Part 2 out of 16
(that delicious romance) was presented to him by the Doctor in the
face of the whole school and the parents and company, with an
inscription to Gulielmo Dobbin. All the boys clapped hands in token
of applause and sympathy. His blushes, his stumbles, his
awkwardness, and the number of feet which he crushed as he went back
to his place, who shall describe or calculate? Old Dobbin, his
father, who now respected him for the first time, gave him two
guineas publicly; most of which he spent in a general tuck-out for
the school: and he came back in a tail-coat after the holidays.
Dobbin was much too modest a young fellow to suppose that this happy
change in all his circumstances arose from his own generous and
manly disposition: he chose, from some perverseness, to attribute
his good fortune to the sole agency and benevolence of little George
Osborne, to whom henceforth he vowed such a love and affection as is
only felt by children--such an affection, as we read in the charming
fairy-book, uncouth Orson had for splendid young Valentine his
conqueror. He flung himself down at little Osborne's feet, and
loved him. Even before they were acquainted, he had admired Osborne
in secret. Now he was his valet, his dog, his man Friday. He
believed Osborne to be the possessor of every perfection, to be the
handsomest, the bravest, the most active, the cleverest, the most
generous of created boys. He shared his money with him: bought him
uncountable presents of knives, pencil-cases, gold seals, toffee,
Little Warblers, and romantic books, with large coloured pictures of
knights and robbers, in many of which latter you might read
inscriptions to George Sedley Osborne, Esquire, from his attached
friend William Dobbin--the which tokens of homage George received
very graciously, as became his superior merit.
So that Lieutenant Osborne, when coming to Russell Square on the day
of the Vauxhall party, said to the ladies, "Mrs. Sedley, Ma'am, I
hope you have room; I've asked Dobbin of ours to come and dine here,
and go with us to Vauxhall. He's almost as modest as Jos."
"Modesty! pooh," said the stout gentleman, casting a vainqueur look
at Miss Sharp.
"He is--but you are incomparably more graceful, Sedley," Osborne
added, laughing. "I met him at the Bedford, when I went to look for
you; and I told him that Miss Amelia was come home, and that we were
all bent on going out for a night's pleasuring; and that Mrs. Sedley
had forgiven his breaking the punch-bowl at the child's party.
Don't you remember the catastrophe, Ma'am, seven years ago?"
"Over Mrs. Flamingo's crimson silk gown," said good-natured Mrs.
Sedley. "What a gawky it was! And his sisters are not much more
graceful. Lady Dobbin was at Highbury last night with three of
them. Such figures! my dears."
"The Alderman's very rich, isn't he?" Osborne said archly. "Don't
you think one of the daughters would be a good spec for me, Ma'am?"
"You foolish creature! Who would take you, I should like to know,
with your yellow face?"
"Mine a yellow face? Stop till you see Dobbin. Why, he had the
yellow fever three times; twice at Nassau, and once at St. Kitts."
"Well, well; yours is quite yellow enough for us. Isn't it, Emmy?"
Mrs. Sedley said: at which speech Miss Amelia only made a smile and
a blush; and looking at Mr. George Osborne's pale interesting
countenance, and those beautiful black, curling, shining whiskers,
which the young gentleman himself regarded with no ordinary
complacency, she thought in her little heart that in His Majesty's
army, or in the wide world, there never was such a face or such a
hero. "I don't care about Captain Dobbin's complexion," she said,
"or about his awkwardness. I shall always like him, I know," her
little reason being, that he was the friend and champion of George.
"There's not a finer fellow in the service," Osborne said, "nor a
better officer, though he is not an Adonis, certainly." And he
looked towards the glass himself with much naivete; and in so doing,
caught Miss Sharp's eye fixed keenly upon him, at which he blushed a
little, and Rebecca thought in her heart, "Ah, mon beau Monsieur! I
think I have YOUR gauge"--the little artful minx!
That evening, when Amelia came tripping into the drawing-room in a
white muslin frock, prepared for conquest at Vauxhall, singing like
a lark, and as fresh as a rose--a very tall ungainly gentleman, with
large hands and feet, and large ears, set off by a closely cropped
head of black hair, and in the hideous military frogged coat and
cocked hat of those times, advanced to meet her, and made her one of
the clumsiest bows that was ever performed by a mortal.
This was no other than Captain William Dobbin, of His Majesty's
Regiment of Foot, returned from yellow fever, in the West Indies, to
which the fortune of the service had ordered his regiment, whilst so
many of his gallant comrades were reaping glory in the Peninsula.
He had arrived with a knock so very timid and quiet that it was
inaudible to the ladies upstairs: otherwise, you may be sure Miss
Amelia would never have been so bold as to come singing into the
room. As it was, the sweet fresh little voice went right into the
Captain's heart, and nestled there. When she held out her hand for
him to shake, before he enveloped it in his own, he paused, and
thought--"Well, is it possible--are you the little maid I remember
in the pink frock, such a short time ago--the night I upset the
punch-bowl, just after I was gazetted? Are you the little girl that
George Osborne said should marry him? What a blooming young
creature you seem, and what a prize the rogue has got!" All this he
thought, before he took Amelia's hand into his own, and as he let
his cocked hat fall.
His history since he left school, until the very moment when we have
the pleasure of meeting him again, although not fully narrated, has
yet, I think, been indicated sufficiently for an ingenious reader by
the conversation in the last page. Dobbin, the despised grocer, was
Alderman Dobbin--Alderman Dobbin was Colonel of the City Light
Horse, then burning with military ardour to resist the French
Invasion. Colonel Dobbin's corps, in which old Mr. Osborne himself
was but an indifferent corporal, had been reviewed by the Sovereign
and the Duke of York; and the colonel and alderman had been
knighted. His son had entered the army: and young Osborne followed
presently in the same regiment. They had served in the West Indies
and in Canada. Their regiment had just come home, and the
attachment of Dobbin to George Osborne was as warm and generous now
as it had been when the two were schoolboys.
So these worthy people sat down to dinner presently. They talked
about war and glory, and Boney and Lord Wellington, and the last
Gazette. In those famous days every gazette had a victory in it,
and the two gallant young men longed to see their own names in the
glorious list, and cursed their unlucky fate to belong to a regiment
which had been away from the chances of honour. Miss Sharp kindled
with this exciting talk, but Miss Sedley trembled and grew quite
faint as she heard it. Mr. Jos told several of his tiger-hunting
stories, finished the one about Miss Cutler and Lance the surgeon;
helped Rebecca to everything on the table, and himself gobbled and
drank a great deal.
He sprang to open the door for the ladies, when they retired, with
the most killing grace--and coming back to the table, filled himself
bumper after bumper of claret, which he swallowed with nervous
"He's priming himself," Osborne whispered to Dobbin, and at length
the hour and the carriage arrived for Vauxhall.
I know that the tune I am piping is a very mild one (although there
are some terrific chapters coming presently), and must beg the good-
natured reader to remember that we are only discoursing at present
about a stockbroker's family in Russell Square, who are taking
walks, or luncheon, or dinner, or talking and making love as people
do in common life, and without a single passionate and wonderful
incident to mark the progress of their loves. The argument stands
thus--Osborne, in love with Amelia, has asked an old friend to
dinner and to Vauxhall--Jos Sedley is in love with Rebecca. Will he
marry her? That is the great subject now in hand.
We might have treated this subject in the genteel, or in the
romantic, or in the facetious manner. Suppose we had laid the scene
in Grosvenor Square, with the very same adventures--would not some
people have listened? Suppose we had shown how Lord Joseph Sedley
fell in love, and the Marquis of Osborne became attached to Lady
Amelia, with the full consent of the Duke, her noble father: or
instead of the supremely genteel, suppose we had resorted to the
entirely low, and described what was going on in Mr. Sedley's
kitchen--how black Sambo was in love with the cook (as indeed he
was), and how he fought a battle with the coachman in her behalf;
how the knife-boy was caught stealing a cold shoulder of mutton, and
Miss Sedley's new femme de chambre refused to go to bed without a
wax candle; such incidents might be made to provoke much delightful
laughter, and be supposed to represent scenes of "life." Or if, on
the contrary, we had taken a fancy for the terrible, and made the
lover of the new femme de chambre a professional burglar, who bursts
into the house with his band, slaughters black Sambo at the feet of
his master, and carries off Amelia in her night-dress, not to be let
loose again till the third volume, we should easily have constructed
a tale of thrilling interest, through the fiery chapters of which
the reader should hurry, panting. But my readers must hope for no
such romance, only a homely story, and must be content with a
chapter about Vauxhall, which is so short that it scarce deserves to
be called a chapter at all. And yet it is a chapter, and a very
important one too. Are not there little chapters in everybody's
life, that seem to be nothing, and yet affect all the rest of the
Let us then step into the coach with the Russell Square party, and
be off to the Gardens. There is barely room between Jos and Miss
Sharp, who are on the front seat. Mr. Osborne sitting bodkin
opposite, between Captain Dobbin and Amelia.
Every soul in the coach agreed that on that night Jos would propose
to make Rebecca Sharp Mrs. Sedley. The parents at home had
acquiesced in the arrangement, though, between ourselves, old Mr.
Sedley had a feeling very much akin to contempt for his son. He
said he was vain, selfish, lazy, and effeminate. He could not
endure his airs as a man of fashion, and laughed heartily at his
pompous braggadocio stories. "I shall leave the fellow half my
property," he said; "and he will have, besides, plenty of his own;
but as I am perfectly sure that if you, and I, and his sister were
to die to-morrow, he would say 'Good Gad!' and eat his dinner just
as well as usual, I am not going to make myself anxious about him.
Let him marry whom he likes. It's no affair of mine."
Amelia, on the other hand, as became a young woman of her prudence
and temperament, was quite enthusiastic for the match. Once or
twice Jos had been on the point of saying something very important
to her, to which she was most willing to lend an ear, but the fat
fellow could not be brought to unbosom himself of his great secret,
and very much to his sister's disappointment he only rid himself of
a large sigh and turned away.
This mystery served to keep Amelia's gentle bosom in a perpetual
flutter of excitement. If she did not speak with Rebecca on the
tender subject, she compensated herself with long and intimate
conversations with Mrs. Blenkinsop, the housekeeper, who dropped
some hints to the lady's-maid, who may have cursorily mentioned the
matter to the cook, who carried the news, I have no doubt, to all
the tradesmen, so that Mr. Jos's marriage was now talked of by a
very considerable number of persons in the Russell Square world.
It was, of course, Mrs. Sedley's opinion that her son would demean
himself by a marriage with an artist's daughter. "But, lor',
Ma'am," ejaculated Mrs. Blenkinsop, "we was only grocers when we
married Mr. S., who was a stock-broker's clerk, and we hadn't five
hundred pounds among us, and we're rich enough now." And Amelia was
entirely of this opinion, to which, gradually, the good-natured Mrs.
Sedley was brought.
Mr. Sedley was neutral. "Let Jos marry whom he likes," he said;
"it's no affair of mine. This girl has no fortune; no more had Mrs.
Sedley. She seems good-humoured and clever, and will keep him in
order, perhaps. Better she, my dear, than a black Mrs. Sedley, and
a dozen of mahogany grandchildren."
So that everything seemed to smile upon Rebecca's fortunes. She
took Jos's arm, as a matter of course, on going to dinner; she had
sate by him on the box of his open carriage (a most tremendous
"buck" he was, as he sat there, serene, in state, driving his
greys), and though nobody said a word on the subject of the
marriage, everybody seemed to understand it. All she wanted was the
proposal, and ah! how Rebecca now felt the want of a mother!--a
dear, tender mother, who would have managed the business in ten
minutes, and, in the course of a little delicate confidential
conversation, would have extracted the interesting avowal from the
bashful lips of the young man!
