideways, with his mouth widened, and the creases in his 
cheeks. 

"Mr. Wickfield is a most excellent man, Master Copper- 
field," said Uriah. " If you have known him long, you know 
it, I am sure, much better than I can inform you." 

I replied that I was certain he was ; but that I had not 
known him long myself, though he was a friend of my aunt's. 

" Oh, indeed, Master Copperfield," said Uriah. " Your aunt 
is a sweet lady, Master Copperfield ! " 

He had a way of writhing when he wanted to express en- 
thusiasm which was very ugly ; and which diverted my atten- 
tion from the compliment he had paid my relation, to the 
snaky twistings of his throat and body. 

" A sweet lady, Master Copperfield ! " said Uriah Heep. 
" She has a great admiration for Miss Agnes, Master Copper- 
field, I believe ? " 

I said " Yes," boldly ; not that I knew anything about it, 
Heaven forgive me ! 



256 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" I hope you have, too, Master Copperfield," said Uriah. 
" But I am sure you must have." 

" Everybody must have," I returned. 

"Oh, thank you, Master Copperfield," said Uriah Heep, 
" for that remark ! It is so true ! Umble as I am, I know it 
is so true ! Oh, thank you, Master Copperfield ! " 

He writhed himself quite off his stool in the excitement of 
his feelings, and, being off, began to make arrangements for 
going home. 

" Mother will be expecting me," he said, referring to a pale, 
inexpressive-faced watch in his pocket, " and getting uneasy ; 
for though we are very umble, Master Copperfield, we are 
much attached to one another. If you would come and see us, 
any afternoon, and take a cup of tea at our lowly dwelling, 
mother would be as proud of your company as I should be." 

I said I should be glad to come. 

"Thank you, Master Copperfield," returned Uriah, putting 
his book away upon a shelf. "I suppose you stop here, some 
time, Master Copperfield ? " 

I said I was going to be brought up there, I believed, as 
long as I remained at school. 

"Oh, indeed!" exclaimed Uriah. "I should think you 
would come into the business at last, Master Copperfield ! " 

I protested that I had no views of that sort, and that no 
such scheme was entertained in my behalf by anybody ; but 
Uriah insisted on blandly replying to all my assurances, " Oh, 
yes, Master Copperfield, I should think you would, indeed ! " 
and, "Oh, indeed, Master Copperfield, I should think you 
would, certainly ! " over and over again. Being, at last, ready to 
leave the office for the night, he asked me if it would suit my 
convenience to have the light put out ; and on my answering 
"Yes," instantly extinguished it. After shaking hands with 
me his hand felt like a fish, in the dark he opened the 
door into the street a very little, and crept out, and shut it, 
leaving me to grope my way back into the house : which cost 
me some trouble and a fall over his stool. This was the prox- 
imate cause, I suppose, of my dreaming about him, for what 
appeared to me to be half the night ; and dreaming, among 
other things, that he had launched Mr. Feggotty's house on a 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 257 

piratical expedition, with a black flag at the mast head, bearing 
the inscription "Tidd's Practice," under which diabolical 
ensign he was carrying me and little Em'ly to the Spanish 
Main, to be drowned. 

I got a little the better of my uneasiness when I went to 
school next day, and a good deal the better next day, and so 
shook it off by degrees that in less than a fortnight I was 
quite at home, and happy, among my new companions. I was 
awkward enough in their games, and backward enough in 
their studies ; but custom would improve me in the first respect, 
I hoped, and hard work in the second. Accordingly, I went 
to work very hard, both in play and in earnest, and gained 
great commendation. And, in a very little while the Murd- 
stone and Grinby life became so strange to me that I hardly 
believed in it, while my present life grew so familiar, that I 
seemed to have been leading it a long time. 

Doctor Strong's was an excellent school ; as different from 
Mr. Creakle's as good is from evil. It was very gravely and 
decorously ordered, and on a sound system ; with an appeal, 
in everything, to the honor and good faith of the boys, and an 
avowed intention to rely on their possession of those qualities 
unless they proved themselves unworthy of it, which worked 
wonders. We all felt that we had a part in the management 
of the place, and in sustaining its character and dignity. 
Hence, we soon became warmly attached to it I am sure I 
did for one, and I never knew, in all my time, of any other 
boy being otherwise and learnt with a good will, desiring to 
do it credit. We had noble games out of hours, and plenty 
of liberty ; but even then, as I remember, we were well spoken 
of in the town, and rarely did any disgrace, by our appearance 
or manner, to the reputation of Doctor Strong and Doctor 
Strong's boys. 

Some of the higher scholars boarded in the Doctor's house, 
and through them I learned, at second hand, some particulars 
of the Doctor's history as how he had not yet been married 
twelve months to the beautiful young lady I had seen in the 
study, whom he had married for love ; as she had not a six- 
pence, and had a world of poor relations (so our fellows said) 
ready to swarm the Doctor out of house and home. Also, how 
VOL. i 17 



258 

the Doctor's cogitating manner was attributable to his being 
always engaged in looking out for Greek roots ; which, in my 
innocence and ignorance, I supposed to be a botanical furor on 
the Doctor's part, especially as he always looked at the ground 
when he walked about, until I understood that they were roots 
of words, with a view to a new Dictionary which he had in 
contemplation. Adams, our head-boy, who had a turn for 
mathematics, had made a calculation, I was informed, of the 
time this Dictionary would take in completing, on the Doctor's 
plan, and at the Doctor's rate of going. He considered that it 
it might be done in one thousand six hundred and forty-nine 
years, counting from the Doctor's last, or sixty-second, birth- 
day. 

But the Doctor himself was the idol of the whole school : 
and it must have been a badly composed school if he had been 
anything else, for he was the kindest of men ; with a simple 
faith in him that might have touched the stone hearts of the 
very urns upon the wall. As he walked up and down that 
part of the court-yard which was at the side of the house, with 
the stray rooks and jackdaws looking after him with their 
heads cocked slily, as if they knew how much more knowing 
they were in worldly affairs than he, if any sort of vagabond 
could only get near enough to his creaking shoes to attract 
his attention to one sentence of a tale of distress, that vaga- 
bond was made for the next two days. It was so notorious 
in the house, that the masters and head-boys took pains to cut 
these marauders off at angles, and to get out of windows, and 
turn them out of the court-yard, before they could make the 
Doctor aware of their presence ; which was sometimes hap- 
pily effected within a few yards of him, without his knowing 
anything of the matter, as he jogged to and fro. Outside his 
own domain, and unprotected, he was a very sheep for the 
shearers. He would have taken his gaiters off his legs, to 
give away. In fact, there was a story current among us (I 
have no idea, and never had, on what authority, but I have 
believed it for so many years that I feel quite certain it is 
true), that on a frosty day, one winter time, he actually did 
bestow his gaiters on a beggar-woman, who occasioned some 
scandal in the neighborhood by exhibiting a fine infant from 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 

door to door, wrapped in those garments, which were uni- 
versally recognized, being as well known in the vicinity as the 
Cathedral. The legend added that the only person who did 
not identify them was the Doctor himself, who, when they 
were shortly afterwards displayed at the door of a little second- 
hand shop of no very good repute, where such things were 
taken in exchange for gin, was more than once observed to 
handle them approvingly, as if admiring some curious novelty 
in the pattern, and considering them an improvement on his 
own. 

It was very pleasant to see the Doctor with his pretty young 
wife. He had a fatherly, benignant way of showing his fond- 
ness for her, which seemed in itself to express a good man. I 
often saw them walking in the garden where the peaches 
were, and I sometimes had a nearer observation of them in the 
study or the parlor. She appeared to me to take great care of 
the Doctor, and to like him very much, though I never thought 
her vitally interested in the Dictionary : some cumbrous frag- 
ments of which work the Doctor always carried in his pockets, 
and in the lining of his hat, and geT.e'caUy seemed to be ex- 
pounding to her as they walked about. 

I saw a good deal of Mrs. Strong, both because she had taken 
a liking for me on the morning of my introduction to the 
Doctor, and was always afterwards kind to me, and interested 
in me; and because she was very fond of Agnes, and was 
often backwards and forwards at our house. There was a 
curious constraint between her and Mr. Wickfield, I thought 
(of whom she seemed to be afraid), that never wore off. 
When she came there of an evening, she always shrunk from 
accepting his escort home, and ran away with me instead. 
And sometimes, as we were running gaily across the Cathedral 
yard together, expecting to meet nobody, we would meet Mr. 
Jack Maldon, who was always surprised to see us. 

Mrs. Strong's mamma was a lady I took great delight in. 
Her name was Mrs. Markleham ; but our boys used to call 
her the Old Soldier, on account of her generalship, and the 
skill with which she marshalled great forces of relations 
against the Doctor. She was a little, sharp-eyed woman, who 
used to wear, when she was dressed, one unchangeable cap, 



260 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

ornamented with some artificial flowers, and two artificial 
butterflies supposed to be hovering above the flowers. There 
was a superstition among us that this cap had come from 
France, and could only originate in the workmanship of that 
ingenious nation : but all I certainly know about it is, that it 
always made its appearance of an evening, wheresoever Mrs. 
Markleham made her appearance; that it was carried about 
to friendly meetings in the Hindoo basket ; that the butterflies 
had the gift of trembling constantly; and that they improved 
the shining hours at Dr. Strong's expense, like busy bees. 

I observed the Old Soldier not to adopt the name dis- 
respectfully to pretty good advantage, on a night which is 
made memorable to me by something else I shall relate. It 
was. the night of a little party at the Doctor's, which was given 
on the occasion of Mr. Jack Maldou's departure for India, 
whither he was going as a cadet, or something of that kind : 
Mr. Wickfield having at length arranged the business. It 
happened to be the Doctor's birthday, too. We had had a 
holiday, had made presents to him in the morning, had made 
a speech to him through the head-boy, and had cheered him 
until we were hoarse, and until he had shed tears. And now, 
in the evening, Mr. Wickfield, Agnes, and I, went to have tea 
with him in his private capacity. 

Mr. Jack Maldon was there, before us. Mrs. Strong, dressed 
in white, with cherry-colored ribbons, was playing the piano, 
when we went in ; and he was leaning over her to turn the 
leaves. The clear red and white of her complexion was not 
so blooming and flower-like as usual, I thought, when she 
turned round ; but she looked very pretty, wonderfully pretty. 

"I have forgotten, Doctor," said Mrs. Strong's mamma, when 
we were seated, " to pay you the compliments of the day 
though they are, as you may suppose, very far from being 
mere compliments in my case. Allow me to wish you many 
happy returns." 

" I thank you, ma'am," replied the Doctor. 

"Many, many, many, happy returns," said the Old Soldier. 
"Not only for your own sake, but for Annie's, and John 
Maldon's, and many other people's. It seems but yesterday 
to me, John, when you were a little creature, a head shorter 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 261 

than Master Copperfield, making baby love to Annie behind 
the gooseberry bushes in the back-garden." 

"My dear mamma/' said Mrs. Strong, "never mind that 
now." 

" Annie, don't be absurd," returned her mother. " If you 
are to blush to hear of such things, now you are an old mar- 
ried woman, when are you not to blush to hear of them ? " 

" Old ? " exclaimed Mr. Jack Maldon. " Annie ? Come ? " 

" Yes, John," returned the Soldier. " Virtually, an old 
married woman. Although not old by years for when did 
you ever hear me say, or who has ever heard me say, that a 
girl of twenty was old by years ! your cousin is the wife of 
the Doctor, and, as such, what I have described her. It is 
well for you, John, that your cousin is the wife of the Doctor. 
You have found in him an influential and kind friend, who 
will be kinder yet, I venture to predict, if you deserve it. I 
have no false pride. I never hesitate to admit, frankly, that 
there are some members of our family who want a friend. 
You were one yourself, before your cousin's influence raised 
up one for you." 

The Doctor, in the goodness of his heart, waved his hand as 
if to make light of it, and save Mr. Jack Maldon from any 
further reminder. But Mrs. Markleham changed her chair for 
one next the Doctor's, and putting her fan on his coatsleeve, 
said: 

"No, really, my dear Doctor, you must excuse me if I 
appear to dwell on this rather, because I feel so very strongly. 
I call it quite my monomania, it is such a subject of mine. 
You are a blessing to us. You really are a boon, you know." 

"Nonsense, nonsense," said the Doctor. 

"No, no, I beg your pardon," retorted the Old Soldier. 
"With nobody present, but our dear and confidential friend 
Mr. Wickfield, I cannot consent to be put down. I shall 
begin to assert the privileges of a mother-in-law, if you go on 
like that, and scold you. I am perfectly honest and out- 
spoken. What I am saying, is what I said when you first 
overpowered me with surprise you remember how surprised 
I was ? by proposing for Annie. Not that there was any- 
thing so very much out of the T^ay, in the mere fact of the 



262 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

proposal it would be ridiculous to say that ! but because, 
you having known her poor father and having known her 
from a baby six months old, I hadn't thought of you in such 
a light at all, or indeed as a marrying man in any way, sim- 
ply that, you know. 7 ' 

"Ay, ay," returned the Doctor, good-humoredly. "Never 
mind." 

" But I do mind," said the Old Soldier, laying her fan upon 
his lips. " I mind very much. I recall these things that I 
may be contradicted if I am wrong. Well ! Then I spoke to 
Annie, and I told her what had happened. I said, < My dear, 
here's Doctor Strong has positively been and made you the 
subject of a handsome declaration and an offer.' Did I press 
it in the least ? No. I said, l Now, Annie, tell me the truth 
this moment ; is your heart free ? ' ' Mamma,' she said, cry- 
ing, <I am extremely young' which was perfectly true 
' and I hardly know if I have a heart at all.' i Then, my dear,' 
I said, ' you may rely upon it, it's free. .At all events, my 
love,' said I, ' Doctor Strong is in an agitated state of mind, 
and must be answered. He cannot be kept in his present 
state of suspense.' * Mamma,' said Annie, still crying, 
' would he be unhappy without me ? If he would, I honor 
and respect him so much, that I think I will have him.' So 
it was settled. And then, and not till then, I said to Annie, 
1 Annie, Doctor Strong will not only be your husband, but he 
will represent your late father : he will represent the head of 
our family, he will represent the wisdom and station, and I 
may say the means, of our family; and will be, in short, a 
Boon to it.' I used the word at the time, and I have used it 
again, to-day. If I have any merit it is consistency." 

The daughter had sat quite silent and still during this 
speech, with her eyes fixed on the ground ; her cousin stand- 
ing near her, and looking on the ground too. She now said 
very softly, in a trembling voice : 

" Mamma, I hope you have finished ? " 

"No, my dear Annie," returned the Soldier, "I have not 
quite finished. Since you ask me, my love, I reply that I 
have not. I complain that you really are a little unnatural 
towards your own family ; and, as it is of no use complaining 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 263 

to you, I mean to complain to your husband. Now, my dear 
Doctor, do look at that silly wife of yours." 

As the Doctor turned his kind face, with its smile of sim- 
plicity and gentleness, towards her, she drooped her head 
more. I noticed that Mr. Wickfield looked at her steadily. 

" When I happened to say to that naughty thing, the other 
day," pursued her mother, shaking her head and her fan at 
her playfully, "that there was a family circumstance she 
might mention to you indeed, I think, was bound to men- 
tion she said, that to mention it was to ask a favor ; and 
that, as you were too generous, and as for her to ask was 
always to have, she wouldn't." 

"Annie, my dear," said the Doctor. "That was wrong. It 
robbed me of a pleasure." 

"Almost the very words I said to her!" exclaimed her 
mother. " Now really, another time, when I know what she 
would tell you but for this reason, and won't, I have a great 
mind, my dear Doctor, to tell you myself." 

" I shall be glad if you will," returned the Doctor. 

"Shall I?" 

"Certainly." 

"Well, then, I will! " said the Old Soldier. "That's a bar- 
gain." And having, I suppose, carried her point, she tapped 
the Doctor's hand several times with her fan (which she 
kissed first), and returned triumphantly to her former station. 

Some more company coming in, among whom were the two 
masters and Adams, the talk became general ; and it naturally 
turned on Mr. Jack Maldon, and his voyage, and the country 
he was going to, and his various plans and prospects. He was 
to leave that night, after supper, in a postchaise, for Grave- 
send; where the ship, in which he was to make the voyage, 
lay; and was .to be gone unless he came home on leave, 
or for his health I don't know how many years. I recollect 
it was settled by general consent that India was quite a mis- 
represented country, and had nothing objectionable in it, but 
a tiger or two, and a little heat in the warm part of the day. 
For my own part, I looked on Mr. Jack Maldon as a modern 
Sinbad, and pictured him the bosom friend of all the Rajahs 



264 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

in the east, sitting under canopies, smoking curly golden pipes 
a mile long, if they could be straightened out. 

Mrs. Strong was a very pretty singer : as I knew, who often 
heard her singing by herself. But, whether she was afraid of 
singing before people, or was out of voice that evening, it was 
certain that she couldn't sing at all. She tried a duet, once, 
with her cousin Maldon, but could not so much as begin ; and 
afterwards, when she tried to sing by herself, although she 
began sweetly, her voice died away on a sudden, and left her 
quite distressed, with her head hanging down over the keys. 
The good Doctor said she was nervous, and, to relieve her, 
proposed a round game at cards, of which he knew as much 
as of the art of playing the trombone. But I remarked that 
the Old Soldier took him into custody directly, for her partner, 
and instructed him, as the first preliminary of initiation, to 
give her all the silver he had in his pocket. 

We had a merry game, not made the less merry by the 
Doctor's mistakes, of which he committed an innumerable 
quantity, in spite of the watchfulness of the butterflies, and 
to their great aggravation. Mrs. Strong had declined to play, 
on the ground of not feeling very well ; and her cousin Maldon 
had excused himself because he had some packing to do. 
When he had done it, however, he returned, and they sat 
together, talking, on the sofa. From time to time she came 
and looked over the Doctor's hand, and told him what to play. 
She was very pale, as she bent over him, and I thought her 
finger trembled as she pointed out the cards ; but the Doctor 
was quite happy in her attention, and took no notice of this, 
if it were so. 

At supper, we were hardly so gay. Every one appeared to 
feel that a parting of that sort was an awkward thing, and 
that the nearer it approached, the more awkward it was. Mr. 
Jack Maldon tried to be very talkative, but was not at his 
ease, and made matters worse. And they were not improved, 
as it appeared to me, by the Old Soldier : who continually 
recalled passages of Mr. Jack Maldon's youth. 

The Doctor, however, who felt, I am sure, that he was 
making everybody happy, ivas well pleased, and had no sus- 
picion, but that we were all at the utmost height of enjoyment. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 265 

" Annie, my dear/' said he, looking at his .watch, and filling 
his glass, " it is past your cousin Jack's time, and we must not 
detain him, since time and tide both concerned in this case 
wait for no man. Mr. Jack Maldon, you have a long voy- 
age, and a strange country, before you ; but many men have 
had both, and many men will have both, to the end of time. 
The winds you are going to tempt, have wafted thousands 
upon thousands to fortune, and brought thousands upon thou- 
sands happily back." 

" It's an affecting thing," said Mrs. Markleham " however 
it's viewed, it's affecting to see a fine young man one has 
known from an infant, going away to the other end of the 
world, leaving all he knows behind, and not knowing what 
before him. A young man really well deserves constant 
support and patronage," looking at the Doctor, "who makes 
such sacrifices." 

"Time will go fast with you, Mr. Jack Maldon," pursued 
the Doctor, "and fast with all of us. Some of us can hardly 
expect, perhaps, in the natural course of things, to greet you 
on your return. The next best thing is to hope to do it, and 
that's my case. I shall not weary you with good advice. 
You have long had a good model before you, in your cousin 
Annie. Imitate her virtues as nearly as you can." 

Mrs. Markleham fanned herself, and shook her head. 

" Farewell, Mr. Jack," said the Doctor, standing up ; on 
which we all stood up. " A prosperous voyage out, a thriving 
career abroad, and a happy return home ! " 

We all drank the toast, and all shook hands with Mr. Jack 
Maldon ; after which he hastily took leave of the ladies who 
were there, and hurried to the door, where he was received, 
as he got into the chaise, with a tremendous broadside of 
cheers discharged by our boys, who had assembled on the 
lawn for the purpose. Eunning in among them to swell the 
ranks, I was very near the chaise when it rolled away ; and I 
had a lively impression made upon me, in the midst of the 
noise and dust, of having seen Mr. Jack Maldon rattle past 
with an agitated face, and something cherry-colored in his 
hand. 

After another broadside for the Doctor, and another for the 



266 ' THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

Doctor's wife, the boys dispersed, and I went back into the 
house, where I found the guests all standing in a group about 
the Doctor, discussing how Mr. Jack Maldon had gone away, 
and how he had borne it, and how he had felt it, and all the 
rest of it. In the midst of these remarks, Mrs. Markleharn 
cried : " Where's Annie ! " 

No Annie was there ; and when they called to her, no Annie 
replied. But all pressing out of the room, in a crowd, to see 
what was the matter, we found her lying on the hall floor. 
There was great alarm at first, until it was found that she was 
in a swoon, and that the swoon was yielding to the usual means 
of recovery ; when the Doctor, who had lifted her head upon 
his knee, put her curls aside with his hand, and said, looking 
around : 

"Poor Annie! She's so faithful and tender-hearted! It's 
the parting from her old playfellow and friend her favorite 
cousin that has done this. Ah ! It's a pity ! I am very 
sorry ! " 

When she opened her eyes, and saw where she was, and 
that we were all standing about her, she arose with assistance : 
turning her head, as she did so, to lay it on the Doctor's 
shoulder or to hide it, I don't know which. We went into 
the drawing-room, to leave her with the Doctor and her 
mother ; but she said, it seemed, that she was better than she 
had been since morning, and that she would rather be brought 
among us ; so they brought her in, looking very white and 
weak, I thought, and sat her on a sofa. 

" Annie, my dear," said her mother, doing something to her 
dress. " See here ! You have lost a bow. Will anybody 
be so good as find a ribbon ; a cherry-colored ribbon ? J: 

It was the one she had worn at her bosom. We all looked 
for it I myself looked everywhere, I am certain but 
nobody could find it. 

" Do you recollect where you had it last, Annie ? " said her 
mother. 

I wondered how I could have thought she looked white, or 
anything but burning red, when she answered that she had 
had it safe, a little while ago, she thought, but it was not 
worth looking for. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 267 

Nevertheless, it was looked for again, and still not found. 
She entreated that there might be no more searching ; but it 
was still sought for in a desultory way, until she was quite 
well, and the company took their departure. 

We walked very slowly home, Mr. Wickfield, Agnes, and I 
-Agnes and I admiring the moonlight, and Mr. Wickfield 
scarcely raising his eyes from the ground. When we, at last, 
reached our own door, Agnes discovered that she had left her 
little reticule behind. Delighted to be of any service to her, 
I ran back to fetch it. 

I went into the supper-room where it had been left, which 
was deserted and dark. But a door of communication between 
that and the Doctor's study, where there was a light, being 
open, I passed on there, to say what I wanted, and to get a 
candle. 

The Doctor was sitting in his easy-chair by the fireside, and 
his young wife was on a stool at his feet. The Doctor, with 
a complacent smile, was reading aloud some manuscript 
explanation or statement of a theory out of that interminable 
Dictionary, and she was looking up at him. But with such a 
face as I never saw. It was so beautiful in its form, it was so 
ashy pale, it was so fixed in its abstraction, it was so full of a 
wild, sleep-walking, dreamy horror of I don't know what. 
The eyes were wide open, and her brown hair fell in two rich 
clusters on her shoulders, and on her white dress, disordered 
by the want of the lost ribbon. Distinctly as I recollect her 
look, I cannot say of what it was expressive. I cannot even 
say of what it is expressive to me now, rising again before my 
older judgment. Penitence, humiliation, shame, pride, love, 
and trustfulness I see them all ; and in them all, I see that 
horror of I don't know what. 

My entrance, and my saying what I wanted, roused her. 
It disturbed the Doctor too, for when I went back to replace 
the candle I had taken from the table, he was patting her 
head, in his fatherly way, and saying he was a merciless drone 
to let her tempt him into reading on ; and he would have her 
go to bed. 

But she asked him, in a rapid, urgent manner, to let her 
stay to let her feel assured (I heard her murmur some broken 



268 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

words to this effeet) that she was in his confidence that night. 
And, as she turned again towards him, after glancing at me 
as I left the room and went out at the door, I saw her cross 
her hands upon his knee, and look up at him with the same 
face, something quieted, as he resumed his reading. 

It made a great impression on me, and I remembered it a 
long time afterwards, as I shall have occasion to narrate when 
the time conies. 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 269 



CHAPTER XVII. 

SOMEBODY TURNS UP. 

IT has not occurred to me to mention Peggotty since I ran 
away ; but, of course, I wrote her a letter almost as soon as I 
was housed at Dover, and another and a longer letter, contain- 
ing all particulars fully related, when my aunt took me for- 
mally under her protection. On my being settled at Doctor 
Strong's I wrote to her again, detailing my happy condition 
and prospects. I never could have derived anything like the 
pleasure from spending the money Mr. Dick had given me, 
that I felt in sending a gold half-guinea to Peggotty, per post, 
inclosed in this last letter, to discharge the sum I had borrowed 
of her: in which epistle, not before, I mentioned about the 
young man with the donkey-cart. 

To these communications Peggotty replied as promptly, if 
not as concisely, as a merchant's clerk. Her utmost powers 
of expression (which were certainly not great in ink) were 
exhausted in the attempt to write what she felt on the subject 
of my journey. Pour sides of incoherent and inter jectional 
beginnings of sentences, that had no end, except blots, were 
inadequate to afford her any relief. But the blots were more 
expressive to me than the best composition ; for they showed 
me that Peggotty had been crying all over the paper, and what 
could I have desired more ? 

I made out, without much difficulty, that she could not take 
quite kindly to my aunt yet. The notice was too short after so 
long a prepossession the other way. We never knew a person, 
she wrote ; but to think that Miss Betsey should seem to be so 
different from what she had been thought to be, was a Moral ! 
that was her word. She was evidently still afraid of Miss 
Betsey, for she sent her grateful duty to her but timidly ; and 
she was evidently afraid of me, too, and entertained the proba- 
bility of my running away again soon ; if I might judge from 



270 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

the repeated hints she threw out, that the coach-fare to Yar- 
mouth was always to be had of her for the asking. 

She gave me one piece of intelligence which affected me 
very much, namely, that there had been a sale of the furniture 
at our old home, and that Mr. and Miss Murdstone were gone 
away, and the house was shut up, to be let or sold. God 
knows I had had no part in it Awhile they remained there, but 
it pained me to think of the dear old place as altogether aban- 
doned ; of the weeds growing tall in the garden, and the fallen 
leaves lying thick and wet upon the paths. I imagined how 
the winds of winter would howl round it, how the cold rain 
would beat upon the window-glass, how the moon would make 
ghosts on the walls of the empty rooms, watching their soli- 
tude all night. I thought afresh of the grave in the church- 
yard, underneath the tree : and it seemed as if the house were 
dead too, now, and all connected with my father and mother 
were faded away. 

There was no other news in Peggotty's letters. Mr. Barkis 
was an excellent husband, she said, though still a little near ; 
but we all had our faults, and she had plenty (though I am 
sure I don't know what they were) ; and he sent his duty, and 
my little bedroom was always ready for me. Mr. Peggotty 
was well, and Ham was well, and Mrs. Gurnmidge was but 
poorly, and little Eni'ly wouldn't send her love, but said that 
Peggotty might send it, if she liked. 

All this intelligence I dutifully imparted to my aunt, only 
reserving to myself the mention of little Em'ly, to whom I 
instinctively felt that she would not very tenderly incline. 
While I was yet new at Doctor Strong's, she made several 
excursions over to Canterbury to see me, and always at unsea- 
sonable hours : with the view, I suppose, of taking me by 
surprise. But, finding me well employed, and bearing a good 
character, and hearing on all hands that I rose fast in the 
school, she soon discontinued these visits. I saw her on a 
Saturday, every third or fourth week, when I went over to 
Dover for a treat ; and I saw Mr. Dick every alternate Wed- 
nesday, when he arrived by stage-coach at noon, to stay until 
next morning. 

On these occasions Mr. Dick never travelled without a 



()F DAVID COPPEEF1ELD. 271 

leathern writing-desk, containing a supply of stationary and 
the Memorial ; in relation to which document he had a notion 
that time was beginning to press now, and that it really must 
be got out of hand. 

Mr. Dick was very partial to ginger-bread. To render his 
visits the more agreeable, my aunt had instructed me to open 
a credit for him at a cake-shop, which was hampered with the 
stipulation that he should not be served with more than one 
shilling's-worth in the course of any one day. This, and the 
reference of all his little bills at the county inn where he slept, 
to my aunt, before they were paid, induced me to suspect that 
he was only allowed to rattle his money, and not to spend it. 
I found on further investigation that this was so, or at least 
there was an agreement between him and my aunt that he 
should account to her for all his disbursements. As he had 
no idea of deceiving her, and always desired to please her, he 
was thus made chary of launching into expense. On this 
point, as well as on all other possible points, Mr. Dick was 
convinced that my aunt was the wisest and most wonderful of 
women ; as he repeatedly told me with infinite secrecy, and 
always in a whisper. 

"Trotwood," said Mr. Dick, with an air of mystery, after 
imparting this confidence to me, one Wednesday ; " who's the 
man that hides near our house and frightens her ? " 

" Frightens my aunt, sir ? " 

Mr. Dick nodded. " I thought nothing would have fright- 
ened her," he said, " for she's " here he whispered softly, 
"don't mention it the wisest and most wonderful of women." 
Having said which, he drew back, to observe the effect which 
this description of her made upon me. 

"The first time he came," said Mr. Dick, "was let me 
see sixteen hundred and forty-nine was the date of King 
Charles's execution. I think you said sixteen hundred and 
forty-nine ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

"I don't know how it can be," said Mr. Dick, sorely 
puzzled and shaking his head. "I don't think I am as old 
as that." 

" Was it in that year that the man appeared, sir ? " I asked. 



272 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" Why, really," said Mr. Dick, " I don't see how it can have 
been in that year, Trotwood. Did you get that date out of 
history ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

" I suppose history never lies, does it ? " said Mr. Dick, with 
a gleam of hope. 

" Oh dear, no, sir ! " I replied, most decisively. I was 
ingenuous and young, and I thought so. 

"I can't make it out," said Mr. Dick, shaking his head. 
"There's something wrong, somewhere. However, it was 
very soon after the mistake was made of putting some of the 
trouble out of King Charles's head into my head, that the 
man first came. I was walking out with Miss Trotwood after 
tea, just at dark, and there he was, close to our house." 

" Walking about ? " I inquired. 

" Walking about ? " repeated Mr. Dick. " Let me see. I 
must recollect a bit. N no, no ; he was not walking about." 

I asked, as the shortest way to get at it, what he was 
doing. 

"Well, he wasn't there at all," said Mr. Dick, "until he 
came up behind her, and whispered. Then she turned round 
and fainted, and I stood still and looked at him, and he 
walked away ; but that he should have been hiding ever since 
(in the ground or somewhere), is the most extraordinary 
thing ! " 

" Has he been hiding ever since ? " I asked. 

" To be sure he has," retorted Mr. Dick, nodding his head 
gravely. " Never came out, till last night ! We were walk- 
ing last night and he came up behind her again, and I knew 
him again." 

" And did he frighten my aunt again ? " 

" All of a shiver," said Mr. Dick, counterfeiting that affec- 
tion and making his teeth chatter. "Held by the palings. 
Cried. But Trotwood, come here," getting me close to him, 
that he might whisper very softly ; " why did she give him 
money, boy, in the moonlight ? ' : 

" He was a beggar, perhaps." 

Mr. Dick shook his head, as utterly renouncing the sugges- 
tion ; and having replied a great many times, and with great 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 

confidence, " No beggar, no beggar, no beggar, sir ! " went on 
to say, that from his window he had afterwards, and late at 
night, seen nay aunt give this person money outside the garden 
rails in the moonlight, who then slunk away into the 
ground again,- as he thought probable and was seen no more : 
while my aunt came hurriedly and secretly back into the house, 
and had, even that morning, been quite different from her 
usual self ; which preyed on Mr. Dick's mind. 

I had not the least belief, in the outset of this story, that 
the unknown was anything but a delusion .of Mr. Dick's, and 
one of the line of that ill-fated Prince who occasioned him so 
much difficulty ; but after some reflection I began to entertain 
the question whether an attempt, or threat of an attempt, 
might have been twice made to take poor Mr. Dick himself 
from under my aunt's protection, and whether my aunt, the 
strength of whose kind feeling towards him I knew from 
herself, might have been induced to pay a price for his peace 
and quiet. As I was already much attached to Mr. Dick, and 
very solicitous for his welfare, my fears favored this supposi- 
tion ; and for a long time his Wednesday hardly ever came 
round, without my entertaining a misgiving that he would not 
be on the coach-box as usual. There he always appeared, 
however, gray-headed, laughing, and happy ; and he never had 
anything more to tell of the man who could frighten my 
aunt. 

These Wednesdays were the happiest days of Mr. Dick's 
life ; they were far from being the least happy of mine. He 
soon became known to every boy in the school ; and though 
he never took an active part in any game but kite-flying, was 
as deeply interested in all our sports as any one among ^us. 
How often have I seen him, intent upon a match at marbles 
or pegtop, looking on with a face of unutterable interest, and 
hardly breathing at the critical times ! How often, at hare 
and hounds, have I seen him mounted on a little knoll, cheer- 
ing the whole field on to action, and waving his hat above his 
gray head, oblivious of King Charles the Martyr's head, and 
all belonging to it ! How many summer-hours have I known 
to be but blissful minutes to him in the cricket-field ! How 
many winter days have I seen him, standing blue-nosed, in the 

VOL. I 18 



274 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND 

snow and east wind, looking at the boys going down the long 
slide, and clapping his worsted gloves in rapture ! 

He was an universal favorite, and his ingenuity in little 
things was transcendant. He could cut oranges in such 
devices as none of us had an idea of. He could make a boat 
out of anything, from a skewer upwards. He could turn 
crampbones into chessmen ; fashion Roman chariots from old 
court cards ; make spoked wheels out of cotton reels, and 
birdcages of old wire. But he was greatest of all, perhaps, 
in the articles of string and straw ; with which we were all 
persuaded he could do anything that could be done by hands. 

Mr. Dick's renown was not long confined to us. After a 
few Wednesdays, Dr. Strong himself made some inquiries 
of me about him, and I told him all my aunt had told me ; 
which interested the Doctor so much that he requested, on the 
occasion of his next visit, to be presented to him. This cere- 
mony I performed ; and the Doctor begging Mr. Dick, when- 
soever he should not find me at the coach-office, to come on 
there, and rest himself until our morning's work was over, it 
soon passed into a custom for Mr. Dick to come on as a matter 
of course, and, if we were a little late, as often happened on 
a Wednesday, to walk about the court-yard, waiting for me. 
Here he made the acquaintance of the Doctor's beautiful 
young wife (paler than formerly, all this time ; more rarely 
seen by me or any one, I think ; and not so gay, but not less 
beautiful), and so became more and more familiar by degrees, 
until, at last, he would come into the school and wait. He 
always sat in a particular corner, on a particular stool, which 
was called " Dick," after him ; here he would sit, with his gray 
head bent forward, attentively listening to whatever might 
be going on, with a profound veneration for the learning he 
had never been able to acquire. 

This veneration Mr. Dick extended to the Doctor, whom he- 
thought the most subtle and accomplished philosopher of any 
age. It was long before Mr. Dick ever spoke to him otherwise 
than bare-headed ; and even when he and the Doctor had 
struck up quite a friendship, and would walk together by the 
hour, on that side of the courtyard which was known among 
us as The Doctor's Walk, Mr. Dick would pull off his hat at 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 275 

intervals to show his respect for wisdom and knowledge. How 
it ever came about, that the Doctor began to read out scraps 
of the famous Dictionary, in these walks, I never knew ; per- 
haps he felt it all the same, at first, as reading to himself. 
However, it passed into a custom too ; and Mr. Dick, listening 
with a face shining with pride and pleasure, in his heart of 
hearts, believed the Dictionary to be the most delightful book 
in the world. 

As I think of them going up and down before those school- 
room windows the Doctor reading with his complacent smile, 
an occasional flourish of the manuscript, or grave motion of 
his head ; and Mr. Dick listening, enchained by interest, with 
his poor wits calmly wandering God knows where, upon the 
wings of hard words I think of it as one of the pleasantest 
thing, in a quiet way, that I have ever seen. I feel as if they 
might go walking to and fro for ever, and the world might 
somehow be the better for it as if a thousand things it makes 
a noise about, were not one-half so good for it, or me. 

Agnes was one of Mr. Dick's friends, very soon ; and in 
often coming to the house, he made acquaintance with Uriah. 
The friendship between himself and me increased continually, 
and it was maintained on this odd footing: that, while Mr. 
Dick came professedly to look after me as my guardian, he 
always consulted me in any little matter of doubt that arose, 
and invariably guided himself by my advice ; not only having 
a high respect for my native sagacity, but considering that I 
inherited a good deal from my aunt. 

One Thursday morning, when I was about to walk with Mr. 
Dick from the hotel to the coach-office before going back to 
school (for we had an hour's school before breakfast), I met 
Uriah in the street, who reminded me of the promise I had 
made to take tea with himself and his mother : adding, with 
a writhe, " But I didn't expect you to keep it, Master Copper- 
field, we're so very umble." 

I really had not yet been able to make up my mind whether 
I liked Uriah or detested him ; and I was very doubtful about 
it still, as I stood looking him in the face in the street. But 
I felt it quite an affront to be supposed proud, and said I only 
wanted to be asked. 



276 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" Oh, if that's all, Master Copperfield," said Uriah, " and it 
really isn't our umbleness that prevents you, will you come 
this evening ? But if it is our umbleness, I hope you won't 
mind owning to it, Master Copperfield ; for we are well aware 
of our condition." 

I said I would mention it to Mr. Wickfield, and if he ap- 
proved, as I had no doubt he would, I would come with pleas- 
ure. So, at six o'clock that evening, which was one of the 
early office evenings, I announced myself as ready, to Uriah. 

"Mother will be proud indeed/' he said, as we walked 
away together. " Or she would be proud, if it wasn't sinful, 
Master Copperfield." 

"Yet you didn't mind supposing /was proud this morning," 
I returned. 

" Oh dear no, Master Copperfield ! " returned Uriah. " Oh, 
believe me, no ! Such a thought never came into my head ! 1 
shouldn't have deemed it at all proud if you had thought us 
too umble for you. Because we are so very umble." 

" Have you been studying much law lately ? " I asked, to 
change the subject. 

" Oh, Master Copperfield," he said, with an air of self-denial, 
" my reading is hardly to be called study. I have passed an 
hour or two in the evening, sometimes, with Mr. Tidd." 

" Rather hard, I suppose ? " said I. 

" He is hard to me sometimes," returned Uriah. " But I 
don't know what he might be, to a gifted person." 

After beating a little tune on his chin as we walked on, with 
the two forefingers of his skeleton right hand, he added : 

" There are expressions, you see, Master Copperfield Latin 
words and terms in Mr. Tidd, that are trying to a reader of 
my umble attainments." 

" Would you like to be taught Latin ? " I said, briskly. 
" I will teach it you with pleasure, as I learn it." 

" Oh, thank you, Master Copperfield," he answered, shaking 
his head. " I am sure it's very kind of you to make the offer, 
but I am much too umble to accept it." 

"What nonsense, Uriah ! " 

" Oh, indeed you must excuse me, Master Copperfield ! I 
am greatly obliged, and I should like it of all things, I assure 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 277 

you; but I am far too umble. There are people enough to 
tread upon me in my lowly Estate, without my doing outrage 
to their feelings by possessing learning. Learning ain't for 
me. A person like myself had better not aspire. If he is to 
get on in life, he must get on umbly, Master Copperfield." 

I never saw his mouth so wide, or the creases in his cheeks 
so deep, as when he delivered himself of these sentiments : 
shaking his head all the time, and writhing modestly. 

" I think you are wrong, Uriah," I said. " I dare say there 
are several things that I could teach you, if you would like to 
learn them." 

" Oh, I don't doubt that, Master Copperfield," he answered ; 
" not in the least. But not being umble yourself, you don't 
judge well, perhaps, for them that are. I won't provoke my 
betters with knowledge, thank you. I'm much too umble. 
Here is my umble dwelling, Master Copperfield ! " 

We entered a low, old-fashioned room, walked straight into 
from the street, and found there, Mrs. Heep, who was the dead 
image of Uriah, only short. She received me with the utmost 
humility, and apologized to me for giving her son a kiss, ob- 
serving that, lowly as they were, they had their natural affec- 
tions, which they hoped would give no offence to any one. It 
was a perfectly decent room, half parlor and half kitchen, but 
not at all a snug room. The tea-things were set upon the 
table, and the kettle was boiling on the hob. There was a 
chest of drawers with an escritoire top, for Uriah to read or 
write at of an evening ; there was Uriah's blue bag lying down 
and vomiting papers ; there was a company of Uriah's books 
commanded by Mr. Tidd ; there was a corner cupboard ; and 
there were the usual articles of furniture. I don't remember 
that any individual object had a bare, pinched, spare look; 
but I do remember that the whole place had. 

It was perhaps a part of Mrs. Heep's humility, that she still 
wore weeds. Notwithstanding the lapse of time that had 
occurred since Mr. Heep's decease, she still wore weeds. I 
think there was some compromise in the cap ; but otherwise 
she was as weedy as in 'the early days of her mourning. 

"This is a day to be remembered, my Uriah, I am sure," 



THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

said Mrs. Heep, making the tea, "when Master Copperfield 
pays us a visit." 

"I said you'd think so, mother," said Uriah. 

"If I could have wished father to remain among us for any 
reason," said Mrs. Heep, " it would have been, that he might 
have known his company this afternoon." 

I felt embarrassed by these compliments ; but I was sen- 
sible, too, of being entertained as an honored guest, and I 
thought Mrs. Heep an agreeable woman. 

"My Uriah," said Mrs. Heep, "has looked forward to this, 
sir, a long while. He had his fears that our umbleness stood 
in the way, and I joined in them myself. Umble we are, 
umble we have been, umble we shall ever be," said Mrs. Heep. 

" I am sure you have no occasion to be so, ma'am," I said, 
" unless you like." 

"Thank you, sir," retorted Mrs. Heep. "We know OUT 
station and are thankful in it." 

/ I found that Mrs. Heep gradually got nearer to me, and 
that Uriah gradually got opposite to me, and that they respect- 
fully plied me with the choicest of the eatables on the table. 
There was nothing particularly choice there, to be sure ; but 
I took the will for the deed, and felt that they were very 
attentive. Presently they began to talk about aunts, and then 
I told them about mine ; and about fathers and mothers, and 
then I told them about mine ; and then Mrs. Heep began to 
talk about fathers-in-law, and then I began to tell her about 
mine but stopped, because my aunt had advised me to 
observe a silence on that subject. A tender young cork, how- 
ever, would have had no more chance against a pair of cork- 
screws, or a tender young tooth against a pair of dentists, or a 
little shuttlecock against two battledores, than I had against 
Uriah and Mrs. Heep. They did just what they liked with 
me ; and wormed things out of me that I had no desire to tell, 
with a certainty I blush to think of : the more especially as, 
in my juvenile frankness, I took some credit to myself for 
being so confidential, and felt that I was quite the patron of 
my two respectful entertainers. 

They were very fond of one another : that was certain. I 
take it that had its effect upon me, as a touch of nature ; but 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 279 

the skill with which the one followed up whatever the other 
said, was a touch of art which I was still less proof against. 
When there was nothing more to be got out of me about 
myself (for on the Murdstone and Grinby life, and on my 
journey, I was dumb), they began about Mr. Wickfield and 
Agnes. Uriah threw the ball to Mrs. Heep, Mrs Heep caught 
it and threw it back to Uriah, Uriah kept it up a little while, 
then sent it back to Mrs. Heep, and so they went on tossing 
it about until I had no idea who had got it, and was quite 
bewildered. The ball itself was always changing too. Now 
it was Mr. Wickfield, now Agnes, now the excellence of Mr. 
Wickfield, now my admiration of Agnes ; now the extent of 
Mr. Wickfield's business and resources, now our domestic life 
after dinner ; r ow the wine that Mr. Wickfield took, the reason 
why he took if, and the pity that it was he took so much ; now 
one thing, now another, then everything at once ; and all the 
time, without appearing to speak 'very often, or to do anything 
but sometimes encourage them a little, for fear they should 
be overcome by their humility and the honor of my company, 
I found myself perpetually letting out something or other 
that I had no business to let out, and seeing the effect of it in 
the twinkling of Uriah's dinted nostrils. 

I had begun to be a little uncomfortable, and to wish myself 
well out of the visit, when a figure coming down the street 
passed the door it stood open to air u the room, which was 
warm, the weather being close for the time of year came 
back again, looked in, and walked in, exclaiming loudly, " Cop- 
perfield ! Is it possible ! " 

It was Mr. Micawber! It was Mr. Micawber, with his 
eye-glass, and his walking stick, and his shirt-collar, and his gen- 
teel air, and the condescending roll in his voice, all complete ! 

" My dear Copperfield," said Mr. Micawber, putting out his 
hand, " this is indeed a meeting which is calculated to impress 
the mind with a sense of the instability and uncertainty of 
all human in short, it is a most extraordinary meeting. 
Walking along the street, reflecting upon the probability of 
something turning up (of which I am at present rather san- 
guine), I find a young but valued friend turn up, who is con- 
nected with the most eventful period of my life ; I may say, 



280 THE PERSONAL HISTOET AND EXPERIENCE 

with the turning point of my existence. Copperfield, my dear 
fellow, how do you do ? " 

I cannot say I really canwoZ say that I was glad to see 
Mr. Micawber there ; but I was glad to see him too, and shook 
hands with him heartily, inquiring how Mrs. Micawber was. 

"Thank you," said Mr. Micawber, waving his hand as of 
old, and settling his chin in his shirt-collar. " She is tolerably 
convalescent. The twins no longer derive their sustenance 
from Nature's founts in short," said Mr. Micawber, in one 
of his bursts of confidence, " they are weaned and Mrs. 
Micawber is, at present, my travelling companion. She will 
be rejoiced, Copperfield, to renew her acquaintance with one 
who has proved himself in all respects a worthy minister at 
the sacred altar of friendship." 

I said I should be delighted to see her. 

"You are very good," said Mr. Micawber. 

Mr. Micawber then smiled, settled his chin again, and looked 
about him. 

" I have discovered my friend Copperfield," said Mr. Micaw- 
ber, genteelly, and without addressing himself particularly to 
any one, "not in solitude, but partaking of a social meal in 
company with a widow lady, and one who is apparently her 
offspring in short," said Mr. Micawber, in another of his 
bursts of confidence, " her son. I shall esteem it an honor to 
be presented." 

I could do no less, under these circumstances, than make 
Mr. Micawber known to Uriah Heep and his mother ; which 
I accordingly did. As they abased themselves before him, 
Mr. Micawber took a seat, and waved his hand in his most 
courtly manner. 

" Any friend of my friend Copperfield' s," said Mr. Micawber, 
" has a personal claim upon myself." 

"We are too umble, sir," said Mrs. Heep, "my son and me, 
to be the friends of Master Copperfield. He has been so good 
as to take his tea with us, and we are thankful to him for his 
company ; also to you, sir, for your notice." 

"Ma'am," returned Mr. Micawber, with a bow, "you are 
very obliging : and what are you doing, Copperfield ? Still in 
the wine trade ? " 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 281 

I was excessively anxious to get Mr. Micawber away ; and 
replied, with my hat in my hand, and a very red face, I have 
no doubt, that I was a pupil at Doctor Strong's. 

" A pupil ? " said Mr. Micawber, raising his eyebrows. " I 
am extremely happy to hear it. Although a mind like my 
friend Copperfield's " to Uriah and- Mrs. Keep " does not 
require that cultivation which, without his knowledge of men 
and things, it would require, still it is a rich soil teeming with 
latent vegetation in short," said Mr. Micawber, smiling, in 
another burst of confidence, " it is an intellect capable of get- 
ting up the classics to any extent." 

Uriah, with his long hands slowly twining over one another, 
made a ghastly writhe from the waist upwards, to express his 
concurrence in this estimation of me. 

" Shall we go and see Mrs. Micawber, sir ? " I said, to get 
Mr. Micawber away. 

"If you will do her that favor, Copperfield," replied Mr. 
Micawber, rising. " I have no scruple in saying, in the pres- 
ence of our friends here, that I am a man who has, for some 
years, contended against the pressure of pecuniary difficulties." 
I knew he was certain to say something of this kind ; he 
always would be so boastful about his difficulties. " Sometimes 
I have risen superior to my difficulties. Sometimes my diffi- 
culties have in short, have floored me. There have been 
times when I have administered a succession of facers to 
them ; there have been times when they have been too many 
for me, and I have given in, and said to Mrs. Micawber, in the 
words of Cato, < Plato, thou reasonest well.' It's all up now. 
I can show fight no more. But at no time of my life," said 
Mr. Micawber, "have I enjoyed a higher degree of satisfac- 
tion than in pouring my griefs (if I may describe difficulties, 
chiefly arising out of warrants of attorney and promissory 
notes at two and four months, by that word) into the bosom 
of my friend Copperfield." 

Mr. Micawber closed this handsome tribute by saying, " Mr. 
Heep ! Good evening. Mrs. Heep ! Your servant," and then 
walking out with me in his most fashionable manner, making 
a good deal of noise on the pavement with his shoes, and hum- 
ming a tune as we went. 



282 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

It was a little inn where Mr. Micawber put up, and lie occu- 
pied a little room in it, partitioned off from the commercial 
room, and strongly flavored with tobacco smoke. I think it 
was over the kitchen, because a warm greasy smell appeared 
to come up through the chinks in the floor, and there was a 
flabby perspiration 011 the walls. I know it was near the bar, 
on account of the smell of spirits and jingling of glasses. 
Here, recumbent on a small sofa, underneath a picture of a 
race-horse, with her head close to the fire, and her feet push- 
ing the mustard off the dumb-waiter at the other end of the 
room, was Mrs. Micawber, to whom Mr. Micawber entered 
first, saying, " My dear, allow me to introduce to you a pupil 
of Doctor Strong's." 

I noticed, by the by, that although Mr. Micawber was just 
as much confused as ever about my age and standing, he always 
remembered, as a genteel thing, that I was a pupil of Doctor 
Strong's. 

Mrs. Micawber was amazed, but very glad to see me. I was 
very glad to see her too, and after an affectionate greeting on 
both sides, sat down on the small sofa near her. 

"My dear/' said Mr. Micawber, "if you will mention to 
Copperfield what our present position is, which I have no 
doubt he will like to know, I will go and look at the paper the 
while, and see whether anything turns up among the adver- 
tisements." 

"I thought you were at Plymouth, ma'am," I said to Mrs. 
Micawber, as he went out. 

"My dear Master Copperfield," she replied, "we went to 
Plymouth." 

" To be on the spot," I hinted. 

"Just so," said Mrs. Micawber. "To be on the spot. But, 
the truth is, talent is not wanted in the Custom House. The 
local influence of my family was quite unavailing to obtain 
any employment in that department, for a man of Mr. Micaw- 
ber's abilities. They would rather not have a man of Mr. 
Micawber's abilities. He would only show the deficiency of 
the others. Apart from which," said Mrs. Micawber, " I will 
not disguise from you, my dear Master Copperfield, that when 
that branch of my family which is settled in Plymouth became 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 283 

aware that Mr. Micawber was accompanied by myself, and by 
little Wilkins and his sister, and by the twins, they did not 
receive him with that ardor which he might have expected, 
being so newly released from captivity. In fact," said Mrs. 
Micawber, lowering her voice, "this is between ourselves 
our reception was cool." 

" Dear me ! " I said. 

" Yes." said Mrs. Micawber. " It is truly painful to contem- 
plate mankind in such an aspect, Master Copperfield, but our 
reception was, decidedly, cool. There is no doubt about it. 
In fact, that branch of my family which is settled in Plymouth 
became quite personal to Mr. Micawber, before we had been 
there a week." 

I said, and thought, that they ought to be ashamed of them- 
selves. 

" Still, so it was," continued Mrs. Micawber. " Under such 
circumstances, what could a man of Mr. Micawber's spirit do ? 
But one obvious course was left. To borrow of that branch of 
my family the money to return to London, and to return at 
any sacrifice." 

" Then you .all came back again, ma'am ? " I said. 

" We all came back again," replied Mrs. Micawber. " Since 
then, I have consulted other branches of my family on the 
course which it is most expedient for Mr. Micawber to take 
for I maintain that he must take some course, Master Copper- 
field," said Mrs. Micawber, argumentatively. "It is clear 
that a family of six, not including a domestic, cannot live 
upon air." 

" Certainly, ma'am," said I. 

" The opinion of those other branches of my family," pur- 
sued Mrs. Micawber, " is, that Mr. Micawber should immedi- 
ately turn his attention to coals." 

" To what, ma'am ? " 

"To coals," said Mrs. Micawber. "To the coal trade. Mr. 
Micawber was induced to think, on inquiry, that there might 
be an opening for a man of his talent in the Medway Coal 
Trade. Then, as Mr. Micawber very properly said, the first 
step to be taken clearly was, to come and see the Medwp^y. 
Which we came and saw. I say 'we/ Master Copperfield j 



284 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

for I never will," said Mrs. Micawber with emotion, " I never 
will desert Mr. Micawber." 

I murmured my admiration and approbation. 

" We came," repeated Mrs. Micawber, "and saw the Medway. 
My opinion of the coal trade on that river, is, that it may re- 
quire talent, but that it certainly requires capital. Talent, 
Mr. Micawber has ; capital, Mr. Micawber has not. We saw, 
I think, the greater part of the Medway ; and that is my 
individual conclusion. Being so near here, Mr. Micawber was 
of opinion that it would be rash not to come on, and see the 
Cathedral. Firstly, on account of its being so well worth 
seeing, and our never having seen it ; and secondly, on account 
of the great probability of something turning up in a cathedral 
town. We have been here," said Mrs. Micawber, " three days. 
Nothing has, as yet, turned up ; and it may not surprise you, 
my dear Master Copperfield, so much as it would a stranger, 
to know that we are at present waiting for a remittance from 
London, to discharge our pecuniary obligations at this hotel. 
Until the arrival of that remittance," said Mrs. Micawber, 
with much feeling, "I am cut off from my home (I allude to 
lodgings in Pentonville), from my boy and girl, and from my 
twins." 

