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loss pair, on appealing for aid to the Earl of smiled at the miserable vanity and weakness Crabs and his new-made wife, are spurned of poor Matilda Griffin before, we remember with remorseless contempt. What ensues, them no more after that woful scene. let Mr. Yellowplush tell in his own peculiar “ The Luck of Barry Lyndon," which folstyle :
lowed soon after the appearance of “ The YelAbout three months after, when the season brighter aspects of humanity, but so little,
lowplush Papers," was a little relieved by was beginning at Paris, and the autumn leafs that it can never be referred to with pleasure, was on the ground, my lord,
my lady, me and despite the sparkling brilliancy of the narraMortimer, were taking a stroal on the Boddy tive, and abundant traces of the most delightBalong, the carridge driving on slowly ahead,ful humor. How completely, in a sentence, and us as happy as posbill, admiring the pleasnt does Barry convey to us a picture of his woods, and the golden sunset. My lord was expayshating to my lady upon
mnother! the exquizet beauty of the sean, and pouring forth a host of butitle and virtuous sentament neighbors regarding her own humịlity and piety,
Often and often has she talked to me and the sootable to the hour. It was dalitefle to hear pointing them out in such a way, that I would him. “Ah !” said he, “black must be the defy the most obstinate to disbelieve her. heart, my love, which does not feel the influence of a scene like this ; gathering, as it were, from The same vein of delicate sarcasm runs those sunlit skies a portion of their celestial gold, throughout the tale, where every page is and gaining somewhat of heaven with each pure marked by that matchless expressiveness and draught of this delicious air !"
Indy Crabs did not speak, but prest his arm, ease of style for which Mr. Thackeray is the and looked upwards. Mortimer and I, too, fell envy of his contemporaries. The hero is as some of the infliwents of the sean, and lent on worthless a scoundrel as ever swindled at our goold sticks in silence. The carridge drew ecarté, or earthed his man in a duel. He narup close to us, and my lord and my lady saun- rates his own adventures and rascalities with tered slowly tords it.
the artless naïveté of a man troubled by no Jest at the place was a bench, and on the bench scruples of conscience or misgivings of the sate a poorly drest woman, and by her, leaning moral sense — a conception as daring as the against a tree, was a man whom I thought I'd execution is adınirable.' For a time the reader sean befor. He was drest in a shabby blew coat, is carried along, with a smilingadmiration with white seems and copper buttons ; a torn of the author's humor, and quiet way of hat was on his head, and great quantaties of bringing into view the seamy side of a nummatted hair and whiskers disfiggared his count- ber of respectable shams ; but when he finds nints. He was not shaved, and as pale as stone that he is passed along from rake to swindler,
My lord and lady didn take the slightest no- from gambler to ruffian -- that the men lie, tice of him, but past on to the carridge. Me and Mortimer lickwise took our places. As we past, cheat, and cog the dice, and that the women the man had got a grip of the woman's shoulder, intrigue, or drink brandy in their tea, or are who was holding down her head, sobbing bit-fatuous fools, the atmosphere becomes oppresterly.
sive, and even the brilliancy of the wit begins No sooner were my lord and lady seated, than to pall. Yet there are passages in this story, they both, with igstrame dellixy and good natur, and sketches of character, which Mr. Thackbust into a ror of lafter, peal upon peal, whoop- eray has never surpassed. Had these been ing and screaching, enough to frighten the even-only mingled with some pictures of people ing silents.
not either hateful for wickedness or despicable Deuceace turned round. I see his face now
for weakness, and in whom we could have the frce of a devvle of hell! Fust, he lookt felt a cordial' interest, the tale might have towards the carridge, and pointed to it with his maimed arm; then he raised the other, and which he must have seen, with no small
won for its author much of the popularity struck the woman by his side. She fell, screaming.
chagrin, carried off by men altogether unfit Poor thing! Poor thing!
to cope with him in originality or power.
