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Title: Henry Fielding: a Memoir
 - Including Newly Discovered Letters and Records with Illustrations from Contemporary Prints
Author: Godden, G. M. (Gertrude M.)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Henry Fielding: a Memoir
 - Including Newly Discovered Letters and Records with Illustrations from Contemporary Prints" ***

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HENRY FIELDING

_A MEMOIR_
INCLUDING NEWLY DISCOVERED LETTERS
AND RECORDS WITH ILLUSTRATIONS
FROM CONTEMPORARY PRINTS

BY

G. M. GODDEN



"I am a man myself, and my heart is interested in whatever can befall the
rest of mankind."

JOSEPH ANDREWS.



PREFACE

New material alone could justify any attempt to supplement the _Fielding_
of Mr Austin Dobson. Such material has now come to light, and together
with reliable facts collected by previous biographers, forms the subject
matter of the present volume. As these pages are concerned with Fielding
the man, and not only with Fielding the most original if not the greatest
of English novelists, literary criticism has been avoided; but all
incidents, disclosed by hitherto unpublished documents, or found hidden in
the columns of contemporary newspapers, which add to our knowledge of
Fielding's personality, have been given.

The new material includes records of Fielding's childhood; documents
concerning his estate in Dorsetshire; the date and place, hitherto
undiscovered, of that central event in his life, the death of his beloved
wife, whose memorial was to be the imperishable figure of "Sophia
Western"; letters, now first published, adding to our knowledge of his
energies in social and legislative reform, and of the circumstances of his
life; many extracts from the columns of the daily press of the period;
notices, hitherto overlooked, from his contemporaries; and details from
the unexplored archives of the Middlesex Records concerning his strenuous
work as a London magistrate. The few letters by Fielding already known to
exist have been doubled in number; and a reason for the extraordinary
rarity of these letters has been found in the unfortunate destruction,
many years ago, of much of his correspondence. The charm of the one
intimate letter that we possess from the pen of the 'Father of the English
Novel,' that written to his brother John, during the voyage to Lisbon,
enhances regret at the loss of these letters.

Among the contemporary prints now first reproduced that entitled the
_Conjurors_ is of special interest, as being the only sketch of Fielding,
drawn during his lifetime, known to exist. Rough as it is, the
characteristic figure of the man, as described by his contemporaries and
drawn from memory in Hogarth's familiar plate, is perfectly apparent. The
same characteristics may be distinguished in a small figure of the
novelist introduced into the still earlier political cartoon, entitled the
_Funeral of Faction_.

Such in brief are the reasons for the existence of this volume. It remains
to express my warmest acknowledgment of Mr Austin Dobson's unfailing
counsel and assistance. My thanks are also due to Mr Ernest Fielding for
permission to reproduce the miniature which appears as the frontispiece;
to Mr Aubrey Court, of the House of Lords; to Mr E. S. W. Hart, for his
help throughout the necessary researches among the Middlesex Records; to
Mrs Deane of Gillingham; and to Mr Frederick Shum of Bath. And I am
indebted to Mr Sidney Colvin, Keeper of the Department of Prints and
Drawings in the British Museum, in regard to almost every one of the
thirty-two rare prints and cartoons now reproduced.

G. M. GODDEN.

_October_ 26, 1909.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER I

YOUTH

CHAPTER II

PLAY-HOUSE BARD

CHAPTER III

MARRIAGE

CHAPTER IV

POLITICAL PLAYS

CHAPTER V

HOMESPUN DRAMA

CHAPTER VI

BAR STUDENT--JOURNALIST

CHAPTER VII

COUNSELLOR FIELDING

CHAPTER VIII

_Joseph Andrews_

CHAPTER IX

THE _Miscellanies_ AND _Jonathan Wild_

CHAPTER X

PATRIOTIC JOURNALISM

CHAPTER XI

_Tom Jones_

CHAPTER XII

MR JUSTICE FIELDING

CHAPTER XIII

FIELDING AND LEGISLATION

CHAPTER XIV

_Amelia_

CHAPTER XV

JOURNALIST AND MAGISTRATE

CHAPTER XVI

POOR LAW REFORM

CHAPTER XVII

VOYAGE TO LISBON--DEATH



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
_From photographs by Marie Léon_.