I felt the utmost sympathy for Mr. and Mrs. Micawber in 
this anxious extremity, and said as much to Mr. Micawber, 
who now returned : adding that I only wished I had money 
enough, to lend them the amount they needed. Mr. Micaw- 
ber's answer expressed the disturbance of his mind. He said, 
shaking hands with me, " Copperfield, you are a true friend ; 
but when the worst conies to the worst, no man is without a 
friend who is possessed of shaving materials." At this dread- 
ful hint Mrs. Micawber threw her arms round Mr. Micawber's 
neck, and entreated him to be calm. He wept ; but so far 
recovered, almost immediately, as to ring the bell for the 
waiter, and bespeak a hot kidney pudding and a plate of 
shrimps for breakfast in the morning. 

When I took my leave of them, they both pressed me so 
much to come and dine before they went away, that I could 
not refuse. But, as I knew I could not come next day, when 
I should have a good deal to prepare in the evening, Mr. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 285 

Micawber arranged that lie would call at Doctor Strong's in 
the course of the morning (having a presentiment that the 
remittance would arrive by that post), and propose the day 
after, if it would suit me better. Accordingly I was called 
out of school next forenoon, and found Mr. Micawber in the 
parlor; who had called to say that the dinner would take 
place as proposed. When I asked him if the remittance had 
come, he pressed my hand and departed. 

As I was looking out of window that same evening, it 
surprised me, and made me rather uneasy, to see Mr. Micaw- 
ber and Uriah Heep walk past, arm in arm : Uriah humbly 
sensible of the honor that was done him, and Mr. Micawber 
taking a bland delight in extending his patronage to Uriah. 
But I was still more surprised, when I went to the little hotel 
next day at the appointed dinner hour, which was four o'clock, 
to find, from what Mr. Micawber said, that he had gone home 
with Uriah, and had drunk brandy-and-water at Mrs. Heep's. 

" And I'll tell you what, my dear Copperfield," said Mr. 
Micawber, "your friend Heep is a young fellow who might be 
attorney-general. If I had known that young man, at the 
period when my difficulties came to a crisis, all I can say is, 
that I believe my creditors would have been a great deal better 
managed than they were." 

I hardly understood how this could have been, seeing that 
Mr. Micawber had paid them nothing at all as it was ; but I 
did not like to ask. Neither did I like to say, that I hoped 
he had not been too communicative to Uriah; or to inquire if 
they had talked much about me. I was afraid of hurting Mr. 
Micawber's feelings, or, at all events, Mrs. Micawber's, she 
being very sensitive ; but I was uncomfortable about it, too, 
and often thought about it afterwards. 

We had a beautiful little dinner. Quite an elegant dish of 
fish ; the kidney-end of a loin of veal, roasted ; fried sausage- 
meat ; a partridge, and a pudding. There was wine, and there 
was strong ale ; and after dinner Mrs. Micawber made us a 
bowl of hot punch with her own hands. 

Mr. Micawber was uncommonly convivial. I never saw him 
such good company. He made his face shine with the punch, 
so that it looked as if it had been varnished all over. He 



286 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

got cheerfully sentimental about the town, and proposed suc- 
cess to it ; observing that Mrs. Micawber and himself had 
been made extremely snug and comfortable there, and that 
he never should forget the agreeable hours they had passed 
in Canterbury. He proposed me afterwards ; and he, and Mrs. 
Micawber, and I, took a review of our past acquaintance, in 
the course of which, we sold the property all over again. 
Then I proposed Mrs. Micawber ; or, at least, said, modestly, 
"If you'll allow me, Mrs. Micawber, I shall now have the 
pleasure of drinking your health, ma'am." On which Mr. 
Micawber delivered an eulogium on Mrs. Micawber's character, 
and said she had ever been his guide, philosopher, and friend, 
and that he would recommend me, when I came to a marrying 
time of life, to marry such another woman, if such another 
woman could be found. 

As the punch disappeared, Mr. Micawber became still more 
friendly and convivial. Mrs. Micawber's spirits becoming 
elevated, too, we sang " Auld Lang Syne." When we came 
to " Here's a hand, my. trusty frere," we all joined hands 
round the table ; and when we declared we would " take a 
right gude Willie Waught," and hadn't the least idea what it 
meant, we were really affected. 

In a word, I never saw anybody so thoroughly jovial as 
Mr. Micawber was, down to the very last moment of the 
evening, when I took a hearty farewell of himself and his 
amiable wife. Consequently, I was not prepared, at seven 
o'clock next morning, to receive the following communica- 
tion, dated half-past nine in the evening ; a quarter of an hour 
after I had left him : 

" MY DEAR YOUNG FKIEND, 

" The die is cast all is over. Hiding the ravages of 
care with a sickly mask of mirth, I have not informed you, 
this evening, that there is no hope of the remittance ! Under 
these circumstances, alike humiliating to endure, humiliating 
to contemplate, and humiliating to relate, I have discharged 
the pecuniary liability contracted at .this establishment, by 
giving a note of hand, made payable fourteen daj^s after date, 
at my residence, Pentonville, London. When it becomes due, 



OF DAVID COPPEKFIELD. 287 

it will not be taken up. The result is destruction. The bolt 
is impending, and the tree must fall. 

" Let the wretched man who now addresses you, my dear 
Copperfield, be a beacon to you through life. He writes with 
that intention, and in that hope. If he could think himself 
of so much use, one gleam of day might, by possibility, pene- 
trate into the cheerless dungeon of his remaining existence 
though his longevity is, at present (to say the least of it), 
extremely problematical. 

"This is the last communication, my dear Copperfield, you 
will ever receive. 

" From 

"The 

"Beggared Outcast, 

"WlLKINS MlCAWBER." 

I was so shocked by the contents of this heart-rending letter, 
that I ran off directly towards the little hotel with the inten- 
tion of taking it on my way to Dr. Strong's, and trying to 
soothe Mr. Micawber with a word of comfort. But, half-way 
there, I met the London coach with Mr. and Mrs. Micawber 
up behind ; Mr. Micawber, the very picture of tranquil enjoy- 
ment, smiling at Mrs. Micawber's conversation, eating walnuts 
out of a paper bag, with a bottle sticking out of his breast 
pocket. As they did not see me, I thought it best, all things 
considered, not to see them. So, with a great weight taken 
off my mind, I turned into a by-street that was the nearest 
way to school, and felt, upon the whole, relieved that they 
were gone : though I still liked them very much, nevertheless. 



288 



CHAPTEE XVIII. 

A RETROSPECT. 

MY school-days ! The silent gliding on of my existence 
the unseen, unf elt progress of my life from childhood up to 
youth ! Let me think, as I look back upon that flowing water, 
now a dry channel overgrown with leaves, whether there are 
any marks along its course, by which I can remember how it 
ran. 

A moment, and I occupy my place in the Cathedral, where 
we all went together, every Sunday morning, assembling first 
at school for that purpose. The earthy smell, the sunless air, 
the sensation of the world being shut out, the resounding of 
the organ through the black and white arched galleries and 
aisles, are wings that take me back, and hold me hovering 
above those days, in a half-sleeping and half-waking dream. 

I am not the last boy in the school. I have risen, in a few 
months, over several heads. But the first boy seems to me a 
mighty creature, dwelling afar off, whose giddy height is un- 
attainable. Agnes says " No," but I say " Yes," and tell her 
that she little thinks what stores of knowledge have been 
mastered by the wonderful Being, at whose place she thinks 
I, even I, weak aspirant, may arrive in time. He is not my 
private friend and public patron, as Steerforth was, but I hold 
him in a reverential respect. I chiefly wonder what he'll be, 
when he leaves Doctor Strong's, and what mankind will do to 
maintain any place against him. 

But who is this that breaks upon me ? This is Miss Shepherd, 
whom I love. 

Miss Shepherd is a boarder at the IVfisses Nettingalls' estab- 
lishment. I adore Miss Shepherd. She is a little girl, in a 
spencer, with a round face and curly flaxen hair. The Misses 
Nettingalls' young ladies come to the Cathedral too. I cannot 
look upon my book, for I must look upon Miss Shepherd 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 289 

When the choristers chant, I hear Miss Shepherd. In the 
service I mentally insert Miss Shepherd's name I put her in 
among the Royal Family. At home, in my own room, I am 
sometimes moved to cry out, " Oh, Miss Shepherd ! " in a 
transport of love. 

For some time, I am doubtful of Miss Shepherd's feelings, 
but, at length, Fate being propitious, we meet at the dancing- 
school. I have Miss Shepherd for my partner. I touch Miss 
Shepherd's glove, and feel a thrill go up the right arm of my 
jacket, and come out at my hair. I say nothing tender to 
Miss Shepherd, but we understand each other. Miss Shep- 
herd and myself live but to be united. 

Why do I secretly give Miss Shepherd twelve Brazil nuts 
for a present, I wonder ? They are not expressive of affec- 
tion, they are difficult to pack into a parcel of any regular 
shape, they are hard to crack, even in room doors, and they 
are oily when cracked ; yet I feel that they are appropriate 
to Miss Shepherd. Soft, seedy biscuits, also, I bestow upon 
Miss Shepherd ; and oranges innumerable. Once, I kiss Miss 
Shepherd in the cloak room. Ecstasy ! What are my agony 
and indignation next day, when I hear a flying rumor that the 
Misses Nettingall have stood Miss Shepherd in the stocks for 
turning in her toes ! 

Miss Shepherd being the one pervading theme and vision of 
my life, how do I ever come to break with her ? I can't con- 
ceive. And yet a coolness grows between Miss Shepherd and 
myself. Whispers reach me of Miss Shepherd having said 
she wished I wouldn't stare so, and having avowed a prefer- 
ence for Master Jones for Jones ! a boy of no merit what- 
ever ! The gulf between me and Miss Shepherd widens. At 
last, one day, I meet the Misses Nettingalls' establishment out 
walking. Miss Shepherd makes a face as she goes by, and 
laughs to her companion. All is over. The devotion of a life 
it seems a life, it is all the same is at an end ; Miss Shep- 
herd comes out of the morning service, and the Royal Family 
know her no more. 

I am higher in the school, and no one breaks my peace. I 
am not at all polite, now, to the Misses Nettingalls' young 
ladies, and shouldn't dote on any of them, if they were twice 
VOL. i 19 



290 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

as many and twenty times as beautiful. I think the dancing- 
school a tiresome affair, and wonder why the girls can't dance 
by themselves, and leave us alone. I am growing great in 
Latin verses, and neglect the laces of my boots. Doctor 
Strong refers to me in public as a promising young scholar. 
Mr. Dick is wild with joy, and my aunt remits me a guinea 
by the next post. 

The shade of a young butcher rises, like the apparition of 
an armed head in Macbeth. Who is this young butcher ? He 
is the terror of the youth of Canterbury. There is a vague 
belief abroad, that the beef suet with which he anoints his 
hair gives him unnatural strength, and that he is a match for 
a man. He is a broad-faced, bull-necked young butcher, with 
rough red cheeks, an ill-conditioned mind, and an injurious 
tongue. His main use of this tongue, is, to disparage Doctor 
Strong's young gentlemen. He says publicly, that if they 
want anything he'll give it 'em. He names individuals among 
them (myself included), whom he could undertake to settle 
with one hand, and the other tied behind him. He waylays 
the smaller boys to punch their unprotected heads, and calls 
challenges after me in the open streets. For these sufficient 
reasons I resolve to fight the butcher. 

It is a summer evening, down in a green hollow, at the 
corner of a wall. I meet the butcher by appointment. I am 
attended by a select body of our boys ; the butcher, by two 
other butchers, a young publican, and a sweep. The prelimi- 
naries are adjusted, and the butcher and myself stand face to 
face. In a moment the butcher lights ten thousand candles 
out of my left eyebrow. In another moment, I don't know 
where the wall is, or where I am, or where anybody is. I 
hardly know which is myself and which the butcher, we are 
always in such a tangle and tustle, knocking about upon the 
trodden grass. Sometimes I see the butcher, bloody but confi- 
dent ; sometimes I see nothing, and sit gasping on my second's 
knee ; sometimes I go in at the butcher madly, and cut my 
knuckles open against his face, without appearing to discom- 
pose him at all. At last I awake, very queer about the head, 
as from a giddy sleep, and see the butcher walking off, con- 
gratulated by the two other butchers and the sweep and pub- 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD, 291 

lican, and putting on his coat as he goes ; from which I augur, 
justly, that the victory is his. 

I am taken home in a sad plight, and I have beef-steaks 
put to my eyes, and am rubbed with vinegar and brandy, and 
find a great white puffy place bursting out on my upper lip, 
which swells immoderately. For three or four days I remain 
at home, a very ill-looking subject, with a green shade over 
my eyes ; and I should be very dull, but that Agnes is a 
sister to me, and condoles with me, and reads to me, and 
makes, the time light and happy. Agnes has my confidence 
completely, always ; I tell her all about the butcher, and the 
wrongs he has heaped upon me ; and she thinks I couldn't 
have done otherwise than fight the butcher, while she shrinks 
and trembles at my having fought him. 

Time has stolen on unobserved, for Adams is not the head- 
boy in the days that are come now, nor has he been this many 
and many a day. Adams has left the school so long, that 
when he comes back, on a visit to Doctor Strong, there are 
not many there, besides myself, who know him. Adams is 
going to be called to the bar almost directly, and is to be an 
advocate, and to wear a wig. I am surprised to find him a 
meeker man than I had thought, and less imposing in appear- 
ance. He has not staggered the world yet, either ; for it goes 
on (as well as I can make out) pretty much the same as if he 
had never joined it. 

A blank, through which the warriors of poetry and history 
march on in stately hosts that seem to have no end and 
what comes next ! / am the head boy, now ; and look down 
on the line of boys below me, with a condescending interest in 
such of them as bring to my mind the boy I was myself, when 
I first came there. That little fellow seems to be no part of 
me ; I remember him as something left behind upon the road 
of life as something I have passed, rather than have actually 
been and almost think of him as of some one else. 

And the little girl I saw on that first day at Mr. Wickfield's, 
where is she ? Gone also. In her stead, the perfect likeness 
of the picture, a child likeness no more, moves about the 
house ; and Agnes my sweet sister, as I call her in my 
thoughts, my counsellor and friend, the better angel of the 



292 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

lives of all who come within her calm, good, self-denying 
influence is quite a woman. 

What other changes have come upon me, besides the 
changes in my growth and looks, and in the knowledge I have 
garnered all this while ? I wear a gold watch and chain, a 
ring upon my little finger, and a long-tailed coat ; and I use a 
great deal of bear's grease which, taken in conjunction with 
the ring, looks bad. Am I in love again ? I am. I worship the 
eldest Miss Larkins. 

The eldest Miss Larkins is not a little girl. She is a tall, 
dark, black-eyed, fine figure of a woman. The eldest Miss 
Larkins is not a chicken ; for the youngest Miss Larkins is 
not that, and the eldest must be three or four years older. 
Perhaps the eldest Miss Larkins may be about thirty. My 
passion for her is beyond all bounds. 

The eldest Miss Larkins knows officers. It is an awful 
thing to bear. I see them speaking to her in the street. I 
see them cross the way to meet her, when her bonnet (she has 
a bright taste in bonnets) is seen coming down the pavement, 
accompanied by her sister's bonnet. She laughs and talks, 
and seems to like it. I spend a good deal of my own spare 
time in walking up and down to meet her. If I can bow to 
her once in the day (I know her to bow to, knowing Mr. Lar- 
kins), I am happier. I deserve a bow now and then. The 
raging agonies I suffer on the night of the Race Ball, where I 
know the eldest Miss Larkins will be dancing with the mil- 
itary, ought to have some compensation, if there be even- 
handed justice in the world. 

My passion takes away my appetite, and makes me wear 
my newest silk-neckerchief continually. I have no relief but 
in putting on my best clothes, and having my boots cleaned 
over and over again. I seem, then, to be worthier of the 
eldest Miss Larkins. Everything that belongs to her, or is 
connected with her, is precious to me. Mr. Larkins (a gruff 
old gentleman with a double chin, and one of his eyes immov- 
able in his head) is fraught with interest to me. When I 
can't meet his daughter, I go where I am likely to meet him. 
To say, " How do you do, Mr. Larkins ? Are the young ladies 
and all the family quite well ? " seems so pointed, that I blush, 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 293 

I think continually about my age. Say I am seventeen, 
and say that seventeen is young for the eldest Miss Larkins, 
what of that ? Besides, I shall be one-and-twenty in no time 
almost. I regularly take walks outside Mr. Larkins's house 
in the evening, though it cuts me to the heart to see the offi- 
cers go in, or to hear them up in the drawing-room, where the 
eldest Miss Larkins plays the harp. I even walk, on two or 
three occasions, in a sickly, spoony manner, round and round 
the house after the family are gone to bed, wondering which 
is the eldest Miss Larkins's chamber (and pitching, I dare 
say now, on Mr. Larkins's instead) ; wishing that a fire would 
burst out ; that the assembled crowd would stand appalled ; 
that I, dashing through them with a ladder, might rear it 
against her window, save her in my arms, go back for some- 
thing she had left behind, and perish in the flames. For I am 
generally disinterested in my love, and think I could be con- 
tent to make a figure before Miss Larkins, and expire. Gen- 
erally, but not always. Sometimes brighter visions rise before 
me. When I dress (the occupation of two hours), for a great 
ball given at the Larkins's (the anticipation of three weeks), 
I indulge my fancy with pleasing images. I picture myself 
taking courage to make a declaration to Miss Larkins. I pic- 
ture Miss Larkins sinking her head upon my shoulder, and 
saying, " Oh, Mr. Copperfield, can I believe my ears ! " I 
picture Mr. Larkins waiting on me next morning, and say- 
ing, "My dear Copperfield, my daughter has told me all. 
Youth is no objection. Here are twenty thousand pounds. 
Be happy ! " I picture my aunt relenting, and blessing us ; 
and Mr. Dick and Doctor Strong being present at the marriage 
ceremony. I am a sensible fellow, I believe I believe, on 
looking back, I mean and mod t est I am sure; but all this 
goes on notwithstanding. 

I repair to the enchanted house, where there are lights, 
chattering, music, flowers, officers (I am sorry to see), and the 
eldest Miss Larkins, a blaze of beauty. She is dressed in blue, 
with blue flowers in her hair forget-me-nots as if she had 
any need to wear forget-me-nots ! It is the first really grown- 
up party that I have ever been in-vited to, and I am a little 
uncomfortable j for I appear not to belong to anybody, and 



294 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

nobody appears to have anything to say to me, except Mr. 
Larkins, who asks me how my school-fellows are, which he 
needn't do, as I have not come there to be insulted. 

But after I have stood in the doorway for some time, and 
feasted my eyes upon the goddess of my heart, she approaches 
me she, the eldest Miss Larkins! and asks me pleasantly, 
if I dance. 

I stammer, with a bow, " With you, Miss Larkins." 

" With no one else ? " inquires Miss Larkins. 

" I should have no pleasure in dancing with any one else." 

Miss Larkins laughs and blushes (or I think she blushes), 
and says, "Next time but one, I shall be very glad." 

The time arrives. "It is a waltz, I think," Miss Larkins 
doubtfully observes, when I present myself. " Do you waltz ? 
If not, Captain Bailey " 

But I do waltz (pretty well, too, as it happens), and I take 
Miss Larkins out. I take her sternly from the side of Captain 
Bailey. He is wretched, I have no doubt ; but he is nothing 
to me. I have been wretched, too. I waltz with the eldest 
Miss Larkins ! I don't know where, among whom, or how long. 
I only know that I swim about in space, with a blue angel, in 
a state of blissful delirium, until I find myself alone with her 
in a little room, resting on a sofa. She admires a flower (pink 
camelia japonica, price half-a-crown), in my button-hole. I 
give it her, and say : 

" I ask an inestimable price for it, Miss Larkins." 

" Indeed ! What is that ? " returns Miss Larkins. 

" A flower of yours, that I may treasure it as a miser does 
gold." 

"You're a bold boy," says Miss Larkins. "There." 

She gives it me, not displeased ; and I put it to my lips, and 
then into my breast. Miss Larkins, laughing, draws her hand 
through my arm, and says, " Now take me back to Captain 
Bailey." 

I am lost in the recollection of this delicious interview, and 
the waltz, when she comes to me again, with a plain elderly 
gentleman, who has been playing whist all night, upon her 
arm, and says : 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 295 

" Oh ! here is my bold friend ! Mr. Chestle wants to know 
you, Mr. Copperfield." 

I feel at once that he is a friend of the family, and am much 
gratified. 

" I admire your taste, sir," says Mr. Chestle. " It does you 
credit. I suppose you don't take much interest in hops ; but 
I am a pretty large grower myself ; and if you ever like to 
come over to our neighborhood neighborhood of Ashf ord 
and take a run about our place, we shall be glad for you to 
stop as long as you like." 

I thank Mr. Chestle warmly, and shake hands. I think I 
am in a happy dream. I waltz with the eldest Miss Larkins 
once again she says I waltz so well ! I go home in a state 
of unspeakable bliss, and waltz in imagination, all night long, 
with my arm round the blue waist of my dear divinity. For 
some' days afterwards, I am lost in rapturous reflections ; but 
I neither see her in the street, nor when I call. I am imper- 
fectly consoled for this disappointment by the sacred pledge, 
the perished flower. 

" Trotwood," says Agnes, one day after dinner. " Who do 
you think is going to be married to-morrow ? Some one you 
admire." 

" Not you, I suppose, Agnes ? " 

"Not me !" raising her cheerful face from the music she is 
copying. " Do you hear him, papa ? The eldest Miss Larkins." 

"To to Captain Bailey?" I have just enough power to 
ask. 

" No ; to no Captain. To Mr. Chestle, a hop-grower." 

I am terribly dejected for about a week or two. I take off 
my ring, I wear my worst clothes, I use no bear's grease, and 
I frequently lament over the late Miss Larkins's faded flower. 
Being, by that time, rather tired of this kind of life, and hav- 
ing received new provocation from the butcher, I throw the 
flower away, go out with the butcher, and gloriously defeat 
him. 

This, and the resumption of my ring, as well as of the bear's 
grease in moderation, are the last marks I can discern, now, in 
my progress to seventeen. 



296 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 



CHAPTER XIX. 

I LOOK ABOUT ME, AND MAKE A DISCOVERY. 

I AM doubtful whether I was at heart glad or sorry, when 
my school-days drew to an end, and the time came for my 
leaving Doctor Strong's. I had been very happy there, I had 
a great attachment for the Doctor, and I was eminent and dis- 
tinguished in that little world. For these reasons I was sorry 
to go ; but for other reasons, unsubstantial enough, I was glad. 
Misty ideas of being a young man at my own disposal, of the 
importance attaching to a young man at his own disposal, of 
the wonderful things to be seen and done by that magnificent 
animal, and the wonderful effects he could not fail to make 
upon society, lured me away. So powerful were these vision- 
ary considerations in my boyish mind, that I seem, according 
to my present way of thinking, to have left school without 
natural regret. The separation has not made the impression 
on me, that other separations have. I try in vain to recall 
how I felt about it, and what its circumstances were ; but it 
is not momentous in my recollection. I suppose the opening 
prospect confused -me. I know that my juvenile experiences 
went for little or nothing then ; and that life was more like 
a great fairy story, which I was just about to begin to read, 
than anything else. 

My aunt and I had held many grave deliberations on the 
calling to which I should be devoted. For a year or more I 
had endeavored to find a satisfactory answer to her often-re- 
peated question, " What I would like to be ? " But I had no 
particular liking, that I could discover, for anything. If I 
could have been inspired with a knowledge of the science of 
navigation, taken the command of a fast-sailing expedition, and 
gone round the world on a triumphant voyage of discovery, I 
think I might have considered myself completely suited. But 
in the absence of any such miraculous provision, my desire 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 297 

was to apply myself to some pursuit that would not lie too 
heavily upon her purse j and to do my duty in it, whatever it 
might be. 

Mr. Dick had regularly assisted at our councils, with a 
meditative and sage demeanor. He never made a suggestion 
but once ; and on that occasion (I don't know what put it in 
his head), he suddenly proposed that I should be " a Brazier.' 5 
My aunt received this proposal so very ungraciously, that he 
never ventured on a second; but ever afterwards confined 
himself to looking watchfully at her for her suggestions, and 
rattling his money. 

" Trot, I tell you what, my dear," said my aunt, one morning 
in the Christmas season when I left school ; " as this knotty 
point is still unsettled, and as we must not make a mistake in 
our decision if we can help it, I "chink we had better take a 
little breathing-time. In the meanwhile, you must try to look 
at it from a new point of view, and not as a schoolboy." 

" I will, aunt." 

" It has occurred to me," pursued my aunt, " that a little 
change, and a glimpse of life out of doors, may be useful, in 
helping you to know your own mind, and form a cooler judg- 
ment. Suppose you were to take a little journey now. 
Suppose you were to go down into the old part of the country 
again, for instance, and see that that out-of-the-way woman 
with the savagest of names," said my aunt, rubbing her nose, 
for she could never thoroughly forgive Peggotty for being so 
called. 

"Of all things in the world, aunt, I should like it best." 

" Well," said my aunt, " that's lucky, for I should like it 
too. But it's natural and rational that you should like it. 
And I am very well persuaded that whatever you do, Trot, 
will always be natural and rational." 

" I hope so, aunt." 

" Your sister, Betsey Trotwood," said my aunt, " would have 
been as natural and rational a girl as ever breathed. You'll 
be worthy of her, won't you ? " 

"I hope I shall be worthy of you, aunt. That will be 
enough for me." 

" It's a mercy that poor dear baby of a mother of yours 



298 THE PEESONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

didn't live/' said my aunt, looking at me approvingly, " or 
she'd have been so vain of her boy by this time, that her soft 
little head would have been completely turned, if there was 
anything of it left to turn." (My aunt always excused any 
weakness of her own in my behalf, by transferring it in this 
way to my poor mother.) "Bless me, Trotwood, how you do 
remind me of her ! " 

" Pleasantly, I hope, aunt ? " said I. 

" He's as like her, Dick," said my aunt, emphatically, " he's 
as like her, as she was that afternoon, bo fore she began to fret 
bless my heart, he's as like her, as he can look at me out of 
his two eyes ! " 

" Is he indeed ? " said Mr. Dick. 

" And he's like David, too," said my aunt, decisively. 

" He is very like David ! " said Mr. Dick. 

"But what I want you to be, Trot," resumed my aunt, " I 
don't mean physically, but morally ; you are very well physi- 
cally is, a firm fellow. A fine firm fellow, with a will of 
your own. With resolution," said my aunt, shaking her cap 
at me, and clenching her hand. " With determination. With 
character, Trot with strength of character that is not to be 
influenced, except on good reason, by anybody, or by anything. 
That's what I want you to be. That's what your father and 
mother might both have been, Heaven knows, and been the 
better for it." 

I intimated that I hoped I should be what she described. 

" That you may begin, in a small way. to have a reliance 
upon yourself, and to act for yourself," said my aunt, " I shall 
send you upon your trip, alone. I did think, once, of Mr, 
Dick's going with you ; but, on second thoughts, I shall keep 
him to take care of me." 

Mr. Dick, for a moment, looked a little disappointed ; until 
the honor and dignity of having to take care of the most 
wonderful woman in the world, restored the sunshine to his 
face. 

" Besides," said my aunt, " there's the Memorial " 

" Oh, certainly," said Mr. Dick, in a hurry, " I intend, Trot- 
wood, to get that done immediately it really must be done 
immediately ! And then it will go in you know and then,'' 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 299 

-- said Mr. Dick, after checking himself, and pausing a long 
time, " there'll be a pretty kettle of fish ! " 

In pursuance of my aunt's kind scheme, I was shortly after- 
wards fitted out with a handsome purse of money, and a 
portmanteau, and tenderly dismissed upon my expedition. At 
parting, my aunt gave me some good advice, and a good many 
kisses ; and said that as her object was that I should look 
about me, and should think a little, she would recommend me 
to stay a few days in London, if I liked it, either oil my way 
down into Suffolk, or in coming back. In a word, I was at 
liberty to do what I would, for three weeks or a month ; and 
no other conditions were imposed upon my freedom than the 
before-mentioned thinking and looking about me, and a pledge 
to write three times a week and faithfully report myself. 

I went to Canterbury first, that I might take leave of Agnes 
and Mr. Wickfield (my old room in whose house I had not 
yet relinquished), and also of the good Doctor. Agnes was 
very glad to see me, and told me that the house had not been 
like itself since I had left it. 

"I am sure I am not like myself when I am away," said I. 
" I seem to want my right hand when I miss you. Though 
that's not saying much ; for there's no head in my right hand, 
and no heart. Every one who knows you, consults with you, 
and is guided by you, Agnes." 

"Every one who knows me, spoils me, I believe," she 
answered, smiling. 

"No. It's because you are like no one else. You are so 
good and so sweet-tempered. You have such a gentle nature, 
and you are always right." 

" You talk," said Agnes, breaking into a pleasant laugh, as 
she sat at work, " as if I were the late Miss Larkins." 

" Come ! It's not fair to abuse my confidence-," I answered, 
reddening a the recollection of my blue enslaver. "But I 
shall confide in you, just the same, Agnes. I can never grow 
out of that. Whenever I fall into trouble, or fall in love, I 
shall always tell you, if you'll let me even when I come to 
fall in love in earnest." 

" Why, you have always been in earnest ! " said Agnes, 
laughing again. 



300 

" Oh ! that was as a child, or a school -boy," said I, laughing 
in my turn, not without being a little shame-faced. " Times 
are altering now, and I suppose I shall be in a terrible state of 
earnestness one day or other. My wonder is, that you are not 
in earnest yourself, by this time, Agnes." 

Agnes laughed again, and shook her head. 

" Oh, I know you are not ! " said I, " because if you had 
been, you would have told me. Or at least '' - for I saw a 
faint blush in her face, " You would have let me find it out 
for myself. But there is no one that I know of, who deserves 
to love you, Agnes. Some one of a nobler character, and more 
worthy altogether than any one I have ever seen here, must 
rise up, before I give my consent. In the time to come, I 
shall have a wary eye on all admirers ; and shall exact a great 
deal from the successful one, I assure you." 

We had gone on, so far, in a mixture of confidential jest and 
earnest, that had long grown naturally out of our familiar 
relations, begun as mere children. But Agnes, now suddenly 
lifting up her eyes to mine, and speaking in a different man- 
ner, said: 

" Trot wood, there is something that I want to ask you, and 
that I may not have another opportunity of asking for a long 
time, perhaps something I would ask, I think, of no one 
else. Have you observed any gradual alteration in papa ? r 

I had observed it, and had often wondered whether she had 
too. I must have shown as much, now, in my face ; for her 
eyes were in a moment cast down, and I saw tears in them. 

" Tell me what it is," she said, in a low voice. 

"I think shall I be quite plain, Agnes, liking him so 
much ? " 

"Yes," she said. 

" I think he does himself no good by the habit that has 
increased upon him since I first came here. He is often very 
nervous or I fancy so." 

" It is not fancy," said Agnes, shaking her head. 

" His hand trembles, his speech is not plain, and his eyes 
look wild. I have remarked that at those times, and when he 
is least like himself, he is most certain to be wanted on some 
business." 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 301 

" By Uriah," Said Agnes. 

" Yes ; and the sense of being unfit for it, or of not having 
understood it, or of having shown his condition in spite of 
himself, seems to make him so uneasy, that next day he is 
worse, and next day worse, and so he becomes jaded and hag- 
gard. Do not be alarmed by what I say, Agnes, but in this 
state I saw him, only the other evening, lay down his head 
upon his desk, and shed tears like a child." 

Her hand passed softly before my lips while I was yet 
speaking, and in a moment she had met her father at the door 
of the room, and was hanging on his shoulder. The expres- 
sion of her face, as they both looked towards me, I felt to be 
very touching. There was such deep fondness for him, and 
gratitude to him for all his love and care, in her beautiful 
look ; and there was such a fervent appeal to me to deal ten- 
derly by him, even in my inmost thoughts, and to let no harsh 
construction find any place against him ; she was, at once, so 
proud of him and devoted to him, yet so compassionate and 
sorry, and so reliant upon me to be so, too ; that nothing she 
could have said would have expressed more to me, or moved 
me more. 

' We were to drink tea at the Doctor's. We went there at 
the usual hour ; and round the study-fireside found the Doc- 
tor, and his young wife, and her mother. The Doctor, who 
made as much of my going away as if I were going to China, 
received me as an honored guest ; and called for a log of wood 
to be thrown on the fire, that he might see the face of his old 
pupil reddening in the blaze. 

"I shall not see many more new faces in Trotwood's stead, 
Wickfield," said the Doctor, warming his hands; "I am 
getting lazy, and want ease. I shall relinquish all my young 
people in another six months, and lead a quieter life." 

" You have said so, any time these ten years, Doctor," Mr. 
Wickfield answered. 

"But now I mean to do it," returned the Doctor. "My 
first master will succeed me I am in earnest at last so 
you'll soon have to arrange our contracts, and to bind us 
firmly to them, like a couple of knaves." 

" And to take care," said Mr. Wickfield, " that you're not 



302 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

imposed on, eh ? as you certainly would be, in any contract 
you should make for yourself. Well ! I am ready. There 
are worse tasks than that, in my calling." 

" I shall have nothing to think of, then," said the Doctor, 
with a smile, " but my Dictionary ; and this other contract- 
bargain Annie." 

As Mr. Wickfield glanced towards her, sitting at the tea- 
table by Agnes, she seemed to me to avoid his look with such 
unwonted hesitation and timidity, that his attention became 
fixed upon her, as if something were suggested to his thoughts. 

" There is a post come in from India, I observe," he said, 
after a short silence. 

"By the by ! and letters from Mr. Jack Maldon ! " said the 
Doctor. 

"Indeed?" 

" Poor dear Jack ! " said Mrs. Markleham, shaking her 
head. " That trying climate ! like living, they tell me, on a 
sand-heap, underneath a burning-glass ! He looked strong, 
but he wasn't. My dear Doctor, it was his spirit, not his 
constitution, that he ventured on so boldly. Annie, my dear, 
I am sure you must perfectly recollect that your cousin never 
was strong not what can be called robust, you know," said 
Mrs. Markleham, with emphasis, and looking round upon us 
generally, " from the time when my daughter and himself 
were children, together, and walking about, arm-in-arm, the 
live-long day." 

Annie, thus addressed, made no reply. 

"Do I gather from what .you say, ma'am, that Mr. Maldon 
is ill ? " asked Mr. Wickfield. 

" 111 ! " replied the Old Soldier. " My dear sir, he's all sorts 
of things.'' 

" Except well ? " said Mr. Wickfield. 

"Except well, indeed!" said the Old Soldier. "He has 
had dreadful strokes of the sun, no doubt, and jungle fevers 
and agues, and every kind of thing you can mention. As to 
his liver," said the Old Soldier, resignedly, " that, of course, 
he gave up altogether, when he first went out ! " 

"Does he say all this ? " asked Mr. Wickfield. 

" Say ? My dear sir/' returned Mrs. Markleham, shaking 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 303 

her head and her fan, " you little know my poor Jack Maldon 
when you ask that question. Say? Not he. You might 
drag him at the heels of four wild horses first." 

" Mamma ! " said Mrs. Strong. 

" Annie, my dear," returned her mother, " once for all, I 
must really beg that you will not interfere with me, unless it 
is to confirm what I say. You know as well as I do, that 
your cousin Maldon would be dragged at the heels of any 
number of wild horses why should I confine myself t four ! 
I won't confine myself to four eight, sixteen, two-and-thirty, 
rather than say anything calculated to overturn the Doctor's 
plans." 

"Wickfield's plans," said the Doctor, stroking his face, and 
looking penitently at his adviser. " That is to say, our joint 
plans for him. I said myself, abroad or at home." 

"And I said," added Mr. Wickfield, gravely, "abroad. I 
was the means of sending him abroad. It's my responsi- 
oility." 

"Oh! Eesponsibility ! " said the Old Soldier. "Every- 
thing was done for the best, my dear Mr. Wickfield ; every- 
thing was done for the kindest and best, we know. But if 
the dear fellow can't live there, he can't live there. And if he 
can't live there, he'll die there, sooner than he'll overturn the 
Doctor's plans. I know him," said the Old Soldier, fanning 
herself, in a sort of calm prophetic agony, "and I know he'll 
die there, sooner than he'll overturn the Doctor's plans." 

"Well, well, ma'am," said the Doctor, cheerfully, "I am 
not bigoted to my plans, and I can overturn them myself. I 
can substitute some other plans. If Mr. Jack Maldon comes 
home on account of ill health, he must not be allowed to go 
back, and we must endeavor to make some more suitable and 
fortunate provision for him in this country." 

Mrs. Markleham was so overcome by this generous speech 
which, I need not say, she had not at all expected or led up 
to that she could only tell the Doctor it was like himself, 
and go several times through that operation of kissing the 
sticks of her fan, and then tapping his hand with it. After 
which she gently chid her daughter Annie, for not being more 
demonstrative when such kindnesses were showered, for her 



304 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

sake, on her old playfellow : and entertained us with some 
particulars concerning other deserving members of her family, 
whom it was desirable to set on their deserving legs. 

All this time, her daughter Annie never once spoke, or lifted 
up her eyes. All this time, Mr. Wickfield had his glance upon 
her as she sat by his own daughter's side. It appeared to me 
that he never thought of being observed by any one ; but was 
so intent upon her, and upon his own thoughts in connection 
with her, as to be quite absorbed. He now asked what Mr. 
Jack Maldon had actually written in reference to himself, and 
to whom he had written it ? 

"Why, here," said Mrs. Markleharn, taking a letter from 
the chimney-piece above the Doctor's head, "the dear fellow 
says to the Doctor himself where is it ? Oh ! 'I am sorry 
to inform you that my health is suffering severely, and that I 
fear I may be reduced to the necessity of returning home for 
a time, as the only hope of restoration.' That's pretty plain, 
poor fellow ! His only hope of restoration ! But Annie's 
letter is plainer still. Annie, show me that letter again." 

"Not now, mamma," she pleaded, in a low tone. 

"My dear, you absolutely are, on some subjects, one of the 
most ridiculous persons in the world," returned her mother, 
" and perhaps the most unnatural to the claims of your own 
family. We never should have heard of the letter at all, I 
believe, unless I had asked for it myself. Do you call that 
confidence, my love, towards Doctor Strong ? I am surprised. 
You ought to know better." 

The letter was reluctantly produced ; and as I handed it to 
the old lady, I saw how the unwilling hand from which I took 
it, trembled. 

"Now let us see," said Mrs. Markleham, putting her glass 
to her eye, "where the passage is. 'The remembrance of old 
times, my dearest Annie' and so forth it's not there. 
'The amiable old Proctor' who's he ? Dear me, Annie, how 
illegibly your cousin Maldon writes, and how stupid I am! 
' Doctor/ of course. Ah ! amiable indeed ! " Here she left off, 
to kiss her fan again, and shake it at the Doctor, who was 
looking at us in a state of placid satisfaction. " Now I have 
found it. ' You may not be surprised to hear, Annie ' no, 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 305 

to be sure, knowing that he never was really strong ; what did 
I say just now? 'that I have undergone so much in this 
distant place, as to have decided to leave it at all hazards ; on 
sick leave, if I can ; on total resignation, if that is not to be 
obtained. What I have endured, and do endure here, is in- 
supportable/ And but for the promptitude of that best of 
creatures," said Mrs. Markleham, telegraphing the Doctor as 
before, and refolding the letter, " it would be insupportable to 
me to think of." 

Mr. Wickfield said not one word, though the old lady looked 
to him as if for his commentary on this intelligence ; but sat 
severely silent, with his eyes fixed on the ground. Long after 
the subject was dismissed, and other topics occupied us, he 
remained so ; seldom raising his eyes, unless to rest them for 
a moment, with a thoughtful frown, upon the Doctor, or his 
wife, or both. 

The Doctor was very fond of music. Agnes sang with great 
sweetness and expression, and so did Mrs. Strong. They sang 
together, and played duets together, and we had quite a little 
concert. But I remarked two things : first, that though Annie 
soon recovered her composure, and was quite herself, there 
was a blank between her and Mr. Wickfield which separated 
them wholly from each other; secondly, that Mr. Wickfield 
seemed to dislike the intimacy between her and Agnes, and to 
watch it with uneasiness. And now, I must confess, the 
recollection of what I had seen on that night when Mr. Mal- 
don went away, first began to return upon me with a meaning 
it had never had, and to trouble me. The innocent beauty of 
her face was not as innocent to me as it had been; I mis- 
trusted the natural grace and charm of her manner ; and when 
I looked at Agnes by her side, and thought how good and true 
Agnes was, suspicions arose within me that it was an ill- 
assorted friendship. 

She was so happy in it herself, however, and the other was 
so happy too, that they made the evening fly away as if it 
were but an hour. It closed in an incident which I well 
remember. They were taking leave of each other, and Agnes 
was going to embrace her and kiss her, when Mr. Wickfield 
stepped between them, as if by accident, and drew Agnes 
VOL. i 20 



306 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

quickly away. Then I saw, as though all the intervening 
time had been cancelled, and I were still standing in the door- 
way on the night of the departure, the expression of that 
night in the face of Mrs. Strong, as it confronted his. 

I cannot say what an impression this made upon me, or 
how impossible I found it, when I thought of her afterwards, 
to separate her from this look, and remember her face in its 
innocent loveliness again.' It haunted me when I got home. 
I seemed to have left the Doctor's roof with a dark cloud 
lowering on it. The reverence that I had for his gray head, 
was mingled with commiseration for his faith in those who 
were treacherous to him, and with resentment against those 
who injured him. The impending shadow of a great affliction, 
and a great disgrace that had no distinct form in it yet, fell 
like a stain upon the quie.t place where I had worked and 
played as a boy, and did it a cruel wrong. I had no pleasure 
in thinking, any more, of the grave old broad-leaved aloe- 
trees which remained shut up in themselves a hundred years 
together, and of the trim, smooth grass-plot, and the stone 
urns, and the Doctor's walk, and the congenial sound of the 
Cathedral bell hovering above them all. It was as if the 
tranquil sanctuary of my boyhood had been sacked before my 
face, and its peace and honor given to the winds. 

But morning brought with it my parting from the old house, 
which Agnes had filled with her influence ; and that occupied 
my mind sufficiently. I should be there again soon, no doubt ; 
I might sleep again perhaps often in my old room ; but 
the days of my inhabiting there were gone, and the old time 
was past. I was heavier at heart when I packed up such of 
my books and clothes as still remained there to be sent to 
Dover, than I cared to show to Uriah Heep : who was so 
officious to help me, that I uncharitably thought him mighty 
glad that I was going. 

I got away from Agnes and her father, somehow, with an 
indifferent show of being very manly, and took my seat upon 
the box of the London coach. I was so softened and forgiving, 
going through the town, that I had half a mind to nod to my 
old enemy the butcher, and throw him five shillings to drink. 
But he looked such a very obdurate butcher as he stood scrap- 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 307 

mg the great block in the shop, and moreover, his appearance 
was so little improved by the loss of a front tooth which I 
had knocked out, that I thought it best to make no advances. 

The main object on my mind, I remember, when we got fairly 
on the road, was to appear as old as possible to the coachman, 
and to speak extremely gruff. The latter point I achieved at 
great personal inconvenience : but I stuck to it, because . 
,t was a grown-up sort of thing. 

" You are going through, sir ? " said the coachman. ^ 

"Yes, William," I said, condescendingly (I knew him) ; < 
im going to London. I shall go down into Suffolk after- 
wards." 

" Shooting, sir ? " said the coachman. 

He knew as well as I did that it was just as likely, at that 
time of year, I was going down there whaling ; but I felt com- 
plimented, too. 

I don't know," I said, pretending to be undecided, whethe] 

T shall take a shot or not." 

"Birds is got wery shy, I'm told," said William. 

" So I understand," said I. 

" Is Suffolk your county, sir ? " asked William. 

"Yes," I said, with some importance. "Suffolk's my 

county." 

"I'm told the dumplings is uncommon fine down there, 

said William. 

I was not aware of it myself, but I felt it necessary to 
uphold the institutions of my county, and to evince a famil- 
iarity with them; so I shook my head, as much as to say, 

" I believe you ! " 

" And the Punches," said William. " There's cattle ! A 
Suffolk Punch, when he's a good un, is worth his weight in 
gold. Did you ever breed any Suffolk Punches yourself, sir ? ' 
* N no," I said, " not exactly." 

"Here's a gen'lm'n behind me, I'll pound it," said William, 
" as has bred 'em by wholesale." 

The gentleman spoken of was a gentleman with a very 
unpromising squint, and a prominent chin, who had a tall 
white hat on with a narrow flat brim, and whose close-fitting 
drab trousers seemed to button all the way up outside his legs 



308 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

from his boots to his hips. His chin was cocked over the 
coachman's shoulder, so near to me, that his breath quite 
tickled the back of my head ; and as I looked round at him, 
he leered at the leaders with the eye with which he didn't 
squint, in a very knowing manner. 

" Ain't you ? " asked William. 

" Ain't I what ? " said the gentleman behind. 

" Bred them Suffolk Punches by wholesale ? " 

"I should think so," said the gentleman. "There ain't 
no sort of orse that I ain't bred, and no sort of dorg. Orses 
and dorgs is some men's fancy. They're wittles and drink to 
me lodging, wife, and children reading, writing, and 'rith- 
nietic snuff, tobacker, and sleep." 

" That ain't a sort of man to see sitting behind a coach-box, 
is it though ? " said William, in my ear, as he handled the 
reins. 

I construed this remark into an indication of a wish that he 
should have my place, so I blushingly offered to resign it. 

"Well, if you don't mind, sir," said William, "I think it 
would be more correct." 

I have always considered this as the first fall I had in life. 
When I booked my place at the coach-office, I had had " Box 
Seat " written against the entry, and had given the book-keeper 
half-a-crown. I was got up in a special great coat and shawl, 
expressly to do honor to that distinguished eminence ; had 
glorified myself upon it a good deal ; and had felt that I was 
a credit to the coach. And here, in the very first stage, I was 
supplanted by a shabby man with a squint, who had no other 
merit than smelling like a livery-stables, and being able to 
walk across me, more like a fly than a human being, while 
the horses were at a canter ! 

A distrust of myself, which has often beset me in life on 
small occasions, when it would have been better away, was 
assuredly not stopped in its growth by this little incident out- 
side the Canterbury coach. It was in vain to take refuge in 
gruffness of speech. I spoke from the pit of my stomach for 
the rest of the journey, but I felt completely extinguished, and 
dreadfully young. 

It was curious and interesting, nevertheless, to be sitting up 



OF DAVID COPPEKFIELD. 309 

there, behind four horses: well educated, well dressed, and 
with plenty of money in my pocket : and to look out for the 
places where I had slept on my weary journey. I had abun- 
dant occupation for my thoughts, in every conspicuous land- 
mark on the road. When I looked down at the trampers whom 
we passed, and saw that well-remembered style of face turned 
up, I felt as if the tinker's blackened hand were in the bosom 
of my shirt again. When we clattered through the narrow 
street of Chatham, and I caught a glimpse, in passing, of the 
lane where the old monster lived who had bought my jacket, I 
stretched my neck eagerly to look for the place where I had 
sat, in the sun and in the shade, waiting for my money. 
When we came, at last, within a stage of London, and passed 
the veritable Salem House where Mr. Creakle had laid about 
him with a heavy hand, I would have given all I had, for law- 
ful permission to get down and thrash him, and let all the boys 
out like so many caged sparrows. 

We went to the Golden Cross at Charing Cross, then a 
mouldy sort of establishment in a close neighborhood. A 
waiter showed me into the coffee-room; and a chambermaid 
introduced me to my small bedchamber, which smelt like a 
hackney-coach, and was shut up like a family vault. I was 
still painfully concious of my youth, for nobody stood in any 
awe of me at all : the chambermaid being utterly indifferent 
to my opinions on any subject, and the waiter being familiar 
with me, and offering advice to my inexperience. 

" Well now," said the waiter, in a tone of confidence, " what 
would you like for dinner ? Young gentlemen likes poultry in 
general, have a fowl ! " 

I told him, as majestically as I could, that I wasn't in the 
humor Jor a fowl. 

"Ain't you!" said the waiter. "Young gentlemen is gen- 
erally tired of beef and mutton, have a weal cutlet ! " 

I assented to this proposal, in default of being able to suggest 
anything else. 

" Do you care for taters ? " said the water, with an insinu- 
ating smile, and his head on one side. "Young gentlemen 
generally has been overdosed with taters." 

I commanded him, in my deepest voice, to order a veal cut- 



310 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

let and potatoes, and all things fitting j and to inquire at the 
bar if there were any letters for Trotwood Copperfield, Esquire 
which I knew there were not, and couldn't be, but thought 
it manly to appear to expect. 

He soon came back to say that there were none (at which 
I was much surprised), and began to lay the cloth for my 
dinner in a box by the fire. While he was so engaged, he 
asked me what I would take with it ; and on my replying 
" Half a pint of sherry," thought it a favorable opportunity, 
I am afraid, to extract that measure of wine from the stale 
leavings at the bottoms of several small decanters. I am of 
this opinion, because, while I was reading the newspaper, I 
observed him behind a low wooden partition, which was his 
private apartment, very busy pouring out of a number of those 
vessels into one, like a chemist and druggist making up a pre- 
scription. When the wine came, too, I thought it flat ; and 
it certainly had more English crumbs in it, than were to be 
expected in a foreign wine in anything like a pure state ; but 
I was bashful enough to drink it, and say nothing. 

Being then in a pleasant frame of mind (from which I infer 
that poisoning is not always disagreeable in some stages of 
the process), I resolved to go to the play. It was Co vent 
Garden Theatre that I chose ; and there, from the back of a 
centre box, I saw Julius Caesar and the new Pantomime. To 
have all those noble Romans alive before me, and walking in 
and out for my entertainment, instead of being the stern task- 
masters they had been at school, was a most novel and delight- 
ful effect. But the mingled reality and mystery of the whole 
show, the influence upon me of the poetry, the lights, the 
music, the company, the smooth stupendous changes of glitter- 
ing and brilliant scenery, were so dazzling, and opened tip such 
illimitable regions of delight, that when I came out into the 
rainy street, at twelve o'clock at night, I felt as if I had come 
from the clouds, where I had been leading a romantic life for 
ages, to a bawling, splashing, link-lighted, umbrella-strug- 
gling, hackney-coach-jostling, patten-clinking, muddy, miserable 
world. 

I had emerged by another door, and stood in the street for 
a little while, as if I really were a stranger upon earth : but 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 311 

the unceremonious pushing and hustling that I received, soon 
recalled me to myself, and put me in the road back to the 
hotel ; whither I went, revolving the glorious vision all the 
way ; and where, after some porter and oysters, I sat revolving 
it still, at past one o'clock, with my eyes on the coffee-room 

fire. 

I was so filled with the play, and with the past for it was, 
in a manner, like a shining transparency, through which I 
saw my earlier life moving along that I don't know when 
the figure of a handsome well-formed young man, dressed 
with a tasteful easy negligence which I have reason to remem- 
ber very well, became a real presence to me. But I recollect 
being conscious of his company without having noticed his 
coming in and my still sitting, musing, over the coffee-room 

fire. 

At last I rose to go to bed, much to the relief of the sleepy 
waiter, who had got the fidgets in his legs, and was twisting 
them, and hitting them, and putting them through all kinds 
of contortions in his small pantry. In going towards the 
door, I passed the person who had come in, and saw him 
plainly. I turned directly,, came back, and looked again. He 
did not know me, but I knew him in a moment. 

At another time I might have wanted the condence or the 
decision to speak to him, and might have put it off until next 
day, and might have lost him. But, in the then condition of 
my mind, where the play was still running high, his former 
protection of me appeared so deserving of my gratitude, and 
my old love for him overflowed my breast so freshly and spon- 
taneously, that I went up to him at once, with a fast-beating 
heart, and said : 

" Steerforth ! Won't you speak to me ? J: 

He looked at me just as he used to look, sometimes but 
I saw no recognition in his face. 

" You don't remember me, I am afraid," said I. 

"My God!" he suddenly exclaimed. "It's little Copper- 
field ! " 

I grasped him by both hands, and could not let them go. 
But for very shame, and the fear that it might displease him, 
I could have held him round the neck and cried. 



312 THE PERSONAL HISTOET AND EXPERIENCE 

" I never, never, never, was so glad ! My dear Steerforth,, I 
am so overjoyed to see you ! " 

"And I am rejoiced to see you, too ! " lie said, shaking my 
hands heartily. " Why, Copperfield, old boy, don't be over- 
powered ! " And yet he was glad, too, I thought, to see how 
the delight I had in meeting him affected me. 

I brushed away the tears that my utmost resolution had not 
been able to keep back, and I made a clumsy laugh of it, and 
we sat down together, side by side. 

" Why, how do you come to be here ? " said Steerforth, 
clapping me on the shoulder. 

" I came here by the Canterbury coach, to-day. I have been 
adopted by an aunt down in that part of the country, and have 
just finished my education there. How do you come to be 
here, Steerforth ? " 

" Well, I am what they call an Oxford man," he returned ; 
" that is to say, I get bored to death down there, periodically 
and I am on my way now to my mother's. You're a devil- 
ish amiable-looking fellow, Gopperfield. Just what you used 
to be, now I look at you ! Not altered in the least ! " 

" I knew you immediately," I said ; " but you are more easily 
remembered." 

He laughed as he ran his hand through the clustering curls 
of his hair, and said gaily : 

" Yes, I am on an expedition of duty. My mother lives a 
little way out of town ; and the roads being in a beastly con- 
dition, and our house tedious enough, I remained here to-night 
instead of going on. I have not been in town half-a-dozen 
hours, and those I have been dozing and grumbling away at 
the play/' 

" I have been at the play, too," said I. " At Covent Gar- 
den. What a delightful and magnificent entertainment, Steer- 
forth ! " 

Steerforth laughed heartily. 

