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for him, and the theatre was generally closed after the first or second night. Macklin (the actor) was also amongst Fielding's followers. He was the author of a piece called "Covent Garden Theatre; or, Peter Pasquin turned Drawcansir;" in which, like his prototype, he endeavoured to ridicule plays and players-managers and poets; but the effort was attended with small success. It is probable, too, that Foote derived the first hint of his celebrated performances at the Haymarket from Fielding's experiment. The unrivalled mimicry of the English Aristophanes overcame even the law itself; for although in his first attempt to defy the provisions of the Licensing Act, in 1747, he met with some opposition, the patronage of powerful friends enabled him to surmount all obstacles; and he was permitted, without molestation, for many years to amuse a scandal-loving public, on the same boards where the exhibition of Fielding's satirical talents had provoked legislative interference with the freedom of the stage.

The Great Mogul's Company being disbanded, and the theatrical speculation at an end, Fielding resolved to relinquish all further dalliance with the comic muse, and to devote himself to the law. This resolution was speedily put into practice; for it was characteristic of his earnest and sanguine disposition that he never allowed much time to intervene between the design and its execution. Accordingly, in Michaelmas Term, 1737, he entered himself a student of the Middle Temple; and his admission is thus recorded in the books of that Honourable Society:

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Henricus Fielding de East Stour, in Com. Dorset, Ar: filius et hæres apparens Brig: Gentis: Edmundi Fielding, admissus est in Societat: Medij Templi Lond. specialiter, et obligatum una cum, &c.

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WHEN Fielding donned the student's gown, and took his place in the magnificent dining-hall of the Middle Temple, he was upwards of thirty years old. Were age, however, to be reckoned by experience in the world's ways, rather than by lapse of time, he was quite a patriarch amongst the candidates for legal distinction who were 'keeping terms" (as the phrase is) at the same time. Doubtless, the contrast which his position afforded to that of others occasioned him some sad reflections. In knowledge of the world, most of his fellow-students were mere boys to him; but they were entering upon the pursuit of an arduous profession with advantages which were not his. In most cases they had youth, health, leisure, friends, and fortune to aid them in the struggle in which they were about to engage; whilst he had reached the noon of life, with family ties and hourly anxieties to distract his attention, and with a constitution impaired by early irregularities. Still, with all these disadvantages and drawbacks he was not the man to despair. Upheld by an irrepressible gaiety of disposition and unbounded self-confidence, neither present necessities nor forebodings of future calamity could depress or discourage him.

The distinction between a student of law and a law student has been known at all times. Of those who enter their names on the books of an inn of court, the majority, perhaps, are only ambitious of the latter designation. eat the required number of dinners, observe all necessary



forms, and be called to the Bar ;-all this may be done without any extensive acquaintance with the mysteries of legal science; and this is all that the mere law student,may at the same time be a man of fashion, fortune, or pleasure,―will probably aim at. Fielding, however, aimed at something more. He was a student of law;-and a most diligent and earnest one, as soon as he entered the pale of the profession. His industry was most exemplary. All the time he could spare, he devoted to drawing pleadings, copying precedents, and noting up cases. Now and then, perhaps, his old habits returned upon him. He had occasional fits of dissipation; but these were followed by severer fits of study. Sometimes a friend would lure him to the theatre and afterwards to the tavern, where he was the delight of assembled convivialists, and the gayest amongst the gay. But it is recorded that on his return home from these scenes, late at night or early in the morning, he would savagely apply himself to study; reading and making extracts from abstruse authors for hours before he sought his pillow.1

His worldly circumstances would not, however, permit him at this time to devote all his attention to the law. While the juridical fruit was ripening, he was unable to give up the whole period of probation to professional studies. It was not in his power to sacrifice altogether the present for the future; and to "Lady Common Law" he was constrained to yield a divided allegiance-though she doubtless occupied the first place in his thoughts. To provide subsistence for the passing hour, his law studies were accordingly diversified by literary occupation; and he became, like many others similarly situated, a contributor to periodicals. For this kind of writing he displayed great aptitude and ability, and it is not surprising that he was soon recognised as one of the most successful of periodical essayists.

