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Thackeray the sentimental sceptic.

OPPRESSED as he was by his sense of a lost past and a solitary present spent in either defeat or disillusion, W. M. Thackeray was readily attracted by whatever was stable in an age of uncertainty. Although there is little distinct landscape in his novels, and even in his travel books his response to scenery is largely anecdotal, his heart warms to the substantially unchanging streets, each having its own social tradition, of such places as London, Brighton and Paris. Like his cockney excursionist in Vanity Fair, Thackeray is 'a lover of human nature rather than of prospects of any kind'.(1) In spite of that, Thackeray remains a poet and a scholar of the urban scene. He is acute in the distinctions implied by different London addresses: between Becky Sharp's Brompton and Amelia Sedley's Fulham, geographically adjoining suburbs, but socially quite disparate. Nobody understood better than Thackeray the dividing line drawn through London by Regent Street and its continuations. To the west of the line lived the four or five hundred people who constituted fashionable society in 1847.(2)

The opposition of western to eastern London is as marked in Thackeray's novels as it is in Restoration Comedy. Like the hero of a play by Congreve, Rawdon Crawley exclaims of George Osborne, whom he is modishly bilking at cards, 'Hang these City fellows, they must bleed; and I've not done with him yet, I can tell you' (Vanity Fair, chapter 14). Major Pendennis, although he has lived in London for much of his life, cannot find his way to a district so unfashionable as the Temple and, when he is forced to go there, sends his manservant to plot a route for him (Pendennis, chapter 29).

Thackeray never moved into patrician Mayfair, although he did reside immediately north of it in Albion Street and a little south of it in Jermyn Street; which is appropriate to his position as a social commentator. He observes Mayfair from a distance, not as an admirer but as a spy. He belongs to neither high life nor to low. As he claims, he 'is just as familiar with Newgate as with the palaces of our revered aristocracy, and has seen the outside of both' (Vanity Fair, chapter 6). He settled in the remote purlieus of Kensington, haunted as it was by the ghosts of the late Stuarts who had cast such a spell over him. It is true that he is more in sympathy, although it is a teasing sympathy, with Major Pendennis and Rawdon Crawley than with James Yellowplush or the Mosses of Wardour Street. He identifies himself with Henry Esmond and Arthur Pendennis, certainly; but also with the humbly born artist John James Ridley, in whose person he once planned to write a novel (Ray II,p.265). Thackeray's mightiest aristocrat, the Marquis of Steyne, also lives outside Mayfair, in one of the squares north of Oxford Street, as if as scornful as Thackeray himself of such foolish demarcations. He and Thackeray are wilful outsiders in their contempt for mere fashion.

London was important to Thackeray as providing a firm setting, at least, for his flitting mutabilities: London as Colonel Newcome witnessed it between two disappointed retreats to India, where he was supporting London's opulence, on a summer evening at five o'clock:

Horses under the charge of men in red jackets are pacing up and down St. James's Street. Cabmen on the stand are regaling with beer. Gentlemen with grooms behind them pass towards the Park (Newcomes, chapter 6).

Mere place-names become evocative. The impoverished paterfamilias vacates his house in Harley Street and subsides into lodgings in Pentonville or Kensington, yet finds that his neighbours respect him more in those outlying districts: 'If I cannot be first in Piccadilly, let me try Hatton Garden, and see whether I cannot lead the ton there' (Newcomes, chapter 9). But these traditions and associations do not last forever. Certain districts become fashionable or unfashionable. Thackeray contemplates the decline, in Victorian times, of such quarters as Portland Place and Bedford Square, and compares their downfall to that of conquered cities in India -- Agra, Benares and Lucknow -- where shahs and sultans once ruled (Newcomes, chapter 8). The Hon. Frederick Deuceace's house in Curzon Street is bought out of his savings by Miss Crawley's former butler, Raggles, who rents it to Miss Crawley's disinherited nephew, Rawdon. Major Pendennis's valet enriches himself by extortionate money-lending and becomes his master's landlord by acquiring the house in which Major Pendennis lodges.

