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it through, without pausing, from beginning to end. The unexceptionable morality of the tale, and the feminine grace of the heroine, extorted his enthusiastic approbation. Nor did he stand alone amongst his contemporaries in this opinion: for in "The Gentleman's Magazine" for January, 1752, there is a letter, signed "Criticulus," containing the following flattering observations on the work:—“ Though this novel," says the writer, "has its imperfections, yet some of the characters are handled in so masterly a manner -virtue and vice meet with their due rewards-and it abounds with such noble reflections on the follies and vices, the perfections and imperfections of human nature-that he must be both a bad and ill-natured reader who is not by it agreeably entertained, instructed, and improved."
On the other hand, Richardson, who could never be prevailed on even to read "Tom Jones," obstinately refused to see the slightest merit in "Amelia." If Fielding's former novels were dissolute and scurrilous, this last production was absolutely dull. The author of "Grandison" and "Clarissa Harlowe" waded through the first volume, but found no encouragement to proceed further! Who can forbear a smile when reading the following lines, addressed by this most self-sufficient of mortals to one of his female admirers and correspondents?" Will I leave you to Captain Booth ? Captain Booth, madam, has done his business. Mr. Fielding has over-written himself, or rather under-written; and in his own journal seems ashamed of his last piece, and has promised that the same muse shall write no more for him.1
(1) Alluding to a paragraph in Fielding's "Covent Garden Journal"-the periodical noticed in the next chapter, where the following proceedings are stated to have taken place before the Court of Criticism :-" At the Court of Criticism Amelia is set to the bar, and after many things have been alleged against her by Counsellor Town, &c. ....a grave man being permitted to speak, relates that he is her father, that she was his favourite child, that he had taken great pains in her education; and though he does not think her free from faults, yet she does not deserve the rancour with which she has been treated by the public; that he does not attempt a defence, but, as a compromise, declares that he will trouble
The piece, in short, is as dead as if it had been published forty years ago, as to sale. You guess I have not read 'Amelia?' Indeed I have read but the first volume."
the world no more with any children of his by the same muse."-The Gentleman's Magazine, 1752.
In a letter to Mr. Edwards, Richardson writes in the following equally charitable vein :-" Mr. Fielding met with the disapprobation you foresaw he would meet with of his 'Amelia.' He is, in every paper he publishes, under the title of 'The Common Garden,' contributing to his own overthrow. He has been overmatched in his own way by people whom he had despised, and whom he thought he had vogue enough-from the success his spurious brat 'Tom Jones' so unaccountably met with—to write down, but who have turned his own artillery against him, and beat him out of the field, and made him even poorly in his Court of Criticism give up his 'Amelia,' and promise to write no more on the like subject."—Richardson's Life and Correspondence, vol. iii.
It is hardly necessary to multiply examples of Richardson's ill-nature and injustice to Fielding's literary merits; but the following extract from another of his letters proves how keenly he felt the ridicule thrown upon "Pamela" by 'Joseph Andrews:"-" So long as the world will receive, Mr. Fielding will write. Have you seen a list of his performances? Nothing but a shorter life than I wish him can hinder him from writing himself out of date. The 'Pamela,' which he abused in his 'Shamela,' taught him to write to please. Before his 'Joseph Andrews' (hints and names, taken from that story, with a lewd and ungenerous engraftment), the poor man wrote without being read, except when his 'Pasquin,' &c., roused party attention and the legislature at the same time. But to have done for the present with this fashionable author."-Correspondence, vol. iv. The "Shamela" alluded to by Richardson was a collection of letters in ridicule of "Pamela," which there is no ground for attributing to Fielding. "An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews. Necessary to be had in all Families. 1741."
Mrs. Donnellan, one of Richardson's correspondents, thus compassionately writes of "Amelia :"-" Poor Fielding! I believed he designed to be good, but did not know how, and in the attempt lost his genius-low humour."
