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his house by the name of the study; and was sacred to the master of the house. Hither would Mr. Osborne retire of a Sunday forenoon when not minded to go to church; and here pass the morning in his crimson leather chair, reading the paper. A couple of glazed book cases were here, containing standard works in stout gilt bindings. The “ Annual Register," the “ Gentleman's Ma gazine,” « Blair's Sermons,” and “Hume and Smollet.” From year's end to year's end he never took one of these volumes from the shelf; but there was no member of the family that would dare for his life to touch one of the books, except upon those rare Sunday evenings when there was no dinner party, and when the great scarlet Bible and Prayer book were taken out from the corner where they stood beside his copy of the Peerage, and the servants being rung up to the dining-parlour, Osborne read the Evening Service to his family in a loud, grating, pompous voice. No member of the household, child or domestic, ever entered that room without a certain terror. Here be checked the housekeeper's accounts, and overhauled the butler's cellar-book--hence he could command across the clean, gravel court. yard the back entrance of the stables, with which one of his bells communicated; and into this yard the coachman issued from his premises as into a dock, and Osborne swore at him from the study window. Four times a-year Miss Wirt entered this apartment to get her salary, and his daughters to receive their quarterly allowance. George, as a boy, had been horsewbipped in this room many times; his mother sitting sick on the stair listening to the cuts of the whip; the boy was scarcely ever known to cry under the punishmentthe poor woman used to fondle and kiss him secretly, and give him money to soothe him when he came out.
" To this study old Osborne retired then, greatly to the relief of the small party whom he left. When the servants had withdrawn, they began to talk for a while volubly, but very low; then they went up stairs quietly, Mr. Bullock accompanying them stealthily on his creaking shoes ; he had no heart to sit alone drinking wine, and so close to the terrible old gentleman in the study hard at hand. An hour at least after dark, the butler, not having received any summons, ventured to tap at his door, and take him in wax candles and tea. The master of the house sate in his chair, pretending to read the paper, and when the servant, placing the lights and refreshment on the table by him, retired, Mr. Osborne got up and locked
the door after him. This time there was no mistaking the matter ; all the household knew that some great catastrophe was going to happen, which was likely direly to affect Master George.
“In the large, shining, mahogany escrutoire Mr. Osborne had a drawer especially devoted to his son's affairs and papers. Here he kept all the documents relating to him ever since he had been a boy; here were his prize copy-books and drawing-books, all bearing George's hand and that of the master-here were his first letters in large round hand, sending his love to papa and mama, and conveying his petitions for a cake; his dear godpapa Sedley was more than once mentioned in them. Curses quivered on old Osborne's livid lips, and horrid hatred and disappointment writhed in his heart, as, looking through some of these papers, he came on that name. They were all marked and docketed, and tied with red tape. It was.
From Georgy, requesting five shillings. April 23, 18—; answered April 25:'or, Georgy about a pony. October 13,' and so forth. In another packet were Dr. S.'s accounts, G.'s, tailors' bills and outfits, drafts on me by G. Osborne, jun., &c.; his letters from the West Indies_his agent's letters, and the newspapers containing his commission-here was a whip he had when a boy, and in a paper a locket containing his hair, which his mother used to wear.
“ Turning one over after another, and musing over these memorials, the unhappy man passed many hours. His dearest vanities, ambitions, hopes, had all been here. What pride he had in his boy! he was the handsomest child ever seen. Everybody said he was like a nobleman's son. A royal princess had remarked him, and kissed him, and asked his name in Kew-Gardens. What city-man could shew such another ? Could a prince have been better cared for ? Anything that money could buy had been his son's. He used to go down on speech-days with four horses and new liveries, and scatter new shillings among the boys at the school where George was. When he went with George to the depot of his regiment, before the boy embarked for Canada, he gave the officers such a dinner as the Duke of York might have sat down to. Had he ever refused a bill when George drew one? there they were-paid without a word. Many a general in the army couldn't ride the horses he had! He had the child before his eyes, on a hundred different days when he remembered Georgeafter dinner, when he used to come in as bold as a lord and drink off his glass
by his father's side, at the head of the table-on the pony at Brighton, when he cleared the hedge, and kept up with the huntsman-on the day when he was presented to the Prince Regent at the levee, when all St. James's couldn't produce a finer young fellow. And this, this was the end of all: to marry a bankrupt, and fly in the face of duty and fortune. What humiliation and fury-what pangs of sickening rage, balked ambition, and love — what wounds of outraged vanity, tenderness even, had this old worldling now to suffer under!
