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David Copperfield > DC Chp. 22-24

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message 1: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2941 comments Mod
Chapter 22

Some old Scenes, and some new People

Hello Curiosities. It has been some time since I have had the pleasure of moderating. Well, my rest is over. Kim and Tristram will still be with us and contributing their insights and love for Little Nell. I will be the one providing the moderating duties for the next month.

I left the previous chapter with a strong feeling of unease. Steerforth has the last words of chapter 21 with his comment to David that “I believe you are in earnest, and are good. I wish we all were!” Does this phrase sound like a comment on Steerforth’s own character? This chapter may answer that question.

David and Steerforth spend a fortnight together but David tells us that they also had time apart. During these times Steerforth was often sailing and spending time with Mr Peggotty. We learn that Steerforth was in the habit of giving “little treats” to the neighbourhood sailors at the local pub called “The Willing Mind.” David tells us that Steerforth has a “restless nature and bold spirits.” David recounts that he often had “no idea how [Steerforth] employed his time ... 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.”

One evening David surprises Steerforth who says “You come upon me like a reproachful ghost!” Later Steerforth wishes he had “a judicious father these last twenty years! ... I wish with all my soul I could guide myself better.” David notes Steerforth’s “passionate dejection ... was more unlike himself than I could ever have supposed possible.” Not for the first time, Steerforth makes a derisive comment about “poor Peggotty” and “his lout of a nephew.” This is not the first time Steerforth has shown derision to those of a lower class or intelligence. I don’t like the fact that Steerforth often has flashes of superiority. How about you? We learn that Steerforth has purchased a boat named the “Stormy Petrel” and that Mr Peggotty will look after it. Steerforth plans to re-christen the boat the “Little Em’ly.” Hmmm ... Peggotty looks after Em’ly and now a boat called “Little Em’ly.” I’m getting a bit uneasy about these overlaps and comments.


Time for a pause and reflection. The pub’s name is “The Willing Mind.” I’m wondering if this is an oblique reference to Matthew 26:42 that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak which means that a person may want to do something but cannot because of a lack of strength, self-discipline, or energy. Might it be that the Pub’s name suggests something ominous? If one has a willing mind, then what might a person be willing to attempt? Steerforth is aligned with the pub, and thus the pub’s name. Steerforth has rechristened a sailing craft once named “Storm Petrel” to the name “Little Em’ly.” According to the dictionary a British Storm Petrel is a sea bird. The dictionary I used said the words Storm Petrel are used in reference to a person “who causes or likes trouble or strife.” Do you think Dickens means much beyond the denotation of words and phrases in this chapter?

Ham and Em’ly briefly enter the chapter at this point. Em’ly withdraws her hand from Ham’s arm and blushes when she gives it to Steerforth and David. Ham and Em’ly then pass on and David recalls them “fading away in the light of a young moon.” At this point in the chapter David then notices a young woman who is “lightly dressed; looked bold, and haggard, and flaunting, and poor.” She passes on as well and Steerforth comments “[t]hat is a black shadow to be following the girl ... what does it mean?” Yes what does it mean? We later learn that the shadow woman is Martha Endell who is three years older than Em’ly. They once worked together at Omer’s and also attended school together. We learn from Ham that Martha stood outside Em’ly’s window and whispered “Em’ly, Em’ly, for Christ’s sake have a woman’s heart towards me. I was once like you.” We learn that Em’ly gives Martha some money and comfort. We also learn that the reason Martha wants to go to London is because “[n]o one knows me there. Everybody knows me here.” Martha implores the Peggotty’s to “take me out of these streets.”

It is apparent that Martha is a fallen woman. What do we make of this encounter with the Peggotty’s, especially Em’ly? Why is it that Em’ly then weeps and tells Ham she is “not as good a girl as I ought to be! I know I have not the thankful heart, sometimes, I ought to have ... I am not as good a girl as I ought to be. Not near! not near!” As the chapter ends Em’ly does something David had never seen her do before. She gives Ham an innocent kiss and as they depart Em’ly “held Ham’s arm with both hands, and still kept close to him.” Powerful writing. What do you think Dickens is signally to us? Why is Em’ly clinging to Ham?

We need to look at another new character in this chapter. That is Miss Mowcher. She is another fascinating creation by Dickens. Dickens describes her as a “purse dwarf, of about forty-five, with a very large head and face, a pair of roguish grey eyes, and such extremely little arms, that, to enable herself to lay a figure archly against snub nose” needs Steerforth’s help. It seems her skills are in the general area of personal grooming and physical enhancement.

Often Dickens will incorporate a character, frequently a minor character, whose main purpose is to enhance and reveal the nature and character of other major characters. Mrs Mowcher appears to know Steerforth rather well. Her conversation with Steerforth is wide-ranging, sometimes leaning towards gossip and sometimes drifting into character revelation. We learn more about Little Em’ly. At one point Steerforth comments that Em’ly “seems to be throwing herself away; that I am sure she might do better; and I swear how she was born to be a lady.”


What do we learn or is revealed about other characters through listening to Mrs Mowcher?

Martha is compared to a shadow of Em’ly. Where do you see the arc of the story going? What is suggested when one thinks of Martha as being Little Em’ly’s shadow?

message 2: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2941 comments Mod
Chapter 23

I corroborate Mr Dick, and choose a Profession

This chapter begins the next morning where we find David reflecting on the previous evening. In the first paragraph David speaks in the voice of an adult who looks back to his youthful feelings for Em’ly and his love for her. It is a poignant paragraph where we learn that David intends to keep his youthful feelings for Em’ly “in my own breast.” It is a paragraph sprinkled with a touch of fairy dust as he invests into Em’ly’s image “a new grace.”

As the holiday ends we see Steerforth and David preparing to return to their homes. We learn that Steerforth’s servant Littimer will remain at the seaside for some undefined purpose. What could it possibly mean when Steerforth’s comments that “[h]e knows what he has to do, and he’ll do it.” Seems an evasive answer to me. What about you?

