Sister and brother wound their arms around each other by W. L. Sheppard. Eighteenth illustration for Dickens's Dombey and Son in the American Household Edition (1873), Chapter XVI, "What the Waves were always saying," p. 98. 10.5 x 13.5 cm (4 ⅛ by 5 ¼ inches) framed. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Passage Illustrated: Paul dies in Florence's arms

Harry Furniss's study of Paul's death incorporates his prostrate father: Mr. Dombey at Paul's sick-bed (1910).

He felt his father’s breath upon his cheek, before the words had parted from his lips.

“Remember Walter, dear Papa,” he whispered, looking in his face. “Remember Walter. I was fond of Walter!” The feeble hand waved in the air, as if it cried “good-bye!” to Walter once again.

“Now lay me down,” he said, “and, Floy, come close to me, and let me see you!”

Sister and brother wound their arms around each other, and the golden light came streaming in, and fell upon them, locked together.

“How fast the river runs, between its green banks and the rushes, Floy! But it’s very near the sea. I hear the waves! They always said so!”

Presently he told her the motion of the boat upon the stream was lulling him to rest. [Chapter XVI, "What the Waves were always saying," 98]

Commentary: One of Dickens's Most Affecting Death-bed Scenes

Sol Eytinge, Junior's study of Florence with Paul's canine companion, Diogenes, the Blimbers' dog: Florence Dombey (1867).

The Sheppard illustration movingly complements Dickens's narration of the death of the bright, precocious child, who dies (presumably of consumption) at the age of six. In narrating the death of little Paul Dombey, Dickens had to outdo his own description of the death of Little Nell in The Old Curiosity Shop, Part 39 (30 January 1841). For Sheppard, the task was equally difficult as he had to deal honestly and yet sympathetically with a subject painful to Dickens's readers throughout the nineteenth century: the death of a bright, perceptive child. In this instance, the death scene is also significant in that it is disruptive to the narrative, and signals a shift away from Paul Dombey and towards Florence Dombey as the novel's protagonist for the remaining two-thirds of the narrative.

Sheppard manages the scene effectively as a transitional moment, giving equal emphasis to the novel's former protagonist, shrunken within the vast bed, and his caring sister, who now assumes the central role. Both stare out, not looking at the reader, but seemingly at eternity. For each child, the future is unknown, and they will not be facing it together. And yet Paul does not look pale and wan, and Sheppard's rather mature Florence is not overwhelmed with emotion. The illustrator has repeated the one face in both children, as if the physical likeness betokens an intellectual and psychological likeness. For his part, the attending physician (beside the enormous bed) has turned away, as if to suggest that there is nothing more he can do for the expiring little Paul.

Illustrations of scenes related to Paul's death in Other Editions

Left: Phiz's February 1847 illustration for the fourteenth chapter, Poor Paul's Friend, in which Florence finds solace in the company of the dog devoted to her brother. Centre: Harold Copping's 1893 study of the dying child, held by his sister, in Mary Angela Dickens'sChildren's Stories from Dickens, Little Paul and his Sister. Right: Fred Barnard's study in grief: It was repeated, often — very often, in the shadowy solitude; and broken murmurs of the strain still trembled on the keys . . . (British Household Edition, 1877).

Related Material, including Other Illustrated Editions of Dombey and Son (1846-1910)

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned it and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Dickens, Charles. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by W. L. Sheppard. The Household Edition. 18 vols. New York: Harper & Co., 1873.

__________. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by F. O. C. Darley and John Gilbert. The Works of Charles Dickens. The Household Edition. 55 vols. New York: Sheldon and Company, 1862. Vols. 1-4.

__________. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr., and engraved by A. V. S. Anthony. 14 vols. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867. III.

__________. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by Fred Barnard [62 composite wood-block engravings]. The Works of Charles Dickens. The Household Edition. 22 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1877. XV.

__________. Dombey and Son. With illustrations by  H. K. Browne. The illustrated library Edition. 2 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, c. 1880. II.

__________. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by Fred Barnard. 61 wood-engravings. The Household Edition. 22 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1877. XV.

__________. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by W. H. C. Groome. London and Glasgow, 1900, rpt. 1934. 2 vols. in one.

__________. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. 18 vols. London: Educational Book, 1910. Vol. IX.

__________. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by Hablot K. Browne ("Phiz"). 8 coloured plates. London and Edinburgh: Caxton and Ballantyne, Hanson, 1910.

__________. Dombey and Son. Illustrated by Hablot K. Browne ("Phiz"). The Clarendon Edition, ed. Alan Horsman. Oxford: Clarendon, 1974.

Dickens, Mary Angela, Percy Fitzgerald, Captain Edric Vredenburg, and Others. Illustrated by Harold Copping with eleven coloured lithographs. "Little Paul Dombey," the tenth chapter in Children's Stories from Dickens. London: Raphael Tuck, 1893. Pp. 101-109.

Created 7 February 2022