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served. But as we have never since enough to fall in love ; if they do, observed any disposition upon his part they get laugbed at for their pains, to renew the offence, we do hereby and there's an end of it; and what forgive him, for the sake of the many does not exist in the world should not bright and pleasant images which he has exist in books; and, therefore, Mr. called intolife-for the sake of old Dob- Thackeray, we presume in order to suit bin of Ours, the major, so loving, so true, the spirit of the age, has very wisely inso constant, and so good—for the sake fused as little as possible of this senof that wonderful Mr. Joseph, the fat timent into his book. Works of fiction collector of Boogley Wallah-of Os. now begin where formerly they used borne, the vulgar old city snob- of to end. The doubts, the fears, the dear Peggy O'Dowd, glancing with struggles, and the triumphs of love, wistful eye at the major's nightcap were formerly the subjects chosen for lying on the connubial pillow, the a display of the artist's skill—a happy wearer thereof being in the thick of marriage, and then the curtain fell. Now the fight at Waterloo—for the sake of it is the fashion-one, probably, derived jolly old Rawdon Crawley, polishing from the German and Swedish school up his pistols, same with which he shot of writers—to begin where the curtain Captain Marker, for the purpose of used to fall; and to present to us, in putting a bullet into the bald-head- animated colours, the disagreements, ed and profligate Lord Steyne, and the petty incidents, and other details of giving to his friend his gold sleeve. the connubial state, with such excruci. buttons, all the poor fellow had, to be ating accuracy, that we are inclined to presented, in case of accidents, to that think he must be either a very couregular trump, the youthful Rawdon, rageous, or a very reckless individual, upon whose conduct, in regard of sit- who allows himself to be entangled in ting the kicker in the riding-school, the fatal noose. “ Caveat emptor," the father, in that hour of difficulty he is, at all events, a purchaser with and danger, dwelt with such fond re- notice, and must take the consecollection-for the sake of the artful, quences of his rashness. We think green-eyed Rebecca, and the amiable, this class of writers err in the opposite kind-hearted Amelia. And here, as extreme, and fall rather too much into we stand upon the stage occupied by the vice of petty detail. Mr. Thackeray, the fine creations of his genius, deriv. in following the plan has, however, ing instruction from some, and amuse- avoided the vice. And the shifts, conment from all, we extend to him the trivances, and perplexities of his artful inky hand of fellowship, and thank heroine - the immense difficulties which him heartily for the many pleasant must be encountered by those who will hours the pages of " Vanity Fair” have, keep a horse and carriage in May Fair, in common with all his readers, afford- upon nothing a-year, has rather a ed to us. This work professes to be a stronger attraction for us, than the novel without a hero, although so dull details of German domestic ecomany of them rise before us that we nomy, or the internal arrangement of are in some difficulty which, in the some Swedish judge's thrifty establishfirst instance, to subject to our critical ment. But ere we proceed to the inken. It is not a love story, properly cidents of the story, let us cast a rapid so called ; in which opinion, we may glance at the position occupied by its remark, en passant, we widely differ author, whom many circumstances from a distinguished literary contem- have combined to lift into notice. porary. We cannot discover any suf. The reading public, before the time ficient reason why it should be called of Mr. Dickens, were a lord-loving 80; for, save in the tender passages class; nothing would go down with them between George and Amelia, and in but the tale of fashionable life. The “inthe carefully-concealed self-devo- terior of the perfumed chambers of the tion of Captain William Dobbin to great” possessed an attraction for vulthis lady, we have almost nothing of gar eyes, of the highest interest : hence “ la grande passion;" and, we must the shelves of our circulating-libraries confess, we are rather glad of it. We were crowded with a collection of the are tired of love-not in the abstract, most miserable and flimsy trash, conbut in novels. At this advanced age taining histories of the intrigues of the of the world, few people are silly used-up votaries of fashion. No no. vel would go down unless the hero or power, that they can scarcely fail to heroine had a handle to their name; think they must often have witnessed and to so great an extent did this cu- it before. We recollect a description rious mania once prevail, that some in one of those papers in Punch, to traces of it may be observed even at which we have just alluded, of the the present day. Let us instance dilapidated and melancholy mansion of the novels of that clever writer, an absentee nobleman, drawn with Mr. D'Israeli, no one of which he such perfect skill and cunning, that it he seems to consider complete without would be difficult, in the whole comthe presence of a duke, and one or two pass of English literature, to produce viscounts. We adduce this as a re- anything better. There are some fine markable illustration of the vast ex- lines upon a somewhat similar subject tent to which this morbid craving af- in the poems of Barry Cornwall, which ter the details of fashionable life per. we must trust to our memory to quote. vaded the world of novel-readers ; for They are, we think, as follows: when the wielder of so clever and accomplished a pen as Mr. D’Israeli's “ The weed mourns on the castle wall,
The grass lies on the chamber floor, was not exempt from the foible of the
And on the hearth, and in the hall, day, how was it to be expected that Where the merry music danced of yore ; minor stars should not share in the And the blood-red wine no longer
Runs (how it used to run !); common weakness? Such was the
And the shadows within frown stronger state of things when, in the literary Look black on the midnight sun.
