I begged pardon.
" Affection," said Miss Lavinia, glancing at her sister for
corroboration, which she gave in the form of a little nod to
every clause, " mature affection, homage, devotion, does not
easily express itself. Its voice is low. It is modest and re-
tiring, it lies in ambush, waits and waits. Such is the ma-
ture fruit. Sometimes a life glides away and finds it still
ripening in the shade."
Of course I did not understand then that this was an al-
lusion to her supposed experience of the stricken Pidger;
but I saw, from the gravity with which Miss Clarissa nodded
her head, that great weight was attached to these words.
" The light ā for I call them in comparison with such
sentiments, the light ā inclinations of very young people,"
pursued Miss Lavinia, " are dust, compared to rocks. It is
owing to the difficulty of knowing whether they are likely
to endure or have any real foundation, that my sister
Clarissa and myself have been very undecided how to act,
Mr. Copperfield, and Mr. "
" Traddles," said my friend, finding himself looked at.
" I beg pardon. Of the Inner Temple, I believe?" said
Miss Clarissa, again glancing at my letter.
Traddles said, " Exactly so," and became pretty red in
Now, although I had not received any express encourage-
ment as yet, I fancied that I saw in the two little sisters,
and particularly in Miss Lavinia, an intensified enjoyment
of this new and fruitful subject of domestic interest, a set-
tling down to make the most of it, a disposition to pet it, in
which there was a good bright ray of hope.
I thought I perceived that Miss Lavinia would have un-
common satisfaction in superintending two young lovers,
like Dora and me; and that Miss Clarissa would have hardly
less satisfaction in seeing her superintend us, and in chim-
ing in with her own particular department of the subject
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 591
whenever that impulse was strong upon her. This gave me
courage to protest most vehemently that I loved Dora bet-
ter than I could tell, or any one believe; that all my friends
knew how I loved her; that my aunt, Agnes, Traddles,
every one who knew me, knew how I loved her, and how
earnest my love had made me. For the truth of this, I ap-
pealed to Traddles. And Traddles, firing up as if he were
plunging into a Parliamentary Debate, really did come out
nobly: confirming me in good round terms, and in a plain,
sensible, practical manner, that evidently made a favorable
'' I speak, if I may presume to say so, as one who has
some little experience of such things," said Traddles, " be-
ing myself engaged to a young lady ā one of ten, down in
Devonshire ā and seeing no probability, at present, of our
engagement coming to a termination."
" You may be able to confirm what I have said, Mr. Trad-
dles," observed Miss Lavinia, evidently taking a new in-
terest in him, " of the affection that is modest and retiring;
that waits and waits?"
" Entirely, ma'am," said Traddles.
Miss Clarissa looked at Miss Lavinia, and shook her head
gravely. Miss Lavinia looked consciously at Miss Clarissa,
and heaved a little sigh.
" Sister Lavinia," said Miss Clarissa, "take my smelling-
Miss Lavinia revived herself with a few whiffs of aromatic
vinegar ā Traddles and I looking on with great solicitude the
while; and then went on to say, rather faintly:
" My sister and myself have been in great doubt, Mr.
Traddles, what course we ought to take in reference to the
likings, or imaginary likings, of such very young people as
your friend Mr. Copperfield, and our niece."
" Our brother Francis's child," remarked Miss Clarissa.
" If our brother Francis's wife had found it convenient in
her life-time (though she had an unquestionable right to act
as she thought best) to invite the family to her dinner-table,
we might have known our brother Francis's child better at
the present moment. Sister Lavinia, proceed."
Miss Lavinia turned my letter, so as to bring the super-
scription towards herself, and referred through her eye-glass
to some orderly-looking notes she had made on that part of it.
" It seems to us," said she, " prudent, Mr. Traddles, to
592 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
bring these feelings to the test of our own observation. At
present we know nothing of them, and are not in a situation
to judge how much reality there may be in them. There-
fore we are inclined so far to accede to Mr. Copperfield's
proposal, as to admit his visits here."
** I shall never, dear ladies," I exclaimed, relieved of an
immense load of apprehension, " forget your kindness!"
" But," pursued Miss Lavinia, ā " but, we would prefer to
regard those visits, Mr. Traddles, as made, at present, to us.