" My dear young Davy," he said, clapping me on the 
shoulder again, "you are a very Daisy. The daisy of the 
field, at sunrise, is not fresher than you are ! I have been at 
Covent Garden, too, and there never was a more miserable 
business. Holloa, you sir ? " 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 

This was addressed to the waiter, -who had been very atten- 
tive to our recognition, at a distance, and now came forward 

deferentially. T-IOJJ an \A 

"Where have you put my friend, Mr. Copperfield ? said 

Steerforth. 

" Beg your pardon, sir ? " 

Where does he sleep ? What's his number ? You know 
what I mean," said Steerforth. 

Well, sir," said the waiter, with an apologetic air. 
Copperfield is at present in forty-four, sir." 

"And what the devil do you mean," retorted Steerforth, 
by putting Mr. Copperfield into a little loft over a stable ? 

"Why you see we wasn't aware, sir," returned the waiter, 
still apologetically, -as Mr. Copperfield was anyways- partic- 
ular. We can give Mr. Copperfield seventy-two, sir, i 
would be preferred. Next you, sir." 

Of course it would be preferred," said Steerforth. 

do it at once." 

The waiter immediately withdrew to make the exchange. 
Steerforth, very much amused at my having been put into 
forty-four, laughed again, and clapped me on the shoulde 
again, and invited me to breakfast with him next morning at 
ten o'clock an invitation I was only too proud and happy to 
accept. It being now pretty late, we took our candles and 
went up stairs, where we parted with friendly heartiness at his 
door, and where I found my new room a great improvement o 
my old one, it not being at all musty, and having an immense 
four-post bedstead in it, which was quite a little landed estate. 
Here, among pillows enough for six, I soon fell asleep ma 
blissful condition, and dreamed of ancient Rome, Steerforth, 
and friendship, until the early morning coaches, rumbling out 
of the archway underneath, made me dream of thund. 
the gods. 



314 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 



CHAPTEE XX. 

STEERFORTH'S HOME. 

WHEN the chambermaid tapped at my door at eight o'clock, 
and informed me that my shaving-water was outside, I felt 
severely the having no occasion for it, and blushed in my bed. 
The suspicion that she laughed too, when she said it, preyed 
upon my mind all the time I was dressing, and gave me, I 
was conscious, a sneaking and guilty air when I passed her on 
the staircase, as I was going down to breakfast. I was so 
sensitively aware, indeed, of being younger than I could have 
wished, that for some time I could not make up my mind to 
pass her at all, under the ignoble circumstances of the case ; 
but, hearing her there with a broom, stood peeping out of 
window at King Charles on horseback, surrounded by a maze 
of hackney-coaches and looking anything but regal in a driz- 
zling rain and a dark-brown fog, until I was admonished by 
the waiter that the gentleman was waiting for me. 

It was not in the coffee-room that I found Steerforth expect- 
ing me, but in a snug private apartment, red-curtained and 
Turkey-carpeted, where the fire burnt bright, and a fine hot 
breakfast was set forth on a table covered with a clean cloth, 
and a cheerful miniature of the room, the fire, the breakfast, 
Steerforth, and all, was shining in the little round mirror over 
the sideboard. I was rather bashful at first, Steerforth being 
so self-possessed, and elegant, and superior to me in all respects 
(age included) ; but his easy patronage soon put that to rights, 
and made me quite at home. I could not enough admire the 
change he had wrought in the Golden Cross, or compare the 
dull forforn state I had held yesterday, with this morning's 
comfort and this morning's entertainment. As to the waiter's 
familiarity, it was quenched as if it had never been. He 
attended on us, as I may say, in sackcloth and ashes. 

" Now, Copperfield," said Steerforth, when we were alone, 



OF DAVID COPPER FIELD 315 

I should like to hear what you are doing, and where you are 
going, and all about you. I feel as if you were my property. 
' Glowing with pleasure to find that he had still this interest 
in me, I told him how my aunt had proposed the little expedi 
tion that I had before me, and whither it tended. 

"As you are in no hurry, then/' said Steerforth, "come 
home with me to Highgate, and stay a day or two. You wil 
be pleased with my mother -she is a little vain and prosy 
about me, but that you can forgive her -and she wil 

pleased with you." 

"I should like to be as sure of that, as you are kind enough 
to say you are," I answered, smiling. 

0h!" said Steerforth, "every one who likes me, has a 
claim on her that is sure to be acknowledged." 

" Then I think I shall be a favorite," said I. 

Good! " said Steerforth. Come and prove it. We will 
go and see the lions for an hour or two -it's something to 
have a fresh fellow like you to show them to, Copperfield- 
and then we'll journey out to Highgate by the coach." 

I could hardly believe but that I was in a dream, and that 
I should wake presently in number forty -four, to the solitary 
box in the coffee-room and the familiar waiter again. After 
I had written to my aunt and told her of my fortunate meeting 
with my admired old school-fellow, and my acceptance of 
invitation, we went out in a hackney -chariot, and saw a Pano- 
rama and some other sights, and took a walk through the 
Museum, where I could not help observing how much Steer- 
forth knew, on an infinite variety of subjects, and of how little 
account he seemed to make his knowledge. 

You'll take a high degree at college, Steerforth, said 1, 
"if you have not done so already; and they will have good 
reason to be proud of you." 

I take a degree!" cried Steerforth. "Not I! my dear 
Daisy _ w ill you mind my calling you Daisy ? " 

Not at all ! " said I. 

That's a good fellow ! My dear Daisy," said Steerforth, 
laughing "I have not the least desire or intention to distin- 
guish myself in that way. I have done quite sufficient for my 



316 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

purpose. I find that I am heavy company enough for myself 
as I am." 

" But the fame "I was beginning. 

" You romantic Daisy ! " said Steer forth, laughing still more 
heartily; "why should I trouble myself, that a parcel of 
heavy-headed fellows may gape and hold up their hands ? 
Let them do it at some other man. There's fame for him, 
and he's welcome to it." 

I was abashed at having made so great a mistake, and was 
glad to change the subject. Fortunately it was not difficult 
to do, for Steerforth could always pass from one subject to 
another with a carelessness and lightness that were his own. 

Lunch succeeded to our sight-seeing, and the short winter 
day wore away so fast, that it was dusk when the stage-coach 
stopped with us at an old brick house at Highgate on the 
summit of the hill. An elderly lady, though not very far 
advanced in years, with a proud carriage and a handsome 
face, was in the doorway as we alighted ; and greeting 
Steerforth as " My dearest James," folded him in her arms. 
To this lady he presented me as his mother, and she gave me 
a stately welcome. 

It was a genteel old-fashioned house, very quiet and orderly. 
From the windows of my room I saw all London lying in the 
distance like a great vapor, with here and there some lights 
twinkling through it. I had only time, in dressing, to glance 
at the solid furniture, the framed pieces of work (done, I 
supposed, by Steerforth's mother when she was a girl), and 
some pictures in crayons of ladies with powdered hair and 
bodices, coming and going on the walls, as the newly kindled 
fire crackled and sputtered, when I was called to dinner. 

There was a second lady in the dining-room, of a slight 
short figure, dark, and not agreeable to look at, but with some 
appearance of good looks too, who attracted my attention : 
perhaps because I had not expected to see her : perhaps 
because I found myself sitting opposite to her: perhaps 
because of something really remarkable in her. She had 
black hair and eager black eyes, and was thin, and had a scar 
upon her lip. It was an old scar I should rather call it 
seam, for it was not discolored, and had healed years ago 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 317 

which had once cut through her mouth, downward towards 
the chin, but was now barely visible across the table, except 
above and on her upper lip, the shape of which it had altered. 
I concluded in my own mind that she was about thirty years 
of age, and that she wished to be married. She was a little 
dilapidated like a house with having been so long to let; 
yet had, as I have said, an appearance of good looks. Her 
thinness seemed to be the effect of some wasting fire within 
her, which found a vent in her gaunt eyes. 

She was introduced as Miss Dartle, and both Steerforth and 
his mother called her Rosa. I found that she lived there, 
and had been for a long time Mrs. Steerforth's companion. 
It appeared to me that she never said anything she wanted to 
say, outright; but hinted it, and made a great deal more 
of it by this practice. For example, when Mrs. Steerforth 
observed, more in jest than earnest, that she feared her son 
led but a wild life at college, Miss Dartle put in thus : 

"Oh, really? You know how ignorant I am, and that I 
only ask for information, but isn't it always so ? I thought 
that kind of life was on all hands understood to be eh ? ' 

" It is education for a very grave profession, if you mean 
that, Rosa," Mrs. Steerforth answered, with some coldness. 

"Oh! Yes! That's very true," returned Miss Dartle. 
" But isn't it, though ? I want to be put right if I am wrong 
isn't it really?" 

" Really what ? " said Mrs. Steerforth. 

" Oh ! You mean it's not I " returned Miss Dartle. " Well, 
I'm very glad to hear it ! Now, I know what to do ! That's 
the advantage of asking. I shall never allow people to talk 
before me about wastfulness and profligacy, and so forth, in 
connection with that life, any more." 

" And you will be right," said Mrs. Steerforth. My son^s 
tutor is a conscientious gentleman ; and if I had not implicit 
reliance on my son, I should have reliance on him." 

"Should you?" said Miss Dartle. "Dear me! Con- 
scientious, is he ? Really conscientious, now ? 7: 
" Yes, I am convinced of it," said Mrs. Steerforth. 
" How very nice ! " exclaimed Miss Dartle. " What a 
comfort ! Really conscientious ? Then he's not but of 



318 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

course he can't be, if he's really conscientious. Well, I shall 
be quite happy in my opinion of him, from this time. You 
can't think how it elevates him in my opinion, to know for 
certain that he's really conscientious ! " 

Her own views of every question, and her correction of 
everything that was said to which she was opposed, Miss 
Dartle insinuated in the same way : sometimes, I could not 
conceal from myself, with great power, though in contradiction 
even of Steerforth. An instance happened before dinner was 
done. Mrs. Steerforth speaking to me about my intention of 
going down into Suffolk, I said at hazard how glad I should 
be, if Steerforth would only go there with me ; and explaining 
to him that I was going to see my old nurse, and Mr. Peg- 
gotty's family, I reminded him of the boatman whom he had 
seen at school. 

"Oh! That bluff fellow!" said Steerforth. "He had a 
son with him, hadn't he ? " 

" No. That was his nephew," I replied ; " whom he 
adopted, though, as a son. He has a very pretty little niece 
too, whom he adopted as a daughter. In short, his house (or 
rather his boat, for he lives in one, on dry land) is full of 
people who are objects of his generosity and kindness. You 
would be delighted to see that household." 

" Should I ? " said Steerforth. " Well, I think I should. 
I must see what can be done. It would be worth a journey 
not to mention the pleasure of a journey with you, Daisy, 
to see that sort of people together, and to make one of 'em." 

My heart leaped with a new hope of pleasure. But it was 
in reference to the tone in which he had spoken of "that sort 
of people," that Miss Dartle, whose sparkling eyes had been 
watchful of us, now broke in again. 

" Oh, but, really ? Do tell me. Are they, though ? " she 
said. 

" Are they what ? And are who what ? " said Steerforth. 

" That sort of people. Are they really animals and clods, 
and beings of another order ? I want to know, so much." 

" Why, there's a pretty wide separation between them and 
us," said Steerforth, with indifference. " They are not to be 
expected to be as sensitive as we are. Their delicacy is not 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 819 

to be shocked, or hurt very easily. They are wonderfully 
virtuous, I dare say some people coutend for that, at least, 
and I ain sure I don't want to contradict them but they 
have not very fine natures, and they may be thankful that, 
like their coarse rough skins, they are not easily wounded." 

Really ! " said Miss Dartle. " Well, I don't know, now, 
when I have been better pleased than to hear that. It's so 
consoling ! It's such a delight to know that when they suffer 
they don't feel ! Sometimes I have been quite uneasy for 
that sort of people ; but now I shall just dismiss the idea of 
them altogether. Live and learn. I had my doubts, I con- 
fess, but now they're cleared up. I didn't know, and now 
I do know, and that shows the advantage of asking don't 

it?" 

I believed that Steerforth had said what he had, in jest, or 
to draw Miss Dartle out ; and I expected him to say as much 
when she was gone, and we two were sitting before the fire. 
But he merely asked me what I thought of her. 

" She is very clever, is she not ? " I asked. 

" Clever ! She brings everything to a grindstone," said 
Steerforth, " and sharpens it, as she has sharpened her own 
face and figure these years past. She has worn herself away 
by constant sharpening. She is all edge." 

" What a remarkable scar that is upon her lip ! " I said. 

Steerforth's face fell, and he paused a moment. 

" Why, the fact is," he returned, " I did that." 

" By an unfortunate accident ! " 

"No. I was a young boy, and she exasperated me, and I 
threw a hammer at her. A promising young angel I must 
have been ! " 

I was deeply sorry to have touched on such a painful theme, 

but that was useless now. 

"She has borne the mark ever since, as you see," said 
Steerforth ; " and she'll bear it to her grave, if she ever rests 
in one though I can hardly believe she will ever rest any- 
where. She was the motherless child of a sort of cousin of 
my father's. He died one day. My mother, who was then 
a widow, brought her here to be company to her. She has a 
couple of thousand pounds of her own, and saves the interest 



320 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

of it every year., to add to the principal. There's the history 
of Miss Rosa Dartle for you. 77 

" And I have no doubt she loves you like a brother ? " 
said I. 

" Humph ! " retorted Steerforth, looking at the fire. " Some 
brothers are not loved over much ; and some love but help 
yourself, Copperfield ? We'll drink the daisies of the field, in 
compliment to you ; and the lilies of the valley, that toil not, 
neither do they spin, in compliment to me the more shame 
for me ! " A moody smile that had overspread his features 
cleared off as he said this merrily, and he was his own frank, 
winning self again. 

I could not help glancing at the scar with a painful interest 
when we went in to tea. It was not long before I observed 
that it was the most susceptible part of her face, and that, 
when she turned pale, that mark altered first, and became a 
dull lead-colored streak, lengthening out to its full extent, like 
a mark in invisible ink brought to the fire. There was a little 
altercation between her and Steerforth about a cast of the dice 
at backgammon when I thought her, for one moment, in a 
storm of rage ; and then I saw it start forth like the old writ- 
ing on the wall. 

It was no matter of wonder to me to find Mrs. Steerforth 
devoted to her son. She seemed to be able to speak or think 
about nothing else. She showed me his picture as an infant, 
( in a locket, with some of his baby-hair in it ; she showed me 
his picture as he had been when I first knew him ; and she 
wore at her breast his picture as he was now. All the letters 
he had ever written to her, she kept in a cabinet near her own 
chair, by the fire ; and she would have read me some of them, 
and I should have been very glad to hear them too, if he had 
not interposed, and coaxed her out of the design. 

" It was at Mr. Creakle's, my son tells me, that you first 
became acquainted," said Mrs. Steerforth, as she and I were 
talking at one table, while they played backgammon at 
another. " Indeed, I recollect his speaking at that time, of a 
pupil younger than himself who had taken his fancy there ; 
but your name, as you may suppose, has not lived in my 
memory." 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 321 

" He was very generous and noble to me in those days, I 
assure you, ma'am/ 7 said I, " and I stood in need of such a 
friend. I should have been quite crushed without him." 

" He is always generous and noble," said Mrs. Steerforth, 

proudly. 

I subscribed to this with all my heart, God knows. She 
knew I did ; for the stateliness of her manner already abated 
towards me, except when she spoke in praise of him, and 
then her air was always lofty. 

" It was not a fit school generally for my son," said she ; 
" far from it ; but there were particular circumstances to be 
considered at the time, of more importance even than that 
selection. My son's high spirit made it desirable that he 
should be placed with some man who felt its superiority, and 
would be content to bow himself before it; and we found 
such a man there." 

I knew that, knowing the fellow. And yet I did not despise 
him the more for it, but thought it a redeeming quality in 
him if he could be allowed any grace for not resisting one 
so irresistible as Steerforth. 

" My son's great capacity was tempted on, there, by a feel- 
ing of voluntary emulation and conscious pride," the fond 
lady went on to say. "He would have risen against all 
constraint ; but he found himself the monarch of the place, 
and he haughtily determined to be worthy of his station. It 
was like himself." 

I echoed, with all my heart and soul, that it was like him- 
self. 

" So my son took, of his own will, and on no compulsion, to 
the course in which he can always, when it is his pleasure, out- 
strip every competitor," she pursued. " My son informs me, 
Mr. Copperfield, that you were quite devoted to him, and that 
when you met yesterday you made yourself known to him 
with tears of joy. I should be an affected woman if I made 
any pretence of being surprised by my son's inspiring such 
emotions ; but I cannot be indifferent to any one who is so 
sensible of his merit, and I am very glad to see you here, and 
can assure you that he feels an unusual friendship for you, 
and that you may rely on his protection." 

VOL. I 21 



322 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

Miss Dartle played backgammon as eagerly as she did 
everything else. If I had seen her, first, at the board, I 
should have fancied that her figure had got thin, and her eyes 
had got large, over that pursuit, and no other. But I am very 
much mistaken if she missed a word of this, or lost a look of 
mine as I received it with the utmost pleasure, and, honored 
by Mrs. Steerforth's confidence, felt older than I had done 
since I left Canterbury. 

When the evening was pretty far spent, and a tray of 
glasses and decanters came in, Steerforth promised, over the 
fire, that he would seriously think of going down into the 
country with me. There was no hurry, he said ; a week hence 
would do ; and his mother hospitably said the same. While 
we were talking, he more than once called me Daisy ; which 
brought Miss Dartle out again. 

"But really, Mr. Copperfield," she asked, "is it a nick- 
name? And why does he give it you? Is it eh?- 
because he thinks you young and innocent ? I am so stupid 
in these things." 

I colored in replying that I believed it was. 

" Oh ! " said Miss Dartle. " Now I am glad to know that ! 
I ask for information, and I am glad to know it. He thinks 
you young and innocent; and so you are his friend. Well, 
that's quite delightful ! " 

She went to bed soon after this, and Mrs. Steerforth retired 
too. Steerforth and I, after lingering for half an hour over 
the fire, talking about Traddles and all the rest of them at old 
Salem House, went up stairs together. Steerforth's room was 
next to mine, and I went in to look at it. It was a picture of 
comfort, full of easy chairs, cushions, and footstools, worked 
by his mother's hand, and with no sort of thing omitted that 
could help to render it complete. Finally, her handsome feat- 
ures looked down on her darling from a portrait on the wall, 
as if it were even something to her that her likeness should 
watch him while he slept. 

I found the fire burning clear enough in my room by this 
time, and the curtains drawn before the windows and round 
the bed, giving it a very snug appearance. I sat down in a 
great chair upon the hearth to meditate on my happiness ; and 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 323 

had enjoyed the contemplation of it for some time, when I 
found a likeness of Miss Dartle looking eagerly at me from 
above the chimney-piece. 

It was a startling likeness, and necessarily had a startling 
look. The painter hadn't made the scar, but / made it ; and 
there it was, coming and going : now confined to the upper 
lip as I had seen it at dinner, and now showing the whole 
extent of the wound inflicted by the hammer, as I had seen it 
when she was passionate. 

I wondered peevishly why they couldn't put her anywhere 
else instead of quartering her on me. To get rid of her, I 
undressed quickly, extinguished my light, and went to bed. 
But, as I fell asleep, I could not forget that she was still there 
looking, " Is it really, though ? I want to know ; " and when 
I awoke in the night, I found that I was uneasily asking all 
sorts of people in my dreams whether it really was or not 
without knowing what I meant. 



324 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 



CHAPTEE XXI. 
LITTLE EM'LY. 

THERE was a servant in that house, a man who, I understood, 
was usually with Steerforth, and had come into his service at 
the University, who was in appearance a pattern of respecta- 
bility. I believe there never existed in his station a more 
respectable-looking man. He was taciturn, soft-footed, very 
quiet in his manner, deferential, observant, always at hand 
when wanted, and never near when not wanted ; but his great 
claim to consideration was his respectability. He had not a 
pliant face, he had rather a stiff neck, rather a tight smooth 
head with short hair clinging to it at the sides, a soft way of 
speaking with a peculiar habit of whispering the letter S so 
distinctly, that he seemed to use it oftener than any other 
man ; but every peculiarity that he had he made respectable. 
If his nose had been upside-down, he would have made that 
respectable. He surrounded himself with an atmosphere of 
respectability, and walked secure in it. It would have been 
next to impossible to suspect him of anything wrong, he was 
so thoroughly respectable. Nobody could have thought of 
putting him in a livery, he was so highly respectable. To have 
imposed any derogatory work upon him, would have been to 
inflict a wanton insult on the feelings of a most respectable 
man. And of this, I noticed the women-servants in the house- 
hold were so intuitively conscious, that they always did such 
work themselves, and generally while he read the paper by 
the pantry fire. 

Such a self-contained man I never saw. But in that quality, 
as in every other he possessed, he only seemed to be the more 
respectable. Even the fact that no one knew his Christian 
name, seemed to form a part of his respectability. Nothing 
could be objected against his surname Littimer, by which he 



OF DAVID COPPEBFIELD. 325 

was known. Peter might have been hanged, or Tom trans- 
ported ; but Littimer was perfectly respectable. 

It was occasioned, I suppose, by the reverend nature of 
respectability in the abstract, but I felt particularly young in 
this man's presence. How old he was himself I could not 
g uess a nd that again went to his credit on the same score ; 
for in the calmness of respectability he might have numbered 
fifty years as well as thirty. 

Littimer was in my room in the morning before I was up, 
to bring me that reproachful shaving-water, and to put out my 
clothes. When I undrew the curtains and looked out of bed, 
I saw him, in an equable temperature of respectability, unaf- 
fected by the east wind of January, and not even breathing 
frostily, standing my boots right and left in the first dancing 
position, and blowing specks of dust off my coat as he laid it 
down like a baby. 

I gave him good morning, and asked him what o'clock it 
was. He took out of his pocket the most respectable hunting- 
watch I ever saw, and preventing the spring with his thumb 
from opening far, looked in at the face as if he were consult- 
ing an oracular oyster, shut it up again, and said, if I pleased, 
it was half-past eight. 

" Mr. Steerforth will be glad to hear how you have rested, 



sir.' 7 



" Thank you," said I, " very well indeed. Is Mr. Steerforth 
quite well ? " , 

'Thank you, sir, Mr. Steerforth is tolerably well." An- 
other of his characteristics, no use of superlatives. A cool, 
calm medium always. 

" Is there anything more I can have the honor of doing for 
you, sir ? The warning-bell will ring at nine ; the family take 
breakfast at half-past nine." 

"Nothing, I thank you." 

" I thank you, sir, if you please ; " and with that, and with 
a little inclination of his head when he passed the bedside, as 
an apology for correcting me, he went out, shutting the door 
as delicately as if I had just fallen into a sweet sleep on which 
my life depended. 

Every morning we held exactly this conversation: never 



326 THE PERSONAL HISTOEY AND EXPEDIENCE 

any more, and never any less : and yet, invariably, however 
far I might have been lifted out of myself over-night, and 
advanced towards niaturer years, by Steerforth's companion- 
ship, or Mrs. Steerforth's confidence, or Miss Dartle's conver- 
sation, in the presence of this most respectable man I became 
as our smaller poets sing, " a boy again." 

He got horses for us ; and Steerforth, who knew everything, 
gave me lessons in riding. He provided foils for us, and 
Steerforth gave me lessons in fencing gloves, and I began, 
of the same master, to improve in boxing. It gave me no 
manner of concern that Steerforth should find me a novice in 
these sciences, but I never could bear to show my want of 
skill before the respectable Littimer. I had no reason to be- 
lieve that Littimer understood such arts himself ; he never led 
me to suppose anything of the kind, by so much as the vibra- 
tion of one of his respectable eyelashes ; yet whenever he was 
by, while we were practising, I felt myself the greenest and 
most inexperienced of mortals. 

I am particular about this man, because he made a paticular 
effect on me at that time, and because of what took place 
thereafter. 

The week passed away in a most delightful manner. It 
passed rapidly, as may be supposed, to one entranced as I 
was ; and yet it gave me so many occasions for knowing Steer- 
forth better, and admiring him more in a thousand respects, 
that at its close I seemed to have been with him for a much 
longer time. A dashing way he had of treating me like a 
plaything, was more agreeable to me than any behavior he 
could have adopted. It reminded me of our old acquaintance ; 
it seemed the natural sequel of it ; it showed me that he was 
unchanged ; it relieved me of any uneasiness I might have felt, 
in comparing my merits with his, and measuring my claims 
upon his friendship by any equal standard ; above all, it was 
a familiar, unrestrained, affectionate demeanor that he used 
towards no one else. As he had treated me at school differ- 
ently from all the rest, I joyfully believed that he treated me 
in life unlike any other friend he had. I believed that I was 
nearer to his heart than any other friend, and my own heart 
warmed with attachment to him. 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 327 

He made up his mind to go with me into the country, and 
the day arrived for our departure. He had been doubtful at 
first whether to take Littirner or not, but decided to leave him 
at home. The respectable creature, satisfied with his lot 
whatever it was, arranged our portmanteaus on the little car- 
riage that was to take us into London, as if they were in- 
tended to defy the shocks of ages ; and received my modestly 
proffered donation with perfect tranquillity. 

We bade adieu to Mrs. Steerforth and Miss Dartle, with 
many thanks on my part, and much kindness on the devoted 
mother's. The last thing I saw was Littiiner's unruffled eye ; 
fraught, as I fancied, with the silent conviction, that I was 
very young indeed. 

What I felt, in returning so auspiciously to the old familiar 
places, I shall not endeavor to describe. We went down by 
the Mail. I was so concerned, I recollect, even for the honor 
of Yarmouth, that when Steerforth said, as we drove through 
its dark streets to the inn, that, as well as he could make out, 
it was a good, queer, out-of-the-way kind of hole, I was highly 
pleased. We went to bed on our arrival (I observed a pair of 
dirty shoes and gaiters in connection with my old friend the 
Dolphin as we passed that door), and breakfasted late in the 
morning. Steerforth, who was in great spirits, had been stroll- 
ing about the beach before I was up, and had made acquaint- 
ance, he said, with half the boatmen in the place. Moreover, 
he had seen, in the distance, what he was sure must be the 
identical house of Mr. Peggotty, with smoke coming out of the 
chimney ; and had had a great mind, he told me, to walk in 
and swear he was myself grown out of knowledge. 

" When do you propose to introduce me there, Daisy ? " he 
said. " I am at your disposal. Make your own arrangements." 

"Why, I was thinking that this evening would be a good 
time, Steerforth, when they are all sitting round the fire. I 
should like you to see it when it's snug, it's such a curious 
place." 

" So be it ! " returned Steerforth. " This evening." 

"I shall not give them any notice that we are here, you 
know," said I, delighted. "We must take them by surprise." 

" Oh, of course ! It's no fun," said Steerforth, " unless we 



328 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

take them by surprise. Let us see the natives in their aborig- 
inal condition." 

" Though they are that sort of people that you mentioned," 
I returned. 

" Aha ! What ! you recollect my skirmishes with Rosa, do 
you ? " he exclaimed, with a quick look. " Confound the girl, 
I am half afraid of her. She's like a goblin to me. But never 
mind her. Now what are you going to do ? You are going to 
see your nurse, I suppose ? " 

" Why, yes," I said, " I must see Peggotty first of all." 

"Well," replied Steerforth, looking at his watch. "Sup- 
pose I deliver you up to be cried over for a couple of hours. 
Is that long enough ? " 

I answered, laughing, that I thought we might get through 
it in that time, but that he must come also ; for he would find 
that his renown had preceded him, and that he was almost as 
great a personage as I was. 

" I'll come anywhere you like," said Steerforth, " or do any- 
thing you like. Tell me where to come to ; and in two hours 
I'll produce myself in any state you please, sentimental or 
comical." 

I gave him minute directions for finding the residence of 
Mr. Barkis, carrier to Blunders tone and elsewhere ; and, on 
this understanding, went out alone. There was a sharp brac- 
ing air ; the ground was dry ; the sea was crisp and clear ; 
the sun was diffusing abundance of light, if not much warmth ; 
and everything was fresh and lively. I was so fresh and lively 
myself, in the pleasure of being there, that I could have stopped 
the people in the streets and shaken hands with them. 

The streets looked small, of course. The streets that we 
have only seen as children always do, I believe, when we go 
back to them. But I had forgotten nothing in them, and 
found nothing changed, until I came to Mr. Omer's shop. 
OMER AND JORAM was now written up, where OMER used to 
be ; but the inscription, DRAPER, TAILOR, HABERDASHER. 
FUNERAL FURNISHER, &c., remained as it was. 

My footsteps seemed to tend so naturally to the shop-door, 
after I had read these words from over the way, that I went 
across the road and looked in. There was a pretty woman at 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 329 

the back of the shop, dancing a little child in her arms, while 
another little fellow clung to her apron. I had no difficulty in 
recognizing either Minnie or Minnie's children. The glass- 
door of the parlor was not open ; but in the workshop across 
the yard I could faintly hear the old tune playing, as if it had 
never left off. 

"Is Mr. Omer at home ? " said I, entering. "I should like 
to see him, for a moment, if he is." 

" Oh yes, sir, he is at home," said Minnie ; " this weather 
don't suit his asthma out of doors. Joe, call your grand- 
father ! " 

The little fellow, who was holding her apron, gave such a 
lusty shout, that the sound of it made him bashful, and he 
buried his face in her skirts, to her great admiration. I heard 
a heavy puffing and blowing coming towards us, and soon Mr. 
Omer, shorter-winded than of yore, but not much older look- 
ing, stood before me. 

" Servant, sir," said Mr. Omer. " What can I do for you, 

sir ? " 

" You can shake hands with me, Mr. Omer, if you please," 
said I, putting out my own. " You were very good-natured 
to me once, when I am afraid I didn't show that I thought so." 

"Was I though?" returned the old man. "I'm glad to 
hear it, but I don't remember when. Are you sure it was 
me ? " 

" Quite." 

" I think my memory has got as short as my breath," said 
Mr. Omer, looking at me and shaking his head ; " for I don't 
remember you." 

" Don't you remember your coming to the coach to meet me, 
and my having breakfast here, and our riding out to Blunder- 
stone together : you, and I, and Mrs. Joram, and Mr. Joram 
too who wasn't her husband then ? r 

" Why, Lord bless my soul ! " exclaimed Mr. Omer, after 
being thrown by his surprise into a fit of coughing, " you don't 
say so ! Minnie, my dear, you recollect ? Dear me, yes the 
party was a lady, I think ? 7; 

" My mother," I rejoined. 

"To be sure," said Mr. Omer, touching my waistcoat 



330 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AXD EXPERIENCE 

with his forefinger, " and there was a little child too ! There 
was two parties. The little party was laid along with the 
other party. Over at Blunderstone it was, of course. Dear 
me ! And how have you been since ? " 

Very well, I thanked him, as I hoped lie had been too 

" Oh ! nothing to grumble at, you know," said Mr. Orner. 
"I find my breath gets short, but it seldom gets longer as a 
man gets older. I take it as it comes, and make the most of 
it. That's the best way, ain't it ? " 

Mr. Orner coughed again, in consequence of laughing, and 
was assisted out of his fit by his daughter, who now stood 
close beside us, dancing her smallest child on the counter. 

-" Dear me ! " said Mr. Om er. " Yes, to be sure. Two par- 
ties ! Why, in that very ride, if you'll believe me, the day 
was named for my Minnie to marry Joram. 'Do name it, 
sir/ says Joram. 'Yes, do, father,' says Minnie. And now 
he's come into the business. And look here ! The youngest ! " 

Minnie laughed, and stroked her banded hair upon her 
temples, as her father put one of his fat fingers into the hand 
of the child she was dancing on the counter. 

" Two parties, of course ! " said Mr. Omer, nodding his head 
retrospectively. " Ex-actly so ! And Jorarn's at work, at this 
minute, on a gray one with silver nails, not this measurement " 

the measurement of the dancing child upon the counter 
" by a good two inches. Will you take something ? " 

I thanked him, but declined. 

" Let me see," said Mr. Omer. " Barkis's the carrier's wife 

Peggotty's the boatman's sister she had something to do 
with your family ? She was in service there, sure ? " 

My answering in the affirmative gave him great satisfaction. 

" I believe my breath will get long next, my memory's get- 
ting so much so," said Mr. Omer. "Well, sir, we've got a 
young relation of hers here, under articles to us, that has as 
elegant a taste in the dress-making business I assure you I 
don't believe there's a Duchess in England can touch her." 

" Not little Em'ly ? " said I, involuntarily. 

"Em'ly's her name," said Mr. Omer, "and she's little too. 
But if you'll believe me, she has such a face of her own that 
half the women in this town are mad against her." 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 331 

" Nonsense, father ! " cried Minnie. 

" My dear," said Mr. Omer, " I don't say it's the case with 
you," winking at me, " but I say that half the women in Yar- 
mouth ah! and in five mile round are mad against that 
girl." 

"Then she should have kept to her own station in life, 
father," said Minnie, " and not have given them any hold to 
talk about her, and then they couldn't have done it." 

" Couldn't have done it, my dear ! " retorted Mr. Omer. 
" Couldn't have done it ! Is that your knowledge of life ? 
What is there that any woman couldn't do, that she shouldn't 
do especially on the subject of another woman's good 
looks ? " 

I really thought it was all over with Mr. Omer, after he 
had uttered this libellous pleasantry. He coughed to that 
extent, and his breath eluded all his attempts to recover it 
with that obstinacy, that I fully expected to see his head go 
down behind the counter, and his little black breeches, with 
the rusty little bunches of ribbons at the knees, come quivering 
up in a last ineffectual struggle. At length, however, he got 
better, though he still panted hard, and was so exhausted that 
he was obliged to sit on the stool of the shop-desk. 

"You see," he said, wiping his head, and breathing with 
difficulty, "she hasn't taken much to any companions here; 
she hasn't taken kindly to any particular acquaintances and 
friends, not to mention sweethearts. In consequence, an ill- 
natured story got about, that Em'ly wanted to be a lady. 
Now, my opinion is, that it came into circulation principally 
on account of her sometimes saying at the school, that if she 
was a lady, she would like to do so and so for her uncle 
don't you see ? and buy him such and such fine things." 

" I assure you, Mr. Omer, she has said so to me," I returned 
eagerly, " when we were both children." 

Mr. Omer nodded his head and rubbed his chin. " Just so. 
Then out of a very little, she could dress herself, you see, 
better than most others could out of a deal, and that made 
things unpleasant. Moreover, she was rather what might be 
called wayward I'll go so far as to say what I should call 
wayward myself," said Mr. Omer, " didn't know her own 



mind quite a little spoiled and couldn't, at first, exactly 
bind herself down. No more than that was ever said against 
her, Minnie ? " 

"No, father," said Mrs. Joram. "That's the worst, I 
believe." 

" So, when she got a situation," said Mr. Omer, " to keep a 
fractious old lady company, they didn't very well agree, and 
she didn't stop. At last she came here, apprenticed for three 
years. Nearly two of 'em are over, and she has been as good 
a girl as ever was. Worth any six ! Minnie, is she worth 
any six, now ? " 

"Yes, father," replied Minnie. "Never say I detracted 
from her ! " 

" Very good," said Mr. Omer. " That's right. And so, 
young gentleman," he added, after a few moments' further 
rubbing of his chin, "that you may not consider me long- 
winded as well as short-breathed, I believe that's all about it." 

As they had spoken in a subdued tone, while speaking of 
Em'ly, I had no doubt that she was near. On my asking now, 
if that were not so, Mr. Omer nodded yes, and nodded towards 
the door of the parlor. My hurried inquiry, if I might peep 
in, was answered with a free permission ; and, looking through 
the glass, I saw her sitting at her work. I saw her, a most 
beautiful little creature, with the cloudless blue eyes, that had 
looked into my childish heart, turned laughingly upon another 
child of Minnie's who was playing near her ; with enough of 
wilfulness in her bright face to justify what I had heard; with 
much of the old capricious coyness lurking in it; but with 
nothing in her pretty looks, I am sure, but what was meant 
for goodness and for happiness, and what was on a -good and 
happy course. 

The tune across the yard that seemed as if it never had left 
off alas ! it was the tune that never does leave off was 
beating, softly, all the while. 

" Wouldn't you like to step in," said Mr. Omer, " and speak 
to her ? Walk in and speak to her, sir ! Make yourself at 
home ! " 

I was too bashful to do so then I was afraid of confusing 
her, and I was no less afraid of confusing myself: but I 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 333 

informed myself of the hour at which she left of an evening, 
in order that our visit might be timed accordingly ; and taking 
leave of Mr. Omer, and his pretty daughter, and her little 
children, went away to my dear old Peggotty's. 

Here she was, in the tiled-kitchen, cooking dinner ! The 
moment I knocked at the door she opened it, and asked me 
what I pleased to want. I looked at her with a smile, but she 
gave me no smile in return. I had never ceased to write to 
her, but it must have been seven years since we had met. 

" Is Mr. Barkis at home, ma'am ? " I said, feigning to speak 
roughly to her. 

"He's at home, sir," returned Peggotty, "but he's bad abed 
with the rheumatics." 

" Don't he go over to Blunderstone now ? " I asked. 

" When he's well he do," she answered. 

" Do you ever go there, Mrs. Barkis ? ' ; 

She looked at me more attentively, and I noticed a quick 
movement of her hands towards each other. 

" Because I want to ask a question about a house there, that 
they call the what is it ? the Rookery," said I. 

She took a step backward, and put out her hands in an 
undecided frightened way, as if to keep me off. 

" Peggotty ! " I cried to her. 

She cried, " My darling boy ! " and we both burst into tears, 
and were locked in one another's arms. 

What extravagancies she committed; what laughing and 
crying over me ; what pride she showed, what joy, what sor- 
row that she whose pride and joy I might have been, could 
never hold me in a fond embrace ; I have not the heart to tell. 
I was troubled with no misgivings that it was young in me to 
respond to her emotions. I had never laughed and cried in all 
my life, I dare say not even to her more freely than I did 
that morning. 

"Barkis will be so glad," said Peggotty, wiping her eyes 
with her apron, "that it'll do him more good than pints of 
liniment. May I go and tell him you are here ? Will you 
come up and see him, my dear ? ' 

Of course I would. But Peggotty could not get out of the 
room as easily as she meant to, for as often as she got to the 



334 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

door and looked round at me, she canie back again to have 
another laugh and another cry upon my shoulder. At last, to 
make the matter easier, I went up stairs with her ; and having 
waited outside for a minute, while she said a word of prepara- 
tion to Mr. Barkis, presented myself before that invalid. 

He received me with absolute enthusiasm. He was too 
rheumatic to be shaken hands with, but he begged me to shake 
the tassel on the top of his nightcap, which I did most cor- 
dially. When I sat down by the side of the bed, he said that 
it did him a world of good to feel as if he was driving me on 
the Blunderstone road again. As he lay in bed, face upward, 
and so covered, with that exception, that he seemed to be 
nothing but a face like a conventional cherubim he looked 
the queerest object I ever beheld. 

" What name was it as I wrote up in the cart, sir ? " said 
Mr. Barkis, with a slow rheumatic smile. 

" Ah ! Mr. Barkis, we had some grave talks about that mat- 
ter, hadn't we ? " 

" I was willin' a long time, sir ? " said Mr. Barkis. 

"Along time," said I. 

" And I don't regret it," said Mr. Barkis. " Do you remem- 
ber what you told me once, about her making all the apple 
parsties and doing all the cooking ? " 

"Yes, very well," I returned. 

" It was as true," said Mr. Barkis, " as turnips is. It was 
as true," said Mr. Barkis, nodding his nightcap, which was his 
only means of emphasis, " as taxes is. And nothing's truer 
than them." 

Mr. Barkis turned his eyes upon me, as if for my assent to 
this result of his reflections in bed ; and I gave it. 

"Nothing's truer than them," repeated Mr. Barkis; "a man 
as poor as I am finds that out in his mind when he's laid up. 
I'm a very poor man, sir." 

" I am sorry to hear it, Mr. Barkis." 

" A very poor man, indeed I am," said Mr. Barkis. 

Here his right hand came slowly and feebly from under the 
bedclothes, and with a purposeless uncertain grasp took hold 
of a stick which was loosely tied to the side of the bed. After 
some poking about with this instrument, in the course of 



OF DAVID COPPEBFIELD. 335 

which his face assumed a variety of distracted expressions, 
Mr. Barkis poked it against a box, an end of which had been 
visible to me all the time. Then his face became composed. 

" Old clothes," said Mr. Barkis. 

"Oh!" said I. 

" I wish it was Money, sir," said Mr. Barkis. 

" I wish it was, indeed," said I. 

" But it AIN'T," said Mr. Barkis, opening both his eyes as 
wide as he possibly could. 

I expressed myself quite sure of that, and Mr. Barkis, turn- 
ing his eyes more gently to his wife, said : 

" She's the usefullest and best of women, C. P. Barkis. All 
the praise that any one can give to C. P. Barkis, she deserves, 
and more ! My dear, you'll get a dinner to-day, for company ; 
something good to eat and drink, will you ? 7; 

I should have protested against this unnecessary demonstra- 
tion in my honor, but that I saw Peggotty, on the opposite 
side of the bed, extremely anxious I should not. So I held 
my peace. 

" I have got a trifle of money somewhere about me, my dear," 
said Mr. Barkis, "but I'm a little tired. If you and Mr. 
David will leave me for a short nap, I'll try and find it when 
I wake." 

We left the room in compliance with this request. When 
we got outside the door, Peggotty informed me that Mr. Bar- 
kis, being now " a little nearer " than he used to be, always 
resorted to this same device before producing a single coin from 
his store ; and that he endured unheard-of agonies in crawling 
out of bed alone, and taking it from that unlucky box. In 
effect, we presently heard him uttering suppressed groans of 
the most dismal nature, as this magpie proceeding racked him 
in every joint ; but while Peggotty's eyes were full of compas- 
sion for him, she said his generous impulse would do him 
good, and it was better not to check it. So he groaned on 
until he had got into bed again, suffering, I have no doubt, a 
martyrdom"; and then called us in, pretending to have just 
woke up from a refreshing sleep, and to produce a guinea from 
under his pillow. His satisfaction in which happy imposition 
on us, and in having preserved the impenetrable secret of the 



336 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

box, appeared to be a sufficient compensation to him for all 
his tortures. 

I prepared Peggotty for Steerforth's arrival, and it was not 
long before he came. I am persuaded she knew no difference 
between his having been a personal benefactor of hers, and a 
kind friend to me, and that she would have received him with 
the utmost gratitude and devotion in any case. But his easy, 
spirited good-humor ; his genial manner, his handsome looks, 
his natural gift of adapting himself to whomsoever he pleased, 
and making direct, when he cared to do it, to the main point 
of interest in anybody's heart ; bound her to him wholly in 
five minutes. His manner to me, alone, would have won her. 
But, through all these causes combined, I sincerely believe she 
had a kind of adoration for him before he left the house that 
night. 

He stayed there with me to dinner if I were to say will- 
ingly, I should not half express how readily and gaily. He 
went into Mr. Barkis's room like light and air, brightening 
and refreshing it as if he were healthy weather. There was 
no noise, no effort, no consciousness, in anything he did ; but 
in everything an indescribable lightness, a seeming impossi- 
bility of doing anything else, or doing anything better, which 
was so graceful, so natural, and agreeable, that it overcomes 
me, even now, in the remembrance. 

We made merry in the little parlor, where the Book of 
Martyrs, unthumbed since my time, was laid out upon the 
desk as of old, and where I now turned over its terrific pic- 
tures, remembering the old sensations they had awakened, but 
not feeling them. When Peggotty spoke of what she called 
my room, and of its being ready for me at night, and of her 
hoping I would occupy it, before I could so much as look at 
Steerforth, hesitating, he was possessed of the whole case. 

" Of course," he said. " You'll sleep here, while we stay, 
and I shall sleep at the hotel." 

"But to bring you so far," I returned, "and to separate, 
seems bad companionship, Steerforth." 

"Why in the name of Heaven, where do you naturally 
belong ! " he said. " What is < seems ' compared to that ! " It 
was settled at once. 



OF DAVID COPPEBFIELD. 337 

He maintained all his delightful qualities to the last, until 
WQ started forth, at eight o'clock, for Mr. Peggotty's boat. 
Indeed, they were more and more brightly exhibited as the 
hours went 011 ; for I thought even then, and I have no doubt 
now, that the consciousness of success in his determination to 
please, inspired him with a new delicacy of perception, and 
made it, subtle as it was, more easy to him. If any one had 
told me, then, that all this was a brilliant game, played for 
the excitement of the moment, for the employment of high 
spirits, in the thoughtless love of superiority, in a mere waste- 
ful careless course of winning what was worthless to him, and 
next minute thrown away I say, if any one had told me such 
a lie that night, I wonder in what manner of receiving it my 
indignation would have found a vent ! 

Probably only in an increase, had that been possible, of the 
romantic feelings of fidelity and friendship with which I 
walked beside him, over the dark wintry sands, towards the 
old boat ; the wind sighing around us even more mournfully 
than it had sighed and moaned upon the night when I first 
darkened Mr. Peggotty's door. 

" This is a wild kind of place, Steerforth, is it not ? '' 
" Dismal enough in the dark," he said ; " and the sea roars 
as if it were hungry for us. Is that the boat, where I see a 
light yonder ? " 

" That's the boat," said I. 

" And it's the same I saw this morning," lie returned, 
came straight to it, by instinct, I suppose." 

We said no more as we approached the light, but made softly 
for the door. I laid my hand upon the latch 5 and whispering 
Steerforth to keep close to me, went in. 

A murmur of voices had been audible on the outside, 
and, at the moment of our entrance, a clapping of hands : 
which latter noise, I was surprised to see, proceeded from the 
generally disconsolate Mrs. Gummidge. But Mrs. Gummidge 
was not the only person there, who was unusually excited. 
Mr. Peggotty, his face lighted up with uncommon satisfaction, 
and laughing with all his might, held his rough arms wide 
open, as if for little Em'ly to run into them ; Ham, with a 
mixed expression in his face of admiration, exultation, and a 
VOL. i 22 



888 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

lumbering sort of bashfulness that sat upon him very well, 
held little Em'ly by the hand, as if he were presenting her to 
Mr. Peggotty; little Em'ly herself, blushing and shy, but 
delighted with Mr. Peggotty 's delight, as her joyous eyes 
expressed, was stopped by our entrance (for she saw us first) 
in the very act of springing from Ham to nestle in Mr. Peg- 
gotty's embrace. In the first glimpse we had of them all, and 
at the moment of our passing from the dark cold night into 
the warm light room, this was the way in which they were all 
employed: Mrs. Gumniidge in the back ground, clapping her 
hands like a madwoman. 

The little picture was so instantaneously dissolved by our 
going in, that one might have doubted whether it had ever 
been. I was in the midst of the astonished family, face to 
face with Mr. Peggotty, and holding out my hand to him, 
when Ham shouted : 

" Mas'r Davy ! It's Mas'r Davy ! " 

In a moment we were all shaking hands with xme another, 
and asking one another how we did, and telling one another 
how glad we were to meet, and all talking at once. Mr. 
Peggotty was so proud and overjoyed to see us, that he did 
not know what to say or do, but kept over and over again 
shaking hands Avith me, and then with Steerforth, and then 
with me, and then ruffling his shaggy hair all over his head, 
and laughing with such glee and triumph, that it was a treat 
to see him. 

" Why, that you two gent'lmen gent'lmen growed 
should come to this here roof to-night, of all nights in my 
life," said Mr. Peggotty, " is such a thing as never happened 
afore, I do rightly believe ! Em'ly, my darling, come here ! 
Come here, my little witch ! Theer's Mas'r Dav} 7 's friend, 
my dear ! Theer's the gent'lman as you've heerd on, Em'ly. 
He comes to see you, along with Mas'r Davy, on the brightest 
night of your uncle'a life as ever was or will be, Gorm the 
t'other one, and horroar for it ! " 

After delivering this speech all in a breath, and with extraor- 
dinary animation and pleasure, Mr. Peggotty put one of his 
large hands rapturously on each side of his niece's face, and 
kissing it a dozen times, laid it with a gentle pride and love 



OF DAVID GOPPEEFIELD. 339 

upon his broad chest, and patted it as if his hand had been 
a lady's. Then he let her go ; and as she ran into the little 
chamber where I used to sleep, looked round upon us, quite 
hot and out of breath with his uncommon satisfaction. 

" If you two gent'lmen gent'lnien growed now, and such 
gent'lmen " said Mr. Peggotty. 

" So th' are, so th' are ! " cried Ham. " Well said ! So 
th' are. Mas'r Davy bor gent'lmen growed so th' are ! " 

"If you two gent'lmen, gent'lmen growed," said Mr. Peg- 
gotty, " don't ex-cuse me for being in a state of mind, when 
you understand matters, I'll arks your pardon. Em'ly, my 
dear ! She knows I'm a going to tell," here his delight broke 
out again, " and has made off. Would you be so good as look 
arter her, Mawther, for a minute ? " 

Mrs. Gummidge nodded and disappeared. 

" If this ain't," said Mr. Peggotty, sitting down among us 
by the fire, " the brightest night o' my life, I'm a shellfish 
biled too and more I can't say. This here little Em'ly, sir," 
in a low voice to Steerforth, " her as you see a blushing 
here just now " 

Steerforth only nodded ; but with such a pleased expression 
of interest, and of participation in Mr. Peggotty's feelings, 
that the latter answered him as if he had spoken. 

" To be sure," said Mr. Peggotty. " That's her, and so she 
is. Thankee, sir." 

Ham nodded to me several times, as if he would have said 
so too. 

" This here little Em'ly of ours," said Mr. Peggotty, " has 
been, in our house, what I suppose (I'm an ignorant man, but 
that's my belief) no one but a little bright-eyed creetur can 
be in a house. She ain't my child ; I never had one ; but I 
couldn't love her more. You understand ! I couldn't do it ! " 

" I quite understand," said Steerforth. 

"I know you do, sir," returned Mr. Peggotty, "and thankee 
again. Mas'r Davy, he can remember what she was ; you 
may judge for your own self what she is ; but neither of you 
can't fully know what she has been, is, and will be, to my 
loving art. I am rough, sir," said Mr. Peggotty, " I am as 
rough as a sea Porkypine ; but no one, unless, mayhap, it is a 



840 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

woman, can know, I think, what our little Em'ly is to me. 
And betwixt ourselves," sinking his voice lower yet, "that 
woman's name ain't Missis Gummidge neither, though she has 
a world of merits." 

Mr. Peggotty ruffled his hair again with both hands, as a 
further preparation for what he was going to say, and went 
on with a hand upon each of his knees. 

"There was a certain person as had know'd our Em'ly, 
from the time when her father was drownded ; as had seen 
her constant ; when a babby, when a young gal, when a 
woman. Not much of a person to look at, he warn't," said 
Mr. Peggotty, " something o' my own build rough a good 
deal o' the sou'-wester in him wery salt but, on the whole, 
a honest sort of a chap, with his art in the right place." 

I thought I had never seen Ham grin to anything like the 
extent to which he sat grinning at us now. 

" What does this here blessed tarpaulin go and do," said 
Mr. Peggotty, with his face one high noon of enjoyment, " but 
he loses that there art of his to our little Em'ly. He f oilers 
her about, he makes hisself a sort o' servant to her, he loses 
in a great measure his relish for his wittles, and in the long 
run he makes it clear to me wot's amiss. Now I could wish 
myself, you see, that our little Em'ly was in a fair way of 
being married. I could wish to see her, at all ewents, under 
articles to a honest man as had a right to defend her. I don't 
know how long I may live, or how soon I may die ; but I 
know that if I was capsized, any night, in a gale of wind in 
Yarmouth Roads here, and was to see the town-lights shining 
for the last time over the rollers as I couldn't make no head 
against, I could go down quieter for thinking ' There's a man 
ashore there, iron-true to my little Em'ly, God bless her, and no 
wrong can touch my Em'ly while so be as that man lives ! ' 

Mr. Peggotty, in simple earnestness, waved his right arm, 
as if he were waving it at the town-lights for the last time, 
and then, exchanging a nod with Ham, whose eye he caught, 
proceeded as before. 

" Well ! I counsels him to speak to Em'ly. He's big 
enough, but he's bashfuller than a little un, and he don't like. 
So I speak. < What ! Him ! ' says Em'ly. ' Him that I've 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 341 

know'd so intimate so many years, and like so much! Oh, 
uncle ! I never can have Mm. He's such a good fellow ! ' I 
gives her a kiss, and I says no more to her than ' My dear, 
you're right to speak out, you're to choose for yourself, you're 
as free as a little bird.' Then I aways to him, and I says, ' I 
wish it could have been so, but it can't. But you can both be 
as you was, and wot I say to you is, Be as you was with her, 
like a man.' He says to me, a shaking of my hand, < I will ! ' 
he says. And he was honorable and manful for two 
year going on, and we was just the same at home here as 
afore." 

Mr. Peggotty's face, which had varied in its expression with 
the various stages of his narrative, now resumed all its former 
triumphant delight, as he laid a hand upon my knee and a 
hand upon Steerforth's (previously wetting them both, for the 
greater emphasis of the action), and divided the following 
speech between us : 

" All of a sudden, one evening as it might be to-night 
comes little Em'ly from her work, and him with her! There 
ain't so much in that, you'll say. No, because he takes care 
on her, like a brother, arter dark, and indeed afore dark, and 
at all times. But this tarpaulin chap, he takes hold of her 
hand, and he cries out to me, joyful, < Look here ! This is to be 
my little wife ! ' And she says, half bold and half shy, and 
half a laughing and half a crying, < Yes, uncle ! If you please.' 

If I please ! " cried Mr. Peggotty, rolling his head in an 
ecstasy at the idea ; " Lord, as if I should do anythink else ! 

'If you please, I am steadier now, and I have thought 
better of it, and I'll be as good a little wife as I can to him, 
for he's a dear, good fellow ! ' Then Missis Gummidge, she 
claps her hands like a play, and you come in. There! the 
murder's out ! " said Mr. Peggotty " You come in ! It took 
place this here present hour ; and here's the man that'll marry 
her, the minute she's out of her time." 

