Charles Dickens, David Copperfield: Ch. 7

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'Her pretty face!' said Mr. Peggotty, with his own shining like a light.

'Her learning!' said Ham.

'Her writing!' said Mr. Peggotty. 'Why it's as black as jet! And so large it is, you might see it anywheres.'

It was perfectly delightfuld to behold with what enthusiasm Mr. Peggotty became inspired when he thought of his little favourite. He stands before me again, his bluff hairy face irradiating with a joyful love and pride, for which I can find no description. His honest eyes fire up, and sparkle, as if their depths were stirred by something bright. His broad chest heaves with pleasure. His strong loose hands clench themselves, in his earnestness; and he emphasizes what he says with a right arm that shows, in my pigmy view, like a sledge-hammer.

Ham was quite as earnest as he. I dare say they would have said much more about her, if they had not been abashed by the unexpected coming in of Steerforth, who, seeing me in a corner speaking with two strangers, stopped in a song he was singing, and said: 'I didn't know you were here, young Copperfield!' (for it was not the usual visiting room) and crossed by us on his way out.

I am not sure whether it was in the pride of having such a friend as Steerforth, or in the desire to explain to him how I came to have such a friend as Mr. Peggotty, that I called to him as he was going away. But I said, modestly—Good Heaven, how it all comes back to me this long time afterwards—!

'Don't go, Steerforth, if you please. These are two Yarmouth boatmen—very kind, good people—who are relations of my nurse, and have come from Gravesend to see me.'d

'Aye, aye?' said Steerforth, returning. 'I am glad to see them. How are you both?'

There was an ease in his manner—a gay and light manner it was, but not swaggering—which I still believe to have borne a kind of enchantment with it. I still believe him, in virtue of this carriage, his animal spirits,h his delightful voice, his handsome face and figure, and, for aught I know, of some inborn power of attraction besides (which I think a few people possess), to have carried a spell with him to which it was a natural weakness to yield, and which not many persons could withstand. I could not but see how pleased they were with him, and how they seemed to open their hearts to him in a moment.

'You must let them know at home, if you please, Mr. Peggotty,' I said, 'when that letter is sent, that Mr. Steerforth is very kind to me, and that I don't know what I should ever do here without him.'

'Nonsense!' said Steerforth, laughing. 'You mustn't tell them anything of the sort.'

'And if Mr. Steerforth ever comes into Norfolk or Suffolk, Mr. Peggotty,' I said, 'while I am there, you may depend upon it I shall bring him to Yarmouth, if he will let me, to see your house. You never saw such a good house, Steerforth. It's made out of a boat!'

'Made out of a boat, is it?' said Steerforth. 'It's the right sort of a house for such a thorough-built boatman.'

'So 'tis, sir, so 'tis, sir,' said Ham, grinning. 'You're right, young gen'l'm'n! Mas'r Davy bor', gen'l'm'n's right. A thorough-built boatman! Hor, hor! That's what he is, too!'

X [d] It was perfectly delightful

Class

The paragraph celebrates the natural expressions of emotion, loyalty, and hospitality in working-class people. Despite their physical strength, Daniel and Hame are far closer to Traddles' feminine ways of feeling than to others in the novel. They contradict the middle-class prejudice that the working classes are brutish. Still, when confronted with their "betters." They become clos…

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X [d] 'Don't go, Steerforth, if you please. These a…

Class

Steerforth adapts readily to his surroundings in order to feed his hunger for adulation. His snobbery remains invisible. He is able to appear supremely natural with the lower classes, although moments before he has condescended viciously to Mr. Mell. Steerforth's contempt runs so deep that it does not disturb the surface.  …

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X [h] his animal spirits,

Body

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 …

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