W. M. Thackeray (1811-63)


Life
[William Makepeace Thackeray; pseud. “M. A. Titmarsh”, abbrev. for “Michael Angelo”]; English novelist; an uncle, Elias Thackeray (1771-1854), was Anglican vicar of Dundalk; m. Isabella Creagh Shaw of Doneraile, in Paris, 1836, a house being found for them there by F. S. Mahony [“Fr Prout”]; issued The Irish Sketch-book, 1842 (1843), which first appeared under the pseudonym, ill. by himself as proclaimed in the 1843 edn. [ ‘with numerous engravings on wood drawn by the author’];
 
contains travel-anecdotes and allusions to Dr. Doyle [JKL], John Wilson Croker, Thomas Crofton Croker, William Maginn, Theobald Mathew, Robert Ashton (author of Battle of Aughrim), et al., and opens with an account and drawing of Daniel O’Connell’s triumphant procession as Lord Mayor of Dublin, 1841; also issued Barry Lyndon (1844), drawing on Irish character and material [viz., Andrew Robinson Stoney], as to some extent in Phineas Finn: The Irish Member (q.d.); his English Humourists of the Eighteenth Century [lectures of 1851] contains an account of Swift among the other writers treated;
 
his comic song “The Battle of Limerick” trivialises Young Ireland and caused offence, though William Carleton remarked that he ‘writes very well about Ireland, for an Englishman’; Thackeray was a friend of Robert Bell, and satirised Dionysius Lardner in The History of Dionisius Diddler; he coined the expression ‘the great unwashed’ in Pendennis (Chap. 29); there is a portrait in Maclise’s Portrait Gallery (p.95); his dg. contributed to The Women’s World, published by Cassell, under the editorship of Oscar Wilde. IF OG OCEL ODNB [FDA] OCIL

See digital edition of The Irish Sketch Book of 1842, by W. M. Thackeray - at Dublin Chapters, index. - accessed 06.11.2011.

[ top ]

Works
[Books of Irish interest only]
  • The Irish Sketch-book, 1842, with num. engravings on wood by the author, by M. A. Titmarsh [i.e., W. M. Thackeray], 2 vols. (London Chapman & Hall 1843), xi, 368pp.; Do. [var. edns.] (1857), xi, 368pp;
  • Do. (1863), xi, 415pp.; [‘The reader is reminded that this book was first published in the year 1843, and describes the Ireland of fifteen years since’],
  • Do. [new. edn.; in “The Works”, &c.; Vol. 18] (London: Smith, Elder 1865, 1869, 1886, 1887, 1892), xi, 415pp. [var. 352pp.];
  • George Saintsbury, ed. & intro., The Irish Sketch Book: and, Contributions to the “Foreign Quarterly Review” 1842-44 (London: H. Frowde 1908; OUP 1910, 1925]), xviii, 544pp., ill. [45 ills., port., front.], 19 cm.;
  • John Gamble, ed. & intro., The Irish Sketch-book, 1842 [facs. of 1925 OUP edn.] (Belfast: Blackstaff Press 1985), xiii, 368p,[1]p of pls. [incls. index of places visited];
  • The Irish Sketchbook [1843] [Gill’s Irish Classics] (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1990), 394pp.
 

Note: The Irish travel books collection of Ciaran McAnally (formerly of Waltham Tce., Dublin), held in the Unhiversity of Limerick (Glucksman Hse.) includes 85 editions of Thackeray's Irish Sketch Book.

 
See also
  • John Sutherland, ed., William Makepeace Thackeray, The Book of Snobs [Victorian texts 5] (Queensland UP; Prentice Hall [1978]);
  • John Sutherland, ed. & intro., Thackeray, The History of Pendennis; His Fortunes and Misfortunes, His Friends and His Greatest Enemy, with illustrations by the author (Oxford University Press 1994).