Ham staggered, as well he might, under the blow Mr. 
Peggotty dealt him in his unbounded joy, as a mark of con- 
fidence and friendship ; but feeling called upon to say some- 
thing to us, he said, with much faltering and great difficulty : 

"Shewarn'tno higher than you was, Mas'r Davy when 



342 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

you first come when I thought what she'd grow up to be. 
I see her grow up gent'lmen like a flower. I'd lay down 
my life for her Mas'r Davy Oh! most content and cheerful ! 
She's more to me gent'lmen than she's all to me that 
ever I can want, and more than ever I than ever I could 
say. I I love her true. There ain't a gent'lrnan in all the 
land nor yet sailing upon all the sea that can love his lady 
more than I love her, though there's many a common man 
would say better what he meant." 

I thought it affecting to see such a sturdy fellow as Ham 
was now, trembling in the strength of what he felt for the 
pretty little creature who had won his heart. I thought the 
simple confidence reposed in us by Mr. Peggotty and by 
himself, was, in itself, affecting. I was affected by the story 
altogether. How far my emotions were influenced by the 
recollections of my childhood, I don't know. Whether I had 
come' there with any lingering fancy that I was still to love 
little Em'ly, I don't know. I know that I was filled with 
pleasure by all this ; but at first, with an indescribably sensi- 
tive pleasure, that a very little would have changed to pain. 

Therefore, if it had depended upon me to touch the prevail- 
ing chord among them with any skill, I should have made 
a poor hand "of it. But it depended upon Steerforth ; and he 
did it with such address, that in a few minutes we were all as 
easy and as happy as it was possible to be. 

" Mr. Peggotty," he said, " you are a thoroughly good fellow, 
and deserve to be as happy as you are to-night. My hand upon 
it ! Ham, I give you joy, my boy. My hand upon that, too ! 
Daisy, stir the fire, and make it a brisk one ! and Mr. Peggotty, 
unless you can induce your gentle niece to come back (for 
whom I vacate this seat in the corner), I shall go. Any gap 
at your fireside on such a night such a gap least of all I 
wouldn't make, for the wealth of the Indies ! " 

So Mr. Peggotty went into my old room to fetch little Em'ly. 
At first little Em'ly didn't like to come, and then Ham went. 
Presently they brought her to the fireside, very much con- 
fused, and very shy, but she soon became more assured 
when she found how gently and respectfully Steerforth spoke 
to her ; how skilfully he avoided anything that would embar- 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 343 

rass her ; how he talked to Mr. Peggotty of boats, and ships, 
and tides, and fish ; how he referred to me about the time 
when he had seen Mr. Peggotty at Salem House ; how de- 
lighted he was with the boat and all belonging to it; how 
lightly and easily he carried on, until he brought us, by 
degrees, into a charmed circle, and we were all talking away 
without any reserve. 

Em'ly, indeed, said little all the evening ; but she looked, 
and listened, and her face got animated, and she was charming. 
Steerforth told a story of a dismal shipwreck (which arose out 
of his talk with Mr. Peggotty), as if he saw it all before him 

and little Em'ly's eyes were fastened on him all the time, 

as if she saw it too. He told us a merry adventure of his 
own, as a relief to that, with as much gaiety as if the narrative 
were as fresh to him as it was to us and little Em'ly laughed 
until the boat rang with the musical sounds, and we all 
laughed (Steerforth too), in irresistible sympathy with what 
was so pleasant and light-hearted. He got Mr, Peggotty to 
sing, or rather to roar, " When the stormy winds do blow, do 
blow, do blow ; " and he sang a sailor's song himself, so 
pathetically and beautifully, that I could have almost fancied 
that the real wind creeping sorrowfully round the house, and 
murmuring low through our unbroken silence, was there to 
listen. 

As to Mrs. Gummidge, he roused that victim of despondency 
with a success never attained by any one else (so Mr. Peggotty 
informed me), since the decease of the old one. He left her 
so little leisure for being miserable that she said next day she 
thought she must have been bewitched. 

But he set up no monopoly of the general attention, or the 
conversation. When little Em'ly grew more courageous, and 
talked (but still bashfully) across the fire to me, of our old 
wanderings upon the beach, to pick up shells and pebbles ; 
and when I asked her if she recollected how I used to be 
devoted to her; and when we both laughed and reddened, 
casting these looks back on the pleasant old times, so unreal 
to look at now; he was silent and attentive, and observed 
us thoughtfully. She sat, at this time, and all the evening, 
on the old locker in her old little corner by the fire Ham 



344 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

beside her, where I used to sit. I could not satisfy myself 
whether it was in her own little tormenting way, or in a 
maidenly reserve before us, that she kept quite close to the 
wall, and away from him ; but I observed that she did so, all 
the evening. 

As I remember, it was almost midnight when we took our 
leave. We had had some biscuit and dried fish for supper, 
and Steerforth had produced from his pocket a full flask of Hol- 
lands, which we men (I may say we men, now, without a blush) 
had emptied. We parted merrily ; and as they all stood 
crowded round the door to light us as far as they could upon 
our road, I saw the sweet blue eyes of little Em'ly peeping 
after us, from behind Ham, and heard her soft voice calling to 
us to be careful how we went. 

" A most engaging little Beauty ! " said Steerforth, taking 
my arm. "Well! It's a quaint place, and they are quaint 
company ; and it's quite a new sensation to mix with them." 

" How fortunate we are, too," I returned, " to have arrived 
to witness their happiness in that intended marriage ! I never 
saw people so happy. How delightful to see it, and to be 
made the sharers in their honest joy, as we have been ! " 

"That's rather a chuckle-headed fellow for the girl, isn't 
he ? " said Steerforth. 

He had been so hearty with him, and with them all, that I 
felt a shock in this unexpected and cold reply. But turning 
quickly upon him, and seeing a laugh in his eyes, I answered, 
much relieved : 

"Ah, Steerforth ! It's well for you to joke about the poor ! 
You may skirmish with Miss Dartle, or try to hide your sym- 
pathies in jest from me, but I know better. When I see how 
perfectly you understand them, how exquisitely you can enter 
into happiness like this plain fisherman's, or humor a love like 
my old nurse's, I know that there is not a joy or sorrow, not an 
emotion, of such people, that can be indifferent to you. And I 
admire and love you for it, Steerforth, twenty times the more ! '> 

He stopped, and looking in my face, said, " Daisy, I believe 
you are in earnest, and are good. I wish we all were ! " 
Next moment he was gaily singing Mr. Peggotty's song, as we 
walked at a round pace back to Yarmouth. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 345 



CHAPTER XXII. 

SOME OLD SCENES, AND SOME NEW PEOPLE. 

STEERFORTH and I stayed for more than a fortnight in that 
part of the country. We were very much together, I need not 
say ; but occasionally we were asunder for some hours at a 
time. He was a good sailor, and I was but an indifferent one ; 
and when he went out boating with Mr. Peggotty, which was 
a favorite amusement of his, I generally remained ashore. My 
occupation of Peggotty's spare-room put a constraint upon me, 
from which he was free : for, knowing how assiduously she 
attended on Mr. Barkis all day, I did not like to remain out 
late at night ; whereas Steerforth, lying at the Inn, had nothing 
to consult but his own humor. Thus it came about, that I 
heard of his making little treats for the fishermen at Mr. Peg- 
gotty's house of call, " The Willing Mind," after I was in bed, 
and of his being afloat, wrapped in fisherman's clothes, whole 
moonlight nights, and coming back when the morning tide 
was at flood. By this time, however, I knew that his restless 
nature and bold spirits delighted to find a vent in rough toil 
and hard weather, as in any other means of excitement that 
presented itself freshly to him; so none of his proceedings 

surprised me. 

Another cause of our being sometimes apart, was, that I had 
naturally an interest in going over to Blunderstone, and revis- 
iting the old familiar scenes of my childhood ; while Steerforth, 
after being there once, had naturally no great interest in going 
there again. Hence, on three or four days that I can at once 
recall, we went our several ways after an early breakfast, and 
met again at a late dinner. I had no idea how he employed 
his time in the interval, beyond a general knowledge that he 
was very popular in the place, and had twenty means of 
actively diverting himself where another man might not have 
found one. 



346 THE PEE SON AL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

For my own part, my occupation in my solitary pilgrimages 
was to recall every yard of the old road as I went along it, and 
to haunt the old spots, of which I never tired. I haunted 
them, as my memory had often done, and lingered among 
them as my younger thoughts had lingered when I was far 
away. The grave beneath the tree, where both my parents 
lay on which I had looked out, when it was my father's 
only, with such curious feelings of compassion, and by which 
I had stood, so desolate, when it was opened to receive my 
pretty mother and her baby the grave which Peggotty's own 
faithful care had ever since kept neat, and made a garden of, 
I walked near, by the hour. It lay a little off the churchyard 
path, in a quiet corner, not so far removed but I could read 
the names upon the stone as I walked to and fro, startled by 
the sound of the church-bell when it struck the hour, for it 
was like a departed voice to me. My reflections at these times 
were always associated with the figure I was to make in life, and 
the distinguished things I was to do. My echoing footsteps went 
to no other tune, but were as constant to that as if I had come 
home to build my castles in the air at a living mother's side. 

There were great changes in my old home. The ragged 
nests, so long deserted by the rooks, were gone ; and the trees 
were lopped and topped out of their remembered shapes. The 
garden had run wild, and half the windows of the house were 
shut up. It was occupied, but only by a poor lunatic gentle- 
man, and the people who took care of him. He was always 
sitting at my little window, looking .out into the churchyard ; 
and I wondered whether his rambling thoughts ever went upon 
any of the fancies that used to occupy mine, on the rosy morn- 
ings when I peeped out of that same little window in my night- 
clothes, and saw the sheep quietly feeding in the light of the 
rising sun. 

Our old neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Grayper, were gone to 
South America, and the rain had made its way through the 
roof of their empty house, and stained the outer walls. Mr. 
Chillip was married again to a tall, raw-boned, high-nosed 
wife ; and they had a weazen little baby, with a heavy head 
that it couldn't hold up, and two weak staring eyes, with which 
it seemed to be always wondering why it had ever been born. 



OF DAVID COPPEBFIELD. 347 

It was with a singular jumble of sadness and pleasure that 
I used to linger about my native place, until the reddening 
winter sun admonished me that it was time to start on my 
returning walk. But, when the place was left behind, and 
especially when Steerforth and I were happily seated over our 
dinner by a blazing fire, it was delicious to think of having 
been there. So it was, though in a softened degree, when I 
went to my neat room at night ; and, turning over the leaves 
of the crocodile-book (which was always there, upon a little 
table), remembered with a grateful heart how blessed I was in 
having such a friend as Steerforth, such a friend as Peggotty, 
and such a substitute for what I had lost as my excellent and 
generous aunt. 

My nearest way to Yarmouth, in coming back from these 
long walks, was by a ferry. It landed me on the flat between 
the town and the sea, which I could make straight across, and 
so save myself a considerable circuit by the high road. Mr. 
Peggotty's house being on that waste-place, and not a hundred 
yards out of my track, I always looked in as I went by. 
Steerforth was pretty sure to be there expecting me, and we 
went on together through the frosty air and gathering fog 
towards the twinkling lights of the town. 

One dark evening, when I was later than usual for I had, 
that day, been making my parting visit to Blunderstone, as we 
were now about to return home I found him alone in Mr. 
Peggotty's house, sitting thoughtfully before the fire. He 
was so intent upon his own reflections that he was quite un- 
conscious of my approach. This, indeed, he might easily have 
been if he had been less absorbed, for footsteps fell noiselessly 
on the sandy ground outside ; but even my entrance failed to 
rouse him. I was standing close to him, looking at him ; and 
still, with a heavy brow, he was lost in his meditations. 

He gave such a start when I put my hand upon his shoul- 
der, that he made me start too. 

"You come upon me," he said, almost angrily, "like a 
reproachful ghost ! " 

"I was obliged to announce myself somehow," I replied. 
" Have I called you down from the stars ? ' ; 
" No," he answered. " No." 



348 

" Up from anywhere, then ? " said I, taking niy seat near 
him. 

" I was looking at the pictures in the fire," he returned. 

" But you are spoiling them for me," said I, as he stirred 
it quickly with a piece of burning wood, striking out of it a 
train of red-hot sparks that went careering up the little chim- 
ney, and roaring out into the air. 

" You would not have seen them," he returned. " I detest 
this mongrel time, neither day nor night. How late you are ! 
Where have you been ? " 

" I have been taking leave of my usual walk," said I. 

" And I have been sitting here," said Steerforth, glancing 
round the room, " thinking that all the people we found so 
glad on the night of our coming down, might to judge from 
the present wasted air of the place be dispersed, or dead, or 
come to I don't know what harm. David, I wish to God I had 
had a judicious father these last twenty years ! " 

" My dear Steerforth, what is the matter ? " 

" I wish with all my soul I had been better guided ! " he 
exclaimed. "I wish with all my soul I could guide myself 
better ! " 

There was a passionate dejection in his manner that quite 
amazed me. He was more unlike himself than I could have 
supposed possible. 

" It would be better to be this poor Peggotty, or his lout of 
a nephew," he said, getting up and leaning moodily against 
the chimneypiece, with his face towards the fire, " than to be 
myself, twenty times richer and twenty times wiser, and be 
the torment to myself that I have been, in this Devil's bark 

L a boat, within the last half -hour ! " 

I w?s so confounded by the alteration in him, that at first 

1 could only observe him in silence, as he stood leaning his 
^iead upon his hand, and looking gloomily down at the fire. 
At length I begged him, with all the earnestness I felt, to tell 
me what had -occurred to cross him so unusually, and to let 
me sympathize with him, if I could not hope to advise him. 
Before I had well concluded, he began to laugh fretfully at 
first, but soon with returning gaiety. 

" Tut, it's nothing, Daisy ! nothing ! " he replied. " I told 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 349 

you at the inn in London, I am heavy company for myself 
sometimes. I have been a nightmare to myself, just now 
must have had one, I think. At odd dull times, nursery tales 
come up into the memory, unrecognized for what they are. 
I believe I have been confounding myself with the bad boy 
who ' didn't care/ and became food for lions a grander kind 
of going to the dogs, I . suppose. What old women call the 
horrors, have been creeping over me from head to foot. I 
have been afraid of myself." 

" You are afraid of nothing else, I think," said I. 

"Perhaps not, and yet may have enough to be afraid of 
too," he answered. " Well ! So it goes by ! I am not about 
to be hipped, again, David ; but I tell you, my good fellow, 
once more, that it would have been well for me (and for more 
than me) if I had had a steadfast and judicious father ! " 

His face was always full of expression, but I never saw it 
express such a dark kind of earnestness as when he said these 
words, with his glance bent on the fire. 

" So much for that ! " he said, making as if he tossed some- 
thing light into the air, with his hand. 

* ' Why, being gone, I am a man again,' 

like Macbeth. And now for dinner ! If I have not (Macbeth- 
like) broken up the feast with most admired disorder, Daisy." 

" But where are they all, I wonder ! " said I. 

" God knows," said Steerf orth. " After strolling to the 
ferry looking for you, I strolled in here and found the place 
deserted. That set me thinking, and you found me thinking." 

The advent of Mrs. Gummidge with a basket, explained how 
the house had happened to be empty. She had hurried out to 
buy something that was needed against Mr. Peggotty's return 
with the tide ; and had left the door open in the meanwhile, 
lest Ham and little Em'ly, with whom it was an early night, 
should come home while she was gone. Steerforth, after very 
much improving Mrs. Gummidge's spirits by a cheerful salu- 
tation, and a jocose embrace, took my arm, and hurried me 
away. 

He had improved his own spirits, no less than Mrs. Gum- 



350 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

midge's, for they were again at their usual flow, and he was 
full of vivacious conversation as we went along. 

" And so," he said, gaily, " we abandon this buccaneer life 
to-morrow, do we ? " 

" So we agreed," I returned. " And our places by the coach 
are taken, you know." 

" Ay ! there's no help for it, I suppose," said Steerforth. " I 
have almost forgotten that there is anything to do in the 
world but to go out tossing on the sea here. I wish there was 
not." 

"As long as the novelty should last," said I, laughing. 

" Like enough," he returned ; " though there's a sarcastic 
meaning in that observation for an amiable piece of innocence 
like my young friend. Well ! I dare say I am a capricious 
fellow, David. I know I am ; but while the iron is hot, I can 
strike it vigorously too. I could pass a reasonably good exam- 
ination already, as a pilot in these waters, I think." 

" Mr. Peggotty says you are a wonder," I returned. 

"A nautical phenomenon, eh ?" laughed Steerforth. 

" Indeed he does, and you know how truly ; knowing how 
ardent you are in any pursuit you follow, and how easily you 
can master it. And that amazes me most in you, Steerforth 
that you should be contented with such fitful uses of your 
powers." 

" Contented ? " he answered, merrily. " I am never con- 
tented, except with your freshness, my gentle Daisy. As to 
fitfulness, I have never learnt the art of binding myself to any 
of the wheels on which the Ixions of these days are turning 
round and round. I missed it somehow in a bad apprentice- 
ship, and now don't care about it. You know I have bought 
a boat down here ? " 

" What an extraordinary fellow you are, Steerforth ! " I 
exclaimed, stopping for this was the first I had heard of it. 
" When you may never care to come near the place again ! " 

" I don't know that," he returned. " I have taken a fancy 
to the place. At all events," walking me briskly on, " I have 
bought a boat that was for sale a clipper, Mr. Peggotty 
says ; and so she is and Mr. Peggotty will be master of her 
in my absence." 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 351 

"Now I understand you, Steerforth ! " said I, exultingly. 
" You pretend you have bought it for yourself, but you have 
really done so to confer a benefit on him. I might have known 
as much at first, knowing you. My dear kind Steerforth, how 
can I tell you what I think of your generosity ? " 

"Tush!" he answered, turning red. "The less said, the 
better." 

" Didn't I know ? " cried I, " didn't I say that there was not 
a joy, or sorrow, or any emotion, of such honest hearts that 
was indifferent to you ? " 

" Ay, ay," he answered, " you told me all that. There let it 
rest, we have said enough ! " 

Afraid of offending him by pursuing the subject when he 
made so light of it, I only pursued it in my thoughts as we 
went on at even a quicker pace than before. 

" She must be newly rigged," said Steerforth, "and I shall 
leave Littimer behind to see it done, that I may know she is 
quite complete. Did I tell you Littimer had come down ? ' 

"Ho," 

" Oh, yes ! came down this morning, with a letter from my 
mother." 

As our looks met, I observed that he was pale even to his 
lips, though he looked very steadily at me. I feared that some 
difference between him and his mother might have led to his, 
being in the frame of mind in which I had found him at the 
solitary fireside. I hinted so. 

" Oh, no ! " he said, shaking his head, and giving a slight 
laugh. " Nothing of the sort ! Yes. He is come down, that 
man of mine." 

" The same as ever ? " said I. 

" The same as ever," said Steerforth. " Distant and quiet 
as the North Pole. He shall see to the boat being fresh 
named. She's the Stormy Petrel now. What does Mr. Peg- 
gotty care for Stormy Petrels ! I'll have her christened again." 

" By what name ? " I asked. 

" The Little Em'ly." 

As he had continued to look steadily at me, I took it as a 
reminder that he objected to being extolled for his considera- 
tion. I could not help showing in my face how much it 



352 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

pleased me, but I said little, and he resumed his usual smile, 
and seemed relieved. 

"But see here," he said, looking before us, "where the 
original little Em'ly comes ! And that fellow with her, eh ? 
Upon my soul, he's a true knight. He never leaves her ! " 

Ham was a boat-builder in these days, having improved a 
natural ingenuity in that handicraft, until he had become a 
skilled workman. He was in his working-dress, and looked 
rugged enough, but manly withal, and a very fit protector for 
the blooming little creature at his side. Indeed, there was a 
frankness in his face, an honesty, and an undisguised show of 
his pride in her, and his love for her, which were, to me, the 
best of good looks. I thought, as they came towards us, that 
they were well matched, even in that particular. 

She withdrew her hand timidly from his arm as we stopped 
to speak to them, and blushed as she gave it to Steerforth and 
to me. When they passed on, after we had exchanged a few 
words, she did not like to replace that hand, but, still appear- 
ing timid and constrained, walked by herself. I thought all 
this very pretty and engaging, and Steerforth seemed to think 
so too, as we looked after them fading away in the light of a 
young moon. 

Suddenly there passed us evidently following them a 
young woman whose approach we had not observed, but whose 
face I saw as she went by, and thought I had a faint remem- 
brance of. She was lightly dressed, looked bold, and haggard, 
and flaunting, and poor; but seemed, for the time, to have 
given all that to the wind which was blowing, and to have 
nothing in her mind but going after them. As the dark dis- 
tant level, absorbing their figures into itself, left but itself 
visible between us and the sea and clouds, her figure disap- 
peared in like manner, still no nearer to them than before. 

"That is a black shadow to be following the girl," said 
Steerforth, standing still; "what does it mean?" 

He spoke in a low voice that sounded almost strange to me. 

" She must have it in her mind to beg of them, I think," 
said I. 

" A beggar would be no novelty," said Steerforth ; " but it is a 
strange thing that the beggar should take that shape to-night." 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD, 353 

" Why ? " I asked him. 

"For no better reason, truly, than because I was thinking," 
he said, after a pause, " of something like it, when it came by. 
Where the Devil did it come from, I wonder ! " 

"From the shadow of this wall, I think," said I, as we 
emerged upon a road on which a wall abutted. 

" It's gone !" he returned, looking over his shoulder. "And 
all ill go with it. Now for our dinner ! " 

But, he looked again over his shoulder towards the sea-line 
glimmering afar off ; and yet again. And he wondered about 
it, in some broken expressions, several times, in the short 
remainder of our walk ; and only seemed to forget it when the 
light of fire and candle shone upon us, seated warm and merry, 

at table. 

Littimer was there, and had his usual effect upon me. 
When I said to him that I hoped Mrs. Steerforth and Miss 
Dartle were well, he answered respectfully (and of course 
respectably), that they were tolerably well, he thanked me, 
and had sent their compliments. This was all, and yet he 
seemed to me to say as plainly as a man could say : " You are 
very young, sir ; you are exceedingly young." 

We had almost finished dinner, when taking a step or two 
towards the table, from the corner where he kept watch upon 
us, or rather upon me, as I felt, he said to his master : 

" I beg your pardon, sir. Miss Mowcher is down here." 

" Who ? " cried Steerforth, much astonished. 

" Miss Mowcher, sir." 

" Why, what on earth does she do here ? " said Steerforth. 

" It appears to be her native part of the country, sir. She 
informs me that she makes one of her professional visits here, 
every year, sir. I met her in the street this afternoon, and 
she wished to know if she might have the honor of waiting on 
you after dinner, sir." 

" Do you know the Giantess in question, Daisy ? " inquired 
Steerforth. 

I was obliged to confess I felt ashamed, even of being at 
this disadvantage before Littimer that Miss Mowcher and I 
were wholly unacquainted. 

"Then you shall know her," said Steerforth, "for she is 
VOL. x 23 



354 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

one of the seven wonders of the world. When Miss Mowcher 
conies, show her in." 

I felt some curiosity and excitement about this lady, es- 
pecially as Steerforth burst into a fit of laughing when I 
referred to her, and positively refused to answer any question 
of which I made her the subject. I remained, therefore, in 
a state of considerable expectation until the cloth had been 
removed some half an hour, and we were sitting over our 
decanter of wine before the fire, when the door opened, 
and Littimer, with his habitual serenity quite undisturbed, 
announced : 

" Miss Mowcher ! " 

I looked at the doorway and saw nothing. I was still look- 
ing at the doorway, thinking that Miss Mowcher was a long 
while making her appearance, when, to my infinite astonish- 
ment, there came waddling round a sofa which stood between 
me and it, a pursy dwarf, of about forty or forty-five, with a 
very large head and face, a pair of roguish gray eyes, and such 
extremely little arms, that, to enable herself to lay a finger 
archly against her snub nose as she ogled Steerforth, she was 
obliged to meet the finger halfway, and lay her nose against 
it. Her chin, which was what is called a double-chin, was so 
fat that it entirely swallowed up the strings of her bonne 
bow and all. Throat she had none ; waist she had none ; leg? 
she had none, worth mentioning; for though she was mo'/e 
than full-sized down to where her waist would have been, if 
she had had any, and though she terminated, as human beings 
generally do, in a pair of feet, she was so short that she stood 
at a common-sized chair as at a table, resting a bag she carried 
on the seat. This lady; dressed in an off-hand, easy style; 
bringing her nose and her forefinger together, with the diffi- 
culty I have described ; standing with her head necessarily on 
one side, and, with one of her sharp eyes shut up, making an 
uncommonly knowing face ; after ogling Steerforth for a few 
moments, broke into a torrent of words. 

"What! My flower!" she pleasantly began, shaking her 
large head at him. " You're there, are you ! Oh, you naughty 
boy, fie for shame, what do you do so far away from home ? 
Up to mischief, I'll be bound. Oh, you're a downy fellow, 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 355 

Steerf orth, so you are, and I'm another, ain't I ? Ha, ha, ha ! 
You'd have betted a hundred pound to five, now, that you 
wouldn't have seen me here, wouldn't you ? Bless you, man 
alive, I'm everywhere. I'm here, and there, and where not, 
like 'the conjuror's half-crown in the lady's hankercher. 
Talking of hankerchers and talking of ladies what a com- 
fort you are to your blessed mother, ain't you, my dear boy, 
over one of my shoulders, and I don't say which ! " 

Miss Mowcher untied her bonnet, at this passage of her 
discourse, threw back the strings, and sat down, panting, on a 
footstool, in front of the fire making a kind of arbor of the 
dining-table, 'which spread its mahogany shelter above her 

head. 

" Oh, my stars and what's-their-names ! " she went on, 
clapping a hand on each of her little knees, and glancing 
shrewdly at me. " I'm of too full a habit, that's the fact, 
Steerforth. After a flight of stairs, it gives me as much 
trouble to draw every breath I want, as if it was a bucket of 
water. If you saw me looking out of an upper window, you'd 
think I was a fine woman, wouldn't you ? " 

" I should think that, wherever I saw you," replied Steer- 
forth. 

" Go along, you dog, do ! " cried the little creature, making 
a whisk at him with the handkerchief with which she was 
wiping her face, " and don't be impudent ! But I give you 
my word and honor I was at Lady Mithers's last week 
there- s a woman. How she wears ! and Mithers himself 
came into the room where I was waiting for her there 9 s a 
man ! How he wears ! and his wig too, for he's had it these 
ten years and he went on at that rate in the complimentary 
line, that I began to think I should be obliged to ring the bell. 
Ha ! ha ! ha ! He's a pleasant wretch, but he wants principle." 

" What were you doing for Lady Mithers ? " asked Steer- 
forth. 

" That's tellings, my blessed infant," she retorted, tapping 
her nose again, screwing up her face, and twinkling her eyes 
like an imp of supernatural intelligence. " Never you mind ! 
You'd like to know whether I stop her hair from falling off, 
or dye it, or touch up her complexion, or improve her eye- 



356 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

brows, wouldn't you ? And so you shall, my darling when 
I tell you ! Do you know what my great grandfather's name 
was ? " 

" No," said Steerforth. 

"It was Walker, my sweet pet," replied Miss Mowcher, 
" and he came of a long line of Walkers, that I inherit all the 
Hookey estates from." 

I never beheld anything approaching to Miss Mowcher's 
wink, except Miss Mowcher's self-possession. She had a 
wonderful way too, when listening to what was said to her, 
or when waiting for an answer to what she had said herself, of 
pausing with her head cunningly on one side, and one eye 
turned up like a magpie's. Altogether I was lost in amaze- 
ment, and sat staring at her, quite oblivious, I am afraid, of 
the laws of politeness. 

She had by this time drawn the chair to her side, and was 
busily engaged in producing from the bag (plunging in her 
short arm to the shoulder, at every dive) a number of small 
bottles, sponges, combs, brushes, bits of flannel, little pairs of 
curling irons, and other instruments, which she tumbled in a 
heap upon the chair. From this employment she suddenly 
desisted, and said to Steerforth, much to my confusion : 

" Who's your friend ? " 

" Mr. Copperfield," said Steerforth ; " he wants to know you." 

" Well, then, he shall ! I thought he looked as if he 
did ! " returned Miss Mowcher, waddling up to me, bag in 
hand, and laughing on me as she came. "Face like a 
peach ! " standing on tiptoe to pinch my cheek as I sat. 
" Quite tempting ! I'm very fond of peaches. Happy to 
make your acquaintance, Mr. Copperfield, I'm sure." 

I said that I congratulated myself on having the honor to 
make hers, and that the happiness was mutual. 

"Oh my goodness, how polite we are!" exclaimed Miss 
Mowcher, making a preposterous attempt to cover her large 
face with her morsel of a hand. " What a world of gammon 
and spinnage it is, though, ain't it ! " 

This was addressed confidentially to both of us, as the 
morsel of a hand came away from the face, and buried itself, 
arm and all, in the bag again. 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 357 

" What do you mean, Miss Mowcher ? " said Steerforth. 

" Ha ! ha ! ha ! What a refreshing set of humbugs we are, 
to be sure, ain't we, my sweet child ? " replied that morsel of 
a woman, fqeling in the bag with her head on one side and 
her eye in the air. " Look here ! " taking something out. 
" Scraps of the Eussian Prince's nails ! Prince Alphabet 
turned topsy-turvy, / call him, for his name's got all the 
letters in it, higgledy-piggledy." 

"The Russian Prince is a client of yours, is he?" said 
Steerforth. 

" I believe you, my pet," replied Miss Mowcher. " I keep 
his nails in order for him. Twice a week! Fingers and 
toes ! " 

" He pays well, I hope ? " said Steerforth. 

"Pays as he speaks, my dear child through the nose," 
replied Miss Mowcher. "None of your close shavers the 
Prince ain't. You'd say so, if you saw his moustachios. Red 
by nature, black by art." 

" By your art, of course," said Steerforth. 

Miss Mowcher winked assent. "Forced to send for me. 
Couldn't help it. The climate affected his dye ; it did very 
well in Russia, but it was no go here. You never saw such a 
rusty Prince in all your born days as he was. Like old 
iron ! " 

" Is that why you called him a humbug just now ? ' 
inquired Steerforth. 

" Oh, you're a broth of a boy, ain't you ? " returned Miss 
Mowcher, shaking her head violently. "I said what a set 
of humbugs we were in general, and I showed you the 
scraps of the Prince's nails to prove it. The Prince's nails 
do more for me in private families of the genteel sort, 
than all my talents put together. I always carry 'em about. 
They're the best introduction. If Miss Mowcher cuts the 
Prince's nails, she must be all right. I give 'em away 
to the young ladies. They put 'em in albums, I believe. 
Ha! ha! ha! Upon my life, 'the whole social system ' (as 
the men call it when they make speeches in Parliament) is a 
system of Prince's nails ! " said this least of women, trying to 
fold her short arms, and nodding her large head. 



358 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

Steerforth laughed heartily, and I laughed too. Miss 
Mowcher continuing all the time to shake her head (which 
was very much on one side), and to look into the air with one 
eye, and to wink with the other. 

" Well, well ! " she said, smiting her small knees, and 
rising, "this is not business. Come, Steerforth, let's explore 
the polar regions, and have it over.'' 

She then selected two or three of the little instruments, 
and a little bottle, and asked (to my surprise) if the table 
would bear. On Steerforth's replying in the affirmative, 
she pushed a chair against it, and begging the assistance of 
ray hand, mounted up, pretty nimbly, to the top, as if it were 
a stage. 

" If either of you saw my ankles," she said, when she was 
safely elevated, " say so, and I'll go home and destroy 
myself." 

" / did not," said Steerforth. 

"/did not," said I. 

" Well, then," cried Miss Mowcher, " I'll consent to live. 
Now, ducky, ducky, ducky, come to Mrs. Bond and be killed." 

This was an invocation to Steerforth to place himself under 
her hands ; who, accordingly, sat himself down, with his 
back to the table, and his laughing face towards me, and 
submitted his head to her inspection, evidently for no other 
purpose than our entertainment. To see Miss Mowcher stand- 
ing over him, looking at his rich profusion of brown hair 
through a large round magnifying glass, which she took out of 
her pocket, was a most amazing spectacle. 

You're a pretty fellow ! " said Miss Mowcher, after a brief 
inspection. " You'd be as bald as a friar on the top of your 
head in twelve months, but for me. Just half -a-mi mite, my 
young friend, and we'll give you a polishing that shall keep 
your curls on for the next ten years ! " 

With this, she tilted some of the contents of the little bottle 
on to one of the little bits of flannel, and, again imparting 
some of the virtues of that preparation to one of the little 
brushes, oegan rubbing and scraping away with both on the 
crown of Steerforth's head in the busiest manner I ever wit- 
nessed, talking all the time. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 359 

she said. 



"You know Charley ? " peeping round into his face. 

" A little," said Steerforth. 

"What a man he is! There's a whisker! As to Charley's 
legs, if they were only a pair (which they ain't), they'd defy 
competition. Would you believe he tried to do without me 
in the Life-Guards, too ? " 

" Mad ! " said Steerforth. 

"It looks like it. However, mad or sane, he tried," re- 
turned Miss Mowcher. " What does he do, but, lo and behold 
you, he goes into a perfumer's shop, and wants to buy a bottle 
of the Madagascar Liquid." 

" Charley does ? " said Steerforth. 

" Charley does. But they haven't got any of the Madagas- 
car Liquid." 

" What is it ? Something to drink ? " asked Steerforth. 

"To drink?" returned Miss Mowcher, stopping to slap his 
cheek. " To doctor his own moustachios with, you know. 
There was a woman in the shop elderly female quite a 
Griffin who had never even heard of it by name. l Begging 
pardon, sir,' said the Griffin to Charley, /it's not not not 
ROUGE, is it ? ' < Eouge,' said Charley to the Griffin. < What 
the unmentionable to ears polite, do you think I want with 
rouge ? ' 'No offence, sir,' said the Griffin ; ' we have it asked 
for by so many names, I thought it might be.' Now that, my 
child," continued Miss Mowcher, rubbing all the time as busily 
as ever, " is another instance of the refreshing humbug I was 
speaking of. I do something in that way myself perhaps a 
good deal perhaps a little sharp's the word, my dear boy 
never mind! " 

" In what way do you mean ? In the rouge way ? " said 
Steerforth. 

" Put this and that together, my tender pupil," returned the 
wary Mowcher, touching her nose, "work it by the rule of 
Secrets in all trades, and the product will give you the desired 
result. I say I do a little in that way myself. One Dowager 
she calls it lip-salve. Another, she calls it gloves. Another, 
she calls it tucker-edging. Another, she calls it a fan. 7 call it 
whatever they call it. I supply it for 'em, but we keep up the 



360 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

trick so, to one another, and make believe with such a face, 
that they'd as soon think of laying it on, before a whole draw- 
ing-room, as before me. And when I wait upon 'em, they'll 
say to me sometimes with it on thick, and no mistake 
' How am I looking, Mowcher ? Am I pale ? ' Ha ! ha ! ha ! 
ha ! Isn't that refreshing, my young friend ! " 

I never did in my days behold anything like Mowcher as 
she stood upon the dining-table, intensely enjoying this re- 
freshment, rubbing busily at Steerforth's head, and winking 
at me over it. 

" Ah ! " she said. " Such things are not much in demand 
hereabouts. That sets me off again ! I haven't seen a pretty 
woman since I've been here, Jemmy." 

" No ? " said Steerforth. 

" Not the ghost of one," replied Miss Mowcher. 

" We could show her the substance of one, I think ? " said 
Steerforth, addressing his eyes to mine. " Eh, Daisy ? " 

" Yes, indeed," said I. 

" Aha ? " cried the little creature, glancing sharply at my 
face, and then peeping round at Steerforth's. " Umph ? " 

The first exclamation sounded like a question put to both of 
us, and the second like a question put to Steerforth only. She 
seemed to have found no answer to either, but continued to 
rub, with her head on one side and her eye turned up, as if she 
were looking for an answer in the air, and were confident of 
its appearing presently. 

" A sister of yours, Mr. Copperfield ? " she cried, after a 
pause, and still keeping the same look out. " Ay, ay ? ' 

" No," said Steerforth, before I could reply. " Nothing of 
the sort. On the contrary, Mr. Copperfield used or I am 
much mistaken to have a great admiration for her." 

" Why, hasn't he now ? " returned Miss Mowcher. " Is he 
fickle ? oh, for shame ! Did he sip every flower, and change 
every hour, until Polly his passion requited ? Is her name 
Polly ? " 

The Elfin suddenness with which she pounced upon me with 
this question, and a searching look, quite disconcerted me for 
a moment. 

" No, Miss Mowcher," I replied. " Her name is Emily." 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 361 

" Aha ? " she cried exactly as before. " Umph ? What a 
rattle I am ! Mr. Copperfield, ain't I volatile ? " 

Her tone and look implied something that was not agreeable 
to me in connection with the subject. So I said, in a graver 
manner than any of us had yet assumed : 

" She is as virtuous as she is pretty. She is engaged to be 
married to a most worthy and deserving man in her own 
station of life. T esteem her for her good sense, as much as I 
admire her for her good looks." 

" Well said ! " cried Steerforth. " Hear, hear, hear ! Now 
I'll quench the curiosity of this little Fatima, my dear Daisy, 
by leaving her nothing to guess at. She is at present ap- 
prenticed, Miss Mowcher, or articled, or whatever it may be, 
to Omer and Joram, Haberdashers, Milliners, and so forth, in 
this town. Do you observe ? Omer and Joram. The promise 
of which my friend has spoken, is made and entered into with 
her cousin ; Christian name, Ham ; surname, Peggotty ; occu- 
pation, boat-builder; also of this town. She lives with a 
relative; Christian name, unknown; surname, Peggotty; oc- 
cupation, seafaring ; also of this town. She is the prettiest 
and most engaging little fairy in the world. I admire her - 
as my friend does exceedingly. If it were not that I might 
appear to disparage her Intended, which I know my friend 
would not like, I would add, that to me she seems to be throw- 
ing herself away ; that I am sure she might do better ; and 
that I swear she was born to be a lady." 

Miss Mowcher listened to these words, which were very 
slowly and distinctly spoken, with her head on one side, and 
her eye in the air, as if she were still looking for that answer. 

When he ceased she became brisk again in an instant, and 
rattled away with surprising volubility. 

"Oh! And that's all about it, is it?" she exclaimed, 
trimming his whiskers with a little restless pair of scissors, 
that went glancing round his head in all directions. " Very 
well : very well ! Quite a long story. Ought to end ' and 
they lived happy ever afterwards ' ; oughtn't it ? Ah ! What's 
that game at forfeits ? I love my love with an E, because 
she's enticing ; I hate her with an E, because she's engaged. 
I took her to the sign of the exquisite, and treated her with 



362 THE PERSONAL HISTORY A^D EXPERIENCE 

an elopement, her name's Emily, and she lives in the east ? 
Ha ! ha ! ha ! Mr. Copperfield, ain't I volatile ? " 

Merely looking at me with extravagant slyness, and not 
waiting for any reply, she continued, without drawing breath : 

" There ! If ever any scapegrace was trimmed and touched 
up to perfection, you are, Steerforth. If I understand any 
noddle in the world, I understand yours. Do you hear me 
when I tell you that, my darling ? I understand yours," 
peeping down into his face. " Now you may mizzle. Jemmy, 
(as we say at Court), and if Mr. Copperfield will take the 
chair I'll operate on. him." 

" What do you say, Daisy?" inquired Steerforth, laughing, 
and resigning his seat. "Will you be improved ? ' 

" Thank you, Miss Mowcher, not this evening." 

"Don't say no," returned the little woman, looking at me 
with the aspect of a connoisseur; "a little bit more eyebrow?" 

" Thank you," I returned, " some other time." 

" Have it carried half a quarter of an inch towards the 
temple," said Miss Mowcher. " We can do it in a fortnight." 

" No, I thank you. Not at present." 

" Go in for a tip," she urged. " Xo ? Let's get the scaf- 
folding up, then, for a pair of whiskers. Coine ! " 

I could not help blushing as I declined, for I felt we were 
on my weak point, now. But Miss Mowcher, finding that I 
was not at present disposed for any decoration within the 
range of her art, and that I was, for the time being, proof 
against the blandishments of the small bottle which she held 
up before one eye to enforce her persuasions, said we would 
make a beginning on an early day, and requested the aid of 
my hand to descend from her elevated station. Thus assisted, 
she skipped down with much agility, and began to tie her 
double chin into her bonnet. 

"The fee," said Steerforth, "is " 

"Five bob," replied Miss Mowcher, "and dirt cheap my 
chicken. Ain't I volatile, Mr. Copperfield ? " 

I replied politely : " Not at all." But I thought she was 
rather so, when she tossed up his two half-crowns like a goblin 
pieman, caught them, dropped them in her pocket, and gave it 
a loud slap. 



OF DAVID COPPEEF1ELD. 363 

"That's the Till!" observed Miss Mowcher, standing at 
the chair again, and replacing in the bag a miscellaneous col- 
lection of little objects she had emptied out of it. " Have I 
got all my traps ? It seems so. It won't do to be like long 
Ned Beadwood, when they took him to church 'to marry him 
to somebody/ as he says, and left the bride behind. Ha ! ha ! 
ha ! A wicked f ascal, Ned, but droll ! Now, I know I'm 
going to break your hearts, but I am forced to leave you. 
You must call up all your fortitude, and try to bear it. Good 
by, Mr. Copperfield! Take care of yourself, Jockey of 
Norfolk ! How I have been rattling on ! It's all the fault of 
you two wretches. I forgive you ! < Bob swore ! ' as the 
Englishman said for < Good night,' when he first learnt French, 
and thought it so like English. 'Bob swore,' my ducks ! " 

With the bag slung over her arm, and rattling as she wad- 
dled away, she waddled to the door; where she stopped to 
inquire if she should leave us a lock of her hair. " Ain't I 
volatile ? " she added, as a commentary on this offer, and, 
with her finger on her nose, departed. 

Steerforth laughed to that degree, that it was impossible for 
me to help laughing too ; though I am not sure I should have 
done so, but for this inducement. When we had had our laugh 
quite out, which was after some time, he told me that Miss 
Mowcher had quite an extensive connection, and made herself 
useful to a variety of people in a variety of ways. Some peo- 
ple trifled with her as a mere oddity, he said ; but she was as 
shrewdly and sharply observant as any one he knew, and as 
long-headed as she was short-armed. He told me that what 
she had said of being here, and there, and everywhere, was 
true enough ; for she made little darts into the provinces, and 
seemed to pick up customers everywhere, and to know every- 
body. I asked him what her disposition was : whether it was 
at all mischievous, and if her sympathies were generally on 
the right side of things : but, not succeeding in attracting his 
attention to these questions after two or three attempts, I for- 
bore or forgot to repeat them. He told me instead, with much 
rapidity, a good deal about her skill, and her profits ; and about 
her being a scientific cupper, if I should ever have occasion for 
her services in that capacity. 



364 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

She was the principal theme of our conversation during the 
evening : and when we parted for the night Steer forth called 
after ine over the banisters, " Bob swore ! " as I went down 
stairs. 

I was surprised, when I came to Mr. Barkis's house to find 
Ham walking up and down in front of it, and still more sur- 
prised to learn from him that little Em'ly was inside. I natu- 
rally inquired why he was not there too, instead of pacing the 
streets by himself ? 

"Why, you see, Mas'r Davy," he rejoined, in a hesitating 
manner, "Em'ly, she's talking to some 'un in here." 

" I should have thought," said I, smiling, " that that was a 
reason for your being in here too, Ham." 

"Well, Mas'r Davy, in a general way, so 't would be," he 
returned ; " but look'ee here, Mas'r Davy," lowering his voice, 
and speaking very gravely. "It's a young woman, sir a 
young woman that Em'ly know'd once, and doen't ought to 
know no more." 

When I heard these words, a light began to fall upon the 
figure I had seen following them, some hours ago. 

"It's a poor wurem, Mas'r Davy," said Ham, "as is trod 
under foot by all the town. Up street and down street. The 
mowld o' the churchyard don't hold any that the folk shrink 
away from more." 

"Did I see her to-night, Ham, on the sands, after we met 
you ? " 

" Keeping us in sight ? " said Ham. " It's like you did, 
Mas'r Davy. Not that I know'd then, she was theer, sir, but 
along of her creeping soon arterwards under Eni'ly's little 
winder, when she see the light come, and whisp'ring - Em'ly, 
Em'ly, for Christ's sake, have a woman's heart towards me. 
I was once like you ! ' Those was solemn words, Mas'r Davy, 
fur to hear ! " 

" They were indeed, Ham. What did Em'ly do ? " 

" Says Em'ly, l Martha, is it you ? Oh, Martha, can it be 
you ! ' for they had sat at work together, many a day, at 
Mr. Omer's." 

" I recollect her now ! " cried I, recalling one of the two 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 365 

girls I had seen when I first went there. " I recollect her 
quite well ! " 

" Martha Endell," said Ham. " Two or three year older 
than Em'ly, but was at the school with her." 

" I never heard her name/' said I. " I didn't mean to 
interrupt you." 

" For the matter o' that, Mas'r Davy," replied Ham, " all's 
told a'most in them words, 'Em'ly, Em'ly, for Christ's sake, 
have a woman's heart towards me. I was once like you ! ' 
She wanted to speak to Em'ly. Em'ly couldn't speak to her 
theer, for her loving uncle was come home, and he wouldn't 
no, Mas'r Davy," said Ham, with great earnestness, "he 
couldn't, kind naturd, tender-hearted as he is, see them two 
together, side by side, for all the treasures that's wrecked in 
the sea." 

I felt how true this was. I knew it, on the instant, quite as 
well as Ham. 

" So Em'ly writes in pencil on a bit of paper," he pursued, 
" and gives it to her out o' window to bring here. { Show 
that,' she says, 'to jny aunt, Mrs. Barkis, and she'll set you 
down by her fire, for the love of me, till uncle is gone out, 
and I can come.' By and by she tells me what I tell you, 
Mas'r Davy, and asks me to bring her. What can I do ? She 
doeii't ought to know any such, but I can't deny her, when 
the tears is on her face." 

He put his hand into the breast of his shaggy jacket, and 
took out with great care a pretty little purse. 

" And if I could deny her when the tears was on her face, 
Mas'r Davy," said Ham, tenderly adjusting it on the rough 
palm of his hand, "how could I deny her when she give me 
this to carry for her knowing what she brought it for? 
Such a toy as it is ! " said Ham, thoughtfully looking on it. 
" With such a little money in it, Em'ly my dear ! " 

I shook him warmly by the hand when he had put it away 
again for that was more satisfactory to me than saying any- 
thing and we walked up and down, for a minute or two, in 
silence. The door opened then, and Peggotty appeared, 
beckoning to Ham to come in. I would have kept away, but 
she came after me, entreating me to come in too. Even then, 



366 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

I would have avoided the room where they all were, but for 
its being the neat-tiled kitchen I have mentioned more than 
once. The door opening immediately into it, I found myself 
among them, before I considered whither I was going. 

The girl the same I had seen upon the sands was near 
the fire. She was sitting on the ground, with her head and 
one arm lying on a chair. I fancied, from the disposition of 
her figure, that Enrly had but newly risen from the chair, and 
that the forlorn head might perhaps have been lying on her lap. 
I saw but little of the girl's face, over which her hair fell loose 
and scattered, as if she had been disordering it with her own 
hands ; but I saw that she was young, and of a fair complex- 
ion. Peggotty had been crying. So had little Em'ly. Not a 
word was spoken when we first went in ; and the Dutch clock by 
the dresser seemed, in the silence, to tick twice as loud as usual. 

Em'ly spoke first. 

" Martha wants," she said to Ham, " to go to London." 

" Why to London ? " returned Ham. 

He stood between them, looking on the prostrate girl with 
a mixture of compassion for her, and of jealousy of her hold- 
ing any companionship with her whom he loved so well, which 
I have always remembered distinctly. They both spoke as if 
she were ill ; in a soft, suppressed tone that was plainly 
heard, although it hardly rose above a whisper. 

" Better there than here," said a third voice aloud Mar- 
tha's, though she did not move. "No one knows me there. 
Everybody knows me here." 

" What will she do there ? " inquired Ham. 

She lifted up her head, and looked darkly round at him for 
a moment ; then laid it down again, and curved her right arm 
about her neck, as a woman in a fever, or in an agony of pain 
from a shot, might twist herself. 

" She will try to do well," said little Em'ly. " You don't 
know what she has said to us. Does he do they aunt ? " 

Peggotty shook her head compassionately. 

" I'll try," said Martha, -" if you'll help me away. I never 
can do worse than I have done here. I may do better. Oh ! " 
with a dreadful shiver, " take me out of these streets, where 
the whole town knows me from a child ! " 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 367 

A Em'ly held out her hand to Ham, I saw him put in it a 
little canvas bag. She took it, as if she thought it were her 
purse, and made a step or two forward; but finding her mis- 
take, came back to where he had retired near me, and showed 
it to him. 

"It's all yourn, Em'ly," I could hear him say. "I haven't 
nowt in all the wureld that ain't yourn, my dear. It ain't of 
no delight to me, except for you ! " 

The tears rose freshly in her eyes, but she turned away and 
went to Martha. What she gave her, I don't know. I saw 
her stooping over her, and putting money in her bosom. She 
whispered something, and asked was that enough? "More 
than enough," the other said, and took her hand and kissed 

it. 

Then Martha arose, and gathering her shawl about her, 
covering her face with it, and weeping aloud, went slowly to 
the door. She stopped a moment before going out, as if she 
would have uttered something or turned back ; but no word 
passed her lips. Making the same low, dreary, wretched 
moaning in her shawl, she went away. 

As the door closed, little Em'ly looked at us three in a 
hurried manner, and then hid her face in her hands, and fell 
to sobbing. 

" Doen't, Em'ly ! " said Ham, tapping her gently on the 
shoulder. " Doen't, my dear ! You doen't ought to cry so, 

pretty ! " 

" Oh, Ham ! " she exclaimed, still weeping pitifully, " I am 
not as good a girl as I ought to be ! I know I have not the 
thankful heart sometimes I ought to have ! " 

" Yes, yes, you have, I'm sure," said Ham. 

" Ko ! no ! no ! " cried little Em'ly, sobbing and shaking 
her head. " I am not as good a girl as I ought to be. Not 
near ! not near ! " 

And still she cried as if her heart would break. 

" I try your love too much. I know I do ! " she sobbed. 
"I'm often cross to you, and changeable with you, when I 
ought to be far different. You are never so to me. Why am 
I ever so to you, when I should think of nothing but how to 
be grateful, and to make you happy ! " 



368 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" You always make me so," said Ham, ' my dear ! I am 
happy in the sight of you. I am happy, all day long, in the 
thoughts of you." 

"Ah! that's not enough !" she cried. "That is because you 
are good ; not because I am ! Oh, my dear, it might have 
been a better fortune for you, if you had been fond of some 
one else of some one steadier and much worthier than me, 
who was all bound up in you, and never vain and changeable 
like me ! " 

"Poor little tender-heart," said Ham, in a low voice. 
"Martha has overset her, altogether." 

" Please, aunt," sobbed Em'ly, " come here, and let me lay 
my head upon you. Oh, I am very miserable to-night, aunt ! 
Oh, I am not as good a girl as I ought to be. I am not, I 
know ! " 

Peggotty had hastened to the chair before the fire. Em'ly 
with her arms around her neck, kneeled by her, looking up 
most earnestly into her face. 

" Oh, pray, aunt, try to help me ! Ham, dear, try to help 
me ! Mr. David, for the sake of old times, do, please, try to 
help me ! I want to be a better girl than I am. I want to 
feel a hundred times more thankful than I do. I want to feel 
more, what a blessed thing it is to be the wife of a good man, 
and to lead a peaceful life. Oh me, oh me ! Oh, my heart, 
my heart ! " 

She dropped her face on my old nurse's breast, and, ceasing 
this supplication, which in its agony and grief was half a 
woman's, half a child's, as all her manner was (being, in that, 
more natural, and better suited to her beauty, as I thought, 
than any other manner could have been), wept silently, while 
my old nurse hushed her like an infant. 

She got calmer by degrees, and then we soothed her ; now 
talking encouragingly, and now jesting a little with her, until 
she began to raise her head and speak to us. So we got on, 
until she was able to smile, and then to laugh, and then to 
sit up, half ashamed ; while Peggotty recalled her stray ring- 
lets, dried her eyes, and made her neat again, lest her uncle 
should wonder, when she got home, why his darling had been 
crying. 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 369 

I saw her do, that night, what I had never seen her do 
before. I saw her innocently kiss her chosen husband on the 
cheek, and creep close to his bluff form as if it were her best 
support. When they went away together, in the waning 
moonlight, and I looked after them, comparing their departure 
in my mind with Martha's, I saw that she held his arm with 
both her hands, and still kept close to him. 

VOL. i 24 



370 



CHAPTEE XXIII. 

I CORROBORATE MR. DICK, AND CHOOSE A PROFESSION. 

WHEN I awoke in the morning I thought very much of little 
Em'ly, and her emotion last night, after Martha had left. I 
felt as if I had coine into the knowledge of those domestic 
weaknesses and tendernesses in a sacred confidence, and that 
to disclose them, even to Steerforth, would be wrong. I had 
no gentler feeling towards any one than towards the pretty 
creature who had been my playmate, and whom I have always 
been persuaded, and shall always be persuaded, to my dying 
day, I then devotedly loved. The repetition to any ears 
even to Steerforth's of what she had been unable to repress 
when her heart lay open to me by an accident, I felt would be 
a rough deed, unworthy of myself, unworthy of the light of 
our pure childhood, which I always saw encircling her head. 
I made a resolution, therefore, to keep it in my own breast ; 
and there it gave her image a new grace. 

