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JOHN W. LOVELL COMPANY
150 Worth Sirket, corner Mission Place
I REMARKED in the original Preface to this Book, that i did not
find it easy to get sufficiently far away from it, 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 was so recent
and strong, and my mind was so divided between pleasure and regret â â
pleasure in the achievement of a long design, regret in the separation
from many companions â that I was in danger of wearying the reader
with personal confidences and private emotions.
Besides which, all that I could have said of the Story to any purpose,
I had 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 were dismissing some portion of himself into .the
shadowy world, when a crowd of the creatures of his brain are going from
him forever. Yet I had nothing else to tell; unless, indeed, I were to
confess (which might be of less moment still) that no one can ever believe
this Narrative, in the reading, more than I believed it in the writing.
So true are these avowals at the present day, that I can now only take
the reader into one confidence more. Of all my books, I like. this the
best. It will be easily believed that I am a fond parent to every child of
my fancy, and that no one can ever love that family as dearly as I love
them. But, like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a
favorite child. And his name is David Copperfield.
I. â I am born 7
II. â I observe. i8
III. â I have a Change 33
IV. â I fall into Disgrace 48
V. â I am sent away from Home , .,_ 67
VI. â I enlarge my Circle of Acquaintance 85
VII.â My " first half " at Salem House 92
VlII. â My Holidays. Especially one Happy Afternoon.... no
IX. â I have a memorable Birthday 125
X. â I become neglected and am provided for 136
XI. â I begin Life on my own Account, and don't like it. . . 156
XII. â Liking Life on my own Account no better, I form a
great Resolution 171
XIILâ The Sequel of my Resolution 181
XIV. â My Aunt makes up her Mind about me 200
XV. â I make another Beginning 216
XVI. â I am a New Boy in more senses than one 225
XVII. â Somebody turns up 247
XVIII.â A Retrospect ! 264
XIX. â I look about me, and make a Discovery 271
XX.â Steerforth's Home 288
XXLâ Little Em'ly 296
XXII. â Some old Scenes, and some new People. 316
XXIII. â I corroborate Mr. Dick, and choose a Profession 338
XXIV. â My first Dissipation 353
XXV. â Good and bad Angels 361
XXVI.â I fall into Captivity , 380
XXVILâ Tommy Traddles 396
XXVIILâ Mr. Micawber's Gauntlet 405
XXIX, â I visit Steerforth at his Home, again 425
XXX.â A Loss 433
XXXI.â A greater Loss 44i
XXXII. â The beginning of a long Journey 45^
XXXIILâ Blissful ... 468
XXXIV.â My Aunt astonishes me 485 ;
XXXV.â Depression 493
XXXVI.â Enthusiasm 5i4
XXXVII.â A little Cold Water 53i
XXXVIIIâ A Dissolution of Partnership 539
XXXIX.â Wickfield and Keep 555
XL.â The Wanderer 574
XLLâ Dora's Aunts 583
XLII.â Mischief 599
XLIILâ Another Retrospect 619
XLIV. â Our Housekeeping ' 627
XLV.â Mr. Dick fulfils my Aunt's Prediction 642
XLVLâ Intelligence , 657
XLVILâ Martha 671
XLVIII.â Domestic 682
XLIX. â I am involved in Mystery 693
L. â Mr. Peggotty's Dream comes true 706
LI, â The Beginning of a longer Journey 716
LII. â I assist at an Explosion. , 733
LIII.â Another Retrospect 757
LIV. â Mr. Micawber's Transactions 762
LV. â Tempest 777
LVI.â The new Wound, and the old 789
LVII.â The Emigrants 795
LVIII.â Absence 805
LIX.â Return , 812
LX.â Agnes 82S
LXI. â I am shown two interesting Penitents 837
l^XII. â A Light shines on my way , 849
^XIIL- A Visitor 857
LXIV.â A last Retrospect 855
PERSONAL HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE
I AM BORN.
Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life,
or whether that station will be held by any body else, these
pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of
my hfe, 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,
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
â 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 any body else should
be in the present enjoyment of it, he is heartily welcome to
I was born with a caul, which was advertised for sale, in
the newspapers, at the low price of fifteen guineas. Whether
^IV .\'':-*PAyiD COPPERFIELD.
rsDa'r^itng '; people ; we're khort of money about that time,
'.or Vere'short of'ifaith*ahd 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-brok-
ing 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 â for as to sherry, my poor dear
mother's own sherry was in the market then â and ten years
afterwards the caul was put up in a raffle down in our part
of the country 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 reluctantly 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, re-
sulted from this objectionable practice. She always returned
with greater emphasis and with an instinctive knowledge of
the strength of her objection, " Let us have no meandering."
