Thursday, June 30, 2011
July 10, 1858 --- A Garrick Squabble
The piece was written by Edmund Yates, a young friend of Mr Dickens. Thackeray's anger was directed at the latter. Yates was inconsequential; Thackeray told a friend, "I am hitting the man behind him." Although publicly cordial, Thackeray was jealous of Dickens. He felt his work was superior but found less success with the public. He no doubt feared that his talent was on the wane; he'd had no success to match Vanity Fair, published in a decade earlier.
When Yates refused to apologise, Thackeray appealed to the Garrick, where both were members, inquiring "Whether the practice of publishing such articles ... is not intolerable in a society of gentlemen." The directors of the Club ordered Yates to apologise or resign. Under the by-laws, Yates could and did seek a General Meeting. Neither principle attends. During the debate, Dickens who called the whole thing a "frightful mess, muddle, complication and botheration" - speaks highly of Thackeray but stands by Yates. In the end, Yates loses by a 70-46 vote. Yates must go.
After an embarrassing scene when Yates tried to force his way into the club, the matter died away but it closed the long friendship between England's two leading authors. They did not speak for three years. Finally, meeting one day at the Athenaeum, Thackeray approached Dickens, declaring, "It is time this foolish estrangement should cease." They shook hands and chatted amiably for several minutes. A few days later, Thackeray dropped dead.
Posted by Tom Hughes at 4:52 AM