We read that David’s aunt thinks a proctor would be a good profession for David. Steerforth defines a proctor as “a sort of monkish attorney” but does tell David that proctors “get very comfortable fees, and altogether they make a mighty snug little party.” Steerforth seems very pleased that David will be located in Doctors’ Commons in London.

They part in London David meets with his aunt. She tells David that she worries about Mr Dick’s ability to keep the donkey’s off. David learns that to article for a position as a proctor will cost £1000. David realizes this is a princely sum but his aunt says that David has always been a credit and a pride. Indeed, she calls David “my adopted child.” She does, however, verbally stumble over saying she has no other claim upon her means. The next day David and his aunt set off to the offices of Spenlow and Jorkins in Doctors’ Commons. Suddenly, David notices an “ill-dressed man” and his aunt looks frightened. Funny. His aunt has always been so assertive and self-assured.

David tells his aunt that the man is merely a pauper, but his aunt replies that “you don’t know what he is.” She then asks David to get her a coach and meet her later in St.Paul’s Churchyard. David’s aunt insists that she must go alone with the man. The mystery man and Aunt Betsey get into the coach and ride away. David believes this must be the mystery man that Mr Dick spoke about. Shortly after his aunt returns but refuses to say anything about the mysterious male character.


Dickens has certainly peaked my interest. David’s aunt has been, up to this point in the story, resolute and fully in control of herself. With this poor mystery man’s introduction into the narrative we have another mystery. Who might this person be?

David and his aunt arrive at the offices of Spenlow and Jorkins and so David’s next step in life begins. David is put on probation for a month and head’s off to see the court in session which presents itself as “cosey, dosey, old-fashioned, time-forgotten, sleepy headed ... soothing opiate to belong to it in any character.” Well, that’s quite the description. Next, David learns that his aunt has secured “a furnished little set of chambers” in the Adelphi. A Mrs Crupp is the landlady. She seems to be a character that will afford Dickens some fun as the novel progresses. His aunt gives David extra money for all his wants, gets on a Dover coach and heads back home to deal with any wayward donkeys. And so we leave this chapter with David who now has his first opportunity to work with his own living arrangements.

What could possibly go wrong?


This chapter has moved the plot along nicely. David is now back in London, he is about to begin a new job, and he has his own accommodation. How has this chapter set David up to move into the next phase of his life?

While a brief encounter, a major question remains as to who the man was that so upset the seemingly unflappable Aunt Betsey. To what extent has this mystery person roused your interest?

message 3: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2941 comments Mod
Chapter 24

My first Dissipation

This chapter begins with David’s rhapsodic feeling of having a “lofty castle” to himself. He compares himself to Robinson Crusoe and tells us what a wonderful thing it is to walk around with the key to his own house in his pocket. David admits to missing Agnes and is disappointed that he has not heard from Steerforth. David also confesses that he was still “tormented by my own youthfulness as ever.” David goes to Steerforth’s home only to learn that he was out of town with some of his Oxford friends. This news makes David “quite jealous.” Mrs Steerforth invites David to stay for dinner. Miss Dartle spends her time picking and prodding David. What an interesting pair of women Mrs Steerforth and Miss Dartle are.

The very next day Steerforth shows up at David’s door. David ends up inviting Steerforth and his two friends to dine with him in his new rooms and sets out to have Mrs Crupp help arrange the meal and its service. Well, it’s déjà vu all over again in terms of David being out his league when dining. Remember his first experience with a waiter at a coach house? The first occasion of David’s disastrous dining experience provided us with humour and the knowledge that David was a very young and unseasoned person. In this chapter we have another meal which is humourous, but this time I found the scene to be more ironic in tone. David wants to believe he is maturing. He has an occupation and in his pocket he carries the keys to his own residence. What we learn is that David has much more maturing to do. Certainly, this evening with Steerforth will reinforce the fact that David still needs more time to mature.

Steerforth takes over the head of table duties and the festivities begin. The young serving man starts drinking the wine and the serving girl breaks the plates. For his part, David gets drunk and falls down the stairs. Does this remind anyone of Frosh Week or their first year in college? The quartet of young men head of to the theatre where David has a foggy memory of seeing bright lights and ladies. And then a disaster occurs. Agnes is at the theatre as well and David makes a fool of himself in front of her. Agnes implores David to leave the theatre with his friends and go home. David spends an uncomfortable night and awakens the next day with remorse and shame for his previous evening’s escapades. And so ends or chapter with David no doubt nursing a headache and a sense of deep embarrassment.

In earlier chapters we have seen how food becomes a reflection of a character’s personality. In this chapter that trope continues. Does Steerforth’s character improve with the events of this meal and evening or further prove his already questionable nature?


Have you noticed how often this novel refers to novels, and, specifically, how the narrative seems to keep reintroducing the novel Robinson Crusoe? What might be some reasons for Robinson Crusoe being given such a seemingly prominent place in the novel?

In this chapter Dickens makes it quite clear that David Copperfield still has much maturing to do as an individual. We also get a good look at Steerforth and his two friends. How do you see the relationship between David and Steerforth evolving? Has this chapter changed your opinion of Steerforth? In what ways?

message 4: by Jantine (new)

Jantine (eccentriclady) | 554 comments Again David pays for a dinner with Steerforth and Friends, just as in the earlier chapters. This time he appears to choose the food himself - at least he chooses the mock turtle slab and the dessert himself, but Mrs. Crupp chooses most of it. Every time I'm hoping he'll see Steerforth is bad news, but he never does.

Also, I get a very bad vibe from the Steerforth-Em'ly-fallen woman shadow of her-combo. Em'ly, what have you done???

message 5: by Ulysse (last edited Sep 12, 2020 12:32PM) (new)

Ulysse | 73 comments Bob swore Curiosities,
Chapter 24 was so fun to read. Dickens seems to know exactly what it's like to be completely "sloshed" as we say in Canada. His use of ellipse to describe what David remembers and what he doesn't on his night of dissipation is masterly. The writing predates surrealism by almost a century: "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." I just love that sentence!

