Dombey and Son
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Mr Feeder, B.A., seemed to think that he, too, would enjoy the
holidays very much. Mr Toots projected a life of holidays from that
time forth; for, as he regularly informed Paul every day, it was his
'last half' at Doctor Blimber's, and he was going to begin to come
into his property directly.
It was perfectly understood between Paul and Mr Toots, that they
were intimate friends, notwithstanding their distance in point of
years and station. As the vacation approached, and Mr Toots breathed
harder and stared oftener in Paul's society, than he had done before,
Paul knew that he meant he was sorry they were going to lose sight of
each other, and felt very much obliged to him for his patronage and
It was even understood by Doctor Blimber, Mrs Blimber, and Miss
Blimber, as well as by the young gentlemen in general, that Toots had
somehow constituted himself protector and guardian of Dombey, and the
circumstance became so notorious, even to Mrs Pipchin, that the good
old creature cherished feelings of bitterness and jealousy against
Toots; and, in the sanctuary of her own home, repeatedly denounced him
as a 'chuckle-headed noodle.' Whereas the innocent Toots had no more
idea of awakening Mrs Pipchin's wrath, than he had of any other
definite possibility or proposition. On the contrary, he was disposed
to consider her rather a remarkable character, with many points of
interest about her. For this reason he smiled on her with so much
urbanity, and asked her how she did, so often, in the course of her
visits to little Paul, that at last she one night told him plainly,
she wasn't used to it, whatever he might think; and she could not, and
she would not bear it, either from himself or any other puppy then
existing: at which unexpected acknowledgment of his civilities, Mr
Toots was so alarmed that he secreted himself in a retired spot until
she had gone. Nor did he ever again face the doughty Mrs Pipchin,
under Doctor Blimber's roof.
They were within two or three weeks of the holidays, when, one day,
Cornelia Blimber called Paul into her room, and said, 'Dombey, I am
going to send home your analysis.'
'Thank you, Ma'am,' returned Paul.
'You know what I mean, do you, Dombey?' inquired Miss Blimber,
looking hard at him, through the spectacles.
'No, Ma'am,' said Paul.
'Dombey, Dombey,' said Miss Blimber, 'I begin to be afraid you are
a sad boy. When you don't know the meaning of an expression, why don't
you seek for information?'
'Mrs Pipchin told me I wasn't to ask questions,' returned Paul.
'I must beg you not to mention Mrs Pipchin to me, on any account,
Dombey,' returned Miss Blimber. 'I couldn't think of allowing it. The
course of study here, is very far removed from anything of that sort.
A repetition of such allusions would make it necessary for me to
request to hear, without a mistake, before breakfast-time to-morrow
morning, from Verbum personale down to simillimia cygno.'
'I didn't mean, Ma'am - ' began little Paul.
'I must trouble you not to tell me that you didn't mean, if you
please, Dombey,' said Miss Blimber, who preserved an awful politeness
in her admonitions. 'That is a line of argument I couldn't dream of
Paul felt it safest to say nothing at all, so he only looked at
Miss Blimber's spectacles. Miss Blimber having shaken her head at him
gravely, referred to a paper lying before her.
'"Analysis of the character of P. Dombey." If my recollection
serves me,' said Miss Blimber breaking off, 'the word analysis as
opposed to synthesis, is thus defined by Walker. "The resolution of an
object, whether of the senses or of the intellect, into its first
elements." As opposed to synthesis, you observe. Now you know what
analysis is, Dombey.'
Dombey didn't seem to be absolutely blinded by the light let in
upon his intellect, but he made Miss Blimber a little bow.
'"Analysis,"' resumed Miss Blimber, casting her eye over the paper,
'"of the character of P. Dombey." I find that the natural capacity of
Dombey is extremely good; and that his general disposition to study
may be stated in an equal ratio. Thus, taking eight as our standard
and highest number, I find these qualities in Dombey stated each at
Miss Blimber paused to see how Paul received this news. Being
undecided whether six three-fourths meant six pounds fifteen, or
sixpence three farthings, or six foot three, or three quarters past
six, or six somethings that he hadn't learnt yet, with three unknown
something elses over, Paul rubbed his hands and looked straight at
Miss Blimber. It happened to answer as well as anything else he could
have done; and Cornelia proceeded.
'"Violence two. Selfishness two. Inclination to low company, as
evinced in the case of a person named Glubb, originally seven, but
since reduced. Gentlemanly demeanour four, and improving with
advancing years." Now what I particularly wish to call your attention
to, Dombey, is the general observation at the close of this analysis.'
