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pointment and indignation in such verses (the first of their kind) that not only Neobule but her sisters also hanged themselves. Results so tragic have not often followed the scourgings of the Parian's successors, but they sometimes have been painful and hurtful. Let us consider briefly some of those in the productions of him whom many regard the greatest of the novelists.
In the drolleries of Michael Angelo Titmarsh there was a sufficiency of bitterness. The name was prophetic, and its prophecies ran along in rapid fulfilment in the Times, the New Monthly Magazine, and Punch. Yet nothing seriously ambitious seemed to have been attempted in The Fat Contributor, Miss Tickletoby's Lectures, Jeames' Diary, Mrs. Perkins' Ball, The Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo. The characters thus far created had been laughed at, and some of them despised, but none were destined to become immortal. If the artist was ever to take more thoughtful views of men and things, it was time he had begun, for he was now forty years old. So Michael Angelo Titmarsh retired from public view, and his place was taken by William Makepeace Thackeray.
Vanity Fair-another prophetic name! The wisest of mankind, he who had tried every form of prosperity, riches, power, glory, love, revenge, even wisdom, had pronounced them vanity. In vain the men-singers and the women-singers; in vain the trumpet of triumphant war; in vain the sweet peacefulness of the lute, dulcimer, and harp; in vain the soft words of concubines and parasites; in vain the royal diadem; in vain all human knowledge. The aged king, turning his eye back upon the past and reviewing his career, could only drivel out in impotent complaint, "Vanitas vanitatum!" A mournful judgment to make of human life, yet not unfitted to one who had used its best things intemperately, and who, in spite of his wisdom, in spite of his commission from Heaven to build the Temple, had turned his way from the true God and bent his knee before Baal.
We are now to have a Vanity Fair exhibited by Mr. Thackeray. Well, men are fond of spectacles, even the grotesque. Invited to this Vanity Fair, although warned that we are to see deformities instead of excellences, we accept the invitation. What have we here? Representatives of several estates—a marquis, a baronet and his family, a tradesman and his family, some officers of the army, and a governess. We had been led to believe that they were a brave set of men, the peers and the knights of England. But when we see two of their representatives in the Marquis of Steyne and Sir Pitt Crawley, we are made to
THE EXTREMITY of Satire.
doubt if history be not in error to assign to the ancestors of such as these the wresting from despotic kings Magna Charta, Habeas Corpus, and the Bill of Rights. But let these go. Yet we may be allowed to hope that persons in our class, without ancestral image or tradition, the necessarily self-reliant-that some of these are worth the bread they eat, the breath they draw, and the clothes they wear; and that the lives they lead, or try to lead, may encourage us somewhat in efforts to walk honestly among men and reverently before God. Then who are these Osbornes, Sedleys, Dobbins, and Sharps? Indeed, with one exception, they are vicious or contemptible. That exception is Dobbin. Dobbin did have a heart, and was made awkward and unlovable. It would not have suited the showman, who had advertised for monstrosities, that a man who had a heart should also have a proper figure and winsome manners. The only apparent purpose for which this heart had been given was that it might be wounded and trampled upon with levity and impunity. Behold what a run of loves is here. Honest, clumsy Dobbin, risen from little beginnings, gives his single love to Amelia Sedley, who cannot endure to hear his name mentioned along with that of George Osborne, handsome, but ignorant and a scoundrel. The wife believed him glorious until Waterloo, when it was found that had he not fallen in battle he would have forsaken her and run away with Mrs. Rawdon Crawley. Years afterwards, when the widow has lost youth and beauty, and been broken by solitude and privation, Dobbin, now high in fame and rank, comes in for the poor remnant of what is left of her.
How has it been with Rebecca Sharp? The artist tried his hand on her. He gave the beauty, social position, other goods to Amelia. But the things which sometimes captivate men more than these were bestowed upon the poor, plain governess. The very relation of such men as the Crawleys to each other made their pursuit more shamefully eager. What a scene was there when on the death of the old dotard's wife, reaching his withered hand to grasp the coveted prize, he found that she, not having foreseen this opportunity, had become the wife of his son! Then ensued a career which it is surprising that a most gifted man should narrate through long years of circumstantial details. We look on and watch how this wife manages to preserve that middle place, tormenting her husband with jealousies that do not amount to full assurances, and avoiding the disgust of other lovers by semblance of the chariness of her favors. We cannot but be fascinated by a certain sort of heroism, evil as it is,
and we are not too indignant when we find her at last enjoying comparative triumph, become a snug widow, and dispensing in charities a commendable safe part of the property so unexpectedly devolved upon her. Dowerless, without beauty, without family, without heart, without honesty, she fought her way, outlived most of those with whom she had to do, and, so far as the world knew, was not far from being about as respectable as any.
We have been to the show. What now are our reflections? What higher and braver thoughts have come to our minds when, wearied with toil and the witness of life's discordant realities, we turned aside to dream of the unreal? What encouragement have we gained for efforts at well-doing by the sight of honest work and patient endurance rewarded? Or what warning have we had from the contemplation of vice and intrigue overtaken by disaster, or at least by disappointment? Instead of these we have found-and to some extent been ashamed to findourselves admiring a creation that is as seductive as it is evil. Added to this we were conscious of a loss of some portion of that which it is most calamitous to lose. Woe to him who parts from his trust in mankind, who does not believe that in this world there is goodness beyond that which he has ever found in his own being the capacity to practise!
