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"Ever since I submitted my case to the club, I have had, and can have, no part in the dispute. It is for them to judge if any reconcilement is possible with your friend. I subjoin the copy of a letter which I wrote to the committee, and refer you to them for the issue.
W. M. THACKERAY.
"C. Dickens, Esq."
The inclosure referred to was as follows:
"ONSLOW SQUARE, Nov. 28, 1858
“GENTLEMEN, I have this day received a communication from Mr. Charles Dickens, relative to the dispute which has been so long pending, in which he says:
“Can any conference be held between me as representing Mr. Yates, and any appointed friend of yours, as representing you, in the hope and purpose of some quiet accommodation of this deplorable matter, which will satisfy the feelings of all parties?'
"I have written to Mr. Dickens to say, that since the commencement of this business, I have placed myself entirely in the hands of the committee of the Garrick, and am still as ever prepared to abide by any decision at which they may arrive on the subject. I conceive I cannot, if I would, make the dispute once more personal, or remove it out of the court to which I submitted it for arbitration.
"If you can devise any peaceful means for ending it, no one will be better pleased than
"Your obliged faithful servant,
"The Committee of the Garrick Club.”
It would be in vain to attempt to conceal that this painful affair left a coolness between Mr. Thackeray and his brother novelist. Mr. Thackeray, smarting under the elaborate and unjust attack, portions of which were copied and widely circulated in other journals, could not but regard the friend and adviser of his critic as in some degree associated with it; and Mr. Dickens, on the other hand, naturally hurt at finding his
offer of arbitration rejected, gave the letters to the original author of the trouble for publication, with the remark: "As the receiver of my letter did not respect the confidence in which it addressed him, there can be none left for you to violate. I send you what I wrote to Mr. Thackeray, and what he wrote to me, and you are at perfect liberty to print the two." Thus, for a while, ended this painful affair. Readers of Disraeli's "Quarrels of Authors" will miss in it those sterner features of the dissensions between literary men as they were conducted in the old times; but none can contemplate this difference between the two great masters of fiction of our day with other than feelings of regret for the causes which led to it.
It is pleasing, however, to learn that the differences between them were ended before Mr. Thackeray's death. Singularly enough, this happy circumstance occurred only a few days before the time when it would have been too late. The two great authors met by accident in the lobby of a club. They suddenly turned and saw each other, and the unrestrained impulse of both was to hold out the hand of forgiveness and fellowship. With that hearty grasp the difference which estranged them ceased forever.
ROBERT BELL'S WATCH.
Louis Blanc, the historian of the French Revolution, has recently related in a French newspaper the following story: “A few years ago the London papers announced that a Frenchman, whose name I need not give you [M. Louis Blanc himself], was going to deliver in English what is here called a lecture. Foremost among those who were moved by a feeling of delicate kindness and hospitable curiosity to encourage the lecturer with their presence, was Thackeray. When the lecture was over, the manager of the literary institution where it was delivered, for some reason or other, recommended the company to take care of their pockets in the crowd at the doors — a hint which was not particularly to the taste of a highly respectable and even distinguished audience. Some
even protested, and none more warmly than an unknown person, very well dressed, sitting next to Mr. Robert Bell. Not content with speaking, this unknown person gesticulated in a singularly animated manner. 'Is n't such a suggestion indecent, sir — insulting?' said he to Mr. Bell. 'What does he take us for ?' etc., etc. After giving vent to his indignation in this way for some moments, the susceptible stranger disappeared, and when Mr. Robert Bell, who wanted to know how long the lecture had lasted, put his hand to his watch-pocket, behold! his watch had disappeared likewise. Thackeray, to whom his excellent friend mentioned the mishap, invited Robert Bell to dinner a day or two after. When the day came, Robert Bell took his seat at his friend's table, round which a joyous company of wits were gathered, and soon found himself encircled by a rattling fire of banter about an article of his which had just appeared in the 'Cornhill Magazine,' then conducted by Thackeray; an article remarkable in all respects, and which had attracted universal notice, as a faithful, serious, and philosophical account of some effects of Spiritualism which the author had witnessed at a séance given by Mr. Home. Mr. Robert Bell is an admirable causeur; his talk is a happy mixture of an Englishman's good sense