While we were at breakfast, a letter was delivered to me 
from my aunt. As it contained matter on which I thought 
Steerforth could advise me as well as any one, and on which 
I knew I should be delighted to consult him, I resolved to 
make it a subject of discussion on our journey home. For the 
present we had enough to do, in taking leave of all our friends. 
Mr. Barkis was far from being the last among them, in his 
regret at our departure ; and I believe would even have opened 
the box again, and sacrificed another guinea, if it would have 
kept us eight-and-forty hours in Yarmouth. Peggotty, and 
all her family, were full of grief at our going. The whole 
house of Omer and Joram turned out to bid us good by ; and 
there were so many seafaring volunteers in attendance on 
Steerforth, when our portmanteaus went to the coach, that if 
we had had the baggage of a regiment with us, we should hardly 
have wanted porters to carry it. In a word, we departed to 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 371 

the regret and admiration of all concerned, and left a great 
many people very sorry behind us. 

" Do you stay long here, Littimer ? " said I, as he stood 
waiting to see the coach start. 

" No, sir," he replied ; " probably not very long, sir." 

"He can hardly say just now," observed Steerforth, care- 
lessly. " He knows what he has to do, and he'll do it." 

" That I am sure he will," said I. 

Littimer touched his hat in acknowledgment of my good 
opinion, and I felt about eight years old. He touched it once 
more, wishing us a good journey ; and we left him standing 
on the pavement, as respectable a mystery as any pyramid in 
Egypt. 

For some little time we held no conversation, Steerforth 
being unusually silent, and I being sufficiently engaged in 
wondering, within myself, when I should see the old places 
again, and what new changes might happen to me or them 
in the meanwhile. At length Steerforth, becoming gay and 
talkative in a moment, as he could become anything he liked 
at any moment, pulled me by the arm : 

"Find a voice, David. What about the letter you were 
speaking of at breakfast ? " 

" Oh ! " said I, taking it out of my pocket. " It's from my 
aunt." 

" And what does she say, requiring consideration ? " 

"Why, she reminds me, Steerforth," said I, "that I came 
out on this expedition to look about me, and to think a little." 

" Which, of course, you have done ? " 

"Indeed I can't say I have, particularly. To tell you the 
truth, I am afraid I had forgotten it." 

" Well ! look about you now, and make up for your negli- 
gence," said Steerforth. " Look to the right, and you'll see a 
flat country, with a good deal of marsh in it ; look to the left, 
and you'll see the same. Look to the front, and you'll find no 
difference ; look to the rear, and there it is still." . 

I laughed, and replied that I saw no suitable profession in 
the whole prospect ; which was perhaps to be attributed to its 
flatness. 

" What says our aunt on the subject ? " inquired Steerforth, 



372 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

glancing at the letter in my hand. "Does she suggest any- 
thing ? " 

" Why, yes," said I. " She asks me, here, if I think I 
should like to be a proctor ? What do you think of it ? " 

" Well, I don't know," replied Steerforth, coolly. " You may 
as well do that as anything else, I suppose ? ' ; 

I could not help laughing again, at his balancing all callings 
and professions so equally ; and I told him so. 

" What is a proctor, Steerforth ? " said I. 

" Why, he is a sort of monkish attorney," replied Steerforth. 
" He is, to some faded courts held in Doctors' Commons a 
lazy old nook near St. Paul's Churchyard what solicitors are 
to the courts of law and equity. He is a functionary whose 
existence, in the natural course of things, would have termi- 
nated about two hundred years ago. I can tell you best what 
he is, by telling you what Doctors' Commons is. It's a little 
out-of-the-way place, where they administer what is called 
ecclesiastical law, and play all kinds of tricks with obsolete 
old monsters of acts of Parliament, which three-fourths of the 
world know nothing about, and the other fourth supposes to 
have been dug up, in a fossil state, in the days of the Edwards. 
It's a place that has an ancient monopoly in suits about peo- 
ple's wills and people's marriages, and disputes among ships 
and boats." 

" Nonsense, Steerforth ! " I exclaimed. " You don't mean 
to say that there is any affinity between nautical matters and 
ecclesiastical matters ? " 

" I don't, indeed, my dear boy," he returned ; " but I mean 
to say that they are managed and decided by the same set of 
people, down in that same Doctors' Commons. You shall go 
there one day, and find them blundering through half the 
nautical terms in Young's Dictionary, apropos of the ' Nancy ' 
having run down the ' Sarah Jane,' or Mr. Peggotty and the 
Yarmouth boatmen having put off in a gale of wind with an 
anchor and cable to the ' Nelson' Indiaman in distress; and 
you shall go there another day, and find them deep in the evi- 
dence, pro and con, respecting a clergyman who has misbehaved 
himself ; and you shall find the judge in the nautical case the 
advocate in the clergyman's case, or contrariwise. They are 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 373 

like actors : now a man's a judge, and now he is not a judge ; 
now he's one thing, now he's another ; now he's something else, 
change and change about; but it's always a very pleasant 
profitable little affair of private theatricals, presented to an 
uncommonly select audience." 

" But advocates and proctors are not one and the same ? " 
said I, a little puzzled. " Are they ? " 

" No," returned Steerforth, " the advocates are civilians 
men who have taken a doctor's degree at college which is 
the first reason of my knowing anything about it. The proc- 
tors employ the advocates. Both get very comfortable fees, 
and altogether they make a mighty snug little party. On the 
whole I would recommend you to take to Doctors' Commons 
kindly, David. They plume themselves on their gentility 
there, I can tell you, if that's any satisfaction." 

I made allowance for Steerforth's light way of treating the 
subject, and considering it with reference to the staid air of 
gravity and antiquity which I associated with that "lazy old 
nook near St. Paul's Churchyard/' did not feel indisposed 
towards my aunt's suggestion; which she left to my free 
decision, making no scruple of telling me that it had occurred 
to her, on her lately visiting her own proctor in Doctors' Com- 
mons for the purpose of settling her will in my favor. 

" That's a laudible proceeding on the part of our aunt, at all 
events," said Steerforth, when I mentioned it ; " and one 
deserving of all encouragement. Daisy, my advice is that you 
take kindly to Doctors' Commons." 

I quite made up my mind to do so. I then told Steerforth 
that my aunt was in town awaiting me (as I found from her 
letter), and that she had taken lodgings for a week at a kind 
of private hotel in Lincoln's Inn Fields, where there was a 
stone staircase, and a convenient door in the roof; my aunt 
being firmly persuaded that every house in London was going 
to be burnt down every night. 

We achieved the rest of our journey pleasantly, sometimes 
recurring to Doctors' Commons, and anticipating the distant 
days when I should be a proctor there, which Steerforth pic- 
tured in a variety of humorous and whimsical lights, that made 
us both merry. When we came to our journey's end, he went 



374 THE PERSONAL HISTOBY AND EXPERIENCE 

home, engaging to call upon me next day but one ; and I drove 
to Lincoln's Inn Fields, where I found my aunt up, and wait- 
ing supper. 

If I had been round the world since we parted, we could 
hardly have been better pleased to meet again. My aunt cried 
outright as she embraced me ; and said, pretending to laugh, 
that if my poor mother had been alive, that silly little creature 
would have shed tears, she had no doubt. 

" So you have left Mr. Dick behind, aunt ? " said I. " I 
am sorry for that. Ah, Janet, how do you do ? " 

As Janet courtesied, hoping I was well, I observed my 
aunt's visage lengthen very much. 

" I am sorry for it, too," said my aunt, rubbing her nose. 
" I have had no peace of mind, Trot, since I have been here." 

Before I could ask why, she told me. 

" I am convinced," said my aunt ; laying her hand with 
melancholy firmness on the table, " that Dick's character is 
not a character to keep the donkeys off. I am confident he 
wants strength of purpose. I ought to have left Janet at 
home, instead, and then my mind might perhaps have been 
at ease. If ever there was a donkey trespassing on my green," 
said my aunt, with emphasis, " there was one this afternoon 
at four o'clock. A cold feeling came over me from head to 
foot, and I know it was a donkey ! " 

I tried to comfort her on this point, but she rejected 
consolation. 

" It was a donkey," said my aunt ; "and it was the one with 
the stumpy tail which that Murdering sister of a woman rode, 
when she came to my house." This had been, ever since, the 
only name my aunt knew for Miss Murdstone. " If there is 
any Donkey in Dover, whose audacity it is harder to me to 
bear than another's, that," said my aunt, striking the table, 
" is the animal ! " 

Janet ventured to suggest that my aunt might be disturbing 
herself unnecessarily, and that she believed the donkey in ques- 
tion was then engaged in the sand and gravel line of business, 
and was not available for purposes of trespass. But my aunt 
wouldn't hear of it. 

Supper was comfortably served and hot, though my aunt' 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 375 

rooms were very high up whether that she might have 
more stone stairs for her money, or might be nearer to the 
door in the roof I don't know and consisted of a roast fowl, 
a steak, and some vegetables, to all of which I did ample 
justice, and which were all excellent. But my aunt had her 
own ideas concerning London provision, and ate but little. 

" I suppose this unfortunate fowl was born and brought up 
in a cellar," said my aunt, " and never took the air except on 
a hackney-coach-stand. I hope the steak may be beef, but I 
don't believe it. Nothing's genuine in the place, in my opin- 
ion, but the dirt." 

"Don't you think the fowl may have come out of the 
country, aunt ? " I hinted. 

" Certainly not," returned my aunt. " It would be no pleas- 
ure to a London tradesman to sell anything which was what 
he pretended it was." 

I did not venture to controvert this opinion, but I made a 
good supper, which it greatly satisfied her to see me do. 
When the table was cleared, Janet assisted her to arrange her 
hair, to put on her nightcap, which was of a smarter con- 
struction than usual ("in case of fire," my aunt said), and to 
fold her gown back over her knees, these being her usual 
preparations for warming herself before going to bed. I 
then made her, according to certain established regulations 
from which no deviation, however slight, could ever be per- 
mitted, a glass of hot white wine and water, and a slice of 
toast cut into long thin strips. With these accompaniments 
we were left alone to finish the evening, my aunt sitting 
opposite to me drinking her wine and water ; soaking her 
strips of toast in it, one by one, before eating them ; and 
looking benignantly on me, from among .the borders of her 
nightcap. 

" Well, Trot," she began, " what do you think of the proctor 
plan ? Or have you not begun to think about it yet ? 7; 

" I have thought a good deal about it, my dear aunt, and I 
have talked a good deal about it with Steerforth. I like it 
very much indeed. I like it exceedingly." 

" Come ! " said my aunt. " That's cheering ! " 

" I have only one difficulty, aunt." 



THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

11 Say what it is, Trot," she returned. 

"Why, I want to ask, aunt, as this seems, from what I 
understand, to be a limited profession, whether my entrance 
into it would not be very expensive ? " 

"It will cost," returned my aunt, "to article you, just a 
thousand pounds." 

"Now, my dear aunt," said I, drawing my chair nearer, 
"I am uneasy in my mind about that. It's a large sum of 
money. You have expended a great deal on my education, 
and have always been as liberal to me in all things, as it was 
possible to be. You have been the soul of generosity. Surely 
there are some ways in which I might begin life with hardly 
any outlay, and yet begin with a good hope of getting on by 
resolution and exertion. Are you sure that it would not be 
better to try that course ? Are you certain that you can 
afford to part with so much money, and that it is right that it 
should be so expended ? I only ask you, my second mother, 
to consider. Are you certain ? " 

My aunt finished eating the piece of toast on which she was 
then engaged, looking me full in the face all the while ; and 
then setting her glass on the chimney-piece, and folding her 
hands upon her folded skirts, replied as follows : 

" Trot, my child, if I have any object in life, it is to provide 
for your being a good, a sensible, and a happy man. I am 
bent upon it so is Dick. I should like some people that I 
know to hear Dick's conversation on the subject. Its sagacity 
is wonderful. But no one knows the resources of that man's 
intellect except myself ! " 

She stopped for a moment to take my hand between hers, 
and went on : 

"It's in vain, Trot, to recall the past, unless it works some 
influence upon the present. Perhaps I might have been better 
friends with your poor father. Perhaps I might have been 
better friends with that poor child your mother, even after 
your sister Betsey Trotwood, disappointed me. When you 
came to me, a little runaway boy, all dusty and way-worn, per- 
haps I thought so. From that time until now, Trot, you have 
ever been a credit to me and a pride and a pleasure. I have 
no other claim upon my means ; at least " here to my sur- 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 377 

prise she hesitated, and was confused " no, I have no other 
claim upon my means and you are my adopted child. Only 
be a loving child to me in my age, and bear with my whims 
and fancies ; and you will do more for an old woman whose 
prime of life was not so happy or conciliating as it might have 
been, than ever that old woman did for you." 

It was the first time I had heard my aunt refer to her past 
history. There was a magnanimity in her quiet way of doing 
so, and of dismissing it, which would have exalted her in my 
respect and affection, if anything could. 

" All is agreed and understood between us now, Trot/' said 
my aunt, " and we need talk of this no more. Give me a kiss, 
and we'll go to the Commons after breakfast to-morrow." 

We had a long chat by the fire before we went to bed. I 
slept in a room on the same floor with my aunt's, and was a 
little disturbed in the course of the night by her knocking at 
my door as often as she was agitated by a distant sound of 
hackney-coaches or market-carts, and inquiring " if I heard the 
engines ? " But towards morning she slept better, and suf- 
fered me to do so too. 

At about mid-day, we set out for the office of Messrs. Spen- 
low and Jorkins in Doctors' Commons. My aunt, who had this 
other general opinion in reference to London, that every man 
she saw was a pickpocket, gave me her purse to carry for her, 
which had ten guineas in it and some silver. 

We made a pause at the toy-shop in Fleet-street, to see the 
giants of St. Dunstan's strike upon the bells we had timed 
our going, so as to catch them at it, at twelve o'clock and 
then went on towards Ludgate Hill and St. Paul's Churchyard. 
We were crossing to the former place, when I found that my 
aunt greatly accelerated her speed, and looked frightened. I 
observed, at the same time, that a lowering ill-dressed man 
who had stopped and stared at us in passing, a little before, 
was coming so close after us, as to brush against her. 

" Trot ! My dear Trot ! " cried my aunt, in a terrified whis- 
per, and pressing my arm. " I don't know what I am to do." 

"Don't be alarmed," said I. "There's nothing to be afraid 
of. Step into a shop, and I'll soon get rid of this fellow." 



378 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" No, no, child ! " she returned. " Don't speak to him foi 
the world. I entreat, I order you ! " 

" Good Heaven, aunt ! " said I. " He is nothing but a 
sturdy beggar." 

" You don't know what he is ! " replied my aunt. " You 
don't know who he is ! You don't know what you say ! " 

We had stopped in an empty doorway, while this was pass- 
ing, and he had stopped too. 

" Don't look at him ! " said my aunt, as I turned my head 
indignantly, " but get me a coach, my dear, and wait for me in 
St. Paul's Churchyard." 

" Wait for you," I repeated. 

"Yes," rejoined my aunt, "I must go alone. I must go 
with him." 

" With him, aunt ? This man ? " 

" I am in my senses," she replied, " and I tell you I must. 
Get me a coach ! " 

However much astonished I might be, I was sensible that I 
had no right to refuse compliance with such a peremptory 
command. I hurried away a few paces, and called a hackney 
chariot which was passing empty. Almost before I could let 
down the steps, my aunt sprang in, I don't know how, and the 
man followed. She waved her hand to me to go away, so 
earnestly, that, all confounded as I was, I turned from them at 
once. In doing so, I heard her say to the coachman, " Drive 
anywhere ! Drive straight on ! " and presently the chariot 
passed me, going up the hill. 

What Mr. Dick had told me, and what I had supposed to 
be a delusion of his, now came into my mind. I could not 
doubt that this person was the person of whom he had made 
such mysterious mention, though what the nature of his hold 
upon my aunt could possibly be, I was quite unable to imagine. 
After half an hour's cooling in the churchyard, I saw the 
chariot coming back. The driver stopped beside me, and my 
aunt was sitting in it alone. 

She had not yet sufficiently recovered from her agitation to 
be quite prepared for the visit we had to make. She desired 
me to get into the chariot, and to tell the coachman to drive 
slowly up and down a little while. She said no more, except, 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 379 

" My dear child, never ask me what it was, and don't refer to 
it," until she had perfectly regained her composure, when she 
told me she was quite herself now, and we might get out. On 
her giving me her purse, to pay the driver, I found that all 
the guineas were gone, and only the loose silver remained. 

Doctors' Commons was approached by a little low archway. 
Before we had taken many paces down the street beyond it, 
the noise of the city seemed to melt, as if by magic, into 
a softened distance. A few dull courts, and narrow ways, 
brought us to the skylighted offices of Spenlow and Jorkins ; 
in the vestibule of which temple, accessible to pilgrims with- 
out the ceremony of knocking, three or four clerks were at 
work as copyists. One of these, a little dry man, sitting by 
himself, who wore a stiff brown wig that looked as if it were 
made of gingerbread, rose to receive my aunt, and show us 
into Mr. Spenlow's room. 

" Mr. Spenlow's in Court, ma'am," said the dry man ; " it's 
an Arches day; but it's close by, and I'll send for him 
directly." 

As we were left to look about us while Mr. Spenlow was 
fetched, I availed myself of the opportunity. The furniture 
of the room was old-fashioned and dusty ; and the green baize 
on the top of the writing-table had lost all its color, and was 
as withered and pale as an old pauper. There were a great 
many bundles of papers on it, some indorsed as Allegations, 
and some (to my surprise) as Libels, and some as being in the 
Consistory Court, and some in the Arches Court, and some in 
the Prerogative Court, and some in the Admiralty Court, and 
some in the Delegates' Court ; giving me occasion to wonder 
much, how many Courts there might be in the gross, and how 
long it would take to understand them all. Besides these, 
there were sundry immense manuscript Books of Evidence 
taken on affidavit, strongly bound, and tied together in massive 
sets, a set to each cause, as if every cause were a history in 
ten or twenty volumes. All this looked tolerably expensive, 
I thought, and gave me an agreeable notion of a proctor's 
business. I was casting my eyes with increasing complacency 
over these and many similar objects, when hasty footsteps 
were heard in the room outside, and Mr. Spenlow, in a black 



380 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

gown trimmed with, white fur, came hurrying in, taking off his 
hat as he came. 

He was a little light-haired gentleman, with undeniable 
boots, and the stiffest of white cravats and shirt-collars. He 
was buttoned up mighty trim and tight, and must have taken 
a great deal of pains with his whiskers, which were accurately 
curled. His gold watch-chain was so massive, that a fancy 
came across me, that he ought to have a sinewy golden arm, to 
draw it out with, like those which are put up over the gold- 
beaters' shops. He was got up with such care, and was so 
stiff, that he could hardly bend himself ; being obliged, when 
he glanced at some papers on his desk, after sitting down in 
his chair, to move his whole body, from the bottom of his 
spine, like Punch. 

I had previously been presented by my aunt, and had been 
courteously received. He now said : 

"And so, Mr. Copperfield, you think of entering into our 
profession ? I casually mentioned to Miss Trotwood, when I 
had the pleasure of an interview with her the other day," 
with another inclination of his body Punch again " that 
there was a vacancy here. Miss Trotwood was good enough 
to mention that she had a nephew who was her peculiar care, 
and for whom she was seeking to provide genteelly in life. 
That nephew, I believe, I have now the pleasure of " Punch 
again. 

I bowed my acknowledgments, and said, my aunt had men- 
tioned to me that there was that opening, and that I believed 
I should like it very much. That I was strongly inclined to 
like it, and had taken immediately to the proposal. That I 
could not absolutely pledge myself to like it, until I knew 
something more about it. That although it was little else 
than a matter of form, I presumed I should have an op- 
portunity of trying how I liked it, before I bound myself to it 
irrevocably. 

" Oh surely ! surely ! " said Mr. Spenlow. " We always, in 
this house, propose a month an initiatory month. I should 
be happy, myself, to propose two months three an indefi- 
nite period, in fact but I have a partner. Mr. Jorkins." 

"And the premium, sir," I returned, "is a thousand pounds." 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 381 

"And the premium, Stamp included, is a thousand pounds," 
said Mr. Spenlow. " As I have mentioned to Miss Trotwood, 
I am actuated by no mercenary considerations ; few men are 
less so, I believe ; but Mr. Jorkins has his opinions on these 
subjects, and I am bound to respect Mr. Jorkins's opinions. 
Mr. Jorkins thinks a thousand pounds too little, in short." 

"I suppose, sir," said I, still" desiring to spare my aunt, 
" that it is not the custom here, if an articled clerk were par- 
ticularly useful, and made himself a perfect master of his 
profession " I could not help blushing, this looked so like 
praising myself "I suppose it is not the custom, in the later 
years of his time, to allow him any " 

Mr. Spenlow, by a great effort, just lifted his head far 
enough out of his cravat, to shake it, and answered, anticipat- 
ing the word " salary." 

"No. I will not say what consideration I might give to 
that point myself, Mr. Copperfield, if I were unfettered. Mr. 
Jorkins is immovable." 

I was quite dismayed by the idea of this terrible Jorkins. 
But I found out afterwards that he was a mild man of a heavy 
temperament, whose place in the business was to keep himself 
in the back-ground, and be constantly exhibited by name as 
the most obdurate and ruthless of men. If a clerk wanted 
his salary raised, Mr. Jorkins wouldn't listen to such a prop- 
osition. If a client were slow to settle his bill of costs, Mr. 
Jorkins was resolved to have it paid; and however painful 
these things might be (and always were) to the feelings of 
Mr. Spenlow, Mr. Jorkins would have his bond. The heart 
and hand of the good angel Spenlow would have been always 
open, but for the restraining demon Jorkins. As I have 
grown older, I think I have had experience of some other 
houses doing business on the principle of Spenlow and Jorkins ! 

It was settled that I should begin my month's probation as 
soon as I pleased, and that my aunt need neither remain in 
town nor return at its expiration, as the articles of agreement 
of which I was to be the subject, could easily be sent to her at 
home for her signature. When we had got so far, Mr. Spen- 
low offered to take me into Court then and there and show 
me what sort of place it was. As I was willing enough to 



382 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

know, we went out with this object, leaving my aunt behind ; 
who would trust herself, she said, in no such place, and who, 
I think, regarded all Courts of Law as a sort of powder-mills 
that might blow up at any time. 

Mr. Spenlow conducted me through a paved courtyard 
formed of grave brick houses, which I inferred, from the 
Doctors' names upon the doors, to be the official abiding-places 
of the learned advocates of whom Steerforth had told me ; and 
into a large dull room, not unlike a chapel to my thinking, on 
the left hand. The upper part of this room was fenced off 
from the rest ; and there, on the two sides of a raised platform 
of the horse-shoe form, sitting on easy old-fashioned dining- 
room chairs, were sundry gentlemen in red gowns and gray 
wigs, whom I found to be the Doctors aforesaid. Blinking 
over a little desk like a pulpit-desk, in the curve of the horse- 
shoe, was an old gentleman, whom, if I had seen him in an 
aviary, I should certainly have taken for an owl, but who, I 
learned, was the presiding judge. In the space within the 
horse-shoe, lower than these, that is to say on about the level 
of the floor, were sundry other gentlemen of Mr. Spenlow's 
rank, and dressed like him in black gowns with white fur 
upon them, sitting at a long green table. Their cravats were 
in general stiff, I thought, and their looks haughty ; but in this 
last respect, I presently conceived I had done them an injustice, 
for when two or three of them had to rise and answer a ques- 
tion of the presiding dignitary, I never saw anything more 
sheepish. The public represented by a boy with a comforter, 
and a shabby-genteel man secretly eating crumbs out of his 
coat pockets, was warming itself at a stove in the centre of 
the Court. The languid stillness of the place was only broken 
by the chirping of this fire and by the voice of one of the Doc- 
tors, who was wandering slowly through a perfect library of 
evidence, and stopping to put up, from time to time, at little 
roadside inns of argument on the journey. Altogether, I have 
never, on any occasion, made one at such a cosey, dozy, old- 
fashioned, time-forgotten, sleepy-headed little family-party in 
all my life ; and I felt it would be quite a soothing opiate to 
belong to it in any character except perhaps as a suitor. 

Very well satisfied with the dreamy nature of this retreat, I 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 383 

informed Mr. Spenlow that I had seen enough for that time, 
and we rejoined my aunt ; in company with whom I presently 
departed from the Commons, feeling very young when I went 
out of Spenlow and Jorkiris's, on account of the clerks poking 
one anothor with their pens to point me out. 

We arrived at Lincoln's Inn Fields without any new 
adventures except encountering an unlucky donkey in a coster- 
monger's cart, who suggested painful associations to my aunt. 
We had another long talk about my plans, when we were 
safely housed ; and as I knew she was anxious to get home, 
and, between fire, food, and pickpockets, could never be con- 
sidered at her ease for half-an-hour in London, I urged her not 
to be uncomfortable on my account, but to leave me to take 
care of myself. 

"I have not been here a week to-morrow, without consid- 
ering that too, my dear," she returned. " There is a furnished 
little set of chambers to be let in the Adelphi, Trot, which 
ought to suit you to a marvel." 

With this brief introduction, she produced from her pocket 
an advertisement, carefully cut out of a newspaper, setting 
forth that in Buckingham Street in the Adelphi there was to 
be let furnished, with a view of the river, a singularly desirable 
and compact set of chambers, forming a genteel residence for 
a young gentleman, a member of one of the Inns of Court, or 
otherwise, with immediate possession. Terms moderate, and 
could be taken for a month only if required. 

" Why, this is the very thing, aunt ! " said I, flushed with 
the possible dignity of living in chambers. 

" Then come," replied my aunt, immediately resuming the 
bonnet she had a minute before laid aside. "We'll go and 
look at 'em." 

Away we went. The advertisement directed us to apply to 
Mrs. Crupp on the premises, and we rung the area bell, which 
we supposed to communicate with Mrs. Crupp. It was not 
until we had rung three or four times that we could prevail on 
Mrs. Crupp to communicate with us, but at last she appeared, 
being a stout lady with a flounce of flannel petticoat below a 
nankeen gown. 



384 THE PERSONAL HISTOEY AND EXPERIENCE 

" Let us see these chambers of yours, if you please, ma'am/' 
said my aunt. 

" For this gentleman ? " said Mrs. Crupp, feeling in her 
pocket for her keys. 

"Yes, for my nephew," said my aunt. 

" And a sweet set they is for sich ! " said Mrs. Crupp. 

So we went up stairs. 

They were on the top of the house a great point with my 
aunt, being near the fire-escape and consisted of a little 
half-blind entry where you could see hardly anything, a little 
stone-blind pantry where you could see nothing at all, a sitting- 
room, and a bed-room. The furniture was rather faded, but 
quite good enough for me ; and, sure enough, the river was 
outside the windows. 

As I was delighted with the place, my aunt and Mrs. Crupp 
withdrew into the pantry to discuss the terms, while I remained 
on the sitting-room sofa, hardly daring to think it possible 
that I could be destined to live in such a noble residence. 
After a single combat of some duration, they returned, and I 
saw, to my joy, both in Mrs. Crupp's countenance and in my 
aunt's, that the deed was done. 

" Is it the last occupant's furniture ? " inquired my aunt. 

" Yes, it is, ma'am," said Mrs. Crupp. 

" What's become of him ? " asked my aunt. 

Mrs. Crupp was taken with a troublesome cough, in the 
midst of which she articulated with much difficulty. "He 
was took ill here, ma'am, and ugh ! ugh ! ugh ! dear me ! 
and he died." 

" Hey ! What did he die of ? " asked my aunt. 

" Well, ma'am, he died of drink," said Mrs. Crupp in con- 
fidence. "And smoke." 

" Smoke ? You don't mean chimneys ? " said my aunt. 

" No, ma'am," returned Mrs. Crupp. " Cigars and pipes." 

" That's not catching, Trot, at any rate," remarked my aunt, 
turning to me. 

" No, indeed," said I. 

In short, my aunt, seeing how enraptured I was with the 
premises, took them for a month, with leave to remain for 
twelve months when that time was out. Mrs. Crupp was to 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 385 

find linen, and to cook; every other necessary was already 
provided ; and Mrs. Crupp expressly intimated that she should 
always yearn towards me as a son. I was to take possession 
the day after to-morrow, and Mrs. Crupp said thank Heaven 
she had now found sunimun she could care for ! 

On our way back, my aunt informed me how she confidently 
trusted that the life I was now to lead would make me firm 
and self-reliant, which was all I wanted. She repeated this 
several times next day, in the intervals of our arranging for 
the transmission of my clothes and books from Mr. Wickfield's ; 
relative to which, and to all my late holiday, I wrote a long 
letter to Agnes, of which my aunt took charge, as she was to 
leave on the succeeding day. Not to lengthen these particu- 
lars, I need only add, that she made a handsome provision for 
all my possible wants during my month of trial ; that Steer- 
forth, to my great disappointment, and hers too, did not make 
his appearance before she went away ! that I saw her safely 
seated in the Dover coach, exulting in the coming discomfiture 
of the vagrant donkeys, with Janet at her side ; and that when 
the coach was gone, I turned my face to the Adelphi, ponder- 
ing on the old days when I used to roam about its subterranean 
arches, and on the happy changes which had brought me to 
the surface. 

VOL. i 25 



38G THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 



CHAPTEE XXIV. 

MY FIRST DISSIPATION. 

IT was a wonderfully fine thing to have that lofty castle to 
myself, and to feel, when I shut my outer door, like Robinson 
Crusoe, when he had got into his fortification, and pulled his 
ladder up after him. It was a wonderfully fine thing to walk 
about town with the key of my house in my pocket, and to 
know that I could ask any fellow to come home, and make 
quite sure of its being inconvenient to nobody, if it were not 
so to me. It was a wonderfully fine thing to let myself in 
and out, and to come and go without a word to any one, and 
to ring Mrs. Crupp up, gasping, from the depths of the earth, 
when I wanted her and when she was disposed to come. 
All this, I say, was wonderfully fine ; but I must say, too, that 
there were times when it was very dreary. 

It was fine in the morning, particularly in the fine morn- 
ings. It looked a very fresh, free life, by daylight : still 
fresher, and more free, by sunlight. But as the day declined, 
the life seemed to go down too. I don't know how it was ; 
it seldom looked well by candle-light. I wanted somebody to 
talk to, then. I missed Agnes. I found a tremendous blank, 
in the place of that smiling repository of my confidence. Mrs. 
Crupp appeared to be a long way off. I thought about my 
predecessor, who had died of drink and smoke : and I could 
have wished he had been so good as to live, and not bother 
me with his decease. 

After two days and nights, I felt as if I had lived there for 
a year, and yet I was not an hour older, but was quite as much 
tormented by my own youthfulness as ever. 

Steerforth not yet appearing, which induced me to apprehend 
that he must be ill, I left the Commons early on the third 
day, and walked out to Highgate. Mrs. Steerforth was very 
glad to see me, and said that he had gone away with one of 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 387 

his Oxford friends to see another who lived near St. Alban's, 
but that she expected him to return to-morrow. I was so fond 
of him, that I felt quite jealous of his Oxford friends. 

As she pressed me to stay to dinner, I remained, and I believe 
we talked about nothing but him all day. I told her how 
much the people liked him at Yarmouth, and what a delightful 
companion he had been. Miss Dartle was full of hints and 
mysterious questions, but took a great interest in all our 
proceedings there, and said, " was it really though ? " and so 
forth, so often, that she got everything out of me she wanted 
to know. Her appearance was exactly what I have described 
it, when I first saw her ; but the society of the two ladies was 
so agreeable, and came so natural to me, that I felt myself 
falling a little in love with her. I could not help thinking, 
several times in the course of the evening, and particularly 
when I walked home at night, what delightful company she 
would be in Buckingham Street. 

I was taking my coffee and roll in the morning, before going 
to the Commons and I may observe in this place that it is 
surprising how much coffee Mrs. Crupp used, and how weak 
it was, considering when Steerf orth himself walked in, to 
my unbounded joy. 

" My dear Steerforth," cried I, " I began to think I should 
never see you again ! " 

" I was carried off, by force of arms," said Steerforth, " the 
very next morning after I got home. Why, Daisy, what a 
rare old bachelor you are here ! " 

I showed him over the establishment, not omitting the 
pantry, with no little pride, and he commended it highly. 
" I tell you what, old boy," he added, " I shall make quite 
a town-house of this place, unless you give me notice to 
quit." 

This was a delightful hearing. I told him if he waited for 
that, he would have to wait till doomsday. 

"But you shall have some breakfast!" said I, with my 
hand on the bell-rope, " and Mrs. Crupp shall make you some 
fresh coffee, and I'll toast you some bacon in a bachelor's 
Dutch-oven that I have got here." 

" No, no ! " said Steerforth. " Don't ring ! I can't ! I am 



388 

going to breakfast with one of these fellows who is at the 
Piazza Hotel, in Covent Garden." 

" But you'll come back to dinner ? " said I. 

" I can't, upon my life. There's nothing I should like bet- 
ter, but I must remain with these two fellows. We are all 
three off together to-morrow morning." 

"Then bring them here to dinner," I returned. "Do you 
think they would come ? " 

" Oh ! they would come fast enough," said Steerf orth ; " but 
we should inconvenience you. You had better come and dine 
with us somewhere." 

I would not by any means Consent to this, for it occurred 
to me that I really ought to have a little house warming, and 
that there never could be a better opportunity. I had a new 
pride in my rooms after his approval of them, and burned 
with a desire to develop their utmost resources. I therefore 
made him promise positively in the names of his two friends, 
and we appointed six o'clock as the dinner-hour. 

When he was gone, I rang for Mrs. Crupp, and acquainted 
her with my desperate design. Mrs. Crupp said, in the first 
place, of course it was well known she couldn't be expected to 
wait, but she knew a handy young man, who she thought 
could be prevailed upon to do it, and whose terms would be 
five shillings, and what I pleased. I said, certainly we would 
have him. Next, Mrs. Crupp said it was clear she couldn't be 
in two places at once (which I felt to be reasonable), and that 
" a young gal " stationed in the pantry with a bed-room candle, 
there never to desist from washing plates, would be indis- 
pensable. I said, what would be the expense of this young 
female, and Mrs. Crupp said she supposed eighteen-pence 
would neither make me nor break me. I said I supposed not ; 
and that was settled. Then Mrs. Crupp said, Now about the 
dinner. 

It was a remarkable instance of want of forethought on the 
part of the ironmonger who had made Mrs. Crupp's kitchen 
fire-place, that it was capable of cooking nothing but chops 
and mashed potatoes. As to a fish-kittle, Mrs. Crupp said, 
well ! would I only come and look at the range. She couldn't 
say fairer than that. Would I come and look at it ? As I 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 389 

should not have been much the wiser if I had looked at it, I 
declined, and said, " Never mind fish." But Mrs. Crupp said, 
Don't say that ; oysters was in, and why not them ? So that 
was settled. Mrs. Crupp then said what she would recommend 
would be this. A pair of hot roast fowls from the pastry- 
cook's ; a dish of stewed beef, with vegetables from the 
pastry-cook's ; two little corner things, as a raised pie and a 
dish of kidneys from the pastry-cook's ; a tart, and (if I 
liked) a shape of jelly from the pastry-cook's. This, Mrs. 
Crupp said, would leave her at full liberty to concentrate her 
mind on the potatoes, and to serve up the cheese and celery 
as she could wish to see it done. 

I acted on Mrs. Crupp's opinion, and gave the order at the 
pastry-cook's myself. Walking along the Strand, afterwards, 
and observing a hard mottled substance in the window of a 
ham and beef shop, which resembled marble, bat was labelled 
" Mock Turtle," I went in and bought a slab of it, which I 
have since seen reason to believe would have sufficed for 
fifteen people. This preparation, Mrs. Crupp, after some 
difficulty, consented to warm up ; and it shrunk so much in a 
liquid state, that we found it what Steerforth called " rather 
a tight fit " for four. 

These preparations happily completed, I bought a little 
dessert in Covent Garden Market, and gave a rather extensive 
order at a retail wine-merchant's in that vicinity. When I 
came home in the afternoon, and saw the bottles drawn up in 
a square on the pantry-floor, they looked so numerous (though 
there were two missing, which made Mrs. Crupp very 
uncomfortable), that I was absolutely frightened at them. 

One of Steerforth's friends was named Grainger, and the 
other Markham. They were both very gay and lively fellows ; 
Grainger, something older than Steerforth ; Markham, youth- 
ful-looking, and I should say not more than twenty. I 
observed that the latter always spoke of himself indefinitely, 
as " a man," and seldom or never in the first person singular. 

"A man might get on very well here, Mr. Copperfield," 
said Markham meaning himself. 

"It's not a bad situation," said I, " and the rooms are 
really commodious." 



390 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND 

" I hope you have both brought appetites with you ? " said 
Steerforth. 

" Upon my honor," returned Markham, " town seems to 
sharpen a man's appetite. A man is hungry all day long. A 
man is perpetually eating." 

Being a little embarrassed at first, and feeling much too 
young to preside, I made Steerforth take the head of the table 
when dinner was announced, and seated myself opposite to 
him. Everything was very good ; we did not spare the wine ; 
and he exerted himself so brilliantly to make the thing pass 
off well, that there was no pause in our festivity. I was not 
quite such good company during dinner, as I could have 
wished to be, for my chair was opposite the door, and my 
attention was distracted by observing that the handy young 
man went out of the room very often, and that his shadow 
always presented itself, immediately afterwards, on the wall 
of the entry, with a bottle at his mouth. The " young gal " 
likewise occasioned me some uneasiness : not so much by 
neglecting to wash the plates, as by breaking them. For be- 
ing of an inquisitive disposition, and unable to confine herself 
(as her positive instructions were) to the pantry, she was con- 
stantly peering in at us, and constantly imagining herself 
detected ; in which belief, she several times retired upon the 
plates (with which she had carefully paved the floor), and did 
great deal of destruction. 

These, however, were small drawbacks, and easily forgotten 
when the cloth was cleared, and the dessert put on the 
table ; at which period of the entertainment the handy young 
man was discovered to be speechless. Giving him private 
directions to seek the society of Mrs. Crupp, and to remove 
the " young gal " to the basement also, I abandoned myself 
to enjoyment. 

I began by being singularly cheerful and light-hearted ; all 
sorts of half-forgotten things to talk about, came rushing 
into my mind, and made me hold forth in a most unwonted 
manner. I laughed heartily at my own jokes, and everybody 
else's; called Steerforth to order for not passing the wine; 
made several engagements to go to Oxford ; announced that I 
meant to have a dinner party exactly like that, once a week 






OF DAVID COPPERF1ELD. 391 

until 'further notice ; and madly took so much snuff out of 
Grainger's box, that I was obliged to go into the pantry, and 
have a private fit of sneezing ten minutes long. 

I went on, by passing the wine faster and faster yet, and 
continually starting up with a corkscrew to open more wine, 
long before any was needed. I proposed Steerforth's health. 
I said he was my dearest friend, the protector of my boyhood, 
and the companion of my prime. I said I was delighted to 
propose his health. I said I owed him more obligations than 
I could ever repay, and held him in a higher admiration than 
I could ever express. I finished by saying, "I'll give you 
Steerforth ! God bless him ! Hurrah ! " We gave him three 
times three, and another, and a good one to finish with. I 
broke my glass in going round the table to shake hands with 
him, and I said (in two words) "Steerforth, you'retheguiding- 
starofmy existence." 

I went on, by finding suddenly that somebody was in the 
middle of a song. Markham was the singer, and he sang 
" When the heart of a man is depressed with care." He said, 
when he had sung it, he would give us " Woman ! " I took 
objection to that, and I couldn't allow it. I said it was not a 
respectful way of proposing the toast, and I would never 
permit that toast to be drunk in my house otherwise than as 
" The Ladies ! " I was very high with him, mainly I think 
because I saw Steerforth and Grainger laughing at me or at 
him or at both of us. He said a man was not to be dictated 
to. I said a man was. He said a man was not to be insulted, 
then. I said he was right there never under my roof, 
where the Lares were sacred, and the laws of hospitality para- 
mount. He said it was no derogation from a man's dignity to 
confess that I was a devilish good fellow. I instantly pro- 
posed his health. 

Somebody was smoking. We were all smoking. / was 
smoking, and trying to suppress a rising tendency to shudder. 
Steerforth had made a speech about me, in the course of which 
I had been affected almost to tears. I returned thanks, and 
hoped the present company would dine with me to-morrow, 
and the day after each day at five o'clock, that we might 
enjoy the pleasures of conversation and society through a long 



392 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

evening. I felt called upon to propose an individual. I would 
give them my aunt. Miss Betsey Trotwood, the best of her 
sex ! 

Somebody was leaning out of my bed-room window, refresh- 
ing his forehead against the cool stone of the parapet, and 
feeling the air upon his face. It was myself. I was addressing 
myself as " Copperfield," and saying, "Why did you try to 
smoke ? You might have known you couldn't do it." Now, 
somebody was unsteadily contemplating his features in the 
looking-glass. That was I too. I was very pale in the look- 
ing-glass ; my eyes had a vacant appearance ; and my hair 
only my hair, nothing else looked drunk. 

Somebody said to me, "Let us go to the theatre, Copper- 
field ! " There was no bed-room before me, but again the 
jingling table covered with glasses ; the lamp ; Grainger on 
my right hand, Markham on my left, and Steerforth opposite 
all sitting in a mist, and a long way off. The theatre ? 
To be sure. The very thing. Come along ! But they must 
excuse me if I saw everybody out first, and turned the lamp 
off in case of fire. 

Owing to some confusion in the dark, the door was gone. I 
was feeling for it in the window-curtains, when Steerforth 
laughing, took me by the arm and led me out. We went 
down stairs, one behind another. Near the bottom, somebody 
fell, and rolled down. Somebody else said it was Copperfield. 
I was angry at that false report, until, finding myself on my 
back in the passage, I began to think there might be some 
foundation for it. 

A very foggy night, with great rings round the lamps in the 
streets ! There was an indistinct talk of its being wet. 7 
considered it frosty. Steerforth dusted me under a lamp-post, 
and put my hat into shape, which somebody produced from 
somewhere in a most extraordinary manner, for I hadn't had 
it on before. Steerforth then said, " You are all right, Copper- 
field, are you not ? " and I told him, " Neverberrer." 

A man, sitting in a pigeon-hole-place, looked out of the fog, 
and took money from somebody, inquiring if I was one of the 
gentlemen paid for, and appearing rather doubtful (as I 
remember in the glimpse I had of him) whether to take the 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 393 

money for me or not. Shortly afterwards, we were very high 
up in a very hot theatre, looking down into a large pit, that 
seemed to me to smoke; the people with whom it was 
crammed were so indistinct. There was a great stage, too, 
looking very clean and smooth after the streets ; and there 
were people upon it, talking about something or other, but not 
at all intelligibly. There was an abundance of bright lights, 
and there was music, and there were ladies down in the boxes, 
and I don't know what more. The whole building looked to 
me, as if it were learning to swim ; it. conducted itself in such 
an unaccountable manner, when I tried to steady it. 

On somebody's motion, we resolved to go down stairs to 
the dress-boxes, where the ladies were. A gentleman lounging, 
full dressed, on a sofa, with an opera-glass in his hand, passed 
before my view, and also my own figure at full length in a 
glass. Then I was being ushered into one of these boxes, 
and found myself saying something as I sat down, and people 
about me crying " Silence ! " to somebody, and ladies casting 
indignant glances at me, and what! yes! Agnes, sitting 
on the seat before me, in the same box, with a lady and gen- 
tleman beside her whom I didn't know. I see her face now, 
better than I did then I dare say, with its indelible look of 
regret and wonder turned upon me. 

" Agnes ! " I said, thickly, " Lorblessmer ! Agnes ! " 

" Hush ! Pray ! " she answered, I could not conceive why. 
" You disturb the company. Look at the stage ! " 

I tried, on her injunction, to fix it, and to hear something of 
what was going on there, but quite in vain. I looked at her 
again by and by, and saw her shrink into her corner, and put 
her gloved hand to her forehead. 

"Agnes!" I said. " I'mafraidyou'renorwell." 

"Yes, yes. Do not mind me, Trotwood," she returned. 
" Listen ! Are you going away soon ? ' : 

" Amigoarawaysoo ? " I repeated. 

" Yes." 

I had a stupid intention of replying that I was going to 
wait, to hand her down stairs. I suppose I expressed it some- 
how ; for after she had looked at me attentively for a little 
while, she appeared to understand, and replied in a low tone : 



894 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" I know you will do as I ask you, if I tell you I am ver^. 
earnest in it. Go away now, Trotwood, for my sake, and asL 
your friends to take you home." 

She had so far improved me, for the time, that though I wa& 
angry with her, I felt ashamed, and with a short " Goori ! '* 
(which I intended for " Good night ! ") got up and went 
away. They followed, and I stepped at once out of the box- 
door into my bed-room, where only Steerforth was with me. 
helping me to undress, and where I was by turns telling him 
that Agnes was my sister, and adjuring him to bring the cork- 
screw, that I might open another bottle of wine. 

How somebody, lyin^ in my bed, lay saying and doing all 
this over again, at cross purposes, in a feverish dream all 
night the bed a rocking sea, that was never still ! How, as 
that somebody slowly settled down into myself, did I begin to 
parch, and feel as if my outer covering of skin were a hard 
board ; my tongue the bottom of an empty kettle, furred with 
long service, and burning up over a slow fire ; the palms of 
my hands, hot plates of metal which no ice could cool ! 

But the agony of mind, the remorse and shame I felt, when 
I became conscious next day ! My horror of having com- 
mitted a thousand offences I had forgotten, and which nothing 
could ever expiate my recollection of that indelible look 
which Agnes had given me the torturing impossibility of 
communicating with her, not knowing, beast that I was, how 
she came to be in London, or where she stayed my disgust 
of the very sight of the room where the revel had been held 
my racking head the smell of smoke, the sight of 
glasses, the impossibility of going out, or even getting up 
Oh, what a day it was ! 

Oh, what an evening, when I sat down by my fire to a basin 
of mutton broth, dimpled all over with fat, and thought I was 
going the way of my predecessor, and should succeed to hit? 
dismal story as well as to his chambers, and had half a mind 
to rush express to Dover and reveal all ! What an evening, 
when Mrs. Crupp, coming in to take away the broth-basin 
produced one kidney on a cheese-plate as the entire remains 
of yesterday's feast, and I was really inclined to fall upon her 



OF It AVID COPPEEFIELD. 395 

nankeen breast, and say, in heartfelt penitence, "Oh, Mrs. 
Crupp, Mrs. Crupp, never mind the broken meats ! I am very 
miserable ! " - only that I doubted, even at that pass, if Mrs. 
Crupp were quite the sort of woman to confide in! 



396 



CHAPTER XXV. 

GOOD AND BAD ANGELS. 

I WAS going out at my door on the morning after that 
deplorable day of headache, sickness, and repentance, with an 
odd confusion in my mind relative to the date of my dinner- 
party, as if a body of Titans had taken an enormous lever and 
pushed the day before yesterday some months back, when I 
saw a ticket-porter coming up stairs, with a letter in his hand. 
He was taking his time about his errand, then ; but when he 
saw me on the top of the staircase, looking at him over the 
banisters, he swung into a trot, and came up panting as if he 
had run himself into a state of exhaustion. 

"T. Copperfield, Esquire," said the ticket-porter, touching 
his hat with his little cane. 

I could scarcely lay claim to the name : I was so disturbed 
by the conviction that the letter came from Agnes. However, 
I told him I was T. Copperfield, Esquire, and he believed it, 
and gave me the letter, which he said required an answer. I 
shut him out on the landing to wait for the answer, and went 
into my chambers again, in such a nervous state that I was 
fain to lay the letter down on my breakfast-table, and familiar- 
ize myself with the outside of it a little, before I could resolve 
to break the seal. 

I found, when I did open it, that it was a very kind note, 
containing no reference to my condition at the theatre. All it 
said, was, " My dear Trotwood. I am staying at the house of 
papa's agent, Mr. Waterbrook, in Ely-place, Holborn. Will 
you come and see me to-day, at any time you like to appoint ? 
Ever yours affectionately, AGNES." 

It took me such a long time to write an answer at all to my 
satisfaction, that I don't know what the ticket-porter can have 
thought, unless he thought I was learning to write. I must 
have written half-a-dozen answers at least. I began one, 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 397 

"How can I ever hope, my dear Agnes, to efface from your 
remembrance the disgusting impression " there I didn't like 
it, and then I tore it up. I began another, " Shakspeare has 
observed, my dear Agnes, how strange it is that a man should 
put an enemy into his mouth" that reminded me ,of Mark- 
ham, and it got no farther. I even tried poetry. I began one 
note, in a six syllable line, " Oh, do not remember " but that 
associated itself with the fifth of November, and became an 
absurdity. After many attempts, I wrote, "My dear Agnes. 
Your letter is like you, and what could I say of it that would 
be higher praise than that ? I will come at four o'clock. 
Affectionately and sorrowfully, T. C." With this missive 
(which I was in twenty minds at once about recalling, as 
soon as it was out of my hands), the ticket-porter at last 
departed. 

If the day were half as tremendous to any other professional 
gentleman in Doctors' Commons as it was to me, I sincerely 
believe he made some expiation for his share in that rotten old 
ecclesiastical cheese. Although I left the office at half-past 
three, and was prowling about the place of appointment within 
a few minutes afterwards, the appointed time was exceeded 
by a full quarter of an hour, according to the clock of St. 
Andrews, Holborn, before I could muster up sufficient desper- 
ation to pull the private bell-handle let into the left-hand 
door-post of Mr. Waterbrook's house. 

The professional business of Mr. Waterbrook's establish- 
ment was done on the ground floor, and the genteel business 
(of which there was a good deal) in the upper part of the 
building. I was shown into a pretty but rather close drawing- 
room, and there sat Agnes, netting a purse. 

She looked so quiet and good, and reminded me so strongly 
of my airy fresh school days at Canterbury, and the sodden, 
smoky, stupid wretch I had been the other night, that, nobody 
being by, I yielded to my self-reproach and shame, and in 
short, made a fool of myself. I cannot deny that I shed tears. 
To this hour I am undecided whether it was upon the whole 
the wisest thing I could have done, or the most ridiculous. 

"If it had been any one but you, Agnes," said I, turning 
away my head, " I should not have minded it half so much. 



398 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

But that it should have been you who saw me ! I almost wish 
I had been dead, first." 

She put her hand its touch was like no other hand upon 
my arm for a moment ; and I felt so befriended a^d comforted, 
that I could not help moving it to my lips, and gratefully 
kissing it. 

"Sit down," said Agnes, cheerfully. "Don't be unhappy, 
Trotwood. If you cannot confidently trust me, whom will 
you trust ? " 

" Ah, Agnes ! " I returned. " You are my good Angel ! " 

She smiled rather sadly, I thought, and shook her head. 

" Yes, Agnes, my good Angel ! Always my good Angel ! " 

" If I were, indeed, Trotwood," she returned, " there is one 
thing that I should set my heart on very much." 

I looked at her inquiringly; but already with a fore- 
knowledge of her meaning. 

"On warning you," said Agnes, with a steady glance, 
" against your bad Angel." 

" My dear Agnes," I began, " if you mean Steerforth " 

" I do, Trotwood," she returned. 

"Then, Agnes, you wrong him very much. He my bad 
Angel, or any one's ! He, anything but a guide, a support, 
and a friend to me ! My dear Agnes ! Now, is it not unjust, 
and unlike you, to judge him from what you saw of me the 
other night ? " 

" I do not judge him from what I saw of you the other 
night," she quietly replied. 

" From what, then ? " 

"From many things trifles in themselves, but they do not 
seem to me to be so, when they are put together. I judge 
him, partly from your account of him, Trotwood, and your 
character, and the influence he has over you." 

There was always something in her modest voice that 
seemed to touch a chord within me, answering to that sound 
alone. It was always earnest ; but when it was very earnest, 
as it was now, there was a thrill in it that quite subdued me. 
I sat looking at her as she cast her eyes down on her work ; I 
sat seeming still to listen to her ; and Steerforth, in spite of 
all my attachment to him, darkened in that tone. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 399 

"It is very bold in me," said Agnes, looking up again, 
" who have lived in such seclusion, and can know so little of 
the world, to give you my advice so confidently, or even to 
have this strong opinion. But I know in what it is engen- 
dered, Trotwood, in how true a remembrance of our having 
grown up together, and in how true an interest in all relating 
to you. It is that which makes me bold. I am certain that 
what I say is right. I am quite sure it is. I feel as if it 
were some one else speaking to you, and not I, when I caution 
you that you have made a dangerous friend." 

Again I looked at her, again I listened to her after she was 
silent, and again his image, though it was still fixed in my 
heart, darkened. 

" I am not so unreasonable as to expect," said Agnes, 
resuming her usual tone, after a little while, " that you will, 
or that you can, at once, change any sentiment that has 
become a conviction to you ; least of all a sentiment that is 
rooted in your trusting disposition. You ought not hastily to 
do that. I only ask you, Trotwood, if you ever think of me 
I mean," with a quiet smile, for I was going to interrupt 
her, and she knew why, " as often as you think of me to 
think of what I have said. Do you forgive me for all this ? " 

"I will forgive you, Agnes," I replied, "when you come to 
do Steerforth justice, and to like him as well as I do." 

" Not until then ? " said Agnes. 

I saw a passing shadow on her face when I made this men- 
tion of him, but she returned my smile, and we were again 
as unreserved in our mutual confidence as of old. 

" And when, Agnes," said I, " will you forgive me the other 
night ? " 

" When I recall it," said Agnes. 

She would have dismissed the subject so, but I was too full 
of it to allow that, and insisted on telling her how it happened 
that I had disgraced myself, and what chain of accidental 
circumstances had had the theatre for its final link. It was a 
great relief to me to do this, and to enlarge on the obligation 
that I owed to Steerforth for his care of me when I was 
unable to take care of myself. 

"You must not forget," said Agnes, calmly changing the 



400 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

conversation as soon as I had concluded, " that you are always 
to tell me, not only when you fall into trouble, but when you 
fall in love. Who has succeeded to Miss Larkins, Trotwood ? " 

" No one, Agnes." 

" Some one, Trotwood," said Agnes, laughing, and holding 
up her finger. 

" No, Agnes, upon my word ! There is a lady, certainly, 
at Mrs. Steerforth's house, who is very clever, and whom I 
like to talk to Miss Dartle but I don't adore her." 

Agnes laughed again at her own penetration, and told me 
that if I were faithful to her in my confidence she thought 
she should keep a little register of my violent attachments, 
with the date, duration, and termination of each, like the 
table of the reigns of the kings and queens, in the History of 
England. Then she asked me if I had seen Uriah. 

