"As the manager of the Performance sits before the curtains on the boards and looks into the Fair, a feeling of profound melancholy comes over him in his survey of the bustling place. There is a great quantity of eating and drinking, making love and jilting, laughing and the contrary, smoking, cheating, fighting, dancing and fiddling; there are bullies pushing about, bucks ogling women, knaves picking pockets, policemen on the lookout, quacks (other quacks, plague take them!), bawling in front of their booths, and yokels looking up at the tinselled dancers and poor old rogue tumblers, while the light fingered folk are operating on their pockets behind. Yes, this is VANITY FAIR; not a moral place certainly; nor a merry one, though very noisy. Look at the faces of the actors and buffoons when they come off from their business; and Tom Fool washing the paint off his cheeks before he sits down to dinner with his wife and his little Jack Puddings behind the canvas. The curtain will be up presently, and he will be turning over head and heels, and crying, "How are you?"
A man with a reflective turn of mind, walking through an exhibition of this sort, will not be oppressed, I take it, by his own or other peoples's hilarity."
- William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair