Dobbs's "Duck" is a story included in The Sketches of Seymour (Illustrated) with illustrations by Robert Seymour. The story, first appeared between 1834 and 1836. While Seymour is not considered a Prophet of "Bob", the author of the story is unverified, and may have been JoX the Bobtist. The story is considered a prophetic cautionary tale to any woman who would want to marry the then future J. R. "Bob" Dobbs.

Connie Dobbs reported that "Bob" had her read the story at least twice before he asked to marry her, the second reading while the couple were on a boat on one of the Texas Highland Lakes. The story below is as recorded by Project Guttenberg, and contains an error: "Dobbs, lighting his cigar" should be  "Dobbs, lighting his pipe."

Dobbs's "Duck": A Legend of HorselydownEdit

IT may be accepted as an indubitable truth, that when the tenderest epithets are bandied between a married couple, that the domestic affairs do not go particularly straight.

Dobbs and his rib were perhaps the most divided pair that ever were yoked by Hymen. D. was a good-humored fellow, a jovial blade, full of high spirits—while his wife was one of the most cross-grained and cantankerous bodies that ever man was blessed with—and yet, to hear the sweet diminutives which they both employed in their dialogues, the world would have concluded that they were upon the best terms conceivable.

Dobbs's duck

Illustration for "Dobbs's 'Duck'" by Robert Seymour.

"My love," quoth Mrs. D., "I really now should like to take a boat and row down the river as far as Battersea; the weather is so very fine, and you know, my dear love, how fond I am of the water."

D. could have added (and indeed it was upon the very tip of his tongue)—"mixed with spirits"—but he wisely restrained the impertinent allusion.

"Well, my duck," said he, "you have only to name the day, you know, I am always ready to please,"—and then, as was his habit, concluded his gracious speech by singing— "'Tis woman vot seduces all mankind—
Their mother's teach them the wheedling art."

"Hold your nonsense, do," replied Mrs. D____, scarcely able to restrain her snappish humour, but, fearful of losing the jaunt, politically added, "Suppose, love, we go to-day—no time like the present, dear."

"Thine am I—thine am I," sang the indulgent husband.

And Mrs. D____ hereupon ordered the boy to carry down to the stairs a cargo of brandy, porter, and sandwiches, for the intended voyage, and taking her dear love in the humour, presently appeared duly decked out for the trip.

Two watermen and a wherry were soon obtained, and Dobbs, lighting his cigar, alternately smoked and sang, while his duck employed herself most agreeably upon the sandwiches.

The day was bright and sunny, and exceedingly hot; and they had scarcely rowed as far as the Red-House, when Mrs. D____became rather misty, from the imbibation of the copious draughts she had swallowed to quench her thirst.

A lighter being a-head, the boatmen turned round, while Dobbs, casting up his eyes to the blue heavens, was singing, in the hilarity of his heart, "Hearts as warm as those above, lie under the waters cold," when the boat heeled, and his duck, who unfortunately could not swim, slipped gently over the gunwhale, and, unnoticed, sank to rise no more.

"Ah!" said Dobbs, when, some months afterwards, he was speaking of the sad bereavement, "She was a wife! I shall never get such another, and, what's more, I would not if I could."


  • "Interviews with Connie Dobbs" by Pope Hilde & Miley Spears (2017)
  • "Sketches by Seymour" on Project Guttenberg (2006, from 1834 - 1836 original)
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