" Uriah Heep ? " said I. " No. Is he in London ? " 

" He comes to the office down stairs, every day," returned 
Agnes. " He was in London a week before me. I am afraid 
on disagreeable business, Trotwood." 

" On some business that makes you uneasy, Agnes, I see," 
said I. " What can that be ? " 

Agnes laid aside her work, and replied, folding her hands 
upon one another, and looking pensively at me out of those 
beautiful soft eyes of hers : 

" I believe he is going to enter into partnership with papa." 

" What ? Uriah ? That mean, fawning fellow, worm him- 
self into such promotion ? " I cried, indignantly. " Have 
you made no remonstrance about it, Agnes ? Consider what 
a connection it is likely to be. You must speak out. You 
must not allow your father to take such a mad step. You 
must prevent it, Agnes, while there's time." 

Still looking at me, Agnes shook her head while I was 
speaking, with a faint smile at my warmth : and then replied: 

" You remember our last conversation about papa ? It was 
not long after that not more than two or three days when 
he gave me the first intimation of what I tell you. It was sad 
to see him struggling between his desire to represent it to me 
as a matter of choice on his part, and his inability to conceal 
that it was forced upon him. I felt very sorry." 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 401 

" Forced upon him, Agnes ? Who forces it upon him ? " 

"Uriah/' she replied, after a moment's hesitation, "has 
made himself indispensable to papa. He is subtle and watch- 
ful. He has mastered papa's weaknesses, fostered them, and 
taken advantage of them, until to say all that I mean in 
a word, Trotwood, until papa is afraid of him." 

There was more that she might have said ; more that she 
knew, or that she suspected ; I clearly saw. I could not give 
her pain by asking what it was, for I knew that she withheld 
it from me to spare her father. It had long been going on to 
this I was sensible : yes, I could not but feel, on the least 
reflection, that it had been going on to this for a long time. I 
remained silent. 

"His ascendancy over papa," said Agnes, "is very great. 
He professes humility and gratitude with truth, perhaps : I 
hope so but his position is really one of power, and I fear 
he makes a hard use of his power." 

I said he was a hound, which, at the moment, was a great 
satisfaction to me. 

" At the time I speak of, as the time when papa spoke to 
me," pursued Agnes, " he had told papa that he was going 
away ; that he was very sorry and unwilling to leave, but that 
he had better prospects. Papa was very much depressed then, 
and more bowed down by care than ever you or I have seen 
him; but he seemed relieved by this expedient of the part- 
nership, though at the same time he seemed hurt by it and 
ashamed of it." 

" And how did you receive it, Agnes ? " 

"I did, Trotwood," she replied, "what I hope was right. 
Feeling sure that it was necessary for papa's peace that the 
sacrifice should be made, I entreated him to make it. I said 
it would lighten the load of his life I hope it will! and 
that it would give me increased opportunities of being his 
companion. Oh, Trotwood ! " cried Agnes, putting her hands 
before her face, as her tears started on it, " I almost feel as if 
I had been papa's enemy, instead of his loving child. For I 
know how he has altered, in his devotion to me. I know how 
he has narrowed the circle of his sympathies and duties, in 
the concentration of his whole mind upon me. I know what 
VOL. i 26 



402 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

a multitude of things lie has shut out for my sake, and how 
his anxious thoughts of rue have shadowed his life, and 
weakened his strength and energy, by turning them always 
upon one idea. If I could ever set this right ! If I could 
ever work out his restoration, as I have so innocently been the 
cause of his decline ! " 

I had never before seen Agnes cry. I had seen tears in her 
eyes when I had brought new honors home from school, and 
I had seen them, there when we last spoke about her father, 
and I had seen her turn her gentle head aside when we took 
leave of one another ; but I had never seen her grieve like 
this. It made me so sorry that I could only say, in a foolish, 
helpless manner, "Pray, Agnes, don't! Don't, my dear 
sister ! " 

But Agnes was too superior to me in character and purpose, 
as I know well now, whatever I might know or not know then, 
to be long in need of my entreaties. The beautiful, calm 
manner, which makes her so different in my remembrance 
from everybody else, came back again, as if a cloud had passed 
from a serene sky. 

"We are not likely to remain alone much longer," said 
Agnes, "and while I have an opportunity, let me earnestly 
entreat you, Trotwood, to be friendly to Uriah. Don't repel 
him. Don't resent (as I think you have a general disposition 
to do) what may be uncongenial to you in him. He may not 
deserve it, for we know no certain ill of him. In any case, 
think first of papa and me ! " 

Agnes had no time to say more, for the room-door opened, 
and Mrs. "\Vaterbrook, who was a large lady or who wore a 
large dress : I don't exactly know which, for I don't know 
which was dress and which was lady came sailing in. I had 
a dim recollection of having seen her at the theatre, as if I had 
seen her in a pale magic lantern ; but she appeared to remember 
me perfectly, and still to suspect me of being in a state of 
intoxication. 

Finding by degrees, however, that I was sober, and (I hope) 
that I was a modest young gentleman, Mrs. Waterbrook 
softened towards me considerably, and inquired, firstly, if I 
went much into the parks, and secondly, if I went much into 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 403 

society. On my replying to both these questions in the 
negative, it occurred to me that I fell again in her good 
opinion ; but she concealed the fact gracefully, and invited me 
to dinner next day. I accepted the invitation, and took my 
leave ; making a call on Uriah in the office as I went out, and 
leaving a card for him in his absence. 

When I went to dinner next day, and, on the street-door 
being opened, plunged into a vapor-bath of haunch of mutton, 
I divined that I was not the only guest ; for I immediately 
identified the ticket-porter in disguise, assisting the family 
servant, and waiting at the foot of the stairs to carry up my 
name. He looked, to the best of his ability, when he asked 
me for it confidentially, as if he had never seen me before ; but 
well did I know him, and well did he know me. Conscience 
made cowards of us both. 

^g. I found Mr. Waterbrook to be a middle-aged gentleman, with 
a short throat, and a good deal of shirt-collar, who only wanted 
a black nose to be the portrait of a pug-dog. He told me he 
was happy to have the honor of making my acquaintance ; 
and when I had paid my homage to Mrs. Waterbrook, presented 
me, with much ceremony, to a very awful lady in a black 
velvet dress, and a great black velvet hat, whom I remember 
as looking like a near relation of Hamlet's say his aunt. 

Mrs. Henry Spiker was this lady's name ; and her husband 
was there too : so cold a man, that his head, instead of being 
gray, seemed to be sprinkled with hoar-frost. Immense def- 
erence was shown to the Henry Spikers, male and female ; 
which Agnes told me was on account of Mr. Henry Spiker 
being solicitor to something or to somebody, I forget what or 
which, remotely connected with the Treasury. 

I found Uriah Heep among the company, in a suit of black, 
and in deep humility. He told me, when I shook hands with 
him, that he was proud to be noticed by me, and that he really 
felt obliged to me for my condescension. I could have wished 
he had been less obliged to me, for he hovered about me in his 
gratitude all the rest of the evening ; and whenever I said a 
word to Agnes, was sure, with his shadowless eyes and cadav- 
erous face, to be looking gauntly down upon us from behind. 

There were other guests all iced for the occasion, as it 



404 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

struck me, like the wine. But, there was one who attracted 
my attention before he came in, on account of my hearing him 
announced as Mr. Traddles ! My mind flew back to Salem 
House ; and could it be Tommy, I thought, who used to draw 
the skeletons ! 

I looked for Mr. Traddles with unusual interest. He was a 
sober, steady-looking young man of retiring manners, with a 
comic head of hair, and eyes that were rather wide open ; and 
he got into an obscure corner so soon, that I had some difficulty 
in making him out. At length I had a good view of him, 
and either my vision deceived me, or it was the old unfortu- 
nate Tommy. 

I made my way to Mr. Waterbrook, and said, that I believed 
I had the pleasure of seeing an old schoolfellow there. 

" Indeed ? " said Mr. Waterbrook, surprised. " You are too 
young to have been at school with Mr. Henry Spiker ? " 

" Oh, I don't mean him ! " I returned. " I mean the gentle- 
man named Traddles." 

" Oh ! Ay, ay ! Indeed ! " said my host, with much dimin- 
ished interest. "Possibly." 

" If it's really the same person," said I, glancing towards 
him, "it was at a place called Salem House where we were 
together, and he was an excellent fellow." 

" Oh, yes. Traddles is a good fellow," returned my host, 
nodding his head with an air of toleration. " Traddles is quite 
a good fellow." 

" It's a curious coincidence," said I. 

" It is really," returned my host, " quite a coincidence, that 
Traddles should be here a,t all : as Traddles was only invited 
this morning, when the place at table, intended to be occupied 
by Mrs. Henry Spiker's brother, became vacant, in consequence 
of his indisposition. A very gentlemanly man, Mrs. Henry 
Spiker's brother, Mr. Copperfield." 

I murmured an assent, which was full of feeling, considering 
that I knew nothing at all about him ; and I inquired what 
Mr. Traddles was by profession. 

"Traddles," returned Mr. Waterbrook, "is a young man 
reading for the bar. Yes. He is quite a good fellow no- 
body's enemy but his own." 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 405 

" Is he his own enemy ? " said I, sorry to hear this. 

"Well," returned Mr. Waterbrook, pursing up his inouth, 
and playing with his watch-chain, in a comfortable, prosperous 
sort of way. "I should say he was one of those men who 
stand in their own light. Yes, I should say he would never, 
for example, be worth five hundred pound. Traddles was 
recommended to me by a professional friend. Oh, yes. Yes. 
He has a kind of talent, for drawing briefs, and stating a case 
in writing, plainly. I am able to throw something in Traddles's 
way, in the course of the year ; something for him consid- 
erable. Oh, yes. Yes." 

I was much impressed by the extremely comfortable and 
satisfied manner, in which Mr. Waterbrook delivered himself 
of this little word "Yes," every now and then. There was 
wonderful expression in it. It completely conveyed the idea 
of a man who had been born, not to say with a silver spoon, 
but with a scaling-ladder, and had gone on mounting all the 
heights of life one after another, until now he looked, from 
the top of the fortifications, with the eye of a philosopher and 
a patron, on the people down in the trenches. 

My reflections on this theme were still in progress when 
dinner was announced. Mr. Waterbrook went down with 
Hamlet's aunt. Mr. Henry Spiker took Mrs. Waterbrook. 
Agnes, whom I should have liked to take myself, was given to 
a simpering fellow with weak legs. Uriah, Traddles, and I, 
as the junior part of the company, went down last, how we 
could. I was not so vexed at losing Agnes as I might have 
been, since it gave me an opportunity of making myself 
known to Traddles on the stairs, who greeted me with great 
fervor : while Uriah writhed with such obtrusive satisfaction 
and self-abasement, that I could gladly have pitched him over 
the banisters. 

Traddles and I were separated at table, being billeted in 
two remote corners : he in the glare of a red velvet lady : I, 
in the gloom of Hamlet's aunt. The dinner was very long, 
and the conversation was about the Aristocracy and Blood. 
Mrs. Waterbrook repeatedly told us, that if she had a weak- 
ness, it was Blood. 

It occurred to me several times that we should have got on 



406 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

better, if we had not been quite so genteel. We were so ex- 
ceedingly genteel, that our scope was very limited. A Mr. 
and Mrs. Gulpidge were of the party, who had something to 
do at second-hand (at least, Mr. Gulpidge had), with the law 
business of the Bank ; and what with the Bank, and what 
with the Treasury, we were as exclusive as the Court Circular. 
To mend the matter, Hamlet's aunt had the family failing of 
indulging in soliloquy, and held forth in a desultory manner, 
by herself, on every topic that was introduced. These were 
few enough, to be sure ; but as we always fell back upon 
Blood, she had as wide a field for abstract speculation as her 
nephew himself. 

We might have been a party of Ogres, the conversation 
assumed such a sanguine complexion. 

"I confess I am of Mrs. Waterbrook's opinion," said Mr. 
Waterbrook, with his wine-glass at his eye. " Other things 
are all very well in their way, but give me Blood ! " 

" Oh ! There is nothing," observed Hamlet's aunt, " so 
satisfactory to one ! There is nothing that is so much one's 
beau ideal of of all that sort of thing, speaking generally. 
There are some low minds (not many, I am happy to believe, 
but there are some) that would prefer to do what / should call 
bow down before idols. Positively Idols ! Before services, 
intellect, and so on. But these are intangible points. Blood is 
not so. We see Blood in a nose, and we know it. We meet with 
it in a chin, and we say, ' There it is ! That's Blood ! ' It is an 
actual matter of fact. We point it out. It admits of no doubt." 

The simpering fellow with the weak legs, who had taken 
Agnes down, stated the question more decisively yet, I thought. 

" Oh, you know, deuce take it," said this gentleman, looking 
round the board with an imbecile smile, " we can't forego 
Blood, you know. We must have Blood, you know. Some 
young fellows, you know, may be a little behind their station, 
perhaps, in point of education and behavior, and may go a 
little wrong, you know, and get themselves and other people 
into a variety of fixes and all that but deuce take it, it's 
delightful to reflect that they've got Blood in 'em ! Myself, 
I'd rather at any time be knocked down by a man who had got 
Blood in him, than I'd be picked up by a man who hadn't ! " 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 407 

This sentiment, as compressing the general question into a 
nutshell, gave the utmost satisfaction, and brought the gentle- 
man into great notice until the ladies retired. After that, I 
observed that Mr. Gulpidge and Mr. Henry Spiker, who had 
hitherto been very distant, entered into a defensive alliance 
against us, the common enemy, and exchanged a mysterious 
dialogue across the table for our defeat and overthrow. 

" That affair of the first bond for four thousand five hundred 
pounds has not taken the course that was expected, Spiker," 
said Mr. Gulpidge. 

" Do you mean the D. of A.'s ? " said Mr. Spiker. 

" The C. of B.'s ? " said Mr. Gulpidge. 

Mr. Spiker raised his eyebrows, and looked much concerned. 

" When the question was referred to Lord I needn't name 
him," said Mr. Gulpidge, checking himself 

" I understand," said Mr. Spiker, " K" 

Mr. Gulpidge darkly nodded " was referred to him, his 
answer was, ' Money, or no release.' ' 

" Lord bless my soul ! " cried Mr. Spiker. 

" ' Money, or no release,' " repeated Mr. Gulpidge, firmly. 
" The next in reversion you understand me ? " 

" K.," said Mr. Spiker, with an ominous look. 

" K. then positively refused to sign. He was attended at 
^Newmarket for that purpose, and he point-blank refused to do 
it." 

Mr. Spiker was so interested, that he became quite stony. 

" So the matter rests at this hour," said Mr. Gulpidge, 
throwing himself back is his chair. " Our friend Waterbrook 
will excuse me if I forbear to explain myself generally, on 
account- of the magnitude of the interests involved." 

Mr. Waterbrook was only too happy, as it appeared to me, 
to have such interests, and such names, even hinted at, across 
his table. He assumed an expression of gloomy intelligence 
(though I am persuaded he knew no more about the discussion 
than I did), and highly approved of the discretion that had 
been observed. Mr. Spiker, after the receipt of such a con- 
fidence, naturally desired to favor his friend with a confidence 
of his own ; therefore the foregoing dialogue was succeeded 
by another, in which it was Mr. Gulpidge' s turn to be surprised, 



408 THE PEE SON AL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

and that by another in which the surprise came round to Mr. 
Spiker's turn again, and so on, turn and turn about. All this 
time we, the outsiders, remained oppressed by the tremendous 
interests involved in the conversation ; and our host regarded us 
with pride, as the victims of a salutary awe and astonishment. 
I was very glad indeed to get up stairs to Agnes, and to talk 
with her in a corner, and to introduce Traddles to her, who 
was shy, but agreeable, and the same good-natured creature 
still. As he was obliged to leave early, on account of going 
away next morning for a month, I had not nearly so much con- 
versation with him as I could have wished ; but we exchanged 
addresses, and promised ourselves the pleasure of another 
meeting when he should come back to town. He was greatly 
interested to hear that I knew Steerforth, and spoke of him. 
with such warmth that I made him tell Agnes what he thought 
of him. But Agnes only looked at me the while, and very 
slightly shook her head when only I observed her. 

As she was not among people with whom I believed she 
could be very much at home, I was almost glad to hear that 
she was going away -within a few days, though I was sorry at 
the prospect of parting from her again so soon. This caused 
me to remain until all the company were gone. Conversing 
with her, and hearing her sing, was such a delightful reminder 
to me of my happy life in the grave old house she had made so 
beautiful, that I could have remained there half the night ; 
but, having no excuse for staying any longer, when the lights 
of Mr. Waterbrook's society were all snuffed out, I took my 
leave very much against my inclination. I felt then, more 
than ever, that she was my better Angel ; and if I thought of 
her sweet face and placid smile, as though they had shone on 
me from some removed being, like an Angel, I hope I thought 
no harm. 

I have said that the company were all gone ; but I ought 
to have excepted Uriah, whom I don't include in that denom- 
ination, and who had never ceased to hover near us. He 
was close behind me when I went down stairs. He was close 
beside me when I walked away from the house, slowly fitting 
his long skeleton fingers into the still longer fingers of a great 
Guy Fawkes pair of gloves. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 409 

It was in no disposition for Uriah's company, but in remem- 
brance of the entreaty Agnes had made to me, that I asked him 
if he would come home to my rooms, and have some coffee. 

"Oh, really, Master Copperfield," he rejoined, "I beg 
your pardon, Mister Copperfield, but the other comes so 
natural. I don't like that you should put a constraint upon 
yourself to ask a numble person like me to your ouse." 

" There is no constraint in the case," said I. " Will you 
come ? " 

" I should like to, very much," replied Uriah, with a writhe. 

" Well, then, come along ! " said I. 

I could not help being rather short with him, but he appeared 
not to mind it. We went the nearest way, without convers- 
ing much upon the road; and he was so humble in respect 
of those scarecrow gloves, that he was still putting them on, 
and seemed to have made no advance in that labor, when we 
got to my place. 

I led him up the dark stairs, to prevent his knocking his 
head against anything, and really his damp cold hand felt so 
like a frog in mine, that I was tempted .to drop it and run 
away. Agnes and hospitality prevailed, however, and I con- 
ducted him to my fireside. When I lighted my candles, he 
fell into meek transports with the room that was revealed to 
Mm ; and when I heated the coffee in an unassuming block- 
tin-vessel in which Mrs. Crupp delighted to prepare it (chiefly, 
I believe, because it was not intended for the purpose, being a 
shaving-pot, and because there was a patent invention of great 
price mouldering away in the pantry), he professed so much 
emotion, that I could joyfully have scalded him. 

" Oh, really, Master C6pperfield, I mean Mister Copper- 
field," said Uriah, "to see you waiting upon me is what I 
never could have expected ! But, one way and another, so 
many things happen to me which I never could have expected, 
I am sure, in my umble station, that it seems to rain blessings 
on my ed. You have heard something, I des-say, of a change 
in my expectations, Master Copperfield, J should say, Mister 
Copperfield?" 

As he sat on my sofa, with his long knees drawn up under 
his coffee-cup, his hat and gloves upon the ground close to 



410 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AXD EXPERIENCE 

him, his spoon going softly round and round, his shadowless 
red eyes, Avhich looked as if they had scorched their lashes off, 
turned towards me without looking at me, the disagreeable 
dints I have formerly described in his nostrils coming and 
going with his breath, and a snaky undulation pervading his 
frame from his chin to his boots, I decided in my own mind 
that I disliked him intensely. It made me very uncomfortable 
to have him for a guest, for I was young then, and unused to 
disguise what I so strongly felt. 

" You have heard something, I des-say, of a change in my 
expectations, Master Copperfield I should say, Mister Cop- 
perfield ? " observed Uriah. 

" Yes," said I, " something." 

" Ah ! I thought Miss Agnes would know of it ! " he quietly 
returned. "I'm glad to find Miss Agnes knows of it. Oh, 
thank you, Master Mister Copperfield ! " 

I could have thrown my bootjack at him (it lay ready on 
the rug), for having entrapped me into the disclosure of any- 
thing concerning Agnes, however immaterial. But I only 
drank my coffee. 

" What a prophet you have shown yourself, Mister Copper- 
field ! " pursued Uriah. " Dear me, what a prophet you have 
proved yourself to be ! Don't you remember saying to me 
once, that perhaps I should be a partner in Mr. Wickfield*s 
business, and perhaps it might be Wickfield and Heep ! You 
may not recollect it ; but when a person is umble, Master 
Copperfield, a person treasures such things up ! " 

" I recollect talking about it/' said I, " though I certainly 
did not think it very likely then." 

" Oh ! who would have thought it likely, Mister Copper- 
field ! " returned Uriah, enthusiastically, " I am sure I didn't 
myself. I recollect saying with my own lips that I was much 
too umble. So I considered myself really and truly." 

He sat, with that carved grin on his face, looking at the 
fire, as I looked at him. 

"But the umblest persons, Master Copperfield," he pres- 
ently resumed, " may be the instruments of good. I am glad 
to think I have been the instrument of good to Mr. Wickfield, 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 411 

and that I may be more so. Oh, what a worthy man he is, 
Mister Copperfield, but how imprudent he has been ! " 

" I am sorry to hear it," said I. I could not help adding, 
rather pointedly, "on all accounts." 

"Decidedly so, Mister Copperfield," replied Uriah. "On 
all accounts. Miss Agnes's above all ! You don't remember 
your own eloquent expressions, Master Copperfield; but / 
remember how you said one day that everybody must admire 
her, and how I thanked you for it ? You have forgot that, I 
have no doubt, Master Copperfield ? " 

"No," said I, drily. 

" Oh, how glad I am, you have not ! " exclaimed Uriah. 
" To think that you should be the first to kindle the sparks of 
ambition in my umble breast, and that you've not forgot 
it i Oh ! Would you excuse me asking for a cup more 
coffee?" 

Something in the emphasis he laid upon the kindling of 
those sparks, and something in the glance he directed at me as 
he said it, had made me start as if I had seen him illuminated 
by a blaze of light. Kecalled by his request, preferred in 
quite another tone of voice, I did the honors of the shaving- 
pot ; but I did them with an unsteadiness of hand, a sudden 
sense of being no match for him, and a perplexed suspicious 
anxiety as to what he might be going to say next, which I felt 
could not escape his observation. 

He said nothing at all. He stirred his coffee round and 
round, he sipped it, he felt his chin softly with his grisly 
hand, he looked at the fire, he looked about the room, he 
gasped rather than smiled at me, he writhed and undulated 
about, in his deferential servility, he stirred and sipped again, 
but he left the renewal of the conversation to me. 

"So, Mr. Wickfield," said I, at last, "who is worth five 
hundred of you or me ; " for my life, I think, I could not 
have helped dividing that part of the sentence with an awk- 
ward jerk; " has been imprudent, has he, Mr. Heep ? ' ; 

" Oh, very imprudent indeed, Master Copperfield," returned 
Uriah, sighing modestly. " Oh, very much so ! But I wish 
you'd call me Uriah, if you please. It's like old times." 
"Well ! Uriah," said I, bolting it out with some difficulty. 



412 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" Thank you ! " he returned, with fervor. " Thank you, 
Master Copperfield ! It's like the blowing of old breezes or 
the ringing of old bellses to hear you say Uriah. I beg your 
pardon. Was I making any observation ? " 

"About Mr. Wickfield," I suggested. 

"Oh! Yes, truly/' said Uriah. "Ah! Great imprudence, 
Master Copperfield. It's a topic that I wouldn't touch upon, 
to any soul but you. Even to you I can only touch upon it, 
and no more. If any one else had been in my place during 
the last few years, by this time he would have had Mr. 
Wickfield (oh, what a worthy man he is, Master Copperfield, 
too !) under his thumb. Un der his thumb," said Uriah, 
very slowly, as he stretched out his cruel-looking hand above 
my table, and pressed his own thumb down upon it, until it 
shook, .and shook the room. 

If I had been obliged to look at him with his splay foot on 
Mr. Wickfield's head, I think I could scarcely have hated him 
more. 

" Oh, dear, yes, Master Copperfield," he proceeded in a soft 
voice, most remarkably contrasting with the action of his 
thumb, which did not diminish its hard pressure in the least 
degree, "there's no doubt of it. There would have been loss, 
disgrace, I don't know what all. Mr. Wickfield knows it. 
I am the umble instrument of umbly serving him, and 
he puts me on an eminence I hardly could have hoped to 
reach. How thankful should I be ! " With his face turned 
towards me, as he finished, but without looking at me, he 
took his crooked thumb off the spot where he had planted it, 
and slowly and thoughtfully scraped his lank jaw with it, as 
if he were shaving himself. 

I recollect well how indignantly my heart beat, as I saw 
his crafty face, with the appropriately red light of the fire 
upon it, preparing for something else. 

"Master Copperfield," he began "but am I keeping you 
up?" 

" You are not keeping me up. I generally go to bed late." 

" Thank you, Master Copperfield ! I have risen from my 
umble station since first you used to address me, it is true ; 
but I am umble still. I hope I never shall be otherwise than 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 413 

umble. You will not think the worse of my umbleness, if I 
make a little confidence to you, Master Copperfield ? Will 
you ? " 

" Oh, no," said I, with an effort. 

" Thank you ! " He took out his pocket-handkerchief, and 
began wiping the palms of Ms hands. " Miss Agnes, Master 
Copperfield " 

"Well, Uriah?" 

" Oh, how pleasant to be called Uriah spontaneously ! " he 
cried; and gave himself a jerk, like a convulsive fish. "You 
thought her looking very beautiful, to-night, Master Copper- 
field ? " 

" I thought her looking as she always does : superior, in all 
respects, to every one around her," I returned. 

" Oh, thank you ! It's so true ! " he cried. " Oh, thank 
you very much for that ! " 

" Not at all," I said, loftily. " There is no reason why you 
should thank me." 

"Why that, Master Copperfield," said Uriah, "is in fact 
the confidence that I am going to take the liberty of reposing. 
Umble as I am," he wiped his hands harder, and looked at 
them and at the fire by turns, " umble as my mother is, and 
lowly as our poor but honest roof has ever been, the image of 
Miss Agnes (I don't mind trusting you with my secret, Master 
Copperfield, for I have always overflowed towards you since 
the first moment I had the pleasure of beholding you in a 
pony-shay) has been in my breast for years. Oh, Master 
Copperfield, with what a pure affection do I love the ground 
my Agnes walks on ! " 

I believe I had a delirious idea of seizing the red-hot poker 
out of the fire, and running him through with it. It went 
from me with a shock, like a ball fired from a rifle : but the 
image of Agnes, outraged by so much as a thought of this 
red-headed animal's, remained in my mind when I looked at 
him sitting all awry as if his mean soul griped his body 
and made me giddy. He seemed to swell and grow before my 
eyes ; the room seemed full of the echoes of his voice ; and 
the strange feeling (to which, perhaps, no one is quite a 
stranger) that all this had occurred before, at some indefinite 



414 

time, and that I knew what he was going to say next, took 
possession of me, 

A timely observation of the sense of power that there was 
in his face, did more to bring back to iny remembrance the 
entreaty of Agnes, in its full force, than any effort I could 
have made. I asked him, with a better appearance of com- 
posure than I could have thought possible a minute before, 
whether he had made his feelings known to Agnes. 

" Oh, no, Master Copperfield ! " he returned ; " oh, dear, no ! 
Not to any one but you. You see I am only just emerging 
from my lowly station. I rest a good deal of hope on her ob- 
serving how useful I am to her father (for I trust to be very 
useful to him, indeed, Master Copperfield), and how I smooth 
the way for him, and keep him straight. She's so much 
attached to her father, Master Copperfield (oh, what a lovely 
thing it is in a daughter !), that I think she may come, on his 
account, to be kind to me." 

I fathomed the depth of the rascal's whole scheme, and 
understood why he laid it bare. 

" If you'll have the goodness to keep my secret, Master 
Copperfield," he pursued, "and not, in general, to go against 
me, I shall take it as a particular favor. You wouldn't wish 
to make unpleasantness. I know what a friendly heart you've 
got ; but having only known me on my umble footing (on my 
umblest, I should say, for I am very umble still), you might, 
unbeknown, go against me rather, with my Agnes. I call her 
mine, you see, Master Copperfield. There's a song that says, 
' I'd crowns resign, to call her mine ! ' I hope to do it, one of 
these days." 

Dear Agnes ! So much too loving and too good for any one 
that I could think of, was it possible that she was reserved to 
be the wife of such a wretch as this ! 

" There's no hurry at present, you know, Master Copper- 
field," Uriah proceeded in his slimy way, as I sat gazing at 
him, with this thought in my mind. "My Agnes is very 
young still ; and mother and me will have to work our way 
upards, and make a good many new arrangements, before it 
would be quite convenient. So I shall have time gradually 
to make her familiar with my hopes, as opportunities offer. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 415 

Oh, I'm so much obliged to you for this confidence ! Oh, it's 
such a relief you can't think, to know that you understand our 
situation, and are certain (as you wouldn't wish to make un- 
pleasantness in the family) not to go against me ! " 

He took the hand which I dared not withhold, and having 
given it a damp squeeze, referred to his pale-faced watch. 

" Dear me ! " he said, " It's past one. The moments slip 
away so, in the confidence of old times, Master Copperfield, 
that it's almost half-past one ! " 

I answered that I had thought it was later. ISTot that I had 
really thought so, but because my conversational powers were 
effectually scattered. 

" Dear me ! " he said, considering. " The ouse that I am 
stopping at a sort of a private hotel and boarding ouse, Master 
Copperfield, near the New River ed will have gone to bed 
these two hours." 

" I am sorry," I returned, " that there's only one bed here, 
and that I" 

" Oh, don't think of mentioning beds, Master Copperfield ! " 
he rejoined, ecstatically, drawing up one leg. " But would you 
have any objections to my laying down before the fire ? " 

" If it comes to that," I said, " pray take iny bed, and I'll 
lie down before the fire." 

His repudiation of this offer was almost shrill enough, in 
the excess of its surprise and humility, to have penetrated to 
the ears of Mrs. Crupp, then sleeping, I suppose, in a distant 
chamber, situated at about the level of low water mark, soothed 
in her slumbers by the ticking of an incorrigible clock, to 
which she always referred me when we had any little differ- 
ence on the score of punctuality, and which was never less 
than three-quarters of an hour too slow, and had always been 
put right in the morning by the best authorities. As no argu- 
ments I could urge, in my bewildered condition, had the least 
effect upon his modesty in inducing him to accept my bed-room, 
I was obliged to make the best arrangements I could, for his 
repose before the fire. The mattress of the sofa (which was 
a great deal too short for his lank figure), the sofa pillows, a 
blanket, the table-cover, a clean breakfast-cloth, and a great- 
coat, made him a bed and covering, for which he was more 



416 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

than thankful. Having lent him a nightcap, which he put on 
at once, and in which he made such an awful figure that I 
have never worn one since, I left him to his rest. 

I never shall forget that night. I never shall forget how I 
turned and tumbled; how I wearied myself with thinking 
about Agnes and this creature ; how I considered what could 
I do, and what ought I to do ; how I could come to no other 
conclusion than that the best course for her peace, was to do 
nothing, and to keep to myself what I had heard. If I went 
to sleep for a few moments, the image of Agnes with her ten- 
der eyes, and of her father looking fondly on her, as I had so 
often seen him look, arose before me with appealing faces, and 
filled me with vague terrors. When I awoke, the recollection 
that Uriah was lying in the next room sat heavy on me like 
a waking nightmare; and oppressed me with a leaden dread, 
as if I had had some meaner quality of devil for a lodger. 

The poker got into my dozing thoughts besides, and wouldn't 
come out. I thought, between sleeping and waking, that it 
was still red hot, and I had snatched it out of the fire, and run 
him through the body. I was so haunted at last by the idea, 
though I knew there was nothing in it, that I stole into the 
next room to look at him. There I saw him, lying on his back, 
with his legs extending to I don't know where, gurglings tak- 
ing place in his throat, stoppages in his nose, and his mouth 
open like a post-office. He was so much worse in reality than 
in my distempered fancy, that afterwards I was attracted to 
him in very repulsion, and could not help wandering in and 
out every half hour or so, and taking another look at him. 
Still, the long, long night seemed heavy and hopeless as ever, 
and no promise of day was in the murky sky. 

When I saw him going down stairs early in the morning 
(for, thank Heaven ! he would not stay to breakfast), it 
appeared to me as if the night was going away in his person. 
When I went out to the Commons, I charged Mrs. Crupp 
with particular directions to leave the windows open, that my 
sitting-room might be aired, and purged of his presence. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 417 



CHAPTEE XXVI. 

I FALL INTO CAPTIVITY. 

I SAW no more of Uriah Heep, until the day when Agnes 
left town. I was at the coach-office to take leave of her and 
see her go ; and there was he, returning to Canterbury by the 
same conveyance. It was some small satisfaction to me to 
observe his spare, short-waisted, high-shouldered, mulberry- 
colored great-coat perched up, in company with an umbrella 
like a small tent, on the edge of the back seat on the roof, 
while Agnes was, of course, inside ; but what I underwent 
in my efforts to be friendly with him, while Agnes looked 
on, perhaps deserved that little recompense. At the coach- 
window, as at the dinner-party, he hovered about us without 
a moment's intermission, like a great vulture : gorging himself 
on every syllable that I said to Agnes, or Agnes said to me. 

In the state of trouble into which his disclosure by my fire 
had thrown me, I had thought very much of the words Agnes 
had used in reference to the partnership. "I did what I hope 
was right. Feeling sure that it was necessary for papa's 
peace that the sacrifice should be made, I entreated him to 
make it." A miserable foreboding that she would yield to, 
and sustain herself by, the same feeling in reference to any 
sacrifice for his sake, had oppressed me ever since. I knew 
how she loved him. I knew what the devotion of her nature 
was. I knew from her own lips that she regarded herself as 
the innocent cause of his errors, and as owing him a great debt 
she ardently desired to pay. I had no consolation in seeing 
how different she was from this detestable Kufus with the 
mulberry-colored great-coat, for I felt that in the very dif- 
ference between them, in the self-denial of her pure soul and 
the sordid baseness of his, the greatest danger lay. All this, 
doubtless, he knew thoroughly, and had, in his cunning, con- 
sidered well. 

VOL. i 27 



418 THE PERSONAL HISTORY ASD EXPERIENCE 

Yet, I was so certain that the prospect of such a sacrifice 
afar off, must destroy the happiness of Agnes ; and I was so 
sure, from her manner, of its being unseen by her then, and 
having cast no shadow on her yet ; that I could as soon have 
injured her, as given her any warning of what impended. 
Thus it was that we parted without explanation : she waving 
her hand and smiling farewell from the coach-window; her 
evil genius writhing on the roof, as if he had her in his 
clutches and triumphed. 

I could not get over this farewell glimpse of them for a 
long time. When Agnes wrote to tell me of her safe arrival, 
I was as miserable as when I saw her going away. When- 
ever I fell into a thoughtful state, this subject was sure to 
present itself, and all my uneasiness was sure to be redoubled. 
Hardly a night passed without my dreaming of it. It became 
a part of my life, and as inseparable from my life as my own 
head. 

I had ample leisure to refine upon my uneasiness : for Steer- 
forth was at Oxford, as he wrote to me, and when I was not at 
the Commons, I was very much alone. I believe I had at this 
time some lurking distrust of Steerforth. I wrote to him 
most affectionately in reply to his, but I think I was glad, 
upon the whole, that he could not come to London just then. 
I suspect the truth to be, that the influence of Agnes was upon 
me, undisturbed by the sight of him ; and that it was the 
more powerful with me, because she had so large a share in 
my thoughts and interest. 

In the meantime, days and weeks slipped away. I was 
articled to Spenlow and Jorkins. I had ninety pounds a year 
(exclusive of my house-rent and sundry collateral matters) 
from my aunt. My rooms were engaged for twelve months 
certain : and though I still found them dreary of an evening, 
and the evenings long, I could settle down into a state of 
equable low spirits, and resign myself to coffee ; which I seem, 
on looking back, to have taken by the gallon at about this 
period of my existence. At about this time, too, I made three 
discoveries : first, that Mrs. Crupp was a martyr to a curious 
disorder called " the spazzums." which was generally accom- 
panied with inflammation of the nose, and required to be 






OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 419 

constantly treated with peppermint ; secondly, that something 
peculiar in the temperature of my pantry, made the brandy- 
bottles burst ; thirdly, that I was alone in the world, and much 
given to record that circumstance in fragments of English 
versification. 

On the day when I was articled, no festivity took place, 
beyond my having sandwiches and sherry into the office for 
the clerks, and going alone to the theatre at night. I went to 
see " The Stranger " as a Doctors' Commons sort of play, and 
was so dreadfully cut up, that I hardly knew myself in my 
own glass when I got home. Mr. Spenlow remarked, on this 
occasion, when we concluded our business, that he should have 
been happy to have seen me at his house at Norwood to cele- 
brate our becoming connected, but for his domestic arrange- 
ments being in some disorder, on account of the expected 
return of his daughter from finishing her education at Paris. 
But, he intimated that when she came home he should hope to 
have the pleasure of entertaining me. I knew that he was a 
widower with one daughter, and expressed my acknowledg- 
ments. 

Mr. Spenlow was as good as his word. In a week or two, 
he referred to this engagement, and said, that if I would do 
him the favor to come down next Saturday, and stay till Mon- 
day, he would be extremely happy. Of course I said I would 
do him the favor ; and he was to drive me down in his phae- 
ton, and to bring me back. 

When the day arrived, my very carpet-bag was an object of 
veneration to the stipendiary clerks, to whom the house at 
Norwood was a sacred mystery. One of them informed me 
that he had heard that Mr. Spenlow ate entirely off plate and 
china ; and another hinted at champagne being constantly on 
draught, after the usual custom of table beer. The old clerk 
with the wig, whose name was Mr. Tiffy, had been down on 
business several times in the course of his career, and had on 
each occasion penetrated to the breakfast-parlor. He described 
it as an apartment of the most sumptuous nature, and said 
that he had drunk brown East India sherry there, of a quality 
so precious as to make a man wink. 

We had an adjourned cause in the Consistory that day 



420 

about excommunicating a baker who had been objecting in a 
vestry to a paving-rate and as the evidence was just twice 
the length of Robinson Crusoe, according to a calculation I 
made, it was rather late in the day before we finished. How' 
ever, we got him excommunicated for six weeks, and sentenced 
in no end of costs ; and then the baker's proctor, and the 
judge, and the advocates 011 both sides (who were all nearly 
related), went out of town together, and Mr. Spenlow and I 
drove away in the phaeton. 

The phaeton was a very handsome affair ; the horses arched 
their necks and lifted up their legs as if they knew they be- 
longed to Doctors' Commons. There was a good deal of com- 
petition in the Commons on all points of display, and it turned 
out some very choice equipages then ; though I always have 
considered, and always shall consider, that in my time the 
great article of competition there was starch ; which I think 
was worn among the proctors to as great an extent as it is in 
the nature of man to bear. 

We were very pleasant going down, and Mr. Spenlow gave 
me some hints in reference to my profession. He said it was 
the genteelest profession in the world, and must on no account 
be confounded with the profession of a solicitor : being quite 
another sort of thing, infinitely more exclusive, less mechanical, 
and more profitable. We took things much more easily in the 
Commons than they could be taken anywhere else, he observed, 
and that set us, as a privileged class, apart. He said it was 
impossible to conceal the disagreeable fact, that we were chiefly 
employed by solicitors; but he gave me to understand that 
they were an inferior race of men, universally looked down 
upon by all proctors of any pretensions. 

I asked Mr. Spenlow what he considered the best sort of 
professional business ? He replied, that a good case of a dis- 
puted will, where there was a neat little estate of thirty or 
forty thousand pounds, was, perhaps, the best of all. In such 
a case, he said, not only were there very pretty pickings in the 
way of arguments at every stage of the proceedings, and moun- 
tains upon mountains of evidence on interrogatory and counter- 
interrogatory (to say nothing of an appeal lying, first to the 
Delegates, and then to the Lords) ; but, the costs being pretty 




I FALL INTO CAPTIVITY, 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 42] 

sure to come out of the estate at last, both sides went at it in 
a lively and spirited manner, and expense was no consideration. 
Then, he launched into a general eulogium on the Commons. 
What was to be particularly admired (he said) in the Com- 
mons, was its compactness. It was the most conveniently 
organized place in the world. It was the complete idea of 
snugness. It lay in a nut-shell. For example : You brought 
a divorce case, or a restitution case, into the Consistory. Very 
good. You tried it in the Consistory. You made a quiet little 
round game of it, among a family group, and you played it 
out at leisure. Suppose you were not satisfied with the Con- 
sistory, what did you do then ? Why, you went into the 
Arches. What was the Arches ? The same court, in the 
same room, with the same bar, and the same practitioners, but 
another judge, for there the Consistory judge could plead any 
court-day as an advocate. Well, you played your round game 
out again. Still you were not satisfied. Very good. What 
did you do then ? Why, you went to the Delegates. Who 
were the Delegates ? Why, the Ecclesiastical Delegates were 
the advocates without any business, who had looked on at the 
round game when it was playing in both courts, and had 
seen the cards shuffled, and cut, and played, and had talked 
to all the players about it, and now came fresh, as judges, to 
settle the matter to the satisfaction of everybody ! Discon- 
tented people might talk of corruption in the Commons, 
closeness in the Commons, and the necessity of reforming 
the Commons, said Mr. Spenlow, solemnly, in conclusion ; 
but when the price of wheat per bushel had been highest, 
the Commons had been busiest ; and a man might lay his hand 
upon his heart, and say this to the whole world, " Touch 
the Commons, and down comes the country ! " 

I listened to all this with attention ; and though, I must 
say, I had my doubts whether the country was quite as much 
obliged to the Commons as Mr. Spenlow made out, I respect- 
fully deferred to his opinion. That about the price of wheat 
per bushel, I modestly felt was too much for my strength, and 
quite settled the question. I have never, to this hour, got the 
better of that bushel of wheat. It has reappeared to anni- 
hilate me, all through my life, in connection with all kinds of 



subjects. I don't know now, exactly, what it has to do with 
me, or what right it has to crush me, on an infinite variety of 
occasions ; but whenever I see my old friend the bushel 
brought in by the head and shoulders (as he always is, I ob- 
serve), I give up a subject for lost. 

This is a digression. / was not the man to touch the 
Commons, and bring down the country. I submissively ex- 
pressed, by my silence, my acquiescence in all I had heard 
from my superior in years and knowledge ; and we talked about 
" The Stranger " and the Drama, and the pair of horses, until 
we came to Mr. Spenlow's gate. 

"^-There was a lovely garden te Mr. Spenlow's house ; and 
though that was not the best time of the year for seeing a 
garden, it was so beautifully kept, that I was quite enchanted. 
There was a charming lawn, there were clusters of trees, and 
there were perspective walks that I could just distinguish in 
the dark, arched over with trellis-work, on which shrubs and 
flowers grew in the growing season. "Here Miss Spenlow 
walks by herself," I thought. " Dear me ! " 

We went into the house, which was - cheerfully lighted up, 
and into a hall where there were all sorts of hats, caps, great- 
coats, plaids, gloves, whips, and walking-sticks. " Where is 
Miss Dora ? " said Mr. Spenlow to the servant. "Dora ! " I 
thought. " What a beautiful name ! " 

We turned into a room near at hand (I think it was the 
identical breakfast-room, made memorable by the brown East 
India sherry), and I heard a voice say, "Mr. Copper-field, my 
daughter Dora, and my daughter Dora's confidential friend ! " 
It was, no doubt, Mr. Spenlow's voice, but I didn't know it, 
and I didn't care whose it was. All was over in a moment. 
I had fulfilled my destiny. I was a captive and a slave. I 
loved Dora Spenlow to distraction ! 

She was more than human to me. She was a Fairy, a 
Sylph, I don't know what she was anything that no one 
ever saw, and everything that everybody ever wanted. I was 
swallowed up in an abyss of love in an instant. There was 
no pausing on the brink ; no looking down, or looking back ; I 
was gone, headlong, before I had sense to say a word to her. 

" //' observed a well-remembered voice, when I had bowed 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 423 

and murmured something, "have seen Mr. Copperfield be- 
fore." 

The speaker was not Dora. No; the confidential friend, 

Miss Murdstone ! 

I don't think I was much astonished. To the best of my 
judgment, no capacity of astonishment was left in me. There 
was nothing worth mentioning in the material world, but Dora 
Spenlow, to be astonished about. I said, " How do you do, 
Miss Murdstone ? I hope you are well." She answered, 
" Very well." I said, " How is Mr. Murdstone ? " She replied, 
" My brother is robust, I am obliged to you." . 

Mr. Spenlow, who, I suppose, had been surprised to see us 
reeognize each other, then put in his word. 

"I am glad to find," he said, "Copperfield, that you and 
Miss Murdstone are already acquainted." 

" Mr. Copperfield and myself," said Miss Murdstone, with 
severe composure, " are connections. We were once slightly 
acquainted. It was in his childish days. Circumstances have 
separated us since. I should not have known him." 

I replied that I should have known her, anywhere. Which 
was true enough. 

"Miss Murdstone has the goodness," said Mr. Spenlow 
to me, " to accept the office if I may so describe it of 
my daughter Dora's confidential friend. My daughter Dora 
having, unhappily, no mother, Miss Murdstone is obliging 
enough to become her companion and protector." 

A passing thought occurred to me that Miss Murdstone, 
like the pocket instrument called a life-preserver, was not so 
much designed for purposes of protection as of assault. But 
as I had none but passing thoughts for any subject save 
Dora, I glanced at her, directly afterwards, and was thinking 
that I saw, in her prettily pettish manner, that she was 
not very much inclined to be particularly confidential to her 
companion and protector, when a bell rang, which Mr. Spenlow 
said was the first dinner-bell, and so carried me off to dress. 

The idea of dressing one's self, or doing anything in the 
way of .action, in that state of love, was a little too ridiculous. 
I could only sit down before "my fire, biting the key of my 
carpet-bag, and think of the captivating, girlish, bright-eyed, 



424 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

lovely Dora. What a form she had, what a face she had, 
what a graceful, variable, enchanting manner ! 

The bell rang again so soon that I made a mere scramble 
of my dressing, instead of the careful operation I could have 
wished under the circumstances, and went down stairs. 
There was some company. Dora was talking to an old 
gentleman with a gray head. Gray as he was and a great- 
grandfather into the bargain, for he said so I was madly 
jealous of him. 

What a state of mind I was in ! I was jealous of every- 
body. I couldn't bear the idea of anybody knowing Mr. 
Spenlow better than I did. It was torturing to me to hear 
them talk of occurrences in which I had had no share. When 
a most amiable person, with a highly-polished bald head, 
asked me across the dinner-table, if that were the first occa- 
sion of my seeing the grounds, I could have done anything 
to him that was savage and revengeful. 

I don't remember who was there, except Dora. I have not 
the least idea what we had for dinner, besides Dora. My 
impression is, that I dined off Dora entirely, and sent away 
half-a-dozen plates untouched. I sat next to her. I talked 
to her. She had the most delightful little voice, the gayest 
little laugh, the pleasantest and most fascinating little ways, 
that ever led a lost youth into hopeless slavery. She was 
rather diminutive altogether. So much the more precious, 
I thought. 

When she went out of the room with Miss Murdstone (no 
other ladies were of the party), I fell into a reverie, only 
disturbed by the cruel apprehension that Miss Murdstone 
would disparage me to her. The amiable creature with the 
polished head told me a long story, which I think was about 
gardening. I think I heard him say, " my gardener," several 
times. I seemed to pay the deepest attention to him, 
but I was wandering in a garden of Eden all the while with 
Dora. 

My apprehensions of being disparaged to the object of 
my engrossing affection were revived when we went into the 
drawing-room, by the grim and distant aspect of Miss Murd- 
stone. But I was relieved of them in an unexpected manner. 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 425 

" David Copperfield," said Miss Murdstone, beckoning me 
aside into a window. " A word." 

I confronted Miss Murdstone alone. 

" David Copperfield," said Miss Murdstone, " I need not 
enlarge upon family circumstances. They are not a tempting 
subject." 

" Far from it, ma'am," I returned. 

" Far from it," assented Miss Murdstone. " I do not wish 
to revive the memory of past differences, or of past outrages. 
I have received outrages from a person a female I am sorry 
to say, for the credit of my sex who is not to be mentioned 
without scorn and disgust j and therefore I would rather not 
mention her." 

I felt very fiery on my aunt's account ; but I said it would 
certainly be better, if Miss Murdstone pleased, not to mention 
her. I could not hear her disrespectfully mentioned, I added, 
without expressing my opinion in a decided tone. 

Miss Murdstone shut her eyes, and disdainfully inclined 
her head ; then, slowly opening her eyes, resumed : 

" David Copperfield, I shall not attempt to disguise the fact, 
that I formed an unfavorable opinion of you in your child- 
hood. It may have been a mistaken one, or you may have 
ceased to justify it. That is not in question between us now. 
I belong to a family, remarkable, I believe, for some firmness ; 
and I am not the creature of circumstance or change. I may 
have my opinion of you. You may have your opinion of me." 

I inclined my head, in my turn. 

"But it is not necessary," said Miss Murdstone, "that 
these opinions should come into collision here. Under exist- 
ing circumstances, it is as well on all accounts that they 
should not. As the chances of life have brought us together 
again, and may bring us together on other occasions, I would 
say let us meet here as distant acquaintances. Family cir- 
cumstances are a sufficient reason for our only meeting on that 
footing, and it is quite unnecessary that either of us should 
make the other the subject of remark. Do you approve of 
this ? " 

" Miss Murdstone," I returned, " I think you and Mr. Murd- 
stone used me very cruelly, and treated my mother with great 



426 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

unkindness. I shall always think so, as long as I live. But 
I quite agree in what you propose." 

Miss Murdstone shut her eyes again, and bent her head. 
Then, just touching the back of my hand with the tips of 
her cold stiff fingers, she walked away, arranging the little 
fetters on her wrists and round her neck : which seemed to 
be the same set, in exactly the same state, as when I had 
seen her last. These reminded me, in reference to Miss 
Murdstone's nature, of the fetters over a jail-door ; suggest- 
ing on the outside, to all beholders, what was to be expected 
within. 

All I know of the rest of the evening is, that I heard the 
empress of my heart sing enchanted ballads in the French lan- 
guage, generally to the effect that, whatever was the matter, 
we ought always to dance, Ta ra la, Ta ra la ! accompanying 
herself on a glorified instrument, resembling a guitar. That I 
was lost in blissful delirium. That I refused refreshment. 
That my soul recoiled from punch particularly. That when 
Miss Murdstone took her into custody and led her away, she 
smiled and gave me her delicious hand. That I caught a view 
of myself in a mirror, looking perfectly imbecile and idiotic. 
That I retired to bed in a most maudlin state of mind, and 
got up in a crisis of feeble infatuation. 

It was a fine morning, and early, and I thought I would go 
and take a stroll down one of those wire-arched walks, and 
indulge my passion by dwelling on her image. On my way 
through the hall, I encountered her little dog, who was called 
Jip short for Gipsy. I approached him tenderly, for I 
loved even him ; but he showed his whole set of teeth, got 
under a chair expressly to snarl, and wouldn't hear of the 
least familiarity. 

The garden was cool and solitary. I walked about, wonder- 
ing what my feelings of happiness would be, if I could ever 
become engaged to this dear wonder. As to marriage, and 
fortune, and all that, I believe I was almost as innocently 
undesigning then, as when I loved little Em'ly. To be allowed 
to call her " Dora," to write to her, to dote upon and worship 
her, to have reason to think that when she was with other 
people she was yet mindful of me, seemed to me the summit 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 427 

of human ambition I am sure it was the summit of mine. 
There is no doubt whatever that I was a lackadaisical young 
spooney ; but there was a purity of heart in all this still, that 
prevents my having quite a contemptuous recollection of it, 
let me laugh as I may. 

I had not been walking long, when I turned a corner, and 
met her. I tingle again from head to foot as my recollection 
turns that Corner, and my pen shakes in my hand. 

" You are out early, Miss Spenlow," said I. 

"It's so stupid at home," she replied, "and Miss Murd- 
stone is so absurd ! She talks such nonsense about its being 
necessary for the day to be aired, before I come out. Aired ! " 
(She laughed here, in the most melodious manner.) "On 
a Sunday morning, when I don't practise, I must do some- 
thing. So I told papa last night I must come out. Besides, 
it's the brightest time of the whole day. Don't you think so ? " 

I hazarded a bold flight, and said (not without stammering) 
that it was very bright to me then, though it had been very 
dark to me a minute before. 

" Do you mean a compliment ? " said Dora, " or that the 
weather has really changed ? " 

I stammered worse than before, in replying that j. meant 
no compliment, but the plain truth ; though I was not aware 
of any change having taken place in the weather. It was in 
the state of my own feelings I added bashfully : to clench the 
explanation. 

I never saw such curls how could I, for there never were 
such curls ! as those she shook out to hide her blushes. As 
to the straw hat and blue ribbons which was on the top of the 
curls, if I could only have hung it up in my room in Bucking- 
ham Street, what a priceless possession it would have been ! 

" You have just come home from Paris," said I. 

" Yes," said she. " Have you ever been there ? " 

"No." 

" Oh ! I hope you'll go soon ! You would like it so much ! " 

Traces of deep-seated anguish appeared in my countenance. 
That she should hope I would go, that she should think it 
possible I could go, was insupportable. I depreciated Paris ; 
I depreciated France. I said I wouldn't leave England, under 



428 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

existing circumstances, for any earthly consideration. Nothing 
should induce me. In short, she was shaking the curls again, 
when the little dog came running along the walk to our relief. 
- He was mortally jealous of me, and persisted in barking at 
me. She took him up in her arms oh, my goodness ! and 
caressed him, but he insisted upon barking still. He wouldn't 
let me touch him, when I tried ; and then she beat him. It 
increased my sufferings greatly to see the pats she gave 
him for punishment on the bridge of his blunt nose, while he 
winked his eyes, and licked her hand, and still growled within 
himself like a little double-bass. At length he was quiet 
well he might be with her dimpled chin upon his head ! and 
we walked away to look at a greenhouse. 

