William Makepeace Thackeray.

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for us, which can shut up our Post Office for us, which
can do anything it will, should take a fancy to have the
signature of every writer of a newspaper article ?

Have they got any secret ledger at the Times in which
the names of the writers of all the articles in that journal
are written down ? That would be a curious book to
see. Articles in that paper have been attributed to
every great man of the day : at one time it was said
Brougham wrote regularly, at another Canning was a
known contributor, at some other time it was Sir Robert
Peel, Lord Aberdeen. It would be curious to see the
real names. The Chancellor's or the Foreign Secretary's
articles would most likely turn out to be written by
Jones or Smith. I mean no disrespect to the latter, but
the contrary to be a writer for a newspaper requires
more knowledge, genius, readiness, scholarship, than you
want in St. Stephen's. Compare a good leading article
and a speech in the House of Commons : compare a
House of Commons orator with a writer, psha !

Would Jones or Smith, however, much profit by the
publication of their names to their articles ? That is
doubtful. When the Chronicle or the Times speaks now,


it is ' we' who are speaking, we the Liberal-Conservative,
we 'the Conservative Sceptics: when Jones signs the
article, it is we no more, but Jones. It goes to the
public with no authority. The public does not care
very much what Jones's opinions are. They don't
purchase the Jones organ any more the paper droops;
and, in fact, I can conceive nothing more wearisome
than to see the names of Smith, Brown, Jones, Robinson
and so forth, written in capitals every day, day after day,
under the various articles of the paper. The public
would begin to cry out at the poverty of the literary
dramatis persona . We have had Brown twelve times this
month, it would say. That Robinson's name is always
coming up as soon as there is a finance question, or a
foreign question, or what not, it is Smith who signs the
article. Give us somebody else.

Thus Brown and Robinson would get a doubtful and
precarious bread instead of the comfortable and regular
engagement which they now have. The paper would
not be what it is. It would be impossible to employ
men on trial, and see what their talents were worth.
Occasion is half a public writer's battle. To sit down
in his study and compose an article that might be suitable
is a hard work for him : twice as hard as the real work ;
and yet not the real work ; which is to fight the battle
at two hours' notice, at the given place and time. The
debate is over at twelve o'clock at night, let us say. Mr.
Editor looks round, and fixes on his man. * Now's
your time, Captain Smith,' says he, * charge the enemy,
and rout them,' or { advance, Colonel Jones, with your
column and charge.'

Now there may be men who are Jones's or
Robinson's superiors in intellect, and who give them
a week or ten days to prepare would turn out such
an article as neither of the two men named could ever
have produced that is very likely. I have often, for
my part, said the most brilliant thing in the world, and


one that would utterly upset that impudent Jenkins,
whose confounded jokes and puns spare nobody but
then it has been three hours after Jenkins's pun, when
I was walking home very likely and so it is with
writers ; some of them possess the amazing gift of the
impromptu, and can always be counted upon in a
moment of necessity whilst others, slower coaches
or leaders, require to get all their heavy guns into
position, and laboriously to fortify their camp, before
they begin to fire.

Now, saying that Robinson is the fellow chiefly to
be entrusted with the quick work of the paper, it would
be a most unkind and unfair piece of tyranny on the
newspaper proprietor to force him to publish Robinson's
name as the author of all the articles d'occasion. You
have no more right to call for this publicity from the
newspaper owner, who sells you three yards of his
printed fabric, than to demand from the linen-draper,
from what wholesale house he got his calico ; who spun
it ; who owned the cotton, and who cropped it in
America. It is the article, and not the name and
pedigree of the artificer, which a newspaper or any other
dealer has a right to sell to the public. If I get a letter
(which Heaven forbid !) from Mr. Tapes my attorney,
I know it is not in Tapes's own handwriting ; I know
it is a clerk writes it so, a newspaper is a composite
work got up by many hireling hands, of whom it is
necessary to know no other name than the printer's
or proprietor's.

It is not to be denied that men of signal ability will
write for years in papers and perish unknown and in
so far their lot is a hard one ; and the chances of life
are against them. It is hard upon a man, with whose
work the whole town is ringing, that not a soul should
know or care who is the author who so delights the

But, on the other hand, if your article is excellent,


would you have had any great renown from it,
supposing the paper had not published it ? Would
you have had a chance at all but for that paper ?
Suppose you had brought out that article on a broad-
sheet, who would have bought it ? Did you ever hear
of an unknown man making a fortune by a pamphlet ?

