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positively disgusting to some, they are minded—but by a cunning process of undoubtedly and largely popular. Af- artistic and inevitable exhibition, He ter “Vanity Fair,” except in “Esmond" is always hitting people won the angles he contented himself (at the bidding of of the moral oxygen"--angles which Life again) with the most ordinary in- are as sensitive as funny-bones. He is, cident; he never attempted bizarre or without being bookish, literary, and ornate style, elaborate pictorial de- you must have something of letters scriptions, insinuation or proclamation yourself to understand him. He does of problems, meddling with topics or not, like some famous writers who fashions of the day, or any other tricks have sometimes exchanged unpopularof what may be called the “fly-paper" ity for its opposite, flaunt "obscurity," kind.

and so tickle the vanity of those who And if, in this way, many people did think they have cleared bim up. And not find in him what they wanted, the yet only an exceedingly superficial same and many more also did find in reader will find Thackeray superficial. him things they did not want Above all he is, beyond question or and did not understand. The ab- cavil, one of the greatest and, except stract critical objection to the para- Swift and Fielding, one of the most bases, or addresses to the reader, has profuse users and masters of irony. always seemed to me utterly unsound And there is nothing more certain than and not quite intelligible; but I am that not merely the average woman, as fully prepared to acknowledge that is so often said, but, to almost as great there is a large number of people, un- an extent, the average man, regards pretentious and uncritical, but not con- irony with a feeling which is always temptible, who are honestly bored, pro- one of suspicion and discomfort, not voked, or otherwise made uncomfort- unfrequently rising to something that able by them. I never forget the per- is positive fear and is very like hatred. fectly genuine remark (not to be All these be truths, and the Devil's brushed aside or sneered at) of such Advocate need not adopt his client's faa person that "there is too much in vorite weapon of not-truth in order Thackeray”—a remark which does not even to add to them. But do they apply merely to these abused digres- matter? Do they interfere with the sions. And the "too much" is not in canonization, now and for ever, of quantity only. I should be prepared to Thackeray as one of the very greatest admit that Thackeray is one of the of great English writers and (not to be most thoroughly undemocratic of writ- unnecessarily contentious for the presers, for all his curious political affichage ent) one of the very greatest of the far of democratic principles. Although smaller body of great English novelnot in the least posing as a superior ists? Never, for a moment! On the person himself (he would probably head of "writing" in the strict sense, have been found more forgivable, or at indeed, things have actually improved least have imposed more, if he had), of late years, as they usually do. А he is perpetually pointing out to every settled estimate of an author in the one of the forty (or is it now fifty ?) widest sense may (it has been said) millions that he is mostly a fool, and never be reached, and always takes a if not exactly a rascal, a poor creature long time to reach. But it is curious as well. Now this is perfectly true; how often styles, which have been debut few there are who like to be told nounced as bad by short-sighted or of it, not in the form of pulpit warning pedantic critics at first appearance, or pamphlet abuse that is not much have righted themselves in the eyes of

as

as

our

succeeding generations. There is partly entangled in its folds to some, nothing which frightens critics more and undoubtedly, pioneer as he was, than novelty or unconventionality of and dealing as he did mainly with rostyle, but they soon get over it. The mance itself and with past times, gives very censors, nowadays, who have al- only partial play to the actually intilowed the parrot-cry of "Sentimental- mate knowledge of pure Life that he ity" to take the place with them of the possessed. older parrot-cry of "Cynicism" are Miss Austen, almost absooften good enough to acknowledge that lutely lifelike Thackeray, has, Thackeray could write. But it would we are told, her lifelikeness obscured hardly be fulfilling the duty of this by a partly obsolete style, and she cerpaper not to go on and inquire what tainly limited and “miniatured” her he could write what his contribution presentments. Bulwer

pink to English novel-writing and English friend's "greatest living novelist"-did literature is in substance as well as in know Life; but he chose to adulterate form.