I find the character of David to be more and more endearing as the story moves forward. He is terribly naïve still but he has a good heart. I don't find it at all surprising that he idolizes Steerforth. David is bound to be disappointed in him in due time. But I remember being his age and being blinded by the "coolness" that some of my friends displayed and wanting to emulated them so much, only to realize eventually that they were total jerks. Much later did I come to terms with the fact that these friends were not complete jerk but that they themselves were going through hard times (pardon the pun) at that point in their lives. Steerforth isn't all villain. He has some good sides to him and his affection for David seems genuine. Maybe he's using David a little at this point to get closer to Little Emily, but that doesn't necessarily make him a monster. Maybe you disagree with me. Still he's quite an enigmatic character. Not two-dimensional at all.

message 6: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4362 comments Mod
This week's first chapter certainly bodes ill because it shows us that Emily is not at all satisfied with the choice she has made. She knows that she should be thankful because in Ham she has found a husband that is going to love her with all his heart, but still, she is not completely at ease with her prospects in life. She wants to be a lady, and there is Steerforth, who says that she has it in her to be a lady and that she is actually throwing herself away to Ham. Steerforth's leaving Littimer at the place with instructions that his man-servant knows and will fulfil is yet another detail that makes me suspect that Emily had better look after herself. To make matters even more obvious, Dickens throws in Martha as a fallen woman and a hint of what may lie in store for Emily herself.

I agree with Ulysse that Steerforth is not a dyed-in-the-wool villain but rather a complex, twisted mind. He is probably still dithering as his statement about lacking a father - who might have reined in his wilfulness - shows. Is he still fighting with himself? Like David - and Uriah - he lacks a father, but there is at least David who proves that having no father does not mean an absence of principle and self-restraint.

It is interesting to see how easily Steerforth wins the confidence and the admiration of the people around him, no matter what class they belong to. This ability to fit in with his surroundings and to play an alpha role wherever he goes makes Steerforth rather Mephistophelean. At the same time, it also explains his lack of respect for other people: Since he finds it very easy to win everyone's confidence and love, he does not hold these in very high esteem, and for him, interacting with other people is nothing but a game of chess, an exercise in manipulation. Maybe, he looks at life and the world at large as he does look at the surroundings when David and he are on their way back: Everything is flat and featureless for him, and so nothing is of real value to him. He is certainly not to be envied at all.

message 7: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4362 comments Mod
Somebody said in one of the other threads that Dickens is rehashing things from earlier novels, e.g. the plot element of the myterious stranger who turns out to be Mrs. Rudge's husband. Will the same be true of the man Aunt Betsey meets in London? I wouldn't be surprised at all.

Mrs. Crupp seems to be a milder version of Mrs. Gamp. I do like her, but wouldn't trust her.

message 8: by Jantine (new)

Jantine (eccentriclady) | 554 comments Tristram wrote: "Mrs. Crupp seems to be a milder version of Mrs. Gamp. I do like her, but wouldn't trust her."

Miss Mowcher reminded me of Mrs. Gamp more to be honest. I trust neither of them though. Again Mrs. Crupp manages to weasel in people who drink and eat of David's wine and food, so that's a lot of reason not to trust her. Also, no matter how vast the debauchery was, even David was suspicious of how much food had disappeared.

I also again see a lot of Bleak House coming back in. First with Dr. Strong and his wife, he wed her for love, but it's not clear why she wed him apart from wanting to have a safe and wealthy life. Then there were the pinpoints towards court in these chapters, about how faded and far from the real world it was. David not being certain what he wants in life, and this will do (although he does seem to have a better understanding of how much it would cost his aunt were he to switch professions all the time than Richard seemed to realise).

message 9: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2237 comments One thing I like about Dickens is that MOST (though certainly not all) of his characters are three-dimensional. Exceptions for some of the villains and nearly all of the heroines. Steerforth is no exception, however. He reminds me a bit of Martin Chuzzlewit, Jr. -- more self-centered than evil. But Steerforth seems a bit more aware of his own shortcomings than Martin did, and perhaps less willing to change.

He and Em'ly both seem to have a conscience. I can almost picture both of them with little angels on one shoulder warning them against their sins, and little imps on the other, egging them on. I fear the imps will ultimately win whatever internal conflicts they're each experiencing. In a remarkable example of not accepting responsibility, Steerforth knows right from wrong, but seems to be putting the blame for his choices on his absent father. Where isSteerforth's father, anyway?

In keeping with the "observer" theme I brought up in a past thread, quite a bit of Mrs. Mowcher's stock seems to be wrapped up in her observations and willingness to pass along little bits of gossip to her various clients. Dickens actually called her "shrewdly and sharply observant". That could be said of so many DC characters.

Re: Mrs. Mowcher, Steerforth would not directly answer David when asked if she is "mischievous" or "on the right side of things". I think his non-answer may well tell us what we need to know.

message 10: by Mary Lou (last edited Sep 13, 2020 05:28AM) (new)

Mary Lou | 2237 comments In Chapter 23, David says:

All this looked tolerably expensive, I thought, and gave me an agreeable notion of a proctor's business.

Is David truly considering what career path will make him happy in life, or is he just worried about money and appearances?

I quite enjoy the tight-fisted Jorkens. He reminds me of Mrs. 'arris in Martin Chuzzlewit, except we know that he actually exists. :-)

message 11: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2237 comments What's up with David falling a little bit in love with Rosa Dartle? Is this something we should be focusing on, or is it just another example of David's overly sentimental side that seems to have a need to always be in love? Perhaps Stephen Stills had just read David Copperfield when he wrote, "...if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."

message 12: by Peter (last edited Sep 13, 2020 05:35AM) (new)

Peter | 2941 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "This week's first chapter certainly bodes ill because it shows us that Emily is not at all satisfied with the choice she has made. She knows that she should be thankful because in Ham she has found..."

