BOOK THE FIRST - SOWING
15. Chapter Xv - Father and Daughter
ALTHOUGH Mr. Gradgrind did not take after Blue Beard, his room was
quite a blue chamber in its abundance of blue books. Whatever they
could prove (which is usually anything you like), they proved
there, in an army constantly strengthening by the arrival of new
recruits. In that charmed apartment, the most complicated social
questions were cast up, got into exact totals, and finally settled
- if those concerned could only have been brought to know it. As
if an astronomical observatory should be made without any windows,
and the astronomer within should arrange the starry universe solely
by pen, ink, and paper, so Mr. Gradgrind, in his Observatory (and
there are many like it), had no need to cast an eye upon the
teeming myriads of human beings around him, but could settle all
their destinies on a slate, and wipe out all their tears with one
dirty little bit of sponge.
To this Observatory, then: a stern room, with a deadly statistical
clock in it, which measured every second with a beat like a rap
upon a coffin-lid; Louisa repaired on the appointed morning. A
window looked towards Coketown; and when she sat down near her
father's table, she saw the high chimneys and the long tracts of
smoke looming in the heavy distance gloomily.
'My dear Louisa,' said her father, 'I prepared you last night to
give me your serious attention in the conversation we are now going
to have together. You have been so well trained, and you do, I am
happy to say, so much justice to the education you have received,
that I have perfect confidence in your good sense. You are not
impulsive, you are not romantic, you are accustomed to view
everything from the strong dispassionate ground of reason and
calculation. From that ground alone, I know you will view and
consider what I am going to communicate.'
He waited, as if he would have been glad that she said something.
But she said never a word.
'Louisa, my dear, you are the subject of a proposal of marriage
that has been made to me.'
Again he waited, and again she answered not one word. This so far
surprised him, as to induce him gently to repeat, 'a proposal of
marriage, my dear.' To which she returned, without any visible