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the king's left, and achieved the victory on that bloody day. Thus it chanced that the Feildings, whose English ancestor had sought these shores as a volunteer in our intestine broils, were, by a singular fatality, mixed up in the most important of those unnatural contests, in which English blood flowed on both sides.
George Fielding,' the second son of the first Earl of Denbigh, who was subsequently created Earl of Desmond, was a devoted royalist, like his father. This nobleman left behind him four sons, the youngest of whom was Dr. John Fielding, Canon of Salisbury, and Chaplain to William III., who married Bridget, daughter of Scipio Cockain, Esq., and was blessed with a numerous progeny. His youngest son, Edmund-the father of the novelistentered the army, served with distinction under the Duke of Marlborough, and, about 1730, attained the rank of Lieutenant-General. General Fielding's first wife was the daughter of Sir Henry Gould, a judge of the King's Bench.2 This lady bore him six children, two of whom were boys-the novelist, and his brother Edmund (who entered the navy, and died young)—and four girls, named respectively, Catherine, Ursula, Sarah (afterwards wellknown in the world of letters as the authoress of "David Simple"), and Beatrice.
The county of Somerset has the honour of numbering amongst its worthies the greatest of English novelists. Henry Fielding was born at Sharpham Park, near Glastonbury, in that county, on the 22nd of April, 1707. His education commenced at home, under the care of one Mr. Oliver,
(1) In tracing the genealogy of the Fieldings it is observable that the name was originally spelt Feilding. The elder branch of the family have preserved up to this day the same orthography. It is related of the novelist, that being once in the company of the Earl of Denbigh, his lordship was pleased to observe that they were both of the same family, and asked the reason why they spelt their names differently. "I cannot tell, my lord," replied the wit, "unless it be that my branch of the family were the first that knew how to spell."
(2) She was also the aunt of another Sir Henry Gould, a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, mentioned hereafter.
the family chaplain. There is a tradition that this gentleman was the original of Parson Trulliber, in "Joseph Andrews;" and it is by no means improbable that the minute sketch of the parson's figure in that novel was intended for the pedagogue. "He (Trulliber) was indeed one of the largest men you should see, and could have acted the part of Sir John Falstaff without stuffing. Add to this, that the rotundity of his belly was considerably increased by the shortness of his stature, his shadow ascending very near as far in height when he lay on his back as when he stood on his legs. His voice was loud and hoarse, and his accent extremely broad. To complete the whole, he had a stateliness in his gait when he walked, not unlike that of a goose, only he stalked slower." If the Somersetshire pastor who directed little Harry Fielding's first studies was a man after this fashion, it may be readily imagined that his lessons afforded more amusement than edification to his pupil.
As soon as the boy was considered well-grounded in his "rudiments," he was dispatched to Eton. Here he was a general favourite. Lively, clever, and agreeable, never was there a youth better qualified to seize the advantage (in the eyes of ambitious parents the greatest that a public school affords) of forming "splendid friendships." Among his contemporaries were several Etonians, who united uncommon intellectual endowments to the substantial advantage of high station and powerful connexions. There was George Lyttleton, afterwards distinguished as a poet, orator, and political leader, then a weak and sickly boy, with a taste for rhyming and miscellaneous reading, and whose "exercises" (it is said by Johnson,) "were recommended as models to his schoolfellows." Lyttleton was about the same age as Fielding; they were much together; and their school friendship ripened into an attachment of life-long duration. There was William Pitt-afterwards the renowned "Cornet Pitt," the great Commoner, and worldfamous Earl of Chatham-also an invalid, and frequently
confined to his "Dame's parlour" with attacks of hereditary gout, but nevertheless a hearty, headstrong lad, who was long remembered at Eton for the severe flogging he once underwent for "breaking bounds." There was also Henry Fox, his illustrious and often successful rival, whose classical lore (acquired at this period) in after life astonished those who had known the idleness and dissipation of his early manhood. Sir Charles Hanbury Williams (celebrated as the wittiest of political squib-writers) and Mr. Winnington were likewise schoolfellows of the novelist, and both retained for him through life a sincere regard. With such associates the study of classical literature was to Fielding a pleasant pastime; and before he had attained. his sixteenth year his proficiency in Greek and Latin was considered to reflect credit on the school.
