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tending. Everything about the individual pro- thousand dollars, he held on to his property just duced the impression that pretense was hateful long enough to acquire luxurious and expensive to him. He was quiet in his manner, and spoke tastes, when he was persuaded to risk it in a slowly and deliberately in a low tone—apparently speculation, and lost the whole. Thereupon he uttering his thought as it rose to his lips without married, like his friend "Philip," and wrote for selecting his words. After spending ten minutes bread. He alludes to these “ hard times” in with him, it was easy to see that he was a man several places in his books, as where he makes of the world in the best sense of the phrase, and his pen say : neither a bitter Juvenal nor a shy "literary man,"
" I've helped him to pen many a line for bread, living only in books. There was, indeed, almost
To joke with sorrow, aching in his head, nothing of the typical littérateur about him.
And wake your laughter when his own heart bled." His face and figure indicated a decided fondness for roast beef, canvas-back ducks—of which A more affecting allusion of the same sort may he spoke in terms of enthusiasm-plum pudding, be found in his “Roundabout Paper,” De Fini· Bordeaux," of which he told me he drank a bus, where he says: “As we look to the page bottle daily at his dinner, and all the material written last month, or ten years ago, we rememgood things of life. The idea of a disordered ber the day and its events; the child ill mayliver seems absurd in connection with him. The hap in the adjoining room, and the doubts and fact is, Mr. Thackeray was a bon vivant-not fears which racked the brain as it still purgiven to wearing his heart upon his sleeve, but sued its work.” It seems hard to fancy any exprone to good fellowship, fond of his ease, and perience more distressing than this; the life of a liked nothing better than to loll in his arm-chair, plowman or woodcutter would be far preferable tell or listen to a good story, sing a good song, to that of an author harassed by such anxiety; smoke a good cigar, and “have his talk out" with but Thackeray had gone through the bitter ordeal, his chosen friends.
and it no doubt saddened him. A last influence, As to the general tone of his conversation, and one worth noticing, was the slowness of his what impressed me most forcibly was his entire fame. He had reached middle age nearly before unreserve, and the genuine bonhomie of his air- he took rank higher than a clever magazinist. à bonhomie which struck me as being anything With all his faculties in their ripest vigor, with a but what his critic, Mr. Yates, called it—"forced.” style as finished as it ever became, and with The man seemed wholly simple and natural, and “Esmond” and “The Newcomes" in his inkI could fancy him saying: “I have nothing to stand, this literary leviathan was regarded as a conceal from you, friend; you see me just as I fish of only moderate size, and the manuscript am, and you are welcome to use your strongest of “Vanity Fair” was declined by publisher after magnifying-glasses to discover any hidden hum- publisher. If this tardy recognition somewhat bug about me, and to drag it forth and denounce embittered a man who must have been conscious it publicly. I say what I think, and am not try- of his great abilities, the fact is scarcely to be ing to make any impression upon you, good or wondered at. He must have resented this obbad. My desire is to be friendly and natural, scurity in which his best years were passing; and avoiding what is hateful to me, sham and de- the reception of “Vanity Fair" even, when that ceit.” He smiled easily, and evidently enjoyed big gun was discharged, did not mollify him, the humorous side of things, but in private, as in perhaps, in any great degree, as far at least as delivering his lectures on Swift and some others, the critics were concerned. They opened upon there was an undertone of sadness in his voice. him with the cry of “Cynic - misanthrope !” For whether from temperament or in conse- and seemed to grudge a fame which had been quence of the great domestic sorrow which was secured without their concurrence. It had come his lot, Mr. Thackeray was not a gay man. He by hard brain-work, and the capacity to waitwas kind, courteous, and good-humored, but not but the waiting was long; and it is melancholy a hearty, cheery person; and evidently did not to reflect that a man capable of writing “The look upon this as the best of all possible worlds. Newcomes” should have foundered about like a His comments on men and things were occa- big whale in the shallows of “ Jeames's Diary," sionally half sad, half satirical. He seemed to the “Shabby-Genteel Story," and other trifles, regard life as a comedy, in which rascals, male until he was nearly forty. It is not probable that and female, predominated—his business as a the whale liked the shallow water, or relished the writer being to laugh at or denounce them. That slighting comments or the indifference of the crithe saw more vice than virtue, and had been a ics on shore. The slighting criticisms still follittle soured, may have been caused by his own lowed him into the deep water of “Esmond" personal experiences. It is known that his lot and the rest—the author was “a cynic, a manhad been trying. Inheriting about one hundred hater; the lasher of shams was a sham himself ”
-and, like a genuine John Bull, Thackeray struck people. If it is not a natural gift, he says it can back on all occasions, making his satire still more not be acquired." bitter and uncompromising.
