Dick Quotes-Source:David Copperfield
Mrs. Crupp had indignantly assured him that there wasn't room to swing
a cat there; but as Mr. Dick justly observed to me, sitting down on the
foot of the bed, nursing his leg, "You know, Trotwood, I don't want to
swing a cat. I never do swing a cat. Therefore what does that signify to
- David Copperfield (vol. II, ch. VI)
'Why, if I was you,' said Mr. Dick, considering, and looking
vacantly at me, 'I should -' The contemplation of me seemed to
inspire him with a sudden idea, and he added, briskly, 'I should
Mr. Dick, as I have already said, was grey-headed, and florid: I
should have said all about him, in saying so, had not his head been
curiously bowed - not by age; it reminded me of one of Mr.
Creakle's boys' heads after a beating - and his grey eyes prominent
and large, with a strange kind of watery brightness in them that
made me, in combination with his vacant manner, his submission to
my aunt, and his childish delight when she praised him, suspect him
of being a little mad; though, if he were mad, how he came to be
there puzzled me extremely. He was dressed like any other ordinary
gentleman, in a loose grey morning coat and waistcoat, and white
trousers; and had his watch in his fob, and his money in his
pockets: which he rattled as if he were very proud of it.
'Whatever possessed that poor unfortunate Baby, that she must go
and be married again,' said my aunt, when I had finished, 'I can't
'Perhaps she fell in love with her second husband,' Mr. Dick
'Fell in love!' repeated my aunt. 'What do you mean? What
business had she to do it?'
'Perhaps,' Mr. Dick simpered, after thinking a little, 'she did it
'Now, Mr. Dick,' said my aunt, with her grave look, and her
forefinger up as before, 'I am going to ask you another question.
Look at this child.'
'David's son?' said Mr. Dick, with an attentive, puzzled face.
'Exactly so,' returned my aunt. 'What would you do with him, now?'
'Do with David's son?' said Mr. Dick.
'Ay,' replied my aunt, 'with David's son.'
'Oh!' said Mr. Dick. 'Yes. Do with - I should put him to
'I wish you'd go upstairs,' said my aunt, as she threaded her
needle, 'and give my compliments to Mr. Dick, and I'll be glad to
know how he gets on with his Memorial.'
I rose with all alacrity, to acquit myself of this commission.
'I suppose,' said my aunt, eyeing me as narrowly as she had eyed
the needle in threading it, 'you think Mr. Dick a short name, eh?'
'I thought it was rather a short name, yesterday,' I confessed.
'You are not to suppose that he hasn't got a longer name, if he
chose to use it,' said my aunt, with a loftier air. 'Babley -
Richard Babley - that's the gentleman's true name.'
'But don't you call him by it, whatever you do. He can't bear
name. That's a peculiarity of his. Though I don't know
much of a peculiarity, either; for he has been ill-used enough, by
some that bear it, to have a mortal antipathy for it, Heaven knows.
Mr. Dick is his name here, and everywhere else, now - if he ever
went anywhere else, which he don't. So take care, child, you
call him anything BUT Mr. Dick.'
I promised to obey, and went upstairs with my message; thinking, as
I went, that if Mr. Dick had been working at his Memorial long, at
the same rate as I had seen him working at it, through the open
door, when I came down, he was probably getting on very well
indeed. I found him still driving at it with a long pen, and
head almost laid upon the paper. He was so intent upon it, that
had ample leisure to observe the large paper kite in a corner, the
confusion of bundles of manuscript, the number of pens, and, above
all, the quantity of ink (which he seemed to have in, in
half-gallon jars by the dozen), before he observed my being
'Ha! Phoebus!' said Mr. Dick, laying down his pen. 'How does the
world go? I'll tell you what,' he added, in a lower tone, 'I
shouldn't wish it to be mentioned, but it's a -' here he beckoned
to me, and put his lips close to my ear - 'it's a mad world.
as Bedlam, boy!' said Mr. Dick, taking snuff from a round box on
the table, and laughing heartily.
Without presuming to give my opinion on this question, I delivered
'Well,' said Mr. Dick, in answer, 'my compliments to her, and I -
I believe I have made a start. I think I have made a start,'
Mr. Dick, passing his hand among his grey hair, and casting
anything but a confident look at his manuscript. 'You have been
'Yes, sir,' I answered; 'for a short time.'
'Do you recollect the date,' said Mr. Dick, looking earnestly at
me, and taking up his pen to note it down, 'when King Charles the
First had his head cut off?'
I said I believed it happened in the year sixteen hundred and
'Well,' returned Mr. Dick, scratching his ear with his pen, and
looking dubiously at me. 'So the books say; but I don't see how
that can be. Because, if it was so long ago, how could the people
about him have made that mistake of putting some of the trouble out
of his head, after it was taken off, into mine?'
I was very much surprised by the inquiry; but could give no
information on this point.
'It's very strange,' said Mr. Dick, with a despondent look upon his
papers, and with his hand among his hair again, 'that I never can
get that quite right. I never can make that perfectly clear.
no matter, no matter!' he said cheerfully, and rousing himself,
'there's time enough! My compliments to Miss Trotwood, I am
getting on very well indeed.'
I was going away, when he directed my attention to the kite.
'What do you think of that for a kite?' he said.
I answered that it was a beautiful one. I should think it must
have been as much as seven feet high.
'I made it. We'll go and fly it, you and I,' said Mr. Dick.
you see this?'
He showed me that it was covered with manuscript, very closely and
laboriously written; but so plainly, that as I looked along the
lines, I thought I saw some allusion to King Charles the First's
head again, in one or two places.
'There's plenty of string,' said Mr. Dick, 'and when it flies high,
it takes the facts a long way. That's my manner of diffusing
I don't know where they may come down. It's according to
circumstances, and the wind, and so forth; but I take my chance of
His face was so very mild and pleasant, and had something so
reverend in it, though it was hale and hearty, that I was not sure
but that he was having a good-humoured jest with me. So I laughed,
and he laughed, and we parted the best friends possible.
'Well, child,' said my aunt, when I went downstairs. 'And what
Mr. Dick, this morning?'
