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Fielding's second object in assigning "David Simple" to its right owner was to prevent an ill-natured world from assuming that he was still coquetting with literature, instead of applying himself to law: an assumption, he observed, which would have a tendency to injure him in a profession, to which he had applied with so arduous and intent a diligence, that he had no leisure, even if he had inclination, to compose anything of that kind. "Indeed," he adds, "I am very far from entertaining such an inclination; I know the value of the reward which fame confers on authors too well to endeavour any longer to obtain it; nor was the world ever more unwilling to bestow the glorious, envied prize of the laurel and the bays, than I should now be to receive any such garland or fool's cap." That he should at this period have been so tender of his legal reputation, induces the belief that the struggling barrister was visited with a temporary gleam of professional prosperity. There was formerly a tradition on the Western Circuit that Fielding, having for some time travelled it without success, at length hit upon the expedient of circulating amongst the attorneys of the West a proposal for a new law-book. The scheme succeeded, and on his next circuit he had more than a due proportion of briefs; but the business thus suddenly acquired soon left him, and he was reduced to his former condition of brieflessness.? Whether this tale has any
abuse. As a specimen of its style and personalities, we give four lines, in which the weak voice of Chief Justice Willes is selected for ridicule :
"When strait a weak voice was heard, crying out,
All took it for granted 'twas C[hief] J[usti]ce W[illes],
The "Strange" resignation alluded to was the retirement of Sir John Strange, from the Solicitor-generalship, in order to make room for Murray, afterwards Lord Mansfield. H. Walpole, alluding to the alleged Jacobite tendencies of the last-named eminent lawyer, thus mentions the circumstance to Sir H. Mann (December, 1742):-"I suppose you have heard from Rome that Murray is made Solicitor-general, in the room of Sir J. Strange, who has resigned for his health." (1) Preface to David Simple.
(2) London Register, April, 1762.
foundation in truth or not, it is evident from the language of the preface to "David Simple," that at the time it was written the law received the author's undivided attention, which he could hardly, from his position, have given to it, had he found it still unremunerative.
A third and more unselfish motive which urged Fielding into print upon this occasion, was to do justice "to the real and sole author" of the book, who, he said (the observation does not appear very complimentary to the sex), "notwithstanding the many excellent observations dispersed through it, and the deep knowledge of human nature it discovers, is a young woman; one so nearly and dearly allied to me, in the highest friendship as well as relation, that if she had wanted any assistance of mine, I would have been as ready to have given it her as I would have been just to my word in owning it." The tone of superiority here assumed by the brother may be thought, perhaps, too patronising; but in that age it was not common for a very high respect to be paid to the female intellect. Nevertheless, in a preface to his sister's subsequent work, published in 1747 ("Familiar Letters between the principal Characters in David Simple "1), Fielding expressed his sense of a truth which has been fully recognised since his time—namely, that it is possible for the keen instinct of woman to discover
(1) Richardson, who was extremely fond of praising the literary efforts of the ladies of his court, was very liberal of his eulogy on Miss Fielding. In a letter of his to that lady, dated December 7th, 1756, he thus commends her "Familiar Letters:"-"I amuse myself," he 66 says, 'as well as I can with reading. I have just gone through your two volumes of 'Letters;' have reperused them with great pleasure, and found many new beauties in them. What a knowledge of the human heart! Well might a critical judge of writing say, as he did to me, that your late brother's knowledge of it was not (fine writer as he was) comparable to yours. His was but as the knowledge of the outside of a clockworkmachine, while yours was that of all the finer springs and movements of the inside." An observation of the same description was made by Dr. Johnson, on the comparative merits of the writings of Richardson and Fielding: :-"Gray was much pleased with an answer which Dr. Johnson once gave to a person on the different and comparative merits of Fielding and Richardson. 'Why, sir, Fielding could tell you what o'clock it was; but as for Richardson, he could make a clock or watch.'"-Boswell's Life of Johnson. 1853. vol. x. (Supplementary Anecdotes.)
and develop traits of character, which escape the observation of the acutest writers of the opposite sex. A knowledge of human nature, he confessed, was not necessarily learnt by living in the hurry of the world. "True genius, with the help of a little conversation, will be capable of making a vast progress in this learning; and, indeed, I have observed there are none who know so little of men as those who are placed in the crowds either of business or pleasure. . . . I shall only (he continues) add an answer to the same objection, relating to 'David Simple,' given by a lady of very high rank, whose quality is, however, less an honour to her than her understanding. So far,' said she, 'from doubting David Simple to be the performance of a woman, I am well convinced it could not have been written by a man.' "2
At this period Fielding passed much of his time with his sister, and they probably resided under the same roof till his second marriage. Joseph Warton, writing to his brother from Basingstoke, in 1746, records a delightful evening passed in their society: 3-"I wish you had been with me last week," he says, "when I spent two evenings with Fielding and his sister, who wrote 'David Simple,' and you may guess I was very well entertained. The lady, indeed, retired pretty soon, but Russell and I sat up with the poet till one or two in the morning, and were inexpressibly diverted. I find he values, as he justly may, his 'Joseph Andrews' above all his writings. He was extremely civil to me, I fancy, on my father's account."4 From this
(1) Probably Lady Mary Wortley Montague, who seems to have entertained almost as great an admiration for the works of "Sally Fielding" as those of the brother.