We must guard ourselves from recognizing any positive en-
gagement between Mr. Copperfield and our niece, until we
have had an opportunity ā "
" Until you have had an opportunity, sister Lavinia," said
"Be it so," assented Miss Lavinia, with a sigh, ā "until I
have had an opportunity of observing them."
"Copperfield," said Traddles, turning to me, "you feel,
I am sure, that nothing could be more reasonable or con-
" Nothing !" cried I. " I am deeply sensible of it."
" In this position of affairs," said Miss Lavinia, again re-
ferring to her notes, " and admitting his visits on this un-
derstanding only, we must require from Mr. Copperfield a
distinct assurance, on his word of honor, that no communi-
cation of any kind shall take place between him and our
niece without our knowledge. That no project whatever
shall be entertained with regard to our niece, without being
first submitted to us ā "
" To you, sister Lavinia," Miss Clarissa interposed.
"Be it so, Clarissa!" assented Miss Lavinia resignedly ā
" to me ā and receiving our concurrence. We must make
this a most express and serious stipulation, not to be broken
on any account. We wished Mr. Copperfield to be accom-'
panied by some confidential friend to-day," with an incli-
nation of her head towards Traddles, who bowed, " in order
that there might be no doubt or misconception on this sub-
ject. If Mr. Copperfield, or if you, Mr. Traddles, feel the
least scruple, in giving this promise, I beg you to take time
to consider it."
I exclaimed, in a state of high ecstatic fervor, that not a
moment's consideration could be necessary. I bound my-
self by the required promise, in a most impassioned manner;
called upon Traddles to witness it; and denounced myself
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 593
as the most atrocious of characters if I ever swerved from it
in the least degree.
"Stay !" said Miss Lavinia, holding up her hand; "we
resolved, before we had the pleasure of receiving you two
gentlemen, to leave you alone for a quarter of an hour, to
consider this point. You will allow us to retire."
It was in vain for me to say that no consideration was
necessary. They persisted in withdrawing for the specified
time. Accordingly, these little birds hopped out with great
dignity; leaving me to receive the congratulations of Trad-
dies, and to feel as if I were translated to regions of exquisite
happiness. Exactly at the expiration of the quarter of an
hour they reappeared with no less dignity than they had
disappeared. They had gone rustling away as if their little
dresses were made of autumn leaves: and they came rustling
back, in like manner.
I then bound myself once more to the prescribed conditions.
" Sister Clarissa," said Miss Lavinia, " the rest is with you."
Miss Clarissa, unfolding her arms for the first time, took
the notes and glanced at them.
"We shall be happy," said Miss Clarissa, "to see Mr.
Copperfield to dinner, every Sunday, if it should suit his
convenience. Our hour is three."
" In the course of the week," said Miss Clarissa, " we shall
be happy to see Mr. Copperfield to tea. Our hour is half-
I bowed again.
" Twice in the week," said Miss Clarissa, " but, as a rule,
I bowed again.
" Miss Trotwood," said Miss Clarissa, " mentioned in Mr.
Copperfield's letter, will perhaps call upon us. When visit-
ing is better for the happiness of all parties, we are glad to
receive visits, and return them. When it is better for the
happiness of all parties that no visiting should take place,
(as in the case of our brother Francis, and his establishment)
that is quite different."
I intimated that my aunt would be proud and delighted
to make their acquaintance; though I must say I was not
quite sure of their getting on very satisfactorily together.
The conditions being now closed, I expressed my acknowledg-
ments in the warmest manner; and, taking the hand, first cf
594 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
Miss Clarissa, and then of Miss Lavinia, pressed it, in each
case, to my lips.
.Miss Lavinia then arose, and begging Mr. Traddles to
excuse us for a minute, requested me to follow her. I
obeyed, all in a tremble, and was conducted into another
room. There, I found my blessed darling stopping her
ears behind the door, with her dear little face against the wall;
and Jip in the plate-warmer with his head tied up in a towel.
Oh ! How beautiful she was in her black frock, and how
she sobbed and cried at first, and wouldn't come out from
behind the door ! How fond we were of one another, when
she did come out at last; and what a state of bliss I was in,
when we took Jip out of the plate- warmer, and restored him
to the light, sneezing very much, and we were all three re-
"My dearest Dora! Now, indeed, my own for ever!"
" Oh don't!" pleaded Dora. " Please!"
"Are you not my own for ever, Dora?"
