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own very great satisfaction, until he is | ach. He made use of the same idea in induced to change horses with Captain de one of the series "Trials of Authors," but Bosky, and finds the change from the in this latter did not make himself the animated Sedan-chair he had hired to the hero of his own fun. wicked-looking beast, which rejoiced in the name of Purgatory," anything but a change for the better.
Later on, however, in " Brighton by "Punch's Commissioner," which place he calls "London plus prawns for breakfast and the sea air," we have a portrait of him without his spectacles, with his full six foot four complement of body reclining comfortably in, and absolutely filling an ordinary fly. It is driven by a delicious postilion in a pink striped-chintz jacket, which may have been the cover of an armchair once, and straight, whitey-brown hair and little wash-leather inexpressibles -the cheapest caricature of a post-boy eyes have ever lighted on.
In 1847, the same epidemic was raging that we have been groaning under in this present year of grace, and he contributed an amusing article called "Punch and the Influenza," accompanying it with a series of sketches of the scenes which Mr. P. saw as he called on his suffering contrib.
"The celebrated Br-wn," as he calls himself, "was found thus" (here follows a spirited sketch of himself). "Yes; he was in a warm bath composing those fine sentiments, which the reader will recognize in his noble and heart-stirring articles of this week, and as resigned and hearty as if he had been Seneca. He was very ill, and seemingly on the point of dissolution, but his gaiety never deserted him.
"You see I am trying to get the steam up still!' he exclaimed, with a sickly smile and a look of resignation so touching, that Mr. Punch, unable to bear the sight, had only leisure to lay an order for a very large amount of £ s. d. upon the good-natured martyr's clothes-horse, and to quit the room."
Again, in "Sketches and Travels in London," we find a full-length portrait of him standing bolt upright, and facing the reader alongside of, and illustrating the first monosyllable "I" of the letter to "Bob" called "Out of Town," to say the least, an original method of announcing an author's identity. In the same series we find him in "Mr. Brown takes Mr. Brown the younger to the Club," having a little fun at his own expense. The article opens with a picture of young Horner lying on his back in the library fast asleep, with "Pendennis" resting unread on his stom
These, then, are a few of the many occasions upon which Thackeray used himself as an artist's model. The admirers of this great man, who has been ranked by no mean authority with Shakespeare and Balzac, will find it interesting to have an idiosyncrasy of this kind, superficial though it is, brought to their notice. Surely none, who have ever been in more than surface touch with the master, can ever fall away from allegiance to him, and it is one of my principal objects in writing this paper to so bring others into contact with his genius that, by getting them first to take an interest in a master which is not essentially inherent, they may be tempted to search further and find those constituent principles which are more worth the seeking.
Rembrandt, Rubens, Velasquez, indeed nearly all the greatest of the world's painters, have given us portraits of themselves. but they have taken good care, one and all, to so arrange the lights and pose as to give us the man of genius with his profoundest intellectual expression. It was, I think, left for Thackeray to portray himself in the most unbecoming lights and under the most undignified conditions.
It was a deep-seated principle with him always to taste the quality of his own whip before he flagellated the shoulders of others. And, if we find this in studying his pictures, how much more do we find him unsparing of himself in his writings! In using himself as a whipping-boy for our sins he probably believed that he was making himself as despicable as a Rousseau. He forgot that, in laying bare his foibles, his weaknesses, the evil promptings of his heart, he could not altogether conceal from view his moral force, his human sympathies, and his hatred of cant and meanness.
Each thought was visible that rolled within As through a crystal case the figured hours And heaven did this transparent veil provide, Because he had no evil thoughts to hide.
Let us not then in these days of hustle and excitement forget altogether the man who preached a life-long sermon from the text Vanitas Vanitatum. He has a lesson for us all which we shall do well to learn.
GEORGE SOMES LAYARD.
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From The Quarterly Review. ENGLISH REALISM AND ROMANCE."
seem to have lived and sung before this modern world arose to vex and burden us; they sing to our ear rather than to our understanding. Even Hamlet may be
charged with expressing only half our thought; on the matters that come home to us altum tenet silentium. Immortal Tithonus shrinks to the voice of a grasshopper, and we turn perforce to new oracles. When literature is called upon to balance the conquests of science, must we not understand by literature the novel?