[ top ]

Criticism
  • Constantia Maxwell, ‘William Makepeace Thackeray, the Cockney Traveller’, Chap. XXIII, The Stranger in Ireland (1954), pp.296-314;
  • John A. Gamble, FRGS, Introduction, Sketch Book (Belfast: Blackstaff Press 1985), pp.vi-xiii;
  • Cunther Klotz, ‘Thackeray’s Ireland: Image and Attitude in The Irish Sketch Book and Barry Lyndon’, in Wolfgang Zach & Heinz Kosok eds., Literary Interrelations: Ireland, England and the World, Vol. II: Comparison and Impact (Tübingen: Guntar Narr Verlag, 1987), pp.95-02;
  • Judith L. Fisher, Thackeray’s Skeptical Narrative and the “Periolous Trade” of Authorship (London: Ashgate 2002), 310pp.;
  • Robert Hampson, ‘From Cornhill to Cairo: Thackeray as Travel-Writer’, in The Yearbook of English Studies, 34, 1 (MHRA [2004]), pp.214-29.
See also The Irish Book Lover, vols. 1-4.
See William H. A. Williams, Tourism, landscape, and the Irish character: British travel writers in pre-Famine Ireland (Wisconsin UP 2008), xi + 267pp.

[ top ]

Commentary

Note that Thackeray is quoted extensively on Irish chapbooks and their fairy lore [as infra], in Charles Welsh, “Irish Fairy and Folk Tales” [intro. essay], in Irish Literature, gen. ed. Justin MacCarthy, Vol. III, (Philadelphia: John Morris & Company 1904), p.xxi.

Charles Lever: reviewing An Irish Sketchbook (1843) in Dublin University Magazine (June 1843), Lever wrote: ‘That any Englishman, without long and intimate acquaintance with Ireland, the result of residence in the country and constant habits of intercourse with all classes of the population, could write a valuable book, and one which might be deemed an authority, we hold altogether impossible’ [since Irish and English have different standards of thinking]; ‘Few men have ever come to Ireland, without having their theory in their portmanteau. He, however, has none; his object is, simply to stroll about the island, see what he can, make a note of it when he gets home, and print the same as soon as may be. Our friend Titmarsh has wisely seen that a tourist’s sphere of vision is but a very limited one at best [and does not attempt] to decide any one of the thousand disputed questions which agitated Ireland […] A desire for even-handed justice, however, leads him into the common error of attacking both sides, if he censures a parson to-day, he is quite prepared to serve you up a priest to-morrow; landlords and tenants, Whigs and Tories, town folk and country folk, all come in for their share; but so good-humouredly withal, that he must be a sour critic who could find fault with him … As the pleasantest reading for a morning in the country, and the most amusing text of an evening’s conversation in town, we safely advise our readers to possess and peruse the Irish Sketch Book’ (Quoted in Constantia Maxwell, ‘William Makepeace Thackeray, The Cockney Traveller, 1842’, in Strangers in Ireland, 1955, Chap. XXIII [pp.296-314; as infra], p.313.)

[ top ]

Patrick Kennedy (Modern Irish Anecdotes, Humour Wit and Wisdom, & Sons Routledge n.d. [1872]): ‘There were snobs before the day of the lamented William Makepeace Thackeray’ [remark in the course of a story about Sir Teague O’Regan and his Warhorse in the Williamite War; p.9). Further: ‘Much as the lamented Mr. Thackeray satirised irish men and Irish things in his Irish Sketch Book, he never was appealed to in vain by a wretched or quasi-wretched object during his tour. It is very probable that Dr. Swift, as bitter as his pen and tongue were, and stern as he could be to faults and negligence, was as tender-hearted as the author of Vanity Fair.’ (Ibid., p.34; in a series of short narrativers about Jonathan Swift.)

[ top ]

Charles Welsh, “Irish Fairy and Folk Tales” [intro. section essay], in Irish Literature, gen. ed. Justin MacCarthy, Vol. III, (Philadelphia: John Morris & Company 1904), p.xxi.: ‘Of a certain volume of the Hibernian Tales, Thackeray writes pleasantly in his Irish Sketch Book , remarking: “So great is the superiority of the old stories over the new, in fancy, dramatic interest, and humor, that one can't help fancying that Hibernia must have been a very superior country to Ireland.” / “These Hibernian novels, too,” he continues, “are evidently intended for the hedge-school universities. They have the old tricks and some of the old plots that one has read in many popular legends of almost all countries, European and Eastern; successful cunning is the great virtue applauded; and the heroes pass through a thousand wild extravagant dangers, such as could only have been invented when art was young and faith was large. And as the honest old author of the tales says they are suited to the meanest as well as to the highest capacity, tending both to improve the fancy and enrich the mind, let us conclude the night's entertainment by reading one or two of them, and reposing after the doleful tragedy which has been represented. The “Black Thief” is worthy of the Arabian Nights, I think - as wild and odd as an Eastern tale. … Not a little does it add to these tales that one feels as one reads them that the writer must have believed in his heart what he told; you see the tremor, as it were, and the wild look of the eyes as he sits in his comer and recites and peers wistfully around lest the spirits he talks of be really at hand.” And after telling us the Chap-book version of the story of “Hudden, Dudden, and Donald,” and of “the Spaeman,” he says: “And so we shut up the hedge-school library, and close the Galway Nights’ Entertainments; they are not as amusing as Almack, to be sure, but many a lady who has her opera box in London has listened to a piper in Ireland.”’ (p.xxi.) Note that Almack’s Assembly Rooms was a social club in London (1765-1871), the first to admit men and women.

