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my lord, 'what have you to say? Don't stand humming and hawing, but speak out;' but however he soon turned altogether as civil to Frank, and began to thunder at the fellow; and when he asked him if he had anything to say for himself, the fellow said 'He had found the horse.' 'Ay!' answered the judge, thou art a lucky fellow; I have travelled the circuit these forty years, and never found a horse in my life; but I'll tell thee what, friend, thou wast more lucky than thou didst know of: for thou didst not only find a horse, but a halter too, I promise thee.' To be sure I shall never forget the words. Upon which everybody fell a laughing, as how could they help it? Nay, and twenty other jests he made, which I can't remember now. There was something about his skill in horseflesh, which made all the folks laugh. To be certain the judge must have been a very brave man, as well as a man of much learning. It is indeed charming sport to hear trials upon life and death. One thing, I own, I thought it a little hard that the prisoner's counsel was not suffered to speak for him, though he desired only to be heard one very short word; but my lord would not hearken to him, though he suffered counsellor to talk against him for above half an hour. I thought it hard, I own, that there should be so many of them-my lord, and the court, and the jury, and the counsellors, and the witnesses, all upon one poor man, and he too in chains."
Mr. Justice Page, here referred to, died in December, 1741, having "adorned" the bench to the last. He is well known in literary history as the judge before whom Richard Savage was tried for wilful murder in the year 1728. Upon that occasion,-if Savage's partial biographer is to be trusted, he behaved with great indecency and unfairness. He is even represented as endeavouring to enlist the prejudices of the jury against the accused. "Had his [Savage's] audience been his judges," says
Johnson, "he had undoubtedly been acquitted; but Mr. Page, who was then upon the bench, treated him with his usual insolence and severity; and when he had summed up the evidence, endeavoured to exasperate the jury, as Mr. Savage used to relate it, with this eloquent harangue :— 'Gentlemen of the jury, you are to consider that Mr. Savage is a very great man-a much greater man than you or I, gentlemen of the jury; that he wears very fine clothesmuch finer clothes than you or I, gentlemen of the jury; that he has abundance of money in his pocket-much more money than you or I, gentlemen of the jury: but, gentlemen of the jury, is it not a very hard case, gentlemen of the jury, that Mr. Savage, should therefore kill you or me, gentlemen of the jury?""1
(1) Some years afterwards Savage took his revenge in a rancorous and elaborate satire, published in "The Gentleman's Magazine" for September, 1741, entitled, "A Character." In the commencement the poet admirably delineates the excellent qualities of Philip Yorke (Lord Hardwicke), the greatest lawyer of his age :
"Were all, like Yorke, of delicate address,
Strength to discern and sweetness to express;
Then, as a contrast, Savage thus depicts the character of Page :
"Of heart impure, and impotent of head,
In hist'ry, rhet'ric, ethics, law unread;
How far unlike such worthies! once a drudge,
From floundering in low cases rose a judge."
Upon some subjects Mr. Justice Page entertained liberal notions of rather an advanced character, for he appears to have considered that women were unfairly excluded from the elective franchise. On the question being argued before the Court of King's Bench, whether a woman could be chosen sexton, and vote at such elections, Page J. observed, coinciding with the affirmative opinion of Chief Justice Lee, "I am of the same opinion as to the principal case. But I see no disability in a woman from voting for a parliament man."-7 Mod. Rep. 265. Page's coarseness and severity are also commemorated by Pope :
"Slander or poison dread from Delia's rage:
Hard words or hanging, if your judge be Page."
When these lines first appeared, the name of Page was represented by four asterisks. But, taking the compliment to himself, he sent his clerk to Pope to complain of the insult. "Pope told the young man that the blank might be supplied by many monosyllables other than the judge's name: 'But, sir,' said the
In June, 1741, died Fielding's father, the General, at the age of sixty-five. His decease is recorded in "The Gentleman's Magazine" for that month, where it is said he held the appointment of Colonel of Invalids. At the close of his life the veteran was by no means in affluent circumstances, and his son Henry obtained by his death no accession of fortune. Both father and son, indeed, were victims of a prodigal disposition, and probably no amount of wealth could have kept either of them out of difficulties.
clerk, 'the judge says that no other word will make sense of the passage.' 'So then it seems,' says Pope, 'your master is not only a judge but a poet; as that is the case, the odds are against me. Give my respects to the judge, and tell him I will not contend with one that has the advantage of me, and he may fill up the blank as he pleases.'"-Johnson's Lives of the Poets (note).
