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Vanity Fair

Chapter 12
Quite a Sentimental Chapter
We must now take leave of Arcadia, and those amiable people practising the rural virtues
there, and travel back to London, to inquire what has become of Miss Amelia "We don't
care a fig for her," writes some unknown correspondent with a pretty little handwriting
and a pink seal to her note. "She is fade and insipid," and adds some more kind remarks
in this strain, which I should never have repeated at all, but that they are in truth
prodigiously complimentary to the young lady whom they concern.
Has the beloved reader, in his experience of society, never heard similar remarks by
good-natured female friends; who always wonder what you CAN see in Miss Smith that
is so fascinating; or what COULD induce Major Jones to propose for that silly
insignificant simpering Miss Thompson, who has nothing but her wax-doll face to
recommend her? What is there in a pair of pink cheeks and blue eyes forsooth? these dear
Moralists ask, and hint wisely that the gifts of genius, the accomplishments of the mind,
the mastery of Mangnall's Questions, and a ladylike knowledge of botany and geology,
the knack of making poetry, the power of rattling sonatas in the Herz-manner, and so
forth, are far more valuable endowments for a female, than those fugitive charms which a
few years will inevitably tarnish. It is quite edifying to hear women speculate upon the
worthlessness and the duration of beauty.
But though virtue is a much finer thing, and those hapless creatures who suffer under the
misfortune of good looks ought to be continually put in mind of the fate which awaits
them; and though, very likely, the heroic female character which ladies admire is a more
glorious and beautiful object than the kind, fresh, smiling, artless, tender little domestic
goddess, whom men are inclined to worship--yet the latter and inferior sort of women
must have this consolation--that the men do admire them after all; and that, in spite of all
our kind friends' warnings and protests, we go on in our desperate error and folly, and
shall to the end of the chapter. Indeed, for my own part, though I have been repeatedly
told by persons for whom I have the greatest respect, that Miss Brown is an insignificant
chit, and Mrs. White has nothing but her petit minois chiffonne, and Mrs. Black has not a
word to say for herself; yet I know that I have had the most delightful conversations with
Mrs. Black (of course, my dear Madam, they are inviolable): I see all the men in a cluster
round Mrs. White's chair: all the young fellows battling to dance with Miss Brown; and
so I am tempted to think that to be despised by her sex is a very great compliment to a
woman.
The young ladies in Amelia's society did this for her very satisfactorily. For instance,
there was scarcely any point upon which the Misses Osborne, George's sisters, and the
Mesdemoiselles Dobbin agreed so well as in their estimate of her very trifling merits: and
their wonder that their brothers could find any charms in her. "We are kind to her," the
Misses Osborne said, a pair of fine black-browed young ladies who had had the best of
governesses, masters, and milliners; and they treated her with such extreme kindness and
 
 
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