(1) See Murphy's Essay on the Life and Genius of Fielding.

Towards the close of the year 1739, he became connected with, and partly proprietor of, "The Champion," a collection of essays on the model of " The Spectator" and "The Tatler," published three times a week, viz., on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. His essays in this production are identified by an advertisement prefixed to a reprint in two volumes, published in 1741, which contains the "Champions" issued from November 15, 1739, to June 19, 1740; being the period during which Fielding presided over the publication.' His contributions were distinguished by the letters C. and L., and in the early numbers were very numerous. The following detail of the plan of the publication is from the pen of Dr. Drake : 2—

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"The assumed name under which The Champion' issues his lucubrations is Captain Hercules Vinegar; and in the introductory number is given a detail of the whole family of Vinegars, to whom different departments in the paper are assigned. To Mr. Nehemiah Vinegar, for instance, the Captain's father, history and politics are allotted; to Mr. Counsellor Vinegar, Nehemiah's brother, all subjects of law and judicature; to Dr. John Vinegar, the Counsellor's son, medicine and natural philosophy; to Nol Vinegar, the Captain's brother, classical literature; to Tom Vinegar, his eldest son, modern poetry; to Jack Vinegar, his youngest son, the superintendence of fashionable manners; and to Mrs. Joan Vinegar, his wife, domestic news."3

The Vinegar family, which Fielding's fertile brain had called into existence, soon became popular with the town.

(1) Another edition of "The Champion" was published in 1743, and another with Fielding's name, in 1766.

(2) Abridged from the first number. See Drake's Essays on Periodical Papers, vol. i. 1809.

(3) Mrs. Joan Vinegar's portrait has much of Fielding's later manner :"This good woman is one of those notable housewives whom the careless part of the world distinguish by the name of a scold. This musical talent of hers, when we were first married, did not so well agree with me. I have often thought myself in the cave of Æolus, or perhaps wished myself there, on account of this wind music; but it is now become so habitual to me, that I am little

All topics of interest were discussed by them in a lively vein -literature, religion, politics, and sometimes even law. As a Temple student, the essayist possessed the advantage of minutely observing the peculiarities of the craft amongst whom he had enrolled himself. He saw many examples of pompous ignorance and unlettered idleness, displayed side by side with shining instances of industry and capacity. It was not to be wondered at, therefore, if some satirical views of the legal profession should be included in the early lucubrations of the Vinegars; and accordingly, in the "Champion" of December 25, 1739, appears a mock-serious proposal for banishing learning from the professions, in which the following observations are made by Captain Hercules Vinegar :

"As to the law, I know it may be objected that Cicero hath affirmed a complete knowledge of all arts and sciences to be necessary to the formation of a perfect orator: and my Lord Coke, in his comments on Lyttleton, insinuates that an accurate education is the proper introduction to the study of the law. But these will have but little weight if we consider the difference between the Roman and English law; in the latter of which oratory is by the most thought utterly useless; and, secondly, that my lord Coke himself is (I am told) at present generally esteemed (especially by all those good judges who have never read a syllable of him) to be a very stupid, dull fellow, who would have made a very indifferent figure in Westminster Hall in this age. I am assured by my son, Tom Vinegar, who hath been a student in Lincoln's-Inn these five years, that a very competent knowledge of the law is to be met with in Jacob's Dictionary, and the other legal works of that learned author. Nay, he very confidently asserts that nothing is more hurtful to a perfect

more alarmed at it than a garrison at the tattoo or reveillé; indeed I have, I thank God, for these thirty years last past, seldom laid myself down, or rose up, without it; all the capitulations I have made are, that she would keep the garrison hours, and not disturb my repose by such her performances."

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