Such was the state of affairs as the carriage crossed Westminster
The party was landed at the Royal Gardens in due time. As the
majestic Jos stepped out of the creaking vehicle the crowd gave a
cheer for the fat gentleman, who blushed and looked very big and
mighty, as he walked away with Rebecca under his arm. George, of
course, took charge of Amelia. She looked as happy as a rose-tree
"I say, Dobbin," says George, "just look to the shawls and things,
there's a good fellow." And so while he paired off with Miss Sedley,
and Jos squeezed through the gate into the gardens with Rebecca at
his side, honest Dobbin contented himself by giving an arm to the
shawls, and by paying at the door for the whole party.
He walked very modestly behind them. He was not willing to spoil
sport. About Rebecca and Jos he did not care a fig. But he thought
Amelia worthy even of the brilliant George Osborne, and as he saw
that good-looking couple threading the walks to the girl's delight
and wonder, he watched her artless happiness with a sort of fatherly
pleasure. Perhaps he felt that he would have liked to have
something on his own arm besides a shawl (the people laughed at
seeing the gawky young officer carrying this female burthen); but
William Dobbin was very little addicted to selfish calculation at
all; and so long as his friend was enjoying himself, how should he
be discontented? And the truth is, that of all the delights of the
Gardens; of the hundred thousand extra lamps, which were always
lighted; the fiddlers in cocked hats, who played ravishing melodies
under the gilded cockle-shell in the midst of the gardens; the
singers, both of comic and sentimental ballads, who charmed the ears
there; the country dances, formed by bouncing cockneys and
cockneyesses, and executed amidst jumping, thumping and laughter;
the signal which announced that Madame Saqui was about to mount
skyward on a slack-rope ascending to the stars; the hermit that
always sat in the illuminated hermitage; the dark walks, so
favourable to the interviews of young lovers; the pots of stout
handed about by the people in the shabby old liveries; and the
twinkling boxes, in which the happy feasters made-believe to eat
slices of almost invisible ham--of all these things, and of the
gentle Simpson, that kind smiling idiot, who, I daresay, presided
even then over the place--Captain William Dobbin did not take the
He carried about Amelia's white cashmere shawl, and having attended
under the gilt cockle-shell, while Mrs. Salmon performed the Battle
of Borodino (a savage cantata against the Corsican upstart, who had
lately met with his Russian reverses)--Mr. Dobbin tried to hum it as
he walked away, and found he was humming--the tune which Amelia
Sedley sang on the stairs, as she came down to dinner.
He burst out laughing at himself; for the truth is, he could sing no
better than an owl.
It is to be understood, as a matter of course, that our young
people, being in parties of two and two, made the most solemn
promises to keep together during the evening, and separated in ten
minutes afterwards. Parties at Vauxhall always did separate, but
'twas only to meet again at supper-time, when they could talk of
their mutual adventures in the interval.
What were the adventures of Mr. Osborne and Miss Amelia? That is a
secret. But be sure of this--they were perfectly happy, and correct
in their behaviour; and as they had been in the habit of being
together any time these fifteen years, their tete-a-tete offered no
But when Miss Rebecca Sharp and her stout companion lost themselves
in a solitary walk, in which there were not above five score more of
couples similarly straying, they both felt that the situation was
extremely tender and critical, and now or never was the moment Miss
Sharp thought, to provoke that declaration which was trembling on
the timid lips of Mr. Sedley. They had previously been to the
panorama of Moscow, where a rude fellow, treading on Miss Sharp's
foot, caused her to fall back with a little shriek into the arms of
Mr. Sedley, and this little incident increased the tenderness and
confidence of that gentleman to such a degree, that he told her
several of his favourite Indian stories over again for, at least,
the sixth time.
"How I should like to see India!" said Rebecca.
"SHOULD you?" said Joseph, with a most killing tenderness; and was
no doubt about to follow up this artful interrogatory by a question
still more tender (for he puffed and panted a great deal, and
Rebecca's hand, which was placed near his heart, could count the
feverish pulsations of that organ), when, oh, provoking! the bell
rang for the fireworks, and, a great scuffling and running taking
place, these interesting lovers were obliged to follow in the stream
Captain Dobbin had some thoughts of joining the party at supper: as,
in truth, he found the Vauxhall amusements not particularly lively--
but he paraded twice before the box where the now united couples
were met, and nobody took any notice of him. Covers were laid for
four. The mated pairs were prattling away quite happily, and Dobbin
knew he was as clean forgotten as if he had never existed in this
"I should only be de trop," said the Captain, looking at them rather
wistfully. "I'd best go and talk to the hermit,"--and so he
strolled off out of the hum of men, and noise, and clatter of the
banquet, into the dark walk, at the end of which lived that well-
known pasteboard Solitary. It wasn't very good fun for Dobbin--and,
indeed, to be alone at Vauxhall, I have found, from my own
experience, to be one of the most dismal sports ever entered into by
The two couples were perfectly happy then in their box: where the
most delightful and intimate conversation took place. Jos was in
his glory, ordering about the waiters with great majesty. He made
the salad; and uncorked the Champagne; and carved the chickens; and
ate and drank the greater part of the refreshments on the tables.
Finally, he insisted upon having a bowl of rack punch; everybody had
rack punch at Vauxhall. "Waiter, rack punch."
That bowl of rack punch was the cause of all this history. And why
not a bowl of rack punch as well as any other cause? Was not a bowl
of prussic acid the cause of Fair Rosamond's retiring from the
world? Was not a bowl of wine the cause of the demise of Alexander
the Great, or, at least, does not Dr. Lempriere say so?--so did this
bowl of rack punch influence the fates of all the principal
characters in this "Novel without a Hero," which we are now
relating. It influenced their life, although most of them did not
taste a drop of it.
The young ladies did not drink it; Osborne did not like it; and the
consequence was that Jos, that fat gourmand, drank up the whole
contents of the bowl; and the consequence of his drinking up the
whole contents of the bowl was a liveliness which at first was
astonishing, and then became almost painful; for he talked and
laughed so loud as to bring scores of listeners round the box, much
to the confusion of the innocent party within it; and, volunteering
to sing a song (which he did in that maudlin high key peculiar to
gentlemen in an inebriated state), he almost drew away the audience
who were gathered round the musicians in the gilt scollop-shell, and
received from his hearers a great deal of applause.
"Brayvo, Fat un!" said one; "Angcore, Daniel Lambert!" said another;
"What a figure for the tight-rope!" exclaimed another wag, to the
inexpressible alarm of the ladies, and the great anger of Mr.
"For Heaven's sake, Jos, let us get up and go," cried that
gentleman, and the young women rose.
"Stop, my dearest diddle-diddle-darling," shouted Jos, now as bold
as a lion, and clasping Miss Rebecca round the waist. Rebecca
started, but she could not get away her hand. The laughter outside
redoubled. Jos continued to drink, to make love, and to sing; and,
winking and waving his glass gracefully to his audience, challenged
all or any to come in and take a share of his punch.
Mr. Osborne was just on the point of knocking down a gentleman in
top-boots, who proposed to take advantage of this invitation, and a
commotion seemed to be inevitable, when by the greatest good luck a
gentleman of the name of Dobbin, who had been walking about the
gardens, stepped up to the box. "Be off, you fools!" said this
gentleman--shouldering off a great number of the crowd, who vanished
presently before his cocked hat and fierce appearance--and he
entered the box in a most agitated state.
"Good Heavens! Dobbin, where have you been?" Osborne said, seizing
the white cashmere shawl from his friend's arm, and huddling up
Amelia in it.--"Make yourself useful, and take charge of Jos here,
whilst I take the ladies to the carriage."
Jos was for rising to interfere--but a single push from Osborne's
finger sent him puffing back into his seat again, and the lieutenant
was enabled to remove the ladies in safety. Jos kissed his hand to
them as they retreated, and hiccupped out "Bless you! Bless you!"
Then, seizing Captain Dobbin's hand, and weeping in the most pitiful
way, he confided to that gentleman the secret of his loves. He
adored that girl who had just gone out; he had broken her heart, he
knew he had, by his conduct; he would marry her next morning at St.
George's, Hanover Square; he'd knock up the Archbishop of Canterbury
at Lambeth: he would, by Jove! and have him in readiness; and,
acting on this hint, Captain Dobbin shrewdly induced him to leave
the gardens and hasten to Lambeth Palace, and, when once out of the
gates, easily conveyed Mr. Jos Sedley into a hackney-coach, which
deposited him safely at his lodgings.
George Osborne conducted the girls home in safety: and when the door
was closed upon them, and as he walked across Russell Square,
laughed so as to astonish the watchman. Amelia looked very ruefully
at her friend, as they went up stairs, and kissed her, and went to
bed without any more talking.
"He must propose to-morrow," thought Rebecca. "He called me his
soul's darling, four times; he squeezed my hand in Amelia's
presence. He must propose to-morrow." And so thought Amelia, too.
And I dare say she thought of the dress she was to wear as
bridesmaid, and of the presents which she should make to her nice
little sister-in-law, and of a subsequent ceremony in which she
herself might play a principal part, &c., and &c., and &c., and &c.
Oh, ignorant young creatures! How little do you know the effect of
rack punch! What is the rack in the punch, at night, to the rack in
the head of a morning? To this truth I can vouch as a man; there is
no headache in the world like that caused by Vauxhall punch.
Through the lapse of twenty years, I can remember the consequence of
two glasses! two wine-glasses! but two, upon the honour of a
gentleman; and Joseph Sedley, who had a liver complaint, had
swallowed at least a quart of the abominable mixture.
That next morning, which Rebecca thought was to dawn upon her
fortune, found Sedley groaning in agonies which the pen refuses to
describe. Soda-water was not invented yet. Small beer--will it be
believed!--was the only drink with which unhappy gentlemen soothed
the fever of their previous night's potation. With this mild
beverage before him, George Osborne found the ex-Collector of
Boggley Wollah groaning on the sofa at his lodgings. Dobbin was
already in the room, good-naturedly tending his patient of the night
before. The two officers, looking at the prostrate Bacchanalian,
and askance at each other, exchanged the most frightful sympathetic
grins. Even Sedley's valet, the most solemn and correct of
gentlemen, with the muteness and gravity of an undertaker, could
hardly keep his countenance in order, as he looked at his
"Mr. Sedley was uncommon wild last night, sir," he whispered in
confidence to Osborne, as the latter mounted the stair. "He wanted
to fight the 'ackney-coachman, sir. The Capting was obliged to bring
him upstairs in his harms like a babby." A momentary smile flickered
over Mr. Brush's features as he spoke; instantly, however, they
relapsed into their usual unfathomable calm, as he flung open the
drawing-room door, and announced "Mr. Hosbin."
"How are you, Sedley?" that young wag began, after surveying his
victim. "No bones broke? There's a hackney-coachman downstairs with
a black eye, and a tied-up head, vowing he'll have the law of you."
"What do you mean--law?" Sedley faintly asked.
"For thrashing him last night--didn't he, Dobbin? You hit out, sir,
like Molyneux. The watchman says he never saw a fellow go down so
straight. Ask Dobbin."
"You DID have a round with the coachman," Captain Dobbin said, "and
showed plenty of fight too."
"And that fellow with the white coat at Vauxhall! How Jos drove at
him! How the women screamed! By Jove, sir, it did my heart good to
see you. I thought you civilians had no pluck; but I'll never get
in your way when you are in your cups, Jos."
