My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip,
my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more
explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called
I give Pirrip as my father's family name, on the authority of his
tombstone and my sister - Mrs. Joe Gargery, who married the
blacksmith. As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw
any likeness of either of them (for their days were long before the
days of photographs), my first fancies regarding what they were
like, were unreasonably derived from their tombstones. The shape of
the letters on my father's, gave me an odd idea that he was a
square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the character
and turn of the inscription, "Also Georgiana Wife of the Above," I
drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly.
To five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long,
which were arranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were
sacred to the memory of five little brothers of mine - who gave up
trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal
struggle - I am indebted for a belief I religiously entertained
that they had all been born on their backs with their hands in
their trousers-pockets, and had never taken them out in this state
Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river
wound, twenty miles of the sea. My first most vivid and broad
impression of the identity of things, seems to me to have been
gained on a memorable raw afternoon towards evening. At such a time
I found out for certain, that this bleak place overgrown with
nettles was the churchyard; and that Philip Pirrip, late of this
parish, and also Georgiana wife of the above, were dead and buried;
and that Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias, and Roger, infant
children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; and that the
dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykes
and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the
marshes; and that the low leaden line beyond, was the river; and
that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was
the sea; and that the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it
all and beginning to cry, was Pip.
"Hold your noise!" cried a terrible voice, as a man started up from
among the graves at the side of the church porch. "Keep still, you
little devil, or I'll cut your throat!"
A fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg. A
man with no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied
round his head. A man who had been soaked in water, and smothered
in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by
nettles, and torn by briars; who limped, and shivered, and glared
and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized me
by the chin.
"O! Don't cut my throat, sir," I pleaded in terror. "Pray don't do
"Tell us your name!" said the man. "Quick!"
"Once more," said the man, staring at me. "Give it mouth!"
"Pip. Pip, sir."
"Show us where you live," said the man. "Pint out the place!"
I pointed to where our village lay, on the flat in-shore among the
alder-trees and pollards, a mile or more from the church.
The man, after looking at me for a moment, turned me upside down,
and emptied my pockets. There was nothing in them but a piece of
bread. When the church came to itself - for he was so sudden and
strong that he made it go head over heels before me, and I saw the
steeple under my feet - when the church came to itself, I say, I
was seated on a high tombstone, trembling, while he ate the bread
"You young dog," said the man, licking his lips, "what fat cheeks
you ha' got."
I believe they were fat, though I was at that time undersized for
my years, and not strong.
"Darn me if I couldn't eat em," said the man, with a threatening
shake of his head, "and if I han't half a mind to't!"
I earnestly expressed my hope that he wouldn't, and held tighter to
the tombstone on which he had put me; partly, to keep myself upon
it; partly, to keep myself from crying.
"Now lookee here!" said the man. "Where's your mother?"
"There, sir!" said I.
He started, made a short run, and stopped and looked over his
"There, sir!" I timidly explained. "Also Georgiana. That's my
"Oh!" said he, coming back. "And is that your father alonger your
"Yes, sir," said I; "him too; late of this parish."
"Ha!" he muttered then, considering. "Who d'ye live with -
supposin' you're kindly let to live, which I han't made up my mind
"My sister, sir - Mrs. Joe Gargery - wife of Joe Gargery, the
"Blacksmith, eh?" said he. And looked down at his leg.
After darkly looking at his leg and me several times, he came
closer to my tombstone, took me by both arms, and tilted me back as
far as he could hold me; so that his eyes looked most powerfully
down into mine, and mine looked most helplessly up into his.
"Now lookee here," he said, "the question being whether you're to
be let to live. You know what a file is?"
"And you know what wittles is?"
After each question he tilted me over a little more, so as to give
me a greater sense of helplessness and danger.
"You get me a file." He tilted me again. "And you get me wittles."
He tilted me again. "You bring 'em both to me." He tilted me again.
"Or I'll have your heart and liver out." He tilted me again.
I was dreadfully frightened, and so giddy that I clung to him with
both hands, and said, "If you would kindly please to let me keep
upright, sir, perhaps I shouldn't be sick, and perhaps I could
He gave me a most tremendous dip and roll, so that the church
jumped over its own weather-cock. Then, he held me by the arms, in
an upright position on the top of the stone, and went on in these
"You bring me, to-morrow morning early, that file and them wittles.
You bring the lot to me, at that old Battery over yonder. You do
it, and you never dare to say a word or dare to make a sign
concerning your having seen such a person as me, or any person
sumever, and you shall be let to live. You fail, or you go from my
words in any partickler, no matter how small it is, and your heart
and your liver shall be tore out, roasted and ate. Now, I ain't
alone, as you may think I am. There's a young man hid with me, in
comparison with which young man I am a Angel. That young man hears
the words I speak. That young man has a secret way pecooliar to
himself, of getting at a boy, and at his heart, and at his liver.
It is in wain for a boy to attempt to hide himself from that young
man. A boy may lock his door, may be warm in bed, may tuck himself
up, may draw the clothes over his head, may think himself
comfortable and safe, but that young man will softly creep and
creep his way to him and tear him open. I am a-keeping that young
man from harming of you at the present moment, with great
difficulty. I find it wery hard to hold that young man off of your
inside. Now, what do you say?"
I said that I would get him the file, and I would get him what
broken bits of food I could, and I would come to him at the
Battery, early in the morning.
"Say Lord strike you dead if you don't!" said the man.
I said so, and he took me down.
"Now," he pursued, "you remember what you've undertook, and you
remember that young man, and you get home!"
"Goo-good night, sir," I faltered.
"Much of that!" said he, glancing about him over the cold wet flat.
"I wish I was a frog. Or a eel!"
At the same time, he hugged his shuddering body in both his arms -
clasping himself, as if to hold himself together - and limped
towards the low church wall. As I saw him go, picking his way among
the nettles, and among the brambles that bound the green mounds, he
looked in my young eyes as if he were eluding the hands of the dead
people, stretching up cautiously out of their graves, to get a
twist upon his ankle and pull him in.
When he came to the low church wall, he got over it, like a man
whose legs were numbed and stiff, and then turned round to look for
me. When I saw him turning, I set my face towards home, and made
the best use of my legs. But presently I looked over my shoulder,
and saw him going on again towards the river, still hugging himself
in both arms, and picking his way with his sore feet among the
great stones dropped into the marshes here and there, for
stepping-places when the rains were heavy, or the tide was in.
The marshes were just a long black horizontal line then, as I
stopped to look after him; and the river was just another
horizontal line, not nearly so broad nor yet so black; and the sky
was just a row of long angry red lines and dense black lines
intermixed. On the edge of the river I could faintly make out the
only two black things in all the prospect that seemed to be
standing upright; one of these was the beacon by which the sailors
steered - like an unhooped cask upon a pole - an ugly thing when
you were near it; the other a gibbet, with some chains hanging to
it which had once held a pirate. The man was limping on towards
this latter, as if he were the pirate come to life, and come down,
and going back to hook himself up again. It gave me a terrible turn
when I thought so; and as I saw the cattle lifting their heads to
gaze after him, I wondered whether they thought so too. I looked
all round for the horrible young man, and could see no signs of
him. But, now I was frightened again, and ran home without