"THE COVENT GARDEN JOURNAL."-ATTACKS OF HILL AND
ALTHOUGH the great novelist had published his last novel, his literary career was not yet closed. Scarcely had "Amelia" issued from the press, when his active mind commenced another laborious undertaking. At the close of the year 1751, he designed a new periodical publication, to be conducted by himself, and supported principally, if not entirely, by his own pen. The scheme was a bold one, and its success very dubious. All Fielding's friends had long marked his declining health; his tall and vigorous frame was bowed by weakness and disease; the duties of his office alone occasionally overtasked his strength. It is certainly, therefore, most characteristic of his active and enterprising spirit that he should have projected, at such a period, a publication which would be a constant tax upon his time and energies. The professional newspaperwriter knows what it is to prepare an article, or perform an allotted task from day to day, or from week to week; and it is notorious that there are few men who can satisfactorily unite such duties with any other occupation. How, then, could Fielding hope to keep his journal alive for any length of time? Already he had known many, many days and nights of agony, which had totally incapacitated him from labour, and every year which was added to his life increased his infirmities. Of this he must have been well aware, but he would not give way. His spirit was daunted by no obstacles, nor was it to be vanquished
even by pain and disease. A resolution once taken by such a man was not easily abandoned.
That he was eminently qualified to become the most successful essayist and censor of the age no one can doubt. His contributions to "The Champion," "The True Patriot," and "The Jacobite's Journal," though written for bread, and not reputation, had found hosts of admirers. Since the period when these were produced, his style had been improved by the practice of composition till it had attained the very perfection of ease and polish. His experience had been also enlarged by converse with men and books, and by a keen observation of human manners. With such qualifications, had health and opportunity permitted, he might have attained a rank in English periodical literature second only, and perhaps equal, to Addison and Steele. He evidently thought that his strength lay in this kind of writing, and an author is generally a shrewd judge of his own powers.
The first number of his new periodical was published on the 4th of January, 1752, under the title of "The Covent Garden Journal, by Sir Alexander Drawcansir, Knight, Censor of Great Britain." The object of the publication was indicated by the editor's assumed style and title, and was further explained in an opening address, in which Fielding, according to his custom, expressed his contempt for contemporary periodical critics, and threw down the gauntlet to all the scribblers of the age. "As to my brother authors," he observes, "who, like mere mechanics, are envious and jealous of a riyal in their trade, to silence their jealousies and fears, I declare that it is not my intention to encroach on the business now carried on by them, nor to deal in any of those wares which they at present vend to the public." As a significant token of his design, in another part of the paper he published what he called “An introduction to a journal of the present paper-war between
the forces under Sir Alexander Drawcansir, and the army of Grub Street."
The declaration of war was soon followed by active hostilities. Before the paper was a month old, its editor was busily engaged in exchanging shots with an opponent, who was a practised as well as unscrupulous hand in personal warfare. This opponent was the literary Proteus, Dr., afterwards Sir John Hill, who shared with Orator Henley the dubious honour of being the most notorious man of his age. Hill was originally an apothecary, but abandoning his business for the stage, he produced a few bad farces at the Haymarket, in which he appeared as an actor. This attempt gave rise to Garrick's well-known epigram upon him :
"For physic and farces
His equal there scarce is;
Having been hissed off the stage, he betook himself with industry to the study of medicine and natural history; and many works on these subjects, displaying considerable information and research, proceeded from his pen. As a consequence of his scientific labours, and armed with the cheap honours of a Scotch degree, he obtained a large practice as a physician, and was enabled to launch out into extravagances which increased his notoriety, and showed the shallowness of his character. At every place of amusement, and at every ball or assembly to which he could obtain access, he made his appearance dressed in the height of fashion; offending many by the insolent airs which he assumed, and collecting scandalous stories, which he afterwards retailed, and turned to profitable account in a crop of licentious novels,' of which the names are now (1) Amongst them were "The Adventures of Loveill," "The History of Lady Frail," and "The Adventures of George Edwards, a Creole."