Henry Fielding
_From a miniature now in the possession of Mr Ernest Fielding._

Sharpham House, showing the room in which Fielding was born
_from a print published in 1826_.

Sir Henry Gould
_From a mezzotint by J. Hardy_.

Eton--1742
_From an engraving of a drawing by Cozens_.

Anne Oldfield
_From a mezzotint of a painting by J. Richardson_.

Leyden--1727
_From an engraving of a drawing by C. Pronk_.

Kitty Clive as Philida
_From a mezzotint of a painting by Veter van Bleeck, junr. 1735._

Frontispiece to Fielding's "Tom Thumb"
_By Hogarth_.

The Close, Salisbury--1798
_From an acquatint of a drawing by E. Dayes_.

Charlcombe Church, near Bath
_From an engraving of a drawing made in 1784_.

Fielding's house, East Stour, Dorsetshire
_From a print published in Hutchins' "History of Dorsetshire," 1813_.

Sir Robert Walpole--1740
_From a contemporary cartoon_.

"Pasquin"
_From a cartoon depicting a scene in "Pasquin" in which Harlequinades,
etc., triumph aver legitimate drama. Pope is leaving a box. The Signature
"W. Hogarth" is doubtful_.

Cartoon celebrating the success of "Pasquin"
_From a contemporary cartoon showing Fielding, supported by
Shakespeare, receiving an ample reward, while to Harlequin and his other
opponents is accorded a halter_.

The Little Theatre in the Haymarket
_From an engraving by Dale, showing the demolition of the Little
Theatre in 1821_.

The Green Room, Drury Lane
_From the painting by Hogarth, in the possession of Sir Edward
Tennant_.

The Temple--1738
_From an engraving of a drawing by J. Nicholas_.

Henry Fielding holding the Banner of the "Champion" newspaper
_From a contemporary cartoon showing Sir Robert Walpole laughing at the
"Funeral" of an Opposition Motion in Parliament_.

Cartoon showing Fielding, in Wig and Gown, as a supporter of the
Opposition
_From a print of 1741_.

Henry Fielding reading at the Bedford Arms
_From the frontispiece to Sir John Fielding's "Jests."_

Assignment for "Joseph Andrews"
_From the autograph now in the South Kensington Museum_.

Beaufort Buildings, Strand, in 1725
_From a watercolour drawing by Paul Sandby, 1725_.

Prior Park, near Bath, the seat of Ralph Allen, 1750
_From an engraving of a contemporary drawing_.

George, First Baron Lyttelton
_From a portrait by an unknown artist_.

Theatre Ticket for Fielding's "Mock Doctor"
_The signature "W. Hogarth" is doubtful_.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu--1710
_From an engraving by Caroline Watson, from a miniature in the
possession of the Marquis of Bute_.

The Bow Street Police Court, Sir John Fielding presiding
_From the "Newgate Calendar"_, 1795.

Edward Moore
_From a frontispiece in Chalmers' "British Essayists"_ 1817.

Sir John Fielding
_From a mezzotint of a painting by Nathaniel Hone, R.A._

Ralph Allen
_From a chalk drawing by W. Hoare, R.A._

Henry Fielding
_From an engraving of a pen and ink sketch, made by Hogarth after
Fielding's death_.

Henry Fielding, defending Betty Canning from her accusers, the Lord
Mayor, Dr Hill, and the Gipsy
_From a contemporary print, now first reproduced, and the only known
sketch of Fielding made during his lifetime_.

Justice Saunders Welch
_From an engraving of a sketch by Hogarth_.

Ryde--1795
_From an engraving of a drawing by Charles Tomkins_.

Lisbon--1793
_From a mezzotint of a drawing by Noel_.

The design on the cover is a copy, slightly enlarged, of an impression of
Fielding's seal, attached to an autograph letter in the British Museum.



HENRY FIELDING



CHAPTER I

YOUTH

    "I shall always be so great a pedant as to call a man of no
    learning a man of no education."--_Amelia_.