Again, it may so happen to a literary man that the
stipend which he receives from one publication is not
sufficient to boil his family pot, and that he must write
in some other quarter. If Brown writes articles in the
daily papers, and articles in the weekly and monthly
periodicals too, and signs the same, he surely weakens
his force by extending his line. It would be better
for him to write incognito, than to placard his name
in so many quarters as actors understand, who do
not perform in too many pieces on the same night ;
and painters, who know that it is not worth their
while to exhibit more than a certain number of

Besides, if to some men the want of publicity is an
evil : to many others the privacy is most welcome.
Many a young barrister is a public writer, for instance,
to whose future prospects his fame as a literary man
would give no possible aid, and whose intention it is to
put away the pen, when the attorneys begin to find
out his juridical merits. To such a man it would only
be a misfortune to be known as a writer of leading
articles. His battle for fame and fortune is to be made
with other weapons than the pen. Then again, a man
without ambition and there are very many such
sensible persons, or whose ambition does not go beyond
his pot auffu y is happy to have the opportunity of quietly
and honourably adding to his income : of occupying him-
self: of improving himself: of paying for Tom at
College, or for Mamma's carriage and what not.
Take away this modest mask force every man upon the
public stage to appear with his name placarded, and we


lose some of the best books, some of the best articles,
some of the pleasantest wit that we have ever had.

On the whole, then, in this controversy I am against
Hitchings ; and although he insists upon it that he is a
persecuted being, I do not believe it ; and although he
declares that I ought to consider myself trampled on by
the world, I decline to admit that I am persecuted, and
protest that it treats me and my brethren kindly in the







[The fattest of our contributors left London very suddenly
last week, without giving the least idea of his movements
until we received the following communication. We don't
know whether he is going to travel, nor do we pledge our-
selves in the least to publish another line of the Fat
Contributor's correspondence. As far as his tour goes at
present, it certainly is, if not novel, at least treated in a
novel manner ; for the reader will remark that there is not
a word about the places visited by our friend, while there is
a prodigious deal of information regarding himself. Interest-



ing as our Fat Contributor is, yet it may chance that we
shall hear enough about him ere many more letters are
received from him. EDITOR.]

THERE were eleven more dinners hustling one another
in my invitation-book. * If you eat two more, you are
in for an apoplexy,' said Glauber, my medical man.
* But Miss Twaddlings is to be at the Macwhirters* on
Thursday,' I expostulated, 'and you know what money
she has.' * She'll be a widow before she's married,' says
Glauber, 4 if you don't mind. Away with you ! Take
three grains of blue pill every night, and my draught in
the morning if you don't, I won't answer for the
consequences. You look as white as a sheet as puffy
as a bolster this season you've grown so inordinately
gross and fa '

It's a word I can't bear applied to myself. I wrote
letters round to decline my dinners ; and agreed to

But whither ? Why not to Brighton ? I went a
few days before the blow-up.* I was out for four
hours in a fly on that day. I saw Lord Brougham in a
white hat and telescope I saw the sea lighted up with
countless smiles I saw the chain-pier, and the multitudes
swarming on it I saw the bucks smoking cigars on the
terrace of the Albion.

/ could not smoke I was with three ladies in the fly
they were all fat, and, oh ! how hot ! The sun beat
down upon us ruthlessly. Captain Warner wouldn't
come. We drove and put back the dinner. Then
Miss Bogle said she would like to drive to the Library
for the last volume of Grant's * Visit to Paris.'

While we were at Folthorpe's, their messenger came
running in he had been out but one minute that day ;
he had seen it. We had been out four hours ; it

* On July 23, 1844, a good deal of excitement was caused by the trial at
Brighton of Captain Warner's invention for deitroying ihipt at tea.


was all over ! All that we could see when we got back
was this :


That was what I had come to Brighton for to eat
prawns for breakfast to pay five shillings for a warm
bath and not to see the explosion !

I set off for London the next day. One of my
dinners was coming off that day I had resigned it.
There would very likely be turtle ; and I wasn't there !
Flesh and blood couldn't stand it. * I will go to Dover
to-morrow/ I said, l and take the first packet that goes
that goes anywhere.'