Thackeray views such changes of ownership as evidence of the shift of power from land-owners to financiers: these transactions are signs of the erosion of an old order. The financiers had been quietly gaining an ascendancy for more than two centuries, as Thackeray's Bayhams and Warringtons well knew. In 1851, the year before the publication of Henry Esmond, the national income from industry and trade was more than twice that from landed property.(3) As George Warrington, Henry Esmond's descendant, rightly although boastfully tells the banker Barnes Newcome, George's ancestor drank claret 'and wore a motto round his leg long before a Newcome showed his pale face in Lombard Street' (Newcomes, chapter 36). Not until the Victorian period, which Thackeray deplores as a combination of insolence and bankruptcy among the great folk and cringing and flattery among the small, did plutocracy take the place, beyond question, of aristocracy (Christmas Books: 'The Kickleburys on the Rhine'). Jeames de la Pluche, called James Yellowplush in his days as a footman, makes a fortune by investing in railway shares and, as a result, becomes the patron of the Earl of Bareacres and his family. Lord Bareacres offers Jeames his daughter in marriage on the understanding that Jeames will pay off her brother's debts. Although 'as proud as Lucifer', Lord Bareacres endures Jeames's familiarities: 'I call him, "Bareacres, my old buck!" and I see him wince. It does my 'eart good' (The Yellowplush Correspondence, chapter 24). 'Our higher orders,' Thackeray explains, 'are not such mere haughty aristocrats as the ignorant represent them: on the contrary, if a man has money they will hold out their hands to him, eat his dinners, dance at his balls, marry his daughters' (Pendennis, chapter 38). Old-fashioned Colonel Newcome greets the swindler Rummun Loll with extreme haughtiness but later ruins himself by loyalty to him. The facile people of the world of fashion prostrate themselves to Loll for as long as they believe him to be wealthy. The men make themselves sick smoking hookahs with him. Their daughters hang over him, their blonde ringlets brushing his shoulders. 'By Gad,' exclaims Barnes Newcome, 'a fellow who's rich in London may have the pick of any gal' (Newcomes, chapter 8).

The process of social subsidence and replacement has curious effects. The haughty but impoverished House of Bareacres vainly tries to come to terms with the Industrial Revolution. The upper crust is crumbling: the masters depend on their former servitors. Major Pendennis is driven from the lodgings he has occupied for fifteen years by his valet, now his landlord. The Earl of Bareacres is waited upon by bailiffs persuaded to dress in livery (Vanity Fair, chapter 32). Mr. van der Bosch of New York puts Henry Esmond's Virginian estate in order (Virginians, chapter 72). Miss Higg of Manchester, whom the Prince de Moncontour has married for her money, sits up, uneasy in her curl-papers, and stares in alarm into the immense looking glass built into the canopy of her Louis XVI bed (Newcomes, chapter 46).

Thackeray presents two generations of the nineteenth century nobility. The Regency generation, to which the Marquis of Steyne and his sister, the Countess of Kew, belong, is for the most part depraved but clever, or at least sly. Lady Kew, 'tramping about in her grim pursuit of pleasure', is one of Thackeray's most exactly observed characters:

And Lady Kew, advancing in the frankest manner, with a smile, I must own, rather awful playing round her many wrinkles, round her ladyship's hooked nose, and displaying her ladyship's teeth (a new and exceedingly handsome set), held out her hand (Newcomes, chapter 24).

Lady Kew is so gracious here because she is bent on mischief.

The Victorian generation is also for the most part depraved, but stupid too. Between Viscount Colchicum and the Marquis of Farintosh there has been a marked diminution of wit. The Victorian generation is generally poorer, partly through its dullness and sloth, than the Regency one. Lord Steyne frankly tells his daughter-in-law, Lady Gaunt, who is the daughter of the Earl of Bareacres, when she refuses to meet Becky Sharp, 'Who are you to give orders here? You have no money. You've got no brains. You were here to have children, and you have not had any' (Vanity Fair, chapter 49).

Whilst the proprietors are on their way down, the adventurers are on their way up. Becky Sharp, abler and more adaptable than the Bareacres and their kind, readily outdoes them. Unlike the better-born English ladies in Paris, she can speak French: 'She fought the women with indomitable courage, and they could not talk scandal in any language but their own' (Vanity Fair, chapter 34). She is not awed by the Countess of Bareacres: 'To stare Becky out of countenance required a severer glance than even the frigid old Bareacres could shoot out of her dismal eyes' (Vanity Fair, chapter 37). Becky is the Darwinian fittest, and survives into The Newcomes as the hymn-writer, Lady Crawley. Her life is a campaign of revenge upon fashionable society for the privations she smartingly endured in her youth. She leaves school with 'an almost livid look of hatred', angry in particular with the elder Miss Pinkerton's respectable duplicity. She competes from the beginning with the more privileged Amelia, whose school-report notes as her outstanding merits the unenterprising qualities of industry and obedience. Her liaison with George Osborne, Amelia's husband, is a triumph over them both and the advantages they enjoyed when she left school. Incensed by the injustices of social class, she is secretly pleased when her lordly seducer, the Marquis of Steyne, is knocked down and humiliated by her husband, Rawdon Crawley: 'She admired her husband, strong, brave and victorious' (Vanity Fair, chapter 53). Although the incident is ruinous to her own future, she rejoices in the downfall of birthright.

