The History of Pendennis
birds being quite unfamiliar to me, the idea of entering into competition
with M. Eugene Sue was abandoned. To describe a real rascal, you must
make him so horrible that he would be too hideous to show; and unless
the painter paints him fairly, I hold he has no right to show him at all.
Even the gentlemen of our ageÑthis is an attempt to describe one of
them, no better nor worse than most educated menÑeven these we can-
not show as they are, with the notorious foibles and selfishness of their
lives and their education. Since the author of Tom Jones was buried, no
writer of fiction among us has been permitted to depict to his utmost
power a MAN. We must drape him, and give him a certain conventional
simper. Society will not tolerate the Natural in our Art. Many ladies have
remonstrated and subscribers left me, because, in the course of the story,
I described a young man resisting and affected by temptation.
My object was to say, that he had the passions to feel, and the manli-
ness and generosity to overcome them. You will not hearÑit is best to
know itÑwhat moves in the real world, what passes in society, in the
clubs, colleges, mess-rooms,Ñwhat is the life and talk of your sons. A
little more frankness than is customary has been attempted in this story;
with no bad desire on the writer's part, it is hoped, and with no ill con-
sequence to any reader. If truth is not always pleasant, at any rate truth
is best, from whatever chairÑfrom those whence graver writers or
thinkers argue, as from that at which the story-teller sits as he concludes
his labour, and bids his kind reader farewell.
Kensington, Nov. 26th, 1850.