In this book the artist-and he was an eminently great artist -seemed to have endeavored to drive mankind to their own unaided struggles, taking away from them all good examples, and leaving them to conclude that nothing is real but folly and perfidy. Let us read this extract, like which very many might
"Perhaps in Vanity Fair there are no better satires than letters. Take a bundle of your dear friend's ten years back-how you clung to each other before you quarrelled about the twenty-pounds legacy! Get down the round-hand scrawls of your son, who has broken your heart since with selfish undutifulness; or a parcel, breathing endless ardor and love eternal, which were sent back by your mistress when she married the Nabob-your mistress for whom now you care no more than for Queen Elizabeth. Vows, loves, confidences, promises, gratitude-how queerly they read after a while! There ought to be a law in Vanity Fair ordering the destruction of every written document (except receipted tradesmen's bills) after a certain brief and proper interval. Those quacks and misanthropes who advertise indelible Japan ink should be made to perish along with their wicked discoveries. The best ink for Vanity Fair use would be one that faded utterly in a couple of days and left the page clean and blank, so that you might write on it to somebody else."
Surely the Preacher himself would have been puzzled to put more strongly the case of vanitas vanitatum.
THE EXTREMITY OF SATIRE.
In the literature of fiction there is not to be found a picture drawn more artistically than Rebecca Sharp. She was of the sort upon whom it suited the author to exert his consummate powers. He painted her to the life, with pretended reluctance to evil, suspected, yet not fully known to be persuasible to consent, demanding risk, high pay, so that the pursuit, of which, if easy, a bold lover would weary, acquired the eagerness which must not be allowed to abate. No woman could better understand the trick, as sung by the shepherd in Virgil, of casting her apple and then fleeing to the covert of willows:
"Malo me Galatea petit lasciva puella;
Et fugit ad salices; et se cupit ante videri."
It is a sad commentary on the powerlessness and the hopelessness of a poor young woman without other gift than mere virtue to obtain success that appears to attend upon insidiousness and fraud. It would have been a good sight to see the lifting of such a one, even though slowly and through difficulties, where so many thousands of poor girls do rise through toil and patient waiting. In default of this the next best would have been to drive her to the frustration of every dishonorable purpose that had tempted her from the path of rectitude. Better than both of these, for the highest purposes of instruction, would have been pictures of young women who endured temptation and outrage without expecting and without receiving reward except such as came from the testimony of a good conscience and of suffering for the sake of Him who ennobled suffering and put it above successes, victories, and triumphs. For had there not lived in such a career Agnes and Afra, Rose and Eulalia, Lucy and Blandina? If such as these be outside of the art of the novelist, then surely he may hold up to our view young girls such as Richardson presented with generous sympathy to the public of his day. Alas! the eyes of that public were yet moist with tears when the profligate Fielding made them laugh both at them over whom they had wept and at themselves. It was such a joke to imagine it possible for as poor a girl as Pamela to marry a rich, hardened bachelor and reform him after marriage, or for another like Clarissa to endure such trials and yet continue spotless in her virtue! No, no; Rebecca Sharp must be what she was, have a better time than even Amelia Sedley, and thus be made to exhibit that virtue is worth not even as much as a semblance that is suspected and almost known to be false. Satire, indeed! Satire upon the men in highest society, for of
the two from this class whom he exhibited one was a heartless profligate, the other a loathsome brute; satire even upon marriage, for the couple who were truest to each other were the . O'Dowds, whose rudeness was sufficient to make all of both sexes feel like keeping away from marriage altogether, if this is to be considered a fair illustration of its most honorable estate.
In Pendennis Thackeray's sarcasm, if somewhat less painful because more playful, is yet more undistinguishing. On its appearance men of letters were disposed to regard it as a satire. upon the literary profession. The truth is that whoever reads the book, if he be one who considers himself superior in gifts and conditions to a rather low plane of human life, will find himself jeered at on occasions wherein he will be most surprised to find himself an object of reproach. Mr. Pendennis lived to become a person of whom the author was proud that he was considered a gentleman to be admired. When a boy he was polite, goodlooking, well cared for, of sufficient fortune and thoroughly respectable family. Such advantages naturally lead us to expect a quickly-developed, worthy manhood. Yet very soon after first looking upon the goodly lad we are made acquainted with some little matters which, but for remembering that he is a special friend of the distinguished author of Vanity Fair, would lead us to infer that the youngster has already been sold to the devil and is destined to do faithful work for his master. He had the misfortune, when in his seventeenth year and while absent from home at a boarding-school, to lose his father, of whom he was the only child. This father, though formal in his exterior, was a devoted family man, "adored his wife, and loved and admired his son with all his heart." To the young generally death seems an awful event, and the death of one's father is certainly one of the most appalling of all its forms. Even when the parent has been harder than is consistent with such relation, surely it must be seldom, except among the very worst specimens of boyhood, that one feels like triumphing at the very hour and in the very presence of such a death, and strutting amid the possessions which it has devolved upon him. Let us see, according to the testimony of his most intimate friend, how young Arthur behaved when, summoned from Gray Friars', he entered the room where lay the corpse of him who, in his life, had "loved and admired his son with all his heart," to whom, so says this most in. timate friend,
"Arthur had been his father's pride and glory through life, and his name the last which John Pendennis had tried to articulate while he lay