With his visit to “I don't know," Mr. Thackeray replied. “I America, however, this mood of mind seems to have dictated a good deal. The whole of “Eshave greatly changed. At Boston, soon after his mond' was dictated to an amanuensis.” landing, he heard a “rosy-cheeked little peripatet- “I should not have supposed so—the style is ic book-merchant call out' Thackeray's works !' so terse that I would have fancied you wrote it. in such a kind, gay voice as gave him a feeling 'Esmond’ is one of the greatest favorites among of friendship and welcome.” This welcome met your works in this country. I always particularly him everywhere. His lectures became extremely liked the chapter where Esmond returns to Lady popular, and, as human nature is always human Castlewood, “bringing his sheaves with him,' as nature, Mr. Thackeray no doubt thawed greatly she says.” under this flattering reception. As to this, I can “I am glad it pleased you. I wish the whole only repeat what I have already said, that when book was as good. But we can't play first fiddle I saw him he was anything but cold, cynical, all the time.” and disagreeable in his personal bearing. His “ You dictated this chapter ?” bonhomie was wholly unforced; I could not have “ Yes—the whole work. I also dictated all imagined a more courteous and agreeable com- of 'Pendennis.' I can't say I think much of panion.
• Pendennis '-at least of the execution. It cerTo come to my "talk with Thackeray," which tainly drags about the middle, but I had an atthe reader may consider too slight a matter for tack of illness about the time I reached that part so long a preface. It certainly was not my pur- of the book, and could not make it any better pose to "interview" Mr. Thackeray on this or than it is." any other occasion. I met him in private or at Another allusion to “Esmond," and his porthe houses of friends, who gave him entertain- trait of Marlborough brought from Mr. Thackments, and listened with great interest to his eray's lips, in a musing tone, the single word opinions of men and books; but I had no inten- · Rascal !" and he then inquired in a very tion to make a record of anything which fell from friendly manner what I had written. I informed his lips in these unreserved talks. There is no him, and he said : harm in doing so now when he is dead, and I find “Well, if I were you, I would go on writing no difficulty in recalling, aided by some chance --some day you will write a book which will make memoranda, what Mr. Thackeray said in one of your fortune. Becky Sharp made mine. I marthese interviews—to which I shall now pro- ried early, and wrote for bread; and “Vanity ceed.
Fair' was my first successful work. I like Becky Having no business to engage me one morn- in that book. Sometimes I think I have myself ing, I went to call on him at his hotel, and found some of her tastes. I like what are called Bohehim in his private parlor, lolling in an easy-chair, mians, and fellows of that sort. I have seen all and smoking. This good or bad habit, as the sorts of society-dukes and duchesses, lords and reader pleases, was a favorite one with him. He ladies, authors and actors, and painters-and, was a dear lover of his cigar, and I had pre- taken altogether, I think I like painters the best, sented him with a bundle of very good small and · Bohemians' generally. They are more “Plantations,” which he afterward spoke highly natural and unconventional; they wear their hair of, lamenting that his friend G. P. R. James, then on their shoulders if they wish, and dress picconsul at Richmond, would come and smoke turesquely and carelessly. You see how I made them all. On this morning he had evidently no- Becky prefer them, and that sort of life, to all thing to occupy him, and seemed ready for a the fine society she moved in. Perhaps you refriendly talk. Smoking was the first topic, and member where she comes down in the world he said :
toward the end of the book, and associates with “I am fond of my cigar, you see. I always people of all sorts, Bohemians and the rest, in begin writing with one in my mouth.”
their garrets." “After breakfast, I suppose. I mean that “ I remember very well.” you probably write in the forenoon ?”