If Eton had reason to be proud of Fielding, Fielding had no less cause to cherish an affectionate attachment to her "antique towers." His school-days were crowded with incidents, upon which, in his maturer years, he often looked back with pleasure and satisfaction. When Pitt was shaking the senate with the thunders of his eloquence, and whilst Fox was exhibiting his gladiatorial skill in debate, how often did the imagination of their gifted schoolfellow revert to the time when they wandered together arm-in-arm over the green playing-fields by the margin of the Thames, unravelling the difficulties of their daily task, and sharing unreservedly their boyish confidences ! These pleasant reminiscences were not unaccompanied by a lively recollection of the severe discipline which then prevailed in all our public schools. "And thou, O learning," says the novelist-in the splendid invocation with which he commences the thirteenth book of Tom Jones-" (for without thy assistance nothing pure, nothing correct, can genius produce,) do thou guide my pen. Thee, in thy favourite fields, where the limpid, gently-rolling Thames washes thy Etonian banks, in early youth I have
worshipped. To thee, at thy birchen altar, with true Spartan devotion, I have sacrificed my blood." Lucky, indeed, was the wight who in those days escaped personal chastisement at the hands of his pedagogue. A belief in the efficacy of corporeal punishment was then deeply rooted in the mind of the schoolmaster; and a sanguinary revenge was often taken for a false quantity or a bad exercise.1
From Eton the future novelist was transferred to the then famous University of Leyden, in order that he might perfect himself in the study of the civil law before keeping his terms for the Bar. About thirty years later, be it remembered, another distinguished Englishman and English novelist-Oliver Goldsmith-was also a student at Leyden. Let English travellers when they visit this fine, quaint old city remember this.?
Whilst at Leyden, Fielding kept up his character as a diligent student. As soon as he arrived there, he became the pupil of the most learned civilian in the university, whose lectures he attended for about two years. At the expiration of that period supplies from home began to fail: remittances grew "small by degrees and beautifully less," until at length they ceased altogether. The young student had then no choice but to return to England. Accordingly, home he returned, slenderly furnished indeed for the battle of life, but doomed to commence the contest without delay. Fresh from the dull, tranquil, and stately Dutch university, he plunged into the ocean of London life, and was soon carried away by the stream. Scarcely twenty years old, with a vigorous constitution, as yet uninjured by dissipation,
(1) The inseparable alliance which was held to exist between scholarship and the birch, it will be remembered, is celebrated in the "Dunciad: "—
"Proceed, great days! till learning fly the shore,
Till birch shall blush with noble blood no more,
Till Thames see Eton's sons for ever play,
Till Westminster's whole year be holiday."
(2) John Evelyn, the author of "Sylva," was also for some time a student at Leyden.
a remarkable capacity for labour and bodily endurance, a fine wit, and lively disposition, he found himself his own master, with the town and all its pleasures and distinctions before him. Thus situated, the bent of his inclinations and the force of circumstances hurried him into authorship, and he naturally preferred the liveliest and most exciting branch of an author's trade-that of writing for the stage.
Before he left Leyden, he had tried his hand at dramatic composition, and had written a portion of a comedy called "Don Quixote in England." As soon as he set foot in the metropolis, a few attendances at the theatre of course stimulated his dramatic taste. Besides, as may be readily imagined, he could not support the character of a fine gentleman, or indeed subsist at all, without the assistance of his wits. He used to say, in after life, that at the commencement of his career his choice lay between being a hackney-writer or a hackney-coachman. His father had, indeed, agreed to make him an allowance of £200 a year; but this allowance, the son said, "anybody might pay who would." No one did pay it, and the General never troubled himself about it. The truth is, the veteran had contracted a second marriage with a lady who bore the pretty maiden name of Eleanor Blanchfield; and with a young family growing up around him, and a taste for profuse hospitality, he was utterly unable to contribute anything towards the maintenance of the clever youth who had just commenced in London the life of a man of wit and fashion. With every inclination, he had not the power to support him, and this the son knew full well. When, therefore, default was made in the payment of the promised allowance, it did not diminish his filial tenderness, or cause him to indulge in useless repinings. Thenceforth he knew that he must rely upon his own exertions; and having resolved to make his way by dramatic authorship, after a few months' residence in London, his facile pen produced, with little effort, a comedy, to which he gave the title of "Love in several Masques."