"I believe I'm very terrible, when I'm roused," ejaculated Jos from
the sofa, and made a grimace so dreary and ludicrous, that the
Captain's politeness could restrain him no longer, and he and
Osborne fired off a ringing volley of laughter.
Osborne pursued his advantage pitilessly. He thought Jos a milksop.
He had been revolving in his mind the marriage question pending
between Jos and Rebecca, and was not over well pleased that a member
of a family into which he, George Osborne, of the --th, was going to
marry, should make a mesalliance with a little nobody--a little
upstart governess. "You hit, you poor old fellow!" said Osborne.
"You terrible! Why, man, you couldn't stand--you made everybody
laugh in the Gardens, though you were crying yourself. You were
maudlin, Jos. Don't you remember singing a song?"
"A what?" Jos asked.
"A sentimental song, and calling Rosa, Rebecca, what's her name,
Amelia's little friend--your dearest diddle-diddle-darling?" And
this ruthless young fellow, seizing hold of Dobbin's hand, acted
over the scene, to the horror of the original performer, and in
spite of Dobbin's good-natured entreaties to him to have mercy.
"Why should I spare him?" Osborne said to his friend's
remonstrances, when they quitted the invalid, leaving him under the
hands of Doctor Gollop. "What the deuce right has he to give
himself his patronizing airs, and make fools of us at Vauxhall?
Who's this little schoolgirl that is ogling and making love to him?
Hang it, the family's low enough already, without HER. A governess
is all very well, but I'd rather have a lady for my sister-in-law.
I'm a liberal man; but I've proper pride, and know my own station:
let her know hers. And I'll take down that great hectoring Nabob,
and prevent him from being made a greater fool than he is. That's
why I told him to look out, lest she brought an action against him."
"I suppose you know best," Dobbin said, though rather dubiously.
"You always were a Tory, and your family's one of the oldest in
"Come and see the girls, and make love to Miss Sharp yourself," the
lieutenant here interrupted his friend; but Captain Dobbin declined
to join Osborne in his daily visit to the young ladies in Russell
As George walked down Southampton Row, from Holborn, he laughed as
he saw, at the Sedley Mansion, in two different stories two heads on
The fact is, Miss Amelia, in the drawing-room balcony, was looking
very eagerly towards the opposite side of the Square, where Mr.
Osborne dwelt, on the watch for the lieutenant himself; and Miss
Sharp, from her little bed-room on the second floor, was in
observation until Mr. Joseph's great form should heave in sight.
"Sister Anne is on the watch-tower," said he to Amelia, "but there's
nobody coming"; and laughing and enjoying the joke hugely, he
described in the most ludicrous terms to Miss Sedley, the dismal
condition of her brother.
"I think it's very cruel of you to laugh, George," she said, looking
particularly unhappy; but George only laughed the more at her
piteous and discomfited mien, persisted in thinking the joke a most
diverting one, and when Miss Sharp came downstairs, bantered her
with a great deal of liveliness upon the effect of her charms on the
"O Miss Sharp! if you could but see him this morning," he said--
"moaning in his flowered dressing-gown--writhing on his sofa; if you
could but have seen him lolling out his tongue to Gollop the
"See whom?" said Miss Sharp.
"Whom? O whom? Captain Dobbin, of course, to whom we were all so
attentive, by the way, last night."
"We were very unkind to him," Emmy said, blushing very much. "I--I
quite forgot him."
"Of course you did," cried Osborne, still on the laugh.
"One can't be ALWAYS thinking about Dobbin, you know, Amelia. Can
one, Miss Sharp?"
"Except when he overset the glass of wine at dinner," Miss Sharp
said, with a haughty air and a toss of the head, "I never gave the
existence of Captain Dobbin one single moment's consideration."
"Very good, Miss Sharp, I'll tell him," Osborne said; and as he
spoke Miss Sharp began to have a feeling of distrust and hatred
towards this young officer, which he was quite unconscious of having
inspired. "He is to make fun of me, is he?" thought Rebecca. "Has
he been laughing about me to Joseph? Has he frightened him? Perhaps
he won't come."--A film passed over her eyes, and her heart beat
"You're always joking," said she, smiling as innocently as she
could. "Joke away, Mr. George; there's nobody to defend ME." And
George Osborne, as she walked away--and Amelia looked reprovingly at
him--felt some little manly compunction for having inflicted any
unnecessary unkindness upon this helpless creature. "My dearest
Amelia," said he, "you are too good--too kind. You don't know the
world. I do. And your little friend Miss Sharp must learn her
"Don't you think Jos will--"
"Upon my word, my dear, I don't know. He may, or may not. I'm not
his master. I only know he is a very foolish vain fellow, and put
my dear little girl into a very painful and awkward position last
night. My dearest diddle-diddle-darling!" He was off laughing
again, and he did it so drolly that Emmy laughed too.
All that day Jos never came. But Amelia had no fear about this; for
the little schemer had actually sent away the page, Mr. Sambo's
aide-de-camp, to Mr. Joseph's lodgings, to ask for some book he had
promised, and how he was; and the reply through Jos's man, Mr.
Brush, was, that his master was ill in bed, and had just had the
doctor with him. He must come to-morrow, she thought, but she never
had the courage to speak a word on the subject to Rebecca; nor did
that young woman herself allude to it in any way during the whole
evening after the night at Vauxhall.
The next day, however, as the two young ladies sate on the sofa,
pretending to work, or to write letters, or to read novels, Sambo
came into the room with his usual engaging grin, with a packet under
his arm, and a note on a tray. "Note from Mr. Jos, Miss," says
How Amelia trembled as she opened it!
So it ran:
Dear Amelia,--I send you the "Orphan of the Forest." I was too ill
to come yesterday. I leave town to-day for Cheltenham. Pray excuse
me, if you can, to the amiable Miss Sharp, for my conduct at
Vauxhall, and entreat her to pardon and forget every word I may have
uttered when excited by that fatal supper. As soon as I have
recovered, for my health is very much shaken, I shall go to Scotland
for some months, and am
It was the death-warrant. All was over. Amelia did not dare to
look at Rebecca's pale face and burning eyes, but she dropt the
letter into her friend's lap; and got up, and went upstairs to her
room, and cried her little heart out.
Blenkinsop, the housekeeper, there sought her presently with
consolation, on whose shoulder Amelia wept confidentially, and
relieved herself a good deal. "Don't take on, Miss. I didn't like
to tell you. But none of us in the house have liked her except at
fust. I sor her with my own eyes reading your Ma's letters. Pinner
says she's always about your trinket-box and drawers, and
everybody's drawers, and she's sure she's put your white ribbing
into her box."
"I gave it her, I gave it her," Amelia said.
But this did not alter Mrs. Blenkinsop's opinion of Miss Sharp. "I
don't trust them governesses, Pinner," she remarked to the maid.
"They give themselves the hairs and hupstarts of ladies, and their
wages is no better than you nor me."
It now became clear to every soul in the house, except poor Amelia,
that Rebecca should take her departure, and high and low (always
with the one exception) agreed that that event should take place as
speedily as possible. Our good child ransacked all her drawers,
cupboards, reticules, and gimcrack boxes--passed in review all her
gowns, fichus, tags, bobbins, laces, silk stockings, and fallals--
selecting this thing and that and the other, to make a little heap
for Rebecca. And going to her Papa, that generous British merchant,
who had promised to give her as many guineas as she was years old--
she begged the old gentleman to give the money to dear Rebecca, who
must want it, while she lacked for nothing.
She even made George Osborne contribute, and nothing loth (for he
was as free-handed a young fellow as any in the army), he went to
Bond Street, and bought the best hat and spenser that money could
"That's George's present to you, Rebecca, dear," said Amelia, quite
proud of the bandbox conveying these gifts. "What a taste he has!
There's nobody like him."
"Nobody," Rebecca answered. "How thankful I am to him!" She was
thinking in her heart, "It was George Osborne who prevented my
marriage."--And she loved George Osborne accordingly.
She made her preparations for departure with great equanimity; and
accepted all the kind little Amelia's presents, after just the
proper degree of hesitation and reluctance. She vowed eternal
gratitude to Mrs. Sedley, of course; but did not intrude herself
upon that good lady too much, who was embarrassed, and evidently
wishing to avoid her. She kissed Mr. Sedley's hand, when he
presented her with the purse; and asked permission to consider him
for the future as her kind, kind friend and protector. Her
behaviour was so affecting that he was going to write her a cheque
for twenty pounds more; but he restrained his feelings: the carriage
was in waiting to take him to dinner, so he tripped away with a "God
bless you, my dear, always come here when you come to town, you
know.--Drive to the Mansion House, James."
Finally came the parting with Miss Amelia, over which picture I
intend to throw a veil. But after a scene in which one person was
in earnest and the other a perfect performer--after the tenderest
caresses, the most pathetic tears, the smelling-bottle, and some of
the very best feelings of the heart, had been called into
requisition--Rebecca and Amelia parted, the former vowing to love
her friend for ever and ever and ever.
Crawley of Queen's Crawley
Among the most respected of the names beginning in C which the
Court-Guide contained, in the year 18--, was that of Crawley, Sir
Pitt, Baronet, Great Gaunt Street, and Queen's Crawley, Hants. This
honourable name had figured constantly also in the Parliamentary
list for many years, in conjunction with that of a number of other
worthy gentlemen who sat in turns for the borough.
It is related, with regard to the borough of Queen's Crawley, that
Queen Elizabeth in one of her progresses, stopping at Crawley to
breakfast, was so delighted with some remarkably fine Hampshire beer
which was then presented to her by the Crawley of the day (a
handsome gentleman with a trim beard and a good leg), that she
forthwith erected Crawley into a borough to send two members to
Parliament; and the place, from the day of that illustrious visit,
took the name of Queen's Crawley, which it holds up to the present
moment. And though, by the lapse of time, and those mutations which
age produces in empires, cities, and boroughs, Queen's Crawley was
no longer so populous a place as it had been in Queen Bess's time--
nay, was come down to that condition of borough which used to be
denominated rotten--yet, as Sir Pitt Crawley would say with perfect
justice in his elegant way, "Rotten! be hanged--it produces me a
good fifteen hundred a year."
Sir Pitt Crawley (named after the great Commoner) was the son of
Walpole Crawley, first Baronet, of the Tape and Sealing-Wax Office
in the reign of George II., when he was impeached for peculation, as
were a great number of other honest gentlemen of those days; and
Walpole Crawley was, as need scarcely be said, son of John Churchill
Crawley, named after the celebrated military commander of the reign
of Queen Anne. The family tree (which hangs up at Queen's Crawley)
furthermore mentions Charles Stuart, afterwards called Barebones
Crawley, son of the Crawley of James the First's time; and finally,
Queen Elizabeth's Crawley, who is represented as the foreground of
the picture in his forked beard and armour. Out of his waistcoat,
as usual, grows a tree, on the main branches of which the above
illustrious names are inscribed. Close by the name of Sir Pitt
Crawley, Baronet (the subject of the present memoir), are written
that of his brother, the Reverend Bute Crawley (the great Commoner
was in disgrace when the reverend gentleman was born), rector of
Crawley-cum-Snailby, and of various other male and female members of
the Crawley family.
Sir Pitt was first married to Grizzel, sixth daughter of Mungo
Binkie, Lord Binkie, and cousin, in consequence, of Mr. Dundas. She
brought him two sons: Pitt, named not so much after his father as
after the heaven-born minister; and Rawdon Crawley, from the Prince
of Wales's friend, whom his Majesty George IV forgot so completely.
