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ings frame, with his vast health and robust appetite, his ardent spirits, his joyful humor, and his keen and hearty relish for life, must have seized and drunk that cup of pleasure which the town offered to him. Can any of my hearers remember the youthful feats of a college breakfast - the meats devoured and the cups quaffed in that Homeric feast? I can call to mind some of the heroes of those youthful banquets, and fancy young Fielding from Leyden rushing upon the feast, with his great laugh and immense healthy young appetite, eager and vigorous to enjoy. The young man's wit and manners made him friends every where: he lived with the grand Man's society of those days; he was courted by peers and men of wealth and fashion. As he had a paternal allowance from his father, General Fielding, which, to use Henry's own phrase, any man might pay who would; as he liked good wine, good clothes, and good company, which are all expensive articles to purchase, Harry Fielding began to run into debt, and borrow money in that easy manner in which Captain Booth borrows money in the novel ; was in nowise particular in accepting a few pieces from the purses of his rich friends, and bore down upon more than one of them, as Walpole tells us only too truly, for a dinner or a guinea. To supply himself with the latter, he began to write theatrical pieces, having already, no doubt, a considerable acquaintance amongst the Oldfields and Bracegirdles behind the scenes. He laughed at these pieces and scorned them. When the audience upon one occasion began to hiss a scene which he was too lazy to correct, and regarding which, when Garrick remonstrated with him, he said that the public was too stupid to find out the badness of his work : when the audience began to hiss, Fielding said, with characteristic coolness — “ They have found it out, have they?" He did not prepare his novels in this way, and with a very different care and interest laid the foundations and built up the edifices of his future fame.
Time and shower bave very little damaged those. The fashion and ornaments are, perhaps, of the architecture of that age; but the buildings remain strong and lofty, and of admirable proportions — masterpieces of genius and monuments of workmanlike skill.
I cannot offer or hope to make a hero of Harry Fielding. Why hide his faults? Why conceal his weaknesses in a cloud of periphrases? Why not show him, like him as he is, not robed in a marble toga, and draped and polished in an heroic attitude, but with inked ruffles, and claret-stains on his tarnished laced coat, and on his manly face the marks of good
fellowship, of illness, of kindness, of care, and wine. Stained as you see him, and worn by care and dissipation, that man retains some of the most precious and splendid human qualities and endowments. He has an admirable natural love of truth, the keenest instinctive antipathy to hypocrisy, the happiest satirical gift of laughing it to scorn. His wit is wonderfully wise and detective; it flashes upon a rogue and lightens up a rascal like a policeman's lantern. He is one of the manliest and kindliest of human beings : in the midst of all his imperfections, he respects female innocence and infantine tenderness, as you would suppose such a great-hearted, courageous soul would respect and care for them. He could not be so brave, generous, truth-telling as he is, were he not infinitely merciful, pitiful, and tender. He will give any man his purse - he can't help kindness and profusion. He may have low tastes, but not a mean mind; he admires with all his heart good and virtuous men, stoops to no flattery, bears no rancor, disdains all disloyal arts, does his public duty uprightly, is fondly loved by his family, and dies at his work. * If that theory be — and I have no doubt it is
the right and safe one, that human nature is always pleased with the spectacle of innocence rescued by fidelity, purity, and courage ; I suppose that of the heroes of Fielding's three novels, we should like honest Joseph Andrews the best, and Captain Booth the second, and Tom Jones the third.t
Joseph Andrews, though he wears Lady Booby's cast-off livery, is, I think, to the full as polite as Tom Jones in his fustian-suit, or Captain Booth in regimentals. He has, like those heroes, large calves, broad shoulders, a high courage, and a handsome face. The accounts of Joseph's bravery and good qualities; his voice, too musical to halloo to the dogs ; his bravery in riding races for the gentlemen of the county, and his constancy in refusing bribes and temptation, have something affecting in their naïveté and freshness, and prepossess one in favor of that handsome young hero. The rustic bloom of Fanny, and the delightful simplicity of Parson Adams are described with a friendliness which wins the reader of their story; we part from them with more regret than from Booth and Jones.
* He sailed for Lisbon, from Gravesend, on Sunday morning, June 30th, 175t; and began “The Journal of a Voyage" during the passage. He died at Lisbon, in the beginning of October of the same year. He lies buried there, in the English Protestant churchyard, near the Estrella Church, with this inscription over him :
FOVERE NATUM." † Fielding himself is said by Dr. Warton to have preferred “Joseph Andrews” to his other writings.
Fielding, no doubt, began to write this novel in ridicule of • Pamela,” for which work one can understand the hearty contempt and antipathy which such an athletic and boisterous genius as Fielding's must have entertained. He couldn't do otherwise than laugh at the puny cockney bookseller, pouring out endless volumes of sentimental twaddle, and hold him up to scorn as a mollcoddle and a milksop. His genius had been nursed on sack-posset, and not on dishes of tea. His muse had sung the loudest in tavern choruses, had seen the daylight streaming in over thousands of emptied bowls, and reeled home to chambers on the shoulders of the watchman. Richardson's goddess was attended by old maids and dowagers, and fed on muffins and bohea. “ Milksop!” roars Harry Fielding, clattering at the timid shop-shutters. 6 Wretch! Monster! Mohock !” shrieks the sentimental author of “ Pamela ; ' and all the ladies of his court cackle out an affrighted chorus. Fielding proposes to write a book in ridicule of the author, whom he disliked and utterly scorned and laughed at; but he is himself of so generous, jovial, and kindly a turn that he begins to like the characters which he invents, can't help making them manly and pleasant as well as ridiculous, and before le has done with them all, loves them heartily every one.