There is always apparent in Mr. ThackThere is a frightful truthfulness in this pic- eray's works so much natural kindliness, so ture that makes the heart sick. We turn true a sympathy with goodness, that only from it, as we do from the hideous realities some bitter and unfortunate experiences can of an old Flemish painter, or from some dis- explain, as it seems to us, the tendency of his mal revelation in a police report. Still, the mind at this period to present human nature author's power burns into the memory the in its least ennobling aspects. Whenever the image of that miserable woman, and his sim- man himself speaks out in the first person, as ple exclamation at the close tells of a heart in his pleasant books of travel — his “ Irish that has bled at the monstrous brutalities to Sketch Book," and his “ Journey from Cornthe sex, of which the secret records are aw- hill to Cairo" — he shows so little of the fully prolific, but which the romance writer cynic, or the melancholy Jaques — finds so rarely ventures to approach. If we have hearty a delight in the contemplation of all
simple pleasures, and so cordially recognizes | most strange to find no effort made to link all social worth and all elevation of character, himself to the affections of his readers by as to create surprise that he should have taken some portraiture, calculated to take hold of 80 little pains in his fictions to delineate good their hearts, and to be remembered with a or lofty natures. That this arose from no feeling of gratitude and love! Whatever Mr. want of love for his fellow-men, or of admi- Thackeray's previous experiences may have ration for the power which, by depicting good- been, however bis faith in human goodness ness, self-sacritice, and greatness, inspires may have been shaken,
intluences men with something of these qualities, is ob- which he hero recognizes of such a writer as vious for even at the time when he was Dickens must have taught him how much writing those sketches to which we have ad- there is in his fellow-men that is neither verted, Mr. Thackeray's pen was recording, weak nor wicked, and how many sunny and with delightful cordiality, the praises of his hopeful aspects our common life presents to great rival, Dickens, for these very excel- lighten even the saddest heart. lences, the absence of which in his own writ The salutary influence of Dickens' spirit ings is their greatest drawback. It is thus may, indeed, be traced in the writings of Mr. he wrote in February, 1844, of Dickens' Thackeray about this period, tempering the “ Christmas Carol.” We quote from “ Fra- bitterness of his sarcasm, and suggesting ser's Magazine."
more pleasing views of human nature. The And now there is but one book left in the box, genius of the men is, however, as diverse as
can well be conceived. The mind of the one the smallest one, but oh! how much the best of is as hopeful as it is loving. That' of the all
. It is the work of the master of all the Eng- other, not less loving, though less expansive lish humorists now alive; the young man who came and took his place calmly at the head of in its love, is constitutionally unhopeful. We the whole tribe, and who has kept it. Think of smile at folly with the one ; the other anakes all we owe Mr. Dickens since those half-dozen us sinile, indeed, but he makes us think too. years, the store of happy hours that he has made The one sketches humors and eccentricities us pass, the kindly and pleasant companions which are the casualties of character ; the whom he has introduced to us ; the harmless other paints characters in their essence, and laughter, the generous wit, the frank, manly, with a living truth which will be recoguized a human love which he has taught us to feel ! hundred years hence as much as now. DickEvery month of those years has brought us soine ens serious characters, for the most part, kind token from this delightful genius. His relish of melodramatic extravagance ; there books may have lost in art, perhaps, but could is no mistake about Thackeray's being from we afford to wait? Since the days when the
the life. Spectator was produced by a man of kindred
Dickens' sentiment, which, when mind and temper, what books have appeared that good, is good in the first class, is frequently have taken so affectionate a hold of the English far-fetched and pitched in an unnatural key public as these? They have made millions of - his pathos elaborated by the artifices of rich and poor happy; they might have been the practised writer. Thackeray's sentiment, locked up for nine years, doubtless, and pruned rarely indulged, is never otherwise than geohere and there, and improved (which I doubt), uine ; his pathos is unforced, and goes to the but where would have been the reader's benefit roots of the heart. The style of Dickens, all this time, while the author was elaborating originally lucid, and departing from directness his performance? Would the communion be- and simplicity only to be amusingly quaint, tween the writer and the public have been what soon becaine vicious, affected, and obscure : it is now --- something continual, coufidential, that of Thackeray has always been manly something like personal affection ? . Who can listen to objections regarding such a
and transparent, presenting his ideas in the book as this ? It seems to me a national benefit, very fittest garb. Dickens' excellence springs and to every man or woman who reads it a per- from his heart, to whose promptings he trusts sonal kindness. The last two people I heard himself with an unshrinking faith that kinspeak of it were women ; neither knows the other dles a reciprocal enthusiasm in his readers : or the author, and both said, by way of criticism, there is no want of heart in Thackeray, but « God bless him!”
