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Dombey and Son

14. Paul Grows more and more Old-fashioned, and goes
Home for the Holidays
When the Midsummer vacation approached, no indecent manifestations of joy were
exhibited by the leaden-eyed young gentlemen assembled at Doctor Blimber's. Any
such violent expression as 'breaking up,' would have been quite inapplicable to that
polite establishment. The young gentlemen oozed away, semi-annually, to their own
homes; but they never broke up. They would have scorned the action.
Tozer, who was constantly galled and tormented by a starched white cambric
neckerchief, which he wore at the express desire of Mrs Tozer, his parent, who,
designing him for the Church, was of opinion that he couldn't be in that forward state of
preparation too soon - Tozer said, indeed, that choosing between two evils, he thought
he would rather stay where he was, than go home. However inconsistent this
declaration might appear with that passage in Tozer's Essay on the subject, wherein he
had observed 'that the thoughts of home and all its recollections, awakened in his mind
the most pleasing emotions of anticipation and delight,' and had also likened himself to
a Roman General, flushed with a recent victory over the Iceni, or laden with
Carthaginian spoil, advancing within a few hours' march of the Capitol, presupposed, for
the purposes of the simile, to be the dwelling-place of Mrs Tozer, still it was very
sincerely made. For it seemed that Tozer had a dreadful Uncle, who not only
volunteered examinations of him, in the holidays, on abstruse points, but twisted
innocent events and things, and wrenched them to the same fell purpose. So that if this
Uncle took him to the Play, or, on a similar pretence of kindness, carried him to see a
Giant, or a Dwarf, or a Conjuror, or anything, Tozer knew he had read up some classical
allusion to the subject beforehand, and was thrown into a state of mortal apprehension:
not foreseeing where he might break out, or what authority he might not quote against
him.
As to Briggs, his father made no show of artifice about it. He never would leave him
alone. So numerous and severe were the mental trials of that unfortunate youth in
vacation time, that the friends of the family (then resident near Bayswater, London)
seldom approached the ornamental piece of water in Kensington Gardens,' without a
vague expectation of seeing Master Briggs's hat floating on the surface, and an
unfinished exercise lying on the bank. Briggs, therefore, was not at all sanguine on the
subject of holidays; and these two sharers of little Paul's bedroom were so fair a sample
of the young gentlemen in general, that the most elastic among them contemplated the
arrival of those festive periods with genteel resignation.
It was far otherwise with little Paul. The end of these first holidays was to witness his
separation from Florence, but who ever looked forward to the end of holidays whose
beginning was not yet come! Not Paul, assuredly. As the happy time drew near, the
lions and tigers climbing up the bedroom walls became quite tame and frolicsome. The
grim sly faces in the squares and diamonds of the floor-cloth, relaxed and peeped out at
 
 
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