and an Irishman's verve. So his questioners found their match in brilliant fence. Next day a mysterious messenger arrived at Mr. Robert Bell's, and handed to him, without saying who had sent it, a box containing a note, worded, as nearly as I recollect, as follows: The Spirits present their compliments to Mr. Robert Bell, and as a mark of their gratitude to him, they have the honor to return him the watch that was stolen from him.' And a watch it really was that the box contained, but a watch far finer and richer than the one which had disappeared. Mr. Robert Bell at once thought of Thackeray, and wrote to him without further explanation: 'I don't know if it is to you, but it is very like you.' Thackeray in reply sent a caricature portrait of himself, drawn by his own hand, and representing a winged spirit in a flowing robe, and spectacles on nose. Thackeray had in early life taken to painting, and
perhaps if he had pursued his first vocation, he might have come in time to handle the brush as well as he afterwards handled the pen. At any rate the drawing in question as I can bear witness, was one to bring tears into your eyes for laughing. It was accompanied by a note as follows: The Spirit Gabriel presents his compliments to Mr. Robert Bell, and takes the liberty to communicate to him the portrait of the person who stole the watch.' Now, is not this bit of a story charming? What grace! what delicacy! what humor in this inspiration of a friend who, to punish his friend for having done the Spirits the honor to speak of them, sends him with a smile a magnificent present. Honorable to Thackeray, this anecdote is equally so to Robert Bell, who could inspire And this is why I feel a double
such feelings in such a man. pleasure in relating it."
THACKERAY'S LAST ILlness.
His hand had been missed in the last two numbers of the "Cornhill Magazine," but only because he had been engaged in laying the foundation of another of those continuous works of fiction which his readers so eagerly expected. In the then current number of the "Cornhill Magazine," the customary orange-colored fly-leaf had announced that "a new serial story" by him would be commenced early in the new year; but the promise had scarcely gone abroad when we learnt that the hand which had penned its opening chapters, in the full prospect of a happy ending, could never again add line or word to that long range of writings which must always remain one of the best evidences of the strength and beauty of our English speech.
On the Tuesday preceding he had followed to the grave his relative, Lady Rodd, widow of Vice-admiral Sir John Tremayne Rodd, K. C. B., who was the daughter of Major James Rennell, F. R. S., Surveyor-general of Bengal, by the daughter of the Rev. Dr. Thackeray, Head Master of Harrow School. Only the day before this, according to a newspaper account, he had been congratulating himself on having finished four
numbers of a new novel; he had the manuscript in his pocket, and with a boyish frankness showed the last pages to a friend, asking him to read them and see what he could make of them. When he had completed four numbers more he said he would subject himself to the skill of a very clever surgeon, and be no more an invalid. Only two days before he had been seen at his club in high spirits; but with all his high spirits, he did not seem well; he complained of illness; but he was often ill, and he laughed off his present attack. He said that he was about to undergo some treatment which would work a perfect cure in his system, and so he made light of his malady. He was suffering from two distinct complaints, one of which had now wrought his death. More than a dozen years before, while he was writing "Pendennis," the publication of that work was stopped by his serious illness. He was brought to death's door, and he was saved from death by Dr. Elliotson, to whom, in gratitude, he dedicated the novel when he lived to finish it. But ever since that ailment he had been subject every month or six weeks to attacks of sickness, attended with violent retching. He was congratulating himself, just before his death, on the failure of his old enemy to return, and then he checked himself, as if he ought not to be too sure of a release from his plague. On the morning of Wednesday, the 23d of December, the complaint returned, and he was in great suffering all day. He was no better in the evening, and his valet, Charles Sargent, left him at eleven o'clock on Wednesday night, Mr. Thackeray wishing him “Good-night as he went out of the room. At nine o'clock on the following morning the valet entering his master's chamber as usual, found him lying on his back quite still, with his arms spread over the coverlet, but he took no notice, as he was accustomed to see his master thus after one of his stomach attacks: He brought some coffee and set it down beside the bed, and it was only when he returned after an interval and found that the cup had not been tasted, that a sudden alarm seized him, and he discovered that his master was dead. About midnight Mr. Thackeray's mother, who slept overhead, had heard him