The facetious barrister, Mr. Crowle, according to Horace Walpole, being once upon circuit with Page, was asked by some person "if the judge was not just behind." To which it is said he replied, "I don't know; but I am sure he was never just before." This was the same Mr. Crowle of whom a well-known story is told. Being counsel for Sir George Vandeput, at the famous Middlesex election in 1749, he was charged before the House of Commons with wilfully protracting the scrutiny, and showing contempt of the House, and was sentenced to be reprimanded on his knees by the Speaker. As he was rising from the ground, after the reprimand, he was heard to mutter, "This is the dirtiest house I ever was in."-- Walpole's Memoirs of the Reign of George II.
RICHARDSON'S "PAMELA."-" JOSEPH ANDREWS."
In the month of February, 1742, Fielding sent forth into the world his first novel, "The Adventures of Joseph Andrews and, his friend, Mr. Abraham Adams." This work must have been written during the latter months of the previous year, when the author-unencumbered by briefs-had both leisure and necessity for literary exertion; and its origin may be briefly narrated.
At the close of the year 1740 the first part of Richardson's "Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded," made its appearance, and suddenly soared into astonishing popularity. Amongst all classes-in all intelligent circles-the book was quite the rage. The old recommended it to the young; brothers presented it to their sisters; its merits were extolled from the pulpit, and that too by no less celebrated a divine than Dr. Sherlock. Even at Ranelagh Gardens, it is said the chosen resort of the gay world, and the temple of fashion and frivolity—the ladies were in the habit of holding up the book to each other, to show that they were not without the popular favourite. Mr. Urban, in "The Gentleman's Magazine" for January, 1741, excuses himself for not reviewing what everybody had read; "it being judged in town," he says, "as great a sign of want of curiosity not to have read 'Pamela,' as not to have seen the French and Italian dancers." It was also whispered abroad that the great literary autocrat, Mr. Pope, had said that this so famous novel would do more good than volumes of sermons. In addition to this flood of eulogy the author received substantial and satis
factory proofs of the approval of the public, several editions of the work being disposed of within a twelvemonth. French translation also was published in London, about a year after the publication of the original, which procured for "Pamela" even a continental reputation.
It would be idle to say that a work which was so extensively read, does not possess merits of a very high order. But, on the other hand, it is clear, that however great its attractions, they were much over-estimated and overpraised. The moral teaching which received the approbation of Pope and Sherlock should not be lightly spoken of; yet, with all due deference to such great authorities, it may be questioned whether many readers have risen from the perusal of Richardson's novel with more elevated notions of female honour than they before entertained. His morality was that of the age-rather the virtue of prudence than principle. His heroine adroitly resists the arts of the wealthy seducer, but her ruling motive is obviously lawful matrimony, rather than the simple preservation of chastity. The fortunate girl who gains a husband superior to her in station, and possessed of many amiable qualities, by vigilantly guarding her honour, must be always considered by the prudent portion of womankind an excellent pattern for imitation. In such a sketch the "rewards of virtue" are no doubt eloquently set forth; but in what do they consist?-a coach-and-six, a gay wedding-dress, and a handsome bridegroom! Such temptations may certainly induce women to persevere in the path of virtue; but very similar inducements also may lead them to infamy. This Richardson-morality was, in fact, vulgar and conventional, not high-toned and spiritual; appealing only to self-interest and self-love; cool, shrewd, calculating, and sagacious; a good marketable article to pass through the world with, and to win its hollow respect and substantial rewards.
Fielding saw the "morality" of "Pamela" in this light.