“What, grandpa! Am I so like my poor little Uncle again?” by W. L. Sheppard. Fifty-second and final illustration for Dickens's Dombey and Son in the American Household Edition (1873), Chapter LXII, "Final," page 354. Page 353's Heading: "Gills and Cuttle." 9.2 x 13.6 mm (3 ⅝ by 5 ⅜ inches) framed. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Passage Illustrated: Grandfather and Little Paul on the Beach

Autumn days are shining, and on the sea-beach there are often a young lady, and a white-haired gentleman. With them, or near them, are two children: boy and girl. And an old dog is generally in their company.

The white-haired gentleman walks with the little boy, talks with him, helps him in his play, attends upon him, watches him as if he were the object of his life. If he be thoughtful, the white-haired gentleman is thoughtful too; and sometimes when the child is sitting by his side, and looks up in his face, asking him questions, he takes the tiny hand in his, and holding it, forgets to answer. Then the child says:

“What, grandpa! Am I so like my poor little Uncle again?”

“Yes, Paul. But he was weak, and you are very strong.”

“Oh yes, I am very strong.”

“And he lay on a little bed beside the sea, and you can run about.” [Chapter LXII, "Final," 325]

Commentary: Reconciliation and Parsols

After a passage of several years, Dombey has nearly died, but has since recovered, and is now completely devoted to his daughter, Florence, her husband Walter, and their two children, aptly named Florence and Paul. The final illustration, with the elderly, warmly dressed grandfather on the beach with Florence's Little Paul recalls an earlier scene with Paul and Florence, Dombey's own children, playing on the beach at Brighton, notably "The sea, Floy, what is it that it keeps on saying?" in Chapter 8, "Paul’s Further Progress, Growth and Character."

Thus, by choosing to conclude his extensive series for the American Household Edition with this congenial family scene on the beach (which beach Dickens does not specify), Sheppard brings the story full circle. In retirement, Dombey, who had no time for anything but business and the cultivation of his public image, now devotes himself to the care of his grandchildren. Sheppard invents details that Dickens has not furnished, including the sea cliffs in the backdrop, a substantial seawall, a two-masted pleasure-craft, bathing machines (upper left), and the substantial beam on which the pair are seated, with a fashionably dressed mother and daughter in the background, and an elderly Diogenes immediately behind his parasol-holding mistress.

When Dickens began his career as a novelist, the German collapsible parasol was quite plain, but by mid-century the fashion accoutrement often had tassels and frills. By the 1870s parasol adornments had become ostentatious, but Sheppard keeps Florence's parasol as consistent with early Victorian models.

. . . it was only the wealthy who used parasols as a day-to-day accoutrement. A poor girl might have a simple parasol for church, or a Sunday afternoon stroll. It was during the 1850s the marquise parasol was developed, a style that tipped at the top, so a lady could hold the shaft straight and still shade her face well no matter the angle of the sun. [Fleming 1]

Relevant Illustrations from Other Editions (1848, 1877, and 1910)

Left: Phiz's depiction of a much chastened Mr. Dombey reunited with Florence: "Let him remember it in that room, years to come!" (April 1848). Centre: Fred Barnard's uncaptioned tailpiece brings the story full circle with Dombey and Grand-daughter: Little Florence and her grandfather (1877). Right: Harry Furniss shows Dombey as a decrepit and frail old man in An old man and his memories (1910).

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 the image 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.

Flemming, R. S. "Parsols in the Early Victorian Era." Kate Tattersall, British Secret Service Clandestine Operative. Posted 3 November 2012. http://www.katetattersall.com/parasols-during-the-early-victorian-era/

Created 3 March 2022