'Is he - is Mr. Dick - I ask because I don't know, aunt - is he at
all out of his mind, then?' I stammered; for I felt I was on
'Not a morsel,' said my aunt.
'Oh, indeed!' I observed faintly.
'If there is anything in the world,' said my aunt, with great
decision and force of manner, 'that Mr. Dick is not, it's that.'
I had nothing better to offer, than another timid, 'Oh, indeed!'
'He has been CALLED mad,' said my aunt. 'I have a selfish pleasure
in saying he has been called mad, or I should not have had the
benefit of his society and advice for these last ten years and
upwards - in fact, ever since your sister, Betsey Trotwood,
'So long as that?' I said.
'And nice people they were, who had the audacity to call him mad,'
pursued my aunt. 'Mr. Dick is a sort of distant connexion of
- it doesn't matter how; I needn't enter into that. If it hadn't
been for me, his own brother would have shut him up for life.
I am afraid it was hypocritical in me, but seeing that my aunt felt
strongly on the subject, I tried to look as if I felt strongly too.
'A proud fool!' said my aunt. 'Because his brother was a little
eccentric - though he is not half so eccentric as a good many
people - he didn't like to have him visible about his house, and
sent him away to some private asylum-place: though he had been left
to his particular care by their deceased father, who thought him
almost a natural. And a wise man he must have been to think so!
Mad himself, no doubt.'
Again, as my aunt looked quite convinced, I endeavoured to look
quite convinced also.
'So I stepped in,' said my aunt, 'and made him an offer. I said,
"Your brother's sane - a great deal more sane than you are, or ever
will be, it is to be hoped. Let him have his little income, and
come and live with me. I am not afraid of him, I am not proud,
am ready to take care of him, and shall not ill-treat him as some
people (besides the asylum-folks) have done." After a good deal
squabbling,' said my aunt, 'I got him; and he has been here ever
since. He is the most friendly and amenable creature in existence;
and as for advice! - But nobody knows what that man's mind is,
'He had a favourite sister,' said my aunt, 'a good creature, and
very kind to him. But she did what they all do - took a husband.
And HE did what they all do - made her wretched. It had such
effect upon the mind of Mr. Dick (that's not madness, I hope!)
that, combined with his fear of his brother, and his sense of his
unkindness, it threw him into a fever. That was before he came
me, but the recollection of it is oppressive to him even now.
he say anything to you about King Charles the First, child?'
'Ah!' said my aunt, rubbing her nose as if she were a little vexed.
'That's his allegorical way of expressing it. He connects his
illness with great disturbance and agitation, naturally, and that's
the figure, or the simile, or whatever it's called, which he
chooses to use. And why shouldn't he, if he thinks proper!'
I said: 'Certainly, aunt.'
'It's not a business-like way of speaking,' said my aunt, 'nor a
worldly way. I am aware of that; and that's the reason why I
insist upon it, that there shan't be a word about it in his
'Is it a Memorial about his own history that he is writing, aunt?'
'Yes, child,' said my aunt, rubbing her nose again. 'He is
memorializing the Lord Chancellor, or the Lord Somebody or other -
one of those people, at all events, who are paid to be memorialized
- about his affairs. I suppose it will go in, one of these days.
He hasn't been able to draw it up yet, without introducing that
mode of expressing himself; but it don't signify; it keeps him
In fact, I found out afterwards that Mr. Dick had been for upwards
of ten years endeavouring to keep King Charles the First out of the
Memorial; but he had been constantly getting into it, and was there
'I say again,' said my aunt, 'nobody knows what that man's mind is
except myself; and he's the most amenable and friendly creature in
existence. If he likes to fly a kite sometimes, what of that!
Franklin used to fly a kite. He was a Quaker, or something of
sort, if I am not mistaken. And a Quaker flying a kite is a much
more ridiculous object than anybody else.'
If I could have supposed that my aunt had recounted these
particulars for my especial behoof, and as a piece of confidence in
me, I should have felt very much distinguished, and should have
augured favourably from such a mark of her good opinion. But
could hardly help observing that she had launched into them,
chiefly because the question was raised in her own mind, and with
very little reference to me, though she had addressed herself to me
in the absence of anybody else.
At the same time, I must say that the generosity of her
championship of poor harmless Mr. Dick, not only inspired my young
breast with some selfish hope for myself, but warmed it unselfishly
towards her. I believe that I began to know that there was
something about my aunt, notwithstanding her many eccentricities
and odd humours, to be honoured and trusted in.
'I have no doubt you have,' said my aunt. 'Janet,' ringing the
bell, 'my compliments to Mr. Dick, and beg him to come down.'
Until he came, my aunt sat perfectly upright and stiff, frowning at
the wall. When he came, my aunt performed the ceremony of
'Mr. Dick. An old and intimate friend. On whose judgement,'
my aunt, with emphasis, as an admonition to Mr. Dick, who was
biting his forefinger and looking rather foolish, 'I rely.'
Mr. Dick took his finger out of his mouth, on this hint, and stood
among the group, with a grave and attentive expression of face.
'Humph!' said my aunt. 'Unfortunate baby!'
Mr. Dick, who had been rattling his money all this time, was
rattling it so loudly now, that my aunt felt it necessary to check
him with a look, before saying:
'The poor child's annuity died with her?'
'Died with her,' replied Mr. Murdstone.
'And there was no settlement of the little property - the house and
garden - the what's-its-name Rookery without any rooks in it - upon
'It had been left to her, unconditionally, by her first husband,'
Mr. Murdstone began, when my aunt caught him up with the greatest
irascibility and impatience.
'Good Lord, man, there's no occasion to say that.
'Mr. Dick,' said my aunt, 'what shall I do with this child?'
Mr. Dick considered, hesitated, brightened, and rejoined, 'Have him
measured for a suit of clothes directly.'
'Mr. Dick,' said my aunt triumphantly, 'give me your hand, for your
common sense is invaluable.' Having shaken it with great
cordiality, she pulled me towards her and said to Mr. Murdstone:
lasped round her neck. I then shook hands with Mr. Dick, who
shook hands with me a great many times, and hailed this happy close
of the proceedings with repeated bursts of laughter.
'You'll consider yourself guardian, jointly with me, of this child,
Mr. Dick,' said my aunt.
'I shall be delighted,' said Mr. Dick, 'to be the guardian of
'Very good,' returned my aunt, 'that's settled. I have been
thinking, do you know, Mr. Dick, that I might call him Trotwood?'
'Certainly, certainly. Call him Trotwood, certainly,' said Mr.
Dick. 'David's son's Trotwood.'
'Trotwood Copperfield, you mean,' returned my aunt.
'Yes, to be sure. Yes. Trotwood Copperfield,' said Mr. Dick,
Mr. Dick and I soon became the best of friends, and very often,
when his day's work was done, went out together to fly the great
kite. Every day of his life he had a long sitting at the Memorial,
which never made the least progress, however hard he laboured, for
King Charles the First always strayed into it, sooner or later, and
then it was thrown aside, and another one begun. The patience
hope with which he bore these perpetual disappointments, the mild
perception he had that there was something wrong about King Charles
the First, the feeble efforts he made to keep him out, and the
certainty with which he came in, and tumbled the Memorial out of
all shape, made a deep impression on me. What Mr. Dick supposed
would come of the Memorial, if it were completed; where he thought
it was to go, or what he thought it was to do; he knew no more than
anybody else, I believe. Nor was it at all necessary that he
should trouble himself with such questions, for if anything were
certain under the sun, it was certain that the Memorial never would
be finished. It was quite an affecting sight, I used to think,
see him with the kite when it was up a great height in the air.
What he had told me, in his room, about his belief in its
disseminating the statements pasted on it, which were nothing but
old leaves of abortive Memorials, might have been a fancy with him
sometimes; but not when he was out, looking up at the kite in the
sky, and feeling it pull and tug at his hand. He never looked
serene as he did then. I used to fancy, as I sat by him of an
evening, on a green slope, and saw him watch the kite high in the
quiet air, that it lifted his mind out of its confusion, and bore
it (such was my boyish thought) into the skies. As he wound the
string in and it came lower and lower down out of the beautiful
light, until it fluttered to the ground, and lay there like a dead
thing, he seemed to wake gradually out of a dream; and I remember
to have seen him take it up, and look about him in a lost way, as
if they had both come down together, so that I pitied him with all
While I advanced in friendship and intimacy with Mr. Dick, I did
not go backward in the favour of his staunch friend,
I was greatly elated by these orders; but my heart smote me for my
selfishness, when I witnessed their effect on Mr. Dick, who was so
low-spirited at the prospect of our separation, and played so ill
in consequence, that my aunt, after giving him several admonitory
raps on the knuckles with her dice-box, shut up the board, and
declined to play with him any more. But, on hearing from my aunt
that I should sometimes come over on a Saturday, and that he could
sometimes come and see me on a Wednesday, he revived; and vowed to
make another kite for those occasions, of proportions greatly
surpassing the present one. In the morning he was downhearted
again, and would have sustained himself by giving me all the money
he had in his possession, gold and silver too, if my aunt had not
interposed, and limited the gift to five shillings, which, at his
earnest petition, were afterwards increased to ten. We parted
the garden-gate in a most affectionate manner, and Mr. Dick did not
go into the house until my aunt had driven me out of sight of it.
I saw her on a Saturday, every third or fourth week, when I went
over to Dover for a treat; and I saw Mr. Dick every alternate
Wednesday, when he arrived by stage-coach at noon, to stay until
On these occasions Mr. Dick never travelled without a leathern
writing-desk, containing a supply of stationery and the Memorial;
in relation to which document he had a notion that time was
beginning to press now, and that it really must be got out of hand.
Mr. Dick was very partial to gingerbread. To render his visits
more agreeable, my aunt had instructed me to open a credit for him
at a cake shop, which was hampered with the stipulation that he
should not be served with more than one shilling's-worth in the
course of any one day. This, and the reference of all his little
bills at the county inn where he slept, to my aunt, before they
were paid, induced me to suspect that he was only allowed to rattle
his money, and not to spend it. I found on further investigation
that this was so, or at least there was an agreement between him
and my aunt that he should account to her for all his
disbursements. As he had no idea of deceiving her, and always
desired to please her, he was thus made chary of launching into
expense. On this point, as well as on all other possible points,
Mr. Dick was convinced that my aunt was the wisest and most
wonderful of women; as he repeatedly told me with infinite secrecy,
and always in a whisper.
'Trotwood,' said Mr. Dick, with an air of mystery, after imparting
this confidence to me, one Wednesday; 'who's the man that hides
near our house and frightens her?'
'Frightens my aunt, sir?'
Mr. Dick nodded. 'I thought nothing would have frightened her,'
said, 'for she's -' here he whispered softly, 'don't mention it -
the wisest and most wonderful of women.' Having said which, he
drew back, to observe the effect which this description of her made
'The first time he came,' said Mr. Dick, 'was- let me see- sixteen
hundred and forty-nine was the date of King Charles's execution.
I think you said sixteen hundred and forty-nine?'
'I don't know how it can be,' said Mr. Dick, sorely puzzled and
shaking his head. 'I don't think I am as old as that.'
'Was it in that year that the man appeared, sir?' I asked.
'Why, really' said Mr. Dick, 'I don't see how it can have been in
that year, Trotwood. Did you get that date out of history?'
'I suppose history never lies, does it?' said Mr. Dick, with a
gleam of hope.
'Oh dear, no, sir!' I replied, most decisively. I was ingenuous
and young, and I thought so.
'I can't make it out,' said Mr. Dick, shaking his head. 'There's
something wrong, somewhere. However, it was very soon after the
mistake was made of putting some of the trouble out of King
Charles's head into my head, that the man first came. I was
walking out with Miss Trotwood after tea, just at dark, and there
he was, close to our house.'
'Walking about?' I inquired.
'Walking about?' repeated Mr. Dick. 'Let me see, I must recollect
a bit. N-no, no; he was not walking about.'
I asked, as the shortest way to get at it, what he WAS doing.
'Well, he wasn't there at all,' said Mr. Dick, 'until he came up
behind her, and whispered. Then she turned round and fainted,
I stood still and looked at him, and he walked away; but that he
should have been hiding ever since (in the ground or somewhere), is
the most extraordinary thing!'
