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poems to the test of severe criticism. They are written at very different periods, and, for the most part, dictated by the whim of the moment. One copy of verses bears the early date of 1728,1 whilst another, addressed to a lady at Bath, and "written extempore in the pump-room," belongs to the year 1742. The most ambitious poem in the collection is the "Epistle on True Greatness," addressed to George Dodington, Esq., and first published in 1741; and the best is an address "To a Friend on the Choice of a Wife," which contains many vigorous and nervous lines. In delineating the character of a model wife, the poet-it may be almost unconsciously-sketched the portrait of his own charming helpmate, in whom it is obvious that unvarying gentleness of disposition, and a yielding temper, were the most conspicuous qualities :
May she thus prove who shall thy lot befall,
Superior judgment may she own thy lot;
May all thy troubles find relief from her!
If fortune gives thee such a wife to meet,
Earth cannot make thy blessings more complete."
The poetry in the first volume of the "Miscellanies" is followed by three prose essays: the first on " Conversation," the second on the "Knowledge of the Characters of Men,"
(1) A description of U- -n G
(alias New Hog's Norton), in Com. Hants. Written to a young lady in the year 1728.
(2) Bath was at this time a place of much resort, and the health-restoring quality of its waters in high repute. The barristers who rode the Western Circuit-for in those days barristers as well as bagmen traversed the country on horseback-were wont to assemble in this city of gaiety and pleasure after the labours of the circuit. (See Lord Campbell's Lives of the Chancellors-"Life of Lord Northington.")
and the third on "Nothing." Nothing." The two former are replete with good sense and sound philosophy. No one had a more acute sense of the tact which constitutes good-breeding than Fielding. He was also well skilled in that most difficult knowledge-the art of placing a proper estimate on oneself and others. "If," he says, in the Essay on Conversation, "I prefer my excellence in poetry to Pope or Young -if an inferior actor should, in his opinion, exceed Quin or Garrick or a signpost painter set himself above the inimitable Hogarth-we become only ridiculous by our vanity; and the persons themselves, who are thus humbled in the comparison, would laugh with more reason than any other." In the same spirit he rebukes the offence against good manners, so often committed by members of his fession. "There is another very common fault, . . . . discoursing on the mysteries of a particular profession, to which all the rest of the company, except one or two, are utter strangers. Lawyers are generally guilty of this fault, as they are more confined to the conversation of one another; and I have known a very agreeable company spoiled, where there have been two of these gentlemen present, who have seemed rather to think themselves in a court of justice than in a mixed assembly of persons, met only for the entertainment of each other."
In the "Essay on the Characters of Men," the following excellent directions are given for testing the disposition of a friend or acquaintance:-"Trace then the man proposed to your trust into his private family and nearest intimacies. See whether he hath acted the part of a good son, brother, husband, father, friend, master, servant, &c. If he hath discharged these duties well, your confidence will have a good foundation; but if he hath behaved himself in these offices with tyranny, with cruelty, with infidelity, with inconstancy, you may be assured he will take the first oppor
(1) They are both printed in Mr. Murphy's edition of Fielding's Works. The Essay on "Nothing" is published in Mr. Roscoe's edition. 1840.
tunity his interest points out to him of exercising the same ill talents at your expense. . . . Nothing, indeed, can be more unjustifiable to our prudence than an opinion that the man whom we see act the part of a villain to others, should, on some minute change of person, time, place, or other circumstance, behave like an honest and just man to ourselves."
Two or three other slight pieces-thrown off at different times were included in the first volume of these "Miscellanies." The pedantic papers of the Royal Society are ridiculed in a piece called "Philosophical Transactions for the year 1742-3;" the contents being "Several papers relating to the terrestrial Chrysipus, Golden-foot, or guinea, -an insect, or vegetable, which has this surprising property, that being cut into several pieces, each piece lives, and in a short time becomes as perfect an insect, or vegetable, as that of which it was originally only a part." Fielding spoke experimentally of the habits of the Chrysipus, or guinea, when, in one part of this paper, he thus describes the difficulty of keeping it under some circumstances :- "As to the age of the Chrysipus, it differs extremely; some being of equal duration with the life of man, and some of scarce a moment's existence. The best method of preserving them is, I believe, in bags, or chests, in large numbers; for they seldom live long when they are alone. The great Gualterus says, he thought he could never put enough of them together. If you carry them in your pockets, singly, or in pairs, as some do, they will last a very little while, and in some pockets not a day." To show that he had not altogether neglected classical learning during his gay and busy life, Fielding also inserted in this volume a translation of the First Olynthiac of Demosthenes.?
