« AnteriorContinuar »
mal Life," by George Lewes, a dedication ode by Father Prout, “Our Volunteers," by Sir John Burgoyne, " A Man of Letters of the Last Century,” by Thornton Hunt, “The Search for Sir John Franklin," by Sir Alan Young, and the first of those “ Roundabout Papers," by Thackeray himself, which became so delightful a feature of the “ Cornhill.” Among the contributors to later numbers were Tennyson, Mrs. Stowe, Mrs. Browning, Mrs. Gaskell, John Ruskin, Matthew Arnold. Thackeray guided the magazine for over two years until 1862 with great success, but he was too kindly for such a job. It was almost impossible for him to turn a deaf ear to a tale of woe when it emanated from a needy scribbler.
Besides, he had grown prematurely old. His health for some years had been wretched. As early as 1858 his huge frame was stooped and his hair gray. Consequently there was no great surprise among his friends when he died very suddenly December 24, 1863. He was buried December 30, in Kensal Green, and as soon as it could be executed a bust to his memory was put up in Westminster Abbey.
He told Anthony Trollope a little before his death that he had succeeded in replacing the fortune which he had lost as a young man. As a matter of fact he had done more; he left an estate worth 750 pounds a year.
Of his personal traits the most remarkable was a certain feminine softness. To give some immediate pleasure was the great delight of his life—a sovereign to a schoolboy, gloves to a girl, a dinner to a man, a compliment to a woman. His charity was overflowing. If his writings were cynical, he himself was sweet as charity itself. He went about the world doing good, dropping pearls of mirthful wisdom, and never wilfully inflicting a wound.
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
1. In what capacity did Thackeray first come into contact with Dickens ? 2. Outline Thackeray's career up until 1846. 3. Define and discuss satire. 4. What are the qualities and who are the leading characters in “Vanity
Fair”? 5. What magazine did Thackeray start? 6. Compare Thackeray's subject matter with Dickens's.
7. If you have read one of Thackeray's rovels compare its appeal with that
novel of Dickens in which you are most interested. 8. In what age was Thackeray's greatest historical novel laid? 9. What do you know of Thackeray as a poet? 10. In a one-hundred-word' composition present Thackeray's character.
Suggested Readings. The same that has been said of Dickens's novels may be said of Thackeray's. To the uninitiated probably “ Vanity Fair” will be found the most interesting. Anthony Trollope's “Life of Thackeray” in the English Men of Letters Series is interesting—one novelist writing of another.
JOHN RUSKIN (1819-1900)
“ John Ruskin, boy and man, has had a terrible power of winning hearts.”—Collingwood.
“Nor feared to follow, in the offense
-Robert, Lord Lytton. WHEN Robert Browning was a baby, he was interrupted in a sermon he was preaching by the lamentations of a small sister and said sternly: “Pew-opener, remove that child! ” John Ruskin, at the age of three, climbed into a big chair and discoursed thus: “People, be dood. If you are dood, Dod will love you. If you are not dood, Dod will not love you. People, be dood!” This precocious bit of preaching was a natural result of Ruskin's ancestry and environment, one may think, and by no means a bad epitome of the mature philosophy which has made his writings what they are to-day-one of the most powerful influences in our social life.
He was born February 8, 1819, in the same year with Queen Victoria, George Eliot, Charles Kingsley, Walt Whitman, and James Russell Lowell. His father was an entirely honest wine merchant, rich, well-educated, Scotch. His mother was an uncompromising Scotch Puritan. She devoted little John to the church and herself to John. She allowed him to burn his fingers on the tea-kettle; whipped him for falling downstairs; gave him only one currant for dessert; and permitted no toys. A third important influence in his early life was Anne, his nurse; who was never quite in her glory unless somebody was sick; who might be relied upon to give the darkest view on any subject before proceeding to ameliorative action on it; who had a creditable and republican aversion to doing immediately or in set terms as she was bid; who served the Ruskins from 15 to 72; and who never did any human being an injury, except by saving 200 pounds for her relations, in consequence of which some of them, after her funeral, did not speak to the rest for several months. In this household little John speedily taught himself to read by the method, then unknown but since universally adopted, of getting by heart whole words and sentences instead of learning isolated syllables or letters. As soon as possible he proceeded to peruse Walter Scott's novels and the “Iliad ”in Pope's translation, on weekdays; on Sunday, he tempered this with “Robinson Crusoe ” and “ The Pilgrim's Progress.” He had, however, still better teaching. His mother forced him, by steady daily toil to learn long chapters of the Bible by heart, as well as to read it every syllable through, aloud, hard names and all, from Genesis to the Apocalypse, about once a year.
“ To that discipline," he wrote in “ Præterita," "I owe my general power of taking pains and the best part of my taste in literature. And truly this maternal installation of my mind I count the one essential part of all my education." In this fine home, however, he also learned Peace, Obedience, and Faith. His parents never quarrelled, scolded servants, did anything in a hurry, or failed to get things done on time. He obeyed his father and mother as a ship obeys her helm. Nothing was ever promised to him that was not given, nothing ever threatened him that was not inflicted, and nothing ever told him that was not true. This training, on the other hand, had four serious defects. He had nothing to love. He had nothing to endure. He was taught no precision of manners. His judgment of right and wrong was left undeveloped. His early education, in other words, was at once too formal and too luxurious.
For, if. John's mother was religious, his father was prosperous. He was able, in 1823, to buy the lease of a house on Herne Hill, a rustic eminence four miles south of the heart of London. This dwelling was one of a block of four, but it had fine trees in front, a view that stretched as far west as Windsor, and in the rear a garden of seventy yards by twenty, where grew apples, pears, cherries, mulberries, gooseberries, and currants. To little John this was a Paradise, except that all the fruits were forbidden and there were no companionable beasts. There he lived until he grew famous and railways spoiled his temper and London waxed so big that high walls were built to protect the inhabitants against the excursionist, who now has the liberty of obtaining what notion he may of the scenery between two hot palings, with one bad cigar before him, another behind, and a third in his mouth. The elder Ruskin's business was chiefly to sell the costly sherry wine which his partner, Mr. Domecq, produced in Spain. Their idea was to furnish the best at the highest price. Eighty guineas a butt was their usual charge and they pros