Richardson's sickening antipathy for Harry Fielding is quite as natural as the other's laughter and contempt at the sentimentalist. I have not learned that these likings and dislikings have ceased in the present day: and every author must lay his account not only to misrepresentation, but to honest enmity among critics, and to being hated and abused for good as well as for bad reasons. Richardson disliked Fielding's works quite honestly: Walpole quite honestly spoke of them as vulgar and stupid. Their squeamish stomachs sickened at the rough fare
*" Richardson,” says worthy Mrs. Barbauld, in her Memoir of him, prefixed to his Correspondence, “was exceedingly hurt at this (“Joseph Andrews'), the more so as they had been on good terms, and he was very intimate with Fielding's two sisters. "He never appears cordially to have forgiven it (perhaps it was not in human nature he should), and he always speaks in his letters with a great deal of asperity of “Tom Jones,' more indeed than was quite graceful in a rival author. No doubt he himself thought his indignation was solely excited by the loose morality of the work and of its author, but he could tolerate Cibber."
and the rough guests assembled at Fielding's jolly revel. Indeed the cloth might have been cleaner: and the dinner and the company were scarce such as suited a dandy. The kind and wise old Johnson would not sit down with him. * But a greater scholar than Johnson could afford to adınire that astonishing genius of Harry Fielding: and we all know the lofty panegyric which Gibbon wrote of him, and which remains a towering monument to the great novelist's memory. “Our immortal Fielding,” Gibbon writes, “ was of the younger branch of the Earls of Denbigh, who drew their origin from the Counts of Hapsburgh. The successors of Charles V. may disdain their brethren of England: but the romance of Tom Jones,' that exquisite picture of humor and manners, will outlive the palace of the Escurial and the Imperial Eagle of Austria."
There can be no gainsaying the sentence of this great judge. To have your name mentioned by Gibbon, is like having it written on the dome of St. Peter's. Pilgrims from all the world admire and behold it.
As a picture of manners, the novel of “ Tom Jones” is indeed exquisite : as a work of construction quite a wonder: the by-play of wisdom; the power of observation; the multiplied felicitous turns and thoughts; the varied character of the great Comic Epic: keep the reader in a perpetual admiration and curiosity. But against Mr. Thomas Jones himself we have a right to put in a protest, and quarrel with the esteem the author evidently has for that character. Charles Lamb says finely of Jones, that a single hearty laugh from him “clears the air” — but then it is in a certain state of the atmosphere. It might clear the air when such personages as Blifil or Lady Bellaston poison it. But I fear very much that (except until the very last scene of the story), when Mr. Jones enters Sophia's drawing-room, the pure air there is rather tainted with the young gentleman's tobacco-pipe and punch. I can't say that I think Mr. Jones a virtuous character; I can't say but that I think Fielding's evident liking and admiration for Mr. Jones shows that the great humorist's moral sense was blunted by his life, and that here, in Art and Ethics, there is a great error. If it is right to have a hero whom we may admire, let us at least take care that he is admirable : if, as is the plan of some authors (a plan decidedly against their interests, be it said), it is propounded that there exists in life no such being, and therefore that in novels, the picture of life, there should appear no such character; then Mr. Thomas Jones becomes an admissible person, and we examine his defects and good qualities, as we do those of Parson Thwackum, or Miss Seagrim. But a hero with a flawed reputation ; a hero spunging for a guinea ; a hero who can't pay his landlady, and is obliged to let his honor out to hire, is absurd, and his claim to heroic rank untenable. I protest against Mr. Thomas Jones holding such rank at all. I protest even against his being considered a more than ordinary young fellow, ruddy-cheeked, broad-shouldered, and fond of wine and pleasure. He would not rob a church, but that is all; and a pretty long argument may be debated, as to which of these old types, the spendthrift, the hypocrite, Jones and Blisil, Charles and Joseph Surface, is the worst member of society and the most deserving of censure. The prodigal Captain Booth is a better man than his predecessor Mr. Jones, in so far as he thinks much more humbly of himself than Jones did: goes down on his knees, and owns his weaknesses, and cries out, “Not for my sake, but for the sake of my pure and sweet and beautiful wife Amelia, I pray you, O critical reader, to forgive me.” That stern moralist regards him from the bench (the judge's practice out of court is not here the question),
* It must always be borne in mind, that besides that the Doctor couldn't be expected to like Fielding's wild life (to say nothing of the fact that they were of opposite sides in politics), Richardson was one of his earliest and kindest friends. Yet Johnson too (as Boswell tells us) read “ Amelia through without stopping.
† “Manners change from generation to generation and with manners morals appear to change - actually change with some, but appear to change with all but the abandoned. A young man of the present day who should act as Tom Jones is supposed to act at Upton, with Lady Bellaston, &c. would not be a Tom Jones ; and a Tom Jones of the present day, without perhaps being in the ground a better man, would have perished rather than submit to be kept by a harridan of fortune. Therefore, this novel is, and indeed pretends to be, no example of conduct. But, notwithstanding all this, I do loathe the cant which can recommend · Pamela' and 'Clarissa Harlowe' as strictly moral, although they poison the imagination of the young with continued doses of linct. lyttre, while Tom Jones ts prohibited as loose. I do not speak of young women; but a young man whose heart or feelings can be injured, or even his passions excited by this novel, is already thoroughly corrupt. There is a cheerful, sunshiny, breezy spirit, that prevails every. where, strongly contrasted with the close, hot, day-dreamy continuity of Richardson.” – COLERIDGE. Literary Remains, vol. ii. p. 374.
Captain Booth, it is perfectly true that your life has been disreputable, and that on many occasions you have shown yourself to be no better than a scamp -- you have been tippling at the tavern, when the kindest and sweetest lady in the world has cooked your little supper of boiled mutton and awaited you all the night; you have spoilt the little dish of boiled mutton thereby, and caused pangs and pains to Amelia's