James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

July 18

Thackeray’s Birthday

By Robert Cameron Rogers (1862–1912)

  • William Makepeace Thackeray, the author of “Vanity Fair,” “The Newcomers,” and many other novels, was born in Calcutta, India, July 18, 1811.

  • OPEN his books and bid them forth;—

    Come Clive, come Ethel, Colonel, “Pen”;

    Come Henry Esmond, Beatrix,

    Out into our dull world again.

    George Warrington, “Pen’s” George, I mean,

    (His grandpapa I vote a prig;)

    Come too, and Major, if you’re dressed,

    And Morgan has arranged your wig:

    Come Hetty—Harry Warrington—

    And Bernstein?—Well, no, as for her—

    We’ve Beatrix already here,

    And Beatrix we much prefer.

    Come Becky, Emmy, Dobbin, George;

    Here’s Captain “Cos” must have a place

    About the board, and now we’re met,

    Charles Honeyman shall breathe a grace.

    And then Fred Bayham, honest Fred,

    With claret jug pushed well his way,

    Shall give the toast, that suits all, most,

    Of William Makepeace Thackeray.


    What, are they gone! Some jarring force

    Upon the vision rudely broke,—

    My pipe is out, my guests are gone,—

    They’ve vanished somewhere in the smoke.

    With nimble feet their way they take

    Down shadowy paths of romance dim;

    But I, a lonely Barmecide,

    Drink deeply in my heart to him.

    To him who in the fields of life

    Quickly discerned the vulgar chaff,—

    And knew it void of honest grain,

    And blew it from him with a laugh.

    To him whose laughter none the less

    Was not wild mirth nor wanton jeer,

    But oftenest of that rare fine ring

    That finds its echo in a tear.

    To him whose pen was never still,

    Who for three decades thought and wrote,

    Who told of life, of love, of death,

    And never struck an untrue note.