Yes. This book is populated with fatherless boys. We have David, Steerforth, Uriah, Ham, Traddles and Jack Maldon. Of these, David has his aunt and Ham has Mr Peggotty as role models. Traddles’ feet are firmly planted on the ground with a character of kindness and personal conviction. As for Uriah, well, he has ambition that is literally writhing within his body, Maldon is “needy and idle; and of those two bad things, worse things sometimes come.” As for Steerforth, well, as a central character in the novel we must expect a central turning point from him to occur probably sooner than later.

Looking both back and forward in the novels of Dickens, he seems to populate his novels with orphans who must find their way in the world. With his own male children he had a tendency to push them out of the nest of home and into the world at an early age.

message 13: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2941 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "One thing I like about Dickens is that MOST (though certainly not all) of his characters are three-dimensional. Exceptions for some of the villains and nearly all of the heroines. Steerforth is no ..."

Hi Mary Lou

I like your comments about the “observer” role in Dickens. Mowcher gives the reader valuable information and helps move the narrative forward. I see Mrs Brown in D&S fulfilling a similar role. Would you agree?

As for the relationship/feelings of David for Rosa Dartle ... yes, David seems to find sparks of interest with most available women he comes into contact with in the novel. I find Dartle a very dark and complex character. She is another example of how Dickens is evolving as a novelist.

message 14: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2237 comments Peter wrote: "I see Mrs Brown in D&S fulfilling a similar role. Would you agree?..."

Hmmm.... I didn't read Dombey with the group this last time around and, my memory being what it is, I'm not recalling much about Mrs. Brown except that she took Florence's clothes or something when Florence was out on her own. I know she (view spoiler) but obviously don't remember enough to make this comparison. That will teach me not to miss any readings with the group! Perhaps someone else can either bolster or undermine your comparison of the two.

message 15: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1116 comments Tristram wrote: "but there is at least David who proves that having no father does not mean an absence of principle and self-restraint."

Principle, maybe. I don't know that he's doing so well at self-restraint at the moment! :)

Though he does have enough sense to listen to Agnes when she tells him to go home, even though he's temporarily angry about it.

Ulysse wrote: ""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." I just love that sentence!"

Here's my favorite for the chapter: "Steerforth then said, ‘You are all right, Copperfield, are you not?’ and I told him, ‘Neverberrer.’" I laughed out loud.

message 16: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1116 comments Tristram wrote: "Somebody said in one of the other threads that Dickens is rehashing things from earlier novels, e.g. the plot element of the myterious stranger who turns out to be Mrs. Rudge's husband. Will the same be true of the man Aunt Betsey meets in London? I wouldn't be surprised at all."

Does David not know Aunt Betsey has an estranged husband? I'm really surprised he doesn't start putting 2 and 2 together here.

message 17: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1116 comments Jantine wrote: "I also again see a lot of Bleak House coming back in. First with Dr. Strong and his wife, he wed her for love, but it's not clear why she wed him apart from wanting to have a safe and wealthy life. "

I find Mrs. Strong and Little Em'ly in the same position here: both with offers from men they respect and admire but don't really love, at least not romantically, and also with showier lovers who have no integrity hanging around ready for trouble. I can't see this ending well in either case. And it kind of makes me mad that they're both in the position of having no better prospects than the doctor and Ham. The times, the times.

message 18: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1116 comments Peter wrote: "I find Dartle a very dark and complex character. She is another example of how Dickens is evolving as a novelist. "

I have high hopes for Dartle--a very interesting character so far!

message 19: by Ashley (new)

Ashley  Jacobson | 18 comments There must be something going on in Dickens mind about the word willing. We see it in “The Willing Mind” and one “Barkis is willing”. But then we also see it in the actions of characters, like a choice on marriage coming up soon- willing or not willing? And in Clara and Murdstone- she was willing even with the bad. Peggoty eventually was also willing. I’m sure there is a lot more.

message 20: by Vicki (new)

Vicki Cline | 20 comments How old is David at this point?

message 21: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2237 comments Vicki wrote: "How old is David at this point?"

For some reason, I think he's in his late teens. I can't point to any specific passage to confirm that, though.

message 22: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2941 comments Mod
Vicki wrote: "How old is David at this point?"

Hi Vicki

Mary Lou is correct. At the end of chapter 18 David tells us he is progressing to 17. That would put David around 18 in the present chapters. There is a specific “age date” mentioned a few chapters further on that, when backdated, seems also to place David’s age right now at 17-18.

message 23: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4362 comments Mod
Jantine wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Mrs. Crupp seems to be a milder version of Mrs. Gamp. I do like her, but wouldn't trust her."

Miss Mowcher reminded me of Mrs. Gamp more to be honest. I trust neither of them thou..."

Good observations, Jantine, and it's hardly surprising that Bleak House would be Dickens's next novel. He seems to have had many of the motifs used there by his hands already. Doctor's Commons must have already been a dinosaur in those days.

message 24: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4362 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "What's up with David falling a little bit in love with Rosa Dartle? Is this something we should be focusing on, or is it just another example of David's overly sentimental side that seems to have a..."

Hmmm, I put that down entirely to David's feelings of loneliness in his new lodgings. Again, that is a brilliant observation of Dickens's: David cherishes his newly-won independence in the mornings and on sunny days, but gets quite melancholy in the evenings and whenever it is raining. I remember that I had the same feelings myself when I moved in into my own flat during my university days.

message 25: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4362 comments Mod
Julie wrote: "Tristram wrote: "but there is at least David who proves that having no father does not mean an absence of principle and self-restraint."

Principle, maybe. I don't know that he's doing so well at ..."

