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permitted to contemplate passions as having been invited by Sir Pepin Rib poetic powers; he is bidden to appre- stone to an entertainment. He buy ciate them as moral qualities. His pic- a small estate, tries to sink the apothe tures become sentences; he is a coun- cary, and shows off in the new glory of sellor rather than an observer, a judge a landed proprietor. Each of these rather than an artist. We see by what details is a concealed or evident sar machinery Thackeray has changed casm, which says to the reader : "
“My novel into satire.
good friend, remain the honest Joha I open at random his three great Tomkins that you are ; and for the works-Pendennis, Vanity Fair, The love of your son and yourself, avoid Newcomes. Every scene sets in relief taking the airs of a great nobleman." á moral truth : the author desires that Old Pendennis dies. His son, the at every page we should form a judg: noble heir of the domain, “ Prince of ment on vice and virtue; he has blamed Pendennis and Grand Duke of Fair or approved beforehand, and the dia. Oaks,” begins to reign over his mother, logues or portraits are to him only his cousin, and the servants. He sends means by which he adds our approba- wretched verses to the county papers, tion to his approbation, our blame to begins an epic poem, a tragedy in his blame. He is giving us lessons; which sixteen persons die, a scathing and beneath the sentiments which he history of the Jesuits, and defends describes, as beneath the events which church and king like a loyal Tory. He he relates, we continually discover sighs after the ideal, wishes for an unrules for our conduct and the inten- known maiden, and falls in love with tions of a reformer.
an actress, a woman of thirty-two, who On the first page of Pendennis we learns her parts mechanically, as ig see the portrait of an old major, a man norant and stupid as can be. Young of the world, selfish and vain, seated folks, my dear friends, you are all af. comfortably in his club, at the table fected, pretentious, dupes of yourselves by the fire, and near the window, envied and of others. Wait to judge the by surgeon Glowry, whom nobody ever world until you have seen it, and do invites, seeking in the records of aris- not think you are masters when you are tocratic entertainments for his own scholars. name, gloriously placed amongst those The lesson continues and lasts as of illustrious guests. A family letter long as the life of Arthur. Like Le arrives. Naturally he puts it aside Sage in Gil Blas, and Balzac in Le and reads it carelessly last of all. He Père Goriot, the author of Pendennis utters an exclamation of horror ; his depicts a young man having some tal. iephew wants to marry an actress. He ent, endowed with good feelings, even nas places booked in the coach (charg- generous, desiring to make a name, ing the sum which he disburses for the whilst, at the same time, he falls in with seats to the account of the widow and the maxims of the world ; but Le Sage the young scapegrace of whom he is only wished to amuse us, and Balzac guardian), and hastens to save the only wished to stir our passions : young fool. If there were a low mar. Thackeray, from beginning to end, lariage, what would become of his invi- bors to correct us. tations ? The manifest conclusion is : This intention becomes still more Let us not be selfish, or vain, or fond evident if we examine in detail one of good living, like the major. his dialogues and one of his pictures
Chapter the second : Pendennis, the We will not find there impartial ener father of the young man in love, had gy, bent on copying nature, but atten "exercised the profession of apothecary tive thoughtfulness, bent on transformand surgeon,” but, being of good birth, ing into satire objects, words, and his "secret ambition had always been events. All the words of the character to be a gentleman.” He comes into are chosen and weighed, so as to be money; is called Doctor, marries the odious or ridiculous. It accuses itself very distant relative of a lord, tries to is studious to display vice, and behind get acquainted with high families. He its voice we hear the voice of the boasts to the last day of his life of writer who judges, unmasks, and pun
ishes it. Miss Crawley, a rich old the house, overwhelmed with preach
have to bring her back to bed again. • Vanity Fair. (Unless the original octavo She must not go out, Mr. Clump. She edition is mentioned
the translator has always shall not go out as long as I remain to used the collected edition of Thackeray's works in small octavo, 1855-1868, 14 vols.]