Henry Fielding was born at Sharpham Park, near Glastonbury, on the 22nd
of April 1707. His birth-room, a room known as the Harlequin Chamber,
looked out over the roof of a building which once was the private chapel
of the abbots of Glastonbury; for Sharpham Park possessed no mean
history. Built in the sixteenth century by that distinguished prelate,
scholar, and courtier Abbot Richard Beere, the house had boasted its
chapel, hall, parlour, chambers, storehouses and offices; its fishponds
and orchards; and a park in which might be kept some four hundred head of
deer. It was in this fair demesne that the aged, pious, and benevolent
Abbot Whiting, Abbot Richard's successor, was seized by the king's
commissioners, and summarily hung, drawn, and quartered on the top of the
neighbouring Tor Hill. Sharpham thereupon "devolved" upon the crown; but
the old house remained, standing in peaceful seclusion where the pleasant
slope of Polden Hill overlooks the Somersetshire moors, till the birth of
the 'father of the English Novel' brought a lasting distinction to the
domestic buildings of Abbot Beere. In the accompanying print, published
in 1826, the little window of the Harlequin Chamber may be seen, above
the low roofs of the abbots' chapel.

That Henry Fielding should have been born among buildings raised by
Benedictine hands is not incongruous; for no man ever more heartily
preached and practised the virtue of open-handed charity; none was more
ready to scourge the vices of arrogance, cruelty and avarice; no English
novelist has left us brighter pictures of innocence and goodness. And it
was surely a happy stroke of that capricious Fortune to whom Fielding so
often refers, to allot a Harlequin Chamber for the birth of the author of
nineteen comedies; and yet more appropriate to the robust genius of the
Comic Epic was the accident that placed on the wall, beneath the window
of his birth-room, a jovial jest in stone. For here some
sixteenth-century humorist had displayed the arms of Abbot Beere in the
form of a convivial rebus or riddle--to wit, a cross and two beer flagons.

Soon after the Civil Wars, Sharpham passed into the hands of the
'respectable family' of Gould. By the Goulds the house was considerably
enlarged; and, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, was in the
possession of a distinguished member of the family, Sir Henry Gould,
Knight, and Judge of the King's Bench. Sir Henry had but two children, a
son Davidge Gould, and a daughter Sarah. This only daughter married a
well-born young soldier, the Hon. Edmund Fielding; a marriage which,
according to family assertions, was without the consent of her parents and
"contrary to their good likeing." [1] And it was in the old home of the
Somersetshire Goulds that the eldest son of this marriage, Henry Fielding,
was born.

Thus on the side of his mother, Sarah Gould, Fielding belonged to just
that class of well-established country squires whom later he was to
immortalise in the beautiful and benevolent figure of Squire Allworthy,
and in the boisterous, brutal, honest Western. And the description of
Squire Allworthy's "venerable" house, with its air of grandeur "that
struck you with awe," its position on the sheltered slope of a hill
enjoying "a most charming prospect of the valley beneath," its
surroundings of a wild and beautiful park, well-watered meadows fed with
sheep, the ivy-grown ruins of an old abbey, and far-off hills and sea,
preserves, doubtless, the features of the ancient and stately domain
owned by the novelist's grandfather.

If it was to the 'respectable' Goulds that Fielding owed many of his
rural and administrative characteristics, such as that practical zeal and
ability which made him so excellent a magistrate, it is in the family of
his father that we find indications of those especial qualities of
vigour, of courage, of the generous and tolerant outlook of the well-born
man of the world, that characterise Henry Fielding. And it is also in
these Fielding ancestors that something of the reputed wildness of their
brilliant kinsman may be detected.