Many years after her ladyship's demise, Sir Pitt led to the altar
Rosa, daughter of Mr. G. Dawson, of Mudbury, by whom he had two
daughters, for whose benefit Miss Rebecca Sharp was now engaged as
governess. It will be seen that the young lady was come into a
family of very genteel connexions, and was about to move in a much
more distinguished circle than that humble one which she had just
quitted in Russell Square.
She had received her orders to join her pupils, in a note which was
written upon an old envelope, and which contained the following
Sir Pitt Crawley begs Miss Sharp and baggidge may be hear on
Tuesday, as I leaf for Queen's Crawley to-morrow morning ERLY.
Great Gaunt Street.
Rebecca had never seen a Baronet, as far as she knew, and as soon as
she had taken leave of Amelia, and counted the guineas which good-
natured Mr. Sedley had put into a purse for her, and as soon as she
had done wiping her eyes with her handkerchief (which operation she
concluded the very moment the carriage had turned the corner of the
street), she began to depict in her own mind what a Baronet must be.
"I wonder, does he wear a star?" thought she, "or is it only lords
that wear stars? But he will be very handsomely dressed in a court
suit, with ruffles, and his hair a little powdered, like Mr.
Wroughton at Covent Garden. I suppose he will be awfully proud, and
that I shall be treated most contemptuously. Still I must bear my
hard lot as well as I can--at least, I shall be amongst GENTLEFOLKS,
and not with vulgar city people": and she fell to thinking of her
Russell Square friends with that very same philosophical bitterness
with which, in a certain apologue, the fox is represented as
speaking of the grapes.
Having passed through Gaunt Square into Great Gaunt Street, the
carriage at length stopped at a tall gloomy house between two other
tall gloomy houses, each with a hatchment over the middle drawing-
room window; as is the custom of houses in Great Gaunt Street, in
which gloomy locality death seems to reign perpetual. The shutters
of the first-floor windows of Sir Pitt's mansion were closed--those
of the dining-room were partially open, and the blinds neatly
covered up in old newspapers.
John, the groom, who had driven the carriage alone, did not care to
descend to ring the bell; and so prayed a passing milk-boy to
perform that office for him. When the bell was rung, a head
appeared between the interstices of the dining-room shutters, and
the door was opened by a man in drab breeches and gaiters, with a
dirty old coat, a foul old neckcloth lashed round his bristly neck,
a shining bald head, a leering red face, a pair of twinkling grey
eyes, and a mouth perpetually on the grin.
"This Sir Pitt Crawley's?" says John, from the box.
"Ees," says the man at the door, with a nod.
"Hand down these 'ere trunks then," said John.
"Hand 'n down yourself," said the porter.
"Don't you see I can't leave my hosses? Come, bear a hand, my fine
feller, and Miss will give you some beer," said John, with a horse-
laugh, for he was no longer respectful to Miss Sharp, as her
connexion with the family was broken off, and as she had given
nothing to the servants on coming away.
The bald-headed man, taking his hands out of his breeches pockets,
advanced on this summons, and throwing Miss Sharp's trunk over his
shoulder, carried it into the house.
"Take this basket and shawl, if you please, and open the door," said
Miss Sharp, and descended from the carriage in much indignation. "I
shall write to Mr. Sedley and inform him of your conduct," said she
to the groom.
"Don't," replied that functionary. "I hope you've forgot nothink?
Miss 'Melia's gownds--have you got them--as the lady's maid was to
have 'ad? I hope they'll fit you. Shut the door, Jim, you'll get no
good out of 'ER," continued John, pointing with his thumb towards
Miss Sharp: "a bad lot, I tell you, a bad lot," and so saying, Mr.
Sedley's groom drove away. The truth is, he was attached to the
lady's maid in question, and indignant that she should have been
robbed of her perquisites.
On entering the dining-room, by the orders of the individual in
gaiters, Rebecca found that apartment not more cheerful than such
rooms usually are, when genteel families are out of town. The
faithful chambers seem, as it were, to mourn the absence of their
masters. The turkey carpet has rolled itself up, and retired
sulkily under the sideboard: the pictures have hidden their faces
behind old sheets of brown paper: the ceiling lamp is muffled up in
a dismal sack of brown holland: the window-curtains have disappeared
under all sorts of shabby envelopes: the marble bust of Sir Walpole
Crawley is looking from its black corner at the bare boards and the
oiled fire-irons, and the empty card-racks over the mantelpiece: the
cellaret has lurked away behind the carpet: the chairs are turned up
heads and tails along the walls: and in the dark corner opposite the
statue, is an old-fashioned crabbed knife-box, locked and sitting on
a dumb waiter.
Two kitchen chairs, and a round table, and an attenuated old poker
and tongs were, however, gathered round the fire-place, as was a
saucepan over a feeble sputtering fire. There was a bit of cheese
and bread, and a tin candlestick on the table, and a little black
porter in a pint-pot.
"Had your dinner, I suppose? It is not too warm for you? Like a drop
"Where is Sir Pitt Crawley?" said Miss Sharp majestically.
"He, he! I'm Sir Pitt Crawley. Reklect you owe me a pint for
bringing down your luggage. He, he! Ask Tinker if I aynt. Mrs.
Tinker, Miss Sharp; Miss Governess, Mrs. Charwoman. Ho, ho!"
The lady addressed as Mrs. Tinker at this moment made her appearance
with a pipe and a paper of tobacco, for which she had been
despatched a minute before Miss Sharp's arrival; and she handed the
articles over to Sir Pitt, who had taken his seat by the fire.
"Where's the farden?" said he. "I gave you three halfpence.
Where's the change, old Tinker?"
"There!" replied Mrs. Tinker, flinging down the coin; it's only
baronets as cares about farthings."
"A farthing a day is seven shillings a year," answered the M.P.;
"seven shillings a year is the interest of seven guineas. Take care
of your farthings, old Tinker, and your guineas will come quite
"You may be sure it's Sir Pitt Crawley, young woman," said Mrs.
Tinker, surlily; "because he looks to his farthings. You'll know
him better afore long."
"And like me none the worse, Miss Sharp," said the old gentleman,
with an air almost of politeness. "I must be just before I'm
"He never gave away a farthing in his life," growled Tinker.
"Never, and never will: it's against my principle. Go and get
another chair from the kitchen, Tinker, if you want to sit down; and
then we'll have a bit of supper."
Presently the baronet plunged a fork into the saucepan on the fire,
and withdrew from the pot a piece of tripe and an onion, which he
divided into pretty equal portions, and of which he partook with
Mrs. Tinker. "You see, Miss Sharp, when I'm not here Tinker's on
board wages: when I'm in town she dines with the family. Haw! haw!
I'm glad Miss Sharp's not hungry, ain't you, Tink?" And they fell to
upon their frugal supper.
After supper Sir Pitt Crawley began to smoke his pipe; and when it
became quite dark, he lighted the rushlight in the tin candlestick,
and producing from an interminable pocket a huge mass of papers,
began reading them, and putting them in order.
"I'm here on law business, my dear, and that's how it happens that I
shall have the pleasure of such a pretty travelling companion to-
"He's always at law business," said Mrs. Tinker, taking up the pot
"Drink and drink about," said the Baronet. "Yes; my dear, Tinker is
quite right: I've lost and won more lawsuits than any man in
England. Look here at Crawley, Bart. v. Snaffle. I'll throw him
over, or my name's not Pitt Crawley. Podder and another versus
Crawley, Bart. Overseers of Snaily parish against Crawley, Bart.
They can't prove it's common: I'll defy 'em; the land's mine. It no
more belongs to the parish than it does to you or Tinker here. I'll
beat 'em, if it cost me a thousand guineas. Look over the papers;
you may if you like, my dear. Do you write a good hand? I'll make
you useful when we're at Queen's Crawley, depend on it, Miss Sharp.
Now the dowager's dead I want some one."
"She was as bad as he," said Tinker. "She took the law of every one
of her tradesmen; and turned away forty-eight footmen in four year."
"She was close--very close," said the Baronet, simply; "but she was
a valyble woman to me, and saved me a steward."--And in this
confidential strain, and much to the amusement of the new-comer, the
conversation continued for a considerable time. Whatever Sir Pitt
Crawley's qualities might be, good or bad, he did not make the least
disguise of them. He talked of himself incessantly, sometimes in
the coarsest and vulgarest Hampshire accent; sometimes adopting the
tone of a man of the world. And so, with injunctions to Miss Sharp
to be ready at five in the morning, he bade her good night.
"You'll sleep with Tinker to-night," he said; "it's a big bed, and
there's room for two. Lady Crawley died in it. Good night."
Sir Pitt went off after this benediction, and the solemn Tinker,
rushlight in hand, led the way up the great bleak stone stairs, past
the great dreary drawing-room doors, with the handles muffled up in
paper, into the great front bedroom, where Lady Crawley had slept
her last. The bed and chamber were so funereal and gloomy, you
might have fancied, not only that Lady Crawley died in the room, but
that her ghost inhabited it. Rebecca sprang about the apartment,
however, with the greatest liveliness, and had peeped into the huge
wardrobes, and the closets, and the cupboards, and tried the drawers
which were locked, and examined the dreary pictures and toilette
appointments, while the old charwoman was saying her prayers. "I
shouldn't like to sleep in this yeer bed without a good conscience,
Miss," said the old woman. "There's room for us and a half-dozen of
ghosts in it," says Rebecca. "Tell me all about Lady Crawley and
Sir Pitt Crawley, and everybody, my DEAR Mrs. Tinker."
But old Tinker was not to be pumped by this little cross-questioner;
and signifying to her that bed was a place for sleeping, not
conversation, set up in her corner of the bed such a snore as only
the nose of innocence can produce. Rebecca lay awake for a long,
long time, thinking of the morrow, and of the new world into which
she was going, and of her chances of success there. The rushlight
flickered in the basin. The mantelpiece cast up a great black
shadow, over half of a mouldy old sampler, which her defunct
ladyship had worked, no doubt, and over two little family pictures
of young lads, one in a college gown, and the other in a red jacket
like a soldier. When she went to sleep, Rebecca chose that one to
At four o'clock, on such a roseate summer's morning as even made
Great Gaunt Street look cheerful, the faithful Tinker, having
wakened her bedfellow, and bid her prepare for departure, unbarred
and unbolted the great hall door (the clanging and clapping whereof
startled the sleeping echoes in the street), and taking her way into
Oxford Street, summoned a coach from a stand there. It is needless
to particularize the number of the vehicle, or to state that the
driver was stationed thus early in the neighbourhood of Swallow
Street, in hopes that some young buck, reeling homeward from the
tavern, might need the aid of his vehicle, and pay him with the
generosity of intoxication.
It is likewise needless to say that the driver, if he had any such
hopes as those above stated, was grossly disappointed; and that the
worthy Baronet whom he drove to the City did not give him one single
penny more than his fare. It was in vain that Jehu appealed and
stormed; that he flung down Miss Sharp's bandboxes in the gutter at
the 'Necks, and swore he would take the law of his fare.
"You'd better not," said one of the ostlers; "it's Sir Pitt
"So it is, Joe," cried the Baronet, approvingly; "and I'd like to
see the man can do me."
"So should oi," said Joe, grinning sulkily, and mounting the
Baronet's baggage on the roof of the coach.