Not to meander, myself, at present, I will go back to my
"^ I was born at Blunderstone, in Suffolk, or " thereby," as
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 grave-
stone 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
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 9
candle, and the doors of our house were â almost cruelly it
seemed to me sometimes â 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, ex-
cept in the sense of the homely adage, " handsome is, that
handsome does " â for he was strongly suspected of having
beaten Miss Betsey, and even of having once, on a disputed
question of supphes, made some hasty but determined ar-
rangements 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 con-
sent. He went to India with his capital, and there, accord-
ing to a wild legend in our family, he was once seen riding
on an elephant, in company with a Baboon ; but I think it
must have been a Baboo â or a Begum. Any how, 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, estab-
lished herself there as a single woman, with one servant, and
was understood to live secluded, ever afterwards, in an in-
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 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 I
may be excused for calling, that eventful and important Fri-
day. I can make no claim therefore to have known, at that
time, how matters stood; or to have any remembrance,
founded upon the evidence of my own senses, of what fol-
My mother was sitting by the fire, but poorly in health,
and very low in spirits, looking at it through her tears, and
lo DAVID COPPERFIELD.
desponding heavily about herself and the fatherless little
stranger who was already welcomed by some grosses of some
prophetic pins in a drawer up-stairs, to a world not at all ex-
cited on the subject of his arrival ; my mother, I say, was sit-
ting 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 identi-
cal window, pressing the end of her nose against the glass to
that extent, that my poor dear mother used to say it became
perfectly 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,
until they reached my mother. Then she made a frown and a
gesture to my mother, like one who is 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 â
DAVID COPPERFIELD. ri
the fire in the best room on the other side of the passage not
being Hghted; not having been Hghted, indeed, since my
father's funeral â and when they were both seated, and Miss
Betsey said nothing, my mother, after vainly trying to re-
strain 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
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 ner-
vous 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 appear-
ance 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 Hved. In a short pause which ensued, she had
a fancy that she felt Miss Betsey touch her hair, and that with
no 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, ma'am?" asked my mother.
" Why Rookery?" 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. Copperfi eld'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 glanc-
ing 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,
12 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
as if their late confidences were really too wicked for their
peace of mind, some weather-beaten ragged old rooks' nests
burdening their higher branches, swung like wrecks upon a
" Where are the birds?" asked Miss Betsey.
" The ?" My mother had been thinking of some-
'' The rooks â what have become of them?" asked Miss
" There have not been any since we have lived here," said
my mother. " We thought â Mr. Copperfield thought â 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 takes 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-
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,
When she came to herself, or when Miss Betsey had re-
stored 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 view 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
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 13
"Bless the Baby!" exclaimed Miss Betsey, unconsciously
quoting the second sentiment of the pincushion in the drawer
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. Cop-
perfield called her by it, because her Christian name was the
same as mine."
"Here! Peggotty!" said Miss Betsey, opening the parlor
door. " Tea. Your mistress is a little unwell. Don't
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
amazed Peggotty coming 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
" You were speaking about its being a girl," said Miss Bet-
Bey. " I have no doubt it will be a girl. I have a presenti-
ment 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 mo-
ment 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
Trotwood Copperfield. There must be no mistakes in life
with this Betsey Trotwood. There must be no trifling with
her affections, 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 restraint. 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.
14 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
" And was David good to you, child?" asked Miss Betsey,
when she had been silent for a Httle while, and these motions
of her head had gradually ceased. " Wfere you comfortable
" We were very happy," said my mother. " Mr. Copper-
field was only too good to me."
" What, he spoilt you, I suppose? " returned Mis's Betsey.
" For being quite alone and dependent on myself in this
rough world again, yes, I fear he did indeed," sobbed my
" Well! Don't cry! " said Miss Betsey. " You were not
equally matched, child â if any two people can be equally
matched â and so I asked the question. You were an orphan,
weren't you? "
" And a governess? "
*' I was nursery-governess in a family where Mr, Copper-
field 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 attention, and at last proposed to me. And I ac-
cepted him. And so we were married," said my mother
*' Ha! poor baby!" mused Miss Betsey, with her frown
still bent upon the fire. " Do you know any thing?"
" 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 â "
(" Much he knew about it himself!" said Miss Betsey in a
â " And I hope I should have improved, being very anx-
ious to learn, and he very patient to teach, if the great mis-
fortune of his death" â my mother broke down again here,
and could get no farther.
"Well, well!" said Miss Betsey.
â " I kept my Housekeeping-Book regularly and balanced
it with Mr. Copperfield every night," cried my mother '\x\
another burst of distress, and breaking down again.
"Well, well!" said Miss Betsey. "Don't cry any more."
â " And I am sure we never had a word of difference re-
specting it, except when Mr, Copperfield objected to my
threes and fives being too much like each other, or to my
putting curly tails to my sevens and nines," resumed my
DAVID COPPERFIED. 15
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.
" 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, coming in with the tea-
board and candles, and seeing at a glance how ill she was, â
ars Miss Betsey might have done sooner if there had been
light enough, â conveyed her up stairs to her own room with
all speed, and immediately dispatched 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