[ top ]

G. B. Shaw: ‘You can always find something better than a good Englishman and something worse than a bad one; but this is not so in Ireland; a bad Irishman is the vilest thing on earth, and a good one is a saint. Thackeray’s Barry Lyndon [The Luck of Barry Lyndon] is a very accurate sketch of the sort of thorough-paced scoundrel Ireland can produce, not when she is put to it, but quite wantonly, merely for the fun of being mischievous’ (1913; rep. in Weintraub, A Composite Biography, 1969; quoted in Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, Derry: Field Day 1991, Vol. 2, p.498.)

[ top ]

Constantia Maxwell, ‘William Makepeace Thackeray, The Cockney Traveller, 1842’, in Strangers in Ireland (1954), Chap. XXIII, pp.296-314, notes: Thackeray dedicated The Irish Sketch Book [published 3 May 1843] to the Irish novelist Charles Lever, with whom he had made friends in the summer of 1842 and in whose house nr. Dublin he had written most of the book. Thackeray was still comparatively unknown … the next month it was reviewed by Lever in his journal [Dublin University Magazine], ‘that any Englishman, without long and intimate acquaintance with Ireland, the result of residence in the country, and constant habits of intercourse with all classes of the population, could write a valuable book, and one which might be deemed an authority, we hold altogether impossible.’; ‘Few men have ever come to Ireland, without having their theory in their portmanteau. He, however, has hone, his object is, simply to stroll about the island,, see what he can, make a note of it when he gets home, and print the same as soon as he may. Our friend Titmarsh [the pseud. used in the Paris Sketch Book] has wisely seen that a tourist’s sphere if vision is but a very limited one at best [and therefore does not attempt] to decide any one of the thousand disputed questions which agitate Ireland … A desire for even-handed justice, however, leads him into the common error of attacking both sides, if he censures a parson to-day, he is quite prepared to serve you up a priest tomorrow, landlords and tenants, Whigs and Tories, town folk and country folk - all come in for their share; but so good-humouredly withal, that he must be a sour critic who could find fault with him’; ‘As the pleasantest reading for a morning in our country, and the most amusing text for an evening’s conversation in town, we safely advise our readers to possess and peruse the Irish Sketch Book.’ [Cont.]

[ top ]

Constantia Maxwell (‘William Makepeace Thackeray, The Cockney Traveller, 1842’, in Strangers in Ireland (1954) - cont.: Later in revenge for a parody which Thackeray made of him entitled Philip Fogarty, Lever retaliated with a sketch of Elias Howle, the cockney traveller who had written of Ireland ‘not to counsel or console, not to lament over nor bewail our varied mass of errors and misfortunes, but to laugh at us.’; ‘His mission was to make Punch out of Ireland, and no one was more capable for the office.’ Thackeray’s analysis - gathering up observations of this sort, ‘pigs and men need not live together’ - are akin with those of other English writers, such as Forster and Macaulay, cited by Maxwell in a footnote (n.13). Thackeray wrote, ‘Is it not too monstrous to howl about English tyranny and suffering Ireland, and call for a Stephen’s Green Parliament to make the country quiet and the people industrious? The people are not politically worse treated than their neighbours in England. The priests and the landlords, if they chose to co-operate, might do more for the country now than any kings or laws could. What you want here is not a Catholic and a Protestant party, but an Irish party. (Maxwell, op. cit., p.313.)

