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HAPPILY for posterity, Fielding's important duties as an acting magistrate did not monopolise all his time. Though he freely presented the public with the first-fruits of his labours, he found leisure enough before the close of the year 1751, to compose another work of fiction. In "The General Advertizer" of December 15th, his novel of "Amelia" is advertised by Millar to be published on the 18th of that month. The wonderful popularity of "Tom Jones" encouraged the bookseller to expect a rapid sale, as the following somewhat ungrammatical notice would imply:"To satisfy the earnest demand of the publick, this work is now printing at four presses; but the proprietor, notwithstanding, finds it impossible to get them bound in time, without spoiling the beauty of the impression, and therefore will sell them sewed at half a guinea the set." According to Sir Walter Scott, the worthy bookseller did not content himself with the puff direct, but also adopted the following oblique and ingenious method of pushing the sale of the new novel. "Millar," says the author of Waverley, "published 'Amelia' in 1751. He had paid £1000 for the copyright; and when he began to suspect that the work would be judged inferior to its predecessor, he employed the following stratagem to push it upon the trade. At a sale made to the booksellers previous to the publication, Millar offered his friends his other publications on the usual terms of discount; but when he came to .'Amelia,' he laid it aside as a work expected to be in such demand that he could not afford to deliver it to the
trade in the usual manner. The ruse succeeded-the impression was anxiously bought up, and the bookseller relieved from every apprehension of a slow sale."
The sum given by Millar for the copyright of " Amelia” appears large, and, at that period, it was unprecedentedly so. But the bookseller had been a great gainer by "Tom Jones." For this work he had originally given Fielding £600, and to that sum he afterwards voluntarily added £100,' in consideration of its wonderful popularity. As it is too much the fashion amongst authors to regard the booksellers as their natural enemies, this instance of generosity ought to be recorded for the credit of the craft. Millar, too, be it remembered, was not only a bookseller, but a Scotchman-a shrewd, hard man of business, of a singularly literal turn of mind. Apropos of the latter quality, the following anecdote, from an old copy of "The St. James' Chronicle" newspaper, will not be out of place. Fielding, it is said, always asserted that the Scotch had no taste for, or idea of, humour. This was denied by a friend, and the trial was agreed to be made upon the aforesaid Millar, who was at that very moment ascending the stairs, to pay a visit to the justice and novelist. Upon his entering the room, Fielding pretended to be continuing a conversation, and said: "I will be judged by my friend here, whether my scheme be not a good one."—"What is it?" inquired the bookseller, quite unsuspiciously.—"I was thinking,” replied Fielding, "how I might keep a coach with little or no
(1) “Millar, the bookseller, has done very generously by him (Fielding); finding 'Tom Jones,' for which he gave him £600, sell so greatly, he has since given him another £100."-H. Walpole. Letter to George Montague.
Dr. Johnson paid an authoritative tribute of respect to "honest Andrew." "I respect Millar, sir," he said; "he has raised the price of literature." This testimonial will appear of the more value when some of the lexicographer's dealings with the bookseller are brought to mind. When the messenger who carried the last sheet of his Dictionary to Millar returned, Johnson asked him, "Well, what did he say ?"—" Sir," answered the messenger, "he said, 'Thank God, I have done with him!"""I am glad,” replied Johnson, with a smile, "he thanks God for anything."-Boswell's Life of Johnson. Hawkins inserts two notes which are said to have passed on the occasion, but these are fictitious..
expense."-"How is that?" said Millar, "I would keep one myself on those terms."-"You shall go halves with me, if you will, Millar," answered the facetious magistrate. "You know that I send a good many prisoners to gaol in hackney-coaches, and if I were to let my own coach do that business, I might pay for the job in shillings and eightpences to Newgate, Bridewell, and Clerkenwell. What think you?" Millar looked very grave, shook his head, and said with great solemnity that he thought it very unbecoming a magistrate to make his coach a carriage for rogues, highwaymen, and pickpockets. At this observation, Fielding burst into a loud laugh, and triumphantly exclaimed, "I thought so!" The friend immediately gave up the dispute, and they passed to the business of the day, without any suspicion on the part of the bookseller that he had been made the subject of an experiment.
