[The folowing extract retains the original spelling and punctuation. The numbers in brackets indicate page breaks in the print edition in order to enable users of VW to cite or locate the original page numbers. The decorated "I" that begins the first paragraph below derives from Thackeray's illustrations for Vanity Fair. GPL].
t must be confessed that the controversialists of the present day have an eminent advantage over their predecessors in the days of folios; it required some learning then to write a book, and some time, at least — for the very labor of writing out a thousand such vast pages would demand a considerable period. But now, in the age of duodecimos, the system is reformed altogether : a male or female controversialist draws upon his imagination, and not his learning; makes a story instead of an arguument, and, in the course of 150 pages (where the preacher has it all his own way) will prove or disprove you anything. And, to our shame be it said, we Protestants have set the example of this kind of proselytism — those detestable mixtures of truth, lies, false sentiment, false reasoning, bad grammar, correct and genuine philanthropy and piety — I mean our religious tracts, which any woman or man, be he ever so silly, can take upon himself to write, and sell for a penny, as if religious instruction were the easiest thing in the world. We have set the example in this kind of composition, and all the sects of the earth will, doubtless, speedily follow it.
Other Thackeray Comments about British Religion and Taste
Thackeray, William Makepeace. "Madame Sand and the New Apocalypse." The Paris Sketch-Book. Eastern Sketches. The Irish Sketch-Book. (Unnumbered volume in the "Illustrated Sterling Edition" of Works.) Boston: Estes and Co., nd. 198-220.
Last modified 11 March 2005