Don't be too hard on David, Julie. He is getting the first taste of freedom, and as long as he does not turn it into a habit, I wouldn't begrudge him his "first dissipation". Interestingly, though, that he is brought into it by Steerforth, isn't it?

message 26: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1116 comments Tristram wrote: "David cherishes his newly-won independence in the mornings and on sunny days, but gets quite melancholy in the evenings and whenever it is raining. I remember that I had the same feelings myself when I moved in into my own flat during my university days."

I feel that way now! I am so excited when everyone leaves the house these days... and then one hour later it fees so very quiet.

message 27: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4362 comments Mod
That was exactly the same with me when my wife and the kids spent six weeks in Argentina and I had to stay at home because of my work: Elation in the morning, and the experience of actually getting all the work done you wanted to do and still have some time in the late afternoon - and then the realization that you'd like to spend that time with your loved ones.

message 28: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod
Steerforth reminds me of my sister (kind of), he can talk to anyone, he does talk to anyone, they all love him, then when they turn away he says nasty things about them. My sister talks to everybody she sees and can't stand half of them. I was lucky enough to have her at a picnic of my husband's family, where there were people that I rarely talked to simply because I couldn't think of a single thing to say to these people ever. She talked and talked to them as if she had known them for years, like I had, and when she walked away I told them now they know why I never say anything. Everyone laughed, so I guess it did help me her being there even though I had to listen to her complain about each and every one of them the next day.

message 29: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod
Jantine wrote: "Also, I get a very bad vibe from the Steerforth-Em'ly-fallen woman shadow of her-combo. Em'ly, what have you done???"

Yes, Ham should pick her up, carry her away and marry her right now before she does anything dumb. Really dumb.

message 30: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod
There was a real life Miss Mowcher. Dickens supposedly based the character of Miss Mowcher on Mrs. Jane Seymour Hill, Dickens' wife Catherine's chiropodist. Mrs. Seymour Hill recognized herself as the original for this character and threatened a lawsuit .

A newspaper article written before Dickens wrote David Copperfield produced a scathing piece on the profession of corn-cutter or chiropodist, describing the profession as ‘the very lowest description of charlatanism.’ The paper printed a whole paragraph about Mrs Hill and introduced her in the following manner;

"‘the most eminent amongst female operators is a dwarf, who, on a very genteel-looking card, thus describes herself…corn-operator. This interesting little lady is one of the greatest London characters; she may be seen in all parts of the town, riding in a chaise in company with her brother, who is also a dwarf.’"

Mrs Hill was outraged by her portrayal in David Copperfield and allegedly threatened Dickens with legal action saying ‘‘I have suffered long and much from my personal deformities, but never before at the hands of a man so highly gifted as Charles Dickens.’ In reply Dickens wrote ‘I am most exceedingly and unfeigningly sorry to have been the unfortunate occasion of giving you a moment's distress.’

John Forster wrote this in his book "The Life of Charles Dickens":

"I have had the queerest adventure this morning," he wrote (28th of December 1849) on the eve of his tenth number, "the receipt of the enclosed from Miss Moucher! It is serio-comic, but there is no doubt one is wrong in being tempted to such a use of power." Thinking a grotesque little oddity among his acquaintance to be safe from recognition, he had done what Smollett did sometimes, but never Fielding, and given way, in the first outburst of fun that had broken out around the fancy, to the temptation of copying too closely peculiarities of figure and face amounting in effect to deformity. He was shocked at discovering the pain he had given, and a copy is before me of the assurances by way of reply which he at once sent to the complainant. That he was grieved and surprised beyond measure. That he had not intended her altogether. That all his characters, being made up out of many people, were composite, and never individual. That the chair (for table) and other matters were undoubtedly from her, but that other traits were not hers at all; and that in Miss Moucher's "Ain't I volatile" his friends had quite correctly recognized the favourite utterance of a different person. That he felt nevertheless he had done wrong, and would now do anything to repair it. That he had intended to employ the character in an unpleasant way, but he would, whatever the risk or inconvenience, change it all, so that nothing but an agreeable impression should be left."

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When David and Steerforth are having breakfast the morning they are leaving. David says in the first paragraph he won't tell anyone, even Steerforth about Little Em’ly’s outburst the night before, he believes that what she revealed to him was by accident and it would be unworthy of their love to reveal it. In the original manuscript however, he does tell Steerforth about Martha. This was cut from the original manuscript:

"But I told Steerforth of what had happened with Martha. He listened to that recital in perfect silence, and was evidently moved by it. I thought it moved him to a kind of dread, like that I had observed in him last night, more than pity; but it did move him, and strongly too."

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When Steerforth is describing to David what a proctor is, this was cut from the original manuscript:

"I confess I think it's in the main a question of gammon and spinach, as my friend Miss Mowcher would say,' he returned. 'A proctor is a gentlemanly sort of fellow. I don't see any objection to your being a proctor. You shall take out my marriage-license, if I ever want one, if that is any inducement, and you shall separate my wife and me afterwards, and you shall prove my will, if you live long enough.'"

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I make the acquaintance of Mrs. Mowcher

Chapter 22



According to J. A. Hammerton (1910), I make the acquaintance of Miss Mowcher, the first illustration for the eighth monthly number (chs 22, 23, and 24), illustrates this sentence from chapter 22: "I never did in my days behold anything like Mowcher as she stood upon the dining-table, intensely enjoying this refreshment, rubbing busily at Steerforth's head, and winking at me over it". However, in drawing the cartoon-like figure of Miss Mowcher, Phiz has drawn heavily on this earlier paragraph:

I looked at the doorway and saw nothing. I was still looking at the doorway, thinking that Miss Mowcher was a long while making her appearances, when, to my infinite astonishment, there came waddling round a sofa which stood between me and it, a pursy dwarf, of about forty or fory-five, with a very large head and face, a pair of roguish grey 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 half-way, and lay her nose against it. Her chin, which as what is called a double-chin, was so fat that it entirely swallowed up the strings of her bonnet, bow and all.Throat she had none; waist she had none; legs she had none, worth mentioning; for though she was more 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; bri nging her nose and her forefinger together, with the difficulty 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.