As for Tiny Tim, its utterances are timorous and few, and held there is a certain passage in the book regarding in check by the predominance of intellectual that young gentleman about which a man should energy and the habit of reflection. Thackeray hardly venture to spenk in print or in public, any keeps the realities of life always before his more than he would of any other affections of his private heart. There is not a reader in England realms of imagination, and, if at times he
eyes ; Dickens wanders frequently into the but that little creature will be a bond of union only brings back, especially of late, fantastic between the author and him ; and he will say of and unpatural beings, we must not forget, Charles Dickens, as the woman just now, bless him !” What a feeling is this for a writer that he has added to literature some of its to be able to inspire, and what a reward to reap most beautiful ideals. When he moves us to
laughter, the laughter is broad and joyous ; In a writer who felt and wrote thus, it was when he bathes the cheek in tears, he leaves
in the heart the sunshine of a bright after-hope. true in life, one must believe heartily in both. The mirth which Thackeray moves rarely passes Men who shut up their own hearts in sceptibeyond a smile, and his pathos, while it leares cism are apt to freeze the fountains of human the eye unmoistened, too often makes the heart love and generosity in others. Mr. Thackeray sad to the core, and leaves it so. Both are must, ere now, have learned, by the most satirists of the vices of the social system ; pleasing of all proofs, that there is a world of hut the one would rally us into amendment, nobleness, loving-kindoess, purity, and selfthe other takes us straight up to the flaw, and denial in daily exercise under the surface of compels us to admit it. Our fancy merely is that society whose distempers he has so skilamused by Dickens, and this often when he fully probed. The best movements of his own means to satirize some grave vice of character nature, in his works, have brought back to him, or the defects of a tyrannous system. It is we doubt not, many a cordial response, calcunever so with Thackeray: he forces the mind lated to inspire him with a more cheerful to acknowledge the truth of his picture, and hope, and a warmer faith in our common huto take the lesson home. Dickens seeks to manity. Indeed, his writings already bear amend the heart by depicting virtue ; Thack- the marks of this salutary influence ; and it is eray seeks to achieve the same end by expos- not always in depicting wickedness or weaking vice. Both are great moralists ; but it is ness that he has latterly shown his greatest absurd to class them as belonging to one power. school. In matter and in manner they are so The unpretending character of Mr. Thackthoroughly unlike, that when we find this eray's fictions has no doubt arisen in a great done, as by Sir Archibald Alison, in the re- degree from a desire to avoid the vices into view of the literature of the present century which the great throng of recent novelists had in his “ History of Europe,” we can only at- fallen. While professing to depict the mantribute the mistake to a limited acquaintance ners and events of every-day life, their works with their works. Of Dickens, Sir Archibald were, for the most part, essentially untrue to apparently knows something, but he can nature. The men and women were shadows, know little of Mr. Thackeray's writings, to the motives wide of the springs of action by limit his merits, as he does, to “talent and which life is actually governed, the sentiments graphic powers,” and the ridicule of ephen- fulse and exaggerated, the manners deficient eral vices. On the contrary, the very qualities in local coloring. Imaginative power was not are to be found in them which in the same wanting, but it revelled so wildly, that it paragraph he defines as essential to the writer merely stimulated the nerves, and left no perfor lasting fame — “ profound insight into the manent impression on the heart or understandhuman heart, condensed power of expression,” ing. Elevation of sentiment abounded in ex
— the power of “diving deep into the inmost cess, but the conduct of the heroes and herecesses of the soul, and reaching failings uni- roines was frequently hard to square with the versal in mankind,” like Juvenal, Cervantes, rules of morality, or the precepts of religion. Le Sage, or Molière.