"Keep the box for me, Leader," exclaims the Member of Parliament to
the coachman; who replied, "Yes, Sir Pitt," with a touch of his hat,
and rage in his soul (for he had promised the box to a young
gentleman from Cambridge, who would have given a crown to a
certainty), and Miss Sharp was accommodated with a back seat inside
the carriage, which might be said to be carrying her into the wide
How the young man from Cambridge sulkily put his five great-coats in
front; but was reconciled when little Miss Sharp was made to quit
the carriage, and mount up beside him--when he covered her up in one
of his Benjamins, and became perfectly good-humoured--how the
asthmatic gentleman, the prim lady, who declared upon her sacred
honour she had never travelled in a public carriage before (there is
always such a lady in a coach--Alas! was; for the coaches, where are
they?), and the fat widow with the brandy-bottle, took their places
inside--how the porter asked them all for money, and got sixpence
from the gentleman and five greasy halfpence from the fat widow--and
how the carriage at length drove away--now threading the dark lanes
of Aldersgate, anon clattering by the Blue Cupola of St. Paul's,
jingling rapidly by the strangers' entry of Fleet-Market, which,
with Exeter 'Change, has now departed to the world of shadows--how
they passed the White Bear in Piccadilly, and saw the dew rising up
from the market-gardens of Knightsbridge--how Turnhamgreen,
Brentwood, Bagshot, were passed--need not be told here. But the
writer of these pages, who has pursued in former days, and in the
same bright weather, the same remarkable journey, cannot but think
of it with a sweet and tender regret. Where is the road now, and
its merry incidents of life? Is there no Chelsea or Greenwich for
the old honest pimple-nosed coachmen? I wonder where are they,
those good fellows? Is old Weller alive or dead? and the waiters,
yea, and the inns at which they waited, and the cold rounds of beef
inside, and the stunted ostler, with his blue nose and clinking
pail, where is he, and where is his generation? To those great
geniuses now in petticoats, who shall write novels for the beloved
reader's children, these men and things will be as much legend and
history as Nineveh, or Coeur de Lion, or Jack Sheppard. For them
stage-coaches will have become romances--a team of four bays as
fabulous as Bucephalus or Black Bess. Ah, how their coats shone, as
the stable-men pulled their clothes off, and away they went--ah, how
their tails shook, as with smoking sides at the stage's end they
demurely walked away into the inn-yard. Alas! we shall never hear
the horn sing at midnight, or see the pike-gates fly open any more.
Whither, however, is the light four-inside Trafalgar coach carrying
us? Let us be set down at Queen's Crawley without further
divagation, and see how Miss Rebecca Sharp speeds there.
Private and Confidential
Miss Rebecca Sharp to Miss Amelia Sedley, Russell Square, London.
MY DEAREST, SWEETEST AMELIA,
With what mingled joy and sorrow do I take up the pen to write to my
dearest friend! Oh, what a change between to-day and yesterday! Now
I am friendless and alone; yesterday I was at home, in the sweet
company of a sister, whom I shall ever, ever cherish!
I will not tell you in what tears and sadness I passed the fatal
night in which I separated from you. YOU went on Tuesday to joy and
happiness, with your mother and YOUR DEVOTED YOUNG SOLDIER by your
side; and I thought of you all night, dancing at the Perkins's, the
prettiest, I am sure, of all the young ladies at the Ball. I was
brought by the groom in the old carriage to Sir Pitt Crawley's town
house, where, after John the groom had behaved most rudely and
insolently to me (alas! 'twas safe to insult poverty and
misfortune!), I was given over to Sir P.'s care, and made to pass
the night in an old gloomy bed, and by the side of a horrid gloomy
old charwoman, who keeps the house. I did not sleep one single wink
the whole night.
Sir Pitt is not what we silly girls, when we used to read Cecilia at
Chiswick, imagined a baronet must have been. Anything, indeed, less
like Lord Orville cannot be imagined. Fancy an old, stumpy, short,
vulgar, and very dirty man, in old clothes and shabby old gaiters,
who smokes a horrid pipe, and cooks his own horrid supper in a
saucepan. He speaks with a country accent, and swore a great deal
at the old charwoman, at the hackney coachman who drove us to the
inn where the coach went from, and on which I made the journey
OUTSIDE FOR THE GREATER PART OF THE WAY.
I was awakened at daybreak by the charwoman, and having arrived at
the inn, was at first placed inside the coach. But, when we got to
a place called Leakington, where the rain began to fall very
heavily--will you believe it?--I was forced to come outside; for Sir
Pitt is a proprietor of the coach, and as a passenger came at
Mudbury, who wanted an inside place, I was obliged to go outside in
the rain, where, however, a young gentleman from Cambridge College
sheltered me very kindly in one of his several great coats.
This gentleman and the guard seemed to know Sir Pitt very well, and
laughed at him a great deal. They both agreed in calling him an old
screw; which means a very stingy, avaricious person. He never gives
any money to anybody, they said (and this meanness I hate); and the
young gentleman made me remark that we drove very slow for the last
two stages on the road, because Sir Pitt was on the box, and because
he is proprietor of the horses for this part of the journey. "But
won't I flog 'em on to Squashmore, when I take the ribbons?" said
the young Cantab. "And sarve 'em right, Master Jack," said the
guard. When I comprehended the meaning of this phrase, and that
Master Jack intended to drive the rest of the way, and revenge
himself on Sir Pitt's horses, of course I laughed too.
A carriage and four splendid horses, covered with armorial bearings,
however, awaited us at Mudbury, four miles from Queen's Crawley, and
we made our entrance to the baronet's park in state. There is a
fine avenue of a mile long leading to the house, and the woman at
the lodge-gate (over the pillars of which are a serpent and a dove,
the supporters of the Crawley arms), made us a number of curtsies as
she flung open the old iron carved doors, which are something like
those at odious Chiswick.
"There's an avenue," said Sir Pitt, "a mile long. There's six
thousand pound of timber in them there trees. Do you call that
nothing?" He pronounced avenue--EVENUE, and nothing--NOTHINK, so
droll; and he had a Mr. Hodson, his hind from Mudbury, into the
carriage with him, and they talked about distraining, and selling
up, and draining and subsoiling, and a great deal about tenants and
farming--much more than I could understand. Sam Miles had been
caught poaching, and Peter Bailey had gone to the workhouse at last.
"Serve him right," said Sir Pitt; "him and his family has been
cheating me on that farm these hundred and fifty years." Some old
tenant, I suppose, who could not pay his rent. Sir Pitt might have
said "he and his family," to be sure; but rich baronets do not need
to be careful about grammar, as poor governesses must be.
As we passed, I remarked a beautiful church-spire rising above some
old elms in the park; and before them, in the midst of a lawn, and
some outhouses, an old red house with tall chimneys covered with
ivy, and the windows shining in the sun. "Is that your church,
sir?" I said.
"Yes, hang it," (said Sir Pitt, only he used, dear, A MUCH WICKEDER
WORD); "how's Buty, Hodson? Buty's my brother Bute, my dear--my
brother the parson. Buty and the Beast I call him, ha, ha!"
Hodson laughed too, and then looking more grave and nodding his
head, said, "I'm afraid he's better, Sir Pitt. He was out on his
pony yesterday, looking at our corn."
"Looking after his tithes, hang'un (only he used the same wicked
word). Will brandy and water never kill him? He's as tough as old
Mr. Hodson laughed again. "The young men is home from college.
They've whopped John Scroggins till he's well nigh dead."
"Whop my second keeper!" roared out Sir Pitt.
"He was on the parson's ground, sir," replied Mr. Hodson; and Sir
Pitt in a fury swore that if he ever caught 'em poaching on his
ground, he'd transport 'em, by the lord he would. However, he said,
"I've sold the presentation of the living, Hodson; none of that
breed shall get it, I war'nt"; and Mr. Hodson said he was quite
right: and I have no doubt from this that the two brothers are at
variance--as brothers often are, and sisters too. Don't you
remember the two Miss Scratchleys at Chiswick, how they used always
to fight and quarrel--and Mary Box, how she was always thumping
Presently, seeing two little boys gathering sticks in the wood, Mr.
Hodson jumped out of the carriage, at Sir Pitt's order, and rushed
upon them with his whip. "Pitch into 'em, Hodson," roared the
baronet; "flog their little souls out, and bring 'em up to the
house, the vagabonds; I'll commit 'em as sure as my name's Pitt."
And presently we heard Mr. Hodson's whip cracking on the shoulders
of the poor little blubbering wretches, and Sir Pitt, seeing that
the malefactors were in custody, drove on to the hall.
All the servants were ready to meet us, and . . .
Here, my dear, I was interrupted last night by a dreadful thumping
at my door: and who do you think it was? Sir Pitt Crawley in his
night-cap and dressing-gown, such a figure! As I shrank away from
such a visitor, he came forward and seized my candle. "No candles
after eleven o'clock, Miss Becky," said he. "Go to bed in the dark,
you pretty little hussy" (that is what he called me), "and unless
you wish me to come for the candle every night, mind and be in bed
at eleven." And with this, he and Mr. Horrocks the butler went off
laughing. You may be sure I shall not encourage any more of their
visits. They let loose two immense bloodhounds at night, which all
last night were yelling and howling at the moon. "I call the dog
Gorer," said Sir Pitt; "he's killed a man that dog has, and is
master of a bull, and the mother I used to call Flora; but now I
calls her Aroarer, for she's too old to bite. Haw, haw!"
Before the house of Queen's Crawley, which is an odious old-
fashioned red brick mansion, with tall chimneys and gables of the
style of Queen Bess, there is a terrace flanked by the family dove
and serpent, and on which the great hall-door opens. And oh, my
dear, the great hall I am sure is as big and as glum as the great
hall in the dear castle of Udolpho. It has a large fireplace, in
which we might put half Miss Pinkerton's school, and the grate is
big enough to roast an ox at the very least. Round the room hang I
don't know how many generations of Crawleys, some with beards and
ruffs, some with huge wigs and toes turned out, some dressed in long
straight stays and gowns that look as stiff as towers, and some with
long ringlets, and oh, my dear! scarcely any stays at all. At one
end of the hall is the great staircase all in black oak, as dismal
as may be, and on either side are tall doors with stags' heads over
them, leading to the billiard-room and the library, and the great
yellow saloon and the morning-rooms. I think there are at least
twenty bedrooms on the first floor; one of them has the bed in which
Queen Elizabeth slept; and I have been taken by my new pupils
through all these fine apartments this morning. They are not
rendered less gloomy, I promise you, by having the shutters always
shut; and there is scarce one of the apartments, but when the light
was let into it, I expected to see a ghost in the room. We have a
schoolroom on the second floor, with my bedroom leading into it on
one side, and that of the young ladies on the other. Then there are
Mr. Pitt's apartments--Mr. Crawley, he is called--the eldest son,
and Mr. Rawdon Crawley's rooms--he is an officer like SOMEBODY, and
away with his regiment. There is no want of room I assure you. You
might lodge all the people in Russell Square in the house, I think,
and have space to spare.
Half an hour after our arrival, the great dinner-bell was rung, and
I came down with my two pupils (they are very thin insignificant
little chits of ten and eight years old). I came down in your dear
muslin gown (about which that odious Mrs. Pinner was so rude,
because you gave it me); for I am to be treated as one of the
family, except on company days, when the young ladies and I are to
Well, the great dinner-bell rang, and we all assembled in the little
drawing-room where my Lady Crawley sits. She is the second Lady
Crawley, and mother of the young ladies. She was an ironmonger's
daughter, and her marriage was thought a great match. She looks as
if she had been handsome once, and her eyes are always weeping for
the loss of her beauty. She is pale and meagre and high-shouldered,
and has not a word to say for herself, evidently. Her stepson Mr.
Crawley, was likewise in the room. He was in full dress, as pompous
as an undertaker. He is pale, thin, ugly, silent; he has thin legs,
no chest, hay-coloured whiskers, and straw-coloured hair. He is the
very picture of his sainted mother over the mantelpiece--Griselda of
the noble house of Binkie.