“ Having examined these papers, and pondered over this one and the other, in that bitterest of all helpless woe, with which miserable men think of happy past times, George's father took the whole of the documents out of the drawer in which he had kept them so long, and locked them into a writingbox, which he tied and sealed with his seal; then he opened the book-case and took down the great red Bible we have spoken of-a pompous book, seldom looked at, and shining all over with gold; there was a frontispiece to the volume, representing Abraham sacrificing Isaac. Here, according to custom, Osborne had recorded on the fly-leaf, and in his large, clerk-like hand, the dates of his marriage, and his wife's death, and the births and Christian names of his children. Jane came first, then George Sedley Osborne, then Maria Frances, and the days of the christening of each. Taking a pen, he carefully obliterated George's names from the page; and when the leaf was quite dry, restored the volume to the place from which he had moved it: then he took a document out of another drawer, where his own private papers were kept, and having read it, crumpled it up, and lighted it at one of the candles, and saw it burn entirely away in the grate. It was bis will; which being burned, he sat down and wrote off a letter, and rang for his servant, whom he charged to deliver it in the morning. It was morning already: as he went up to bed the whole house was alight with the sunshine, and the birds were singing among the fresh green leaves in Russellsquare."
this portrait, as we are inclined to think he must, we forgive him for the sake of old William Dobbin, to X whom we have already adverted—than whose a finer or a nobler nature does not exist in the annals of fiction. Plain and homely-looking, ungainly, blundering, and stupid, even from his schoolboy days, the rugged exterior of “Honest old Dob" concealed a fine and generous heart, true in friendship, constant in love, and unshaken during all the changes and chances of his military career, to the one fair image who oce cupied his thoughts. The elder Osborne is of too coarse a nature to afford us any pleasure. We hope there are very few English merchants so savage, so brutal, and so selfish, as he is represented ; and yet there is an air of reality about him which is rather alarming. We can only say, that we hope it may never be our ill-fortune to be a guest at one of his splendid and dreary banquets in Russell-square. For George we have not much to say. His character hardly affords reason. able grounds for criticism, and is not developed or worked out with such elaboration as many of the others we have mentioned. A careless, gay, good-looking, and good-for-nothing spendthrift, with some selfishness and a good deal of generosity, George Osborne, like many another of his class in the world, has but little to recommend him to our sympathies, or our regard. He did right in marrying Amelia, but he would not have done so, it is to be feared, but for his friend Dobbin. Sir Pitt Crawley, the son of the profligate old baronet, is inimitably sketched. There is, possibly, among the characters x which figure in the pages of “ Vanity Fair,” nothing better drawn than his portrait, as presented to the reader on that Tuesday morning when the unfortunate Rawdon comes to unfold his tale of misery to the sympathizing ear of his brother. His table, on which orderly blue-books and letters, bills neatly docketed, pamphlets and despatch.boxes, the Bible and the Quarterly Review, and a book of sermons, are all paraded--the Observer news. paper, damp and neatly folded-the baronet hiinself making his appearance precisely as the clock strikes nine, so cleanly shaved, with his rosy face, his stiff shirt-collar, triinming his nails as
We hope, for the sake of the Co. rinthian capitals of the state, that if such a disgrace to their order as the old baronet, who is described under the name of Sir Pitt Crawley, ever did exist, it must have been very rare-a hundred years back_far less thirty; but if Mr. Thackeray has overdrawn
he majestically enters the apartment, in the boots which are awaiting him in the a starched cravat, and a grey-flannel passages; that stair up or down which dressing-gown - the very model of babies are carried, old people are helped, neatness and propriety; in short, a
guests are marshalled to the ball, the real old English gentleman, affording,
parson walks to the christening, the doc
tor to the sick room, and the underin his trim respectability, so strong a
taker's men to the upper floor. What contrast to his reckless, good-natur
a memento of life, death, and vanity it ed brother, with blood-shot eyes, di
is, that arch and stair, if you choose to shevelled hair, and tumbled clothes. consider it, and sit on the landing, But there is, perhaps, within the pages looking up and down the well! The of this most attractive and amusing doctor will come up to us, too, for the novel, no passage more pregnant with
last time there, my friend in motley. that peculiar power in which lies the
