chapter  9
ABRAHAM HAYWARD, from ‘Thackeray’s Writings’,
WithEdinburgh Review, January 1848
Pages 11

Fame, like wealth, is very unfairly and unequally distributed in this world. The remark, though hackneyed, ever and anon comes back upon us with a force and vividness affording, to our minds, unanswerable evidence of its truth. It has just been suggested to us anew, on observing within how small a circle the personal reputation of a highly influential writer may be confined, unless he puts forth a regular succession of quartos and octavos, and placards his real name on his title-pages. It may be right and natural that this should be so: anonymous writers have no reason to complain that their names are not familiar in men’s mouths; and yet let us not be accused of an undue partiality towards the claims of our own calling when we say, that most of the great battles between truth and prejudice have been decidedmost of the great steps in taste, criticism, correct feeling, and social improvement, have been made,—not by ‘authors’ in the grand dignified sense of the word, but by periodical essayists, pamphleteers, reviewers, and the calumniated tribe who fall under the large and generic description of ‘gentlemen of the press.’ Yet invaluable as their services have been and are, these only arrive at celebrity in rare instances,—

when their writings are collected towards the end of their career, or when the grave has closed upon them and some admiring friend is looking round for a monument. The political tracts of Swift and the moral essays of Addison have long taken rank among the classics of our tongue; but at the time of their publication men speculated upon them much as they now speculate on an article that attracts attention in a newspaper or a review; the authorship was by turns the subject of bold assertion, rash conjecture, and confidential communication; and it may be doubted whether even the inner circle were aware that the tracts and essays in question were forming a new epoch in literature.