chapter  12
2 Pages

CHARLOTTE BRONTË, from two letters, 29 March and 14 August 1848

I have already told you, I believe, that I regard Mr Thackeray as the first of modern masters, and as the legitimate high priest of Truth; I study him accordingly with reverence. He, I see, keeps the mermaid’s tail below water, and only hints at the dead men’s bones and noxious slime amidst which it wriggles;1 but, his hint is more vivid than other men’s elaborate explanations, and never is his satire whetted to so keen an edge as when with quiet mocking irony he modestly recommends to the approbation of the public his own exemplary discretion and forbearance. The world begins to know Thackeray rather better than it did two years or even a year ago, but as yet it only half knows him. His mind seems to me a fabric as simple and unpretending as it is deepfounded and enduring-there is no meretricious ornament to attract or fix a superficial glance; his great distinction of the genuine is one that can only be fully appreciated with time. There is something, a sort of ‘still profound,’ revealed in the concluding part of Vanity Fair which the discernment of one generation will not suffice to fathom. A hundred years hence, if he only lives to do justice to himself, he will be better known than he is now. A hundred years hence, some thoughtful critic, standing and looking down on the deep waters, will see shining through them the pearl without price of a purely original mind-such a mind as the Bulwers, etc., his contemporar ies have not,—not acquirements gained from study, but the thing that came into the world with him-his inherent genius: the thing that made him, I doubt not, different as a child from other children, that caused him, perhaps, peculiar griefs and struggles in life, and that now makes him as a writer unlike other writers. Excuse me for recurring to this theme, I do not wish to bore you….