[ top ]

John A. Gamble [FRGS] ed., The Irish Sketchbook [1843; rep. of 1863 Edn.] (Belfast: Blackstaff 1985), 365pp., with contemp. frontispiece engraved portrait by F. Hall after S Lawrence, 1859; verso title-page, rep. orig. publ. Chapman & Hall 1843. Introduction quotes Maxwell (op. cit. 1954): ‘It is gay and well written, and liberally supplied with clever and amusing illustrations.’ An ancestor Elias Thackeray, was Vicar of Dundalk, 1771-1854 [sic]; m. Irishwoman Isabella Craggy Shaw of Doneraile (d.1894), in Paris 1836; dg. Col Matthew Shawe, CB, mil. sec. to Wellesley in India, living with her mother in Paris; an unhelpful mother-in-law impaled on his pen in later novels; Anne Thackeray, dg., b. 1837, d. 8 months later; another, Harriet, b.1840, the mother becoming mentally unbalanced after; by 1844 the marriage had broken down; contract for forthcoming tour book signed with Chapman & Hall, 8 Sept. 1840, Thackeray leaving for Cork, 12 Sept.; Isabella throws herself overboard, and rescued; tour abandoned; returned to Ireland, 1842; Sketch Book published 1843; befriended by Lever, then editor of Dublin University Magazine; advised him to go to London and offered financial support; Sketch Book ded. to Lever; the orig. preface, prancing decidedly for Home Rule suppressed by publishers [Thackeray, ‘I am not a Chartist, only a Republican’]; Lever embarrassed in giving fulsome review, and Ferguson withdrew support because he disliked the dedication [‘Harry Lorrequer needs no complimenting in a dedication ..’, and signed W. M. Thackeray, ‘laying aside for a moment the travelling title’, London, April 27th 1843]; Thackeray’s comic piece on Lever, calling him Phil Fogarty [but see note, infra], led to breach of friendship; Lever responded with ‘Elia Howle, the Cockney Traveller’, implying the book was written for money; refers to the ODNB article’s call for more impartiality in the Sketch Book.

[ top ]

John A. Gamble, ed., The Irish Sketchbook, Blackstaff 1985), 365pp - cont.: Thackeray touched by poverty of the Irish people; orig. editor recommended readers to see Spenser’s State, Tone’s Autobiography, and Thackeray’s Sketch Book; Irish acquaintances incl. Maginn, ed. Fraser’s Magazine, where “The Luck of Barry Lyndon” appeared in 1844, based on Irish experiences; Thackeray declined to subscribe to Maginn memorial claiming to have given Maginn £500 in his lifetime and received back £20; Shandon based on Maginn; The O’Mulligan prob. based on William O’Connell, a br. of Daniel; tour began June 1842; zigzag from Dublin to Bantry, Waterford to Giant’s Causeway, visiting Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Killarney, Galway, Wicklow, etc; saw potential of hedge-school children in Waterford; regarded religious intolerance as detestable on either side and did not understand its necessity; at Cork, ‘I think in walking in the streets and looking at the ragged urchins crowding there that every Englishman must remark that the superiority of intelligence is here and not with us … I never saw such a collection of bright eyed, wild, clever, eager faces.’ disapproved of Ulster Synod and also Archbishop MacHale; praised Christian brothers work; found Maynooth students living in ‘lazy squalor’; rollicking visit to races; high spirited peasants and comic coachmen. [Cont.]

[ top ]

John A. Gamble, ed., The Irish Sketchbook, Blackstaff 1985), 365pp - cont. [on Irish hunger]: ‘In this fairest and richest of countries, men are starving and suffering by the millions, stretched in the sunshine of their doors with no work … lying in bed with hunger … tearing up unripe potatoes to exist now’; ‘I was shocked at the Irish cabins. An ordinary pigsty in England is really more comfortable’; his sources include Henry Inglis, A Journey through Ireland in 1834, in the first place; Leigh’s New Pocket Road Book of Ireland [3rd edn.], ed. C. C. Hamilton (1835); also prob. Fraser’s Guide Through Ireland (Dublin 1838; also 1844 rev. ed.); mentions works by Willis [recte J. G. Wills], Croker, Barrow, Lover, and Curry [O’Curry?]; orig. MS of The Sketch Book in Houghton Library, Harvard Univ., Cambridge (USA). British Library holds among miscellaneous and add. edns., The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan, Holberth Lib. No 11 (London; printed in Vienna [1924]), 10o; The Luck of Barry Lyndon, a romance of the last century, 2 vols. (NY: Appleton 1853), and Do. [another edn.] (Routledge & Son 1887, 1892, 1893), 8o; with Stubb’s Calendar, the Fatal Books; Barbara Cox, and The Cutting of His Comb (London: Routledge 1893), vi, 376pp.); Confessions of Fitzboodle [and] some Passages in the Life of Major Gahagan (NY: D. Appleton 1852), 12o.