"I like that part of the book. I think that “Yes, the morning is my time for composing. part is well done.” I can't write at night. I find it excites me so “As you speak of Becky Sharp, Mr. Thackthat I can not sleep.”
eray,” I said, “there is one mystery about her “May I ask if you ever dictate your books to which I should like to have cleared up." an amanuensis ?” I said. “ I ask this question, “ What is that?" Mr. Thackeray, because our friend Mr. G. P. R. Nearly at the end of the book there is a James says that the power to dictate is born with picture of Jo Sedley in his night-dress, seated—a
sick old man-in his chamber; and behind the in his books was, so to say, a mere mechanical curtain is Becky, glaring and ghastly, grasping a process. dagger.”
Mr. Thackeray spoke of himself and his writ. “I remember.”
ings with entire candor and unreserve, of which “ Beneath the picture is the single word I shall give an instance before concluding this Clytemnestra.""
brief sketch; and his opinions upon other writers “ Yes."
were equally frank and outspoken. The elder “ Did Becky kill him, Mr. Thackeray ?” Dumas, the author of “Monte Cristo " and the
This question seemed to afford the person to “Mousquetaire" stories, seemed to be an espewhom it was addressed, material for profound cial favorite with him. reflection. He smoked meditatively, appeared "Dumas is charming !” he exclaimed; “everyto be engaged in endeavoring to arrive at the thing he writes interests me. I have been readsolution of some problem, and then with a se- ing his · Mémoires. I have read fourteen of cretive expression—a “slow smile" dawning on the small volumes, all that are published, and his face-replied:
they are delightful. Dumas is a wonderful man “ I don't know !"
—wonderful. He is better than Walter Scott." A desultory conversation ensued on the sub- “You refer, I suppose, to his historical novject of Becky Sharp, for whom, in spite of her els, the ‘Mousquetaires,' and the rest.”. depravity, it seemed very plain that Mr. Thack- “ Yes. I came near writing a book on the eray had a secret liking, or, if not precisely a lik- same subject, and taking Monsieur d'Artagnan ing, at least an amused sympathy, due to the for my hero, as Dumas has done in his ‘Trois pluck and perseverance with which she pursued Mousquetaires.' D'Artagnan was a real charthe objects she had in view. And then, from acter of the age of Louis XIV., and wrote his this lady and her sayings and doings, the con- own ‘Mémoires.' I remember picking up a dingy versation passed to Mr. Thackeray's other mau- little copy of them on an old bookstall in London, vais sujets, male and female; and I said that I price sixpence, and intended to make something considered the old Earl of Crabs, in the sketches of it. But Dumas got ahead of me—he snaps relating to “Mr. Deuceace," as the most finished up everything. He is wonderful !” and altogether perfect scoundrel of the whole “I am glad you like him, as he was always a list. To this Mr. Thackeray was disposed to great favorite of my own,” I said ; “ his verve is assent, and I asked if the Earl was drawn from unflagging." any particular person.
“Yes; his good spirits seem never to change. “I really don't know," was the reply. “I He amuses you, and keeps you in a good humor, don't remember ever meeting with any special which is not the effect produced on me by many person as the original.”
writers. Some books please me and enliven me, Then you must have drawn him from your and others depress me. I never could read “Don imagination, or from general observation.” Quixote' with pleasure. The book makes me
“I suppose so—I don't know-I may have sad.” seen him somewhere."
Further allusion to the old knight of La And after smoking for several moments, with Mancha indicated that the source of this sadness that air of silent meditation which his friends was a profound sympathy with the crazed genmust often have observed, Mr. Thackeray tleman—a commiseration so deep for his troubles added, in the tone of a man indulging in solilo- and chimeras of the brain, that the wit and farquy:
cical humor of Sancho were insufficient, in his "I really don't know where I get all these opinion, to relieve the shadows of the picture. rascals in my books. I have certainly never Passing from these literary discussions, Mr. lived with such people."
