Page 228. " Mr. Micawber delivered an eulogium on Mrs. Micawber's character, and said she had ever been his guide, philosopher, and friend "

Mr. Micawber borrows the line from Essay on Man (1734) by Alexander Pope (1688-1744).



Page 228. " we sang 'Auld Lang Syne' "

Auld Lang Syne” (1788) is a poem by Robert Burns (1759-1796), who noted in a letter that he “took it down from an old man.”

The lines of the poem were later set to the tune of a traditional folk song, and the song became widely sung at graduations, funerals, and on New Year’s Eve.

Listen to Auld Lang Syne here.


Page 234. " I do waltz "

The waltz became popular in Vienna during the 1780s, but did not reach England until the early 1800s. It was initially considered somewhat risqué because the dance partners held each other closely, while other contemporary dances only called for partners to hold hands.


Page 238. " But there is no one that I know of, who deserves to love you, Agnes "

This sentiment is thought to express how Dickens came to idealize his deceased sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth, whose tombstone he had  inscribed with the words “Young, beautiful, and good, God in his mercy numbered her with His angels at the early age of seventeen.”

The infant mortality rate was high in Victorian England, and the idea of “angel children” became a popular one. J.M. Barrie drew on this idea in his creation of the Lost Boys of Neverland, who featured in his play, Peter Pan (1904).

Page 247. " the mingled reality and mystery of the whole show "

The theatre features regularly in Dickens' novels.

Dickens had considered becoming an actor, and the public readings of his work were hugely popular.

His eldest daughter, Mamie, recounted how her father used to act the dialogue of his novels in front of a mirror in order to bring the character to life, as well as to test how his work read. 

Read more about Dickens and the stage here.

Page 248. " The daisy of the field, at sunrise, is not fresher than you are. "
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumDaisy - Credit: Rob Bendall

During the 1800s, the “language of flowers” was used as a form of popular symbolism. Each variety of flower was considered to carry a coded meaning.

The daisy symbolized both innocence and loyalty, which represents David’s character and his relationship to Steerforth.

Page 250. " We will go and see the lions "

Lions were once kept in the Tower of London, and so this phrase had come to indicate seeing the sights.