A Rod of Iron in his Soul
Once, when I was staying with [Landor], he had a small dinnerparty, of Dickens, John Forster, and myself. This was my first introduction to both these men. I found Dickens charming, and Forster pompous, heavy, and ungenial. Dickens was bright and gay and winsome, and while treating Mr Landor with the respect of a younger man for an elder, allowed his wit to play about him, bright and harmless as summer lightning. He included me, then quite a beginner in literature, young in years and shy by temperament, and made me feel at home with him; but Forster was saturnine and cynical. . . . I remember George Henry Lewes telling me the difference between Thackeray and Dickens in the way of service to a friend. Dickens, he said, would not give you a farthing of money, but he would take no end of trouble for you. He would spend a whole day, for instance, in looking for the most suitable lodgings for you, and would spare himself neither time nor fatigue. Thackeray would take two hours’ grumbling indecision and hesitation in writing a two-line testimonial, but he would put his hand into his pocket and give you a handful of gold and bank notes if you wanted them. I know of neither characteristic personality; but I repeat the illustration as Mr. Lewes gave it.
KeywordsWoman Writer Bank Note Intimate Friendship Morbid Tenderness Literary Life
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