Paul set himself to follow it with great care.
'"It may be generally observed of Dombey,"' said Miss Blimber,
reading in a loud voice, and at every second word directing her
spectacles towards the little figure before her: '"that his abilities
and inclinations are good, and that he has made as much progress as
under the circumstances could have been expected. But it is to be
lamented of this young gentleman that he is singular (what is usually
termed old-fashioned) in his character and conduct, and that, without
presenting anything in either which distinctly calls for reprobation,
he is often very unlike other young gentlemen of his age and social
position." Now, Dombey,' said Miss Blimber, laying down the paper, 'do
you understand that?'
'I think I do, Ma'am,' said Paul.
'This analysis, you see, Dombey,' Miss Blimber continued, 'is going
to be sent home to your respected parent. It will naturally be very
painful to him to find that you are singular in your character and
conduct. It is naturally painful to us; for we can't like you, you
know, Dombey, as well as we could wish.'
She touched the child upon a tender point. He had secretly become
more and more solicitous from day to day, as the time of his departure
drew more near, that all the house should like him. From some hidden
reason, very imperfectly understood by himself - if understood at all
- he felt a gradually increasing impulse of affection, towards almost
everything and everybody in the place. He could not bear to think that
they would be quite indifferent to him when he was gone. He wanted
them to remember him kindly; and he had made it his business even to
conciliate a great hoarse shaggy dog, chained up at the back of the
house, who had previously been the terror of his life: that even he
might miss him when he was no longer there.
Little thinking that in this, he only showed again the difference
between himself and his compeers, poor tiny Paul set it forth to Miss
Blimber as well as he could, and begged her, in despite of the
official analysis, to have the goodness to try and like him. To Mrs
Blimber, who had joined them, he preferred the same petition: and when
that lady could not forbear, even in his presence, from giving
utterance to her often-repeated opinion, that he was an odd child,
Paul told her that he was sure she was quite right; that he thought it
must be his bones, but he didn't know; and that he hoped she would
overlook it, for he was fond of them all.
'Not so fond,' said Paul, with a mixture of timidity and perfect
frankness, which was one of the most peculiar and most engaging
qualities of the child, 'not so fond as I am of Florence, of course;
that could never be. You couldn't expect that, could you, Ma'am?'
'Oh! the old-fashioned little soul!' cried Mrs Blimber, in a
'But I like everybody here very much,' pursued Paul, 'and I should
grieve to go away, and think that anyone was glad that I was gone, or
Mrs Blimber was now quite sure that Paul was the oddest child in
the world; and when she told the Doctor what had passed, the Doctor
did not controvert his wife's opinion. But he said, as he had said
before, when Paul first came, that study would do much; and he also
said, as he had said on that occasion, 'Bring him on, Cornelia! Bring
Cornelia had always brought him on as vigorously as she could; and
Paul had had a hard life of it. But over and above the getting through
his tasks, he had long had another purpose always present to him, and
to which he still held fast. It was, to be a gentle, useful, quiet
little fellow, always striving to secure the love and attachment of
the rest; and though he was yet often to be seen at his old post on
the stairs, or watching the waves and clouds from his solitary window,
he was oftener found, too, among the other boys, modestly rendering
them some little voluntary service. Thus it came to pass, that even
among those rigid and absorbed young anchorites, who mortified
themselves beneath the roof of Doctor Blimber, Paul was an object of
general interest; a fragile little plaything that they all liked, and
that no one would have thought of treating roughly. But he could not
change his nature, or rewrite the analysis; and so they all agreed
that Dombey was old-fashioned.
There were some immunities, however, attaching to the character
enjoyed by no one else. They could have better spared a
newer-fashioned child, and that alone was much. When the others only
bowed to Doctor Blimber and family on retiring for the night, Paul
would stretch out his morsel of a hand, and boldly shake the Doctor's;
also Mrs Blimber's; also Cornelia's. If anybody was to be begged off
from impending punishment, Paul was always the delegate. The weak-eyed
young man himself had once consulted him, in reference to a little
breakage of glass and china. And it was darKly rumoured that the
butler, regarding him with favour such as that stern man had never
shown before to mortal boy, had sometimes mingled porter with his
table-beer to make him strong.
Over and above these extensive privileges, Paul had free right of
entry to Mr Feeder's room, from which apartment he had twice led Mr
Toots into the open air in a state of faintness, consequent on an
unsuccessful attempt to smoke a very blunt cigar: one of a bundle
which that young gentleman had covertly purchased on the shingle from
a most desperate smuggler, who had acknowledged, in confidence, that