his animal spirits,

Category: Body | Type: Historical | Title: David Copperfield (in Context) | Author: Charles Dickens | Ch: My 'First Half' at Salem House

The phrase can mean something as simple as physical energy and alertness or it can describe the meeting point of body and mind (Search animal spirits).

The phrase's roots are in early 18th-c. psychology and medicine and it appears regularly throughout the 19th. Wordsworth uses it in "Tintern Abbey," 1798, and George Eliot in Romola, 1862-3. Dickens's interest in Mesmerism (hypnosis) may put a particular spin on "animal spirits." His description of Steerforth 's exercising "a kind of enchantment...some inborn power of attraction...carried a spell with him" connects his animal spirits with his affect. Steerforth's magnetic power somewhat absolves those like David who are spell-bound by him. 

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