"Amelia" was dedicated by Fielding to his generous friend, Ralph Allen,' from whom he had more than once received pecuniary assistance and valuable counsel. The novel, he observed, was "sincerely designed to promote the cause of virtue, and to expose some of the most glaring evils, as well public as private, which then infested the country. The best man," he continues, "is the properest patron of such an attempt. This, I believe, will be readily granted; nor will the public voice, I think, be now divided to whom they will give that appellation. Should a letter, indeed, be thus inscribed, DETUR OPTIMO, there are few persons who would think it wanted any other direction." Strong as these expressions may appear, they flowed from the heart of the writer, and, if applicable to any human being, they may fairly be taken to have been so to the noble-minded personage to whom they were addressed.
It has been observed that in his former novels Fielding sketched many of the characters from life; and the heroine
(1) This gentleman is said to have once sent him a present of 200 guineas, before he had any personal knowledge of him.
of his last work of fiction is undoubtedly copied from an original. In the loving, gentle, and true-hearted Amelia, he has transmitted to posterity a portrait of his first wife, over whose early grave he had shed so many bitter tears. Henry Fielding," says Lady Mary Wortley Montague, "has given a true picture of himself and his first wife in the character of Mr. and Mrs. Booth, some compliments to his own figure excepted; and I am persuaded several of the incidents he mentions are real matters of fact." Among these "matters of fact" may be noticed the accident by which Amelia's nose was deprived of its original symmetry,a misfortune which, with the same circumstances of aggravation, occurred to Mrs. Fielding.1
The tradition that Fielding intended Amelia as an affectionate tribute to the memory of his first wife, imparts an additional interest to the character. Years had not obliterated from his mind the solace he had received from her society in his day of adversity; the sacrifices she had made for him, and the sufferings she had undergone. The highest intellects have never disdained "to humble themselves at the shrine of departed excellence;" and in this charming portrait it is reasonable to believe that Fielding attempted to satisfy the yearnings of an atoning love, which followed its object beyond the grave. In depicting under such circumstances the model wife, he has by no means confined himself to the novel-writer's ordinary track: Amelia is not only the most lovable of women, but she possesses withal a fund of good sense rarely bestowed on the heroines of fiction. It is observable, however, that the gentle and
(1) Amelia, even to her noselessness," Richardson writes, "is again his first wife."-Correspondence, vol. iv. "The injury," says Booth, relating his history to Miss Matthews, "done to her beauty by the overturning of a chaise, by which, as you well remember, her lovely nose was beat all to pieces, gave me an assurance that the woman who had been so much adored for the charms of her person, deserved a much higher adoration to be paid to her mind; for that she was in the latter respect infinitely more superior to the rest of her sex than she had ever been in the former."—Amelia, book ii. chap. 1.
(2) Washington Irving's "Life of Goldsmith."
yielding qualities of the sex predominate over intellectual strength. Amelia is all the woman. Her virtues shine forth with the greatest lustre when engaged in her household occupations, or in imparting to her children those lessons of religion which are best learned from a mother's lips. "This admirable woman," says the novelist, "never let a day pass without instructing her children in some lesson of religion and morality; by which means she had, in their tender minds, so strongly annexed the ideas of fear and shame to every idea of evil of which they were susceptible, that it must require great pains and length of habit to separate them." Instead of repining at poverty, how cleverly does the unromantic heroine accommodate herself to circumstances! Like a wise and true woman, she takes care that her husband's house shall always wear a cheerful and alluring aspect. During his absence, with the assistance of a little girl, who was their only servant, she managed, we are told, to dress her dinner; "and she had likewise dressed herself as neat as any lady who had a regular set of servants could have done." And thus, in humble lodgings, with poverty at the door, the wife rises superior to fortune, and preserves the husband from despair. She takes as much pleasure, it is said again, in cooking "as a fine lady generally enjoys in dressing herself for a ball." It is by these minute touches that Fielding brings before us the "perfect woman" whose memory he so fondly idolised. Some of these scenes of poverty, illumined by the smiles, and softened by the careful contrivances of a wife, doubtless had their parallel in the incidents of his own life, and such experiences have given an air of Defoe-like truthfulness to the narrative.
The compunctious visitings of conscience, by which the unworthy Booth is occasionally harassed, tend still further to remind us of "the expiatory spirit" in which this story seems to have been penned. Could he have met his wife's caresses without a pang of self-reproach, how great had