"Oh yes, of course I am!" cried Dora, "but I am so
" Frightened, my own ?"
"Oh yes! I don't like him," said Dora. " Why don't he go?"
" Who, my lif e .>"
" Your friend," said Dora. " It isn't any business of his.
What a stupid he must be !"
"My love!" (There never was anything so coaxing as
her childish ways.) " He is the best creature!"
"Oh, but we don't want any best creatures!" pouted Dora.
" My dear," I argued, " you will soon know him well, and
like him of all things. And here is my aunt coming soon ;
and you'll like her of all things too, when you know her."
" No, please don't bring her!" said Dora, giving me a hor-
rified little kiss, and folding her hands. " Don't. I know
she's a naughty, mischief-making old thing! Don't let her
come here, Doady!" which was a corruption of David.
Remonstrance was of no use, then; so I laughed, and ad-
mired, and was very much in love, and very happy ; and she
showed me Jip's new trick of standing on his hind legs in
a corner ā which he did for about the space of a flash of
lightning, and then fell down ā and I don't know how long
I should have stayed there, oblivious of Traddles, if Miss
Lavinia had not come in to take me away. Miss Lavinia
was very fond of Dora (she told me Dora was exactly like
what she had been herself at her age ā she must have
altered a good deal), and she treated Dorajustasif she had
been a toy. I wanted to persuade Dora to come and see
Traddles, but on my proposing it she ran off to her room
and locked herself in; so I went to Traddles without Jier,
and walked away with him on air.
"Nothing could be more satisfactory," said Traddles;
*' and they are very agreeable old ladies, I am sure.
I shouldn't be at all surprised if you were to be married
years before me, Copperfield."
"Does your Sophy play on any instrument, Traddles?"
I enquired, in the pride of my heart.
" She knows enough of the piano to teach it to her little
sisters," said Traddles.
" Does she sing at all ? " I asked.
" Why, she sings ballads, sometimes, to freshen up the
others a little when they're out of spirits," said Traddles.
" Nothing scientific."
" She doesn't sing to the guitar ? " said I.
" Oh dear no ! " said Traddles.
" Paint at all ? "
" Not at all," said Traddles.
I promised Traddles that he should hear Dora sing, and
see some of her flower- painting. He said he should like it
very much, and we went home arm in arm in great good
humor and delight. I encouraged him to talk about Sophy,
on the way ; which he did with a loving reliance on her that
I very much admired. I compared her in my mind with
Dora, with considerable inward satisfaction ; but I candidly
admitted to myself that she seemed to be an excellent kind
of girl for Traddles, too.
Of course my aunt was immediately made acquainted
with the successful issue of the conference, and with all
that had been said and done in the course of it. She was
happy to see me so happy, and promised to call on Dora's
aunts without loss of time. But she took such a long walk
up and down our rooms that night, while I was writing to
Agnes, that I began to think she meant to walk till morning.
My letter to Agnes was a fervent and grateful one, nar-
rating all the good effects that had resulted from my follow-
ing her advice. She wrote, by return of post, to me. Her
letter was hopeful, earnest and cheerful. She was always
cheerful from that time.
596 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
I had my hands more full than ever, now. My daily
journeys to Highgate considered, Putney was a long way
off ; and I naturally wanted to go there as often as I could.
The proposed tea-drinking being quite impracticable, I
compounded with Miss Lavinia for permission to visit every
Saturday afternoon, without detriment to my privileged
Sundays. So, the close of every week was a delicious time
for me ; and I got through the rest of the week by looking
forward to it.
I was wonderfully'relieved to find that my aunt and Dora's
aunts rubbed on, all things considered, much more smoothly
than I could have expected. My aunt made her promised
visit within a few days of the conference; and within a few
more days, Dora's aunts called upon her, in due state and
form. Similar but more friendly exchanges took place
afterwards, usually at intervals of three or four weeks. I
know that my aunt distressed Dora's aunts very much, by
utterly setting at naught the dignity of fly-conveyance, and
walking out to Putney at extraordinary times, as shortly
after breakfast or just before tea; likewise by wearing her
bonnet in any manner that happened to be comfortable to
her head, without at all deferring to the prejudices of civili-
zation on that subject. But Dora's aunts soon agreed to
regard my aunt as an eccentric and somewhat masculine
lady, with a strong understanding; and although my aunt
occasionally ruffled the feathers of Dora's aunts by express-
ing heretical opinions on various points of ceremony, she
loved me too well not to sacrifice some of her little peculiari-
ties to the general harmony.
