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"He says, no varnish can hide the grain of the wood; and that the more varnish you put on, the more the grain will express itself." (22.52)
Herbert gives us some wisdom straight from his dad: you can't hide someone's true nature. Matthew might like some other expressions: put lipstick on a pig, put rouge on the corpse, making a purse out of a swine's ear, putting a racing stripe on a … never mind. We'll let you complete that one yourself.
"He practised on her affection in that systematic way, that he got great sums of money from her, and he induced her to buy her brother out of a share in the brewery (which had been weakly left him by his father) at an immense price, on the plea that when he was her husband he must hold and manage it all." (22.52)
We just love when our boyfriends are "systematic" with us. It's so romantic. Which makes us ask: how could Miss Havisham possibly not know that Compeyson was conning her? Was she just fooling herself?
All other swindlers upon earth are nothing to the self-swindlers, and with such pretences did I cheat myself. Surely a curious thing. That I should innocently take a bad half-crown of somebody else's manufacture, is reasonable enough; but that I should knowingly reckon the spurious coin of my own make, as good money! An obliging stranger, under pretence of compactly folding up my bank-notes for security's sake, abstracts the notes and gives me nutshells; but what is his sleight of hand to mine, when I fold up my own nutshells and pass them on myself as notes! (28.1)
Actually, the way Pip describes this self-swindling, it sounds pretty impressive—like when you lie so hard about where you were after curfew that you even convince yourself.