'HAS he been hiding ever since?' I asked.
'To be sure he has,' retorted Mr. Dick, nodding his head gravely.
'Never came out, till last night! We were walking last night,
he came up behind her again, and I knew him again.'
'And did he frighten my aunt again?'
'All of a shiver,' said Mr. Dick, counterfeiting that affection and
making his teeth chatter. 'Held by the palings. Cried.
Trotwood, come here,' getting me close to him, that he might
whisper very softly; 'why did she give him money, boy, in the
'He was a beggar, perhaps.'
Mr. Dick shook his head, as utterly renouncing the suggestion; and
having replied a great many times, and with great confidence, 'No
beggar, no beggar, no beggar, sir!' went on to say, that from his
window he had afterwards, and late at night, seen my aunt give this
person money outside the garden rails in the moonlight, who then
slunk away - into the ground again, as he thought probable - and
was seen no more: while my aunt came hurriedly and secretly back
into the house, and had, even that morning, been quite different
from her usual self; which preyed on Mr. Dick's mind.
I had not the least belief, in the outset of this story, that the
unknown was anything but a delusion of Mr. Dick's, and one of the
line of that ill-fated Prince who occasioned him so much
difficulty; but after some reflection I began to entertain the
question whether an attempt, or threat of an attempt, might have
been twice made to take poor Mr. Dick himself from under my aunt's
protection, and whether my aunt, the strength of whose kind feeling
towards him I knew from herself, might have been induced to pay a
price for his peace and quiet. As I was already much attached
Mr. Dick, and very solicitous for his welfare, my fears favoured
this supposition; and for a long time his Wednesday hardly ever
came round, without my entertaining a misgiving that he would not
be on the coach-box as usual. There he always appeared, however,
grey-headed, laughing, and happy; and he never had anything more to
tell of the man who could frighten my aunt.
These Wednesdays were the happiest days of Mr. Dick's life; they
were far from being the least happy of mine.
He soon became known
to every boy in the school; and though he never took an active part
in any game but kite-flying, was as deeply interested in all our
sports as anyone among us. How often have I seen him, intent
a match at marbles or pegtop, looking on with a face of unutterable
interest, and hardly breathing at the critical times! How often,
at hare and hounds, have I seen him mounted on a little knoll,
cheering the whole field on to action, and waving his hat above his
grey head, oblivious of King Charles the Martyr's head, and all
belonging to it! How many a summer hour have I known to be but
blissful minutes to him in the cricket-field! How many winter
have I seen him, standing blue-nosed, in the snow and east wind,
looking at the boys going down the long slide, and clapping his
worsted gloves in rapture!
He was an universal favourite, and his ingenuity in little things
was transcendent. He could cut oranges into such devices as none
of us had an idea of. He could make a boat out of anything, from
a skewer upwards. He could turn cramp-bones into chessmen; fashion
Roman chariots from old court cards; make spoked wheels out of
cotton reels, and bird-cages of old wire. But he was greatest
all, perhaps, in the articles of string and straw; with which we
were all persuaded he could do anything that could be done by
Mr. Dick's renown was not long confined to us. After a few
Wednesdays, Doctor Strong himself made some inquiries of me about
him, and I told him all my aunt had told me; which interested the
Doctor so much that he requested, on the occasion of his next
visit, to be presented to him. This ceremony I performed; and
Doctor begging Mr. Dick, whensoever he should not find me at the
coach office, to come on there, and rest himself until our
morning's work was over, it soon passed into a custom for Mr. Dick
to come on as a matter of course, and, if we were a little late, as
often happened on a Wednesday, to walk about the courtyard, waiting
for me. Here he made the acquaintance of the Doctor's beautiful
young wife (paler than formerly, all this time; more rarely seen by
me or anyone, I think; and not so gay, but not less beautiful), and
so became more and more familiar by degrees, until, at last, he
would come into the school and wait. He always sat in a particular
corner, on a particular stool, which was called 'Dick', after him;
here he would sit, with his grey head bent forward, attentively
listening to whatever might be going on, with a profound veneration
for the learning he had never been able to acquire.
This veneration Mr. Dick extended to the Doctor, whom he thought
the most subtle and accomplished philosopher of any age. It was
long before Mr. Dick ever spoke to him otherwise than bareheaded;
and even when he and the Doctor had struck up quite a friendship,
and would walk together by the hour, on that side of the courtyard
which was known among us as The Doctor's Walk, Mr. Dick would pull
off his hat at intervals to show his respect for wisdom and
knowledge. How it ever came about that the Doctor began to read
out scraps of the famous Dictionary, in these walks, I never knew;
perhaps he felt it all the same, at first, as reading to himself.
However, it passed into a custom too; and Mr. Dick, listening with
a face shining with pride and pleasure, in his heart of hearts
believed the Dictionary to be the most delightful book in the
As I think of them going up and down before those schoolroom
windows - the Doctor reading with his complacent smile, an
occasional flourish of the manuscript, or grave motion of his head;
and Mr. Dick listening, enchained by interest, with his poor wits
calmly wandering God knows where, upon the wings of hard words - I
think of it as one of the pleasantest things, in a quiet way, that
I have ever seen. I feel as if they might go walking to and fro
for ever, and the world might somehow be the better for it - as if
a thousand things it makes a noise about, were not one half so good
for it, or me.
Agnes was one of Mr. Dick's friends, very soon; and in often coming
to the house, he made acquaintance with Uriah. The friendship
between himself and me increased continually, and it was maintained
on this odd footing: that, while Mr. Dick came professedly to look
after me as my guardian, he always consulted me in any little
matter of doubt that arose, and invariably guided himself by my
advice; not only having a high respect for my native sagacity, but
considering that I inherited a good deal from my aunt.
One Thursday morning, when I was about to walk with Mr. Dick from
the hotel to the coach office before going back to school (for we
had an hour's school before breakfast), I met Uriah in the street,
who reminded me of the promise I had made to take tea with himself
and his mother: adding, with a writhe, 'But I didn't expect you to
keep it, Master Copperfield, we're so very umble.'
