**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


William M. Thackeray
by [?]

“Talk about riches having wings,” said Thackeray; “my fortune had pinions like a condor, and flew like a carrier-pigeon.”

When Thackeray was thirty he was eking out a meager income writing poems, reviews, criticisms and editorials. His wife was a confirmed invalid, a victim of mental darkness, and his sorrows and anxieties were many.

He was known as a bright writer, yet London is full of clever, unsuccessful men. But in Thackeray’s thirty-eighth year “Vanity Fair” came out, and it was a success from the first.

In “Yesterdays With Authors,” Mr. Fields says: “I once made a pilgrimage with Thackeray to the various houses where his books had been written; and I remember when we came to Young Street, Kensington, he said, with mock gravity, ‘Down on your knees, you rogue, for here “Vanity Fair” was penned; and I will go down with you, for I have a high opinion of that little production myself.'”

Young Street is only a block from the Kensington Metropolitan Railway-Station. It is a little street running off Kensington Road. At Number Sixteen (formerly Number Thirteen), I saw a card in the window, “Rooms to Rent to Single Gentlemen.”

I rang the bell, and was shown a room that the landlady offered me for twelve shillings a week if I paid in advance; or if I would take another room one flight up with a “gent who was studying hart” it would be only eight and six. I suggested that we go up and see the “gent.” We did so, and I found the young man very courteous and polite.

He told me that he had never heard Thackeray’s name in connection with the house. The landlady protested that “no man by the name o’ Thack’ry has had rooms here since I rented the place; leastwise, if he has been here he called hisself by sumpthink else, which was like o’nuff the case, as most ev’rybody is crooked now’days–but surely no decent person can blame me for that!”

I assured her that she was in no wise to blame.

From this house in Young Street the author of “Vanity Fair” moved to Number Thirty-six Onslow Square, where he wrote “The Virginians.” On the south side of the Square there is a row of three-storied brick houses. Thackeray lived in one of these houses for nine years. They were the years when honors and wealth were being heaped upon him; and he was worldling enough to let his wants keep pace with his ability to gratify them. He was made of the same sort of clay as other men, for his standard of life conformed to his pocketbook and he always felt poor.

From this fine house on Onslow Square he moved to a veritable palace, which he built to suit his own taste, at Number Two Palace Green, Kensington. But mansions on earth are seldom for long–he died here on Christmas Eve, Eighteen Hundred Sixty-three. And Charles Dickens, Mark Lemon, Millais, Trollope, Robert Browning, Cruikshank, Tom Taylor, Louis Blanc, Charles Mathews and Shirley Brooks were among the friends who carried him to his rest.

* * * * *

To take one’s self too seriously is a great mistake. Complacency is the unpardonable sin, and the man who says, “Now I’m sure of it,” has at that moment lost it.

Villagers who have lived in one little place until they think themselves great, having lost the sense of proportion through lack of comparison, are generally “in dead earnest.”

Surely they are often intellectually dead, and I do not dispute the fact that they are in earnest. All those excellent gentlemen in the days gone by who could not contemplate a celestial bliss that did not involve the damnation of those who disagreed with them were in dead earnest.

Cotton Mather once saw a black cat perched on the shoulder of an innocent, chattering old gran’ma. The next day a neighbor had a convulsion; and Cotton Mather went forth and exorcised Tabby with a hymn-book, and hanged gran’ma by the neck, high on Gallows Hill, until she was dead.