Page:Works of Charles Dickens, ed. Lang - Volume 8.djvu/15

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INTRODUCTION.

After publishing Martin Chuzzlewit, which so strangely failed to be at once successful, Dickens and his family went abroad. Economy, and the search for new experiences, dictated this course. Dickens began Dombey and Son, of which the germinal idea had occurred to him before he left England, on June 27, 1846. He was residing at Rosemont, near Lausanne, and he at once informed Mr. Forster that a new novel was on the stocks. Though not superstitious, he was fond of marking odd coincidences. He opened a book at random, in the fashion of Sortes Virgilanœ, so unpropitious to Falkland and Charles I. The volume was Tristram Shandy; the sentence on which Dickens's eye lit ran, "What a work it is likely to turn out! Let us begin it!"

Two numbers were finished by the end of August. "I think Dombey very strong," the author declared, "with great capacity in its leading idea, plenty of character that is likely to tell; and some rollicking facetiousness, to say nothing of pathos." He had an image of Mr. Dombey in his memory. "The man for Dombey, if Browne could have seen him, the class man to a T, is Sir A. E. of D——'s." But Browne (Phiz) does not seem to have met Sir A. E., whose character Dickens