BOOK THE FIRST - SOWING
4. Chapter Iv - Mr. Bounderby
NOT being Mrs. Grundy, who was Mr. Bounderby?
Why, Mr. Bounderby was as near being Mr. Gradgrind's bosom friend,
as a man perfectly devoid of sentiment can approach that spiritual
relationship towards another man perfectly devoid of sentiment. So
near was Mr. Bounderby - or, if the reader should prefer it, so far
He was a rich man: banker, merchant, manufacturer, and what not.
A big, loud man, with a stare, and a metallic laugh. A man made
out of a coarse material, which seemed to have been stretched to
make so much of him. A man with a great puffed head and forehead,
swelled veins in his temples, and such a strained skin to his face
that it seemed to hold his eyes open, and lift his eyebrows up. A
man with a pervading appearance on him of being inflated like a
balloon, and ready to start. A man who could never sufficiently
vaunt himself a self-made man. A man who was always proclaiming,
through that brassy speaking-trumpet of a voice of his, his old
ignorance and his old poverty. A man who was the Bully of
A year or two younger than his eminently practical friend, Mr.
Bounderby looked older; his seven or eight and forty might have had
the seven or eight added to it again, without surprising anybody.
He had not much hair. One might have fancied he had talked it off;
and that what was left, all standing up in disorder, was in that
condition from being constantly blown about by his windy
In the formal drawing-room of Stone Lodge, standing on the
hearthrug, warming himself before the fire, Mr. Bounderby delivered
some observations to Mrs. Gradgrind on the circumstance of its
being his birthday. He stood before the fire, partly because it
was a cool spring afternoon, though the sun shone; partly because
the shade of Stone Lodge was always haunted by the ghost of damp
mortar; partly because he thus took up a commanding position, from
which to subdue Mrs. Gradgrind.
'I hadn't a shoe to my foot. As to a stocking, I didn't know such
a thing by name. I passed the day in a ditch, and the night in a
pigsty. That's the way I spent my tenth birthday. Not that a
ditch was new to me, for I was born in a ditch.'