his knowledge to an intolerable degree Something has been said already as with all sorts of conventions, tricks, to what tbat contribution was not fashions. Dickens knew it better-in always, to fairly logical minds, the flashes indeed perfectly; but he, again, readiest way to apprehension if not to chose to subordinate his knowledge, itcomprehension of what it was. But it self very partial, to a perpetual glamour would be pusillanimous, and in fact of comic or tragic fantasy-not real at absurd, to keep to negatives; and the all—as well as to worse things, such positive has been already foreshadowed. as political and social prejudice and His contribution was that of the nov. crotchet, teasing mannerisms of style, elist proper; that is to say, the depict- hampering disqualifications of literary ing or re-creating of Life by imag- and other ignorance. inative presentment, but without the Charles Reade, a genius certainly, embellishments and the intoxication of never could get that genius into poetry, or the factitious accessories of any organic condition, and latterly the drama, and with something less hampered it and choked it by than the embellishments and accesso- flinging on and into it masses of superries of romance, though with some fluous information. Charlotte Brontë, thing of these also. The art of novel- a genius likewise, had too short and writing is not old-it is barely at the cramped an existence, too narrow an beginning of its third century, strictly experience, too little critical faculty, speaking; and already there has fallen, and perhaps a temper none too genial. between Thackeray and that one of George Eliot bound herself to the his predecessors who was most like him schools and the systems till she be in kind and degree of greatness-Field- came little more than a mere eyeless ing-one of those curious veils which grinder at the mill with scientific Time drops now and then, but at quite slaves. And the late Mr. George Mereuncertain intervals, and through which dith, himself a novelist, be it rememwe can only see darkly, and by a cer- bered, of the 'fifties, handed over in no tain effort and calculation. Of the dissimilar way his subtle and eccen. great English dealers with Life through tric but real life-knowledge as a fafiction who are this side that veil, miliar spirit to jargon and play to Scott, though he is still on the right coterie-galleries, and subtle cobwebside of it to all but very poor and un- spinning to catch the flies of foolish happy optics, seems to have been cleverness. It would be absurd to say

with the poet that in this case as in all, has this infallible and almost divine another

power of infusing life_life absolute

everywhere and quintessential-into every human The Knights came foiled from the figure that he creates, or that he even great quest,

touches for a momentary purpose.” It for all these and some others did great is a power which seems specially to be things and achieved great adventures. long to ironists—Lucian seems to me But none of them ever quite inastered to have had more of it than any anthe problem, the quest of the novelist cient-yet there is always a danger of proper-which is the presentation and their misusing it, as Swift certainly did criticism, without wandering from it to some extent. But Thackeray did or adding to it, of human Life and not. The two parrot-cries above recharacter by the way of fiction. ferred to—the old cry of "Cynic!" and

Thackeray did. That he saw Life the new one of "Sentimentalist!"-are whole is not true. Who has, in the actually testimonies to the fact: for words of the great Platonic conclusion, those who utter them unconsciously “except God"? Not Sophocles, cer- say, “This cynicism, this sentimentaltainly; that, with all respect to Mr. 'ism, touches us too much on the rawArnold, is absurd. Of even Shakes- is too true to life, and therefore too peare, near as he has come to it, it is contrary to what we should like life to well to remember that Dryden (with be.” that critical finger of his which was un- Some people hold that the novel, erring when he would let it be so) having come late, will complete the old pointed Shakespeare out as "the most joke by going early—that it has not, comprehensive soul.” His universal- like poetry and drama and romance, ity is comparative, is indeed superla- deep enough roots to last. I do not tive; but it is not absolute. So, and know; I am a critic, not a prophet. much more so, there are parts of Life But, as a critic, I know that the greatwhich Thackeray does not touch: large est things and persons in literature parts, some may say; most interesting never die and are never excelled in parts, others; even the best parts, themselves. And whether the novel some. So be it; he was human. But goes or stays, I am pretty sure that the almost superhuman thing about Thackeray will never lose, with those him is that in nothing that he does who can see, his position (with only touch-after he has attained his ma- the limits noted above) as the Master jority at least—is he ever unlifelike, of Life in the creation of novel-characas, from different reasons and in differ

ter.

Periods which themselves allow ent manners, all the great rivals and the absolute to be obscured by the temcontemporaries mentioned above are porary Life may overlook or undersometimes. No other writer with value him; but Time and Life and he whom I am acquainted, save Shakes- will abide together. peare himself, and no other novelist at

The Bookman.

HUMORS OF ENGLISH ELECTIONS. It is counted by foreigners as a vir- not allowed to interfere with private tue to the credit of the people of Great friendships. Over and over again Britain that, although they take their visitors of other nationalities have expolitics seriously, party differences are pressed to me in the past their surprise