(1) Intended to ridicule a paper published by the Royal Society on the Freshwater Polypus.
(2) A Dialogue between Alexander the Great and Diogenes the Cynic, together with a Mythological Interlude (which had been intended to form an introduction to an unwritten comedy), complete the volume.
The greater portion of the second volume of these "Miscellanies" is occupied with that curious and valuable fragment, called "A Journey from this World to the next." The groundwork, or rough sketch, of this production is to be found, as already intimated, in one of the numbers of "The Champion," when Fielding presided over that publication. The idea was a very fortunate one, since it enabled him, not only to indulge in a rich vein of pleasantry, but also to display a very considerable fund of learning and information. It is, indeed, said by Mr. Murphy that the subject, or its treatment, "provoked the dull, short-sighted, and malignant enemies of our author to charge him with an intention to subvert the settled notions of mankind in philosophy and religion." From such a charge, however, Fielding does not require any serious vindication. The people who accused him of profanity must have been "dull and short-sighted" enough; and their religious notions were just as liable to subversion from reading "Telemachus" or "Gulliver's Travels."
There is, in truth, much excellent satire in this imagined. spirit-journey. The punishment of the miser, for instance, who is sentenced to keep a bank, and to distribute money gratis to all passengers,-is exquisitely devised. "This bank," says the satirist, "originally consisted of just that sum which he had miserably hoarded up in the other world, and he is to perceive it decrease visibly one shilling a day, till it is totally exhausted; after which he is to return to the other world, and perform the part of a miser for seventy years; then, being purified in the body of a hog, he is to enter the human species again and take a second trial."
The spirit's description of the conversation and demeanour of some of the world's great literary celebrities in the Elysian fields, is likewise full of humour and character. Every one must admire the nice discrimination displayed by Fielding in the following little sketch of two
of his most distinguished predecessors in the kingdom of letters :
Virgil then came up to me, with Mr. Addison under his arm. 'Well, sir,' said he, 'how many translations of these few last years produced of my Æneid?' I told him I believed several, but I could not possibly remember, for that I had never read any but Dr. Trapp's. ‘Ay,' said he, ‘that is a curious piece indeed!' I then acquainted him with the discovery made by Mr. Warburton of the Eleusinian mysteries couched in the sixth book. What mysteries?' said Mr. Addison. 'The Eleusinian,' answered Virgil, which I have disclosed in my sixth book.' 'How?' replied Addison; 'you never mentioned a word of any such mysteries to me in all our acquaintance.' 'I thought it was unnecessary,' cried the other, ' to a man of your infinite learning: besides, you always told me you perfectly understood my meaning.' Upon this I thought the critic looked a little out of countenance, and turned aside to a very merry spirit, one Dick Steele, who embraced him, and told him he had been the greatest man upon earth; that he readily resigned up all the merits of his own works to him. Upon which Addison gave him a gracious smile, and clapping him on the back with much solemnity, cried out, 'Well said, Dick!'"
The meeting with Shakspere, standing between Betterton and Booth, is equally characteristic, and the dispute on the true reading of the famous line in "Othello".
"Put out the light, and then put out the light”—
is well worthy of the attention of Shaksperian critics and commentators. After various readings and emendations had been proposed, the matter is referred to Shakspere himself, "who," says the satirist, "delivered his sentiments as follows:-'Faith, gentlemen, it is so long since I wrote the line, I have forgot my meaning. This I know could I have dreamt so much nonsense would have been talked and writ about it, I would have blotted it out of my works.""
The curious transmigrations of Julian the Apostate, which appear at the end of the fragment, and are left unfinished, may be also referred to as presenting a succession of pictures of men and manners replete with historical truth, and surpassed by very few writers of fiction.