by Charles Dickens
David Copperfield Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"Oh, you know, deuce take it," said this gentleman, looking round the board with an imbecile smile, "we can't forego Blood, you know. We must have Blood, you know. Some young fellows, you know, may be a little behind their station, perhaps, in point of education and behaviour, and may go a little wrong, you know, and get themselves and other people into a variety of fixes—and all that—but deuce take it, it's delightful to reflect that they've got Blood in 'em! Myself, I'd rather at any time be knocked down by a man who had got Blood in him, than I'd be picked up by a man who hadn't!" (25.83)
This is a truly hilarious piece of social critique. This "gentleman" – so he's well-born – is also an "imbecile." He tells the dinner party at Mr. Waterbrook's house, where David restarts his friendship with Traddles, that the most important thing about a person is his bloodlines. Even though some "young fellows" (is he talking about himself?) may not be educated or well-behaved, they still have "Blood." The mode of his delivery of this speech is clearly meant to be funny: he sounds like a real idiot, with all of his stops and starts and his "deuce take it." But the funniest thing about this whole moment is when he says that he would rather be knocked down "by a man who had got Blood in him" than "be picked up by a man who hadn't." So, would a man with no blood be a zombie? We know that, by blood, this guy means "bloodlines," but it sounds like he's talking about dudes who may or may not have actual blood running in their veins. Hee!
"Hark to this, ma'am," [Mr. Peggotty] returned, slowly and quietly. "You know what it is to love your child. So do I. If she was a hundred times my child, I couldn't love her more. You doen't know what it is to lose your child. I do. All the heaps of riches in the wureld would be nowt to me (if they was mine) to buy her back! But, save her from this disgrace, and she shall never be disgraced by us. Not one of us that she's growed up among, not one of us that's lived along with her and had her for their all in all, these many year, will ever look upon her pritty face again. We'll be content to let her be; we'll be content to think of her, far off, as if she was underneath another sun and sky; we'll be content to trust her to her husband,—to her little children, p'raps,—and bide the time when all of us shall be alike in quality afore our God!" (32.110)
Even though Mr. Peggotty knows that it will get no results, he confronts Mrs. Steerforth to ask her if Steerforth will marry his niece. And Mr. Peggotty is so self-sacrificing that he promises all of Emily's poor relations will swear never to see her again if it will mean that Emily will be able to marry a man as high above her social class as Steerforth. Mr. Peggotty is totally aware of the realities of the world, he knows that Mrs. Steerforth would be ashamed to be related by marriage to a fisherman, but he hopes to appeal to her common feeling ("You know what it is to love your child. So do I.") to persuade Mrs. Steerforth to have pity. This willingness never to see Emily again if it will make Emily happy and save her from disgrace contrasts strongly with Mrs. Steerforth's unwillingness to see Steerforth again. After all, Mrs. Steerforth's reasons are purely selfish: she can't stand that her son has chosen to run away with another woman, that Steerforth has chosen Emily over his own mother (um?).
Your home! Do you imagine that I bestow a thought on it, or suppose you could do any harm to that low place, which money would not pay for, and handsomely? Your home! You were a part of the trade of your home, and were bought and sold like any other vendible thing your people dealt in. (50.47)
This speech is delivered by Miss Rosa Dartle to Emily just before Emily is rescued by Mr. Peggotty. Here, she lies to Emily's face by telling Emily that she is, basically, a prostitute, that when Emily lived with Mr. Peggotty, she was for sale in the same way that Mr. Peggotty's fish were for sale. However, we have seen that Mr. Peggotty refuses Mrs. Steerforth's offer of money to buy him off once Emily runs away with Steerforth. Miss Dartle falls into the nasty trap of assuming that all poor people must consider everything available to be "bought and sold," including their own children. But as Mrs. Steerforth learns, even poverty cannot interrupt the bonds of love for good men like Mr. Peggotty.