LIVING AGE. VOL. LI. 2676

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at meeting leading statesmen of op- ran at fever heat through Senate and posing parties at the same London din- Salon alike; when the language of the ner-parties; at the obvious friendship hustings and the lampoons of the tavexisting between men, in the lobbies ern were as highly flavored as the ale and smoking-rooms of the House of which accompanied them; when no one Commons, who have but recently taken thought of referring to the serious tac, violently different sides in debates tics of party warfare merely as "play. within the Chamber; at the curious and ing the game." remarkable evidences of the esprit de Let me note, in passing, how keenly corps which obtains among the rank Dr. Creighton, the late Bishop of Lonand file of our representatives even don, used to resent the use of this last though their political objectives may phrase when applied to the real busidemand the maximum of reciprocal nesses of life, and especially to polihostility during the actual hours of tics; for, although he admitted that in business. Such an aperçu of our po- England adherence to the "rules of the litical temperament has certainly been game” was of the essence of our island both merited and just during the past character, and so gave the words a generation-a period which has seen certain symbolic value when applied the acerbities of party hostility sensi- elsewhere, yet he shuddered at the posbly diminished and the rigid formal- sible growth of a triviality of thought ities of party address almost univer- which, confusing the greater with the sally foregone. It is now quite usual lesser issues of life, might endeavor to for politesses, of quite other than a attach to all the graver adventures of perfunctory character, to be exchanged national existence the importance, not between the two front benches both in so much of the rules, as of the spirit the Commons and the Lords; the of a "game." Leader of the Opposition may indulge It seems to me that this attitude of without remark in praise of “the lucid outward carelessness for party ties and and brilliant speech" of his most for- formalities is disappearing surely, if midable antagonist; whilst the Prime not swiftly, as must be the case when Minister may return the compliment, men are no longer occupied in debatand express his full appreciation of ing the details of minor ineasures, but "the eminently fair and impartial sur- are engaged in mortal combat for first vey of the situation" just completed by principles, dear to one side or the the champion of those who are hourly other. We have seen something of this anxious to sit upon the Government change in our social life of the past benches, without fear or reproach from year or two: we have heard of interhis own side. I believe, however, that rupted friendships, and of society osthese friendly habits of speech are of tracism; and I think that the bittercomparatively recent birth, and did not ness of certain contests during the reexist in the days of Mr. Disraeli, who cent elections goes to prove that the once soundly rated a junior supporter electorate is once more ready to fight for referring to a Liberal as “my hon- out its differences according to the orable friend," and who, when Prime sterner canons of the camp, rather than Minister, never dined with a political by the amateur regulations of the footopponent if he could possibly avoid it. ball field. Those were the strenuous days when But I admit that we have not yet parties were only two in number and gone so far in this direction that our they were sharply separated the one party fights are already shorn of their from the other; when political feeling gaiety (although our wall posters dur.

me.

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an

If your

a

ing the elections of December last were poor 'man standing at the corner of the deplorably free from humor), or that street). our rival demonstrations have become

Voter.-Na, na: I'm voting Tory, as

my faither and grandfaither did before tame and colorless affairs. No; so long as canvassing is permitted to con

Canvasser.-But surely you don't tinue, and “the voice" is still audible

want your food taxed, and six hundred at our meetings, so long we may be peers to dictate to forty millions of peocertain of pleasant

in the ple? &c. droughty wilderness of election

Voter.—I dinna ken and I dinna care campaign.

about thon; my faither and my grand

faither were Tories and I'm a Tory, Being myself one of those who can

too. not count effective canvassing among

Canvasser.- Well, I must say that is bis natural gifts, this duty is one that

a most unintelligent answer. seldom falls upon my shoulders; but I father and

grandfather had been envy the good canvasser his or her ex- thieves, what would you have been? periences, which seem only to increase Voter (pensively).-If my faither had in variety and entertainment as the

been a thief and my grandfaither had been

thief? contest proceeds. It is due to such in

... (brightening)

likely I'd have been a Liberal! valuable supporters that their labors should not go altogether unrecognized, This ancestor-worship fourishes nonor the lighter incidents of their un- where more than in North Britain, as obtrusive vocation pass completely out the following story, which was going of sight; wherefore I would respect- the round of the Edinburgh clubs, fully suggest to the literary editors of clearly proves. A certain school inthose weighty tomes known as Election

spector noticed that in one class-room a Handbooks or Hints to Canvassers, that

good many of the children were wearthey should include in their forthcom

ing party colors, and he thought he ing volumes a chapter dealing with the

would question them on the point. quaint experiences which have befallen

"Why are you a Liberal?" said he to their myrmidons in previous cam- one boy. "Because my faither is a Libpaigns; such an addition would add

eral,” came the prompt reply. "And not only to the sale of their literature, why are you a Tory?” to another. but also to the information of us all.

“My mither sweeps out the ConservaWho, for instance, among the Union- tive Club," was the answer unabashed. ist party is not relieved to know that

The use of colors to express a poone of the towns comprised in the

litical faith is very confusing; I know Ayr Burghs is irreclaimably Tory? of several streets in England which diThis delectable spot appears to be as vide constituencies where on one side conservative in its Toryism as the rest of the street blue stands for Tory as, of Scotland seems conservative in its

on the other side, it implies a Liberal. Radicalism. This fact is stated on the In these districts the resident does not authority of an experienced Liberal use the word "color" to denote creed, canvasser, who toiled for days at the for fear of misapprehension; a new dreary work of conversion in the afore

comer, however, may do so at his own said town, but without result. He will,

risk, like Mr. X., who was sent to canI trust, allow me to reproduce this vass one of those boundary lines. He disappointing dialogue:

rang the door-bell of a small house, and

was answered by a diminutive child, Canvasser.-Surely you will give us

who said that her father was out. "And your vote this time, sir? (he said to a what 'color is your father, my dear?”

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