Vanity Fair HTML version

Chapter 9
Family Portraits
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 daughter.
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