Context: Arthur Pendennis, after his father's death, is reared by his mother, Helen, with help from Major Arthur Pendennis, the child's uncle. Young Pendennis is something of a snob and tends to follow his uncle, who wants to help the boy rise socially, rather than to follow his mother, who wants to keep her son natural and unspoiled by selfish scheming to rise from the middle-class to the aristocracy. Mrs. Pendennis hopes her son will marry Laura Bell, Mrs. Pendennis' ward, but the snobbery of young Arthur offends Laura's self-respect, even though she loves him and has used a portion of her inheritance to see him through the university. Following Laura's refusal of his suit, young Pendennis goes down to London to study law, to begin a writing career, and to enjoy the social life. One day he is visited by his uncle, Major Pendennis, who inquires if the young man has any new loves and offers this advice to his nephew:
". . . You are heir to a little independence, which everybody fancies is a doosid deal more. You have a good name, good wits, good manners, and a good person–and, begad! I don't see why you shouldn't marry a woman with money–get into Parliament–distinguish yourself, and–and, in fact, that sort of thing. Remember, it's as easy to marry a rich woman as a poor woman: and a devilish deal pleasanter to sit down to a good dinner, than to a scrag of mutton in lodgings. Make up your mind to that. A woman with a good jointure is a doosid deal easier a profession than the law, let me tell you. Look out; I shall be on the watch for you. . . ."