Thackeray's heroines, blank and insipid Ethel and Laura are less convincing than Becky Sharp. They fit Flaubert's sarcastic definition of a young lady:

All young ladies are pale, frail and always pure...Prohibit, in their interests, every kind of reading, and all visits to museums, theatres and, especially, the monkey-house at the zoo.(4)

His malicious and domineering old women (Miss Crawley, Lady Kew and the devilish Mrs. Mackenzie) are expertly depicted in every detail, as are his strumpets (Becky Sharp, Blanche Amory and Beatrix (Esmond) -- his bitches more and less -- and his silly geese, Amelia Sedley and Fanny Bolton. Becky lures young wasters to her house, where Rawdon takes their money at cards. She is brighter than the ladies of the beau monde, and they are not chaster than she. Their unchastity is merely of a sillier kind. Lady Gaunt refuses to receive George Osborne's wife, whom she deems socially unacceptable, but has 'been languishing in George's arms in the newly imported waltz for hours the night before' (Vanity Fair, chapter 28).

With such apologues Thackeray illustrates his arguments against an hereditary ruling class, which he puts forward in several places, notably in The Book of Snobs:

'Your merits are so great', says the nation, 'that your children shall be allowed to reign over us, in a manner. It does not in the least matter that your eldest son be a fool...It is our wish that there shall be a race set apart in this happy country, who shall hold the first rank, have the first prizes and chances in all government jobs and patronages (Book of Snobs, chapter 16).

To prove the point, the Marquis of Farintosh, a supremely foolish elder son, emerges from The Book of Snobs to woo Ethel Newcome in The Newcomes. Brainless and heartless, Farintosh is endowed with 'a large estate, an ancient title, and the pride belonging to it' (Newcomes, chapter 42). He is exhausted by the exertions of fashionable life: 'all these races', as he complains, 'coming one after the other' (The Newcomes, chapter 42). Farintosh is one of the Barbarians of Matthew Arnold's Culture and Anarchy. His wealth supports no poet, artist, musician or scholar. He is content to sponsor balls and dinners, steeple-chases and chorus-girls.

The feeble entertainments at Gaunt House, the charades during which the Hon. Gus Ringwood has a bouquet thrown at him for the 'exquisite humour and naturalness' of his performance as a boot-boy collecting chamber-pots at an inn, demonstrate the cultural aspirations of the Victorian aristocracy (Vanity Fair, chapter 51). When she meets Viscount Cinqbars on the Margate steamer, Mrs. Carrickfergus, innocently supposing that noblemen prefer to converse in French, addresses him in that elegant language, of which he does not understand a word (Shabby-Genteel Story, chapter 7). Sir Pitt Crawley, although a survivor from the Regency period and in that respect sharper than his successors, cannot spell and does not care to read. He 'never had a taste, or emotion, or enjoyment, but was sordid and foul: and yet he had rank, and honours, and power, somehow' (Vanity Fair, chapter 9).

Thackeray treats the English peerage with a steady contempt from which only a few members, such as Lady Rockminster and young Lord Kew, are exempt, and they only because of their kind-heartedness. Thackeray's sole brilliant aristocrats, Lord Steyne and Lady Kew, are found guilty of a vicious exercise of their great power. Only by throwing off Lady Kew's influence does Ethel Newcome avoid becoming yet another spoilt worldling. Having liberated herself from Lady Kew, Ethel uses her wealth responsibly, to do some good; and in some measure she justifies her privileges by the charitable actions she performs:

Death, never dying out; hunger always crying; and children born to it day after day -- our young London lady, flying from the splendours and follies in which her life had been passed, found herself in the presence of these; threading darkling alleys which swarmed with wretched life (Newcomes, chapter 62).

Lord Steyne never gives a thought to 'hunger always crying'. All he can think of doing with his vast resources is to seduce another man's wife.

