We were all reading his jaunty, nervy, knowing books, and some of us were questioning whether we ought not to set him above Thackeray and Dickens and George Eliot, 'tulli quanti', so great was the effect that Charles Reade had with our generation.
As yet, however, there was no reasoning of the matter, and Charles Reade was writing books of tremendous adventure and exaggerated character, which he prided himself on deriving from the facts of the world around him.
In this month I devoured all the 'Waverley novels,' but I must have been devouring a great many others, for Charles Reade's 'Christie Johnstone' is associated with the last moment of the last days.
A few months ago I was at the old home, and I read that book again, after not looking at it for more than thirty years; and I read it with amazement at its prevailing artistic vulgarity, its prevailing aesthetic error shot here and there with gleams of light, and of the truth that Reade himself was always dimly groping for.
Vail, took his seat as General Manager in a tiny office in Reade
Street, New York, and the building of the business began.