chapter  4
Thackeray, the end of the novel
Pages 4

Ring, ding, ding! the gloomy green curtain drops, the dramatis personae are duly disposed of, the nimble candle-snuffers put out the lights, and the audience goeth pondering home. If the critic take the pains to ask why the author, who hath been so diffuse in describing the early and fabulous acts of Mrs. Catherine’s existence, should so hurry off the catastrophe where a deal of the very finest writing might have been employed, Solomons1 replies that the ‘ordinary’ narrative as above condensed by him, is far more emphatic than any composition of his own could be, with all the rhetorical graces which he might employ. Mr. Aram’s trial, as taken by the penny-a-liners of those days, hath always interested him more than the lengthened and poetical report which an eminent novelist (who hath lately, in compliment to his writings, been gratified by a permission to wear a bloody hand) has given of the same. Mr. Turpin’s adventures are more instructive and agreeable to him in the account of the Newgate Plutarch, than in the learned Ainsworth’s Biographical Dictionary;2 and as he believes that the professional gentlemen who are employed to invest such heroes with the rewards that their great actions merit, will go through the ceremony of the grand cordon with much more accuracy and dispatch than can be shown by the most distinguished amateur; in like manner he thinks that the history of such investitures should be written by people directly concerned, and not by admiring persons without, who must be ignorant of many of the secrets of ketchcraft. We very much

doubt if Milton himself could make a description of an execution half so horrible as yonder simple lines from the Daily Post of a hundred and ten years since, that now lies before us, ‘herrlich wie am ersten tag,’—as bright and clean as on the day of publication. Think of it! it has been read by Belinda at her toilet, scanned at Button’s and Will’s, sneered at by wits, talked of in palaces and cottages by a busy race in wigs, red heels, hoops, patches, and rags of all variety-a busy race that hath long since plunged and vanished in the unfathomable gulf, towards which we march so briskly.