Oh, me! what a confession it is, in the very outset of life and blushing brightness of youth's morning, to own that the aim with which a young girl sets out, and the object of her existence, is to marry a rich man; that she was endowed with beauty so that she might buy wealth, and a title with it; that as sure as she has a soul to be saved, her business here on earth is to try and get a rich husband. That is the career for which many a woman is bred and trained. A young man begins the world with some aspirations at least; he will try to be good and follow the truth; he will strive to win honours for himself, and never do a base action; he will pass nights over his books, and forego ease and pleasure so that he may achieve a name. Many a poor wretch who is worn out now and old, and bankrupt of fame and money too, has commenced life at any rate with noble views and generous schemes, from which weakness, idleness, passion, or overpowering hostile fortune have turned him away. But a girl of the world, bon Dieu! the doctrine with which she begins is that she is to have a wealthy husband: the article of Faith in her catechism is, "I believe in elder sons, and a house in town, and a house in the country!" They are mercenary as they step fresh and blooming into the world out of the nursery. They have been schooled there to keep their bright eyes to look only on the Prince and the Duke, Croesus and Dives. By long cramping and careful process, their little natural hearts have been squeezed up, like the feet of their fashionable little sisters in China. As you see a pauper's child, with an awful premature knowledge of the pawn-shop, able to haggle at market with her wretched halfpence and battle bargains at hucksters' stalls, you shall find a young beauty, who was a child in the school-room a year since, as wise and knowing as the old practitioners on that exchange; as economical of her smiles, as dexterous in keeping back or producing her beautiful wares, as skilful in setting one bidder against another, as keen as the smartest merchant in Vanity Fair.
Thackeray, The Newcomes, II, 7.