* Vanity Pair, ch. xix.
watch over her. And as for my health, Even the servants in the kitcan share in the what inatters it?. I give it cheerfully, general prosperity; and, somehow, during the sir. I sacrifice at the altar of my duty.'
beer is grown much stronger, and the consumpIt is clear that the author attacks Mrs. tion of tea and sugar in the nursery (where her Bute and all legacy-hunters. He gives maid takes her meals) is not regarded in the ber ridiculous airs, pompous phrases, least, Is it so, or is it not so? | appeal to the a transparent, coarse, and blustering you would send me an old aunt—a maiden aun
middle classes. Ah, gracious powers! I wish hypocrisy. The reader feels hatred and an aunt with a lozenge on her carriage, and disgust for her the more she speaks. a front of light coffee-coloured hair-how my He would unmask her; he is pleased to children should work workbags for her, and my see her assailed, driven into a corner, Sweet – sweet
Julia and I would make her comfortab.el
vision ! Foolish foolist taken in by the polished manœuvres of dream!" ** her adversary, and rejoices with the author, who tears from her and empha
There is no disguising it. The read sizes the shameful confession of her warned. When we have an aunt with
er most resolved not to be warned, is tricks and her greed. Having arrived so far, satirical re
a good sum to leave, we shall value
our attentions and our tenderness at Aection quits the literary form. In or their true worth. The author has ta. der the better to develop itself, it ex ken the place of our conscience, and hibits itself alone. Thackery now at the novel, transformed by reflection tacks vice himself, and in his own name. becomes a school of manners. No author is more fertile in dissertations; he constantly enters his story to
III. reprimand or instruct us ; he adds theoretical to active morality. We might
The lash is laid on very heavily in glean from his novels one or two vol- this school; it is the English taste. umes of essays in the manner of La About tastes and whips there is no disBruyère or of Addison. There are puting; but without disputing we may essays on love, on vanity, on hypocrisy, understand, and the surest means of on meanness, on all the virtues, all the understanding the English taste is to vices; and turning over a few pages, compare it with the French taste. we shall find one on the comedies of I see in France, in a drawing-room of legacies, and on too attentive rela- men of wit,or in an artist's studio, a score tives :
of lively people : they must be amused, “What a dignity, it gives an old lady, that that is their character. You may speak balance at the banker's! How tenderly we
to them of human wickedness, but on look at her faults, if she is a relative (and may condition of diverting them. every reader have a score of such), what a kind, get angry, they will be shocked ; if you good-natured old creature we find her! How the junior partner of Hobbs and Dobbs leads teach a lesson, they will yawn. Laugh, her smiling to the carriage with the lozenge it is the rule here--not cruelly, or from upon it, and the fat wheezy coachman! How: manifest enmity, but in good humor and when she comes to pay us a visit, we generally in lightness of spirit. This nimble wit find an opportunity to let our friends know her station in the world! We say (and with per- must act; the discovery of a clean fect truth) I wish I had Miss MacWhirter's piece of folly is a fortunate hap for it. signature to a cheque for five thousand pounds. As a light fame, it glides and flickers she wouldn't miss it, says your wife. She is in sudden outbreaks on the mere sur. ny aunt, say you, in an easy careless teray: face of things. Satisfy it by imitating when your friend asks if Miss MacWhirter is any relative? Your
wife is perpetually sending it, and to please gay people be gay. Be her little testimonies of affection ; your little polite, that is the second commandgirls work endless worsted baskets, cushions, and foot-stools for her. What a good fire ment, very like the other. You speak to there is in her room when she comes to pay you sociable, delicate, vain men, whom you a visit, although your wife laces her stays with must take care not to offend, but whom out one! The house during her stay assumes you must Aatter. You would wound a festive, neat, warm, jovial, snug appearance them by trying to carry conviction by not visible at other seasons. You yourself, dear sır, forget to go to sleep after dinner, and force, by dint of solid arguments, by a find yoursell all of a sudden (though you in- display of eloquence and indignation. variably lose) very fond of a rubber. What Do them the honor of supposing that good dinners you have game every day, MalmNev-Madeira, and no end of fish from London!