The gardens feed no fruit nor flowers, horizon, arose the star of Dickens,
But childless seem, and in decay: and great was the amaze of our bre- The traitor clock forsakes the hours,
And points to times--oh! far away. thren of the ungentle art; a distinguished contemporary critic, if we
The lord of all that lone domain, recollect aright, foretelling, with much An undeserving master, flies,
And leaves a home where he might reign, solemnity, that he would go up like a
For alien hearts and stranger eyes. rocket, and come down like the stick, And the peasant disdains the story thus affording another remarkable il.
He loved to recount of yore
And the name that was once a glory, lustration of how extremely fallacious Is heard in the land no more. are some of these literary predictions. The career of this writer has been We cannot accord to Mr. Thack. bright, brilliant, and beautiful, and eray higher praise than in saying, that seems likely to continue to its close his prose description of the house of with undiminished lustre-(but of this, the absentee, in our opinion, fully more anon). He opened up ancient equals these beautiful lines. wells of fresh and living beauty in the *« Vanity Fair” proposes to be penhomely walks of every-day life ; and and-pencil sketches of English society; Mr. Thackeray has, in availing him. and we think the taste of the public self of the bent thus imparted to the mind is altogether in favour of sketches, public mind, so far followed his ex- properly so called. The work before us ample.
consists of a series of very brilliant ones Mr. Thackeray, we think, obtains -with a description of the effect which his hold over men's minds by present- the combinations of fate or fortune proing, with a few graphic touches, fea- duces upon each of the dramatis persona, tures with which we were long fami- rather than any deep analysis of the pasliar, but which we had never thought sions or feelings of the human beart
. before of observing, and feelings which Many extraneous circumstances have seemed hidden almost from ourselves. possiblycombined to lead Mr. Thackeray He holds, as it were, “a mirror up to into this peculiar style of writing, in nature," and exhibits the imperfect man, which he has certainly attained a rare with all the weaknesses and foibles of excellence. The foibles and the weakhis heart, with an artistic power and nesses of mankind, rather than their skill, the rare excellence of which those deeper vices or virtues, are the subonly who by experience know the dif- jects of the story, the scene of which ficulty can properly appreciate. He is laid during the regency of George is also a very wonderful scene-painter. the Fourth. And here we may as He can seize upon the principal fea- well notice a blunder into which the tures of a place, and lay them before Edinburgh Review has fallen, in alludhis readers with such extraordinary ing to the costume then the fashion,
and that in which it has pleased Mr. to conceive. He tells us of his fleecThackeray, in the illustrations, to re- ing greenhorns at play, swindling present his heroes and heroines. “ It tradesmen, and committing all the was at the time," saith the reviewer, vices common to such distinguished “when top-coats and hessians were members of society. He says that the the common wear, black neckcloths only honest act in his very wicked and were confined to the military, and tight depraved life, was his marriage with integuments for the nether man were the little governess-he makes him held to be indispensable, so much so, not only connive at her flirtation with indeed, that when some rash innova- the superannuated General Tufto, but tors attempted to introduce trowsers actually shows him on the general's at Almacks', the indignant patronesses staff, and living in his quarters ; and instantly posted up a notification, that then, utterly oblivious of the character in future no gentleman would on any he had intended to draw, towards the account be admittedwithout breeches." conclusion he develops in him some of The reviewer then proceeds to add that, the finest and most beautiful qualities curiously enough, this fact has been for- in our nature—such as his affection gotten-in the woodcuts, the dramatis for the child, and his lofty and soldierpersone being represented in trowsers. like bearing in regard of the amorous Let us turn to what Mr. Thackeray advances to the green-eyed Rebecca says upon the subject. “It was,” he of the profligate peer. These faults, states,“myintention, faithful to history, incidental to the serial mode of writto depict all the characters of this tale ing, are, however, after all, but trivial; in their proper costumes, as they were and, upon the whole, we have seldom then at the commencement of the cen- read a story which has given us greater tury; but when I remember the ap- pleasure than “ Vanity Fair." Our pearance of people in those days, I interest has never for a moment been have not the heart to disfigure my he. allowed to flag; and although there roes and heroines by costumes so hi- occasionally occur some pages of "filldeous, and have, on the contrary, en- ing-up,” which are in nowise necesgaged a model of rank drawn accord.