I am at Dover. This is written from the Ship Hotel :
let me recollect the adventures of the day.

The Dover trains go from two places at once : but
my belief is, the cabmen try and perplex you. If it is
the turn of the Bricklayers' Arms train, they persuade you
to London Bridge ; if of the London Bridge, they inveigle
you to the Bricklayers' Arms through that abominable
suburb stretching away from Waterloo Bridge, and into
the Greater London, which seems as it were run to seed.

I passed a theatre these creatures have a theatre it
appears it is called (to judge from a painted placard)
the Victoria. It is a brick building, large, and with the
windows cracked and stuffed with coats.

At the Bricklayers' Arms, which we reached at length
after paying several base turnpikes, and struggling
through a noisy, dirty, bustling, dismal city of small
houses and queer shops and gin-palaces the policeman


comes grinning up to the cab, and says, * No train from
here, sir next train from London Bridge hoften these
mistakes. Cab drove away only just this minute. You'll
be in time if you go.'

The cabman gallops off, with a grin. The brute ! he
knew it well enough. He went for an extra fare.

As I do not wish to have a coup-de-soleil i or to be
blinded with dust ; or to have my nerves shattered by
the infernal screaming of the engine as we rush howling
through the tunnels : as I wish to sit as soft as I can in
this life, and find a board by no means so elastic as a
cushion, I take the first-class, of course I should prefer
having some of the third-class people for company, though
I find them generally less vulgar than their betters.

I selected, as may be imagined, an empty carriage : in
which I lived pretty comfortably until we got to
Reigate, where two persons with free tickets^-engineers
and Scotchmen got into the carriage.

Of course one insisted upon sitting down in the very
seat opposite me. There were four seats, but he must
take that, on purpose to mingle his legs with mine, and
make me uncomfortable. I removed to the next seat
the middle one. This was what the wretch wanted. He
plumped into my place. He had the two places by the
window the two best in the coach he leered over my
shoulder at his comrade a great, coarse, hideous Scotch

I hate engineers, I hate Scotchmen, I hate brutes with
free tickets, who take the places of gentlemen who pay.

On alighting at Dover, and remembering the ex-
travagance of former charges at the ' Ship,' under
another proprietor (pray heavens the morrow's little bill
may be a mild one !), I thought of going elsewhere.
Touters were about seizing upon the passengers and
recommending their hotels 'Now, GENTS, THE
" GUN ! " ' roared one monster. I turned sickening away
from him. * Take me to the " Ship," ' I faintly gasped.


On proposing dinner, the waiter says with an air as if
he was inventing something extremely clever, * Whiting,
sir ? Nice fried sole ? '

Mon Dieu ! what have I done to be pursued in this
way by whiting and fried sole ? Is there nothing else
in the world ? Ain't I sick of fried sole and whiting
whiting and fried sole ? having eaten them for long
years and years until my soul is weary of them. * You
great ass,' I felt inclined to exclaim, * I can get whiting
and sole in London, give me something new ! ' . . .

Ah for that something new ! I have seen the dry
toast come up for my breakfast so many times the
same old tough stiff leathery tasteless choky dried toast,
that I can bear it no longer. The other morning (I
had been rather feverish all night) it came up and I
declare I burst into tears.

* Why do you haunt me,' I said, * you demd old toast ?
What have I done that there is no other companion for
me but you ? I hate and spurn you and yet up you
come. Day by day, heartless brute, I leave you in the
rack, and yet it's not you that suffer torture : ' and I
made a passionate speech to that toast full of eloquence,
and howled and flung the plateful at the door just as
Mary came in.

She is the maid. She could not understand my feel-
ings. She is contented with toast for breakfast, with
bread I believe, poor wretch ! So are cows contented
with grass. Horses with corn. The fine spirit pants
for novelty and mine is sick of old toast.

* Gents ' are spoken of familiarly even at this hotel.
During dinner a messenger comes to ask if a young
* gent ' was dining in the coffee-room ?

4 No,' says the waiter.

' How is that,' thinks I, l am I not a young gent
myself ? ' He continues, c There's two holdish ladies
and a very young gent in No. 24 ; but there's only a
MIDDLE-HAGED gent In the coffee-room?


