Page:Works of Charles Dickens, ed. Lang - Volume 8.djvu/18

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Mr. Dombey. A dash of other failings, for wine, women, or even the Peerage, would make him more like an ordinary credible kind of mortal. His growing jealousy and hatred of Florence, his punishment in the human object of his pride, Paul, are conceivable, and almost the same set of ideas is illustrated in M. Paul Bourget's tale, David, in Recommencements.

When Mr. Dombey does not even ask whither Florence has fled, we are brought into collision with the unbelievable.

A fault of the treatment is the isolation of the characters. We see them when they are on the stage, but cannot imagine how they are employed when they are off it. Who were Mr. Dombey's associates? In what society did he exist? He could not have been limited to the circle of Tox and Chick. We compare the elder Osborne, in Vanity Fair, and feel, in Dombey, the want of atmosphere, of verisimilitude. His set was not Edith's set-they could not amalgamate; but neither set is really put before us in flesh and blood.

The moralising scheme demands the too obviously intentional contrasts: Good Mrs. Brown and her daughter, Cleopatra and her daughter. Edith and Alice are twins, in different classes, and both are more melodramatic than is customary in any class. Dickens changed his plan, as Scott had to do in St. Roman's Well: both, by an afterthought, saving the technical "virtue" of their heroines. Traces of the old scheme are left in both novels. Why does Edith, in Chapter XLVII., cry to Florence, "Don't come near me! Keep away! Let me go by! Don't look at me! Don't touch me!" Is all this because she has made up her mind to disappoint Mr. Carker, in the Rebecca and Templar sort of scene at Dijon? That is no reason for "shuddering through all her form," and "crawling like some lower animal." She