sary to the progress of the tale, ing to the present fashion." Were it they but serve as settings for the the custom to review a reviewer, it brighter and more sparkling gems with might not be out of place to hint quiet- which it abounds. In point of style ly that it would have been as well if Mr. Thackeray is behind none of our brother of the craft had, before his contemporaries. There is nei. he reviewed the book, adopted the pre- ther affectation nor mannerism to be liminary caution of reading it.
found in his pages; and as a writer of But let us, without further preface, the pure, good, honest Saxon school, proceed to the consideration of the he is, beyond all question, unrivalled ; story. It seems to us beyond all ques- he is vigorous, and at the same tion, that “Vanity Fair" has been writ- time agreeable-commonly terse, and ten month by month, as occasion requir- always humorous; but there is no ed, or as the printers called for it, for straining after effect, no attempt at the pages abound with minute deviations fine writing. The details of his story from the original conceptions of the are woven together with careless ease, author. Thus the author occasionally and the incidents narrated in the most sketches a character, and losing sight, off-hand and pleasant manner possi. as the story progresses, of the outline ble. which he had originally drawn, throws The great characteristic of Mr. in other ingredients which have the ef- Thackeray's style is the species of fect of materially altering the character quaint and quiet humour with which, he intended to paint. Several instances by one little touch, he opens the seof this occur ; but let the portrait of cret doors of the heart. His personages Rawdon Crawley serve as a specimen are so real, and described with so of what we mean. He sets out with much graphic power, that our indescribing this gambling, racing, tan- terest is strongly excited, and never dem-driving guardsman-this heavy allowed to drop. We used actually dragoon" with small brains and strong to long for the appearance of each desires”-to be about as thorough and successive number, with an ardour worthless a profligate as it is possible only to be equalled by that excited by his great contemporary, Dickens; and verend gentlemen's eyes his greatest enupon looking over « Vanity Fair," ormity, that worthy parson having lost now that its numbers have been col. thereby forty pounds); with not an idea lected, we are in nowise surprised at in the world beyond his horses and his the pleasure we then felt ; for, to the regiment; so delightfully wicked that he true lover of fiction, there has scarcely is his aunt's darling; without a shilling ever been served up a dish of more in the world; who walks by starlight exquisitely-seasoned food.
with the little Rebecca, looking into her The knowledge which the author of green eyes, twirling his moustaches, and “ Vanity Fair" seems to possess of the puffing his cigar into a blaze which glows fair sex is tolerably extensive; but it is red in the dark ; making love by swearing a species of knowledge which in our opi- the said Rebecca was a neat little filly; pion rather goes to prove that it is with eventually becoming the victim of her the less amiable portion of it he has, for powers of fascination; entering into the
the most part, associated ; he has cer. holy bonds of matrimony; leaving off + tainly more power in delineating the gaming and racing ; becoming utterly foibles and the weaknesses of woman's love-stricken and submissive; forsakheart, than in displaying the attractive ing all his former vicious habits and charms of her better nature. Lady haunts; judiciously economising on Jane is amiable, so is the poor little “ his large capital of debts" and the Amelia ; but they are only milk-and- proceeds of the sale of his commission ; water heroines after all: there is no- then revelling in all the glory of petit thing noble about them—there is no- soupers, in his mansion in May Fair ; thing of the generosity and self-devo- now sojourning in the spunging-house tion so inherent in the nature of a true of Mr. Moses, in Chancery-lane ; woman.
walking out with his son, the youthful We have, in consequence of our Rawdon, introducing him with pride to pages being recently occupied by more the soldiers of his company, at Knightspressing, matter, been anticipated in bridge ; behold him at last metamorour notice of « Vanity Fair,” by so phosed into a submissive, middle-aged, many of our contemporaries, that any and rather corpulent gentleman, carryanalysis of the plot, or any details of ing up his wife's cup of chocolate to the incidents of the story, would now her dressing-room, or performing a be quite superfluous. We must, there- duet on his shaggy head with a pair of fore, content ourselves with pointing brushes, casting the while admiring out what we consider the peculiar ex- glances, from under his long hair, at cellencies of the book; and assuming the green-eyed mistress of his affecthat our readers are already familiar tions ; glad to be employed about any with the story, select a few extracts little errand, brave as a lion, much in which illustrate our remarks, without love, and dreadfully in debt, the porattempting to connect them by any trait of the genus to which the drathread of narration. And first we think goon belongs, is as perfect as anyin order, in regard of merit, comes the thing of the kind we have ever seen. portrait of the heavy dragoon, which is To his many imperfections we are delineated with wonderful power and inclined to extend forgiveness, for accuracy, notwithstanding the slight the sake of his good nature, and the inconsistency to which we have already pluck he exhibited in regard of the adverted. He was, we are told, a Lord Steyne.