Thackeray spoke of his tour in America, and said It did not seem to occur to this profound and how much gratified he had been by his recepsubtile observer of human nature that daily asso- tion. Richmond was an attractive place to him, ciation with the class to which the Earl of Crabs, he declared he had been received with the utLord Steyne, and others belonged, was not ne- most kindness and attention—and he had always cessary to the just delineation of the personages. looked upon the Virginians as resembling more He had looked from behind his glasses, with closely his own people in England than the those keen eyes of his, upon the moving throng Americans of other States. They seemed "more of rascaldom, in London, at Rome, on the Paris- homely," I think was his phrase—which I recall, ian boulevards, and everywhere—and the pene- from the curious employment of the word "hometrating glance had photographed the figures upon ly" in the sense of “home-like.” his brain—their inward being as well as their “Your American travels will no doubt give you outward show-after which to reproduce them the material for a volume on this country,” I said.
“Yes; I have seen a great deal," was his re- ers, who will be prominent characters; one will ply.
take the English side in the war, and the other "Well, I don't think you will abuse us, Mr. the American, and they will both be in love with Thackeray."
the same girl.” “I shall not write anything upon America,” “ That will be an excellent plot,” I said, “and he said; "my secretary may—he is quite capa- your novel will be a full-blooded historical one." ble. And, as to abusing you, if I do, I'm—!” “ It will deal with the history of the time.”
The sentence terminated in a manner rather “You have a striking dénoúment—" more emphatic than would have suited the at- “A dénonment?” mosphere of a drawing-room; and it was plain- “ Yorktown.” ly to be seen that Mr. Thackeray had thoroughly Having so said, I became suddenly aware made up his mind not to follow in the footsteps that I had committed something closely resemof Mr. Dickens, and criticise his entertainers, bling a social faux pas, inasmuch as I had quietly “throw their plates at their heads," as Scott said recommended to an English gentleman to take when he declined accepting an invitation to dine the surrender of Lord Cornwallis as the climax with the old Count Barras, near Paris, of whom of his drama. he declared he would probably have some harsh “I really must beg your pardon, Mr. Thackthings to say in his “Life of Napoleon.” Mr. eray," I said with some embarrassment. Thackeray had the instinct that, one would think, “Beg my pardon?” he said, turning his head, should control all persons of good feeling and and looking at me with a good deal of surprise. good breeding, and never wrote a line, that I am “For my ill-breeding." aware of, which any citizen of the country, North His expression of surprise was more proor South, would have wished unwritten.
nounced than before at these words, and he eviFurther conversation upon Virginia, the char- dently did not understand my meaning in the acter of the country, people, etc., led Mr. Thack- least. eray to speak of what was then a mere literary "I mean,” I said, “ that I quite lost sight of intention—the composition of “The Virginians,” the fact that I was talking with an English genwhich was not written, I think, or at least did tleman. Yorktown was the scene of Lord Cornnot appear, until two or three years afterward. wallis's surrender, and might not be an agreeable
“I shall write a novel with the scene laid dénoûment." here," he said.
“Ah!” he said smiling, “it is nothing. I “In America ? I am very glad, and I hope accept Yorktown." you will be able to do so soon."
“I know you admire Washington.” “No. I shall not write it for about two “Yes, indeed. He was one of the greatest years."
men that ever lived." “Two years?"
My host had evidently no susceptibilities to “Yes. It will take me at least two years to wound in reference to these old historical matcollect my materials, and become acquainted ters, so I said, smiling : with the subject. I can't write upon a subject I “Everybody respects and loves Washington know nothing of. I am obliged to read up upon now; but is it not singular how the result changes it, and get my ideas.”
our point of view? The English view in '76 was “ Your work will be a novel ?"
that Washington was a rebel, and if you had “Yes, and relating to your State. I shall give caught him you would probably have hanged it the title of 'The Two Virginians'”—a title him." which, as the reader knows, was afterward To this Mr. Thackeray replied in a tone of changed for the shorter and simpler “The Vir- great earnestness: ginians.”