[ top ]

R. F. Foster, Modern Ireland (1988), quoting Thackeray’s assessment of the partisan climate of Irish politics, ‘Where is the truth to be found in that country …?’ (From Irish Sketch Book [as infra].)

Mary Campbell, review of The Adventures of Mr James Freney [1764], ed. Frank McEvoy, in Books Ireland (May 1992): Thackeray based his Barry Lyndon on the real character of Redmond Barry of Barryogue, and modelled him on two other adventurers, Stoney Bowes of King’s County [recte Andrew Robinson Stoney and his bride Mary Bowes - as infra], and Hugh Maguire of Fermanagh, who both preyed on heiresses and ended up on debtors’ prisons. His Irish Sketchbook describes how he found the tone of voice he had been looking for - a voice of calm complacency in recounting personal villainy - in a collection of chapbooks, ‘strictly Irish’ read in boredom in a Galway hotel. The Adventures of Mr James Freney (1764; reps. up to 1861 - is the autobiography of a notorious highway-man who has left his mark on the folklore and topography of Co. Kilkenny, and lived to serve repentently working for the muncipality of Ross harbour. Thackeray found his idea of the moral insensitive answered perfectly by his way of accounting his criminal activities ‘with such noble naivety and simplicity’.

Note: Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathclyde, was the young widow and coal-fortune millionaire by her father who married the fortune-hunter Anthony Robinson Stoney - a narrative of brutality, abjection and ultimate escape retold in Wendy Moore’s study Wedlock: How Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband Met His Match (2009). After her rescue from the marriage due to the efforts of an honest female servant, Stoney was to spend the rest of his life in a debtor’s prison where he retained a certain Polly Sutton whom he had seduced and with whom he had five children. [See review by Lydia Syson, Guardian (24 Jan. 2009) -online; link provided by Marion Urch.]

[ top ]

Terry Eagleton: In his Introduction to Heathcliff and the Great Hunger: Studies in Irish Culture (London: Verso 1995), Eagleton quotes Carleton's saying, ‘he [Thackeray] writes well about Ireland, for an Englishman.’ [ix].

John F. Fallon, “Irishman’s Diary” ([column], Irish Times, [12] Feb. 2000), writes: ‘The author of Vanity Fair acknowledged the good work done by the Brothers [of the Franciscan friary in Roundstone, Connemara], but he railed against the pretentious title given to his Lordship in the inscription carved on the front of the building: “his Grace the Lord Archbishop of Tuam”.’

[ top ]

Melissa Fegan, review of William H. A. Williams, Tourism, landscape, and the Irish character: British travel writers in pre-Famine Ireland, in Journal of Tourism History, 2, 1 (April 2010), pp.58-60: ‘[…] Williams chooses to focus on British travel writers, who were not exactly ‘strangers’ in Ireland. Thackeray, on his first day in Dublin, was bemused by an announcement in the Morning Register about the consecration of the Bishop of Aureliopolis by the Pope: “Such an announcement sounds quite strange in English, and in your own country, as it were; or isn’t it your own country?” For the British tourist, particularly after the Act of Union, Ireland was uncanny, both home and abroad, your own country and an alien, potentially hostile environment. Williams asks: “To what extent could tourism and travel writing bridge the differences between the two islands, contributing to the unification of the Kingdom in more than name only?”’ (p.19).

[ top ]

Margaret Kelleher, ‘Prose Writing and Drama in English; 1830-1890 […]’, in Cambridge History of Irish Literature, ed. Kelleher & Philip O’Leary (Cambridge UP 2006), Vol. 1 [Chap. 11]: ‘Small wonder then that the young William Thackeray, while on a visit to Wicklow in 1842, would bitterly complain: “A plague take them! what remains for me to discover after the gallant adventurers in the service of Paternoster Row have examined every rock, lake, and ruin of the district, exhausted it of all its legends, and ‘invented new’, most likely, as their daring genius prompted.” (The Irish Sketchbook 1842 [1843] Gloucester: Alan Sutton 1990, p.250.) The picaresque and mischievous narrative that Thackeray did produce, entitled The Irish Sketchbook 1842, proved to be an immediate success in London following its publication in May 1843. One of the liveliest accounts of pre-famine Irish society, it includes a fascinating account of the author’s own “light reading” while in Ireland and features liberal quotation from what Thackeray termed the “Hedge school volumes” - such as The Life and Adventures of James Freney and The Irish and Hibernian Tales - once the childhood reading of William Carleton and, two generations later, still a staple of the Irish reading public.’ (p.462.)