Mr. Dick had regularly assisted at our councils, with a meditative
and sage demeanour. He never made a suggestion but once; and
that occasion (I don't know what put it in his head), he suddenly
proposed that I should be 'a Brazier'. My aunt received this
proposal so very ungraciously, that he never ventured on a second;
but ever afterwards confined himself to looking watchfully at her
for her suggestions, and rattling his money.
That you may begin, in a small way, to have a reliance upon
yourself, and to act for yourself,' said my aunt, 'I shall send you
upon your trip, alone. I did think, once, of Mr. Dick's going
you; but, on second thoughts, I shall keep him to take care of me.'
Mr. Dick, for a moment, looked a little disappointed; until the
honour and dignity of having to take care of the most wonderful
woman in the world, restored the sunshine to his face.
'Besides,' said my aunt, 'there's the Memorial -'
'Oh, certainly,' said Mr. Dick, in a hurry, 'I intend, Trotwood, to
get that done immediately - it really must be done immediately!
And then it will go in, you know - and then -' said Mr. Dick, after
checking himself, and pausing a long time, 'there'll be a pretty
kettle of fish!'
We looked at one another, without knowing what to make of this, and
went into the sitting-room. What was my amazement to find, of
people upon earth, my aunt there, and Mr. Dick! My aunt sitting
a quantity of luggage, with her two birds before her, and her cat
on her knee, like a female Robinson Crusoe, drinking tea. Mr.
leaning thoughtfully on a great kite, such as we had often been out
together to fly, with more luggage piled about him!
'My dear aunt!' cried I. 'Why, what an unexpected pleasure!'
We cordially embraced; and Mr. Dick and I cordially shook hands;
and Mrs. Crupp, who was busy making tea, and could not be too
attentive, cordially said she had knowed well as Mr. Copperfull
would have his heart in his mouth, when he see his dear relations.
Dick!' said my aunt. 'You know what I told you about time-servers
Mr. Dick - with rather a scared look, as if he had forgotten it -
returned a hasty answer in the affirmative.
'Mrs. Crupp is one of them,' said my aunt. 'Barkis, I'll trouble
you to look after the tea, and let me have another cup, for I don't
fancy that woman's pouring-out!'
But I was very far from being really easy;
and I should still have been so, even if Mr. Dick, leaning over the
great kite behind my aunt, had not taken every secret opportunity
of shaking his head darkly at me, and pointing at her.
I tried to ascertain whether Mr. Dick had any understanding of the
causes of this sudden and great change in my aunt's affairs.
might have expected, he had none at all. The only account he
give of it was, that my aunt had said to him, the day before
yesterday, 'Now, Dick, are you really and truly the philosopher I
take you for?' That then he had said, Yes, he hoped so. That
my aunt had said, 'Dick, I am ruined.' That then he had said,
indeed!' That then my aunt had praised him highly, which he was
glad of. And that then they had come to me, and had had bottled
porter and sandwiches on the road.
Mr. Dick was so very complacent, sitting on the foot of the bed,
nursing his leg, and telling me this, with his eyes wide open and
a surprised smile, that I am sorry to say I was provoked into
explaining to him that ruin meant distress, want, and starvation;
but I was soon bitterly reproved for this harshness, by seeing his
face turn pale, and tears course down his lengthened cheeks, while
he fixed upon me a look of such unutterable woe, that it might have
softened a far harder heart than mine. I took infinitely greater
pains to cheer him up again than I had taken to depress him; and I
soon understood (as I ought to have known at first) that he had
been so confident, merely because of his faith in the wisest and
most wonderful of women, and his unbounded reliance on my
intellectual resources. The latter, I believe, he considered
match for any kind of disaster not absolutely mortal.
'What can we do, Trotwood?' said Mr. Dick. 'There's the Memorial
'To be sure there is,' said I. 'But all we can do just now, Mr.
Dick, is to keep a cheerful countenance, and not let my aunt see
that we are thinking about it.'
He assented to this in the most earnest manner; and implored me, if
I should see him wandering an inch out of the right course, to
recall him by some of those superior methods which were always at
my command. But I regret to state that the fright I had given
proved too much for his best attempts at concealment. All the
evening his eyes wandered to my aunt's face, with an expression of
the most dismal apprehension, as if he saw her growing thin on the
spot. He was conscious of this, and put a constraint upon his
head; but his keeping that immovable, and sitting rolling his eyes
like a piece of machinery, did not mend the matter at all. I
him look at the loaf at supper (which happened to be a small one),
as if nothing else stood between us and famine; and when my aunt
insisted on his making his customary repast, I detected him in the
act of pocketing fragments of his bread and cheese; I have no doubt
for the purpose of reviving us with those savings, when we should
have reached an advanced stage of attenuation.
I thought Mr. Dick would have fallen, insensible. My aunt being
resolute, I went out and got the ale myself. As it was growing
late, Peggotty and Mr. Dick took that opportunity of repairing to
the chandler's shop together. I parted from him, poor fellow,
the corner of the street, with his great kite at his back, a very
monument of human misery.
Mr. Dick, who had been with me to Highgate twice already, and had
resumed his companionship with the Doctor, I took with me.
I took Mr. Dick with me, because, acutely sensitive to my aunt's
reverses, and sincerely believing that no galley-slave or convict
worked as I did, he had begun to fret and worry himself out of
spirits and appetite, as having nothing useful to do. In this
condition, he felt more incapable of finishing the Memorial than
ever; and the harder he worked at it, the oftener that unlucky head
of King Charles the First got into it. Seriously apprehending
his malady would increase, unless we put some innocent deception
upon him and caused him to believe that he was useful, or unless we
could put him in the way of being really useful (which would be
better), I made up my mind to try if Traddles could help us.
Before we went, I wrote Traddles a full statement of all that had
happened, and Traddles wrote me back a capital answer, expressive
of his sympathy and friendship.
We found him hard at work with his inkstand and papers, refreshed
by the sight of the flower-pot stand and the little round table in
a corner of the small apartment. He received us cordially, and
made friends with Mr. Dick in a moment. Mr. Dick professed an
absolute certainty of having seen him before, and we both said,
Dear me,' said Traddles, opening his eyes, 'I had no idea you were
such a determined character, Copperfield!'