Thackeray's satire on the hereditary rulers of England does not stop short at his fictitious Earls and Marquises. He ridicules every English sovereign from Queen Anne to Queen Victoria, and affirms, at the end of The Four Georges, that George Washington was a gentleman whilst George IV was not. Thackeray, almost a republican, upholds the doctrine which he attributes to Joseph Addison in Henry Esmond: 'that Parliament and people consecrate the sovereign, not bishops nor genealogies, nor oils, nor coronations' (Esmond, Book III, chapter 9). Thackeray's irreproachable gentleman, Henry Esmond, the true Lord Castlewood, renounces first his title and then his allegiance to the Stuart cause.

The Hon. Algernon Deuceace prospers because of his ancestry. In his innocence his manservant, Yellowplush, at once perceives the absurdity of Deuceace's framed genealogy hung on the wall: 'My master called it his podygree. I do bleeve it was because he had this pictur, and because he was the Honrabble Deuceace, that he mannitched to live as he did' (Yellowplush, chapter 5). Yet genealogies fix, bind and stabilise, and so Thackeray, anxious for certainty where all is uncertain, was as attentive to them as he is to the streets and districts of London. He is fond of devising family histories, sometimes as complicated as that of the Castlewoods, which daunts many readers in the second chapter of Henry Esmond. Four ancient families, connected by marriage, link Thackeray's novels: the Esmonds, the Gaunts, the Crawleys and the Thistlewoods. Through them characters as seemingly distant as Arthur Pendennis and Ethel Newcome are connected. Ethel is the grand-niece of the Marquis of Steyne, to whom Pendennis is related through the marriage of his mother's cousin, Lady Blanche Thistlewood, to Lord Steyne's son. Pendennis's mentor, George Warrington, is the grandson of the hero of The Virginians, who is, in turn, the grandson of Henry Esmond. Lady Jane Sheepshanks, a collateral of the Bareacres, marries Pitt Crawley, whose brother Rawdon fleeces her brother, the Earl of Southdown, at cards.

These old families at least observe a continuity of manners, which is something firm, and therefore admirable, to Thackeray amid the flux of rich middle-class innovation and pretentiousness during the reign of Queen Victoria. Sir Pitt Crawley entertains Becky Sharp shabbily enough, but she does not suffer at his house the brutish inhospitality of Old Sedley, who howls with glee at her discomfiture when eating curry, and teases her with a tradesman's aggressive banter (Vanity Fair, chapter 3). Worse still is Old Osborne, with his great florid, bogus coat-of-arms. Thackeray is remorseless in exposing moral or social pretence: the assumed heartiness of Hobson Newcome, the cold-blooded banker who acts the part of a jovial country squire, and rides every morning from nowhere more rural than Bryanstone Square into Threadneedle Street, where he remarks that it is good weather for hay, or too frosty for hunting (Newcomes, chapter 6). Barnes Newcome professes to hate King Henry VII for a wrong done to his supposed ancestor, invented for him by the College of Heralds (Newcomes, chapter 28). But the worst snobs in Thackeray are the lackeys, and near-lackeys such as Barry Lyndon. George Osborne's valet sneers at the Fulham lodging into which Old Sedley has been driven by his financial losses. He looks on 'in a very supercilious manner' as the shirt-sleeved landlord waters his roses, and pockets Old Sedley's over-lavish tip with 'a mixture of wonder and contempt' (Vanity Fair, chapter 34).

Thackeray is reluctant to say goodbye to any of his characters, and if he cannot preserve the character, at least tries to perpetuate the family. Becky Sharp, later Lady Crawley, writes hymns for Charles Honeyman's chapel, and Dobbin dines with Colonel Newcome, in The Newcomes. In The Virginians Henry Esmond's grandson is rescued from Indians by the Comte de Florac, and later earns a living as tutor to Harry Foker's grandfather (Virginians, chapters 51 and 84).

By such means Thackeray created the order within his fiction which he lacked in his own experience and, like Balzac, Trollope and Proust, peopled his inner world with a complete society. But it is a paper society, as he gloomily admits in The Newcomes. In that society he can, in spite of his first intentions, yield to his daughters and marry Ethel to Clive Newcome. He can provide Clive Newcome and Philip Firmin, by means of long-lost wills, with the income they are signally incapable of earning themselves. At the end of The Newcomes Thackeray bids a wry farewell to what he calls Fable-land:

And the poet of Fable-land rewards and punishes absolutely. He splendidly deals out bags of sovereigns, which won't buy anything; belabours wicked backs with awful blows, which do not hurt; endows heroines with preternatural beauty, and creates heroes, who, if ugly sometimes, yet possess a thousand good qualities, and usually end by being immensely rich; makes the hero and heroine happy at last, and happy ever after. Ah, happy, harmless Fable-land, where these things are (Newcomes, chapter 80)!