* Vanity Fair, ch. is.
they understand you at the first word, in motion. Let us also not forget that that a hinted smile is to them as good our hearers are practical minds, lovers as a sound syllogism, that a fine allu- of the useful; that they come here to sion caught on the wing reaches them be taught; that we owe them solid better than the heavy onset of a dull truths ; that their common sense, some. geometrical satire. Think, lastly (be- what contracted, does not fall in with tween ourselves), that, in politics as in hazardous extemporizations or doubtful religion, they have been for a thousand hints; that they demand worked out years very well governed,over governed; refutations and complete explanations; that when a man is bored he desires to and that if they have paid to come in, be so no more; that a coat too tight it was to hear advice which they might splits at the elbows and elsewhere. apply, and satire founded on proif. They are critics from choice; from Their mood requires strong emotions ; choice they like to insinuate forbidden their mind asks for precise demonstra things; and often, by abuse of logic, tions. To satisfy their mood, we must by transport, by vivacity, from ill hu- not merely scratch, but torture vice; to nior, they strike at society through satisfy their mind we must not rail in government, at morality through re- sallies, but by arguments. One word ligion. They are scholars who have more: down there, in the midst of the been too long under the rod; they assembly, behold that gilded, splendid break the windows in opening the book, resting royally on a velvet cush. doors. I dare not tell you to please ion. It is the Bible; around it there them: I simply remark that, in order are fifty moralists, who a while ago met to please them, a grain of seditious at the theatre and pelted an actor off humor will do no harm.
the stage with apples, who was guilty I cross seven leagues of sea, and of having the wife of a citizen for his here I am in a great unadorned hall, mistress. If with our finger-tip, with with a multitude of benches, with gas all the compliments and disguises in burners, swept, orderly, a debating club the world, we touch a single sacred or a preaching house." There are five leaf,or the smallest moral conventionalhundred long faces, gloomy and sub- ism, immediately fifty hands will fasten dued; * and at the first glance it is themselves on our coat collar and put clear that they are not there to amuse us out at the door. With Englishmen themselves. In this land a grosser we must be English, with their passion mood, overcharged with a heavier and and their common sense adopt their stronger nourishment, has deprived im- leading-strings. Thus confined to recpressions of their swift nobility, and ognize truths, satire will become more thought, less facile and prompt, has bitter, and will add the weight of public lost its vivacity and its gayety: If we belief to the pressure of logic and the rail before them, we must think that we force of indignation. are speaking to attentive, concentrated men, capable of durable and profound
IV. mensations, incapable of changeable and sudden emotion. Those immobile and No writer was better gifted than contracted faces will preserve the same Thackeray for this kind of satire, beattitude; they resist Åeeting and half- cause no faculty is more proper to satire formed smiles ; they cannot unbend; than reflection. Reflection is concen and their laughter is a convulsion as trated attention, and concentrated a:stiff as their gravity. Let us not skim tention increases a hundredfold the over our subject, but lay stress upon force and duration of emotions. He it; let us not pass over it lightly, but who is immersed in the contemplation impress it; let us not dally, but strike ; of a vice, feels a hatred of vice, and the be assured that we must' vehemently intensity of his hatred is measured by
vehement passions, and that the intensity of his contemplation. At shocks are needed to set these nerves first anger is a generous wine, which
intoxicates and excites; when preserv. Thackeray, in his Book of Snobs, says: ed and shut up, it becomes a liquor "Their usual English expression of intense gloom and subdued agony.