The only member of our small society, who positively re-
fused to adapt himself to circumstances, was Jip. He nev-
er saw my aunt without immediately displaying every tooth
in his head, retiring under a chair, and growling incessantly:
with now and then a doleful howl, as if she really were too
much for his feelings. All kinds of treatment were tried
with him, coaxing, scolding, slapping, bringing him to
Buckingham Street (where he instantly dashed at the two
cats, to the terror of all beholders); but he never could pre-
vail upon himself to bear my aunt's society. He would
sometimes think he had got the better of his objection, and
be amiable for a few minutes; and then would put up his
snub nose, and howl to that extent that there was nothing
for it but to blind him and put hira in the plate-warmer.
At length, Dora regularly muffled him in a towel and shut
him up there, whenever my aunt was reported at the door.
One thing troubled me much, after we had fallen into this
quiet train. It was, that Dora seemed by one consent to be re-
garded like a pretty toy or plaything. My aunt, with whom
she gradually became familiar, always called her Little Blos-
som; and the pleasure of Miss Lavinia's life was to wait upon
her, curl her hair, make ornaments for her, and treat her like
a pet child. What Miss Lavinia did, her sister did as a mat-
ter of course. It was very odd to me; but they all seemed
to treat Dora, in her degree, much as Dora treated Jip in his.
I made up my mind to speak to Dora about this; and one
day when we were out walking (for we were licensed by MisG
Lavinia, after a while, to go out walking by ourselves), I said
to her that I wished she could get them to behave towards
" Because you know, my darling," I remonstrated, " you
are not a child."
" There!" said Dora. " Now you're going to be cross!"
" Cross, my love ?"
** I am sure they're very kind to me," said Dora, " and I
am very happy."
"Well! But my dearest life!" said I, "you might be very
happy, and yet be treated rationally."
Dora gave me a repreachful look ā the prettiest look! ā and
then began to sob, saying if I didn't like her, why had I ever
wanted so much to be engaged to her ? And why didn't I
go away, now, if I couldn't bear her?
What could I do, but kiss away her tears, and tell her now
I doted on her, after that!
" I am sure I am very affectionate," said Dora; *' you
oughtn't to be cruel to me, Doady!"
"Cruel, my precious love! As if I would ā or could ā be
cruel to you, for the world!"
" Then don't find fault with me," said Dora, making a rose-
bud of her mouth; "and I'll be good."
I was charmed by her presently asking me, of her own
accord, to give her that cookery-book I had once spoken of,
and to show her how to keep accounts as I had once prom-
ised I would. I brought the volume with me on my next
visit (I got it prettily bound, first, to make it look less dry
and more inviting) and as we strolled about the Common, I
showed her an old housekeeping book of my aunt's, and
598 DAVID COPPERFIELD.
gave her a set of tablets, and a pretty little pencil case and
box of leads, to practice housekeeping with.
But the cookery-book made Dora's head ache, and the
figures made her cry. They wouldn't add up, she said. So
she rubbed them out, and drew nosegays, and likenesses of
me and Jip, all over the tablets.
Then I playfully tried verbal instruction in domestic mat-
ters, as we walked about on a Saturday afternoon. Some-
times, for example, when we passed a butcher's shop, I
would say :
" Now suppose, my pet, that we were married, and you
were going to buy a shoulder of mutton for dinner, would
you know how to buy it ? "
My pretty little Dora's face would fall, and she would
make her mouth into a bud again, as if she would very much
prefer to shut mine with a kiss.
" Would you know how to buy it, my darling ? " I would
repeat, perhaps, if I were very inflexible.
Dora would think a little, and then reply, perhaps, with
great triumph :
" Why, the butcher would know how to sell it, and what
need / know ? Oh, you silly boy ! "
So, when I once asked Dora, with an eye to the cookery-
book, what she would do, if we were married, and I were to
say I should like a nice Irish stew, she replied that she
would tell the servant to make it ; and then clapped her lit-
tle hands together across my arm, and laughed in such a
charming manner that she was more delightful than ever.
Consequently, the principal use to which the cookery-book
was devoted, was being put down in the corner for Jip to
stand upon. But Dora was so pleased, when she had
trained him to stand upon it without offering to come off,
and at the same time to hold the pencil-case in his mouth,
that I was very glad I had bought it.
