Background.

David Copperfield
  • She was more than human to me. She was a Fairy, a Sylph, I don’t know what she was—anything that no one ever saw, and everything that everybody ever wanted. I was swallowed up in an abyss of love in an instant. There was no pausing on the brink; no looking down, or looking back; I was gone, headlong, before I had sense to say a word to her‘ is a quotation from David Copperfield (Chapter 26).
  • David Copperfield was the eighth novel by Charles Dickens, first published between May 1849 and November 1850. The novel, written in the first person, revolves around the character after which the work is named. It follows his life until middle age, with his own adventures and the numerous friends and enemies he meets along his way.

Context.

This quotation is written by the character David Copperfield (as protagonist and narrator), describing his feeling of love-at-first-sight upon meeting Dora Spenlow.

In Chapter 26 of the novel David Copperfield, David Copperfield has been articled (training to be a lawyer) at the law firm of Spenlow and Jorkins. He is invited by Mr. Francis Spenlow to spend a weekend at his house in Norwood, on the occasion of his daughter, Dora, returning from ‘finishing her education at Paris‘. Upon meeting Dora, who is accompanied by Miss Murdstone, David falls head-over-heels in love with her. The two develop an infatuation with one another, eventually marrying.

Illustration by Phiz (Hablot K. Browne) from Chapter 26 of David Copperfield (I fall into captivity), showing David being introduced to Dora Spenlow.
Illustration by Phiz (Hablot K. Browne) from Chapter 26 of David Copperfield (I fall into captivity), showing David being introduced to Dora Spenlow.

Source.

Taken from the following passage in Chapter 26 (I Fall Into Captivity) of David Copperfield:

There was a lovely garden to Mr. Spenlow’s house; and though that was not the best time of the year for seeing a garden, it was so beautifully kept, that I was quite enchanted. There was a charming lawn, there were clusters of trees, and there were perspective walks that I could just distinguish in the dark, arched over with trellis-work, on which shrubs and flowers grew in the growing season. ‘Here Miss Spenlow walks by herself,’ I thought. ‘Dear me!’

We went into the house, which was cheerfully lighted up, and into a hall where there were all sorts of hats, caps, great-coats, plaids, gloves, whips, and walking-sticks. ‘Where is Miss Dora?’ said Mr. Spenlow to the servant. ‘Dora!’ I thought. ‘What a beautiful name!’

We turned into a room near at hand (I think it was the identical breakfast-room, made memorable by the brown East Indian sherry), and I heard a voice say, ‘Mr. Copperfield, my daughter Dora, and my daughter Dora’s confidential friend!’ It was, no doubt, Mr. Spenlow’s voice, but I didn’t know it, and I didn’t care whose it was. All was over in a moment. I had fulfilled my destiny. I was a captive and a slave. I loved Dora Spenlow to distraction!

She was more than human to me. She was a Fairy, a Sylph, I don’t know what she was—anything that no one ever saw, and everything that everybody ever wanted. I was swallowed up in an abyss of love in an instant. There was no pausing on the brink; no looking down, or looking back; I was gone, headlong, before I had sense to say a word to her.

‘I,’ observed a well-remembered voice, when I had bowed and murmured something, ‘have seen Mr. Copperfield before.’

The speaker was not Dora. No; the confidential friend, Miss Murdstone!

I don’t think I was much astonished. To the best of my judgement, no capacity of astonishment was left in me. There was nothing worth mentioning in the material world, but Dora Spenlow, to be astonished about. I said, ‘How do you do, Miss Murdstone? I hope you are well.’ She answered, ‘Very well.’ I said, ‘How is Mr. Murdstone?’ She replied, ‘My brother is robust, I am obliged to you.’

Mr. Spenlow, who, I suppose, had been surprised to see us recognize each other, then put in his word.

‘I am glad to find,’ he said, ‘Copperfield, that you and Miss Murdstone are already acquainted.’

‘Mr. Copperfield and myself,’ said Miss Murdstone, with severe composure, ‘are connexions. We were once slightly acquainted. It was in his childish days. Circumstances have separated us since. I should not have known him.’

I replied that I should have known her, anywhere. Which was true enough.

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She was more than human to me. She was a Fairy, a Sylph, I don’t know what she was—anything that no one ever saw, and everything that everybody ever wanted. I was swallowed up in an abyss of love in an instant. There was no pausing on the brink; no looking down, or looking back; I was gone, headlong, before I had sense to say a word to her.

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