I don't know how he should have had, for it was new enough to me.
I passed that off, and brought Mr. Dick on the carpet.
'You see,' said Mr. Dick, wistfully, 'if I could exert myself, Mr.
Traddles - if I could beat a drum- or blow anything!'
Poor fellow! I have little doubt he would have preferred such
employment in his heart to all others. Traddles, who would not
have smiled for the world, replied composedly:
'But you are a very good penman, sir. You told me so,
'Excellent!' said I. And indeed he was. He wrote with
'Don't you think,' said Traddles, 'you could copy writings, sir, if
I got them for you?'
Mr. Dick looked doubtfully at me. 'Eh, Trotwood?'
I shook my head. Mr. Dick shook his, and sighed. 'Tell him
the Memorial,' said Mr. Dick.
I explained to Traddles that there was a difficulty in keeping King
Charles the First out of Mr. Dick's manuscripts; Mr. Dick in the
meanwhile looking very deferentially and seriously at Traddles, and
sucking his thumb.
'But these writings, you know, that I speak of, are already drawn
up and finished,' said Traddles after a little consideration.
Dick has nothing to do with them. Wouldn't that make a difference,
Copperfield? At all events, wouldn't it be well to try?'
This gave us new hope. Traddles and I laying our heads together
apart, while Mr. Dick anxiously watched us from his chair, we
concocted a scheme in virtue of which we got him to work next day,
with triumphant success.
On a table by the window in Buckingham Street, we set out the work
Traddles procured for him - which was to make, I forget how many
copies of a legal document about some right of way - and on another
table we spread the last unfinished original of the great Memorial.
Our instructions to Mr. Dick were that he should copy exactly what
he had before him, without the least departure from the original;
and that when he felt it necessary to make the slightest allusion
to King Charles the First, he should fly to the Memorial. We
exhorted him to be resolute in this, and left my aunt to observe
him. My aunt reported to us, afterwards, that, at first, he was
like a man playing the kettle-drums, and constantly divided his
attentions between the two; but that, finding this confuse and
fatigue him, and having his copy there, plainly before his eyes, he
soon sat at it in an orderly business-like manner, and postponed
the Memorial to a more convenient time. In a word, although we
took great care that he should have no more to do than was good for
him, and although he did not begin with the beginning of a week, he
earned by the following Saturday night ten shillings and
nine-pence; and never, while I live, shall I forget his going about
to all the shops in the neighbourhood to change this treasure into
sixpences, or his bringing them to my aunt arranged in the form of
a heart upon a waiter, with tears of joy and pride in his eyes.
was like one under the propitious influence of a charm, from the
moment of his being usefully employed; and if there were a happy
man in the world, that Saturday night, it was the grateful creature
who thought my aunt the most wonderful woman in existence, and me
the most wonderful young man.
'No starving now, Trotwood,' said Mr. Dick, shaking hands with me
in a corner. 'I'll provide for her, Sir!' and he flourished his
ten fingers in the air, as if they were ten banks.
I hardly know which was the better pleased, Traddles or I. 'It
really,' said Traddles, suddenly, taking a letter out of his
pocket, and giving it to me, 'put Mr. Micawber quite out of my
The letter (Mr. Micawber never missed any possible opportunity of
writing a letter) was addressed to me, 'By the kindness of T.
Traddles, Esquire, of the Inner Temple.' It ran thus: -
No starving now, Trotwood,' said Mr. Dick, shaking hands with me
in a corner. 'I'll provide for her, Sir!' and he flourished his
ten fingers in the air, as if they were ten banks.
I hardly know which was the better pleased, Traddl
My aunt, looking very like an immovable
Chancellor of the Exchequer, would occasionally throw in an
interruption or two, as 'Hear!' or 'No!' or 'Oh!' when the text
seemed to require it: which was always a signal to Mr. Dick (a
perfect country gentleman) to follow lustily with the same cry.
But Mr. Dick got taxed with such things in the course of his
Parliamentary career, and was made responsible for such awful
consequences, that he became uncomfortable in his mind sometimes.
I believe he actually began to be afraid he really had been doing
something, tending to the annihilation of the British constitution,
and the ruin of the country.
ndeavoured to hit a happy medium between these two extremes; my
aunt approved the result; and Mr. Dick threw one of his shoes after
Traddles and me, for luck, as we went downstairs.
I did not know what to think. Neither did my aunt; who must have
walked, at various times, a hundred miles in her uncertainty.
was strangest of all was, that the only real relief which seemed to
make its way into the secret region of this domestic unhappiness,
made its way there in the person of Mr. Dick.
What his thoughts were on the subject, or what his observation was,
I am as unable to explain, as I dare say he would have been to
assist me in the task. But, as I have recorded in the narrative
my school days, his veneration for the Doctor was unbounded; and
there is a subtlety of perception in real attachment, even when it
is borne towards man by one of the lower animals, which leaves the
highest intellect behind. To this mind of the heart, if I may
it so, in Mr. Dick, some bright ray of the truth shot straight.
He had proudly resumed his privilege, in many of his spare hours,
of walking up and down the garden with the Doctor; as he had been
accustomed to pace up and down The Doctor's Walk at Canterbury.
But matters were no sooner in this state, than he devoted all his
spare time (and got up earlier to make it more) to these
perambulations. If he had never been so happy as when the Doctor
read that marvellous performance, the Dictionary, to him; he was
now quite miserable unless the Doctor pulled it out of his pocket,
and began. When the Doctor and I were engaged, he now fell into
the custom of walking up and down with Mrs. Strong, and helping her
to trim her favourite flowers, or weed the beds. I dare say he
rarely spoke a dozen words in an hour: but his quiet interest, and
his wistful face, found immediate response in both their breasts;
each knew that the other liked him, and that he loved both; and he
became what no one else could be - a link between them.