The sketch of this col. very large young dandy, of “ dread- lision, with the circumstances which ful reputation" among the fair sex, led to it, and the results which fol. with enormous whiskers and prodi- lowed, is perhaps among the very best gious debts ; jovial, reckless, and parts of “ Vanity Fair.” We would good-natured ; a bold rider and des. have great pleasure in extracting it perate gambler with every vice (ac- for the amusement of our readers, did cording to the opinion of the Rev.
our space admit. Butt Crawley) under the sun; he If • Vanity Fair" be a novel without has shot Captain Firmbrace in a a hero, it most assuredly is not with duel ; robbed young Lord Dovedale at out a heroine. Her character is well the “Cocoa Tree;" and crossed the worthy an attentive study. It is an fight between Bill Soames and the accurate portrait of a clever advenCheshire Trump, Greville-(in the re- turess, thoroughly devoid of any prin.
ciple, and, in our opinion, not in the chamber, warmed properly as for the least overdrawn. The daughter of a reception of an invalid. Messengers clever, drunken, careless, profligate went off for her physician and medical artist, slight in person, pale in fea
man. They came, consulted, prescribed, tures, with an intellectual head and
vanished. The young companion of attractive eyes, brought up in the so
Miss Crawley, at the conclusion of their ciety of his reckless and dissipated structions, and administered those anti
interview, came in to receive their incompanions—familiar, from her child.
phlogistic medicines which the eminent hood, with every variety of difficulty men ordered. and embarrassment, as well as the shifts “Captain Crawley, of the Life Guards, and contrivances by which they might rode up from Knightsbridge Barracks be evaded_having considerable expe
the next day; his black charger pawed rience in duns, and an eye not inapt
the straw before his invalid aunt's door. for the recognition of a bailiff, Miss
He was most affectionate in his inquiSharp proves an admirable helpmate
ries regarding that amiable relative.
There seemed to be much source of apfor the heavy dragoon, with whose creditors she effects a compromise
prehension. He found Miss Crawley's
maid (the discontented female) unusu. - whose future fortunes she directs
ally sulky and despondent; he found with an able and experienced hand. Miss Briggs, her dame de compagnie, She is also a clever intriguante, ex- in tears, alone in the drawing-room. tracting, with admirable skill, from She had hastened home, hearing of her the elderly gentlemen, with whom
beloved friend's illness; she wished to she carries on Alirtations, a preca
fly to her couch-that couch which she, rious means of livelihood;
Briggs, had so often smoothed in the
hour of sickness. She was denied ad. ing" tradesmen; getting something mission to Miss Crawley's apartment; out of every person with whom she comes into contact ; setting up a man
a stranger was administering her medi
cines--a stranger from the country—an sion in the most fashionable part of odious Miss
Tears choked the London, and teaching the world how utterance of the dame de compagnie, and to live upon nothing a-year ; obtain
she buried her crushed affections and ing, in despite of the formidable diffi. her poor old red nose in her pocketculties of low birth and want of money,
handkerchief. ingress into the most fashionable of
“Rawdon Crawley sent up his name London society ; snubbing countesses,
by the sulky femme de chambre, and
Miss Crawley's new companion, comreceiving dukes and personages of
ing tripping down from the sick room, royal lineage at her petits soupers - put a little hand into his as he stepped the portrait of Rebecca is, indeed, forward eagerly to meet her, gave a drawn with a piquancy and power glance of great scorn at the bewildered quite charming and irresistible. * Miss Briggs, and beckoning the youngGuardsCrawley's arrival in town, and Raw- man out of the back drawing-room, led don's courtship, are also admirably
him down stairs into that now desolate told :
dining-parlour where so many a good
dinner had been celebrated.” “ About this time there drove up to an exceedingly snug and well-appointed It is in touches such as these that house in Park-lane, a travelling chariot
Mr. Thackeray is so inimitable. Nowith a lozenge on the panels, a discontented female, in a green veil and crimp
thing could be better than the desed curls, on the rumble, and a large and
cription above quoted, as well as confidential man on the box. It was
the exit of the gallant Captain Crawthe equipage of our friend Miss Crawley, ley, who emerges, curling his mous. returning from Hants. The windows taches, and having mounted the black of the carriage were shut; the fat spa- charger which stands before the niel, whose head and tongue ordinarily door, pawing among the straw, to the lolled out of one of them, reposed on the
great admiration of a crowd of little lap of the discontented female. When
boys collected in the street, casts a rathe vehicle stopped, a large round bun
pid glance in passing all the drawingdle of shawls was taken out of the car. riage, by the aid of various domestics room windows, making his horse curvet and a young lady who accompanied the
and caper, doubtless to the exceeding heap of cloaks. "That bundle contained
admiration of the lady who might Miss Crawley, who was conveyed up- have been seen for an instant at the stairs forthwith, and put into a bed and window, ere she departed up stairs to VOL. XXXII.-NO. CXC.