The nurse will look in at the curtains, forte of Mr. Thackeray, than in the
and you take no notice; and then she will description of a London house ; it
Aling open the windows for a little and
let in the air. Then they will pull down is so replete with these peculiar gra
all the front blinds of the house and live phic touches in which Mr. Thackeray
in the back rooms; then they will send so much excels, that we are sure we for the lawyer, and other men in shall be forgiven if we present it to black, &c. Your comedy and mine will the notice of our readers without any have been played then, and we shall further comment:
be removed, oh, how far ! from the
trumpets, and the shouting, and the “There came a day when the round of posture-making. If we are gentlefolks, decorous pleasures in which Mr. Joseph they will put hatchments over our late Sedley's family indulged, was inter- domicile, with gilt cherubim, and motrupted by an event which happens in toes stating that there is . quiet in hea. most houses. As you ascend the stair- ven.' Your son will new furnish the case of your house, from the drawing house, or perhaps let it, and go into a towards the bedroom floors, you may. more modern quarter-your name will have remarked a little arch in the wall, be among the members deceased,' in which at once gives light to the stair the lists of your clubs next year. How. which leads from the second story to the ever much you may be mourned, your third, where the nursery and servants' widow will like to have her weeds neatly chambers commonly are, and serves for made. The cook will send, or come up another purpose of utility, of which the to ask about dinner--the survivors will undertakers' men can give you a notion soon bear to look at your picture over - they rest the coffins upon that arch, or the mantel-piece, which will presently pass them through it, so as not to dis. be deposed from the place of honour, turb, in any unseemly manner, the cold to make way for the portrait of the tenant slumbering within the black arch. son, who reigns. That second-floor arch in a London " Which of the dead are most tenderly house, looking up and down the well of and passionately deplored? Those who the staircase, and commanding the main love the survivors the least, I believe. thoroughfare by which the inhabitants The death of a child occasions a passion are passing-by which the cook lurks of grief and frantic tears, such as your down before daylight to scour her pots end, brother reader, will never inspire. and pans in the kitchen-by which young The death of an infant which scarce master stealthily ascends, having left knew you, which a week's absence from his boots in the hall, and let himself in, you would have caused to forget you, will after dawn, from a jolly night at the strike you down more than the loss of club_down which miss comes, rustling your closest friend, or your first-born in fresh ribbons and spreading muslins,
son-a man grown like yourself, with brilliant and beautiful, and prepared for children of his own. We may be harsh conquest and the ball; or Master Tommy and stern with Judah and Simeon-our slides, preferring the banisters for a mode love and pity gushes out for Benjamin, of conveyance, and disdaining danger, the little one. And if you are old, as and the stairs-down which the mother some reader of this may be or shall be, is fondly carried, smiling in her strong old and rich, or old and poor, you may husband's arms, as he steps steadily, one day be thinking for yourself step by step, and followed by the monthly . These people are very good round nurse, on the day when the medical man about me; but they won't grieve too has promised the charming patient may much when I am gone-I am very rich, go down stairs ; up which John lurks to and they want my inheritance-or, very bed, yawning, with a sputtering tallow. poor, and they are tired of supporting me. candle, and to gather up, before sunrise, “ The period of mourning for Mrs.
Sedley's death was only just concluded, and Jos scarcely had had time to cast off his black, and appear in the splendid waistcoats which he loved, when it became evident to those about Mr. Sedley that another event was at hand, and that the old man was about to go seek for his wife in the dark land whither she had preceded him.
". The state of my father's health,' Jos Sedley solemnly remarked at the club, "prevents my giving my large parties this season; but if you will come in quietly at half-past six, Chutney, my bov, and take a homely dinner with one or two of the old set, I shall be always glad to see you.' So Jos and his acquaintance dined and drank claret among themselves in silence, whilst the sands of life were running out in the old man's glass up stairs. The velvet-footed but ler brought them their wine, and they composed themselves to a rubber after dinner, at which Major Dobbin would sometimes come and take a hand; and Mrs. Osborne would occasionally descend, when her patient above was settled for the night, and had commenced one of those lightly-troubled slumbers which visit the pillow of old age.
