Study Guide

David Copperfield Chapter 63

By Charles Dickens

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Chapter 63

A Visitor

  • It's now been about ten years since Agnes and David were married.
  • David and Agnes are sitting by the fire with three of their children.
  • A stranger comes in asking to see David.
  • A couple of the children, including their youngest, little Agnes, hide at the news that a stranger is coming to see David.
  • This stranger is a handsome old man.
  • Little Agnes is so charmed by his appearance that she rushes over to him.
  • Agnes identifies the old man as Mr. Peggotty.
  • Mr. Peggotty tells David that he is glad to see him and to see David's lovely children.
  • David's old friend has sailed from Australia just to stay for a month in England; he's then heading back to Australia and little Emily.
  • Mr. Peggotty wanted to come especially to see David and his wife and their happiness.
  • Australia has been good for Mr. Peggotty: he has taken up farming, and has prospered.
  • Emily was depressed when they first sailed away from England, but she began to feel better about herself once she dedicated herself to helping the sick.
  • Once Mr. Peggotty heard the news of the storm that killed Ham, he kept it from Emily for almost a year.
  • Emily found out by accident: she happened to help a traveler originally from their area of England, who was carrying a newspaper with an account of the disaster.
  • Mr. Peggotty says that she has pulled through these dark times, but she is much changed: her manner is timid and kind.
  • The people in the neighborhood don't know the truth of Emily's disgrace, and she has had lots of opportunities to get married.
  • Even so, she keeps telling Mr. Peggotty she won't be married: she says that's over for her.
  • Martha Endell has gotten married, to a man who knows her true history, but who doesn't care.
  • Mrs. Gummidge has also gotten a proposal, but she didn't accept it – in fact, she refused by overturning a bucket on the poor man's head.
  • But Mrs. Gummidge has been a true friend to Mr. Peggotty, and has not complained once of loneliness or sorrow since arriving at the colony.
  • Mr. Peggotty then pulls out a bit of newspaper with an article on Mr. Micawber.
  • Mr. Micawber is doing very well indeed in Australia: he's become a magistrate, a kind of local judge.
  • The newspaper also mentions young Master Micawber's singing and Mrs. Micawber's family (which, it claims, is well known in England – if those poor Australians only knew how wrong they were!).
  • Weirdly enough, the town where the Micawbers have settled also has a school called Colonial Salem House, run by, of all people, Mr. Mell – you remember, the poor teacher who got kicked out of David's first school thanks to Steerforth's bad treatment in Chapter 7?
  • David is very glad to hear that Mr. Mell (now Doctor Mell) has wound up in happier circumstances.
  • Mr. Peggotty has also brought a letter from Mr. Micawber, which salutes David in a very grand style.
  • Mr. Micawber has been following David's writing career from Australia, and he's very impressed.
  • David also finds that Mr. Micawber has, in fact, written the article David was just reading in Mr. Peggotty's local newspaper.
  • Mr. Peggotty spends many evenings with David and Agnes chatting over old and new events.
  • Before he sails back to Australia, Mr. Peggotty and David go the graveyard in Yarmouth where David has put up a plaque for Ham.
  • Mr. Peggotty takes a handful of grass from the gravesite to bring back to Little Emily.

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