As usual, he scoffs at himself in his Socratic fashion, and underestimates what he has written. Fanciful though the plot of The Newcomes is, the content is true to life. It seemed real enough to Thackeray as he wrote it. He could not read his narration of Colonel Newcome's death aloud without weeping. Yet, whilst he could reform Ethel Newcome, he could not alter Jane Brookfield. Absorbed in spinning out his tale, Thackeray was like Dobbin reading The Arabian Nights at Charterhouse School, whom he describes as 'quite lonely, and almost happy' in that corrupt and unjust place. Dobbin's vision of The Arabian Nights recedes as he hears in the distance the noise of Cuff bullying Osborne: 'and there was everyday life before honest William; and a big boy beating a little one without cause' (Vanity Fair, chapter 5).

Decency and fidelity, as shown in Dobbin's subsequent behaviour, are all-important to Thackeray, and he is angry whenever they are flouted. Nowhere is he harsher to Becky Sharp than when he speaks of her neglect of her little son: 'Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children; and here was one who was worshipping a stone' (Vanity Fair, chapter 37). He admits no circumstantial excuses. Becky thinks she could be a good woman if she had five thousand pounds a year, but Amelia is a good woman and mother with hardly any money at all (Vanity Fair, chapter 41). What Thackeray presents as most detestable in Lord Steyne's attempt to betray Rawdon Crawley is Steyne's sham of being Rawdon's friend.

Thackeray esteemed people not for their glamour, ability or eminence, but because they were honest and faithful. He illustrates his definition of a gentleman with the example of the inglorious Dobbin: 'his thoughts were just, his brains were fairly good, his life was honest and pure, and his heart warm and humble' (Vanity Fair, chapter 62). Dobbin is the hero who is not the hero of Vanity Fair; the cleanly simplicity like Beowulf or Parsifal: 'He lisped -- he was very plain and homely-looking, and exceedingly awkward and ungainly' (Vanity Fair, chapter 25). He is as agitated by emotion as the likewise worthy Hugh Strap in Smollett's Roderick Random. When embarrassed, Dobbin's nervousness is 'visible in many twitchings of the face, in his manner of beating the ground with his great feet, in his rapid buttoning and unbuttoning of his frock-coat, etc.' (Vanity Fair, chapter 23). Throughout the earlier part of Vanity Fair, the loyalty of William Dobbin is contrasted with the disloyalty and ingratitude of George Osborne. Even when, as a schoolboy, Dobbin fights Cuff on Osborne's behalf, Osborne is reluctant to act as a second to so shabby a champion (Vanity Fair, chapter 5).

Thackeray's young princelings, such as Osborne, are spoilt and self-centred. Osborne, who has just lost one hundred and forty pounds to Rawdon Crawley at cards and billiards, does not know how he is going to manage on the two thousand pounds he has left. His father has disinherited him for marrying a bankrupt's daughter: Old Osborne, orderly in his spite, obliterates George's name from the family bible, then waits for the page to dry before he closes it and replaces it next to the Peerage in his glazed bookcase (Vanity Fair, chapter 24). George Osborne blames Dobbin for having encouraged him to marry Amelia Sedley. 'A pretty manager of a man's affairs you are, forsooth,' he says (Vanity Fair, chapter 25). The irony is complicated. Dobbin has sponsored the marriage, not for Osborne's sake but for Amelia's, and at a time when Dobbin would have been overjoyed to change places with him. Osborne spends many of the two thousand pounds on trinkets for Becky Sharp, whom in his gullibility he hopes to seduce. Thackeray calls him 'that young whiskered prig' and alludes to his 'stupid peepers' (Vanity Fair, chapter 14). When Osborne falls at Waterloo he leaves behind him only a farewell letter to his father, sealed up with their 'sham coat-of-arms', and a billet to Becky, asking her to elope with him (Vanity Fair, chapter 35).