Has it come to this, then ? Thirty something last
birthday, and to be called a middle-aged gent ? Away !
Away ! I can bear this ribaldry no more. Perhaps
the sea may console me.

And how? it's only a dim straight line of horizon,
with no gaiety or variety in it. A few wretched little
vessels are twiddling up and down. A steam-tug or
two yachts more or less the town is hideous, except
for a neat row of houses or two the cliffs only respect-
able. The castle looks tolerable. But who, I should
like to know, would be such a fool as to climb up to it.
Hark ! There is a band playing it is a long mile on,
and yet I go to listen to it.

It is a band of wind-instruments of course, a military

band, and the wretches lis-
tening in their stupid good-
humour are giving the
players beer. I knew what
would happen immediately
upon the beer (I'm forbidden
it myself). They played so
infernally out of tune that
they blasted me off the
ground away from the
Dover bucks, and the poor
girls in their cheap finery , and
the grinning yokels, and the
maniacs riding velocipedes.

This is what I saw most
worthy of remark all day.
This person was standing
on the beach, and her
garments flapped round about her in the breeze. She stood
and looked and looked until somebody came to her call
apparently. Somebody, a male of her species, dressed in
corduroys and a frock. Then they paired off quite happy.
That thing had a lover !


Good-night, I can say no more. A monster has just
told me that a vessel starts at seven for Ostend : I will
take it. I would take one for Jericho if it started at six.



I HAD one comfort in quitting Dover. It was to see
Towzer, my tailor, of Saint James's Street, lounging
about the pier in a riarine jacket, with a tuft to his chin.

His face, when he saw me in the boat, was one of the
most intense agony. I owe Towzer ^203.

1 Good-bye, Towzer,' I said. C I shall be back in four
years.' And I laughed a demoniac yell of scorn, and
tumbled clattering down the brass stairs of the cabin.

An Israelite had already taken the best place, and was
preparing to be unwell. I have observed that the
* Mosaic Arabs,' as Coningsby calls them, are always par-
ticularly amenable to maritime discomfiture. The Jew's
internal commotions were frightful during the passage.

Two Oxford youths, one of whom had been growing
a moustache since the commencement of the vacation,
began to smoke cigars, and assume particularly piratical

I took the picture of one of them an hour afterwards
stretched lifeless on the deck, in the agonies of sea-

I will not print that likeness. It is too excellent. If
his mamma saw it, she would catch her death of fright,
and order her darling Tommy home. I will rather
publish the one on the following page.

That man is studying Levizac's grammar. He is a
Scotchman. He has not the least sense of modesty.
As he gets up phrases out of that stale old grammar of
1803 (bought cheap on a stall in Glasgow), the wretch


looks up, and utters the sentences he has just acquired
serves them up hot in his hideous jargon. * Parly voo
Fransis,' says he, or * Pranny garde de mong tait.' He
thinks he has quite the accent. He never doubts but
that he is in a situation to cope with the natives. And
au fait) he speaks French as well as many Belgians or
Germans in those lands whither he is wandering.

Poor Caledonian youth ! I have been cramming him
with the most dreadful lies all the way. I should have

utterly bewildered him and made him mad with lies, but
for this circumstance :

In the middle of a very big one, which (administered
by me) was slipping down his throat as glibly as an
oyster, there came up from the cabin a young woman,
not very pretty, but kind-looking, and she laid her hand
upon the shoulder of that Levizac-reading Scotchman,
and smiled, and he said with an air of immense

* Wall) Eliza, are ye batter noo ? '

It was his wife ! she loved him. She was partial to that
snob. She did not mind the strings of his shirt-collar
sticking out behind his back.


Gentle Eliza ! a man whom you love and whose
exposed follies would give you pain, shall never be made
the butt of the Fat Contributor.

It will hardly be credited but, upon my honour,
there are four people on deck learning French dialogues
as hard as they can. There is the Oxford man who is
not sick. A young lady who is to be the spokeswoman
of her party of nine. A very pompous man, who
swore last night in my hearing that he was a capital
hand at French, and the Caledonian student before

What a wise race ! They learn French phrases to speak
to German waiters, who understand English perfectly.