"You are not very intimate with Miss Murdstone, are 
you ? " said Bora, " My pet." 

(The two last words were to the dog. Oh, if they had only 
been to me !) 

"No," I replied. "Not at all so." 

" She is a tiresome creature," said Dora, pouting. " I can't 
think what papa can have been about, when he chose such a 
vexatious thing to be my companion. Who wants a protector ? 
I am sure / don't want a protector. Jip can protect me a 
great deal better than Miss Murdstone can't you, Jip, 
dear ? " 

He only winked lazily, when she kissed his ball of a head. 

" Papa calls her my confidential friend, but I am sure she is 
no such thing is she, Jip ? We are not going to confide in 
such cross people, Jip and I. We mean to bestow our con- 
fidence where we like, and to find out our own friends, instead 
of having them found out for us don't we, Jip ? " 

Jip made a comfortable noise, in answer, a little like a tea- 
kettle when it sings. As for me, every word was a new heap 
of fetters, rivetted above the last. 

"It is very hard, because we have not a kind Mamma, that 
we are to have, instead, a sulky, gloomy old thing like Miss 
Murdstone, always following us about isn't it, Jip ? Never 
mind, Jip. We won't be confidential, and we'll make ourselves 
as happy as we can in spite of her, and we'll tease her, and 
not please her won't we, Jip ? " 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 429 

If it had lasted any longer, I think I must have gone down 
on my knees on the gravel, with the probability before me 
of grazing them, and of being presently ejected from the prem- 
ises besides. But, by good fortune the greenhouse was not far 
off, and these words brought us to it. 

It contained quite a show of beautiful geraniums. We 
loitered along in front of them, and Dora often stopped to 
admire this one or that one, and I stopped to admire the same 
one, and Dora, laughing, held the dog up childishly, to smell 
the flowers ; and if we were not all three in Fairyland, cer- 
tainly /was. The scent of a geranium leaf, at this day, strikes 
me with a half comical half serious wonder as to what change 
has come over me in a moment j and then I see a straw hat 
and blue ribbons, and a quantity of curls, and a little black 
dog being held up, in two slender arms, against a bank of 
blossoms and bright leaves. 

Miss Murdstone had been looking for us. She found us 
here ; and presented her uncongenial cheek, the little wrinkles 
in it filled with hair powder, to Dora to be kissed. Then she 
took Dora's arm in hers, and marched us in to breakfast as if 
it were a soldier's funeral. 

How many cups of tea I drank, because Dora made it, I 
don't know. But, I perfectly remember that I sat swilling 
tea until my whole nervous system, if I had had any in those 
days, must have gone by the board. By and by we went 
to church. Miss Murdstone was between Dora and me in 
the pew ; but I heard her sing, and the congregation vanished. 
A sermon was delivered about Dora, of course and I 
am afraid that is all I know of the service. 

We had a quiet day. No company, a walk, a family dinner 
of four, and an evening of looking over books and pictures ; 
Miss Murdstone, with a homily before her, and her eye upon 
us, keeping guard vigilantly. Ah! little did Mr. Spenlow 
imagine, when he sat opposite to me after dinner that day, 
with his pocket-handkerchief over his head, how fervently 
I was embracing him, in my fancy, as his son-in-law ! Little 
did he think, when I took leave of him at night, that he had 
just given his full consent to my being engaged to Dora, and 
that I was invoking blessings on his head ! 



430 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

We departed early in the morning, for we had a Salvage 
case coming on in the Admiralty Court, requiring a rather 
accurate knowledge of the whole science of navigation, in 
which (as we couldn't be expected to know much about those 
matters in the Commons) the judge had entreated two old 
Trinity Masters, for charity's sake, to come and help him out. 
Dora was at the breakfast-table to make the tea again, how- 
ever ; and I had the melancholy pleasure of taking off my 
hat to her in the phaeton, as she stood on the door-step with 
Jip in her arms. 

What the Admiralty was to me that day ; what nonsense I 
made of our case in my mind, as I listened to it ; how I saw 
"DORA" engraved upon the blade of the silver oar which 
they lay upon the table, as the emblem of that high jurisdic- 
tion ; and how I felt when Mr. Spenlow went home without me 
(I had had an insane hope that he might take me back again), 
as if I were a mariner myself, and the ship to which I 
belonged had sailed away and left me on a desert island ; I 
shall make no fruitless effort to describe. If that sleepy old 
court could rouse itself, and present in any visible form the 
day dreams I have had in it about Dora, it would reveal my 
truth. 

I don't mean the dreams that I dreamed on that day alone, 
but day after day, from week to week, and term to term. I 
went there, not to attend to what was going on, but to think 
about Dora. If ever I bestowed a thought upon the cases, as 
they dragged their slow length before me, it was only to won- 
der, in the matrimonial cases (remembering Dora) how it was 
that married people could ever be otherwise than happy ; and 
in the Prerogative cases, to consider, if the money in question 
had been left to me, what were the foremost steps I should 
immediately have taken in regard to Dora. Within the first 
week of my passion, I bought four sumptuous waistcoats - 
not for myself ; 7 had no pride in them ; for Dora and took 
to wearing straw-colored kid gloves in the streets, and laid the 
foundations of all the corns I have ever had. If the boots 
I wore at that period could only be produced and compared 
with the natural size of my feet, they would show what the 
state of my heart was, in a most affecting manner. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 481 

And yet, wretched cripple as I made myself by this act of 
homage to Dora, I walked miles upon miles daily in the hope 
of seeing her. Not only was I soon as well known on the 
Norwood Eoad as the postmen on that beat, but I pervaded 
London likewise. I walked about the streets where the best 
shops for ladies were, I haunted the Bazaar like an unquiet 
spirit, I fagged through the Park again and again, long after 
I was quite knocked up. Sometimes, at long intervals and 
on rare occasions, I saw her. Perhaps I saw her glove waved 
in a carriage window ; perhaps I met her, walked with her 
and Miss Murdstone a little way, and spoke to her. In the 
latter case I was always very miserable afterwards, to think 
that I had said nothing to the purpose ; or that she had no 
idea of the extent of my devotion, or that she cared nothing 
about me. I was always looking out, as may be supposed, for 
another invitation to Mr. Spenlow's house. I was always 
being disappointed, for I got none. 

Mrs. Crupp must have been a woman of penetration ; for 
when this attachment was but a few weeks old, and I had not 
had the courage to write more explicitly even to Agnes, than 
that I had been to Mr. Spenlow's house, " whose family," I 
added, " consists of- one daughter ; " I say Mrs. Crupp must 
have been a woman of penetration, for, even in that early 
stage, she found it out. She came up to me one evening, 
when I was very low, to ask (she being then afflicted with the 
disorder I have mentioned) if I could oblige her with a little 
tincture of cardamums mixed with rhubarb, and flavored with 
seven drops of the essence of cloves, which was the best rem- 
edy for her complaint ; or, if I had not such a thing by me, 
with a little brandy, which was the next best. It was not, she 
remarked, so palatable to her, but it was the next best. As I 
had never even heard of the first remedy and always had the 
second in the closet, I gave Mrs. Crupp a glass of the second, 
which (that I might have no suspicion of its being devoted to 
any improper use) she began to take in my presence. 

" Cheer up, sir," said Mrs. Crupp, " I can't abear to see you 
so, sir, I'm a mother myself." 

I did not quite perceive the application of this fact to 



432 THE PERSONAL HISTOEY AND EXPERIENCE 

myself, but I smiled on Mrs. Crupp, as benignly as was in my 
power. 

" Come, sir/' said Mrs. Crupp. " Excuse me. I know what 
it is, sir. There's a lady in the case." 

" Mrs. Crupp ? " I returned, reddening. 

" Oh, bless you ! Keep a good heart, sir ! " said Mrs. Crupp, 
nodding encouragement. " Never say die, sir ! If She don't 
smile upon you, there's a many as will. You're a young gen- 
tleman to be smiled on, Mr. Copperfull, and you must learn 
your walue, sir." 

Mrs. Crupp always called me Mr. Copperfull; firstly, no 
doubt, because it was not my name; and secondly, I am 
inclined to think, in some indistinct association with a wash- 
ing-day. 

"What makes you suppose there is any young lady in the 
case, Mrs. Crupp ? " said I. 

"Mr. Copperfull," said Mrs. Crupp, with a great deal of 
feeling, " I'm a mother myself." 

For some time Mrs. Crupp could only lay her hand upon 
her nankeen bosom, and fortify herself against returning pain 
with sips of her medicine. At length she spoke again. 

" When the present set were took for you by your dear aunt, 
Mr. Copperfull," said Mrs. Crupp, "my remark were, I had 
now found summun I could care for. ' Thank Ev'in ! ' were 
the expression, ( I have now found summun I can care for ! ' 
You don't eat enough, sir, nor yet drink." 

" Is that what you found your supposition on, Mrs. Crupp ? " 
said I. 

" Sir," said Mrs. Crupp, in a tone approaching to severity, 
"I've laundressed other young gentlemen besides yourself. 
A young gentleman may be over-careful of himself, or he may 
be under-careful of himself. He may brush his hair too reg- 
ular, or too unregular. He may wear his boots much too large 
for him, or much too small. That is according as the young 
gentleman has his original character formed. But let him go 
to which extreme he may, sir, there's a young lady in both 
of 'em." 

Mrs. Crupp shook her head in such a determined manner, 
that I had not an inch of vantage ground left. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 433 

"It was but the gentleman which died here before your- 
self," said Mrs. Crupp, " that fell in love with a barmaid 
and had his waistcoats took in directly, though much swelled 
by drinking." 

"Mrs. Crupp," said I, "I must beg you not to connect the 
young lady in my case with a barmaid, or anything of that 
sort, if you please." 

"Mr. Copperfull," returned Mrs. Crupp, "I'm a mother 
myself, and not likely. I ask your pardon, sir, if I intrude. 
I should never wish to intrude where I were not welcome. 
But you are a young gentleman, Mr. Copperfull, and my 
adwice to you is, to cheer up, sir, to keep a good heart, and to 
know your own walue. If you was to take to something, 
sir," said Mrs. Crupp, " if you was to take to skittles, now, 
which is healthy, you might find it divert your mind, and do 
you good." 

With these words, Mrs. Crupp, affecting to be very careful 
of the brandy which was all gone thanked me with a 
majestic courtesy, and retired. As her figure disappeared into 
the gloom of the entry, this counsel certainly presented itself 
to my mind in the light of a slight liberty on Mrs. Crupp's 
part; but, at the same time, I was content to receive it, in 
another point of view, as a word to the wise, and a warning in 
future to keep my secret better. 
VOL. i28 



434 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

TOMMY TRADDLES. 

IT may have been in consequence of Mrs. Crupp's advice, 
and perhaps, for no better reason than because there was a 
certain similarity in the sound of the words skittles and Trad- 
dies, that it came into my head, next day, to go and look after 
Traddles. The time he had mentioned was more than out, and 
he lived in a little street near the Veterinary College at Cam- 
dem Town, which was principally tenanted, as one of our 
clerks who lived in that direction informed me, by gentlemen 
students, who bought live donkeys, and made experiments on 
those quadrupeds in their private apartments. Having ob- 
tained from this clerk a direction to the academic grove in 
question, I set out, the same afternoon, to visit my old school- 
fellow. 

I found that the street was not as desirable a one as I could 
have wished it to be, for the sake of Traddles. The inhabi- 
tants appeared to have a propensity to throw any little trifles 
they were not in want of, into the road : which not only made 
it rank and sloppy, but untidy too, on account of the cabbage- 
leaves. The refuse was not wholly vegetable either, for I 
myself saw a shoe, a doubled-up saucepan, a black bonnet, and 
an umbrella, in various stages of decomposition, as I was look- 
ing out for the number I wanted. 

The general air of the place reminded me forcibly of the 
days when I lived with Mr. and Mrs. Micawber. An in- 
describable character of faded gentility that attached to the 
house I sought, and made it unlike all the other houses in the 
street though they were all built on one monotonous pattern, 
and looked like the early copies of a blundering boy who was 
learning to make houses, and had not yet got out of his 
cramped brick and mortar pothooks reminded me still more 
of Mr. and Mrs. Micawber. Happening to arrive at the door 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 435 

as it was opened to the afternoon milkman, I was reminded of 
Mr. and Mrs. Micawber more forcibly yet. 

" Now," said the milkman to a very youthful servant girl. 
" Has that there little bill of mine been heard on ? " 

" Oh, master says he'll attend to it immediate," was the reply. 

" Because," said the milkman, going on as if he had received 
no answer, and speaking, as I judged from his tone, rather for 
the edification of somebody within the house, than of the youth- 
ful servant an impression which was strengthened by his 
manner of glaring down the passage " Because that there 
little bill has been running so long, that I begin to believe it's 
run away altogether, and never won't be heerd of. Now, I'm 
not a going to stand it, you know ! " said the milkman, still 
throwing his voice into the house, and glaring down the 
passage. 

As to his dealing in the mild article of milk, by the by, 
there never was a greater anomaly. His deportment would 
have been fierce in a butcher or a brandy merchant. 

The voice of the youthful servant became faint, but she 
seemed to me, from the action of her lips, again to murmur 
that it would be attended to immediate. 

" I tell you what," said the milkman, looking hard at her for 
the first time, and taking her by the chin, " are you fond of 
milk?" 

" Yes, I likes it," she replied. 

"Good," said the milkman. "Then you won't have none 
to-morrow. D' ye hear ? Not a fragment of milk you won't 
have to-morrow." 

I thought she seemed, upon the whole, relieved, by the 
prospect of having any to-day. The milkman, after shaking 
his head at her, darkly, released her chin, and with anything 
rather than good will opened his can, and deposited the usual 
quantity in the family jug. This done, he went away, mut- 
tering, and uttered the cry of his trade next door, in a vin- 
dictive shriek. 

" Does Mr. Traddles live here ? " I then inquired. 

A mysterious voice from the end of the passage replied 
"Yes." Upon which the youthful servant replied "Yes." 
" Is he at home ? " said I. 



436 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

Again the ir^sterious voice replied in the affirmative, and 
again the servant echoed it. Upon this, I walked in. and in 
pursuance of the servant's directions walked up stairs ; con- 
scious, as I passed the back parlor-door, that I was surveyed 
by a mysterious eye, probably belonging to the mysterious 
voice. 

When I got to the top of the stairs the house was only a 
story high above the ground floor Traddles was on the 
landing to meet me. He was delighted to see me, and gave 
me welcome, with great heartiness, to his little room. It was 
in the front of the house, and extremely neat, though sparely 
furnished. It was his only room, I saw ; for there was a 
sofa-bedstead in it, and his blacking-brushes and blacking 
were among his books on the top shelf, behind a dictionary. 
His table was covered with papers, and he was hard at work 
in an old coat. I looked at nothing, that I know of, but I 
saw everything, even to the prospect of a church upon his 
china inkstand, as I sat down and this, too, was a faculty 
confirmed in me in the old Micawber times. Various ingenious 
arrangements he had made, for the disguise of his chest of 
drawers, and the accommodation of his boots, his shaving-glass, 
and so forth, particularly impressed themselves upon me, as 
evidences of the same Traddles, who used to make models of 
elephants' dens in writing paper to put flies in ; and to comfort 
himself under ill-usage, with the memorable works of art I 
have so often mentioned. 

In a corner of the room was something neatly covered up 
with a large white cloth. I could not make out what that was. 

" Traddles," said I, shaking hands with him again, after I 
had sat down. " I am delighted to see you." 

"I am delighted to see you, Copperfield," he returned. 
"I am very glad indeed to see you. It was because I was 
thoroughly glad to see you when we met in Ely-place, and 
was sure you w r ere thoroughly glad to see me, that I gave you 
this address instead of my address at chambers." 

" Oh ! You have chambers ? " said I. 

Why, I have the fourth of a rcom and a passage, and the 
fourth of a clerk," returned Traddles. "Three others and 
myself unite to have a set of chambers to look business-like 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 437 

and we quarter the clerk too. Half-a-crown a week he 

costs me." 

His old simple character and good temper, and something 
of his old unlucky fortune also, I thought, smiled at me in the 
smile with which he made this explanation. 

" It's not because I have the least pride, Copperfield, you 
understand," said Traddles, "that I don't usually give my 
address here. It's only on account of those who come to me, 
who might not like to come here. For myself, I am fighting 
my way on in the world against difficulties, and it would be 
ridiculous if I made a pretence of doing anything else." 

"You are reading for the bar, Mr. Waterbrook informed 
me ? " said I. 

" Why, yes," said Traddles, rubbing his hands slowly over 
one another, " I am reading for the bar. The fact is, I have 
just begun to keep my terms, after rather a long delay. It's 
some time since I was articled, but the payment of that hun- 
dred pounds was a great pull. A great pull ! " said Traddles, 
with a wince, as if he had had a tooth out. 

" Do you know what I can't help thinking of, Traddles, as I 
sit here looking at you ? " I asked him. 

" No," said he. 

" That sky-blue suit you used to wear." 

"Lord, to be sure!" cried Traddles, laughing. "Tight in 
the arms and legs, you know ? Dear me ! Well ! Those were 
happy times, weren't they ? " 

" I think our schoolmaster might have made them happier, 
without doing any harm to any of us, I acknowledge," I 
returned. 

"Perhaps he might," said Traddles. "But dear me, there 
was a good deal of fun going on. Do you remember the 
nights in the bed-room ? When we used to have the suppers ? 
And when you used to tell the stories ? Ha, ha, ha ! And 
do you remember when I got caned for crying about Mr. Mell ? 
Old Creakle ! I should like to see him again, too ! " 

" He was a brute to you, Traddles," said I, indignantly ; 
for his good humor made me feel as if I had seen him beaten 
but yesterday. 

"Do you think so ? " returned Traddles. " Eeally ? Per- 



438 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

haps he was, rather. But it's all over, a long while, Old 
Creakle ! " 

" You were brought up by an uncle, then ? " said I. 

" Of course I was ! " said Traddles. " The one I was always 
going to write to. And always didn't, eh ! Ha, ha, ha ! Yes, 
I had an uncle then. He died soon after I left school." 

"Indeed?" 

" Yes. He was a retired what do you call it ! draper 
cloth-merchant and had made me his heir. But he didn't 
like me when I grew up." 

" Do you really mean that ? " said I. He was so composed 
that I fancied he must have some other meaning. 

" Oh, dear, yes, Copperfield ! I mean it," replied Traddles. 
" It was an unfortunate thing, but he didn't like me at all. 
He said I wasn't at all what he expected, and so he married 
his housekeeper." 

" And what did you do ? " I asked. 

"I didn't do anything in particular," said Traddles. "I 
lived with them, waiting to be put out in the world, until his 
gout unfortunately flew to his stomach and so he died, and 
so she married a young man, and so I wasn't provided for." 

" Did you get nothing, Traddles, after all ? " 

" Oh, dear, yes ! " said Traddles. " I got fifty pounds. I 
had never been brought up to any profession, and at first I 
was at a loss what to do for myself. However, I began, with 
the assistance of the son of a professional man, who had been 
to Salem House Yawler, with his nose on one side. Do you 
recollect him ? " 

Xo. He had not been there with me ; all the noses were 
straight in my day. 

"It don't matter," said Traddles. "I began, by means of 
his assistance, to copy law writings. That didn't answer very 
well; and then I began to state cases for them, and make 
abstracts, and do that sort of work. For I am a plodding 
kind of fellow, Copperfield, and had learnt the way of doing 
such things pithily. Well ! That put it in my head to enter 
myself as a law student ; and that ran away with all that was 
left of the fifty pounds. Yawler recommended me to one or 
two other offices, however Mr. Waterbrook's for one and 



OF DAVID COPPEltFIELD. 439 

I got a good many jobs. I was fortunate enough, too, to 
become acquainted with a person in the publishing way, who 
was getting up an Encyclopaedia, and he set me to work ; and, 
indeed" (glancing at his table), "I am at work for him at 
this minute. I am not a bad compiler, Copperfield," said 
Traddles, preserving the same air of cheerful confidence in all 
he said, " But I have no invention at all ; not a particle. I 
suppose there never was a young man with less originality 
than I have." 

As Traddles seemed to expect that I should assent to this 
as a matter of course, I nodded; and he went on, with the 
same sprightly patience I can find no better expression 
as before. 

" So, by little and little, and not living high, I managed to 
scrape up the hundred pounds at last," said Traddles ; " and 
thank Heaven that's paid though it was though it cer- 
tainly was," said Traddles, wincing again as if he had had 
another tooth out, " a pull. I am living by the sort of work 
I have mentioned, still, and I hope, one of these days, to get 
connected with some newspaper, which would almost be the 
making of my fortune. Now, Copperfield, you are so exactly 
what you used to be, with that agreeable face, and it's so 
pleasant to see you, that I shan't conceal anything. There- 
fore you must know that I am engaged." 

Engaged! Oh, Dora! 

" She is a curate's daughter," said Traddles ; " one of ten, 
down in Devonshire. Yes ! " For he saw me glance, in- 
voluntarily, at the prospect on the inkstand. "That's the 
church ! You come round here, to the left, out of this gate," 
tracing his finger along the inkstand, " and exactly where I 
hold this pen, there stands the house facing, you understand, 
towards the church." 

The delight with which he entered into these particulars, 
did not fully present itself to me until afterwards; for my 
selfish thoughts were making a ground-plan of Mr. Spenlow's 
house and garden at the same moment. 

" She is such a dear girl ! " said Traddles ; " A little older 
than me, but the dearest girl ! I told you I was going out of 
town ? I have been down there. I walked there, and I 



440 THE PEE SON AL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

walked back, and I had the most delightful time ! I dare say 
ours is likely to be a rather long engagement, but our motto 
is ' Wait and hope ! ' "We always say that. ' Wait and hope/ 
we always say. And she would wait, Copperfield, till she was 
sixty any age you can mention for me ! " 

Traddles rose from his chair, and, with a triumphant smile, 
put his hand upon the white cloth I had observed. 

"However," he said, "it's not that we haven't made a 
beginning towards housekeeping. No, no ; we have begun. 
We must get on by degrees, but we have begun. Here," 
drawing the cloth off with great pride and care, "are two 
pieces of furniture to commence with. This flower-pot and 
stand, she bought herself. You put that in a parlor-window," 
said Traddles, falling a little back from it to survey it with 
the greater admiration, "with a plant in it, and and there 
you are ! This little round table with the marble top (it's 
two feet ten in circumference), / bought. You want to lay a 
book down, you know, or somebody comes to see you or your 
wife, and wants a place to stand a cup of tea upon, and and 
there you are again ! " said Traddles. " It's an admirable 
piece of workmanship firm as a rock ! " 

I praised them both, highly, and Traddles replaced the 
covering as carefully as he had removed it. 

" It's not a great deal towards the furnishing," said Trad- 
dies, "but it's something. The table-cloths, and pillow-cases, 
and articles of that kind, are what discourage me most, Cop- 
perfield. So does the ironmongery candle-boxes, and grid- 
irons, and that sort of necessaries because those things tell, 
and mount up. However, ' wait and hope ! ' And I assure 
you she's the dearest girl ! " 

" I am quite certain of it," said I. 

"In the mean time," said Traddles, coming back to his 
chair ; " and this is the end of my prosing about myself, I get 
on as well as I can. I don't make much, but I don't spend 
much. In general, I board with the people down stairs, who 
are very agreeable people indeed. Both Mr. and Mrs. Micaw- 
ber have seen a good deal of life, and are excellent company." 1 

" My dear Traddles ! " I quickly exclaimed. " What are 
you talking about ! " 



OF DAVID COPPEBFIELD. 441 

Traddles looked at me, as if lie wondered what J was talking 

about. 

"Mr. and Mrs. Micawber!" I repeated. 'Why, I am 

intimately acquainted with them ! " 

An opportune double knock at the door, which I knew well 
from old experience in Windsor-terrace, and which nobody but 
Mr. Micawber could ever have knocked at that door, resolved 
any doubt in my mind as to their being my old friends. I 
begged Traddles to ask his landlord to walk up. Traddles 
accordingly did so, over the bannister ; and Mr. Micawber, not 
a bit changed his tights, his stick, his shirt-collar, and his 
eye-glass, all the same as ever came into the room with a 
genteel and youthful air. 

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Traddles," said Mr. Micawber, with 
the old roll in his voice, as he checked himself in humming a 
soft tune. " I was not aware that there was any individual, 
alien to this tenement, in your sanctum." 

Mr. Micawber slightly bowed to me, and pulled up his shirt- 
collar. 

"How do you do, Mr. Micawber ? " said I. 

"Sir," said Mr. Micawber, "you are exceedingly obliging. 
I am in statu quo." 

" And Mrs. Micawber ? " I pursued. 

" Sir," said Mr. Micawber, " she is also, thank God, in statu 

quo.' 1 ' 1 

" And the children, Mr. Micawber ? J: 

" Sir," said Mr. Micawber, " I rejoice to reply that they are, 
likewise, in the enjoyment of salubrity." 

All this time, Mr. Micawber had not known me in the least, 
though he had stood face to face with me. But now, seeing 
me smile, he examined my features with more attention, fell 
back, cried, "Is it possible! Have I the pleasure of again 
beholding Copperfield ! " and shook me by both hands with 
the utmost fervor. 

"Good Heaven, Mr. Traddles!" said Mr. Micawber, "to 
think that I should find you acquainted with the friend of my 
youth, the companion of earlier days ! My dear ! calling 
over the bannisters to Mrs. Micawber, while Traddles looked 
(with re,ason) not a little amazed at this description of me. 



442 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" Here is a gentleman in Mr. Traddles's apartment, whom he 
wishes to have the pleasure of presenting to you, my love ! " 

Mr. Micawber immediately reappeared, and shook hands 
with me again. 

" And how is our good friend the Doctor, Copperfield ? " 
said Mr. Micawber, " and all the circle at Canterbury ? " 

" I have none but good accounts of them," said I. 

" I am most delighted to hear it," said Mr. Micawber. " It 
was at Canterbury where we last met. Within the shadow, I 
may figuratively say, of that religious edifice immortalized by 
Chaucer, which was anciently the resort of Pilgrims from the 
remotest corners of in short," said Mr. Micawber, "in the 
timnediate neighborhood of the Cathedral." 

I replied that it was. Mr. Micawber continued talking as 
volubly as he could ; but not, I thought, without showing, by 
some marks of concern in his countenance, that he was sensi- 
ble of sounds in the next room, as of Mrs. Micawber washing 
her hands, and hurriedly opening and shutting drawers that 
were uneasy in their action. 

" You find us, Copperfield," said Mr. Micawber, with one eye 
on Traddles, " at present established, on what may be desig- 
nated as a small and unassuming scale ; but, you are aware 
that I have, in the course of my career, surmounted difficulties, 
and conquered obstacles. You are no stranger to the fact, 
that there have been periods of my life, when it has been 
requisite that I should pause, until certain expected events 
should turn up ; when it has been necessary that I should fall 
back, before making what I trust I shall not be accused of 
presumption in terming a spring. The present is one of 
those momentous stages in the life of man. You find me, 
fallen back, for a spring ; and I have every reason to believe 
that a vigorous leap will shortly be the result." 

I was expressing my satisfaction, when Mrs. Micawber came 
in; a little more slatternly than she used to be, or so she 
seemed now, to my unaccustomed eyes, but still with some 
preparation of herself for company, and with a pair of brown 
gloves on. 

"My dear," said Mr. Micawber, leading her towards me. 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 443 

"Here is a gentleman of the name of Copperfield, who wishes 
to renew his acquaintance with you." 

It would have been better, as it turned out, to have led 
gently up to his announcement, for Mrs. Micawber, being in a 
delicate state of health, was overcome by it, and was taken so 
unwell, that Mr. Micawber was obliged, in great trepidation, 
to run down to the water-butt in the back-yard, and draw a 
basinful to lave her brow with. She presently revived, how- 
ever, and was really pleased to see me. We had half-an-hour's 
talk, altogether ; and I asked her about the twins, who, she 
said, were "grown great creatures;" and after Master and 
Miss Micawber, whom she described as " absolute giants," but 
they were not produced on that occasion. 

Mr. Micawber was very anxious that I should stay to dinner. 
I should not have been averse to do so, but that I imagined 
I detected trouble, and calculation relative to the extent of 
the cold meat, in Mrs. Micawber's eye.. I therefore pleaded 
another engagement; and observing that Mrs. Micawber's 
spirits were immediately lightened, I resisted all persuasion 

to forego it. 

But I told Traddles, and Mr. and Mrs. Micawber, that before 
I could think of leaving, they must appoint a day when they 
would come and dine with me. The occupations to which 
Traddles stood pledged, rendered it necessary to fix a some- 
what distant one ; but an appointment was made for the pur- 
pose, that suited us all, and then I took my leave. 

Mr. Micawber, under pretence of showing me a nearer way 
than that by which I had come, accompanied me to the corner 
of the street ; being anxious (he explained to me) to say a few 
words to an old friend, in confidence. 

"My dear Copperfield," said Mr. Micawber, " I need ^ hardly 
tell you that to have beneath our roof, under existing cir- 
cumstances, a mind like that which gleams if I may be 
allowed the expression which gleams in your friend Trad- 
dies, is an unspeakable comfort. With a washerwoman, who 
exposes hard-bake for sale in her parlor-window, dwelling next 
door, and a Bow-street officer residing over the way, you may 
imagine that his society is a source of consolation to myself 
and to Mrs. Micawber. I am at present, my dear Copperfield, 



444 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

engaged in the sale of corn upon commission. It is not an 
avocation of a remunerative description in other words, it 
does not pay and some temporary embarrassments of a 
pecuniary nature have been the consequence. I am, however, 
delighted to add that I have now an immediate prospect of 
something turning up (I am not at liberty to say in what 
direction), which I trust will enable me to provide, perma- 
nently, both for myself and for your friend Traddles, in whom 
I have an unaffected interest. You may, perhaps, be prepared 
to hear that Mrs. Micawber is in a state of health which ren- 
ders it not wholly improbable that an addition may be ulti- 
mately made to those pledges of affection which in short, 
to the infantine group. Mrs. Micawber's family have been so 
good as to express their dissatisfaction at this state of things. 
I have merely to observe that I am not aware it is any business 
of theirs, and that I repel that exhibition of feeling with 
scorn, and with defiance ! " 

Mr. Micawber then shook hands with ine again, and left me. 



OF DAVID COPPEBFIELD. 445 



CHAPTEE XXVIII. 
MR. MICAWBER'S GAUNTLET. 

UNTIL the day arrived on which I was to entertain my 
newly found old friends, I lived principally on Dora and 
coffee. In rny love-lorn condition, my appetite languished ; 
and I was glad of it, for I felt as though it would have been 
an act of perfidy towards Dora to have a natural relish for my 
dinner. The quantity of walking exercise I took, was not in 
this respect attended with its usual consequence, as the disap- 
pointment counteracted the fresh air. I have my doubts, too, 
founded on the acute experience acquired at this period of my 
life, whether a sound enjoyment of animal food can develop 
itself freely in any human subject who is always in torment 
from tight boots. I think the extremities require to be at 
peace before the stomach will conduct itself with vigor. 

On the occasion of this domestic little party, I did not re- 
peat my former extensive preparations. I merely provided a 
pair of soles, a small leg of mutton, and a pigeon-pie. Mrs. 
Crupp broke out into rebellion on my first bashful hint in 
reference to the cooking of the fish and joint, and said, with a 
dignified sense of injury, " No ! No, sir ! You will not ask 
me sich a thing, for you are better acquainted with me than 
to suppose me capable of doing what I cannot do with ampial 
satisfaction to my own feelings ! " But, in the end, a compro- 
mise was effected ; and Mrs. Crupp consented to achieve this 
feat, on condition that I dined from home for a fortnight 
afterwards. 

And here I may remark, that what I underwent from Mrs. 
Crupp, in consequence of the tyranny she established over me, 
was dreadful. I never was so much afraid of any one. We 
made a compromise of everything. If I hesitated, she was 
taken with that wonderful disorder which was always lying 
in ambush in her system, ready, at the shortest notice, to prey 



446 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE. 

upon her vitals. If I rang the bell impatiently, after half-a- 
dozen unavailing modest pulls, and she appeared at last 
which was not by any means to be relied upon she would 
appear with a reproachful aspect, sink breathless on a chair 
near the door, lay her hand upon her nankeen bosom, and be- 
come so ill, that I was glad, at any sacrifice of brandy or any- 
thing else, to get rid of her. If I objected to having my bed 
made at five o'clock in the afternoon which I do still think an 
uncomfortable arrangement one motion of her hand towards 
the same nankeen region of wounded sensibility was enough 
to make me falter an apology. In short, I would have done 
anything in an honorable way rather than give Mrs. Crupp 
offence ; and she was the terror of my life. 

I bought a second-hand dumb-waiter for this dinner-party, 
in preference to re-engaging the handy young man; against 
whom I had conceived a prejudice, in consequence of meeting 
him in the Strand, one Sunday morning, in a waistcoat remark- 
ably like one of mine, which had been missing since the for- 
mer occasion. The " young gal " was re-engaged ; but on the 
stipulation that she should only bring in the dishes, and then 
withdraw to the landing-place, beyond the outer door ; where 
a habit of sniffing she had contracted would be lost upon the 
guests, and where her retiring on the plates would be a physi- 
cal impossibility. 

Having laid in the materials for a bowl of punch, to be 
compounded by Mr. Micawber ; having provided a bottle of 
lavender-water, two wax candles, a paper of mixed pins, and a 
pincushion, to assist Mrs. Micawber in her toilette, at my dress- 
ing-table ; having also caused the fire in my bed-room to be 
lighted for Mrs. Micawber's convenience ; and having laid 
the cloth with my own hands, I awaited the result with com- 
posure. 

At the appointed time, my three visitors arrived together. 
Mr. Micawber with more shirt-collar than usual, and a new 
ribbon to his eye-glass ; Mrs. Micawber with her cap in a 
whitey-brown paper parcel ; Traddles carrying the parcel, and 
supporting Mrs. Micawber on his arm. They were all delighted 
with my residence. When I conducted Mrs. Micawber to my 
dressing-table, and she saw the scale on which it was prepared 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 447 

for her, she was in such raptures, that she called Mr. Micawber 
to come in and look. 

" My dear Copperfield," said Mr. Micawber, " this is luxuri- 
ous. This is a way of life which reminds me of the period 
when I was myself in a state of celibacy, and Mrs. Micawber 
had not yet been solicited to plight her faith at the Hymeneal 
altar." 

" He means, solicited by him, Mr. Copperfield," said Mrs. 
Micawber archly. " He cannot answer for others." 

"My dear," returned Mr. Micawber with sudden seriousness, 
" I have no desire to answer for others. I am too well aware 
that when, in the inscrutable decrees of Fate, you were 
reserved for me, it is possible you may have been reserved for 
one, destined, after a protracted struggle, at length to fall a 
victim to pecuniary involvements of a complicated nature. I 
understand your allusion, my love. I regret it, but I can bear 
it." 

" Micawber ! " exclaimed Mrs. Micawber, in tears. " Have 
I deserved this ! I, who never have deserted you ; who never 
will desert you, Micawber ! " 

" My love," said Mr. Micawber, much affected, " you will 
forgive, and our old and tried friend Copperfield will, I am 
sure, forgive, the momentary laceration of a wounded spirit, 
made sensitive by a recent collision with the Minion of Power 
in other words, with a ribald Turncock attached to the 
water-works and will pity, not condemn, its excesses." 

Mr. Micawber then embraced Mrs. Micawber, and pressed 
my hand ; leaving me to infer from this broken allusion that 
his domestic supply of water had been cut off that afternoon, 
in consequence of default in the payment of the company's 
rates. 

To divert his thoughts from this melancholy subject, I 
informed Mr. Micawber that I relied upon him for a bowl of 
punch, and led him to the lemons. His recent despondency, 
not to say despair, was gone in a moment. I never saw a man 
so thoroughly enjoy himself amid the fragrance of lemon-peel 
and sugar, the odor of burning rum, and the steam of boiling 
water, as Mr. Micawber did that afternoon. It was wonderful 
to see his face shining at us out of a thin cloud of these deli- 



448 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

cate fumes, as lie stirred, and mixed, and tasted, and looked 
as if lie were making, instead of punch, a fortune for his 
family down to the latest posterity. As to Mrs. Micawber, I 
don't know whether it was the effect of the cap, or the lav- 
ender-water, or the pins, or the fire, or the wax candles, but 
she came out of my room, comparatively speaking, lovely. 
And the lark was never gayer than that excellent woman. 

I suppose I never ventured to inquire, but I suppose 
that Mrs. Crupp, after frying the soles, was taken ill. Because 
we broke down at that point. The leg of mutton came up 
very red within, and very pale without : besides having a 
foreign substance of a gritty nature sprinkled over it, as if it 
had had a fall into the ashes of that remarkable kitchen fire- 
place. But we were not in a condition to judge of this fact 
from the appearance of the gravy, forasmuch as the "young 
gal " had dropped it all upon the stairs where it remained, 
by the by, in a long train, until it was worn out. The pigeon- 
pie was not bad, but it was a delusive pie : the crust being like 
a disappointing head, phrenologically speaking : full of lumps 
and bumps, with nothing particular underneath. In short, 
the banquet was such a failure that I should have been quite 
unhappy about the failure, I mean, for I was always un- 
happy about Dora if I had not been relieved by the great 
good-humor of my company, and by a bright suggestion from 
Mr. Micawber. 

"My dear friend Copperfield," said Mr. Micawber, "acci- 
dents will occur in the best-regulated families ; and in families 
not regulated by that pervading influence which sanctifies 
while it enhances the a I would say, in short, by the 
influence of Woman, in the lofty character of Wife, they may 
be expected with confidence, and must be borne with phil- 
osophy. If you will allow me to take the liberty of remarking 
that there are few comestibles better, in their way, than a 
Devil, and that I believe, with a little division of labor, we 
could accomplish a good one if the young person in attendance 
could produce a gridiron, I would put it to you, that this little 
misfortune may be easily repaired." 

There was a gridiron in the pantry, on which my morning 
rasher of bacon was cooked. We had it in, in a twinkling, 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 449 

and immediately applied ourselves to carrying Mr. Micawber's 
idea into effect. The division of labor to which he had re- 
ferred was this : Traddles cut the mutton into slices ; Mr. 
Micawber (who could do anything of this sort to perfection) 
covered them with pepper, mustard, salt, and cayenne ; I put 
them on the gridiron, turned them with a fork, and took them 
off, under Mr. Micawber's direction ; and Mrs. Micawber 
heated, and continually stirred, some mushroom ketchup in a 
little saucepan. When we had slices enough done to begin 
upon, we fell-to, with our sleeves still tucked up at the wrists, 
more slices sputtering and blazing on the fire, and our atten- 
tion divided between the mutton on our plates, and the mutton 
then preparing. 

What with the novelty of this cookery, the excellence of it, 
the bustle of it, the frequent starting up to look after it, the 
frequent sitting down to dispose of it as the crisp slices came 
off the gridiron hot and hot, the being so busy, so flushed 
with the fire, so amused, and in the midst of such a tempting 
noise and savor, we reduced the leg of mutton to the bone. 
My own appetite came back miraculously. I am ashamed to 
record it, but I really believe I forgot Dora for a little while. 
I am satisfied that Mr. and Mrs. Micawber could not have 
enjoyed the feast more if they had sold a bed to provide it. 
Traddles laughed as heartily, almost the whole time, as he 
ate and worked. Indeed we all did, all at once ; and I dare 
say there never was a greater success. 

We were at the height of our enjoyment, and were all 
busily engaged, in our several departments, endeavoring to 
bring the last batch of slices to a state of perfection that 
should crown the feast, when I was aware of a strange pres- 
ence in the room, and my eyes encountered those of the staid 
Lit timer, standing hat in hand before me. 

" What's the matter ? " I involuntarily asked. 

" I beg your pardon, sir, I was directed to come in. Is my 
master not here, sir ? " 

"No." 

" Have you not seen him, sir ? " 

" No ; don't you come from him ? >; 

"Not immediately so, sir." 
VOL. i 29 



450 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" Did he tell you you would find him here ? " 

" Not exactly so, sir. But I should think he might be here 
to-morrow, as 'he has not been here to-day." 

" Is he coming up from Oxford ? " 

"I beg, sir," he returned respectfully, "that you will be 
seated, and allow me to do this." With which he took the 
fork from my unresisting hand, and bent over the gridiron, as 
if his whole attention were concentrated on it. 

We should not have been much discomposed, I dare say, 
by the appearance of Steerforth himself, but we became in a 
moment the meekest of the meek before his respectable serving- 
man. Mr. Micawber, humming a tune, to show that he was 
quite at ease, subsided into his chair, with the handle of a 
hastily concealed fork sticking out of the bosom of his coat, as 
if he had stabbed himself. Mrs. Micawber put on her brown 
gloves, and assumed a genteel languor. Traddles ran his 
greasy hands through his hair, and stood it bolt upright, and 
stared in confusion on the, table-cloth. As for me, I was 
a mere infant at the head of my own table ; and hardly 
ventured to glance at the respectable phenomenon, who had 
come from Heaven knows where, to put my establishment to 
rights. 

Meanwhile he took the mutton off the gridiron, and gravely 
handed it round. We all took some, but our appreciation of 
it was gone, and we merely made a show of eating it. As 
we severally pushed away our plates, he noiselessly removed 
them, and set on the cheese. He took that off, too, when it 
was done with ; cleared the table ; piled everything on the 
dumb-waiter ; gave us our wine-glasses ; and, of his own 
accord, wheeled the dumb-waiter into the pantry. All this 
was done in a perfect manner, and he never raised his eyes 
from what he was about. Yet, his very elbows, when he had 
his back towards me, seemed to teem with the expression of 
his fixed opinion that I was extremely young. 

" Can I do anything more, sir ? " 

I thanked him and said No ; but would he take no dinner 
himself ? 

" None, I am obliged to you, sir." 

" Is Mr. Steerforth coming from Oxford ? " 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 451- 

" I beg your pardon, sir ? ' : 

" Is Mr. Steerforth coining from Oxford ? " 

"I should imagine that he might be here to-morrow, sir. 
I rather thought he might have been here to-day, sir. The 
mistake is mine, no doubt, sir." 

" If you should see him first " said I. 

" If you'll excuse me, sir, I don't think I shall see him first." 

"In case you do," said I, " pray say that I am sorry he was 
not here to-day, as an old schoolfellow of his was here." 

"Indeed, sir!" and he divided a bow between me and 
Traddles, with a glance at the latter. 

He was moving softly to the door, when, in a forlorn hope 
of saying something naturally which I never could, to this 
man I said : 

"Oh! Littimer!" 

" Sir ! " 

" Did you remain long at Yarmouth, that time ? ' 

" Not particularly so, sir." 

" You saw the boat completed ? " 

" Yes, sir. I remained behind on purpose to see the boat 

completed." 

" I know ! " he raised his eyes to mine respectfully. < Mr. 
Steerforth has not seen it yet, I suppose ? ' 

"I really can't say, sir. I think but I really can't say, 
sir. I wish you good night, sir." 

* He comprehended everybody present, in the respectful bow 
with which he followed these words, and disappeared. My 
visitors seemed to breathe more freely when he was gone ; but 
my own relief was very great, for besides the constraint, 
arising from that extraordinary sense of being at a disadvan- 
tage which I always had in this man's presence, my conscience 
had embarrassed me with whispers that I had mistrusted 
his master, and I could not repress a vague uneasy dread that 
he might find it out. How was it, having so little in reality 
to conceal, that I always did feel as if this man were finding 

me out ? 

Mr. Micawber roused me from this reflection, which was 
blended with a certain remorseful apprehension of seeing 
Steerforth himself, by bestowing many encomiums Q2 the 



452 THE PERSONAL HISTOBY AND EXPERIENCE 

absent Littimer as a most respectable fellow, and a thoroughly 
admirable servant. Mr. Micawber, I may remark, had taken 
his full share of the general bow, and had received it with 
infinite condescension. 

"But punch, my dear Copperfield," said Mr. Micawber, 
tasting it, "like time and tide, waits for no man. Ah! it is 
at the present moment in high flavor. My love, will you give 
me your opinion ? " 

Mrs. Micawber pronounced it excellent. 

" Then I will drink," said Mr. Micawber, " if my friend 
Copperfield will permit me to take that social liberty, to the 
days when my friend Copperfield and myself were younger, 
and fought our way in the world side by side. I may say, of 
myself and Copperfield, in words we have sung together before 
now, that 

We twa' hae run about the braes 
And pu'd the go wans fine 

in a figurative point of view on several occasions. I am 
not exactly aware," said Mr. Micawber, with the old roll in 
his voice, and the old indescribable air of saying something 
genteel, " what go wans may be, but I have no doubt that 
Copperfield and myself would frequently have taken a pull at 
them, if it had been feasible." 

Mr. Micawber, at the then present moment, took a pull at 
his punch. So we all did : Traddles evidently lost in wonder- 
ing at what distant time Mr. Micawber and I could have been 
comrades in the battle of the world. 

" Ahem ! " said Mr. Micawber, clearing his throat, and 
warming with the punch and with the fire. " My dear, another 
glass ? " 

Mrs. Micawber said it must be very little, but we couldn't 
allow that, so it was a glassful. 

" As we are quite confidential here, Mr. Copperfield," said 
Mrs. Micawber, sipping her punch, " Mr. Traddles being a part 
of our domesticity, I should much like to have your opinion 
on Mr. Micawber's prospects. For corn," said Mrs. Micawber 
argumentatively, " as I have repeatedly said to Mr. Micawber, 
may be gentlemanly, but it is not remunerative. Commission 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 453 

to the extent of two and ninepence in a fortnight cannot, how- 
ever limited our ideas, be considered remunerative." 

We were all agreed upon that. 

" Then/' said Mrs. Micawber, who prided herself on taking 
a clear view of things, and keeping Mr. Micawber straight by 
her woman's wisdom, when he might otherwise go a little 
crooked, " then I ask myself this question. If corn is not to 
be relied upon, what is ? Are coals to be relied upon ? Not 
at all. We have turned our attention to that experiment, on 
the suggestion of my family, and we find it fallacious." 

Mr. Micawber, leaning back in his chair with his hands in 
his pockets, eyed us aside, and nodded his head, as much as to 
say that the case was very clearly put. 

"The articles of corn and coals," said Mrs. Micawber, still 
more argumentatively, " being equally out of the question, Mr. 
Copperfield, I naturally look round the world, and say, ' What 
is there in which a person of Mr. Micawber's talent is likely to 
succeed ? ' And I exclude the doing anything on commission, 
because commission is not a certainty. What is best suited 
to a person of Mr. Micawber's peculiar temperament is, I am 
convinced, a certainty." 

Traddles and I both expressed, by a feeling murmur, that this 
great discovery was no doubt true of Mr. Micawber, and that 
it did him much credit. 

" I will not conceal from you, my dear Mr. Copperfield," 
said Mrs. Micawber, "that I have long felt the Brewing busi- 
ness to be particularly adapted to Mr. Micawber. Look at 
Barclay and Perkins ! Look at Truman, Hanbury, and Bux- 
ton! It is on that extensive footing that Mr. Micawber, I 
know from my own knowledge of him, is calculated to shine : 
and the profits, I am told, are e-NOR mous ! But if Mr. 
Micawber cannot get into those firms which decline to 
answer his letters, when he offers his services even in an 
inferior capacity what is the use of dwelling upon that 
idea ? None. I may have a conviction that Mr. Micawber's 
manners " 

" Hem ! Eeally, my dear," interposed Mr. Micawber. 

" My love, be silent," said Mrs. Micawber, laying her brown 
glove on his hand. " I may have a conviction, Mr. Copper- 



454 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

field, that Mr. Micawbers manners peculiarly qualify him for 
the Banking business. I may argue within myself, that if / 
had a deposit at a banking-house, the manners of Mr. Micaw- 
ber, as representing that banking-house, would inspire confi- 
dence, and must extend the connection. But if the various 
banking-houses refuse to avail themselves of Mr. Micawber's 
abilities, or receive the offer of them with contumely, what is 
the use of dwelling upon that idea ? Xone. As to originating 
a banking-business, I may know that there are members of my 
family who, if they chose to place their money in Mr. Micaw- 
ber's hands, might found an establishment of that description. 
But if they do not choose to place their money in Mr. Micaw- 
ber's hands which they don't what is the use of that ? 
Again I contend that we are no farther advanced than we 
were before." 

I shook my head, and said, "Not a bit." Traddles also 
shook his head, and said, " Not a bit." 

" What do I deduce from this ? " Mrs. Micawber went on to 
say, still with the same air of putting a case lucidly. " What 
is the conclusion, my dear Mr. Copperfield, to which I am 
irresistibly brought ? Am I wrong in saying, it is clear that 
we must live ? " 

I answered, " Xot at all ! " and Traddles answered, " Xot at 
all ! " and I found myself afterwards sagely adding, alone, 
that a person must either live or die. 

"Just so," returned Mrs. Micawber. "It is precisely that. 
And the fact is, my dear Mr. Copperfield, that we can not live 
without something widely different from existing circum- 
stances shortly turning up. Xow I am convinced, myself, 
and this I have pointed out to Mr. Micawber several times of 
late, that things cannot be expected to turn up of themselves. 
We must, in a measure, assist to turn them up. I may be 
wrong, but I have formed that opinion." 

Both Traddles and I applauded it highly. 

"Very well," said Mrs. Micawber. "Then what do I re- 
commend ? Here is Mr. Micawber with a variety of qualifi- 
cations with great talent " 

" Really, my love, J1 said Mr. Micawber. 

"Pray, my dear, allow me to conclude. Here is Mr. Mi- 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 455 

cawber, with, a variety of qualifications, with great talent / 
should say, with genius, but that may be the partiality of a 
wife " 

Traddles and I both murmured " No." 

" And here is Mr. Micawber without any suitable position 
or employment. Where does that responsibility rest ? Clearly 
on society. Then I would make a fact so disgraceful known, 
and boldly challenge society to set it right. It appears to me, 
my dear Mr. Copperfield," said Mrs. Micawber, forcibly, " that 
what Mr. Micawber has to do, is to throw down the gauntlet 
to society, and say, in effect, ' Show me who will take that up. 
Let the party immediately step forward.' ' 

I ventured to ask Mrs. Micawber how this was to be done. 

" By advertising," said Mrs. Micawber " in all the papers. 
It appears to me, that what Mr. Micawber has to do, in justice 
to himself, in justice to his family, and I will even go so far 
as to say in justice to society, by which he has been hitherto 
overlooked, is to advertise in all the papers ; to describe him- 
self plainly as so and so, with such and such qualifications, 
and to put it thus: 'Now employ me, on remunerative 
terms, and address, post-paid, to W. M., Post Office, Cainden 
Town/ " 

" This idea of Mrs. Micawber' s, my dear Copperfield," said 
Mr. Micawber, making his shirt-collar meet in front of his 
chin, and glancing at me sideways, " is, in fact, the Leap to 
which I alluded, when I last had the pleasure of seeing you." 

" Advertising is rather expensive," I remarked, dubiously. 

" Exactly so ! " said Mrs. Micawber, preserving the same 
logical air. " Quite true, my dear Mr. Copperfield ! I have 
made the identical observation to Mr. Micawber. It is for 
that reason especially, that I think Mr. Micawber ought (as I 
have already said, in justice to himself, in justice to his fam- 
ily, and in justice to society) to raise a certain sum of money 
on a bill." 

Mr. Micawber, leaning back in his chair, trifled with his eye- 
glass, and cast his eyes up at the ceiling ; but I thought him 
observant of Traddles, too, who was looking at the fire. 

"If no member of my family," said Mrs. Micawber, "is 
possessed of sufficient natural feeling to negotiate that bill 



456 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

I believe there is a better business-term to express what I 
mean " 

Mr. Micawber, with his eyes still cast up at the ceiling, 
suggested "Discount." 

"To discount that bill," said Mrs. Micawber, "then my 
opinion is, that Mr. Micawber should go into the City, should 
take that bill into the Money Market, and should dispose of it' 
for what he can get. If the individuals in the Money Market 
oblige Mr. Micawber to sustain a great sacrifice, that is be- 
tween themselves and their consciences. I view it, steadily, 
as an investment. I recommend Mr. Micawber, my dear Mr. 
Copperfield, to do the same ; to regard it as an investment 
which is sure of return, and to make up his mind to any sacri- 
fice." 

I felt, but I am sure I don't know why, that this was self- 
denying and devoted in Mrs. Micawber, and I uttered a mur- 
mur to that effect. Traddles, who took his tone from me, did 
likewise, still looking at the fire. 

" I will not," said Mrs. Micawber, finishing her punch, and 
gathering her scarf about her shoulders, preparatory to her 
withdrawal to my bed-room ; " I will not protract these re- 
marks on the subject of Mr. Micawber's pecuniary affairs. At 
your fireside, my dear Mr. Copperfield, and in the presence of 
Mr. Traddles, who, though not so old a friend, is quite one of 
ourselves, I could not refrain from making you acquainted 
with the course / advise Mr. Micawber to take. I feel that 
the time is arrived when Mr. Micawber should exert himself 
and I will add assert himself, and it appears to me that . 
these are the means. I am aware that I am merely a female, 
and that a masculine judgment is usually considered more 
competent to the discussion of such questions ; still I must not 
forget that, when I lived at home with my papa and mamma, 
my papa was in the habit of saying, ' Emma's form is fragile, 
but her grasp of a subject is inferior to none. 7 That my papa 
was too partial, I well know ; but that he was an observer of 
character in some degree, my duty and my reason equally for- 
bid me to doubt." 

With these words, and resisting our entreaties that she 
would grace the remaining circulation of the punch with her 






OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 457 

presence, Mrs. Micawber retired to my bed-room. And really 
I felt that she was a noble woman the sort of woman who 
might have been a Roman matron, and done all manner of 
heroic things, in times of public trouble. 

In the fervor of this impression, I congratulated Mr. 
Micawber on the treasure he possessed. So did Traddles. 
Mr. Micawber extended his hand to each of us in succession, 
and then covered his face with his pocket-handkerchief, which 
T think had more snuff upon it than he was aware of. He 
then returned to the punch, in the highest state of exhil- 
aration. 

