chapter  55
8 Pages

WALTER BAGEHOT, from ‘Sterne and Thackeray’,

WithNational Review, April 1864

If, he often says, ‘people, could write about that of which they are really thinking, how interesting books would be!’ More than most writers of fiction, he felt the difficulty of abstracting his thoughts and imagination from near facts which would make themselves felt. The sick wife in the next room, the unpaid baker’s bill, the lodging-house keeper who doubts your solvency; these, and such as these,—the usual accompaniments of an early literary life,—are constantly alluded to in his writings. Perhaps he could never take a grand enough view of literature, or accept the truth of ‘high art,’ because of his natural tendency to this stern and humble realism. He knew that he was writing a tale which would appear in a green magazine (with others) on the 1st of March, and would be paid for perhaps on the 11th, by which time, probably ‘Mr. Smith’ would have to ‘make up a sum,’ and would again present his ‘little account.’ There are many minds besides his who feel an interest in these realities, though they yawn over ‘high art’ and elaborate judgments.