Vanity Fair (Chapter 16, page 1 of 11)


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Chapter 16

How they were married is not of the slightest consequence to anybody.
What is to hinder a Captain who is a major, and a young lady who is of
age, from purchasing a licence, and uniting themselves at any church in
this town? Who needs to be told, that if a woman has a will she will
assuredly find a way?--My belief is that one day, when Miss Sharp had
gone to pass the forenoon with her dear friend Miss Amelia Sedley in
Russell Square, a lady very like her might have been seen entering a
church in the City, in company with a gentleman with dyed mustachios,
who, after a quarter of an hour's interval, escorted her back to the
hackney-coach in waiting, and that this was a quiet bridal party.

And who on earth, after the daily experience we have, can question the
probability of a gentleman marrying anybody? How many of the wise and
learned have married their cooks? Did not Lord Eldon himself, the most
prudent of men, make a runaway match? Were not Achilles and Ajax both
in love with their servant maids? And are we to expect a heavy dragoon
with strong desires and small brains, who had never controlled a
passion in his life, to become prudent all of a sudden, and to refuse
to pay any price for an indulgence to which he had a mind? If people
only made prudent marriages, what a stop to population there would be!

It seems to me, for my part, that Mr. Rawdon's marriage was one of the
honestest actions which we shall have to record in any portion of that
gentleman's biography which has to do with the present history. No one
will say it is unmanly to be captivated by a woman, or, being
captivated, to marry her; and the admiration, the delight, the passion,
the wonder, the unbounded confidence, and frantic adoration with which,
by degrees, this big warrior got to regard the little Rebecca, were
feelings which the ladies at least will pronounce were not altogether
discreditable to him. When she sang, every note thrilled in his dull
soul, and tingled through his huge frame. When she spoke, he brought
all the force of his brains to listen and wonder. If she was jocular,
he used to revolve her jokes in his mind, and explode over them half an
hour afterwards in the street, to the surprise of the groom in the
tilbury by his side, or the comrade riding with him in Rotten Row. Her
words were oracles to him, her smallest actions marked by an infallible
grace and wisdom. "How she sings,--how she paints," thought he. "How
she rode that kicking mare at Queen's Crawley!" And he would say to
her in confidential moments, "By Jove, Beck, you're fit to be
Commander-in-Chief, or Archbishop of Canterbury, by Jove." Is his
case a rare one? and don't we see every day in the world many an honest
Hercules at the apron-strings of Omphale, and great whiskered Samsons
prostrate in Delilah's lap?

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