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less; let us have at them, dear friends, with might and main. Some there are, and very successful, too, mere quacks and fools; and it was to combat and expose such as these, no doubt, that laughter was made."
But this satire is by no means the only side of Thackeray's genius, nor even the most important. Only the shallow and undiscriminating reader fails to see that Thackeray's charity is deeper and more vital than his cynicism; that though the smile of the man of the world is on his lips, few hearts are more gentle, more compassionate, more tender. Thackeray himself says, “my kind reader will please to remember that this history has 'Vanity Fair' for a title, and that 'Vanity Fair' is a very vain, wicked, foolish place, full of all sorts of humbugs and falsenesses and pretensions." Yet in the midst of this world of Vanity Fair, with its pettiness, its knavery, and its foolishness, he places the unspoiled Amelia and the honest and faithful Major Dobbin; and in making Amelia his heroine, he shows that for her touching loyalty and devotion he has more genuine admiration than have those critics, frequently, who, while calling her weak and unwomanly, themselves denounce Thackeray as a cynic. If in Pendennis we have the world as it looks to the idlers in the Major's club windows, we have also Laura, and “Pen's" confiding mother, Helen Pendennis, apart from it, and unspotted by its taint. But more beautiful than all other creations of Thackeray's reverent and loving nature is the immortal presence of Colonel Newcome, in The Newcomes, the man whose memory we hold sacred as that of one we have loved — the strong, humble, simpleminded gentleman, the grizzled soldier with the heart of a child.
In all these characters the most wonderful trait is their lifelikeness. They seem to think and talk in their own persons, and are studied from more than one side. With a few deft and rapid strokes, Thackeray will paint with marvelous truth the portrait of a dandy like Joe Sedley or George Osborne in Vanity Fair; he has caught exactly the manner of speech, and even the tones of the voice, it seems, whether it be in the regimental slang of Joe telling his favorite story; in the blandishments of Captain Costigan, in Pendennis; or in the hard comment of Madame Bernstein, in The Virginians: "Worldly, my dear! So is the world worldly; and we must serve it as it serves us; and give it nothing for nothing."
In addition to his work as painter of contemporary manners, Thackeray has enriched the literature by two remarkable historical novels, Henry Esmond and its sequel The Virginians. In the first of these we have the fruits of Thackeray's careful and loving study of eighteenth-century England, a period with which he was especially identified, and which he had treated critically with extraordinary charm and sympathy in his Lectures on the English Humourists (published 1853). Esmond is one of the greatest, possibly the greatest, historical novel in English fiction. The story is supposed to be told by Esmond himself, and the book seems less that of a modern writing about the past than the contemporary record of the past itself. Nothing is more wonderful in it than the art with which Thackeray abandons his usual manner to identify himself with the narrator he has created.
Thackeray's style is exceptionally finished and charming; light, graceful, and incisive, it places him among the greatest prose masters of English fiction.
of farm-life which she afterward used in her
200 sturel; some thirty miles from uiterlike path of Shakespeare; a sleepy,
De same part of this rich Midland
* Förbehill on its outskirts, the first > * George Eliot's life were passed.
with its local interests by birth Kry ommovet, her earliest and tenderest recol
záveront round it, and the grace of its liberal and Tibis English provincial life, thus flow
may currents of her blood, became the living and her art. She was at once of it, and, by the may treate within, and to feel it from without. The way of her genius, apart from it; able both to
a provincial background which is the setting
many of her stories is painted from reality, and man at her best-known characters were drawn from,
sisted by the Warwickshire people she had whool to keep house for her father, gaining some exIt sv.xteen George Eliot lost her mother and left
jeorge Eliot) was wbury, in Warwick
agent to Sir Roger in the boundaries of
Hall is in the northrich and well-watered and steeped in drowsy
Nuneaton, at school in memory, remained with her