Charles Dickens.

The personal history, adventures, experience, and observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery. (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryCharles DickensThe personal history, adventures, experience, and observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery. (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 27)
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University of Illinois
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CHAPTER I. Somebody turns up l

CHAPTER II. A retrospect 24

CHAPTER III. I look about me , and make a discovery . . 34

CHAPTER IV. Sleerforih's home 5G

CHAPTER V. Little Em'ly C7

CHAPTER VI. Some old scenes, and some new people . . 93

CHAPTER VII. I corroborate Mr. Dick, and choose a profession 122

CHAPTER VIII. My first dissipation 141

CHAPTER IX. Good and bad angels 152

CHAPTER X. I fall into captivity ITS

CHAPTER XI. Tommy Traddles I'JS

CHAPTER XII. Mr. Micawber's gauntlet 211

CHAPTER XIII. I visit Steerforth at his home again . • . 237

CHAPTER XIV. A loss 247

CHAPTER XV. A greater loss .... . 2hS


rAo R

CHAPTER XVI. The beginning of a long journey . . . . 27o

CHAPTER XVI i. Blissful 294

CHAPTER XVIII. My auntaslonisbesme 310

CHAPTER XIX. Depression 328

CHAPTER XX. Enthusiasm • 355

CHAPTER XXI. A little cold water 317





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, andanother, and a longer letter, con-
taining all particulars fully related, when my aunt took me
formally 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 Iklr. 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 ex-
hausted in the attempt to write what she felt on the subject of

Dmid Copperfield . II. *

my journey. Four sides of incoherent and interjectioual be-
ginnings 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 ray 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
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 furni-
ture 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 while they remained there,
but it pained me to think of the dear old place as altogether
abandoned; 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, Avatching their
solitude 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 inPeggotty's letters. Mr. Bar-

kis 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 dutv,
and my little bedroom was always ready for me. ^Ir. Peg-
gotty was well, and Ham was well, and Mrs. Gummidge was
but poorly, and little Em'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 un-
seasonable 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, e\ery third or fourth week, when I went over to
Dover for a treat; and I saw Mr. Dick everj' 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
leathern writing-desk, containing a supply of stationery 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 gingerbread. 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 secresy, 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
frightened 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?" 1

"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, Sirl" 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
\ery 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

"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 I "

^'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 walking
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 sug-


gestlon; and having replied a great many times, and with
great confidence, "No beggar, no beggar, no beggar, Sir I"
went on to say, that from his window he had afterwards, and
late at night, seen my 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

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 her-
self, 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 favoured 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, grey-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
grey head, oblivious of King Charles the Martyr's head, and
all belonging to it ! How many a summer-hour 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 snow and east wind, looking at the boys going down the
long slide, and clapping his worsted gloves in rapture!

He was an universal favourite, and his Ingenuity in little
things was transcendant. He could cut oranges into such de-
vices 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

Mr. Dick's renown was not long confined to us. After a
few Wednesdays, Doctor 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
ceremony I performed; and the Doctor begging Mr. Dick,
whensoever 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 hap-
pened on a Wednesday, to walk about the courtyard, 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 anyone, 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 grey 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 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; perhaps 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 Dictonary 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 things, 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 verA'umble."

I really had not yet been able to make up my mind whether
Hiked 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.

*'0h, 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 plea-
sure. 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 I" returned Uriah.
"Oh, believe me, no! Such a thought never came into my
head! I shouldn't have deemed It at all proud If you had
thought us too umble for you. Because we are so very

"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. "Butl
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 fore -fingers of his skeleton right hand, he

"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


you ; but I am far too umble. There are people enough to
tread upon me in my lowly state, without my doing outrage to
their feelings by possessing learning. Learning ain't for me.
A person hke myself had better not aspire. If he is to get
on in life, he must get onurably, 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 ycu 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 an-
swered; "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 apologised to me for giving her son a
kiss, observing that, lowly as they were, they had their natural
affections, which they hoped would give no ofi'ence to any
one. It was a perfectly decent room, half parlour 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 escrutoire 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 buraility, that she
still wore weeds. Notwithstanding the lapse of time that had
occurred since Mr. Heep's decease, sho 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,"
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 honoured 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 our
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 atten-
tive. 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
corkscrews , 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
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 my-
self (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. Wick-
field's business and resources, now our domestic life after
dinner; now, the wine that Mr. Wickfield took, the reason
why he took it, 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 honour of my company, I
found myself perpetually letting out something or other that 1


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 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-

Online LibraryCharles DickensThe personal history, adventures, experience, and observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery. (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 27)