illustration of two young men standing in 19th century garb and looking at one another

David Copperfield

by Charles Dickens

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"Nobody's Enemy But His Own"

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Context: David Copperfield, after finishing his schooling, decides to enter the practice of law and is attached to a law firm for training. A young man about to enter society and a profession, Copperfield is invited to a dinner given by Mr. and Mrs. Waterbrook; Mr. Waterbrook is a gentleman of stuffy dignity and very knowing in the ways of the business world. A minor guest at the dinner is one of Copperfield's former schoolmates, Tommy Traddles. Naturally curious about how his old friend is doing, Copperfield asks Mr. Waterbrook his opinion of the young man. Waterbrook replies that Traddles will never amount to much, for, although he is inoffensive, he lacks ambition and the ability to force himself into the world.

"Traddles," returned Mr. Waterbrook, "is a young man reading for the bar. Yes; he is quite a good fellow–nobody's enemy but his own."
"Is he his own enemy?" said I, sorry to hear this.
"Well," returned Mr. Waterbrook, . . . "I should say he was one of those men who stand in their own light. Yes, I should say he would never, for example, be worth five hundred pound."

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