[ top ]

Quotations

‘He was going to Ireland. What to do? To see the grand misère. He went, and came back not in the least disappointed. He visited Scotland for its romantic recollections and beauty - England for the wonders of its wealth - Ireland for the wonders of its poverty. For poverty and misery have, it seems, their sublime, and that sublime is to be found in Ireland. What a flattering homage to England's constitutional rule over a sister country.’ (The Irish Sketch Book, ed. Christopher Morash, Gill & Macmillan 1990, Introduction, p.xiii; quoted in Diarmuid Ó Giolláin, Locating Irish Folklore: Tradition, Modernity, Identity (Cork UP 2000), p. 39.)
[ top ]


Irish talent: ‘Only one instance of Irish talent do we read of, and that, in a desponding tone, announces its intention of quitting its native country. All the rest of the pleasures of the evening are importations from Cockneyland.’ (Irish Sketch Book, p.276); also, on Irish cabins, ‘An ordinary pigsty in England is really more comfortable … I declare I believe a Hottentot kraal has more comforts in it, even to write of the place makes one unhappy.’ (Irish sketch Book, end of Chap. VIII, Smith Elder’s [Works] edition of 1874, 12 v [sic]; Vol. 7 p.290.)

[ top ]

The Truth[s] about Ireland: ‘To have “an opinion about Ireland”, one must begin by getting the truth; and where is it to be had in the country? Or rather, there are two truths, the Catholic truth and the Protestant truth. The two parties do not see things with the same eyes. I recollect, for instance, a Catholic gentleman telling me that the Primate had forty-three thousand five hundred a year; a Protestant clergyman gave me, chapter and verse, the history of a shameful perjury and malversation of money on the part of a Catholic priest nor was one tale more true than the other. But belief is made a party business; and the receiving of the archbishop’s income would probably not convince the Catholic any more than the clearest evidence to the contrary altered the Protestant’s opinion. Ask about an estate, you may be sure almost that people will make misstatements, or volunteer them if not asked. Ask a cottager about his rent, or his landlord; you cannot trust him. I shall never forget the glee with which a gentleman in Munster told me how he had sent off MM. Tocqueville and Beaumont with such a set of stories.’ ‘Inglis was seized, as I am told and mystified in the same way. In the midst of all these truths, attested with “I give ye my sacred honour and word”, which is the stranger to select? And how are we to trust philosophers who make theories upon such data? Meanwhile it is satisfactory to know, upon testimony so general as to be equivalent almost to fact, that, wretched as it is, the country is steadily advancing, nor nearly so wretched now as it was a score of years since, and let us hope that the middle class, which this increase of prosperity must generate (and of which our laws have hitherto forbidden the existence in Ireland, making there a population of Protestant aristocracy and Catholic peasantry), will exercise the greatest and most beneficial influence over the country. Too independent to be bullied by priest or [364] squire - having their interest in quiet, and alike indisposed to servility or rebellion; may not as much be hoped from the gradual formation of such a class as from any legislative meddling? It is the want of the middle class that has rendered the squire so arrogant and the clerical or political demagogue so powerful; and I think Mr. O’Connell himself would say that the existence of such a body would do more for the steady acquirement of orderly freedom than the occasional outbreak of any crowd, influenced by any eloquence from altar or tribune.’ (END; Blackstaff, Edn., pp.364-65; cf. Roy Foster, supra, and Terry Eagleton, under Commentary in “Maria Edgeworth”, supra - noting also that “The Truth about Ireland” is the title of an Eagleton book.) Note that the above quotation was earlier and independently quoted in Bruce Stewart, Excomologosis: The Development of James Joyce's Writings from Stephen Hero to Finnegans Wake, TCD Ph.D. 1979.)