"This is the new governess, Mr. Crawley," said Lady Crawley, coming
forward and taking my hand. "Miss Sharp."
"O!" said Mr. Crawley, and pushed his head once forward and began
again to read a great pamphlet with which he was busy.
"I hope you will be kind to my girls," said Lady Crawley, with her
pink eyes always full of tears.
"Law, Ma, of course she will," said the eldest: and I saw at a
glance that I need not be afraid of THAT woman. "My lady is served,"
says the butler in black, in an immense white shirt-frill, that
looked as if it had been one of the Queen Elizabeth's ruffs depicted
in the hall; and so, taking Mr. Crawley's arm, she led the way to
the dining-room, whither I followed with my little pupils in each
Sir Pitt was already in the room with a silver jug. He had just
been to the cellar, and was in full dress too; that is, he had taken
his gaiters off, and showed his little dumpy legs in black worsted
stockings. The sideboard was covered with glistening old plate--old
cups, both gold and silver; old salvers and cruet-stands, like
Rundell and Bridge's shop. Everything on the table was in silver
too, and two footmen, with red hair and canary-coloured liveries,
stood on either side of the sideboard.
Mr. Crawley said a long grace, and Sir Pitt said amen, and the great
silver dish-covers were removed.
"What have we for dinner, Betsy?' said the Baronet.
"Mutton broth, I believe, Sir Pitt," answered Lady Crawley.
"Mouton aux navets," added the butler gravely (pronounce, if you
please, moutongonavvy); "and the soup is potage de mouton a
l'Ecossaise. The side-dishes contain pommes de terre au naturel,
and choufleur a l'eau."
"Mutton's mutton," said the Baronet, "and a devilish good thing.
What SHIP was it, Horrocks, and when did you kill?" "One of the
black-faced Scotch, Sir Pitt: we killed on Thursday.
"Who took any?"
"Steel, of Mudbury, took the saddle and two legs, Sir Pitt; but he
says the last was too young and confounded woolly, Sir Pitt."
"Will you take some potage, Miss ah--Miss Blunt? said Mr. Crawley.
"Capital Scotch broth, my dear," said Sir Pitt, "though they call it
by a French name."
"I believe it is the custom, sir, in decent society," said Mr.
Crawley, haughtily, "to call the dish as I have called it"; and it
was served to us on silver soup plates by the
footmen in the canary coats, with the mouton aux navets. Then "ale
and water" were brought, and served to us young ladies in wine-
glasses. I am not a judge of ale, but I can say with a clear
conscience I prefer water.
While we were enjoying our repast, Sir Pitt took occasion to ask
what had become of the shoulders of the mutton.
"I believe they were eaten in the servants' hall," said my lady,
"They was, my lady," said Horrocks, "and precious little else we get
Sir Pitt burst into a horse-laugh, and continued his conversation
with Mr. Horrocks. "That there little black pig of the Kent sow's
breed must be uncommon fat now."
"It's not quite busting, Sir Pitt," said the butler with the gravest
air, at which Sir Pitt, and with him the young ladies, this time,
began to laugh violently.
"Miss Crawley, Miss Rose Crawley," said Mr. Crawley, "your laughter
strikes me as being exceedingly out of place."
"Never mind, my lord," said the Baronet, "we'll try the porker on
Saturday. Kill un on Saturday morning, John Horrocks. Miss Sharp
adores pork, don't you, Miss Sharp?"
And I think this is all the conversation that I remember at dinner.
When the repast was concluded a jug of hot water was placed before
Sir Pitt, with a case-bottle containing, I believe, rum. Mr.
Horrocks served myself and my pupils with three little glasses of
wine, and a bumper was poured out for my lady. When we retired, she
took from her work-drawer an enormous interminable piece of
knitting; the young ladies began to play at cribbage with a dirty
pack of cards. We had but one candle lighted, but it was in a
magnificent old silver candlestick, and after a very few questions
from my lady, I had my choice of amusement between a volume of
sermons, and a pamphlet on the corn-laws, which Mr. Crawley had been
reading before dinner.
So we sat for an hour until steps were heard.
"Put away the cards, girls," cried my lady, in a great tremor; "put
down Mr. Crawley's books, Miss Sharp"; and these orders had been
scarcely obeyed, when Mr. Crawley entered the room.
"We will resume yesterday's discourse, young ladies," said he, "and
you shall each read a page by turns; so that Miss a--Miss Short may
have an opportunity of hearing you"; and the poor girls began to
spell a long dismal sermon delivered at Bethesda Chapel, Liverpool,
on behalf of the mission for the Chickasaw Indians. Was it not a
At ten the servants were told to call Sir Pitt and the household to
prayers. Sir Pitt came in first, very much flushed, and rather
unsteady in his gait; and after him the butler, the canaries, Mr.
Crawley's man, three other men, smelling very much of the stable,
and four women, one of whom, I remarked, was very much overdressed,
and who flung me a look of great scorn as she plumped down on her
After Mr. Crawley had done haranguing and expounding, we received
our candles, and then we went to bed; and then I was disturbed in my
writing, as I have described to my dearest sweetest Amelia.
Good night. A thousand, thousand, thousand kisses!
Saturday.--This morning, at five, I heard the shrieking of the
little black pig. Rose and Violet introduced me to it yesterday;
and to the stables, and to the kennel, and to the gardener, who was
picking fruit to send to market, and from whom they begged hard a
bunch of hot-house grapes; but he said that Sir Pitt had numbered
every "Man Jack" of them, and it would be as much as his place was
worth to give any away. The darling girls caught a colt in a
paddock, and asked me if I would ride, and began to ride themselves,
when the groom, coming with horrid oaths, drove them away.
Lady Crawley is always knitting the worsted. Sir Pitt is always
tipsy, every night; and, I believe, sits with Horrocks, the butler.
Mr. Crawley always reads sermons in the evening, and in the morning
is locked up in his study, or else rides to Mudbury, on county
business, or to Squashmore, where he preaches, on Wednesdays and
Fridays, to the tenants there.
A hundred thousand grateful loves to your dear papa and mamma. Is
your poor brother recovered of his rack-punch? Oh, dear! Oh, dear!
How men should beware of wicked punch!
Ever and ever thine own REBECCA
Everything considered, I think it is quite as well for our dear
Amelia Sedley, in Russell Square, that Miss Sharp and she are
parted. Rebecca is a droll funny creature, to be sure; and those
descriptions of the poor lady weeping for the loss of her beauty,
and the gentleman "with hay-coloured whiskers and straw-coloured
hair," are very smart, doubtless, and show a great knowledge of the
world. That she might, when on her knees, have been thinking of
something better than Miss Horrocks's ribbons, has possibly struck
both of us. But my kind reader will please to remember that this
history has "Vanity Fair" for a title, and that Vanity Fair is a
very vain, wicked, foolish place, full of all sorts of humbugs and
falsenesses and pretensions. And while the moralist, who is holding
forth on the cover ( an accurate portrait of your humble servant),
professes to wear neither gown nor bands, but only the very same
long-eared livery in which his congregation is arrayed: yet, look
you, one is bound to speak the truth as far as one knows it, whether
one mounts a cap and bells or a shovel hat; and a deal of
disagreeable matter must come out in the course of such an
I have heard a brother of the story-telling trade, at Naples,
preaching to a pack of good-for-nothing honest lazy fellows by the
sea-shore, work himself up into such a rage and passion with some of
the villains whose wicked deeds he was describing and inventing,
that the audience could not resist it; and they and the poet
together would burst out into a roar of oaths and execrations
against the fictitious monster of the tale, so that the hat went
round, and the bajocchi tumbled into it, in the midst of a perfect
storm of sympathy.
At the little Paris theatres, on the other hand, you will not only
hear the people yelling out "Ah gredin! Ah monstre:" and cursing the
tyrant of the play from the boxes; but the actors themselves
positively refuse to play the wicked parts, such as those of infames
Anglais, brutal Cossacks, and what not, and prefer to appear at a
smaller salary, in their real characters as loyal Frenchmen. I set
the two stories one against the other, so that you may see that it
is not from mere mercenary motives that the present performer is
desirous to show up and trounce his villains; but because he has a
sincere hatred of them, which he cannot keep down, and which must
find a vent in suitable abuse and bad language.
I warn my "kyind friends," then, that I am going to tell a story of
harrowing villainy and complicated--but, as I trust, intensely
interesting--crime. My rascals are no milk-and-water rascals, I
promise you. When we come to the proper places we won't spare fine
language--No, no! But when we are going over the quiet country we
must perforce be calm. A tempest in a slop-basin is absurd. We
will reserve that sort of thing for the mighty ocean and the lonely
midnight. The present Chapter is very mild. Others--But we will
not anticipate THOSE.
And, as we bring our characters forward, I will ask leave, as a man
and a brother, not only to introduce them, but occasionally to step
down from the platform, and talk about them: if they are good and
kindly, to love them and shake them by the hand: if they are silly,
to laugh at them confidentially in the reader's sleeve: if they are
wicked and heartless, to abuse them in the strongest terms which
politeness admits of.
Otherwise you might fancy it was I who was sneering at the practice
of devotion, which Miss Sharp finds so ridiculous; that it was I who
laughed good-humouredly at the reeling old Silenus of a baronet--
whereas the laughter comes from one who has no reverence except for
prosperity, and no eye for anything beyond success. Such people
there are living and flourishing in the world--Faithless, Hopeless,
Charityless: let us have at them, dear friends, with might and main.
Some there are, and very successful too, mere quacks and fools: and
it was to combat and expose such as those, no doubt, that Laughter
Sir Pitt Crawley was a philosopher with a taste for what is called
low life. His first marriage with the daughter of the noble Binkie
had been made under the auspices of his parents; and as he often
told Lady Crawley in her lifetime she was such a confounded
quarrelsome high-bred jade that when she died he was hanged if he
would ever take another of her sort, at her ladyship's demise he
kept his promise, and selected for a second wife Miss Rose Dawson,
daughter of Mr. John Thomas Dawson, ironmonger, of Mudbury. What a
happy woman was Rose to be my Lady Crawley!
Let us set down the items of her happiness. In the first place, she
gave up Peter Butt, a young man who kept company with her, and in
consequence of his disappointment in love, took to smuggling,
poaching, and a thousand other bad courses. Then she quarrelled, as
in duty bound, with all the friends and intimates of her youth, who,
of course, could not be received by my Lady at Queen's Crawley--nor
did she find in her new rank and abode any persons who were willing
to welcome her. Who ever did? Sir Huddleston Fuddleston had three
daughters who all hoped to be Lady Crawley. Sir Giles Wapshot's
family were insulted that one of the Wapshot girls had not the
preference in the marriage, and the remaining baronets of the county
were indignant at their comrade's misalliance. Never mind the
commoners, whom we will leave to grumble anonymously.
Sir Pitt did not care, as he said, a brass farden for any one of
them. He had his pretty Rose, and what more need a man require than
to please himself? So he used to get drunk every night: to beat his
pretty Rose sometimes: to leave her in Hampshire when he went to
London for the parliamentary session, without a single friend in the
wide world. Even Mrs. Bute Crawley, the Rector's wife, refused to
visit her, as she said she would never give the pas to a tradesman's
As the only endowments with which Nature had gifted Lady Crawley
were those of pink cheeks and a white skin, and as she had no sort
of character, nor talents, nor opinions, nor occupations, nor
amusements, nor that vigour of soul and ferocity of temper which
often falls to the lot of entirely foolish women, her hold upon Sir
Pitt's affections was not very great. Her roses faded out of her
cheeks, and the pretty freshness left her figure after the birth of
a couple of children, and she became a mere machine in her husband's
house of no more use than the late Lady Crawley's grand piano.