The only aspect of her character, as opposed to her physical presence, that David finds disconcerting about Miss Mowcher is her "knowingness," for her candid remarks about her clients imply her sexual awareness as well as her cynicism. Her attitudes like her diction seem more properly male and aristocratic — in short, more like Steerforth's than would seem appropriate to one of her gender and class. That she may be Steerforth's procuress does not occur to David at this point, so that the experience of the mature narrator is foiled by the naivete of the youthful, one might say here "virginal," protagonist, who once again observes — sometimes in great detail — but even as a young adult does not fully comprehend what he sees.

The dwarf manicurist/frisseur to the aristocracy is a grotesque but delightful adaptation of real-life chiropodist Mrs. Jane Seymour Hill, Dickens's neighbour at Devonshire Terrace, just off Marleybone Road, Regent's Park, where the novelist resided from 1839 through 1851. In contrast to David's self-conscious immaturity, which Miss Mowcher is in fact underscoring when she notes the peach-like texture of his facial skin, Phiz here emphasizes Steerforth's cool self-possession and aristocratic curls, suggestive of his licentious, sensual nature. Gareth Cordery, taking his cue from Jane Rabb Cohen, asserts that Miss Mowcher is articulating David's hidden and forbidden desires desires regarding his "almost-sister" and childhood companion, little Em'ly. Significantly, Miss Mowcher initially assumes that the beautiful young native of Yarmouth who has recently attracted Steerforth's interest is David's sister.

Cohen finds once again that Phiz comments — albeit obliquely, particularly with respect to sexual relationships — on the materials that the novelist has given him by adding telling emblemmatic details in characters' costumes and in background details.

The dwarf dramatically stands on the table, with an expression and sidelong glance of amusement, similar to Steerforth's, at David's innocence. There is a clear analogy between Miss Mowcher and the subject of the framed scene over the fireplace: Gulliver performing on a table top for the bemused Brobdingnagians. Her hair and hat feather, functioning like Pecksniff's hair tuft [in Phiz's narrative-pictorial sequence for Martin Chuzzlewit earlier in the decade], link her physically and hence morally to the mote complex picture over her head, apparently that of Mephistopheles observing the tryst he has arranged between Faust and Gretchen [in Goethe's opera]. The turbulence of her hat also connects her with the picture of a storm-tossed ship behind David's head. The Faust picture, which Harvey notes is not included in Browne's original sketch, may have been requested by Dickens or added by Browne as a hint to the reader of what is to come.

Since Dickens only became fully acquainted with Goethe's opera after he had finished writing David Copperfield, the visual allusion must have originated with Phiz as an afterthought. What the common reader looks for in the illustration, having first met Miss Mowcher in the accompanying text, is her wonderful self-possession and magpie vivacity, and David's utter amazement at both her distorted form, non-stop, racey patter, and dynamic presence. And, in fact, Phiz communicates these aspects of the scene well, through David's rigidity (implying his straight-laced nature) and the identical sidelong glances of the dwarf and her patron, both trained on David. Echoing the number of figures in the room and in the complicated emotional relationship, the three principal pictures in the room (a shipwreck scene appropriate to the coasts near Yarmouth, and illustrations of Gulliver's Travels, Book 2, and of Goethe's Faust) extend the moment through allusion and foreshadowing.

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Chapter 22



According to J. A. Hammerton (1910), "Martha," the second illustration for the eighth monthly number (chapters 22, 23, and 24), realizes the following scene in chapter 22:

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 Em’ly 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 complexion. 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 holding 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—Martha’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.

Once again, Phiz uses a picture-within-the-picture in the manner of Hogarth, that of Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ above the mantlepiece, to represent his interpretation of the text, just as he had used the pictures of the shipwreck and the scene from Faust in the previous etching

David is again a naïve, somewhat bemused onlooker, so deeply clothed in shadow as to be easily overlooked at first glance. The two girls are connected visually, first of all, by the luster in their dark hair. Although Martha's kneeling position is specified in the text, Browne takes this further by mirroring it with the pose of Mary Magdalene anointing the feet of Christ, in a picture over the mantel.

This last detail brings out several analogies when one recalls that the sister of Mary Magdalene was named Martha, for this suggests both a link between' the latter two, and a sisterly link between Martha and Emily. Further, Ham Peggotty is closest to imitating the position of Christ in the picture, which reminds us of Ham's charity in not scorning Martha and in adding to the purse of money Emily gives her. As Martha kneels almost directly beneath the picture of the Magdalene, so Emily stands beneath a print of Eve and the serpent. Such parallels and foreshadowing's again involve Browne in presenting iconographic commentaries which would seem terribly heavy and moralistic in the text; and it is worth considering that such practice is analogous to the marginal commentaries in editions of Pilgrim's Progress or the Bible, which were familiar and would feel natural to readers of Dickens' and Browne's time.

In fact, the disposition of the figures in the biblical illustration is echoed in the disposition of the figures of the Peggottys and David Copperfield:

The picture forms the top of a triangle linking Martha, who is identified with the Magdalene by her similar posture and isolation from the group, and Em'ly, whose contrasting purity is suggested by the whiteness of her skirt. To reinforce Dickens's implicit assertion of the need and authority for forgiveness, Browne makes the heads of his characters follow an ascending diagonal line to that of Christ's in the picture.