When I think of him, with his impenetrably wise face, walking up
and down with the Doctor, delighted to be battered by the hard
words in the Dictionary; when I think of him carrying huge
watering-pots after Annie; kneeling down, in very paws of gloves,
at patient microscopic work among the little leaves; expressing as
no philosopher could have expressed, in everything he did, a
delicate desire to be her friend; showering sympathy, trustfulness,
and affection, out of every hole in the watering-pot; when I think
of him never wandering in that better mind of his to which
unhappiness addressed itself, never bringing the unfortunate King
Charles into the garden, never wavering in his grateful service,
never diverted from his knowledge that there was something wrong,
or from his wish to set it right- I really feel almost ashamed of
having known that he was not quite in his wits, taking account of
the utmost I have done with mine.
'Nobody but myself, Trot, knows what that man is!' my aunt would
proudly remark, when we conversed about it. 'Dick will distinguish
gallery. Mr. Dick, who is to give my darling to me at the altar,
has had his hair curled. Traddles, whom I have taken up by
appointment at the turnpike, presents a dazzling combination of
cream colour and light blue; and both he and Mr. Dick have a
general effect about them of being all gloves.
But her abiding reliance was on Mr. Dick. That man had evidently
an idea in his head, she said; and if he could only once pen it up
into a corner, which was his great difficulty, he would distinguish
himself in some extraordinary manner.
Unconscious of this prediction, Mr. Dick continued to occupy
precisely the same ground in reference to the Doctor and to Mrs.
Strong. He seemed neither to advance nor to recede. He
to have settled into his original foundation, like a building; and
I must confess that my faith in his ever Moving, was not much
greater than if he had been a building.
But one night, when I had been married some months, Mr. Dick put
his head into the parlour, where I was writing alone (Dora having
gone out with my aunt to take tea with the two little birds), and
said, with a significant cough:
'You couldn't speak to me without inconveniencing yourself,
Trotwood, I am afraid?'
'Certainly, Mr. Dick,' said I; 'come in!'
'Trotwood,' said Mr. Dick, laying his finger on the side of his
nose, after he had shaken hands with me. 'Before I sit down,
wish to make an observation. You know your aunt?'
'A little,' I replied.
'She is the most wonderful woman in the world, sir!'
After the delivery of this communication, which he shot out of
himself as if he were loaded with it, Mr. Dick sat down with
greater gravity than usual, and looked at me.
'Now, boy,' said Mr. Dick, 'I am going to put a question to you.'
'As many as you please,' said I.
'What do you consider me, sir?' asked Mr. Dick, folding his arms.
'A dear old friend,' said I.
'Thank you, Trotwood,' returned Mr. Dick, laughing, and reaching
across in high glee to shake hands with me. 'But I mean, boy,'
resuming his gravity, 'what do you consider me in this respect?'
touching his forehead.
I was puzzled how to answer, but he helped me with a word.
'Weak?' said Mr. Dick.
'Well,' I replied, dubiously. 'Rather so.'
'Exactly!' cried Mr. Dick, who seemed quite enchanted by my reply.
'That is, Trotwood, when they took some of the trouble out of
you-know-who's head, and put it you know where, there was a -' Mr.
Dick made his two hands revolve very fast about each other a great
number of times, and then brought them into collision, and rolled
them over and over one another, to express confusion. 'There
that sort of thing done to me somehow. Eh?'
I nodded at him, and he nodded back again.
'In short, boy,' said Mr. Dick, dropping his voice to a whisper, 'I
I would have qualified that conclusion, but he stopped me.
'Yes, I am! She pretends I am not. She won't hear of it;
am. I know I am. If she hadn't stood my friend, sir, I
have been shut up, to lead a dismal life these many years. But
I'll provide for her! I never spend the copying money.
I put it
in a box. I have made a will. I'll leave it all to her.
shall be rich - noble!'
Mr. Dick took out his pocket-handkerchief, and wiped his eyes.
then folded it up with great care, pressed it smooth between his
two hands, put it in his pocket, and seemed to put my aunt away
'Now you are a scholar, Trotwood,' said Mr. Dick. 'You are a fine
scholar. You know what a learned man, what a great man, the Doctor
is. You know what honour he has always done me. Not proud
wisdom. Humble, humble - condescending even to poor Dick, who
simple and knows nothing. I have sent his name up, on a scrap
paper, to the kite, along the string, when it has been in the sky,
among the larks. The kite has been glad to receive it, sir, and
the sky has been brighter with it.'
I delighted him by saying, most heartily, that the Doctor was
deserving of our best respect and highest esteem.
'And his beautiful wife is a star,' said Mr. Dick. 'A shining
star. I have seen her shine, sir. But,' bringing his chair
nearer, and laying one hand upon my knee - 'clouds, sir - clouds.'
I answered the solicitude which his face expressed, by conveying
the same expression into my own, and shaking my head.
'What clouds?' said Mr. Dick.
He looked so wistfully into my face, and was so anxious to
understand, that I took great pains to answer him slowly and
distinctly, as I might have entered on an explanation to a child.
'There is some unfortunate division between them,' I replied.
'Some unhappy cause of separation. A secret. It may be
inseparable from the discrepancy in their years. It may have
up out of almost nothing.'
Mr. Dick, who had told off every sentence with a thoughtful nod,
paused when I had done, and sat considering, with his eyes upon my
face, and his hand upon my knee.
'Doctor not angry with her, Trotwood?' he said, after some time.
'No. Devoted to her.'
'Then, I have got it, boy!' said Mr. Dick.
The sudden exultation with which he slapped me on the knee, and
leaned back in his chair, with his eyebrows lifted up as high as he
could possibly lift them, made me think him farther out of his wits
than ever. He became as suddenly grave again, and leaning forward
as before, said - first respectfully taking out his
pocket-handkerchief, as if it really did represent my aunt:
'Most wonderful woman in the world, Trotwood. Why has she done
nothing to set things right?'
'Too delicate and difficult a subject for such interference,' I
'Fine scholar,' said Mr. Dick, touching me with his finger. 'Why
has HE done nothing?'
'For the same reason,' I returned.
'Then, I have got it, boy!' said Mr. Dick. And he stood up before
me, more exultingly than before, nodding his head, and striking
himself repeatedly upon the breast, until one might have supposed
that he had nearly nodded and struck all the breath out of his
'A poor fellow with a craze, sir,' said Mr. Dick, 'a simpleton, a
weak-minded person - present company, you know!' striking himself
again, 'may do what wonderful people may not do. I'll bring them
together, boy. I'll try. They'll not blame me. They'll
object to me. They'll not mind what I do, if it's wrong.