" The old man clung to his daughter during this sickness-he would take his broths and medicine from scarcely any other hand. To tend him became al. most the sole business of her life. Her bed was placed close by the door which opened into his chamber, and she was alive at the slightest noise or disturbance from the couch of the querulous invalid. Though, to do him justice, he lay awake many an hour, silent and without stir ring, unwilling to awaken his kind and vigilant nurse.”
† The sketch of Mr. Wenham is also inimitable. The cool effrontery by which he succeeded in baffling the fury of the enraged dragoon, is drawn with marvellous skill.
We have dwelt at such length upon what we consider the excellence of this work, that there is no chance of our incurring the censure of ill nature, if we now point to what, it must be admitted, are its defects. Among all the characters which rise before us when we have closed the book, there is not with the exception of William Dobbin, one thoroughly good or honest man. In the mingled elements Tof their nature, that of evil is too largely blended. We sincerely hope we may never discover that the real “ Vanity Fair," of which this work professes to reflect the image, is so entirely peopled with knaves and fools. In short, we have a better opinion of human nature than Mr. Thackeray. Our experience is possibly shorter, and far more limited ; and frail and imperfect as is the heart of man, we cannot help thinking that it is not so tho. roughly imbued with selfishness, so steeped with vanity, and so degraded by vice, as it has been represented to us. We should be sorry to coincide in the view of that high authority, whose worldly experience would lead us to believe every one a rogue until we find him out to be honest. Such a philosophy is naturally repugnant and distasteful to us. With all its faults and all its foibles, we have a kindly feeling for poor human nature; and we would be sorry to strip ourselves of the delusion, if one it be, that we have been gifted with more high and generous impulses, with loftier feelings, and honester hearts, than is represented by this great satirist. But, then, it may be said, his work is meant to deal only with our foibles, and to exhibit our vices. True, and therefore the contemplation of the dark side of the picture is the more distasteful. The tone of Mr. Thackeray's mind is essentially sarcastic; he is too prone to indulge his inclination of representing men or things in a satirical point of view, and, like Lord Byron, whenever a genial or sunshiny trait of our better nature is exhibited, it is spoiled with a dash of Sarcasm, which mars its beauty, and prevents us from enjoying the full pleasure of its effect. Even in the
Among the host of minor characters wbich fit before us, General Tufto and Lord Steyne, the admirers of Rebecca, are exquisitely delineated. The latter is a portrait drawn from life -alas! already too familiar to our readers; but with regard to it, we can
only add, that we have never seen one + done with more telling truth. The
sketch of the former is also most graphic. The description of the inter ruption of his firtation with Rebecca, and his rage thereat, is perfect. What passage was ever penned more replete with power than that which describes the general's curses : “ they came from his heart; and it is a wonderful thing to think that the human heart is capa. ble of generating such produce, and can throw out, as occasion demands, such a supply of lust and fury, rage and hatred.""
less equivocal characters which figure upon its pages, some fatuity, selfish. ness, or vanity arises, to break the spell. We should like to ask Mr.
Thackeray if he believes that in the real « Vanity Fair" no good man, or no virtuous woman exists, who is not, at the same time, silly and selfish, for such, we fear, is the inevitable impression this book is calculated to convey ?
We are by no means disposed to cavil or to find fault with the author that he has not visited, with more se verity, upon the head of Rebecca, the consequences of her moral transgres. sions,—that he has omitted to visit upon her that amount of retributive justice which, had the subject been handled by one of the common-place writers of the day, would assuredly have been the result. In the ultimate disposition of her destiny, he has ex hibited a knowledge of the world far too intimate and far too fine, to err in following so ordinary a track. Alas! too little do we know what lies be
neath the mask of many of those whom we see fulfilling, with a zeal apparently so fervent, the ordinary duties of life, and affecting the semblance of a rigid adherence to the rules of virtue and religion. We fear Mr. Thackeray is not astray on this point, and that hypocrisy is one of the commonest vices in “ Vanity Fair."
Notwithstanding, however, the defects to which we have adverted, and which we think, regarding the work in an artistic point of view, are its only blemish, « Vanity Fair” bears upon its pages the indelible impress of a genius so original and so striking, that it must at once lift the author into a high position among the writers of his age and country. But we think the genius and the power displayed in this work are capable of still higher flights; and if he have only the inclination, we see no reason why an exalted place among the standard writers of England should not yet be occupied by ihe author of " Vanity Fair."