Undoubtedly the topos of the fallen or lost woman, found throughout nineteenth-century art and literature, emanates from socio-economic rather than purely moralistic concerns. She is, after all, "lost" to her family, and has "fallen" from the middle-class; the stereotype, evident in David Copperfield is a young woman of the lower middle class who has been seduced by a libertine, treated for a time as a "lady," and then abandoned. Works as different as Hood's "Song of the Shirt" (Punch, 1843) and Dickens's The Chimes (1844) assert that the lower-middle class woman cannot subscribe to the idyll of of the chatelaine, the family-oriented "Angel in the House" whose sole business is the running of the household and the raising of children. On the middle-class marriage market, young women at the lower end of the middle classes, without either dowries or prospects of substantial inheritances, would have to survive as nannies, nursemaids, and seamstresses, occupations not especially well-paid, in order to avoid falling out of the middle class entirely. The ever-present danger to such young women stemmed from the temptation or the necessity to supplement their incomes through prostitution (at the extreme) or becoming, like Tess in Hardy's novel, the mistress of a wealthy man who would not marry below his class, or, as in the case of Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre, who already had a wife and therefore was not free to marry. The ending of a stereotypical fallen woman cautionary narrative is given in the eighth and final plate of George Cruikshank's "glyphographic" sequence The Drunkard's Children (1848): "The poor girl, homeless, friendless, deserted, destitute, and gin-mad, commits self-murder" (Meisel 137), apparently by jumping off London Bridge, a mode of "self-murder" repeated on the cover of Dicks' Standard Play #791 (1886), Charles Selby's London by Night, "First Produced at the Strand Theatre, January 11th, 1844" (Meisel 140), responding to The Great Social Evil of the 1840s.

In contrast to the dominant construction of the Fallen Woman in the 1840s, Dickens's and Phiz's Martha is a pitiable outcast, by implication a victim, and certainly not the agent of disease, vice, and crime. The other picture in Phiz's illustration, Eve tempted by the Serpent in the Garden of Eden, perhaps playing on the phallic associations of the snake, links religious and moral transgression.

While Ham's fiancée, Emily, is patently nubile, Martha, the woman with a sexual past, is her antithesis: without family or friends, judged by everyone who encounters her in the streets of Yarmouth, prostrate, and blighted by some unspecified sexual experience outside marriage. Phiz enables us to identify the nature of Martha's sin by contrasting her with the respectable married woman in the white cap, Clara Barkis, and her engaged niece, just as Dickens dramatizes Annie Strong's compromised virtue by juxtaposing her with the true, faithful, and selfless Agnes Wickfield. Thus, of the three standard mid-Victorian responses to the plight of the Fallen Woman — Calvinist condemnation, evangelical pity, and socially scientific analysis, Phiz reinforces the second strain, evident too in Dickens's text. Like other Liberals of the 1840s, Dickens was caught up in a general resurgence of sympathy for prostitutes, whom social reformers portrayed as victims of the sweating system in dressmaking or millinery workshops. Societies for the prevention of juvenile prostitution were formed in London and Edinburgh in 1834 in response to widely publicized instances of young teenaged girls being entrapped into brothels.

As a writer for the respectable classes Dickens could not go so far as justifying the fallen woman, but he could — and did — compel his readers to sympathize with her, in part, by avoiding describing the precise nature of her transgression. Rather, he shows the effects of her sin: her loss of gainful, respectable employment; her rejection by local society; and her determination to seek the anonymity of the metropolis. Such, too, was the case with Dickens's contemporary Augustus Egg in Past and Present (1858), the first part of which also contains a shipwreck, although the subject is not the fallen woman's morally outcast state per se as adultery, for the narrative-pictorial sequence makes plain that the wife has committed a crime against the institution of the Victorian family and the benevolent despotism of the Pater Familias, a "three-part domestic drama". In the "discovery" scene, a letter informs the upper-middle class husband of his wife's adultery; she, like Martha in Phiz's illustration, lies on the floor, prostrate with remorse.

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"That is a black shadow to be following the girl,"

Chapter 22

Fred Barnard

1872 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

As he had continued to look steadily at me, I took it as a reminder that he objected to being extolled for his consideration. I could not help showing in my face how much it 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 appearing 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 remembrance 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 distant level, absorbing their figures into itself, left but itself visible between us and the sea and clouds, her figure disappeared 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 tonight.’

‘Why?’ I asked.

‘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.

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Chapter 22

Sol Eytinge Jr.

1867 Diamond Edition


Whereas Phiz chose to depict James Steerforth, the novel's rake, as a handsome, well-dressed senior schoolboy in his first appearance in the serial illustrations, in his only treatment of the protagonist's alter-ego Eytinge depicts him at the helm of a small boat, anticipating his purchase of the "Little Em'ly." Eschewing the tailored look, this Steerforth wears sailing garb and, in a manner reminiscent of portraits of George Gordon, Lord Byron, is ruggedly handsome, with slightly disheveled blond hair. Whereas Phiz depicted him in social situations, Eytinge has chosen to study him in isolation — but very much in control. The boat seems inordinately small, and the waves come right up to the boom of the main sail, and the breakers in the background. Again, we may be studying him, but his gaze suggests that he is studying us. At this point in the narrative, Steerforth, having consumed biscuit, dried fish, and Hollands with David, Ham, and Dan'l Peggotty, catches a glimpse of "A most engaging little Beauty" in chapter 21, "Little Em'ly." Since the illustration depicts Steerforth sailing, an activity about which David presumably learns from the Peggottys and Steerforth himself, the passage realized is likely this:

He was a good sailor, and I was but an indifferent one; and when he went out boating with Mr. Peggotty, which was a favourite amusement of his, I generally remained ashore. . . . . Thus it came about, that I heard of his making little treats for the fishermen at Mr. Peggotty'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." [Beginning of Chapter 22, "Some Old Scenes, and Some New People."]

Thus, the imagined scene of Steerforth alone on the sea beyond Yarmouth is something that exists only in David's — and the reader's — imagination, for he is not present to witness it, and it is barely described. The pleasure voyage for Steerforth mocks the serious business of the Yarmouth fishermen's labours on the deep, and the illustration reflects the narrator's narrow focus by eliminating Steerforth's proletarian companions.

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That last illustration looks nothing like Steerforth, at least not the one in my mind.