Dull and foolish though Amelia is, Dobbin's loyalty to her surrounds her with an aureole of interest; that, and her capacity for devotion, sometimes misplaced. For Thackeray, the trivial or even the paltry is ennobled by faithfulness. He leaves off satirising the Dowager Lady Castlewood when tears of family pride run down her rouged cheeks: 'a couple of rebellious tears made sad marks down those wrinkled old roses' (Esmond, Book II, chapter 15). Her rouge is not so good as Becky Sharp's, which is impervious to tears (Vanity Fair, chapter 48).

Colonel Newcome's death is all the more poignant as being the last affirmation of his constancy to Leonore de Florac, which has lasted for nearly fifty years. Amongst battles and fevers in India, and his marriage to another woman, he could not forget her. By her he is attended in his last hours: 'who would have come, as a work of religion, to any sick couch, much more to this one, where he lay for whose life she would gladly have given her own'. At the end the old man, in his confusion believing he is eighteen again, seizes Ethel Newcome's hand, mistaking it for that of Leonore, of whom Ethel has repeatedly reminded him, and calls out, 'Toujours, toujours'. It has been always for him.

Like Ethel Newcome, Arthur Pendennis abandons worldly schemes, which nearly lead to his marrying Blanche Amory, whom Thackeray characterises with a deadly effectiveness from her first appearance. 'My name is Blanche -- isn't it a pretty name?', she tells Laura Pendennis. 'Call me by it.' (Her name is really Betsy.) She sends Byronic messages on scented writing paper, and constantly wells spurious sensibility (Pendennis, chapter 73). In spite of the maudlin poems she writes in a notebook bound in blue velvet and gilt and labelled Mes Larmes, and although she pretends to be too ethereal to eat much at the dinner table when guests are present, Blanche Amory is as cruel and gluttonous as a Roman lady in Juvenal. She sticks pins in the arms of her maid (enslaved to her by the poverty of the maid's parents) and has plum-cakes and cream puddings sent up to her bedroom, where, according to the servants' gossip, she is visited at night by M. Mirobolant, the French cook employed by her stepfather (Pendennis, chapters 24, 37 and 61). Her origins, like her name, are invented by herself. Summing up Blanche is Laura's 'first lesson in the Cynical philosophy' (Pendennis, chapter 25). Laura concludes that 'she who is always speaking of her affections can have no heart'. Laura herself, who drops her eyes guiltily when she tries to give Mr. Pynsant a flirtatious look at the Ball in Baymouth, is no good at all at insincerity (Pendennis, chapter 28).

Thackeray was suspicious of conscious or uttered sentiment, and shows his dislike of it in his portrayal of such characters as Blanche Amory in Pendennis and Charles Honeyman in The Newcomes. He told his daughter Anne, 'I do not think it right ever to talk sentimentally about one's feelings' (Ray II, p.233). Yet all his admirable characters are recalled in the end to the life of the sentiments, and it is for the absence of feeling that others are condemned. He blames Ethel Newcome for her dulled heart: 'If there is no love more in yonder heart, it is but a corpse unburied. Strew round it the flowers of youth. Wash it with tears of passion' (Newcomes, chapter 66). Her heart revives with the quickening of her pity for Colonel Newcome. It is washed with her own tears; and she is born for the second time in tears. Like Ethel Newcome, Arthur Pendennis returns from the worldly life to the sentimental retreat (Pendennis, chapter 60). His experiences, like those of Ethel, prove a School of the Heart.

At the beginning of his lectures on the English humourists, Thackeray describes the humorous writer as a 'weekday preacher' who hopes to 'awaken and direct' magnanimity. The reunion of Pendennis and Laura is a recall to the life of the heart: 'Your doom is spoken in a word or two. A single look from the eyes; a mere pressure of the hand may decide it, or of the lips, though they cannot speak' (Pendennis, chapter 75). In Laura's embrace Pendennis rediscovers what is best in himself: 'Happy blushes! bright eyes beaming with the light of love! The story-teller turns from this group to his young audience, and hopes that one day their eyes may all shine so' (Pendennis, chapter 76).


1. Vanity Fair, chapter 22. The texts of Thackeray cited are those of the first editions in book form.

2. Gordon Ray. Thackeray, Oxford, 1955-8, volume II (The Age of Wisdom). p.25.

3. Geoffrey Best. Mid-Victorian Britain, London, 1971, p.78.

4. Gustave Flaubert. Oeuvres, Bibliotheque de la Pleiade, Paris, 1952, volume II, p.1,010 p.1,028.
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Title Annotation:writer William Makepeace Thackeray
Author:Bruce, Donald
Publication:Contemporary Review
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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