Bulwer's genius had run wild in pseudo-phiSir Archibald comes nearer to the truth losophy and spurious sentimentalisin. James when he ascribes to Mr. Thackeray the want was reeling off interminable yarns of florid of imaginative power and elevation of thought. verbiage. Mrs. Gore’s facile pen was reiterBut what right have we to expect to find the ating, the sickening, conventionalisms of soqualities of a Raphael in a Hogarth, or of a called fashionable life ; and Ainsworth had Nilton in a Fielding? If genius exercises its exalted the scum of Newgate and Hounslow peculiar gifts to pure ends, we are surely not into heroic beings of generous impulses and entitled to ask for more, or to measure it by passionate souls. Things had ceased to be an inapplicable standard. It cannot be de- called by their right names ; the principles of nied that Mr. Thackeray's ideas of excellence, right and wrong were becoming more and as they appear in his books, are low, and that more confounded; sham sentiment, sham there is little in them to elevate the imagina- morality, sham heroism, were everywhere tion, or to fire the heart with noble impulses. rampant; and romance-writers every day His vocation does not lie peculiarly in this wandering farther and farther from nature direction; and he would have been false to and truth. Their characters were either himself had he simulated an exaltation of paragons of excellence, or monsters of iniquity sentiment which was foreign to his nature. It – grotesque caricatures, or impossible contrahas always seemed to us, however, that he has dictions ; and the laws of nature, and the scarcely done himself justice in this particular. courses of heaven, were turned aside to enable Traces may be seen in his writings of a latent the authors to round off their tales according enthusiasm, and a fervent admiration for to their own low standard of morality or ambeauty and worth, overlaid by a crust of cold bition, and narrow conceptions of the working distrustfulness, which we hope to see give way of God's providence. In criticism and in parbefore happier experiences, and a more extend- ody, Mr. Thackeray did his utmost to demoled range of observation. To find the good and I ish this vicious state of things. The main
object of his " Luck of Barry Lyndon," and of human frailty had been altogether ignored ; his “ Catharine Hayes," was to show in their we had been so drenched with fine writing true colors the class of rogues, ruffians, and and poetical sensibility, that he probably demireps, towards whom the sympathies of thought a little wholesome abstinence in all the public had been directed by Bulwer, these respects might not be un profitable. He Ainsworth, and Dickens. ,. Mr. Thackeray felt plainly had no ambition to go on feeding the deeply the injury to public morals, and the public complacency with pictures of life, from disgrace to literature, inflicted by the pervert- which nothing was to he learned – which ed exercise of these writers' powers upon sub- merely amused the fancy, or inflated the wind jects which had hitherto been wisely confined with windy aspirations, and false conceptions to such recondite chronicles as “ The Terrific of human destiny and duty. To place before Register, " and the “ Newgate Calendar." us the men and women who compose the sum Never was antidote more required ; and the lof that life in the midst of which we are morinstinct of truth, which uniformly guides Mr. (ing — to show them to us in such situations Thackeray's pen, stamped his pictures with as we might see them in any day of our lives the hues of a ghastly reality. Public taste, - to probe the principles upon which the however, rejected the genuine article, and re- framework of society in the nineteenth cenjoiced in the counterfeit. The philosophical tury is based — to bring his characters to the cut-throat, or the sentimental" Magdalene, test of trial and temptation, such as all may were more piquant than the low-browed ruf- experience - to force us to recognize goodness fian of the condemned cell, or the vulgar Circe and worth, however unattractive the guise in of Shire-lane ; and until the mad fit had spent which they may appear in a word, to paint itselt in the exhaustion of a false excitement, life as it is, colored as little as may be with the public ear was deaf to the remonstrances the hues of the imagination, and to teach of its caustic monitor.