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Miss Mowcher

Chapter 22

Sol Eytinge Jr.

1867 Diamond Edition


The tenth illustration — taking its cue from Dickens's text — establishes Miss Mowcher's diminutive stature by placing her next to an adult-sized chair, on which she has placed two hairbrushes from her capacious purse. Eytinge establishes her character economically by depicting in detail her extravagant hat and sidelong, knowing glance. No other details of the setting or even the presence of Steerforth and Littimer help us establish the moment realized, but the presence of the chair points to David's initial impressions of her:

Her chin, which was what is called a double chin, was so fat that it entirely swallowed up the strings of her bonnet, bow and all. Throat she had none; waist she had none; legs she had none, worth mentioning; for though she was more than full-sized down to where her waist would have been, if she 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. [Ch. 22]

Already, she seems to have broken out in a "torrent of words" directed at Steerforth, addressing the aristocratic youth jocosely as "My flower", and upbraiding him as a "naughty boy" who is far from home and undoubtedly "Up to mischief." Eytinge seems to have been inspired by Steerforth's description of her as "one of the seven wonders of the world" to exhibit her as a carnival side-show personality. Eytinge has included the hairbrushes to signify her trade, even though she has not abstracted them from her bag at this point.

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"Mr Copperfield, ain't I volatile?"

Chapter 22

William Henry Charles Groome

Text Illustrated:

‘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. ‘No? Let’s get the scaffolding up, then, for a pair of whiskers. Come!’

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.

‘That’s the Till!’ observed Miss Mowcher, standing at the chair again, and replacing in the bag a miscellaneous collection 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 rascal, 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-bye, 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 waddled 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.

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"Trot! My dear Trot!!" cried my aunt, in a terrified whisper, and pressing my arm.

Chapter 23

Fred Barnard

1872 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

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 suffered me to do so too.

At about mid-day, we set out for the office of Messrs Spenlow 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 Saint 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 whisper, 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.’

‘No, no, child!’ she returned. ‘Don’t speak to him for 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 door-way, while this was passing, 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 replied.

‘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.

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And Mrs. Crupp said, thank Heaven she had now found summun she could care for!"

Chapter 23

Fred Barnard

1872 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

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.

‘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 upstairs.

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 bedroom. 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 confidence. ‘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 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 tomorrow, and Mrs. Crupp said, thank Heaven she had now found summun 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 particulars, I need only add, that she made a handsome provision for all my possible wants during my month of trial; that Steerforth, 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, pondering 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.

message 42: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod

Miss Mowcher

Frank Reynolds

message 43: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2941 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "When Steerforth is describing to David what a proctor is, this was cut from the original manuscript:

"I confess I think it's in the main a question of gammon and spinach, as my friend Miss Mowcher..."

Wow. These words are packed with meaning and foreshadowing. I wonder if Dickens thought they said too much, too soon, or it was simply a case of trimming his length for the instalment?

message 44: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2941 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "

"That is a black shadow to be following the girl,"

Chapter 22

Fred Barnard

1872 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

As he had continued to look steadily at me, I took it as a reminder that h..."

Great find Kim. This illustration is perfect.

I think this illustration is wonderful. Not wonderful as in beautiful, but in capturing the mood and mystery of the scene in the novel. In each novel I seem drawn to one or two of the minor characters. In this novel, I am fascinated by Martha. She contrasts Emily in some ways and also reflects Emily as well. There is much to Martha’s character and I predict Dickens will keep her as an important element to the story.

message 45: by Ulysse (new)

Ulysse | 73 comments Kim wrote: "

"Mr Copperfield, ain't I volatile?"

Chapter 22

William Henry Charles Groome

Text Illustrated:

‘There! If ever any scapegrace was trimmed and touched up to perfection, you are, Steerforth. If ..."

There's something wrong with the proportions in this illustration (William Henry Charles Groome). Is Miss Mowcher supposed to be a oversized dwarf or a diminutive giant here?

message 46: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod
Ulysse wrote: 'Is Miss Mowcher supposed to be a oversized dwarf or a diminutive giant here?'

Beats me. When it comes to the illustrations I can't figure out what's going on half the time, Peter explains it to me. I just post them and hope for the best.

message 47: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod

Phiz in color

message 48: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod

Phiz in color. It seems like a stupid thing to say since it's obvious, but I want to let you know it is Phiz. I wonder if he colored it or if someone else came along and did later? I've never tried to find out.

message 49: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Illustration for one of a series of cigarette cards on the subject of Figures of Fiction, published by Carreras. Early 20th century.

On looking up the word Carreras. I first get an opera singer and recognized him right away only because he used to sing with Pavarotti and I love Pavarotti, but I don't think an opera singer is out there publishing illustrations.

Second is The House of Carreras, that was a tobacco business that was established in London in the nineteenth century by a nobleman from Spain, Don José Carreras Ferrer. It continued as an independent company until November 1958, when it merged with Rothmans of Pall Mall. In 1972 the name was used as the vehicle for the merger of various European tobacco interests to form Rothmans International. I never heard of any of them.

Next is The Carreras Cigarette Factory, a large art deco building in Camden, London, in the United Kingdom. It is noted as a striking example of early 20th Century Egyptian Revival architecture. The building was erected in 1926–28 by the Carreras Tobacco Company owned by the Russian-Jewish inventor and philanthropist Bernhard Baron on the communal garden area of Mornington Crescent.

The building's distinctive Egyptian-style ornamentation originally included a solar disc to the Sun-god Ra, two gigantic effigies of black cats flanking the entrance and colourful painted details. When the factory was converted into offices in 1961 the Egyptian detailing was lost, but it was restored during a renovation in the late 1990s, and replicas of the cats were placed outside the entrance.

The building is located at the northern end of Hampstead Road and faces out over Harrington Square.

It's also a cactus. As to what David is holding, I don't know. Here's the building:

message 50: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod

Miss Mowcher working drawing


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