Dear old Thackeray!—as everybody who knew him intimately calls him, now he is gone. That is his face, looking out upon us, next to Pope’s. What a contrast in bodily appearance those two English men of genius present! Thackeray’s great burly figure, broad-chested, and ample as the day, seems to overshadow and quite blot out of existence the author of “The Essay on Man.” But what friends they would have been had they lived as contemporaries under Queen Anne or Queen Victoria! One can imagine the author of “Pendennis” gently lifting poor little Alexander out of his “chariot” into the club, and revelling in talk with him all night long. Pope’s high-bred and gentlemanly manner, combined with his extraordinary sensibility and dread of ridicule, would have modified Thackeray’s usual gigantic fun and sometimes boisterous sarcasm into a rich and strange adaptability to his little guest. We can imagine them talking together now, with even a nobler wisdom and ampler charity than were ever vouchsafed to them when they were busy amid the turmoils of their crowded literary lives.
As a reader and lover of all that Thackeray has written and published, as well as a personal friend, I will relate briefly something of his literary habits as I can recall them. It is now nearly twenty years since I first saw him and came to know him familiarly in London. I was very much in earnest to have him come to America, and read his series of lectures on “The English Humorists of the Eighteenth Century,” and when I talked the matter over with some of his friends at the little Garrick Club, they all said he could never be induced to leave London long enough for such an expedition. Next morning, after this talk at the Garrick, the elderly damsel of all work announced to me, as I was taking breakfast at my lodgings, that Mr. Sackville had called to see me, and was then waiting below. Very soon I heard a heavy tread on the stairs, and then entered a tall, white-haired stranger, who held out his hand, bowed profoundly, and with a most comical expression announced himself as Mr. Sackville. Recognizing at once the face from published portraits, I knew that my visitor was none other than Thackeray himself, who, having heard the servant give the wrong name, determined to assume it on this occasion. For years afterwards, when he would drop in unexpectedly, both at home and abroad, he delighted to call himself Mr. Sackville, until a certain Milesian waiter at the Tremont House addressed him as Mr. Thack_uary_, when he adopted that name in preference to the other.
Questions are frequently asked as to the habits of thought and composition of authors one has happened to know, as if an author’s friends were commonly invited to observe the growth of works he was by and by to launch from the press. It is not customary for the doors of the writer’s work-shop to be thrown open, and for this reason it is all the more interesting to notice, when it is possible, how an