“We had better have lost North America." As I expressed a natural pleasure at the prospect of having a novel painting Virginia life and This ends my brief sketch of an hour's talk society from the author of “ Esmond,” Mr. Thack- with this man of great and varied genius. The eray spoke more particularly of his design, there- man was a study, as his books are; and I might by exhibiting, I thought, and think still, a re- almost say that he was to me more interesting markable instance of the simplicity, directness, than his books. The singular commingling of and absence of secretiveness in his character. I humor and sadness, of sarcasm and gentlenesswas nearly an entire stranger, but he spoke with- the contrast between his reputation as the bitterout reserve of his intended book, telling me his est of cynics, growling harsh anathemas at his whole idea.
species, and the real person, with his cordial ad“I shall lay the scene in Virginia, during the dress, and his voice which at times had a really Revolution," he said. There will be two broth- exquisite sweetness and music in its undertones
these made up a personality of such piquant in- of the greatest gentleness and sweetness, and terest that the human being was a study. His that no name could suit him better than that writings will continue to be studied; for, what- given him by those who knew him best, loving ever may be said of them, they assuredly occupy him for his heart more than they admired him a place of their own in glish literature. The for his head-the name of “good old Thackobject of this little sketch was to show that the eray.” man himself was not a bitter cynic, but a person
JOHN ESTEN COOKE.
THE CRITIC ON THE HEARTH.
important members of the social body to one relation of the author and the professional critic. another has never been sufficiently considered, While the former is in his spring-time, the or treated of, so far as I know, either by the analogy is indeed almost complete. For examphilosopher or the poet. I allude to that which ple, however much he may have plagiarized, the exists between the omnibus-driver and his con- book does belong to the author: he calls it, with ductor. Cultivating literature as I do upon a pardonable pride (and especially if any one runs little oatmeal, and driving, when in a position to it down), “my book.” He has written it, and be driven at all, in that humble vehicle, the 'bus, probably paid pretty handsomely for getting it I have had, perhaps, exceptional opportunities published. Even the right of translation, if you for observing their mutual position and behavior; will look at the bottom of the title-page, is someand it is very peculiar. When the 'bus is empty, what superfluously reserved to him. Yet nothing they are sympathetic and friendly to one another, can exceed the patronage which he suffers at the almost to tenderness; but, when there is much hands of the critic, and is compelled to submit to traffic, a tone of severity is observable upon the in sullen silence. When the book-trade is slack side of the conductor. “What are yer a-driving that is, in the summer season—the pair get on on for? Will nothing suit but to break a party's together pretty amicably. This book,” says neck?" "Wake up, will yer, or do yer want the critic, “may be taken down to the seaside, the Bayswater to pass us?” are inquiries he will and lounged over not unprofitably”; or, “ Readmake in the most peremptory manner. Or he ers may do worse than peruse this unpretending will concentrate contempt in the laconic but little volume of fugitive verse"; or even, “We withering observation, " Now then, stoopid !" hail this new aspirant for the laurels of Apollo."
When we consider that the driver is after all But in the thick of the publishing season, and the driver—that the 'bus is under his guidance when books pour into the reviewer by the cartand management, and may be said pro tem. to ful, nothing can exceed the violence, and indeed be his own—indeed, in case of collision or other sometimes the virulence, of his language. That serious extremity, he calls it so, “What the in- “Now then, stoopid !” of the 'bus-conductor fernal regions are yer banging into my 'bus for?" pales beside the lightnings of his scorn. etc., etc.--I say, this being his exalted position, Among the lovers of sensation, it is possible the injurious language of the man on the step is, that some persons may be found with tastes so to say the least of it, disrespectful.
utterly vitiated as to derive pleasure from this On the other hand, it is the conductor who monstrous production." I cull these flowers of fills the 'bus, and even entices into it, by lures speech from a wreath placed by a critic of the and wiles, persons who are not voluntarily going “Slasher" on my own early brow. Ye gods, his way at all. It is he who advertises its pres- how I hated him! How I pursued him with ence to the passers-by, and spares neither lung more than Corsican vengeance; traduced him in nor limb in attracting passengers. If the driver public and private; and only when I had thrust is lord and king, yet the conductor has a good my knife (metaphorically) into his detested cardeal to do with the administration : just as the cass, discovered I had been attacking the wrong Mikado of Japan, who sits above the thunder man. It is a lesson I have never forgotten; and and is almost divine, is understood to be assisted I pray you, my younger brothers of the pen, to and even "conducted” by the Tycoon. The lay it to heart. Believe rather that your unconnection between those potentates is perhaps friendly critic, like the bee who is fabled to sting the most exact reproduction of that between the and die, has perished after his attempt on your 'bus-driver and his cad; but even in England reputation; and let the tomb be his asylum. For