(2) Preface to the Familiar Letters.
(3) Wooll's Biographical Memoirs of the Rev. Joseph Warton. 1806.
(4) The Rev. Thomas Warton, Vicar of Basingstoke, who died in 1745. He was Professor of Poetry at Oxford, and, like most Oxford men of his time, had a strong tincture of Jacobitism in his composition, which subjected him to some sharp attacks from Amherst, in the periodical called "Terra Filius," published by the latter on his expulsion from the university. It was not without reason that Gibbon designated Oxford the head-quarters of "port and prejudice" in the eighteenth century.
statement of Warton's, many of Fielding's biographers have fallen into the error that the author preferred "Joseph Andrews" to the more perfect work, "Tom Jones;" but it will be seen, from the date, that at the time of Warton's visit the latter novel was not written.
The memorable events of the year '45 induced Fielding to resume the pen once more, and to enter the lists of authorship in a new character-that of a political journalist. At the beginning of the month of September came the news to London1 that the Chevalier Charles Edward Stuart had landed in Scotland with six or seven friends; that he had been joined by some of the Highland clans, and had raised his standard in the ancient city of Perth. Rumours soon followed that many Scotch noblemen, together with several disaffected English gentlemen, had taken up arms. in the Stuart cause, and had proclaimed the Pretender at Dundee and other places. Still, at that time, amongst wellinformed persons in the metropolis, there was little apprehension that the rebellion would assume a very formidable character for it was known that the adventurer was illprovided with the munitions of war, and the Highlanders who constituted the bulk of what was called his army were regarded as an undisciplined rabble. Then came the
(1) "I came back last night," writes Horace Walpole to his friend Sir H. Mann, from Arlington Street, on September 6th, "and found three packets from you, which I have no time to answer, and but just time to read. The confusion I have found, and the danger we are in, prevent my talking of anything else. The young Pretender, at the head of 3000 men, has got a march on General Cope, who is not 1800 strong, &c. The clans will not rise for the government: the Dukes of Argyle and Atholl are come post to town, not having been able to raise a man."
(2) The Highland troops of Charles Edward were thus described by a spy, sent from England about the middle of October :-"They consist of an odd medley of grey-beards and no-beards-old men fit to drop into the grave, and young boys, whose swords are near equal to their weight, and I really believe more than their length. Four or five thousand may be very good, determined men; but the rest are mean, dirty, villanous-looking rascals, who seem more anxious about plunder than their Prince, and would be better pleased with four shillings than a Crown."-Lord Mahon's History of England.
When the news of the rebels being at Edinburgh reached London, Horace
astounding intelligence that Edinburgh had been entered and taken possession of by the Chevalier, who, surrounded with his Highlanders, was actually holding his court in the Palace of Holyrood; and this was followed by the more serious news that Sir John Cope and the troops under his command had been completely defeated by the rebels, with great slaughter, at Preston Pans. These events-following each other with astonishing rapidity-alarmed the most phlegmatic; and courtiers as well as citizens admitted that the country was in danger.
That the cause of order and constitutional government in Great Britain was at this time in extreme peril cannot be doubted. The country swarmed with secret Jacobites, who only waited to see rebellion successful in order to dignify it with the name of loyalty. Many causes existed for popular discontent. The arms of England were unprosperous abroad; taxes were increased, and the laws severely administered. Above all, it cannot be denied that the house of Brunswick had entirely failed to conciliate the affections of the English people. Both George I. and George II. were essentially foreigners; and, in a country naturally jealous of foreign influence, they had the bad taste and bad policy to manifest a continual preference for Hanoverian over English interests. So little regard had George II. for his English subjects, that his only study seemed to be to get away from them as often as possible. On one occasion (in 1736), when some church debates had
Walpole, in communicating the fact to Sir H. Mann, thus speculates on their "desperate enterprise :"-" There never was so extraordinary a rebellion! One can't tell what assurances of support they may have from the Jacobites in England, or from the French, and nothing of either sort has yet appeared. . . . One can hardly believe that the English are more disaffected than the Scotch; and among the latter no persons of property have joined them-both nations seem to profess a neutrality. Their money is all gone; and they subsist merely by levying contributions. But sure banditti can never conquer a kingdom! . . . . They have hitherto taken no place but open towns, nor have they any artillery for a siege but one-pounders."-Letter to Sir H. Mann, September 20th, 1745. Walpole's Correspondence, vol. ii.