[ top ]

Grovelling heathenisms: ‘Leave such figments to magazine writers and ballad-makers; but, corbleu! it makes one indignant to think that people in the United Kingdom, where a press is at work and good sense is abroad … should countenance such savage superstitions and silly, grovelling heathenisms.’ Further: ‘The loud nothings, windy emphatic tropes and metaphors.’ Further: ‘If I were a Defender of the Faith, I would issue an order to all priests and deacons to take to the book again … mistrusting the dangerous facility given active jaw and a hot imagination [… &c.]’ (Sketchbook, 1880, p.221; quoted in Luke Gibbons, ‘Allegory, History and Irish Nationalism’ [chap.] , in Transformations in Irish Culture (Cork UP 1996), p.146.

Anglo-Irish verses: ‘With conscious proide / I stud insoide / And look’d the World’s Great Fair in, / Until me sight / Was dazzled quite, / And I couldn’t see for staring.’ ( ‘Mr Maloney’s Account of the Crystal Palace’, in Ballads and Contributions to Punch, 1842-1850, Oxford 1908, quoted in Chris Morash, Writing the Famine, 1995, pp.53-54.)

[ top ]

Jonathan Swift: ‘That Swift was born at No 7, Hoey’s Court, Dublin on 30 Nov. 1667, is a certain fact, of which nobody will deny the sister island the honour and glory; but, it seems to me, he was no more an Irishman than a man born of English parents at Calcutta is a Hindoo.’ (The English Humourists of the Eighteenth Century, 1853; quoted in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, gen. ed., Seamus Deane, Derry: Field Day 1991, Vol. 2, p.1,007).

[ top ]

Eccles Street (Dublin): ‘[…] you pass from some of the stately fine streets straight into the country. After No. 46 Eccles Street, for instance, potatoes begin at once. You are on a wide green plain, diversified by occasional cabbage-plots, by drying grounds white with chemises, in the midst of which the chartered wind is revelling; and though in the map some fanciful engineer has laid down streets and squares, they exist but on paper; nor, indeed, can there be any need of them at present, in a quarter where houses are not wanted so much as people to dwell in the same. (Thackeray, Irish Sketchbook, 1883, p. 555; quoted in Patricia Hutchins, James Joyce’s World, 1957, pp. 52-53 & 72.) Note: Conjecturally, the phrase ‘on paper’ [quoted supra] is echoed in Finnegans Wake as ‘on papel or off of it’.

[ top ]

Eccles Hotel (Glengarriff): Staying at Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff, Thackeray witnesses an altercation involving some Cockneys one of whom avers the importance of their station by saying, ‘I pay my way.’ Thackeray reflects: ‘I have met more gentlemen here than in any place I ever say, gentlemen of high and low ranks … “I am a gentleman, and pay my way …” I have not heard a sentence near so vulgar from any man in Ireland.’ (Sketch Book; quoted in P. J. Kavanagh, Voices in Ireland, 1994, p.191). Note that James Joyce assigns the offending line to Mr. Deasy, giving evidence that he had read the book, and taken cognisance of the connection between Eccles and Glengarriff. Query: Can it be coincidental that the literary technique called the epiphany, which Joyce first employed in Glengarriff St. - acc. Stanislaus (MBK) was fictionally sited in Eccles St., and that the protagonist in the first epiphany should be a ‘young gentleman’?

Glengarriff (again): ‘ Were such a bay lying upon English shores it would be a world’s wonder. Perhaps if it were on the Mediterranean or the Baltic, English travellers would flock to it in hundreds.’ (Quoted in Shell Guide, 1967).

[ top ]

References
Dictionary of National Biography
includes entry on Elias Thackeray (1771-1854), an uncle, vicar of Dundalk, mentioned in Sketch Book; Barry Lyndon, appearing in Fraser’s Magazine, 1844, probably owed something to his Irish experiences [sic]; Novel by Eminent Hands (frist publ. in Punch, 1847); Barry Lyndon, from Fraser, 1844; Eyre Crowe, Thackeray in America (1893[? or 97]), and Thackeray’s Haunts and Homes (1897). [Check Novels by Eminent Hands - sing or pl.] See also various references under William Maginn, supra.

Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction (Maunsel 1919): Lever’s acceptance of Thackeray’s dedication of ‘The Battle of Limerick’ to him caused Samuel Ferguson to sever his connection with the Dublin University Magazine. Incidents in Barry Lyndon derived from chapbook read in Galway [see further under Mary Campbell, review of James Freney, &c., infra]. Irish characters include The O’Mulligan, founded on WJ O’Connell; Capt. Shandon, based on William Maginn; Capt. Costigan and his famous daughter, based on Miss O’Neill. Brown quotes Trollope, ‘Ye hates us, Mr Thackeray, ye hate the Irish,’ said to Trollope’s old Irish coachman. ‘Hate you? God help me, when all I ever loved was Irish!’, and his eyes filled with tears. Thackeray’s wife was Irish.’ [Check the question of the dedication - ballad or book?]

[ top ]

Sir Paul Hervey, ed., Oxford Companion to English Literature (1951 Edn.), notes that Lever took exception to a splendid spoof Thackeray did on the songs in Charles O’Malley; mutual acquaintances got involved, taking sides, then mediating. Harvey further notes under Lever that the Irish novelist is caricatured by Thackeray in Novels by Eminent Hands [n.d.] Note that Margaret Drabble (Companion, new edn.) strikes a different note: ‘Lever received much encouragement and advice from Thackeray and was admired by G. Eliot and A. Trollope.’

Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English: The Romantic Period, 1789-1850 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), Vol. 2, relates that Thackeray married to a native of Doneraile, Co. Cork; narrates story to the effect that an old Irish groom looking after Thackeray while staying with Trollope produced a copy of the Sketch Book and said, ‘You hate us, Mr. Thackeray,’ to which the novelist: ‘Hate you! God help me, all that I have loved best in the world is Irish!’ Bibl., John S. Crone, ‘Thackeray in Ireland’, Irish Book Lover, III no. 1 (Aug. 1911), p.3. See also Rafroidi Irish Literature in English (Vol. 1), pp.208-09.

[ top ]

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2, contains an editorial allusion to Wilde’s The Newcombes, viz., ‘the noble gentleman from whom the same great sentimentalist [Thackeray] drew Colonel Newcombe died, a few months after The Newcomes [1853-55] had reached a fourth edition, with the word “Adsum” on his lips’, thus showing how life imitated art in keeping with Wilde’s theory: ‘Literature always anticipates life’; further, ‘it does not copy it, but moulds it to its purpose; the nineteenth century, as we know it, is largely an invention of Balzac’ (‘The Decay of Lying’, Intentions, 1891; FDA2, p.385). See also quotations, infra.

[ top ]

Library of Herbert Bell (Belfast) holds The Irish Sketch-book (London 1843); The Book of Snobs: Sketches & Travels in London (London 1886).

Eric Stevens Catalogue (1995), lists The letters and Private Papers of William Makepeace Thackeray 1817-1863, collected and ed. by Gordon N Ray, 4 vols. (Harvard UP 1945-46).

University of Ulster Library (Morris Collection) holds Irish Sketchbook (1843). Belfast Central Public Library holds Irish Sketchbook (Blackstaff ed. 1985).

[ top ]

Notes
William Carleton met Thackeray - whom he greatly admired - in London, and received compliments from him (D. J. O’Donoghue, Poets of Ireland [first ser.], Vol. II; quoted in Kiely, Poor Scholar, 1947, p.158.)

[ top ]

Charles Lever: Thackeray parodied Lever in his Charles O’Malley vein in a piece called in “Phil Fogarthy, a Tale of the Fighting Onety-Oneth by Harry Rollicker”, a piece purportedly by ‘Harry Rollicker’, being the fourth of the “Novels by Eminent Hands”. This was produced in response to Lever’s Dublin University Magazine review of The Irish Sketchbook (1843) which followed his own receipt of a dedication from Thackeray under his own name - an episode that resulted in the Samuel Ferguson’s resignation from the editorship of DUM. Thackeray was himself later pilloried as “Elias Howle”, a painter and an archetypal English traveller, in Lever’s Roland Cashel.

[ top ]

Name game: It was Thackeray who dubbed T. F. Meagher ‘Meagher of the Sword’, while his ‘Captain Shandon’ is generally taken to represent William Maginn.

Laetitia Pilkington: Thackeray drew heavily on Laetitia Pilkington’s Memoirs (2 vols., Dublin 1748; 3rd Vol. London 1754) for his view of Swift in English Humourists. [See extract from Thackeray’s ‘Life of Goldsmith’ in English Humourists under Goldsmith, supra.]

[ top ]