For in her wilful choice of Edmund Fielding for a husband, Sir Henry
Gould's only daughter brought, assuredly, a disturbing element into the
quiet Somersetshire home. The young man was of distinguished birth, even
if he was not, as once asserted, of the blood royal of the Hapsburgs.
[2] His ancestor, Sir John Fielding, had received a knighthood for bravery
in the French wars of the fourteenth century. A Sir Everard Fielding led a
Lancastrian army during the Wars of the Roses. Sir William, created Earl
of Denbigh, fell fighting for the king in the Civil Wars, where, says
Clarendon, "he engaged with singular courage in all enterprises of
danger"; a phrase which recalls the description of Henry Fielding "that
difficulties only roused him to struggle through them with a peculiar
spirit and magnanimity." Lord Denbigh fell, covered with wounds, when
fighting as a volunteer in Prince Rupert's troop; while his eldest son,
Basil, then a mere youth, fought as hotly for the Parliament. Lord
Denbigh's second son, who like his father was a devoted loyalist, received
a peerage, being created Earl of Desmond; and two of his sons figure in a
wild and tragic story preserved by Pepys. "In our street," says the
Diarist, writing in 1667, "at the Three Tuns Tavern I find a great hubbub;
and what was it but two brothers had fallen out and one killed the other.
And who s'd. they be but the two Fieldings; one whereof, Bazill, was page
to my Lady Sandwich; and he hath killed the other, himself being very
drunk, and so is sent to Newgate." It was a brother of these unhappy
youths, John Fielding, a royal chaplain and Canon of Salisbury, who by his
marriage with a Somersetshire lady, became father of Edmund Fielding.

Such was Henry Fielding's ancestry, and it cannot be too much insisted on
that, throughout all the vicissitudes of his life, he was ever a man of
breeding, no less than a man of wit. "His manners were so gentlemanly,"
said his friend Mrs Hussey, "that even with the lower classes with which
he frequently condescended to chat, such as Sir Roger de Coverley's old
friends, the Vauxhall watermen, they seldom outstepped the limits of
propriety." And a similar recognition comes from the hand of a great, and
not too friendly, critic. To "the very last days of his life," wrote
Thackeray, "he retained a grandeur of air, and although worn down by
disease his aspect and presence imposed respect on the people around him."

This Denbigh ancestry recalls a pleasant example of Fielding's wit,
preserved in a story told by his son, and recorded in the pages of that
voluminous eighteenth-century anecdotist, John Nichols. "Henry Fielding,"
says Nichols, "being once in company with the Earl of Denbigh, and the
conversation's turning on Fielding's being of the Denbigh family, the
Earl asked the reason why they spelt their names differently; the Earl's
family doing it with the E first (Feilding), and Mr Henry Fielding with
the I first (Fielding). 'I cannot tell, my Lord,' answered Harry, 'except
it be that my branch of the family were the first that knew how to
spell.'"

In accordance with the fighting traditions of his race, Edmund Fielding
went into the army; his name appearing as an ensign in the 1st Foot
Guards. Also, as became a Fielding, he distinguished himself, we are
told, in the "Wars against France with much Bravery and Reputation"; and
it was probably owing to active service abroad that the birth of his
eldest son took place in his wife's old Somersetshire home. The date fits
in well enough with the campaigns of Ramilies, Oudennarde and Malplaquet.
Soon after Henry's birth, however, his father had doubtless left the Low
Countries, for, about 1709, he appears as purchasing the colonelcy of an
Irish Regiment. This regiment was ordered, in 1710, to Spain; but before
that year the colonel and his wife and son had a separate home provided
for them, by the care of Sir Henry Gould. At what precise date is
uncertain, but some time before 1710, Sir Henry had purchased an estate
at East Stour in Dorsetshire, consisting of farms and lands of the value
of £4750, intending to settle some or the whole of the same on his
daughter and her children. And already, according to a statement by the
colonel, the old judge had placed his son-in-law in possession of some or
all of this purchase, sending him oxen to plough his ground, and
promising him a "Dairye of Cows." Sir Henry moreover had, said his
son-in-law, declared his intention "to spend the vacant Remainder of his
life," sometimes with his daughter, her husband, and children at Stour,
and sometimes with his son Davidge, presumably at Sharpham. But in March,
1710, Sir Henry's death frustrated his planned retirement in the Vale of
Stour; although three years later, in 1713, his intentions regarding a
Dorsetshire home for his daughter were carried out by the conveyance to
her [3] and her children of the Stour estate, for her sole enjoyment. The
legal documents are careful to recite that the rents and profits should be
paid to Mrs Fielding or her children, and her receipt given, and that the
said Edmund "should have nothing to do nor intermeddle therewith."