wholesome truths for every-day necessities, Nor was it only in the literature of New- was the higher task to which Mr. Thackeray gate, as it was well named, that he found now addressed himself. He could not carry matter for reproof and reformation. He had out this purpose without disappointing those looked too earnestly and closely at life, and its who think a novel fat which does not centre issues, not to see that the old and easy man- its interest on a handsome and faultless hero, ner of the novelist in distributing what is with a comfortable balance at his banker's, or called poetical justice, and lodging his favor- a heroine of good family and high iinaginaites in a haven of common-place comfort at tive qualities. Life does not abound in such. the close of some improbable game of cross- Its greatest virtues are most frequently hid in purposes, had little in common with the the humblest and least attractive shapes ; actual course of things in the world, and could its greatest vices most commonly veiled under convey little either to instruct the understand- a fascinating exterior, and a carriage of uning, to school the affections, or to strengthen questionable respectability. It would have the will. At the close of his “ Barry Lyn- cost a writer of Mr. Thackeray's practised don,” we find his views on this matter ex- skill little effort to have thrown into his picpressed in the following words:
ture figures which would have satisfied the There is something naïve and simple in that demands of those who insist upon delineations time-honored style of novel-writing, by which of ideal excellence in works of fiction ; but, Prince Pretty man, at the end of his adventures, is we apprehend, these would not have been put in possession of every worldly prosperity, as he consistent with his design of holding up, as has been endowed with every mental and bodily in a mirror, the strange chaos of that “ Vanity excellence previously. The novelist thinks that Fair," on which his own meditative eye
haà he can do no more for his darling hero than to so earnestly rested. make him a lord. Is it not a poor standard that That Mr. Thackeray may have pushed his of the summum bonum ? The greatest good in views to excess, we do not deny. He might, life is not to be a lord, perhaps not even to be
we think, have accomplished his object quite happy. Poverty, illness, a humpback, may be rewards and conditions of good, as well as that as effectually by letting in a little more sunbodily prosperity which all of us unconsciously shine on his picture, and by lightening the set up for worship.
shadows in some of his characters. Without
any compromise of truth, he might have given With these views, it was natural that in us somebody to admire and esteem, without his first work of magnitude, “ Vanity Fair,'' qualifications or humiliating reserves. That Mr. Thackeray should strike out a course no human being is exempt from frailties, we which might well startle those who had been need not be reminded. The divine Imogen” accustomed to the old routine of caterers for herself, we daresay, had her faults, is the the circulating libraries. The press had al- whole truth were told; and we will not unready teemed with so many heroes of unex- dertake to say, that Juliet may not have cost ceptionable attractions, personal and mental old Capulet a good deal of excusable anxiety.
so many hervines, in whom the existence | But why dash our admiration by needlessly
reminding us of such facts ?