Mr. Dick. And who minds Dick? Dick's nobody! Whoo!'
He blew a
slight, contemptuous breath, as if he blew himself away.
It was fortunate he had proceeded so far with his mystery, for we
heard the coach stop at the little garden gate, which brought my
aunt and Dora home.
'Not a word, boy!' he pursued in a whisper; 'leave all the blame
with Dick - simple Dick - mad Dick. I have been thinking, sir,
some time, that I was getting it, and now I have got it. After
what you have said to me, I am sure I have got it. All right!'
another word did Mr. Dick utter on the subject; but he made a very
telegraph of himself for the next half-hour (to the great
disturbance of my aunt's mind), to enjoin inviolable secrecy on me.
To my surprise, I heard no more about it for some two or three
weeks, though I was sufficiently interested in the result of his
endeavours; descrying a strange gleam of good sense - I say nothing
of good feeling, for that he always exhibited - in the conclusion
to which he had come. At last I began to believe, that, in the
flighty and unsettled state of his mind, he had either forgotten
his intention or abandoned it.
In the silence that ensued, my aunt walked gravely up to Mr. Dick,
without at all hurrying herself, and gave him a hug and a sounding
kiss. And it was very fortunate, with a view to his credit, that
she did so; for I am confident that I detected him at that moment
in the act of making preparations to stand on one leg, as an
appropriate expression of delight.
'You are a very remarkable man, Dick!' said my aunt, with an air of
unqualified approbation; 'and never pretend to be anything else,
for I know better!'
With that, my aunt pulled him by the sleeve, and nodded to me; and
we three stole quietly out of the room, and came away.
'That's a settler for our military friend, at any rate,' said my
aunt, on the way home. 'I should sleep the better for that, if
there was nothing else to be glad of!'
'She was quite overcome, I am afraid,' said Mr. Dick, with great
'What! Did you ever see a crocodile overcome?' inquired my aunt.
'I don't think I ever saw a crocodile,' returned Mr. Dick, mildly.
'There never would have been anything the matter, if it hadn't been
for that old Animal,' said my aunt, with strong emphasis. '
Mr. Dick was at home. He was by nature so exceedingly
compassionate of anyone who seemed to be ill at ease, and was so
quick to find any such person out, that he shook hands with Mr.
Micawber, at least half-a-dozen times in five minutes. To Mr.
Micawber, in his trouble, this warmth, on the part of a stranger,
was so extremely touching, that he could only say, on the occasion
of each successive shake, 'My dear sir, you overpower me!' Which
gratified Mr. Dick so much, that he went at it again with greater
vigour than before.
'The friendliness of this gentleman,' said Mr. Micawber to my aunt,
'if you will allow me, ma'am, to cull a figure of speech from the
vocabulary of our coarser national sports - floors me. To a man
who is struggling with a complicated burden of perplexity and
disquiet, such a reception is trying, I assure you.'
'My friend Mr. Dick,' replied my aunt proudly, 'is not a common
'That I am convinced of,' said Mr. Micawber. 'My dear sir!' for
Mr. Dick was shaking hands with him again; 'I am deeply sensible of
'How do you find yourself?' said Mr. Dick, with an anxious look.
'Indifferent, my dear sir,' returned Mr. Micawber, sighing.
'You must keep up your spirits,' said Mr. Dick, 'and make yourself
as comfortable as possible.'
Mr. Micawber was quite overcome by these friendly words, and by
finding Mr. Dick's hand again within his own. 'It has been my
lot,' he observed, 'to meet, in the diversified panorama of human
existence, with an occasional oasis, but never with one so green,
so gushing, as the present!'
'Gentlemen, and madam,' said Mr. Micawber, 'good morning! My dear
sir,' to Mr. Dick, who shook hands with him violently, 'you are
'Have you breakfasted?' said Mr. Dick. 'Have a chop!'
'Not for the world, my good sir!' cried Mr. Micawber, stopping him
on his way to the bell; 'appetite and myself, Mr. Dixon, have long
'Do you help her, Mr. Dick,' said Traddles, 'if you please.'
Proud of his commission, and understanding it, Mr. Dick accompanied
her as a shepherd's dog might accompany a sheep. But, Mrs. Heep
gave him little trouble; for she not only returned with the deed,
but with the box in which it was, where we found a banker's book
and some other papers that were afterwards serviceable.
Letters!' cried my aunt. 'I believe he dreams in letters!'
'There's Mr. Dick, too,' said Traddles, 'has been doing wonders! As
soon as he was released from overlooking Uriah Heep, whom he kept
in such charge as I never saw exceeded, he began to devote himself
to Mr. Wickfield. And really his anxiety to be of use in the
investigations we have been making, and his real usefulness in
extracting, and copying, and fetching, and carrying, have been
quite stimulating to us.'
'Dick is a very remarkable man,' exclaimed my aunt; 'and I always
said he was. Trot, you know it.'
'I am happy to say, Miss Wickfield,' pursued Traddles, at once with
great delicacy and with great earnestness, 'that in your absence
Mr. Wickfield has considerably improved. Relieved of the incubus
with her presence; were among our topics - already more or less
familiar to me through the letters I had had. Mr. Dick, as usual,
was not forgotten. My aunt informed me how he incessantly occupied
himself in copying everything he could lay his hands on, and kept
King Charles the First at a respectful distance by that semblance
of employment; how it was one of the main joys and rewards of her
life that he was free and happy, instead of pining in monotonous
restraint; and how (as a novel general conclusion) nobody but she
could ever fully know what he was.
'And when, Trot,' said my aunt, patting the back of my hand, as we
sat in our old way before the fire, 'when are you going over to
The hysterics called up Peggotty. The moment my aunt was restored,
she flew at Peggotty, and calling her a silly old creature, hugged
her with all her might. After that, she hugged Mr. Dick (who
highly honoured, but a good deal surprised); and after that, told
them why. Then, we were all happy together.