And we fell back on the guitar-case, and the flower-paint-
ing, and the songs about never leaving off dancing, Ta ra
la ! and were as happy as the week was long. I occasion-
ally wished I could venture to hint to Miss Lavinia that she
treated the darling of my heart a little too much like a play-
thing ; and I sometimes awoke, as it were, wondering to find
that I had fallen into the general fault, and treated her like
a plaything too ā but not often.
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 599
I FEEL as if it were not for me to record, even though this
manuscript is intended for no eyes but mine, how hard I
worked at that tremendous short-hand, and all improvement
appertaining to it, in my sense of responsibility to Dora and
her aunts. I will only add, to what I have already written
of my perseverance at this time of my Ufe, and of a patient
and continuous energy which then began to be matured
within me, and which I know to be the strong part of my
character, if it have any strength at all, that there, on look-
ing back, I find the source of my success. I have been
very fortunate in worldly matters; many men have worked
much harder, and not succeeded half so well; but I never
could have done what I have done without the habits of
punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination
to concentrate myself on one object at a time, no matter
how quickly its successor should come upon its heels, which
I then formed. Heaven knows I write this in no spirit of
self-laudation. The man who reviews his own life, as I do
mine, in going on here, from page to page, had need to have
been a good man, indeed, if he would be spared the sharp
consciousness of many talents neglected, many opportunities
wasted, many erratic and perverted feelings constantly at
war within his breast, and defeating him. I do not hold one
natural gift, I dare say, that I have not abused. My mean-
ing simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have
tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have de-
voted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that,
in great aims and in small; I have always been thoroughly in
earnest. I have never believed it possible that any natural
or improved ability can claim immunity from the com-
panionship of the steady, plain, hard-working qualities, and
hope to gain its end. There is no such thing as such ful-
fillment on this earth. Some happy talent, and some for-
tunate opportunity, may form the two sides of the ladder on
which some men mount, but the rounds of that ladder must
be made of stuff to stand wear and tear; and there is no
substitute for thorough-going, ardent, and sincere earnest-
ness. Never to put one hand to anything, on which I could
6oo DAVID COPPERFIELD.
throw my whole self; and never to affect depreciation of
my work, whatever it was; I find, now, to have been my
How much of the practice I have just reduced to precept,
I owe to Agnes, I will not repeat here. My narrative pro-
ceeds to Agnes, with a thankful love.
She came on a visit of a fortnight to the Doctor's. Mr.
Wickfield was the Doctor's old friend, and the Doctor
wished to talk with him, and do him good. It had been
matter of conversation with Agnes when she was last in
town, and this visit was the result. She and her father
came together. I was not much surprised to hear from her
that she had engaged to find a lodging in the neighborhood
for Mrs. Heep. whose rheumatic complaint required change
of air, and who would be charmed to have it in such com-
pany. Neither was I surprised when, on the very next day,
Uriah, like a dutiful son, brought his worthy mother to take
'' You see, Master Copperfield," said he, as he forced him-
self upon my company for a turn in the Doctor's garden,
" where a person loves, a person is a little jealous ā least-
ways, anxious to keep an eye on the beloved one."
" Of whom are you jealous, now ?" said I.
" Thanks to you. Master Copperfield," he returned, " of
no one in particular just at present ā no male person, at least."
" Do you mean that you are jealous of a female person ?"
He gave me a sidelong glance, out of his sinister red eyes,
" Really, Master Copperfield," he said, " ā I should say
Mister, but I know you'll excuse the abit I've got into ā
you're so insinuating, that you draw me like a corkscrew!
Well, I don't mind telling you," putting his fish-like hand on
mine, ** I'm not a lady's man in general, sir, and I never
was, with Mrs. Strong."
His eyes looked green now, as they watched mine with a
" What do you mean ?" said I.
"Why, though I am a lawyer. Master Copperfield," he re-
plied, with a dry grin, *' I mean, just at present, what I say.'*
" And what do you mean by your look," I retorted, quietly.
" By my look ? Dear me, Copperfield, that's sharp prac-
tice ! What do I mean by my look ? "
" Yes," said I. " By your look."
DAVID COPPERFIELD. 60 1
He seemed very much amused, and laughed as heartily as