Dombey and Son
Preface Of 1848
I cannot forego my usual opportunity of saying farewell to my readers in this
greetingplace, though I have only to acknowledge the unbounded warmth and
earnestness of their sympathy in every stage of the journey we have just concluded.
If any of them have felt a sorrow in one of the principal incidents on which this fiction
turns, I hope it may be a sorrow of that sort which endears the sharers in it, one to
another. This is not unselfish in me. I may claim to have felt it, at least as much as
anybody else; and I would fain be remembered kindly for my part in the experience.
Twenty-Fourth March, 1848.
Preface Of 1867
I make so bold as to believe that the faculty (or the habit) of correctly observing the
characters of men, is a rare one. I have not even found, within my experience, that the
faculty (or the habit) of correctly observing so much as the faces of men, is a general
one by any means. The two commonest mistakes in judgement that I suppose to arise
from the former default, are, the confounding of shyness with arrogance - a very
common mistake indeed - and the not understanding that an obstinate nature exists in a
perpetual struggle with itself.
Mr Dombey undergoes no violent change, either in this book, or in real life. A sense of
his injustice is within him, all along. The more he represses it, the more unjust he
necessarily is. Internal shame and external circumstances may bring the contest to a
close in a week, or a day; but, it has been a contest for years, and is only fought out
after a long balance of victory.
I began this book by the Lake of Geneva, and went on with it for some months in
France, before pursuing it in England. The association between the writing and the
place of writing is so curiously strong in my mind, that at this day, although I know, in my
fancy, every stair in the little midshipman's house, and could swear to every pew in the
church in which Florence was married, or to every young gentleman's bedstead in
Doctor Blimber's establishment, I yet confusedly imagine Captain Cuttle as secluding
himself from Mrs MacStinger among the mountains of Switzerland. Similarly, when I am
reminded by any chance of what it was that the waves were always saying, my
remembrance wanders for a whole winter night about the streets of Paris - as I