burning all that it touches, and corrod
ing even tl.e vessel which contains it. | against himself, and constrains himself Of all satirists, Thackeray, after Swift, to take the part of his adversary. On is the inost gloomy. Even his country- the other hand, this painful and volun men have reproached him with depict. tary attitude is the sign of excessive ing the world uglier than it is.* Indig- scorn; the protection which apparently nation, grief, scorn, disgust, are his is afforded to an enemy is the worst of ordinary sentiments. When he di- insults. The author seems to say:"I gresses, and imagines tender souls, he am ashamed to attack you; you are so exaggerates their sensibility, in order weak that, even supported, you must to render their oppression more odious. fall; your reasonings are your shame. The selfishness which wounds them and your excuses are your condemna appears horrible, and their resigned tion.” Thus the more serious the irony. sweetness is a mortal insult to their the strenger it is; the more you take tyrants : it is the same hatred which care to defend your adversary, the more has calculated the kindliness of the you degrade him; the more you seem to victims and the harshness of the perse- aid him, the more you crush him. This cutors.
is why Swift's grave sarcasm is su This anger, exasperated by reflection, terrible; we think he is showing re is also armed by reflection. It is clear spect, and he slays ; his approbation is that the author is not carried away a Hagellation. Amongst Swift's pupils, by passing indignation or pity. He Thackeray is the first. Several chap has mastered himself before speaking. ters in the Book of Snobs—that, for inHe has often weighed the rascality stance, on literary snobs-are worthy which he is about to describe. He is of Gulliver. The author has been passin possession of the motives, species, ing in review all the snobs of England; results, as a naturalist is of his classifi- what will he say of his colleagues, the cations. He is sure of his judgment, literary snobs? Will he dare to speak and has matured it. He punishes like of them ? Certainly: a man convinced, who has before him a heap of proofs, who advances noth- My dear and excellent querist, whom does
the Schoolmaster flog so resolutely as his own ing without a document or an argu- sou? Didn't Brutus chop his offspring's head ment, who has foreseen all objections off? You have a very bad opinion indeed of and refuted all excuses, who will never the presez: state of Literature and of literary pardon, who is right in being inflexible, men is you fancy that any one of us would
hesitate to stick a knife into his neighbour penwho is conscious of his justice, and who man, if the latter's death could do the State rests his sentence and his vengeance any servic: on all the powers of meditation and But the is, that in the literary profes
sion there are no Snobs. Look round at the equity. The effect of this justified and whole body of British men of letters, and I contained hatred is overwhelming. defy you to point out among them a single in. When we have read to the end of Bal stance of vulgarity, or envy, or assumption. zac's novels, we feel the pleasure of a them, they are all modest in their demeanour,
“Men and women, as far as I have known naturalist walking through a museum, elegant in their manners, spotless in their lives. past a fine collection of specimens and and honourable in their conduct to the world and monstrosities. When we have read to to each other. You may occasionally, it is true. the end of Thackeray, we feel the shud- hear one literary man abusing his brother ; but der of a stranger brought before a mat- all from envy; merely from a sense of truth
why? Not in the least out of malice; pot at bress in the operating-room of an hos- and public duty. Suppose, for instance, I goori pital, on the day when cautery is ap- naturedly point out a blemish in my friend Mr. plied or a limb is taken off.
Punch's person, and say Mr. P. has a hump
back, and his nose and chin are more crooked In such a case the most natural than those features in the Apollo or Antinous, weapon is serious irony, because it which we are accustomed to consider as ou: bears witness to concentrated hatred : standards of beauty ; does this argue malice he who employs it suppresses his first least. It is the critic's duty to point out defects
Not in the
on my part towards Mr, Punch! feeling; he feigns to be speaking as well as merits, and he invariably does his
duty with the utmost gentleness and can The Edinburgh Revicu.
dou:. See the character of Amelia in Vanity “That sense of equality and fraternity Pair, and of Colonel Newcome in the News amongst Authors has always struck me as one of
the most amiable characteristics of the class. It