There is a merely a putting up with something which wantonness in fixing the eye upon some merely might have been worse? With all the laticasual ilaw, after you have filled the heart tude of life to choose from, why be evermore and imagination with a beautiful image. It reminding us of the limitations of our happiis a sorry morality which evermore places the ness - the compromise of our fairest hopes ? death’s-head among the flowers and garlands It was a poor and false conception of human of the banquet. Vanity Fair,” Mr. happiness which placed it always in worldly Thackeray has frequently fallen into this prosperity; but is it not also wide of truth, to error ; and he has further marred it by wil. make the good and noble always suffer, and to fully injuring our interest in the only charac- teach that all high desires are vain — that ters which he puts forward for our regard. they must either be baffled, or, if achiered, Anxious to avoid the propensity of novelists dissolve in disappointment? This is a cheerto make Apollos of their heroes, and paragons less creed, and false as cheerless; and it is by of their heroines, he has run into the opposite bringing it too prominently forward, that extreme, and made Dobbin — the only thor- Mr. Thackeray has exposed biinself to a charge oughly excellent.and lovable character in the of cynicism and want of heart. book so ungainly as to be all but objection of these defects, however, no thoughtful able, and his pet heroine, Amelia, so foolishly reader will accuse him. IIis writings abound weak as to wear out our patience.
in passages of tenderness, which bespeak a This is all the more vexatious, seeing that heart gentle as a woman's, a sensitiveness only the love of Dobbin for Amelia is the finest less fine; a depth of pity and charity, which delineation of pure and unselfish devotion writers of more pretence to these qualities within the whole range of fiction. Such love never approach. “ The still, sad music of in woman has often been depicted, but Mr. humanity” reverberates through all his writThackeray is the first who has had the courage ings. He has painted so much of the bad to essay, and the delicacy of touch to perfect, qualities of mankind, and painted them sɔ well, a portraiture of this lifelong devotion in the that this power has been very generally misopposite sex. It is a favorite theory of his, taken for that delight in the contemplation of that men who love best are prone to be most wickedness or frailty, and that distrust of inistaken in their choice. We doubt the human goodness, which constitute the cynic. truth of the position ; and we question the But this is to judge him unfairly. If his pen accuracy of the illustration in Dobbin. He be most graphic in such characters as Becky would have got off his knees, we think, and Sharp, the Marquis of Steyne, Miss Crawley, gone away long before he did ; at all events, or Major Pendennis, it is so because such having once gone, the very strength of char- characters present stronger lines than the acter which attached him to Amelia so long quiet charities or homely chivalry in which would have kept him away. Why come back alone it is possible for excellence to express to mate with one whom he had proved unable itself in the kind of life with which his to reach to the height of the attachment which writings deal. Such men and women strike he bore her? Adinirable as are the con- the eye more than the Dobbins, the Helen cluding scenes between Amelia and the Pendennises, and Warringtons of society. major, we wish Mr. Thackeray, could have These must be followed with a loving heart wound
up his story in some other way, for and open understanding, before their worth nothing is, to our minds, sadder among the will blossom into view ; and it is, to our grave impressions left by this saddening book, mind, one of Mr. Thackeray's finest characthan the thought that even Dobbin has found teristics, that he makes personages of this his ennobling dream of devotion to be a class so subordinate as he does to the wickedly weariness and a vanity. It is as though one amusing and amusingly wicked characters had ruthlessly trodden down some single soli- which crowd his pages. This, indeed, is tary flower in a desert place.
one of those features which help to give to Mr. Thackeray has inflicted a similar shock his pictures the air of reality in which lies upon his readers' feelings in handing over their peculiar charm, and make us feel while Laura Bell, with her fresh, frank heart, and we read them as though we were moving fine understanding, to Arthur Pendennis, that among the experiences of our own very life. aged youth, who is just as unworthy of her as Here and there amid the struggle, and swag; Amelia is of Dobbin. If such things do occur ger, and hypocrisy, and time-serving, and in life — and who has been so fortunate in vanity, and falsehood of the world, we come his experiences as to say they do not ?— is the upon some true soul, some trait of shrinking novelist, whose vocation it is to cheer as well goodness, of brave endurance, of noble sacrias to instruct, only to give us the unhappy fice. So is it in Mr. Thackeray's books. In issues of feelings the highest and purest, and the midst of his most brilliant satire, or bis never to gladden us with the hope that all is most crowded scenes, some simple suggestion not disappointment, and our utmost bliss not of love and goodness occurs, some sweet touch