WHEN the dramatic art quitted our English stage, and took to writing prose instead of verse, it became a serious question how far the novel would respond to the new and formidable demands made upon its resources. Would it ever match the great achievements of rhyme, or find a Shakespeare who would not disdain the level highway which alone it seemed to offer as a path to his genius? Would it excel in tragedy or in comedy? To the In his famous prelude to "Diana of the Frenchman, prose has long approved itself Crossways," Mr. George Meredith has as the field on which to win undying lau- written, not without daring, "The forecast rels; but surely that is, it will be argued, may be hazarded, that, if we do not speedbecause the higher inspiration fails him, ily embrace philosophy in fiction, the Art and if he does not sing it is for a good is doomed to extinction under the shining reason, he has no voice. But from our multitude of its professors. They are fast triumphant swelling music, our "seven-capping the candle. Instead, therefore, of fold chorus of hallelujahs and harping objurgating the timid intrusions of Philossymphonies," to mere pedestrian speech, ophy, invoke her presence, I pray you. what a fall was there! The novel might History without her is the skeleton-map amuse, might serve as a pastime to make modelled on no skeleton-anatomy. the idle crowd laugh, and, in general, play of events; Fiction a picture of figures the merry-andrew to our earnest, energetic each, with philosophy in aid, blooms and strivings of every day; but mount the is humanly shapely." Such would be his throne and assume the robes of heroic lit- own excuse for boldly attempting to give erature? — not until we had forgotten our back, whether in fantastic or hard-grained Chaucers, Miltons, and Shakespeares! It solid prose, "Reality's infinite sweetness." must be content with the second place, He is a realist that he may be a philososimply because the first was already filled. pher; and he philosophizes to catch realTo low comedy it might aspire, but never ity on the wing, in actual fact, as it is, and to anything more than scene-painting with not merely as to shut and dreaming eyes a lover and his lass thrown in, as its top- it may appear to be, in visions divorced most performance. A prose Shakespeare from sunlight truth. Certain it is, at all was out of the question. events, that he states in plain terms the And yet, suppose that the problem of thing to be achieved, unless it be from the English literature, now grown world-wide nature of the case an impossibility. Call and rooted in the very language of three the analysis of nature science, and let the continents, were to make a prose Shake-interpretation of life be art; then our speare possible? What if the reign of problem is to marry art and science in a science meant the abolition, or else the literature which will inspire, while it actransformation, of poetry? The nightin- counts for us. gale does not chant his wild notes perched on a telegraph-wire. English metrical drama is dead and sleeps in its grave. The classic poets, read more perhaps in Board Schools than in drawing-rooms, 1. The Oracal of Richard Feverel, and other Novels. By George Meredith. London, 1859-1891. 2. King Solomon's Mines, and other Novels. By H. Rider Haggard. London, 1885-1890. 3. The New Arabian Nights, and other Novels.
By R. L. Stevenson. London, 1882-1888.
And there are eight hundred novels a year published in England! Of which, how many survive the year after? "Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?" Where, indeed? The staple English commodity which circulates in three volumes is a conventional product, an institution like Saturday excursions to Brighton and Margate for half-a-crown, a refuge for distressed needlewomen, a thing as native to
But Thackeray, Dickens, George Eliot, - do we mean to call these mere artists in wax? Assuredly not Thackeray nor the first George Eliot, not the creator of Becky Sharp, nor the excelling heart and brain to which we stand indebted for the idyl of "Silas Marner" and the woodland tragedy of " Adam Bede." Dickens, again, is by profession both clown and pantaloon, but he is quaint, affectionate, pitiful, the genius of oddity personified, no less than the stage-struck sentimentalist; he is Smollett redivivus, and, rugged as the old Scotch surgeon was, both he and his imitator displayed a manliness beyond the reach of ten thousand Rousseaus. But mere sentiment, even in Dickens, is a fault, and never a virtue. The line of advance in English literature lies through Thackeray and George Eliot. Your Dickens may be popular, lovable, unforgotten. Something, however, there is which forbids us to name him classic. Is it the want of thought, of philosophy? He cries and laughs in quick succession; but he writes the comedy of the footlights, and is unequal to the deeper, more subdued yet infinitely more piercing, comedy of life. His strong point, if we may venture on the expression, is pathetic burlesque. He will always fascinate those who are touched by transpontine melodrama played to a full house, not the student or man of the world, but the unlearned crowd.
our shores as Britannia metal and after- | send for the "common hangman," if his noon tea. The Homeric epithet, dedi- hand be not entirely out, and bid him cated by long custom to its service, is make an auto da fé in front of Mudie's, "trashy." Our indigenous novel, taken in with the feminine public looking on, ago. the bulk, contains little art and no sci- nized and much sobbing, but learning in ence. And its art is well-worn, a feeble this wholesome manner their first profitecho of Rousseau with insular decorum able reading-lesson? stifling his too Gallic accents and reducing him to respectable inanity. It is a sentimental prude, who would shriek, and perhaps faint, at the very mention, by bold Mr. Meredith, of "skeleton-anatomy." Delighting in the "love-season, that carnival of egoism," our British Miss closes her record discreetly when the weddingbells strike up, and she is to use her own favorite expression led to the altar" by the hero whom she has chased, or drawn on, from cover to cover, through a thousand pages. When the French satirist wanders in the forest of Mudie and glances at these strange, impossible creatures, he feels an overpowering sense of wonder and amusement, which tempts him to exaggerate the less desirable qualities of his own fiction in the hope of giving a redoubled shock, for there is nothing he so contemns as Rousseau turned Puritan. The "everlasting pantomime" of rosepink virtue squinting across the pages of its prayer-book at vice, while it gambols within the measure of police-morality, is very laughable to him. Heartily would he agree with Mr. Meredith that not in such a fashion can art be raised "on a level with history, to an interest surpassing the narrative of public deeds as vividly as man's heart and brain in their union excel his plain lines of action." Carlyle insisted that history, were it written as it ought to be, would read like a Bible. Mr. Meredith has ventured to demand the like seriousness, and to prophesy the same result, if the novel is not to sink degraded "in the thick midst of poinarded, slit throat, rope-dependent figures, placarded across the bosom, Disillusioned, Infidel, Agnostic, Miserrimus." Yet we have got no farther on the path of deliverance than our eight hundred sentimental wax-work stories, appearing and disappearing, as the year goes round, on this stage of "everlasting pantomime." Is it so much as a commencement? Or should we not
How different has been the fate of Thackeray! That mighty artist has struck into life, and plucked from it quivering figures with the blood in them; not lovely, nor high-toned and noble for the most part; only as true as he dared to make them. And George Eliot, the close stu dent of Thackeray, not quite free from obligations to Balzac, and as far-seeing in rustic village ways as the satirist of "Vanity Fair" was in Pall Mall and Russell Square, - we are speaking of fifty years