The couriers and gentlemen's servants are much the
most distingue-looking people in the ship. Lord
Muffington was on board, and of course I got into
conversation with his lordship a noble-looking person.
But just when I thought he might be on the point of
asking me to Muffington Castle, he got up suddenly, and
said, c Yes, my lord,' to a fellow I never should have sus-
pected of a coronet. Yet he was the noble Earl, and
my friend was but his flunkey.

Such is life ! and so may its most astute observers be
sometimes deceived.

OSTEND : August 6.

While the couriers, commissioners, footmen, gentle-
men, ladies'-maids, Scotchman with the shirt-collar, the
resuscitated Oxford youth, the family of nine, and the
whole ship's passengers are struggling, puffing, stamping,
squeezing, bawling, cursing, tumbling over their boxes
and one another's shins, losing their keys, screaming to
the commissioners, having their treasures unfolded, their
wonderful packed boxes unpacked so that it is impossible
ever to squeeze the articles back into their receptacles
again ; while there is such a scene of Babel clatter and
confusion around me, ah ! let me thank Heaven that I
have but a carpet-bag !


Any man going abroad who purchases this number of
Punch a day previous to his departure, will bless me for
ever. Only take a carpet-bag ! You can have every-
thing there taste or luxury demands ; six shirts, a fresh
suit of clothes, as many razors as would shave the beards
of a regiment of Turks, and what more does a traveller
require? Buy nothing! Get a reading of Murray's Guide-
book from your neighbour, and be independent and happy.

My acquaintance, the Hon. James Jillyflower, was in
the boat with fifteen trunks as I am a sinner. He was
induced to take packages for his friends. This is the
beauty of baggage if you have a bag you can refuse.
On this score I refused twenty-four numbers of the Metro-
politan Magazine, a tea-pot, and a ham, which he accepted.

Lady Scramjaw the packet was opened before my
eyes by the custom-house officers at Ostend gave
Jillyflower a parcel of law papers to carry to Italy
* only deeds, upon her honour ' and deeds they were,
but with six pair of gloves inside. All his fifteen trunks
were opened in consequence of that six pair of gloves.
He is made miserable for those gloves. But what cares
Lady Scramjaw ? Let all travellers beware, then, and
again and again bless me for the hint.

I have no passport. They have arrested me.
I am about to be conducted to the police. I may be
put into a dungeon like O'Connel. Tyrants ! lead on !

I was not led to prison, as might have been expected.
I was only conducted to a corner of the room, where
was an official with large mustachios and a conical cap.
Eyeing me with lowering brows, the following dialogue
took place between me and this myrmidon of tyrants :

Man in the Cap. Monsieur, votre passeport.

Fat Contributor. Monsieur, je n'en ai pas.

Man in the Cap. Alors, Monsieur, vous pourrez
passer a votre hotel.


Fat Contributor. Bonjour, Monsieur (id le Gros Rj-
dacteur tire un prof and coup de chapeau).

Man in the Cap. Monsieur, je vous salue.

We separated. I want to know how long Britons are
to be subjected to such grinding oppression ?

We went then to our hotel the Hotel des Bains. We
were so foolish as to order champagne for dinner. It is
the worst champagne I ever drank in my life : worse
than champagne at Vauxhall worse than used to be
supplied by a wine-merchant at the University worse
even than the Bordeaux provided in the Hotel des Bains.
Good heavens ! is it for this I am come abroad ?

Is it for this ? To drink bad wine to eat fried soles
as tough as my shoe to have my nerves agitated about
a passport and, by way of a second course, to be served
with flabby raw mutton-chops ? Away ! I can get these
in Chancery Lane. Is there not such a place as
Greenwich in the world ? and am I come two hundred
miles for such an iniquitous dinner as this ?

I thought of going back again. Why did I come
away ? If there had been a gig at the door that instant
to carry me to my native country, I would have jumped
in. But there is no hope. Look out of the window,
miserable man, and see you are a stranger in a foreign
land. There is an ale-house opposite, with * HIER VER-
KOOPT MAN TRANKEN' over the porch. A woman is
standing before me a woman in wooden shoes. She
has a Belgic child at her neck, another at her side in
little wooden shoekins.

Online LibraryWilliam Makepeace ThackerayComplete works (Volume 22) → online text (page 20 of 31)