He was full of eloquence. He gave us to understand that 
in our children - lived again, and that, under the pressure of 
pecuniary difficulties, any accession to their number was 
doubly welcome. He said that Mrs. Micawber had latterly had 
her doubts on this oint, but that he had dispelled them, and 
reassured her. As to her family, they were totally unworthy 
of her, and their sentiments were utterly indifferent to him, 
and they might I quote his own expression go to the 
Devil. 

Mr. Micawber then delivered a warm eulogy on Traddles. 
He said Traddles's was a character, to the steady virtues of 
which he (Mr. Micawber) could lay no claim, but which, he 
thanked Heaven, he could admire. He feelingly alluded to 
the young lady, unknown, whom Traddles had honored with 
his affection, and who had reciprocated that affection by honor- 
ing and blessing Traddles with her affection. Mr. Micawber 
pledged her. So did I. Traddles thanked us both, by saying, 
with a simplicity and honesty I had sense enough to be quite 
charmed with, " I am very much obliged to you indexed. And 
I do assure you, she's the dearest girl ! " 

Mr. Micawber took an early opportunity, after that, of 
hinting, with the utmost delicacy and ceremony, at the state 
of my affections. Nothing but the serious assurance of his 
friend Copperfield to the contrary, he observed, could deprive 
him of the impression that his friend Copperfield loved and 
was beloved. After feeling very hot and uncomfortable for 
some time, and after a good deal of blushing, stammering, and 
denying, I said, having my glass in my hand, " Well ! I would 



458 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

give them D. ! " which so excited and gratified Mr. Micawber, 
that he ran with a glass of punch into my bed-room, in order 
that Mrs. Micawber might drink D., who drank it with enthu- 
siasm, crying from within, in a shrill voice, " Hear, hear ! 
My dear Mr. Copperfield, I am delighted. Hear ! " and tapping 
at the wall, by way of applause. 

Our onversation, afterwards, took a more worldly turn; 
Mr. Micawber lling us that he found Camden Town incon- 
venient, and that ne first thing he contemplated doing, when 
the advertisement should have been the cause of something 

4 

satisfactory turning up, was to move. He mentioned a terrace 
at the western end of Oxford-street, fronting Hyde Park, on 
which he had always had his eye, but which he did not expect 
to attain immediately, as it would require a large establish- 
ment. There would probably be an interval, he explained, 
in which he should content himself with the upper part of a 
house, over some respectable place of business, say in Pic- 
cadilly, which would be a cheerful situation for Mrs. Micaw- 
ber ; and where, by throwing out a bow window, or carrying 
up the roof another story, or making some little alteration of 
that sort, they might live, comfortably and reputably, for a 
few years. Whatever was reserved for him, he expressly said, 
or wherever his abode might be, we might rely on this there 
would always be a room for Traddles, and a knife and fork for 
me. We acknowledged his kindness; and he begged us to 
forgive his having launched into these practical and business- 
like details, and to excuse it as natural in one who was making 
entirely new arrangements in life. 

Mrs. Micawber tapping at the wall again, to know if tea 
were ready, broke up this particular phase of our friendly con- 
versation. She made tea for us in a most agreeable manner ; 
and, whenever I went near her, in handing about the tea cups 
and bread-and-butter, asked me, in a whisper, whether D. was 
fair, or dark, or whether she was short, or tall : or something 
of that kind ; which I think I liked. After tea, we discussed 
a variety of topics before the fire ; and Mrs. Micawber was 
good enough to sing us (in a small, thin, flat voice, which 
I remembered to have considered, when I first knew her, the 
very table-beer of acoustics) the favorite ballads of "The 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 459 

Dashing White Sergeant/' and " Little Tafflin." For both of 
these songs Mrs. Micawber had been famous when she lived 
at home with her papa and mamma. Mr. Micawber told us, 
that when he heard her sing the first one, on the first occasion 
of his seeing her beneath the parental roof, she had attracted 
his attention in an extraordinary degree ; but that when it 
came to Little Tafflin, he had resolved to win that woman or 
perish in the attempt. 

It was between ten and eleven o'clock when Mrs. Micawber 
rose to replace her cap in the whitey-brown paper parcel, and 
to put on her bonnet. Mr. Micawber took the opportunity of 
Traddles putting on his great coat, to slip a letter into my 
hand, with a whispered request that I would read it at my 
leisure. I also took the opportunity of my holding a candle 
over the banisters to light them down, when Mr. Micawber 
was going first, leading Mrs. Micawber, and Traddles was fol- 
lowing with the cap, to detain Traddles for a moment on the 
top of the stairs. 

" Traddles," said I, " Mr. Micawber don't mean any harm, 
poor fellow: but, if I were you, I wouldn't lend him any- 
thing." 

"My dear Copperfield," returned Traddles, smiling, "I 
haven't got anything to lend." 

" You have got a name, you know," said I. 

" Oh ! You call that something to lend ? " returned Trad- 
dies with a thoughtful look. 

"Certainly." 

" Oh ! " said Traddles. " Yes, to be sure ! I am very much 
obliged to you, Copperfield ; but I am afraid I have lent him 
that already." 

"For the bill that is to be a certain investment ? " I inquired. 

"No," said Traddles. "Not for that one. This is the first 
I have heard of that one. I have been thinking that he will 
most likely propose that one, on the way home. Mine's 
another." 

" I hope there will be nothing wrong about it," said I. 

" I hope not," said Traddles. " I should think not, though, 
because he told me only the other day, that it was provided 
for. That was Mr. Micawber's expression, t Provided for.' ' 



460 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

Mr. Micawber looking up at this juncture to where we were 
standing, I had only time to repeat my caution. Traddles 
thanked me, and descended. But I was much afraid, when I 
observed the good-natured manner in which he went down 
with the cap in his hand, and gave Mrs. Micawber his arm, 
that he would be carried into the Money Market neck and heels. 

I returned to my fireside, and was musing, half gravely and 
half laughing, on the character of Mr. Micawber and the old 
relations between us, when I heard a quick step ascending the 
stairs. At first, I thought it was Traddles coming back for 
something Mrs. Micawber had left behind ; but as the step 
approached, I knew it, and felt my heart beat high, and the 
blood rush to my face, for it was Steerforth's. 

I was never unmindful of Agnes, and she never left that 
sanctuary in my thoughts if I may call it so where I had 
placed her from the first. But when he entered, and stood 
before me with his hand out, the darkness that had fallen on 
him changed to light, and I felt confounded and ashamed of 
having doubted one I loved so heartily. I loved her none the 
less ; I thought of her as the same benignant, gentle angel in 
my life ; I reproached myself, not her, with having done him 
an injury ; and I would have made him any atonement if I 
had known what to make, and how to make it. 

"Why, Daisy, old boy, dumb-foundered!" laughed Steer- 
forth, shaking my hand heartily, and throwing it gaily away. 
" Have I detected you in another feast, you Sybarite ! These 
Doctors' Commons fellows are the gayest men in town, I believe, 
and beat us sober Oxford people all to nothing ! " His bright 
glance went merrily round the room, as he took the seat on 
the sofa opposite to me, which Mrs. Micawber had recently 
vacated, and stirred the fire into a blaze. 

" I was so surprised at first,' 7 said I, giving him welcome 
with all the cordiality I felt, " that I had hardly breath to 
greet you with, Steerforth." 

" Well, the sight of me is good for sore eyes, as the Scotch 
say," replied Steerforth, " and so is the sight of you, Daisy, in 
full bloom. How are you, my Bacchanal ? " 

"I am very well," said I; "and not at all Bacchanalian 
to-night, though I confess to another party of three." 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 461 

" All of whom I met in the street, talking loud in your praise," 
returned Steerforth. " Who's our friend in the tights ? " 

I gave him the best idea I could, in a few words, of Mr. 
Micawber. He laughed heartily at my feeble portrait of that gen- 
tleman, and said he was a man to know, and he must know him. 

" But who do you suppose our other friend is ? " said I, in 
my turn. 

" Heaven knows," said Steerforth. " Not a bore, I hope ? 
I thought he looked a little like one." 

" Traddles ! " I replied, triumphantly. 

" Who's he ? " asked Steerforth, in his careless way. 

" Don't you remember Traddles ? Traddles in our room at 
Salem House?" 

" Oh ! That fellow ! " said Steerforth, beating a lump of 
coal on the top of the fire, with the poker. " Is he as soft 
as ever ? And where the deuce did you pick him up ? ' : 

I extolled Traddles in reply, as highly as I could ; for I felt 
that Steerforth rather slighted him. Steerforth, dismissing 
the subject with a light nod, and a smile, and the remark that 
he would be glad to see the old fellow too, for he had always 
been an odd fish, inquired if I could give him anything to eat ? 
During most of this short dialogue, when he had not been 
speaking in a wild vivacious manner, he had sat idly beating 
on the lump of coal with the poker. I observed that he did 
the same thing while I was getting out the remains of the 
pigeon-pie, and so forth. 

" Why, Daisy, here's a supper for a king ! " he exclaimed, 
starting out of his silence with a burst, and taking his seat at 
the table. "I shall do it justice, for I have come from 
Yarmouth." 

" I thought you came from Oxford ? " I returned. 

" Not I," said Steerforth. " I have been seafaring better 
employed." 

" Littimer was here to-day, to inquire for you," I remarked, 
"and I understood him that you were at Oxford; though, 
now I think of it, he certainly did not say so." 

" Littimer is a greater fool than I thought him, to have been 
inquiring for me at all," said Steerforth, jovially pouring out 
a glass of wine, and drinking to me. " As to understanding 



462 THE PEE SON AL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

him, you are a cleverer fellow than most of us, Daisy, if you 
can do that." 

" That's true, indeed," said I, moving my chair to the table. 
" So you have been at Yarmouth, Steerforth ! " interested to 
know all about it. " Have you been there long ? r - 

"No," he returned. "An escapade of a week or so." 

" And how are they all ? Of course, little Emily is 'not 
married yet ? " 

"Not yet. Going to be, I believe in so many weeks, or 
months, or something or other. I have not seen much of 'em. 
By the by ; " he laid down his knife and fork, which he had 
been using with great diligence, and began feeling in his 
pockets ; " I have a letter for you." 

" From whom ? " 

"Why, from your old nurse," he returned, taking some 
papers out of his breast pocket. "' J. Steerforth, Esquire, 
debtor, to the Willing Mind ; ' that's not it. Patience, and 
we'll find it presently. Old what's-his-name's in a bad way, 
and it's about that, I believe." 

" Barkis, do you mean ? " 

" Yes ! " still feeling in his pockets, and looking over their 
contents : " it's all over with poor Barkis, I am afraid. I 
saw a little apothecary there surgeon, or whatever he is - 
who brought your worship into the world. He was mighty 
learned about the case, to me ; but the upshot of his opinion 
was, that the carrier was making his last journey rather fast. 
Put your hand into the breast pocket of my great-coat on the 
chair yonder, and I think you'll find the letter. Is it there ? ' ; 

" Here it is ! " said I. 

"That's right!" 

It was from Peggotty ; something less legible than usual, 
and brief. It informed me of her husband's hopeless state, 
and hinted at his being " a little nearer " than heretofore, and 
consequently more difficult to manage for his own comfort. 
It said nothing of her weariness and watching, and praised 
him highly. It was written with a plain, unaffected, homely 
piety that I knew to be genuine, and ended with " my duty to 
my ever darling " meaning myself. 

While I deciphered it, Steerforth continued to eat and drink. 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELb. 463 

"It's a bad job/' lie said, when I had done; "but the sun 
sets every day, and people die every minute, and we mustn't 
be scared by the common lot. If we failed to hold our own, 
because that equal foot at all men's doors was heard knocking 
somewhere, every object in this world would slip from us. 
No ! Ride on ! Eough-shod if need be, smooth-shod if that will 
do, but ride on ! Eide on over all obstacles, and win the race ! " 

" And win what race ? " said I. 

" The race that one has started in," said he. " Ride on ! " 

I noticed, I remember, as he paused, looking at me with 
his handsome head a little thrown back, and his glass raised 
in his hand, that, though the freshness of the sea-wind was on 
his face, and it was ruddy, there were traces in it, made since 
I last saw it, as if he had applied himself to some habitual 
strain of the fervent energy which, when roused, was so pas- 
sionately roused within him. I had it in my thoughts to 
remonstrate with him upon his desperate way of pursuing 
any fancy that he took such as this buffeting of rough seas, 
and braving of hard weather, for example when my mind 
glanced off to the immediate subject of our conversation again, 
and pursued that instead. 

" I tell you what, Steerf orth," said I, " if your high spirits 
will listen to me " 

" They are potent spirits, and will do whatever you like," 
he answered, moving from the table to the fireside again. 

^Then I tell you what, Steerforth, I think I will go down 
and see my old nurse. It is not that I can do her any good, 
or render her any real service ; but she is so attached to me 
that my visit will have as much effect on her, as if I could 
do both. She will take it so kindly that it will be a comfort 
and support to her. It is no great effort to make, I am sure, 
for such a friend as she has been to me. Wouldn't you go 
a day's journey, if you were in my place ? " 

His face was thoughtful, and he sat considering a -little 
before he answered, in a low voice, " Well ! Go. You can do 
no harm." 

" You have just come back," said I, " and it would be in 
vain to ask you to go with me ? " 

"Quite," he returned. "I am for Highgate to-night. I 



464 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

have not seen my mother this long time, and it lies upon my 
conscience, for it's something to be loved as she loves her 
prodigal son. Bah ! Xonsense ! You mean to go to-morrow, 
I suppose ? " lie said, holding me out at arm's length, with a 
hand on each of my shoulders. 

"Yes, I think so." 

" Well, then, don't go till next day. I wanted you to come 
and stay a few days with us. Here I am, on purpose to bid 
you, and you fly off to Yarmouth ! " 

" You are a nice fellow to talk of flying off, Steerf orth, who are 
always running wild on some unknown expedition or other ! " 

He looked at me for a moment without speaking, and then 
rejoined, still holding me as before, and giving me a shake : 

" Come ! Say the next day, and pass as much of to-morrow 
as you can with us! Who knows when we may meet again, 
else ? Come ! Say the next day ! I want you to stand 
between Kosa Dartle and me, and keep us asunder." 

"Would you love each other too much, without me ? " 

"Yes; or hate," laughed Steerforth; "no matter which. 
Come ! Say the next day ! " 

I said the next day ; and he put on his great-coat and 
lighted his cigar, and set off to walk home. Finding him in 
this intention, I put on my own great-coat (but did not light 
my own c^igar, having had enough of that for one while) and 
walked with him as far as the open road ; a dull road, then, 
at night. He was in great spirits all the way ; and when we 
parted, and I looked after him going so gallantly and airily 
homeward, I thought of his saying, " Ride on over all obstacles, 
and win the race ! " and wished, for the first time, that he had 
some worthy race to run. 

I was undressing in my own room, when Mr. Micawber's 
letter tumbled on the floor. Thus reminded of it, I broke 
the seal and read as follows. It was dated an hour and a 
half before dinner. I am not sure whether I have mentioned 
that, when Mr. Micawber was at any particularly desperate 
crisis, he used a sort of legal phraseology : which he seemed 
to think equivalent to winding up his affairs. 

"Sir for I dare not say my dear Copperfield, 

" It is expedient that I should inform you that the under- 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 465 

igned is Crushed. Some flickering efforts to spare you the 
premature knowledge of his calamitous position, you may 
observe in him this day; but hope has sunk beneath the 
horizon, and the undersigned is Crushed. 

"The present communication is penned within the per- 
sonal range (I cannot call it the society) of an individual, in a 
state closely bordering on intoxication, employed by a broker. 
That individual is in legal possession of the premises, under a 
distress for rent. His inventory includes, not only the chattels 
and effects of every description belonging to the undersigned, 
as yearly tenant of this habitation, but also those appertaining 
to Mr. Thomas Traddles, lodger, a member of the Honorable 
Society of the Inner Temple. 

" If any drop of gloom were wanting in the overflowing cup, 
which is now ' commended ' (in the language of an immortal 
Writer) to the lips of the undersigned, it would be found in 
the fact, that a friendly acceptance granted to the undersigned, 
by the before-mentioned Mr. Thomas Traddles, for the sum 
of 23 4s. 9 d. is over due, and is NOT provided for. Also, 
in the fact, that the living responsibilities clinging to the 
undersigned, will, in the course of nature, be increased by the 
sum of one more helpless victim ; whose miserable appearance 
may be looked for in round numbers at the expiration of 
a period not exceeding six lunar months from the present date. 

"After premising thus much, it would be a work of 
supererogation to add, that dust and ashes are for ever 
scattered 

"On 
"The 
"Head 
"Of 

" WlLKINS MlCAWBER." 

Poor Traddles ! I knew enough of Mr. Micawber by this 
time, to foresee that he might be expected to recover the 
blow ; but my night's rest was sorely distressed by thoughts 
of Traddles, and of the curate's daughter, who was one of ten, 
down in Devonshire, and who was such a dear girl, and who 
would wait for Traddles (ominous praise !) until she was sixty, 
or any age that could be mentioned. 
VOL. i-30 



466 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 



CHAPTEE XXIX. 

I VISIT STEERFORTH AT HIS HOME, AGAIN. 

I MENTIONED to Mr. Spenlow in the morning, that I wanted 
leave of absence for a short time ; and as I was not in the 
receipt of any salary, and consequently was not obnoxious to 
the implacable Jorkins, there was no difficulty about it. I 
took that opportunity, with my voice sticking in my throat, 
and my sight failing as I uttered the words, to express my 
hope that Miss Spenlow was quite well ; to which Mr. Spen- 
low replied, with no more emotion than if he had been speak- 
ing of an ordinary human being, that he was much obliged to 
me, and she was very well. 

We articled clerks, as germs of the patrician order of 
proctors, were treated with so much consideration, that I was 
almost my own master at all times. As I did not care, how- 
ever, to get to Highgate before one or two o'clock in the day, 
and as we had another little excommunication case in court 
that morning, which was called The office of the Judge pro- 
moted by Tipkins against Bullock for his soul's' correction, I 
passed an hour or two in attendance 'on it with Mr. Spenlow 
very agreeably. It arose out of a scuffle between two church- 
wardens, one of whom was alleged to have pushed the other 
against a pump ; the handle of which pump projecting into a 
schoolhouse, which schoolhouse was under a gable of the 
church-roof, made the push an ecclesiastical offence. It was 
an amusing case ; and sent me up to Highgate, on the box of 
the stage-coach, thinking about the Commons, and what Mr. 
Spenlow had said about touching the Commons and bringing 
down the country. 

Mrs. Steerforth was pleased to see me, and so was Rosa 
Dartle. I was agreeably surprised to find that Littimer was 
not there, and that we were attended by a modest little parlor- 
maid, with blue ribbons in her cap, whose eye it was much 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 467 

more pleasant, and much less disconcerting,, to catch by acci- 
dent, than the eye of that respectable man. But what I 
particularly observed, before I had been half-an-hour in the 
house, was the close and attentive watch Miss Dartle kept 
upon me ; and the lurking manner in which she seemed to 
compare my face with Steerforth's, and Steerforth's with 
mine, and to lie in wait for something to come out between 
the two. So surely as I looked towards her, did I see that 
eager visage, with its gaunt black eyes and searching brow, 
intent on mine ; or passing suddenly from mine to Steerforth's ; 
or comprehending both of us at once. In this lynx-like scru- 
tiny she was so far from faltering when she saw I observed 
it, that at such a time she only fixed her piercing look upon 
me with a more intent expression still. Blameless as I was, 
and knew that I was, in reference to any wrong she could pot- 
sibly suspect me of, I shrunk before her strange eyes, quite 
unable to endure their hungry lustre. 

All day, she seemed to pervade the whole house. If I 
talked to Steerforth in his room, I heard her dress rustle in 
the little gallery outside. When he and I engaged in some 
of our old exercises on the lawn behind the house, I saw her 
face pass from window to window, like a wandering light, 
until it fixed itself in one, and watched us. When we all 
four went out walking in the afternoon, she closed her thin 
hand on my arm like a spring, to keep me back, while Steer- 
forth and his mother went on out of hearing : and then spoke 
to me. 

"You have been a long time," she said, "without coming 
here. Is your profession really so engaging and interesting 
as to absorb your whole attention ? I ask because I always 
want to be informed, when I am ignorant. Is it really, 
though ? " 

I replied that I liked it well enough, but that I certainly 
could not claim so mucn for it. 

" Oh ! I am glad to know that, because I always like to be 
put right when I am wrong," said Rosa Dartle. " You mean 
it is a little dry, perhaps ? ' 

"Well," I replied ; "perhaps it was a little dry." 

" Oh ! and that's a reason why you want relief and change 



468 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

excitement, and all that ? " said she. " Ah ! very true ! 
But isn't it a little Eh ? for him ; I don't mean you ? " 

A quick glance of her eye towards the spot where Steerforth 
was walking, with his mother leaning on his arm, showed me 
whom she meant ; but beyond that, I was quite lost. And I 
looked so, I have no doubt. 

" Don't it I don't say that it does, mind I want to know 
don't it rather engross him ? Don't it make him, perhaps, a 
little more remiss than usual in his visits to his blindly doting 

eh ? " With another quick glance at them, and such a 
glance at me as seemed to look into my innermost thoughts. 

" Miss Dartle," I returned, " pray do not think " 

" I don't ! " she said. " Oh, dear me, don't suppose that I 
think anything ! I am not suspicious. I only ask a question. 
I don't state any opinion. I want to found an opinion on 
what you tell me. Then, it's not so ? Well ! I am very 
glad to know it." 

" It certainly is not the fact," said I, perplexed, " that I am 
accountable for Steerforth's having been away from home 
longer than usual if he has been : which I really don't know 
at this moment, unless I understand it from you. I have not 
seen him this long while, until last night." 

"No?" 

" Indeed, Miss Dartle, no ! " 

As she looked full at me, I saw her face grow sharper and 
paler, and the marks of the old wound lengthen out until it 
cut through the disfigured lip, and deep into the nether lip, 
and slanted down the face. There was something positively 
awful to me in this, and in the brightness of her eyes, as she 
said, looking fixedly at me : 

"What is he doing?" 

I repeated the words, more to myself than her, being so 
amazed. 

" What is he doing ? " she said, with an eagerness that 
seemed enough to consume her like a fire. " In what is that 
man assisting him, who never looks at me without an 
inscrutable falsehood in his eyes ? If you are honorable and 
faithful, I don't ask you to betray your friend. I ask you 
only to tell me, is it anger, is it hatred, is it pride, is it rest- 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 469 

lessness, is it some wild fancy, is it love, what is it, that is 
leading him ? " 

"Miss Dartle," I returned, "how shall I tell you, so that 
you will believe me, that I know of nothing in Steerforth 
different from what there was when I first came here. I can 
think of nothing. I firmly believe there is nothing. I hardly 
understand even what you mean." 

As she still stood looking fixedly at me, a twitching or 
throbbing, from which I could not dissociate the idea of pain, 
came into that cruel mark ; and lifted up the corner of her 
lip as if with scorn, or with a pity that despised its object. 
She put her hand upon it hurriedly a hand so thin and 
delicate, that when I had seen her hold it up before the fire 
to shade her face, I had compared it in my thoughts to fine 
porcelain and saying, in a quick, fierce, passionate way, 
" I swear you to secrecy about this ! " said not a word more. 

Mrs. Steerforth was particularly happy in her son's society, 
and Steerforth was, on this occasion, particularly attentive and 
respectful to her. It was very interesting to me to see them 
together, not only on account of their mutual affection, but 
because of the strong personal resemblance between them, and 
the manner in which what was haughty or impetuous in him 
was softened by age and sex, in her, to a gracious dignity. 
I thought, more than once, that it was well no serious cause 
of division had ever come between them ; or two such natures 
I ought rather to express it, two such shades of the same 
nature might have been harder to reconcile than the two 
extremest opposites in creation. The idea did not originate 
in my own discernment, I am bound to confess, but in a speech 
of Eosa Dartle's. 

She said at dinner : 

"Oh, but do tell me, though, somebody, because I have 
been thinking about it all day, and I want to know." 

" You want to know what, Rosa ? " returned Mrs. Steerforth. 
"Pray, pray, Rosa, do not be mysterious." 

" Mysterious ! " she cried. " Oh ! really ? Do you con- 
sider me so ? " 

"Do I constantly entreat you," said Mrs. Steerforth, "to 
speak plainly, in your own natural manner ? " 



470 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" Oh ! then this is not my natural manner ? " she rejoined. 
"Now you must really bear with me, because I ask for 
information. We never know ourselves." 

"It has become a second nature," said Mrs. Steerforth, 
without any displeasure ; " but I remember, and so must 
you, I think, when your manner was different, Eosa ; when 
it was not so guarded, and was more trustful." 

"I am sure you are right," she returned; "and so it is 
that bad habits grow upon one ! Really ? Less guarded and 
more trustful ? How can I, imperceptibly, have changed, I 
wonder ! Well, that's very odd ! I must study to regain my 
former self." 

" I wish you would," said Mrs. Steerforth, with a smile. 

" Oh ! I really will, you know ! " she answered. " I will 
learn frankness from let me see from James." 

"You cannot learn frankness, Rosa," said Mrs. Steerforth 
quickly for there was always some effect of sarcasm in 
what Rosa Dartle said, though it was said, as this was, in 
the most unconscious manner in the world "in a better 
school." 

" That I am sure of," she answered, with uncommon fervor. 
" If I am sure of anything, of course, you know, I am sure 
of that." 

Mrs. Steerforth appeared to me to regret having been a 
little nettled ; for she presently said, in a kind tone : 

" Well, my dear Rosa, we have not heard what it is that you 
want to be satisfied about ? " 

" That I want to be satisfied about ? " she replied, with 
provoking coldness. " Oh ! It was only whether people, who 
are like each other in their moral constitution is that the 
phrase ? " 

" It's as good a phrase as another," said Steerforth. 

" Thank you : whether people, who are like each other 
in their moral constitution, are in greater danger than peo- 
ple not so circumstanced, supposing any serious cause of va- 
riance to arise between them, of being divided angrily and 
deeply ? " 

" I should say yes," said Steerforth. 

" Should you ? " she retorted. " Dear -noe ! Supposing then, 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 471 

for instance any unlikely thing will do for a supposition 
that you and your mother were to have a serious quarrel." 

" My dear Kosa," interposed Mrs. Steerforth, laughing good- 
naturedly, " suggest some other supposition ! James and I 
know our duty to each other better, I pray Heaven ! " 

" Oh ! " said Miss Dartle, nodding her head thoughtfully. " To 
be sure. That ivould prevent it ? Why, of course it would. 
Ex-actly. Now, I am glad I have been so foolish as to put 
the case, for it is so very good to know that your duty to 
each other would prevent it ! Thank you very much." 

One other little circumstance connected with Miss Dartle I 
must not omit ; for I had reason to remember it thereafter, 
when all the irremediable past was rendered plain. During 
the whole of this day, but especially from this period of it, 
Steerforth exerted himself with his utmost skill, and that was 
with his utmost ease, to charm this singular creature into a 
pleasant and pleased companion. That he should succeed, 
was no matter of surprise to me. That she should struggle 
against the fascinating influence of his delightful art 
delightful nature I thought it then did not surprise me 
either; for I knew that she was sometimes jaundiced and 
perverse. I saw her features and her manner slowly change ; 
I saw her look at him with growing admiration ; I saw her 
try, more arid more faintly, but always angrily, as if she con- 
demned a weakness in herself, to resist the captivating power 
that he possessed ; and finally I saw her sharp glance soften, 
and her smile become quite gentle, and I ceased to be afraid 
of her as I had really been all day, and we all sat about the 
fire, talking and laughing together, with as little reserve as if 
we had been children. 

Whether it was because we had sat there so long, or because 
Steerforth was resolved not to lose the advantage he had 
gained, I do not know ; but we did not remain in the dining- 
room more than five minutes after her departure. " She is 
playing her harp," said Steerforth, softly, at the drawing- 
room door, " and nobody but my mother has heard her do that, 
I believe, these three years." He said it with a curious smile, 
which was gone directly ; and we went into the room and 
found her alone. 



472 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" Don't get up," said Steerforth (which she had already 
done) ; " my dear Eosa, don't ! Be kind for once, and sing 
us an Irish song." 

" What do you care for an Irish song ? " she returned. 

"Much!" said Steerforth. "Much more than for any 
other. Here is Daisy, too, loves music from his soul. Sing 
us an Irish song, Eosa ! and let me sit and listen as I used 
to do." 

He did not touch her, or the chair from which she had 
risen, but sat himself near the harp. She stood beside it for 
some little while, in a curious way, going through the motion 
of playing it with her right hand, but not sounding it. At 
length she sat down, and drew it to her with one sudden 
action, and played and sang. 

I don't know what it was, in her touch or voice, that made 
that song the most unearthly I have ever heard in my life, or 
can imagine. There was something fearful in the reality of 
it. It was as if it had never been written, or set to music, 
but sprung out of the passion within her ; which found imper- 
fect utterance in the low sounds of her voice, and crouched 
again when all was still. I was dumb when she leaned beside 
the harp again, playing it, but not sounding it, with her right 
hand. 

A minute more, and this had roused me from my trance ; 
Steerforth had left his seat, and gone to her, and had put his 
arm laughingly about her, and had said, " Come, Eosa, for the 
future we will love each other very much ! " And she had 
struck him, and had thrown him off with the fury of a wild 
cat, and had burst out of the room. 

" What is the matter with Eosa ? " said Mrs. Steerforth, 
coming in. 

" She has been an angel, mother," returned Steerforth, " for 
a little while ; and has run into the opposite extreme, since, 
by way of compensation." 

"You should be careful not to irritate her, James. Her 
temper has been soured, remember, and ought not to be 
tried." 

Eosa did not come back ; and no other mention was made 
of her, until I went with Steerforth into his room to say good 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 473 

night. Then he laughed about her, and asked me if I had 
ever seen such a fierce little piece of incomprehensibility. 

I expressed as much of my astonishment as was then ca- 
pable of expression, and asked if he could guess what it was 
that she had taken so much amiss, so suddenly. 

" Oh, Heaven knows," said Steerforth. " Anything you like 
or nothing ! I told you she took everything, herself included, 
to a grindstone, and sharpened it. She is an edge-tool, and 
requires great care in dealing with. She is always dangerous. 
Good night ! " 

" Good night ! " said I, " my dear Steerforth ! I shall be 
gone before you wake in the morning. Good night ! " 

He was unwilling to let me go ; and stood, holding me out, 
with a hand on each of my shoulders, as he had done in my 
own room. 

" Daisy," he said with a smile " for though that's not the 
name your Godfathers and Godmothers gave you, it's the name 
I like best to call you by and I wish, I wish, I wish, you 
could give it to me ! " 

" Why so I can, if I choose," said I. 

"Daisy, if anything should ever separate us, you must 
think of me at my best, old boy. Come ! let us make that 
bargain. Think of me at my best if circumstances should 
ever part us ! " 

" You have no best to me, Steerforth," said I, " and no worst. 
You are always equally loved, and cherished in my heart." 

So much compunction for having ever wronged him, even 
by a shapeless thought, did I feel within me, that the confes- 
sion of having done so was rising to my lips. But for the 
reluctance I had, to betray the confidence of Agnes, but for 
my uncertainty how to approach the subject with no risk of 
doing so, it would have reached them before he said, "God 
bless you, Daisy, and good night ! " In my doubt, it did not 
reach them ; and we shook hands, and we parted. . 

I was up with the dull dawn, and, having dressed as quietly 
as I could, looked into his room. He was fast asleep ; lying, 
easily, with his head upon his arm, as I had often seen him lie 
at school. 

The time came in its season, and that was very soon, when 



474 DAVID COPFEEFIELD. 

I almost wondered that nothing troubled his repose, as I looked 
at him. But he slept let me think of him so again as I 
had often seen him sleejx at school ; and thus, in this silent 
hour, I left him. 

Never more, Oh God forgive you, Steerforth ! to touch 
that passive hand in love and friendship. Never, never, more ' 



END OF VOL. I. 



.,-:,:,;,; - 

/ ' ''*':''*. .':-'..' 




. 






CONTENTS OF VOL. II. 



CHAPTER PAGE 

I. A LOSS ....... 

II. A GREATER LOSS 10 

III. THE BEGINNING OF A LONG JOURNEY .... 20 

IV. BLISSFUL . .40 

V. MY AUNT ASTONISHES ME 58 

VI. DEPRESSION . . .68 

VII. ENTHUSIASM 90 

VIII. A LITTLE COLD WATER -109 

IX. A DISSOLUTION OF PARTNERSHIP 118 

X. WlCKFIELD AND HEEP ....... 136 

XI. THE WANDERER 157 

XII. DORA'S AUNTS ......... 166 

XIII. MISCHIEF 184 

XIV. ANOTHER RETROSPECT . 206 

XV. OUR HOUSEKEEPING 215 

XVI. MR. DICK FULFILS MY AUNT'S PREDICTIONS . . . 232 

XVII. INTELLIGENCE 249 

XVIII. MARTHA 264 

XIX. DOMESTIC 276 

XX. I AM INVOLVED IN MYSTERY 288 

XXI. MR PEGGOTTY'S DREAM COMES TRUE .... 302 

XXII. THE BEGINNING OF A LONGER JOURNEY .... 313 

XXIII. I ASSIST AT AN EXPLOSION . . . . . . 332 

XXIV. ANOTHER RETROSPECT .... . 358 

to 



iv CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER PAGE 

XXV. MB. MICA WEEK'S TRANSACTIONS 364 

XXVI. TEMPEST 381 

XXVII. THE NEW WOUND, AND THE OLD 394 

XXVin. THE EMIGRANTS 401 

XXIX. ABSENCE 413 

XXX. RETURN 420 

XXXI. AGNES 438 

XXXII. I AM SHOWN TWO INTERESTING PENITENTS . . . 448 

XXXHL A LIGHT SHINES ON MY WAY 461 

XXXIV. A VISITOR 470 

XXXV. A LAST RETROSPECT 479 



THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF 

DAVID COPPERFIELD, 



CHAPTER I. 

A LOSS. 

I GOT down to Yarmouth in the evening, and went to the 
inn. I knew that Peggotty's spare room my room was 
likely to have occupation enough in a little while, if that great 
Visitor, before whose presence all the living must give place, 
were not already in the house ; so I betook myself to the inn, 
and dined there, and engaged my bed. 

It was ten o'clock when I went out. Many of the shops 
were shut, and the town was dull. When I came to Omer 
and Joram's, I found the shutters up, but the shop door stand- 
ing open. As I could obtain a perspective view of Mr. Omer 
inside, smoking his pipe by the parlor-door, I entered, and 
asked him how he was. 

" Why, bless my life and soul ! " said Mr. Omer, " how do you 
find yourself ? Take a seat. Smoke not disagreeable, I hope ? " 

" By no means," said I. " I like it in somebody else's 
pipe." 

" What, not in your own, eh ? " Mr. Omer returned, laugh- 
ing. " All the better, sir. Bad habit for a young man. Take 
a seat. I smoke, myself, for the asthma." 

Mr. Omer had made room for me, and placed a chair. He 
now sat down again very much out of breath, gasping at his 
pipe as if it contained a supply of that necessary, without 
which he must perish. 
VOL ii 1 



2 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" I am sorry to have heard bad news of Mr. Barkis/' said I. 

Mr. Omer looked at me with a steady countenance, and 
shook his head. 

" Do you know how he is to-night ? " I asked. 

" The very question I should have put to you, sir," returned 
Mr. Onier, " but on account of delicacy. It's one of the draw- 
backs of our line of business. When a party's ill, we can't 
ask how the party is." 

The difficulty had not occurred to me ; though I had had 
my apprehensions too, when I went in, of hearing the old 
tune. On its being mentioned, I recognized it, however, and 
said as much. 

"Yes, yes, you understand," said Mr. Onier, nodding his 
head. " We dursn't do it. Bless you, it would be a shock 
that the generality of parties mightn't recover, to say ' Omer 
and Joram's compliments, and how do you find yourself this 
morning ? ' or this afternoon as it may be." 

Mr. Omer and I nodded at each other, and Mr. Omer re- 
cruited his wind by the aid of his pipe. 

" It's one of the things that cut the trade off from atten- 
tions they could often wish to show," said Mr. Oiner. " Take 
myself. If I have known Barkis a year, to move to as he 
went by, I have known him forty year. But I can't go and 
say, ' how is he ? ' 

I felt it was rather hard on Mr. Omer, and I told him so. 

"I'm not more self-interested, I hope, than another man," 
said Mr. Omer. " Look at me ! My wind may fail me at any 
moment, and it ain't likely that, to my own knowledge, I'd be 
self-interested under such circumstances. I say it ain't likely, 
in a man who knows his wind will go, when it does go, as if a 
pair of bellows was cut open ; and that man a grandfather," 
said Mr. Omer. 

I said, "Not at all." 

" It ain't that I complain of my line of business," said Mr. 
Omer. " It ain't that. Some good and some bad goes, no 
doubt, to all callings. What I wish is, that parties were 
brought up stronger-minded." 

Mr. Omer, with a very complacent and amiable face, took sev- 
eral puffs in silence ; and then said, resuming his first point : 



OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 3 

" Accordingly we're obleeged, in ascertaining how Barkis 
goes on, to limit ourselves to Em'ly. She knows what our 
real objects are, and she don't have any more alarms or sus- 
picions about us, than if we was so many lambs. Minnie 
and Joram have just stepped down to the house, in fact (she's 
there, after hours, helping her aunt a bit), to ask her how he 
is to-night ; and if you was to please to wait till they come 
back, they'd give you full partic'lers. Will you take some- 
thing ? A glass of srub and water, now ? I smoke on srub 
and water, myself," said Mr. Omer, taking up his glass, " be- 
cause it's considered softening to .the passages, by which this 
troublesome breath of mine gets into action. But, Lord bless 
you/' said Mr. Omer, huskily, " it ain't the passages that's out 
of order ! ' Give me breath enough,' says I to my daughter 
Minnie, ' and I'll find passages, my dear.' ' 

He really had no breath to spare, and it was alarming to 
see him laugh. When he was again in a condition to be 
talked to, I thanked him for the proffered refreshment, which 
I declined, as I had just had dinner ; and, observing that I 
would wait, since he was so good as to invite me, until his 
daughter and his son-in-law came back, I inquired how little 
Emily was ? 

" Well, sir," said Mr. Omer, removing his pipe, that he 
might rub his chin ; " I tell you truly, I shall be glad when 
her marriage has taken place." 

" Why so ? " I inquired. 

"Well, she's unsettled at present," said Mr. Omer. "It 
ain't that she's not as pretty as ever, for she's prettier I do 
assure you, she is prettier. It ain't that she don't work as 
well as ever, for she does. She was worth any six, and she 
is worth any six. But somehow she wants heart. If you 
understand," said Mr. Omer, after rubbing his chin again, 
and smoking a little, "what I mean in a general way by the 
expression, ' A long pull, and a strong pull, and a pull alto- 
gether, my hearties, hurrah ! ' I should say to you, that that 
was in a general way what I miss in Em'ly.' ' 

Mr. Omer's face and manner went for so much, that I could con- 
scientiously nod my head, as divining his meaning. My quick- 
ness of apprehension seemed to please him, and he went on : 



s 

4 THE PEE SON AL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

" Now, I consider this is principally on account of her being 
in an unsettled state, you see. We have talked it over a good 
deal, her uncle and myself, and her sweetheart and myself, 
after business ; and I consider it is principally on account of 
her being unsettled. v You must always recollect of Em'ly," 
said Mr. Omer, shaking his head gently, " that she's a most 
extraordinary affectionate little thing. The proverb says, 
1 You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.' Well, I 
don't know about that. I rather think you may, if you begin 
early in life. She has made a home out of that old boat, sir, 
that stone and marble couldn't beat." 

" I am sure she has ! " said I. 

"To see the clinging of that pretty little thing to her 
uncle," said Mr. Omer ; " to see the way she holds on to him, 
tighter and tighter, and closer and closer, every day, is to see 
a sight. Now, you know, there's a struggle going on when 
that's the case. Why should it be made a longer one than is 
needful ? " 

I listened attentively to the good old fellow, and acquiesced, 
with all my heart, in what he said. 

" Therefore, I mentioned to them," said Mr. Omer, in a 
comfortable, easy-going tone, "this. I said, 'Now, don't con- 
sider Em'ly nailed down in point of time, at all. Make it 
your own time. Her services have been more valuable than 
was supposed ; her learning has been quicker than was sup- 
posed ; Omer and Joram can run their pen through what 
remains ; and she's free when you wish. If she likes to 
make any little arrangement, afterwards, in the way of doing 
any little thing for us at home, very well. If she don't, very 
well still. We're no losers, anyhow.' For don't you see," 
said Mr. Omer, touching me with his pipe, "it ain't likely 
that a man so short of breath as myself, and a grandfather 
too, would go and strain points with a little bit of a blue-eyed 
blossom, like her 9 " 

" Not at all, I am certain," said I. 

"Not at all! You're right!" said Mr. Omer. "Well, 
sir, her cousin you know it's a cousin she's going to be 
married to ? ' : 

" Oh yes," I replied. " I know him well." 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 5 

" Of course you do," said Mr. Omer. " Well, sir ! Her 
cousin being, as it appears, in good work, and well to do, 
thanked me in a very manly sort of manner for this (conducting 
himself altogether, I must say, in a way that gives me a high 
opinion of him), and went and took as comfortable a little house 
as you or I could wish to clap eyes on. That little house is 
now furnished right through, as neat and complete as a doll's 
parlor; and but for Barkis's illness having taken this bad 
turn, poor fellow, they would have been man and wife I dare 
say, by this time. As it is, there's a postponement." 

" And Emily, Mr. Omer ? " I inquired. " Has she become 
more settled ? " 

" Why that you know," he returned, rubbing his double 
chin again, " can't naturally be expected. The prospect of the 
change and separation, and all that is, as one may say, close 
to her and far away from her, both at once. Barkis's death 
needn't put it off much, but his lingering might. Anyway, it's 
an uncertain state of matters, you see." 

" I see," said I. 

" Consequently," pursued Mr. Onier, " Em'ly's still a little 
down and a little fluttered ; perhaps, upon the whole, she's 
more so than she was. Every day she seems to get fonder 
and fonder of her uncle, and more loth to part from all of us. 
A kind word from me brings the tears into her eyes ; and if 
you was to see her with my daughter Minnie's little girl, 
you'd never forget it. Bless my heart alive ! " said Mr. Omer, 
pondering, " how she loves that child ! " 

Having so favorable an opportunity, it occurred to me to 
ask Mr. Omer, before our conversation should be interrupted 
by the return of his daughter and her husband, whether he 
knew anything of Martha. 

" Ah ! " he rejoined, shaking his head, and looking very 
much dejected. "No good. A sad story, sir, however you 
come to know it. I never thought there was harm in the girl. 
I wouldn't wish to mention it before my daughter Minnie 
for she'd take me up directly but I never did. None of us 
ever did." 

Mr. Omer, hearing his daughter's footstep before I heard 



,6 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

it, touched me with his pipe, and shut up one eve, as a caution. 
She and her husband came in immediately afterwards. 

Their report was, that Mr. Barkis was " as bad as bad could 
be ; " that he was quite unconscious ; and that Mr. Chillip had 
mournfully said in the kitchen, on going away just now, that 
the College of Physicians, the College of Surgeons, and Apoth- 
ecaries' Hall, if they were all called in together, couldn't 
help him. He was past both Colleges, Mr. Chillip said, and 
the Hall could only poison him. 

Hearing this, and learning that Mr. Peggotty was there, I 
determined to go to ttie house at once. I bade good night to 
Mr. Omer, and to Mr. and Mrs. Joram ; and directed my steps 
thither, with a solemn feeling, which made Mr. Barkis quite a 
new and different creature. 

My low tap at the door was answered by Mr. Peggotty. He 
was not so much surprised to see me as I had expected. I 
remarked this in Peggotty, too, when she came down ; and I 
have seen it since; and I think, in the expectation of that 
dread surprise, all other changes and surprises dwindle into 
nothing. 

I shook hands with Mr. Peggotty, and passed into the 
kitchen, while he softly closed the door. Little Emily was 
sitting by the fire, with her hands before her face. Hani was 
standing near her. 

We spoke in whispers ; listening between whiles, for any 
sound in the room above. I had not thought of it on the 
occasion of my last visit, but how strange it was to me now, 
to miss Mr. Barkis out of the kitchen ! 

" This is very kind of you, Mas'r Davy," said Mr. Peggotty. 

"It is oncommon kind," said Ham. 

"Em'ly, my dear," cried Mr. Peggotty. "See here! Here's 
Mas'r Davy come ! What, cheer up, pretty ! Not a wured to 
Mas'r Davy ? " 

There was a trembling upon her, that I can see now. The 
coldness of her hand when I touched it, I can feel yet. Its 
only sign of animation was to shrink from mine; and then 
she glided from the chair, and, creeping to the other side of 
her uncle, bowed herself, silently and trembling still, upon his 
breast. 






OF DAVID COPPEEFIELD. 1 

" It's such a loving art," said Mr. Peggotty, smoothing her 
rich hair with his great hard hand, " that it can't abear the 
sorrer of this. It's nat'ral in young folk, Mas'r Davy, when 
they'rs new to these here trials, and timid, like my little bird 
it's nat'ral." 

She clung the closer to him, but neither lifted up her face, 
nor spoke a word. 

" It's getting late, my dear," said Mr. Peggotty, " and here's 
Ham come fur to take you home. Theer! Go along with 
'tother loving art ! What, Em'ly ? Eh, my pretty ? " 

The sound of her voice had not reached me, but he bent his 
head as if he listened to her, and then said : 

" Let you stay with your uncle ? Why, you doen't mean to 
ask me that ! Stay with your uncle, Moppet ? When your 
husband that'll be so soon, is here fur to take you home ? 
Now a person wouldn't think it, fur to see this little thing 
alongside a rough-weather chap like me," said Mr. Peggotty, 
looking round at both of us, with infinite pride ; " but the sea 
ain't more salt in it than she has fondness in her for her 
uncle a foolish little Em'ly ! " 

" Em'ly's in the right in that, Mas'r Davy ! " said Ham. 
" Lookee here ! As Em'ly wishes of it, and as she's hurried 
and frightened, like, besides, I'll leave her till morning. Let 
me stay too ! " 

"No, no," said Mr. Peggotty. "You doen't ought a 
married man like you or what's as good to take and hull 
away a day's work. And you doen't ought to watch and work 
both. That won't do. You go home and turn in. You ain't 
afeered of Em'ly not being took good care on, I know." 

Ham yielded to this persuasion, and took his hat to go. 
Even when he kissed her, arid I never saw him approach 
her, but I felt that nature had given him the soul of a gentle- 
man, she seemed to cling closer to her uncle, even to the 
avoidance of her chosen husband. I shut the door after him, 
that it might cause no disturbance of the quiet that prevailed ; 
and when I turned back, I found Mr. Peggotty still talking 
to her. 

"Now, Pm a going up stairs to tell your aunt as Mas'r 
Davy's here, and that'll cheer her up a bit," he said. " Sit 



8 THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE 

ye down by the fire, the while, my dear, and warm these 
mortal cold hands. You doen't need to be so fearsome, and 
take on so much. What ? You'll go along with me ? Well ! 
come along with me come ! If her uncle was turned out of 
house and home, and forced to lay down in a dyke, Mas'r 
Davy," said Mr. Peggotty, with no less pride than before, 
" it's my belief she'd go along with him, now ! But there'll 
be some one else, soon, some one else, soon, Em'ly ! " 

Afterwards, when I went up stairs, as I passed the door of 
my little chamber, which was dark, I had an indistinct 
impression of her being within it, cast down upon the floor. 
But, whether it was really she, or whether it was a confusion 
of the shadows in the room, I don't know now. 

I had leisure to think, before the kitchen-fire, of pretty 
little Em'ly 's dread of death which, added to what Mr. Omer 
had told me, I took to be the cause of her being so unlike 
herself and I had leisure, before Peggotty came down, even 
to think more leniently of the weakness of it : as I sat counting 
the ticking of the clock, and deepening my sense of the solemn 
hush around me. Peggotty took me in her arms, and blessed 
and thanked me over and over again for being such a comfort 
to her (that was what she said) in her distress. She then 
entreated me to come up stairs, sobbing that Mr. Barkis had 
always liked me and admired me ; that he had often talked of 
me, before he fell into a stupor ; and that she believed, in case 
of his coming to himself again, he would brighten up at sight 
of me, if he could brighten up at any earthly thing. 

The probability of his ever doing so, appeared to me, when 
I saw him, to be very small. He was lying with his head and 
shoulders out of bed, in an uncomfortable attitude, half resting 
on the box which had cost him so much pain and trouble. I 
learned that, when he was past creeping out of bed to open it, 
and past assuring himself of its safety by means of the divin- 
ing rod I had seen him use, he had required to have it placed on 
the chair at the bedside, where he had ever since embraced it, 
night and day. His arm lay on it now. Time and the world 
were slipping from beneath him, but the box was there ; and 
the last words he had uttered were (in an explanatory tone) 
" Old clothes ! " 



OF DAVID COPPEBFIELD. 9 

" Barkis, my dear ! " said Peggotty, almost cheerfully : 
bending over him, while her brother and I stood at the bed's 
foot. " Here's my dear boy my dear boy, Master Davy, 
who brought us together, Barkis ! That you sent messages 
by, you know ! Won't you speak to Master Davy ? " 

He was as mute and senseless as the box, from which his 
form derived the only expression it had. 

"He's a going out with the tide," said Mr. Peggotty to me, 
behind his hand. 

My eyes were dim, and so were Mr. Peggotty's ; but I 
repeated in a whisper, "With the tide?" 

"People can't die, along the coast," said Mr. Peggotty, 
"except when the tide's pretty nigh out. They can't be 
born, unless it's pretty nigh in not properly born, till flood. 
He's a going out with the tide. It's ebb at half arter three, 
slack water half-an-hour. If he lives 'till it turns, he'll hold 
his own till past the flood, and go out with the next tide." 

We remained there, watching him, a long time hours. 
What mysterious influence my presence had upon him in that 
state of his senses, I shall not pretend to say ; but when he 
at last began to wander feebly, it is certain he was muttering 
about driving me to school. 

" He's coming to himself," said Peggotty. 

Mr. Peggotty touched me, and whispered with much awe 
and reverence, " They are both a going out fast." 

" Barkis, my dear ! " said Peggotty. 

" C. P. Barkis," he cried, faintly. " No better woman any- 
where ! " 

" Look ! Here's Master Davy ! " said Peggotty. For he 
now opened his eyes. 

I was on the point of asking him if he knew me, when he 
tried to stretch out his arm, and said to me, distinctly, with a 
pleasant smile : 

" Barkis is willin' ! " 

And, it being low water, he went out with the tide. 



THE PERSONAL HISTORY ASD EXPERIENCE 



CHAPTER II. 

A GREATER LOSS. 

IT was not difficult for nie, on Peggotty's solicitation, to 
resolve to stay where I was, until after the remains of the 
poor carrier should have made their last journey to Blunder- 
stone. She had long ago bought, out of her own savings, a 
little piece of ground in our old churchyard near the grave 
" of her sweet girl," as she always called my mother ; and 
there they were to rest. 

In keeping Peggotty company, and doing all I could for her 
(little enough at the utmost), I was as grateful, I rejoice to 
think, as even now I could wish myself to have been. But I 
am afraid I had a supreme satisfaction, of a personal and pro- 
fessional nature, in taking charge of Mr. Barkis's will, and 
expounding its contents. 

I may claim the merit of having originated the suggestion 
that the will should be looked for in the box. After some 
search, it was found in the box, at the bottom of a horse's 
nose-bag ; wherein (beside* hay) there was discovered an old 
gold watch, with chain and seals, which Mr. Barkis had worn 
on his wedding-day, and which had never been seen before or 
since ; a silver tobacco-stopper, in the form of a leg ; an imita- 
tion lemon, full of minute cups and saucers, which I have 
some idea Mr. Barkis must have purchased to present to me 
when I was a child, and afterwards found himself unable to 
part with; eighty-seven guineas and a half, in guineas and 
half guineas ; two hundred and ten pounds, in perfectly clean 
Bank notes ; certain receipts for Bank of England stock ; an 
old horse-shoe, a bad shilling, a piece of camphor, and an oys- 
ter-shell. From the circumstance of the latter article having 
been much polished, and displaying prismatic colors on the 
inside, I conclude that Mr. Barkis had some general ideas 



OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. 11 

,ibout pearls, which never resolved themselves into anything 
definite. 

For years and years, Mr. Barkis had carried this box, on all 
Iris journeys, every day. That it might the better escape 
notice, he had invented a fiction that it belonged to " Mr. 
Blackboy," and was " to be left with Barkis till called for ; " 
a fable he had elaborately written on the lid, in characters 
now scarcely legible. 

He had hoarded, all these years, I found, to good purpose. 
His property in money amounted to nearly three thousand 
pounds. Of this he bequeathed the interest of one thousand 
to Mr. Peggotty for his life ; on his decease, the principal to 
be equally divided between Peggotty, little Emily, and me, or 
the survivor or survivors of us, share and share alike. All 
the rest he died possessed of, he bequeathed to Peggotty ; 
whom he left residuary legatee, and sole executrix of that 
his last will and testament. 

I felt myself quite a proctor when I read this document 
aloud with all possible ceremony, and set forth its provisions, 
any number of times, to those whom they concerned. I began 
to think there was more in the Commons than I had supposed. 
I examined the will with the deepest attention, pronounced it 
perfectly formal in all respects, made a pencil-mark or so in 
the margin, and thought it rather extraordinary that I knew 
so much. 

In this abstruse pursuit; in making an account for Peg- 
gotty, of all the property into which she had come ; in arrang- 
ing all the affairs in an orderly manner; and in being her 
referee and adviser on every point, to our joint delight ; I 
passed the week before the funeral. I did not see little Emily 
in that interval, but they told me she was to be quietly mar- 
ried in a fortnight. 

I did not attend the funeral in character, if I may venture 
to say so. I mean I was not dressed up in a black cloak and 
a streamer, to frighten the birds ; but I walked over to 
Blunderstone early in the morning, and was in the church- 
yard when it came, attended only by Peggotty and her 
brother. The mad gentleman looked on, out of my little 
window ; Mr. Chilli