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.

So there was splendour and wealth, but no great happiness perchance, behind the tall caned portals of Gaunt House with its smoky coronets and ciphers. The feasts there were of the grandest in London, but there was not overmuch content therewith, except among the guests who sat at my lord’s table. Had he not been so great a Prince very few possibly would have visited him; but in Vanity Fair the sins of very great personages are looked at indulgently.

What qualities are there for which a man gets so speedy a return of applause, as those of bodily superiority, activity, and valour? Time out of mind strength and courage have been the theme of bards and romances; and from the story of Troy down to to-day, poetry has always chosen a soldier for a hero. I wonder is it because men are cowards in heart that they admire bravery so much, and place military valour so far beyond every other quality for reward and worship?

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