Being a light-complexioned woman, she wore light clothes, as most
blondes will, and appeared, in preference, in draggled sea-green, or
slatternly sky-blue. She worked that worsted day and night, or
other pieces like it. She had counterpanes in the course of a few
years to all the beds in Crawley. She had a small flower-garden,
for which she had rather an affection; but beyond this no other like
or disliking. When her husband was rude to her she was apathetic:
whenever he struck her she cried. She had not character enough to
take to drinking, and moaned about, slipshod and in curl-papers all
day. O Vanity Fair--Vanity Fair! This might have been, but for you,
a cheery lass--Peter Butt and Rose a happy man and wife, in a snug
farm, with a hearty family; and an honest portion of pleasures,
cares, hopes and struggles--but a title and a coach and four are
toys more precious than happiness in Vanity Fair: and if Harry the
Eighth or Bluebeard were alive now, and wanted a tenth wife, do you
suppose he could not get the prettiest girl that shall be presented
The languid dulness of their mamma did not, as it may be supposed,
awaken much affection in her little daughters, but they were very
happy in the servants' hall and in the stables; and the Scotch
gardener having luckily a good wife and some good children, they got
a little wholesome society and instruction in his lodge, which was
the only education bestowed upon them until Miss Sharp came.
Her engagement was owing to the remonstrances of Mr. Pitt Crawley,
the only friend or protector Lady Crawley ever had, and the only
person, besides her children, for whom she entertained a little
feeble attachment. Mr. Pitt took after the noble Binkies, from whom
he was descended, and was a very polite and proper gentleman. When
he grew to man's estate, and came back from Christchurch, he began
to reform the slackened discipline of the hall, in spite of his
father, who stood in awe of him. He was a man of such rigid
refinement, that he would have starved rather than have dined
without a white neckcloth. Once, when just from college, and when
Horrocks the butler brought him a letter without placing it
previously on a tray, he gave that domestic a look, and administered
to him a speech so cutting, that Horrocks ever after trembled before
him; the whole household bowed to him: Lady Crawley's curl-papers
came off earlier when he was at home: Sir Pitt's muddy gaiters
disappeared; and if that incorrigible old man still adhered to other
old habits, he never fuddled himself with rum-and-water in his son's
presence, and only talked to his servants in a very reserved and
polite manner; and those persons remarked that Sir Pitt never swore
at Lady Crawley while his son was in the room.
It was he who taught the butler to say, "My lady is served," and who
insisted on handing her ladyship in to dinner. He seldom spoke to
her, but when he did it was with the most powerful respect; and he
never let her quit the apartment without rising in the most stately
manner to open the door, and making an elegant bow at her egress.
At Eton he was called Miss Crawley; and there, I am sorry to say,
his younger brother Rawdon used to lick him violently. But though
his parts were not brilliant, he made up for his lack of talent by
meritorious industry, and was never known, during eight years at
school, to be subject to that punishment which it is generally
thought none but a cherub can escape.
At college his career was of course highly creditable. And here he
prepared himself for public life, into which he was to be introduced
by the patronage of his grandfather, Lord Binkie, by studying the
ancient and modern orators with great assiduity, and by speaking
unceasingly at the debating societies. But though he had a fine
flux of words, and delivered his little voice with great pomposity
and pleasure to himself, and never advanced any sentiment or opinion
which was not perfectly trite and stale, and supported by a Latin
quotation; yet he failed somehow, in spite of a mediocrity which
ought to have insured any man a success. He did not even get the
prize poem, which all his friends said he was sure of.
After leaving college he became Private Secretary to Lord Binkie,
and was then appointed Attache to the Legation at Pumpernickel,
which post he filled with perfect honour, and brought home
despatches, consisting of Strasburg pie, to the Foreign Minister of
the day. After remaining ten years Attache (several years after the
lamented Lord Binkie's demise), and finding the advancement slow, he
at length gave up the diplomatic service in some disgust, and began
to turn country gentleman.
He wrote a pamphlet on Malt on returning to England (for he was an
ambitious man, and always liked to be before the public), and took a
strong part in the Negro Emancipation question. Then he became a
friend of Mr. Wilberforce's, whose politics he admired, and had that
famous correspondence with the Reverend Silas Hornblower, on the
Ashantee Mission. He was in London, if not for the Parliament
session, at least in May, for the religious meetings. In the
country he was a magistrate, and an active visitor and speaker among
those destitute of religious instruction. He was said to be paying
his addresses to Lady Jane Sheepshanks, Lord Southdown's third
daughter, and whose sister, Lady Emily, wrote those sweet tracts,
"The Sailor's True Binnacle," and "The Applewoman of Finchley
Miss Sharp's accounts of his employment at Queen's Crawley were not
caricatures. He subjected the servants there to the devotional
exercises before mentioned, in which (and so much the better) he
brought his father to join. He patronised an Independent meeting-
house in Crawley parish, much to the indignation of his uncle the
Rector, and to the consequent delight of Sir Pitt, who was induced
to go himself once or twice, which occasioned some violent sermons
at Crawley parish church, directed point-blank at the Baronet's old
Gothic pew there. Honest Sir Pitt, however, did not feel the force
of these discourses, as he always took his nap during sermon-time.
Mr. Crawley was very earnest, for the good of the nation and of the
Christian world, that the old gentleman should yield him up his
place in Parliament; but this the elder constantly refused to do.
Both were of course too prudent to give up the fifteen hundred a
year which was brought in by the second seat (at this period filled
by Mr. Quadroon, with carte blanche on the Slave question); indeed
the family estate was much embarrassed, and the income drawn from
the borough was of great use to the house of Queen's Crawley.
It had never recovered the heavy fine imposed upon Walpole Crawley,
first baronet, for peculation in the Tape and Sealing Wax Office.
Sir Walpole was a jolly fellow, eager to seize and to spend money
(alieni appetens, sui profusus, as Mr. Crawley would remark with a
sigh), and in his day beloved by all the county for the constant
drunkenness and hospitality which was maintained at Queen's Crawley.
The cellars were filled with burgundy then, the kennels with hounds,
and the stables with gallant hunters; now, such horses as Queen's
Crawley possessed went to plough, or ran in the Trafalgar Coach; and
it was with a team of these very horses, on an off-day, that Miss
Sharp was brought to the Hall; for boor as he was, Sir Pitt was a
stickler for his dignity while at home, and seldom drove out but
with four horses, and though he dined off boiled mutton, had always
three footmen to serve it.
If mere parsimony could have made a man rich, Sir Pitt Crawley might
have become very wealthy--if he had been an attorney in a country
town, with no capital but his brains, it is very possible that he
would have turned them to good account, and might have achieved for
himself a very considerable influence and competency. But he was
unluckily endowed with a good name and a large though encumbered
estate, both of which went rather to injure than to advance him. He
had a taste for law, which cost him many thousands yearly; and being
a great deal too clever to be robbed, as he said, by any single
agent, allowed his affairs to be mismanaged by a dozen, whom he all
equally mistrusted. He was such a sharp landlord, that he could
hardly find any but bankrupt tenants; and such a close farmer, as to
grudge almost the seed to the ground, whereupon revengeful Nature
grudged him the crops which she granted to more liberal husbandmen.
He speculated in every possible way; he worked mines; bought canal-
shares; horsed coaches; took government contracts, and was the
busiest man and magistrate of his county. As he would not pay
honest agents at his granite quarry, he had the satisfaction of
finding that four overseers ran away, and took fortunes with them to
America. For want of proper precautions, his coal-mines filled with
water: the government flung his contract of damaged beef upon his
hands: and for his coach-horses, every mail proprietor in the
kingdom knew that he lost more horses than any man in the country,
from underfeeding and buying cheap. In disposition he was sociable,
and far from being proud; nay, he rather preferred the society of a
farmer or a horse-dealer to that of a gentleman, like my lord, his
son: he was fond of drink, of swearing, of joking with the farmers'
daughters: he was never known to give away a shilling or to do a
good action, but was of a pleasant, sly, laughing mood, and would
cut his joke and drink his glass with a tenant and sell him up the
next day; or have his laugh with the poacher he was transporting
with equal good humour. His politeness for the fair sex has already
been hinted at by Miss Rebecca Sharp--in a word, the whole
baronetage, peerage, commonage of England, did not contain a more
cunning, mean, selfish, foolish, disreputable old man. That blood-
red hand of Sir Pitt Crawley's would be in anybody's pocket except
his own; and it is with grief and pain, that, as admirers of the
British aristocracy, we find ourselves obliged to admit the
existence of so many ill qualities in a person whose name is in
One great cause why Mr. Crawley had such a hold over the affections
of his father, resulted from money arrangements. The Baronet owed
his son a sum of money out of the jointure of his mother, which he
did not find it convenient to pay; indeed he had an almost
invincible repugnance to paying anybody, and could only be brought
by force to discharge his debts. Miss Sharp calculated (for she
became, as we shall hear speedily, inducted into most of the secrets
of the family) that the mere payment of his creditors cost the
honourable Baronet several hundreds yearly; but this was a delight
he could not forego; he had a savage pleasure in making the poor
wretches wait, and in shifting from court to court and from term to
term the period of satisfaction. What's the good of being in
Parliament, he said, if you must pay your debts? Hence, indeed, his
position as a senator was not a little useful to him.
Vanity Fair--Vanity Fair! Here was a man, who could not spell, and
did not care to read--who had the habits and the cunning of a boor:
whose aim in life was pettifogging: who never had a taste, or
emotion, or enjoyment, but what was sordid and foul; and yet he had
rank, and honours, and power, somehow: and was a dignitary of the
land, and a pillar of the state. He was high sheriff, and rode in a
golden coach. Great ministers and statesmen courted him; and in
Vanity Fair he had a higher place than the most brilliant genius or
Sir Pitt had an unmarried half-sister who inherited her mother's
large fortune, and though the Baronet proposed to borrow this money
of her on mortgage, Miss Crawley declined the offer, and preferred
the security of the funds. She had signified, however, her intention
of leaving her inheritance between Sir Pitt's second son and the
family at the Rectory, and had once or twice paid the debts of
Rawdon Crawley in his career at college and in the army. Miss
Crawley was, in consequence, an object of great respect when she
came to Queen's Crawley, for she had a balance at her banker's which
would have made her beloved anywhere.
What a dignity it gives an old lady, that balance at the banker's!
How tenderly we look at her faults if she is a relative (and may
every reader have a score of such), what a kind good-natured old
creature we find her! How the junior partner of Hobbs and Dobbs
leads her smiling to the carriage with the lozenge upon it, and the
fat wheezy coachman! How, when she comes to pay us a visit, we
generally find an opportunity to let our friends know her station in
the world! We say (and with perfect truth) I wish I had Miss
MacWhirter's signature to a cheque for five thousand pounds. She
wouldn't miss it, says your wife. She is my aunt, say you, in an
easy careless way, when your friend asks if Miss MacWhirter is any
relative. Your wife is perpetually sending her little testimonies
of affection, your little girls work endless worsted baskets,
cushions, and footstools for her. What a good fire there is in her
room when she comes to pay you a visit, although your wife laces her
stays without one! The house during her stay assumes a festive,
neat, warm, jovial, snug appearance not visible at other seasons.
