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rather than dine with the Dean of St. Patrick's. He would take a pot of ale with Goldsmith rather than a glass of Burgundy with the “ Reverend Mr. Sterne," and that, simply, because he is Thackeray. He would have done it as Fielding would have done it, because he values one genuine emotion above the most dazzling thought, because he is, in fine, a Bohemian, "a minion of the moon,
a great, sweet, generous human heart. We say this with the more unction now, that we have the personal proof of it in his public and private intercourse while he was here.
The popular Thackeray-theory, before his arrival, was of a severe satirist, who concealed scalpels in his sleeves and carried probes in his waistcoat pockets; a scoffer and sneerer, and general infidel of all high aim and noble character. Certainly we are justified in saying that his presence among us quite corrected this idea.
We conceive this to be the chief result of Thackeray's visit, that he convinced us of his intellectual integrity; he showed us how impossible it is for him to see the world, and describe it other than he does. He does not profess cynicism, nor satirize society with malice. There is no man more humble, none more simple.
There is no man who masks so little as he, in assuming the author. His books are his observations reduced to writing. It seems to us as singular to demand that Dante should be like Shakspeare, as to quarrel with Thackeray's want of what is called ideal
portraiture. Even if you thought, from reading his Vanity Fair, that he had no conception of noble women, certainly after the lecture upon Swift, after all the lectures, in which every allusion to women was so manly, and delicate, and sympathetic, you thought so no longer.
Mr. Thackeray's success was very great.
He did not visit the West, nor Canada. He went home without seeing Niagara Falls. But wherever he did go, he found a generous social welcome, and a respectful and sympathetic hearing. He came to fulfil no mission: but he certainly knit more closely our sympathy with Englishmen.
From Colburn's New Monthly. Reprinted in The Eclectic
Magazine, December, 1853.
THACKERAY'S LECTURES ON THE ENGLISH
“Heroes and Hero-worship”-a subject chosen by Mr. Carlyle, when he arose to discourse before the sweet shady-sidesmen of Pall Mall and the fair of Mayfair—is not all the res vexanda one would predicate
course of lectures by Mr. Titmarsh. If the magnificence of the hero grows small by degrees and beautifully less before the microscopic scrutiny of his valet, so might it be expected to end in a minus sign, after subjection to the eliminating process of the “ Book of Snobs.” Yet one passage, at least, there is in the attractive volume before us, instinct with heroworship, and, some will think, (as coming from such a quarter,) surcharged with enthusiasm, --where the lecturer affirms, “ I should like to have been Shakspeare's shoeblack—just to have lived in his house, just to have worshipped him—to have run on his errands, and seen that sweet serene face.' At which sally, we can imagine nil admirari folks exclaiming, (if they be capable of an exclamation,)“Oh, you little snob!” Nevertheless, that sally will go far to propitiate many a reader hitherto steeled against the showman of “ Vanity Fair, as an inveterate cynic-however little of real ground he may have given for such a prejudice.
As with clerical sermons, so with laic lectures, there are few one pines to see in print. In the present instance, those who were of Mr. Thackeray's audience will probably, in the majority of cases, own to a sense of comparative tameness as the result of deliberate perusal. Nevertheless, the book could be ill spared, as books go. It is full of sound, healthy, manly, vigorous writing-sagacious in observation, independent and thoughtful, earnest in sentiment, in style pointed, clear, and straightforward.
If we cared to dwell upon them, we might, however, make exceptions decided if not plentiful against parts of this volume. That Mr. Thackeray can be pertinaciously one-sided was seen in his “ Esmond” draught of the Duke of Marlborough. A like restriction of vision seems here to distort his presentment of Sterne and of Hogarth.
The lecture on Congreve is Titmarsh all over. Addison meets with warmer eulogy than might have been expected. He is invariably mentioned with loving deference. We have not the heart to inquire, here, whether the portrait, as a whole-length, is not too flattering in its proportions, and too bright in coloring. But doubtless the lecturer might, and many, we surmise, expected that he would, take a strangely opposite view of Pope's “ Atticus."
. . Steele is one of Mr. Thackeray's darlings.
They (the readers] may stumble here and thereone at the estimate of Pope's poetical status, another at the panegyric on Addison, and some at the scanty acknowledgments awarded to Hogarth and to Sterne. But none will put down the book without a sense of growing respect for the head and the heart of its author, and a glad pride in him as one of the Representative Men of England's current literature.
From The Spectator (London), June 11, 1853. Mr. Thackeray is amongst us once again, and gives welcome notice of his reappearance by the publication of the famous lectures we heard two years ago. Since that time they have drawn crowds of interested listeners in many of our great towns. Those who came once to see and hear the author of “ Vanity Fair,” and to watch at a safe distance the terrible satirist, whose dressing-gown, like that of the old Frankish King, was trimmed with the scalps of slaughtered “ snobs, were attracted to continue their attendance to the close of the course by the engaging manner of the lecturer, just sufficiently elevated above the frank familiarity of the best society, by his expressive but always pleasant voice, by his unconcealed desire to make a favourable impression upon his audience, no less than by the sense, the sound feeling, the delicate irony, the profound human experience, or the fascinating style of the lectures. It has been a great triumph for Mr. Thackeray to have established this personal relation between himself and the admirers of his books; so that henceforth he speaks to them through these books, not as an abstraction, a voice issuing from a mask, but as a living man, and a friendly, companionable, accomplished gentleman.
Mr. Thackeray's English success has been more than repeated in America; fulfilling the hope with which we closed our review of Esmond, that his genial presence would add another to the many links which bind England to the United States. The Americans have been delighted with their guest; and he is not the man upon whom either the cordiality of their reception, or the greatness of their future, or the expanding energies of their present, are likely to be lost; nor will he regard every deviation from the Belgravian code of manners as necessarily an infringement upon those principles of manliness, kindness, simplicity, and feeling for the beautiful, by which all codes of manners will one day come to be tested. In him, American men, women, and institutions have a critic at ‘once