Dombey and Son "May We Never Want A Friend In Need, Nor A Bottle To Give Him"

Charles Dickens

"May We Never Want A Friend In Need, Nor A Bottle To Give Him"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Near the offices of Dombey and Son is the shop of Solomon Gills, dealer in navigational instruments; with him lives his beloved nephew, Walter Gay, who secures employment at Dombey and Son as a minor clerk. A friend of Mr. Gills is Captain Cuttle, a retired sea captain. Florence Dombey, because of the momentary carelessness of her brother Paul's nurse, becomes lost in the streets of London, and Walter finds her and returns her to her home; this act of Walter produces an intense dislike for him on the part of Mr. Dombey. As Sol Gills' business withers away until he is desperate for money, Walter approaches Mr. Dombey for a loan, which young Paul urges, and so it is granted. Mr. Dombey and his manager, Mr. Carker, arrange to transfer Walter to a vacant post in Barbados, largely so that he and Florence cannot see each other. Walter, aware that the post is a bad one, is in great doubt how to break the news of his imminent departure from London to his uncle. He asks Captain Cuttle for advice, and the Captain offers two complete non-sequiturs as a solution of the problem. Walter explains the situation:

". . . I am sorry to say, I am not a favorite with Mr. Dombey. I have always tried to do my best, and I have always done it; but he does not like me. He can't help his likings and dislikings, perhaps. I say nothing of that. I only say that I am certain he does not like me. He does not send me to this post as a good one; he disdains to represent it as being better than it is; and I doubt very much if it will ever lead me to advancement in the House–whether it does not, on the contrary, dispose of me for ever, and put me out of the way. Now, we must not say anything of this to my uncle, Captain Cuttle, but must make it out to be as favorable and promising as we can; and when I tell you what it really is, I only do so, that in case any means should ever arise of lending me a hand, so far off, I may have one friend at home who knows my real situation."
"Wal'r, my boy," replied the captain, "in the Proverbs of Solomon you will find the following words, 'May we never want a friend in need, nor a bottle to give him!' When found, make a note of."