You yourself, dear sir, forget to go to sleep after dinner, and find
yourself all of a sudden (though you invariably lose) very fond of a
rubber. What good dinners you have--game every day, Malmsey-
Madeira, and no end of fish from London. Even the servants in the
kitchen share in the general prosperity; and, somehow, during the
stay of Miss MacWhirter's fat coachman, the beer is grown much
stronger, and the consumption of tea and sugar in the nursery (where
her maid takes her meals) is not regarded in the least. Is it so,
or is it not so? I appeal to the middle classes. Ah, gracious
powers! I wish you would send me an old aunt--a maiden aunt--an aunt
with a lozenge on her carriage, and a front of light coffee-coloured
hair--how my children should work workbags for her, and my Julia and
I would make her comfortable! Sweet--sweet vision! Foolish--foolish
Miss Sharp Begins to Make Friends
And now, being received as a member of the amiable family whose
portraits we have sketched in the foregoing pages, it became
naturally Rebecca's duty to make herself, as she said, agreeable to
her benefactors, and to gain their confidence to the utmost of her
power. Who can but admire this quality of gratitude in an
unprotected orphan; and, if there entered some degree of selfishness
into her calculations, who can say but that her prudence was
perfectly justifiable? "I am alone in the world," said the
friendless girl. "I have nothing to look for but what my own labour
can bring me; and while that little pink-faced chit Amelia, with not
half my sense, has ten thousand pounds and an establishment secure,
poor Rebecca (and my figure is far better than hers) has only
herself and her own wits to trust to. Well, let us see if my wits
cannot provide me with an honourable maintenance, and if some day or
the other I cannot show Miss Amelia my real superiority over her.
Not that I dislike poor Amelia: who can dislike such a harmless,
good-natured creature?--only it will be a fine day when I can take
my place above her in the world, as why, indeed, should I not?"
Thus it was that our little romantic friend formed visions of the
future for herself--nor must we be scandalised that, in all her
castles in the air, a husband was the principal inhabitant. Of what
else have young ladies to think, but husbands? Of what else do their
dear mammas think? "I must be my own mamma," said Rebecca; not
without a tingling consciousness of defeat, as she thought over her
little misadventure with Jos Sedley.
So she wisely determined to render her position with the Queen's
Crawley family comfortable and secure, and to this end resolved to
make friends of every one around her who could at all interfere with
As my Lady Crawley was not one of these personages, and a woman,
moreover, so indolent and void of character as not to be of the
least consequence in her own house, Rebecca soon found that it was
not at all necessary to cultivate her good will--indeed, impossible
to gain it. She used to talk to her pupils about their "poor
mamma"; and, though she treated that lady with every demonstration
of cool respect, it was to the rest of the family that she wisely
directed the chief part of her attentions.
With the young people, whose applause she thoroughly gained, her
method was pretty simple. She did not pester their young brains
with too much learning, but, on the contrary, let them have their
own way in regard to educating themselves; for what instruction is
more effectual than self-instruction? The eldest was rather fond of
books, and as there was in the old library at Queen's Crawley a
considerable provision of works of light literature of the last
century, both in the French and English languages (they had been
purchased by the Secretary of the Tape and Sealing Wax Office at the
period of his disgrace), and as nobody ever troubled the book-
shelves but herself, Rebecca was enabled agreeably, and, as it were,
in playing, to impart a great deal of instruction to Miss Rose
She and Miss Rose thus read together many delightful French and
English works, among which may be mentioned those of the learned Dr.
Smollett, of the ingenious Mr. Henry Fielding, of the graceful and
fantastic Monsieur Crebillon the younger, whom our immortal poet
Gray so much admired, and of the universal Monsieur de Voltaire.
Once, when Mr. Crawley asked what the young people were reading, the
governess replied "Smollett." "Oh, Smollett," said Mr. Crawley,
quite satisfied. "His history is more dull, but by no means so
dangerous as that of Mr. Hume. It is history you are reading?"
"Yes," said Miss Rose; without, however, adding that it was the
history of Mr. Humphrey Clinker. On another occasion he was rather
scandalised at finding his sister with a book of French plays; but
as the governess remarked that it was for the purpose of acquiring
the French idiom in conversation, he was fain to be content. Mr.
Crawley, as a diplomatist, was exceedingly proud of his own skill in
speaking the French language (for he was of the world still), and
not a little pleased with the compliments which the governess
continually paid him upon his proficiency.
Miss Violet's tastes were, on the contrary, more rude and boisterous
than those of her sister. She knew the sequestered spots where the
hens laid their eggs. She could climb a tree to rob the nests of
the feathered songsters of their speckled spoils. And her pleasure
was to ride the young colts, and to scour the plains like Camilla.
She was the favourite of her father and of the stablemen. She was
the darling, and withal the terror of the cook; for she discovered
the haunts of the jam-pots, and would attack them when they were
within her reach. She and her sister were engaged in constant
battles. Any of which peccadilloes, if Miss Sharp discovered, she
did not tell them to Lady Crawley; who would have told them to the
father, or worse, to Mr. Crawley; but promised not to tell if Miss
Violet would be a good girl and love her governess.
With Mr. Crawley Miss Sharp was respectful and obedient. She used
to consult him on passages of French which she could not understand,
though her mother was a Frenchwoman, and which he would construe to
her satisfaction: and, besides giving her his aid in profane
literature, he was kind enough to select for her books of a more
serious tendency, and address to her much of his conversation. She
admired, beyond measure, his speech at the Quashimaboo-Aid Society;
took an interest in his pamphlet on malt: was often affected, even
to tears, by his discourses of an evening, and would say--"Oh, thank
you, sir," with a sigh, and a look up to heaven, that made him
occasionally condescend to shake hands with her. "Blood is
everything, after all," would that aristocratic religionist say.
"How Miss Sharp is awakened by my words, when not one of the people
here is touched. I am too fine for them--too delicate. I must
familiarise my style--but she understands it. Her mother was a
Indeed it was from this famous family, as it appears, that Miss
Sharp, by the mother's side, was descended. Of course she did not
say that her mother had been on the stage; it would have shocked Mr.
Crawley's religious scruples. How many noble emigres had this
horrid revolution plunged in poverty! She had several stories about
her ancestors ere she had been many months in the house; some of
which Mr. Crawley happened to find in D'Hozier's dictionary, which
was in the library, and which strengthened his belief in their
truth, and in the high-breeding of Rebecca. Are we to suppose from
this curiosity and prying into dictionaries, could our heroine
suppose that Mr. Crawley was interested in her?--no, only in a
friendly way. Have we not stated that he was attached to Lady Jane
He took Rebecca to task once or twice about the propriety of playing
at backgammon with Sir Pitt, saying that it was a godless amusement,
and that she would be much better engaged in reading "Thrump's
Legacy," or "The Blind Washerwoman of Moorfields," or any work of a
more serious nature; but Miss Sharp said her dear mother used often
to play the same game with the old Count de Trictrac and the
venerable Abbe du Cornet, and so found an excuse for this and other
But it was not only by playing at backgammon with the Baronet, that
the little governess rendered herself agreeable to her employer.
She found many different ways of being useful to him. She read
over, with indefatigable patience, all those law papers, with which,
before she came to Queen's Crawley, he had promised to entertain
her. She volunteered to copy many of his letters, and adroitly
altered the spelling of them so as to suit the usages of the present
day. She became interested in everything appertaining to the
estate, to the farm, the park, the garden, and the stables; and so
delightful a companion was she, that the Baronet would seldom take
his after-breakfast walk without her (and the children of course),
when she would give her advice as to the trees which were to be
lopped in the shrubberies, the garden-beds to be dug, the crops
which were to be cut, the horses which were to go to cart or plough.
Before she had been a year at Queen's Crawley she had quite won the
Baronet's confidence; and the conversation at the dinner-table,
which before used to be held between him and Mr. Horrocks the
butler, was now almost exclusively between Sir Pitt and Miss Sharp.
She was almost mistress of the house when Mr. Crawley was absent,
but conducted herself in her new and exalted situation with such
circumspection and modesty as not to offend the authorities of the
kitchen and stable, among whom her behaviour was always exceedingly
modest and affable. She was quite a different person from the
haughty, shy, dissatisfied little girl whom we have known
previously, and this change of temper proved great prudence, a
sincere desire of amendment, or at any rate great moral courage on
her part. Whether it was the heart which dictated this new system
of complaisance and humility adopted by our Rebecca, is to be proved
by her after-history. A system of hypocrisy, which lasts through
whole years, is one seldom satisfactorily practised by a person of
one-and-twenty; however, our readers will recollect, that, though
young in years, our heroine was old in life and experience, and we
have written to no purpose if they have not discovered that she was
a very clever woman.
The elder and younger son of the house of Crawley were, like the
gentleman and lady in the weather-box, never at home together--they
hated each other cordially: indeed, Rawdon Crawley, the dragoon, had
a great contempt for the establishment altogether, and seldom came
thither except when his aunt paid her annual visit.
The great good quality of this old lady has been mentioned. She
possessed seventy thousand pounds, and had almost adopted Rawdon.
She disliked her elder nephew exceedingly, and despised him as a
milksop. In return he did not hesitate to state that her soul was
irretrievably lost, and was of opinion that his brother's chance in
the next world was not a whit better. "She is a godless woman of
the world," would Mr. Crawley say; "she lives with atheists and
Frenchmen. My mind shudders when I think of her awful, awful
situation, and that, near as she is to the grave, she should be so
given up to vanity, licentiousness, profaneness, and folly." In
fact, the old lady declined altogether to hear his hour's lecture of
an evening; and when she came to Queen's Crawley alone, he was
obliged to pretermit his usual devotional exercises.
"Shut up your sarmons, Pitt, when Miss Crawley comes down," said his
father; "she has written to say that she won't stand the
"O, sir! consider the servants."
"The servants be hanged," said Sir Pitt; and his son thought even
worse would happen were they deprived of the benefit of his
"Why, hang it, Pitt!" said the father to his remonstrance. "You
wouldn't be such a flat as to let three thousand a year go out of
"What is money compared to our souls, sir?" continued Mr. Crawley.
"You mean that the old lady won't leave the money to you?"--and who
knows but it was Mr. Crawley's meaning?
Old Miss Crawley was certainly one of the reprobate. She had a snug
little house in Park Lane, and, as she ate and drank a great deal
too much during the season in London, she went to Harrowgate or
Cheltenham for the summer. She was the most hospitable and jovial
of old vestals, and had been a beauty in her day, she said. (All old
women were beauties once, we very well know.) She was a bel esprit,
and a dreadful Radical for those days. She had been in France
(where St. Just, they say, inspired her with an unfortunate
passion), and loved, ever after, French novels, French cookery, and
French wines. She read Voltaire, and had Rousseau by heart; talked
very lightly about divorce, and most energetically of the rights of
women. She had pictures of Mr. Fox in every room in the house: when
that statesman was in opposition, I am not sure that she had not
flung a main with him; and when he came into office, she took great
credit for bringing over to him Sir Pitt and his colleague for
Queen's Crawley, although Sir Pitt would have come over himself,
without any trouble on the honest lady's part. It is needless to
say that Sir Pitt was brought to change his views after the death of
the great Whig statesman.
This worthy old lady took a fancy to Rawdon Crawley when a boy, sent
him to Cambridge (in opposition to his brother at Oxford), and, when
the young man was requested by the authorities of the first-named
University to quit after a residence of two years, she bought him
his commission in the Life Guards Green.
A perfect and celebrated "blood," or dandy about town, was this
young officer. Boxing, rat-hunting, the fives court, and four-in-
hand driving were then the fashion of our British aristocracy; and
he was an adept in all these noble sciences. And though he belonged
to the household troops, who, as it was their duty to rally round
the Prince Regent, had not shown their valour in foreign service
yet, Rawdon Crawley had already (apropos of play, of which he was
immoderately fond) fought three bloody duels, in which he gave ample
proofs of his contempt for death.
"And for what follows after death," would Mr. Crawley observe,