时间: 2019年12月12日 00:29

On Christmas day, 1863, we were startled by the news of Thackeray鈥檚 death. He had then for many months given up the editorship of the Cornhill Magazine 鈥?a position for which he was hardly fitted either by his habits or temperament 鈥?but was still employed in writing for its pages. I had known him only for four years, but had grown into much intimacy with him and his family. I regard him as one of the most tender-hearted human beings I ever knew, who, with an exaggerated contempt for the foibles of the world at large, would entertain an almost equally exaggerated sympathy with the joys and troubles of individuals around him. He had been unfortunate in early life 鈥?unfortunate in regard to money 鈥?unfortunate with an afflicted wife 鈥?unfortunate in having his home broken up before his children were fit to be his companions. This threw him too much upon clubs, and taught him to dislike general society. But it never affected his heart, or clouded his imagination. He could still revel in the pangs and joys of fictitious life, and could still feel 鈥?as he did to the very last 鈥?the duty of showing to his readers the evil consequences of evil conduct. It was perhaps his chief fault as a writer that he could never abstain from that dash of satire which he felt to be demanded by the weaknesses which he saw around him. The satirist who writes nothing but satire should write but little 鈥?or it will seem that his satire springs rather from his own caustic nature than from the sins of the world in which he lives. I myself regard Esmond as the greatest novel in the English language, basing that judgment upon the excellence of its language, on the clear individuality of the characters, on the truth of its delineations in regard to the tine selected, and on its great pathos. There are also in it a few scenes so told that even Scott has never equalled the telling. Let any one who doubts this read the passage in which Lady Castlewood induces the Duke of Hamilton to think that his nuptials with Beatrice will be honoured if Colonel Esmond will give away the bride. When he went from us he left behind living novelists with great names; but I think that they who best understood the matter felt that the greatest master of fiction of this age had gone. � � 鈥淭he barefoot walker receives a continuous stream of information about the ground and about hisown relationship to it,鈥?Dr. Brand has said, 鈥渨hile a shod foot sleeps inside an unchangingenvironment.鈥? Eric looked over at me. 鈥淲hat鈥檚 this all about?鈥? What I could do by writing, I did. During the year 1833 I continued working in the Examiner with Fonblanque who at that time was zealous in keeping up the fight for radicalism against the Whig ministry. During the session of 1834 I wrote comments on passing events, of the nature of newspaper articles (under the title "Notes on the Newspapers"), in the Monthly Repository, a magazine conducted by Mr Fox, well known as a preacher and political orator, and subsequently as member of parliament for Oldham; with whom I had lately become acquainted, and for whose sake chiefly I wrote in his Magazine. I contributed several other articles to this periodical, the most considerable of which (on the theory of poetry), is reprinted in the "Dissertations." Altogether, the writings (independently of those in newspapers) which I published from 1832 to 1834, amount to a large volume. This, however, includes abstracts of several of Plato's Dialogues, with introductory remarks, which, though not published until 1834, had been written several years earlier; and which I afterwards, on various occasions, found to have been read, and their authorship known, by more people than were aware of anything else which I had written, up to that time. To complete the tale of my writings at this period, I may add that in 1833, at the request of Bulwer, who was just then completing his "England and the English" (a work, at that time, greatly in advance of the public mind), I wrote for him a critical account of Bentham's philosophy, a small part of which he incorporated in his text, and printed the rest (with an honourable acknowledgment), as an appendix. In this, along with the favourable, a part also of the unfavourable side of my estimation of Bentham's doctrines, considered as a complete philosophy, was for the first time put into print. av—天堂手机网 鈥淵ou ever beat one of those barefoot guys?鈥? 鈥楶erhaps you would tell me something about him,鈥?he said. As to my private reading, I can only speak of what I remember. History continued to be my strongest predilection, and most of all ancient history. Mitford's Greece I read continually; my father had put me on my guard against the Tory prejudices of this writer, and his perversions of facts for the white-washing of despot, and blackening of popular institutions. These points he discoursed on, exemplifying them from the Greek orators and historians, with such effect that in reading Mitford my sympathies were always on the contrary side to those of the author, and I could, to some extent, have argued the point against him: yet this did not diminish the ever new pleasure with which I read the book. Roman history, both in my old favourite, Hooke, and in Ferguson, continued to delight me. A book which, in spite of what is called the dryness of its style, I took great pleasure in, was the Ancient Universal History, through the incessant reading of which I had my head full of historical details concerning the obscurest ancient people, while about modern history, except detached passages, such as the Dutch war of independence, I knew and cared comparatively little. A voluntary exercise, to which throughout my boyhood I was much addicted, was what I called writing histories. I successively imposed a Roman history, picked out of Hooke; an abridgment of the Ancient Universal History; a History of Holland, from my favourite Watson and from an anonymous compilation; and in my eleventh and twelfth year I occupied myself with writing what I flattered myself was something serious. This was no less than a history of the Roman Government, compiled (with the assistance of Hooke) from Livy and Dionysius: of which I wrote as much as would have made an octavo volume, extending to the epoch of the Licinian Laws. It was, in fact, an account of the struggles between the patricians and plebeians, which now engrossed all the interest in my mind which I had previously felt in the mere wars and conquest of the Romans. I discussed all the institutional point as they arose: though quite ignorant of Niebuhr's researches, I, by such lights as my father had given me, vindicated the Agrarian Laws on the evidence of Livy, and upheld to the best of my ability the Roman democratic party. A few years later, in my contempt of my childish efforts, I destroyed all these papers, not then anticipating that I could ever feel any curiosity about my first attempt at writing and reasoning. My father encouraged me in this useful amusement, though, as I think judiciously, he never asked to see what I wrote; so that I did not feel that in writing it I was accountable to any one, nor had the chilling sensation of being under a critical eye. But other things extraneous to the temple had come in with him as he entered, like flies through an opened door, and still buzzed about him. His wife鈥檚 want of comprehension was one of them. It was not often that Mrs Goodford had the power to annoy him so thoroughly as she had done to-day, but when she did, all that Emmeline had to contribute to the situation was such a sentence as, 鈥榃hat a pity you and Mamma worry each other so.鈥?She did not understand, and though he told himself that in thirty years he should have got used to that, he found now and then, and to-day with unusual vividness, that he had not done so. She had never become a companion to him; he had never found in her that for which ultimately a man is seeking, though at the time he may not know it, when he goes a-wooing. A mouth, an eyebrow, the curve of a limb may be his lure, and having attained it he may think for a few years of passion that in gaining it he has gained what he sought, but unless he has indeed got that which unconsciously he desired, he will find some day when the gray ash begins to grow moss-like on his burning coals, that though his children{35} are round him, there is but a phantom opposite to him. The romance of passion has burned itself out, and from the ashes has no ph?nix arisen with whom he can soar to the sun. He desired the mouth or the eyebrow: he got them, and now in the changing lineaments he can scarcely remember what that which so strangely moved him was like, while in the fading of its brightness nothing else has emerged. 鈥楾he sooner you take her off to the seaside the better,鈥?he said. 鈥楥hange of air will do her good. I should go this week, if I were you.鈥?