In this settlement of the East Stour farms, to the greater part of which
Henry Fielding, then six years old, would be joint heir with his sisters,
Colonel Fielding himself seems to have had to pay no less than £1750,
receiving therefor "a portion of the said lands." So by 1713 both Edmund
Fielding and his wife were settled, as no inconsiderable landowners,
among the pleasant meadows of Stour; and there for the next five years
Henry's early childhood was passed. Indeed, Mrs Fielding must have been
at Stour when her eldest son was but three years old, for the baptism of
a daughter, Sarah, appears in the Stour registers in November 1710. This
entry is followed by the baptism of Anne in 1713, of Beatrice in 1714, of
Edmund in 1716, and by the death of Anne in the last-named year, Henry
being then nine years old.

According to Arthur Murphy, Fielding's earliest and too often inaccurate
biographer, the boy received "the first rudiments of his education at
home, under the care of the Revd. Mr Oliver." Mr Oliver was the curate of
Motcombe, a neighbouring village; and we have the authority of Murphy and
of Hutchins, the historian of Dorset, for finding 'a very humorous and
striking portrait' of this pedagogue in the Rev. Mr Trulliber, the
pig-breeding parson of _Joseph Andrews_. If this be so, Harry Fielding's
first tutor at Stour was of a figure eminently calculated to foster the
comic genius of his pupil. "He" (Trulliber), wrote that pupil, some thirty
years later, "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 Accents 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." It appears that the widow of the Motcombe curate
denied the alleged portrait; but the house where Mr Oliver lived, "seemed
to accord with Fielding's description ... and an old woman who remembered
him observed that 'he dearly loved a bit of good victuals, and a drop of
drink.'" Bearing in mind the great novelist's own earnest declaration that
he painted "not men but manners," we may fairly assume that his
Dorsetshire tutor belonged to that class of coarse farmer-parson so justly
satirised in the person of Trulliber. According to another sketch of
Fielding's life, his early education was also directed by the rector of
Stour Provost, "his Parson Adams." [4]

While Harry Fielding was thus learning his first rudiments, his father,
the colonel, seems to have been engaged in less useful pursuits in
London. The nature of these pursuits appears from a _Bill of Complaint_,
which by a happy chance has been preserved, between "Edmund Fielding of
East Stour, Dorsetshire," and one Robert Midford, pretending to be a
captain of the army. In this _Bill_ [5] the said Edmund declares that in
1716, being then resident in London, he often frequented Princes
Coffee-house in the Parish of St James. At Princes he found his company
sought by the reputed Captain Robert Midford, who "prevailed upon him to
play a game called 'Faro' for a small matter of diversion, but by degrees
drew him on to play for larger sums, and by secret and fraudulent means
obtained very large sums, in particular notes and bonds for £500."
Further, the colonel entered into a bond of £200 to one Mrs Barbara
Midford, "sister or pretended sister of the said Robert"; and so finally
was threatened with outlawry by 'Captain' Midford for, presumably, payment
of these debts. How Colonel Edmund finally escaped from the clutches of
these rogues does not appear; but it is clear enough that his Dorsetshire
meadows were a safer place than Princes Coffee-house for a gentleman who
could lose £500 at faro to a masquerading army captain. Also Sir Henry
Gould's wisdom becomes apparent, in bequeathing his daughter an
inheritance with which her husband was to have "nothing to doe."

In 1718, two years after Colonel Fielding's experience at Princes, Mrs
Fielding died, leaving six young children to her husband's care, two sons
and four daughters, Henry, the eldest being but eleven years old. Her
death is recorded in the East Stour registers as follows:--"Sarah, Wife
of the Hon. Edmund Fielding Esqre. and daughter of Sir Henry Gould Kt.
April 18 1718."

About this time (the dates vary between 1716 and 1719) Edmund Fielding
was appointed Colonel of the Invalids, an appointment which he appears to
have held until his death. And within two years of the death of his first
wife, Colonel Fielding must have married again, for in 1720 we find him
and his then wife, _Anne_, selling some 153 acres with messuages,
barns and gardens, in East and West Stour, to one Awnsham Churchill,
Esquire. What relation, if any, this land had to the property of the
colonel's late wife and her children does not appear.

Some time in 1719, the year after his mother's death, or early in 1720,
Henry was sent to Eton, as appears from his father's statement, made in
February 1721, that his eldest son "who is now upwards of thirteen yeares
old is and for more than a yeare last past hath been maintained ... at
Eaton schoole, the yearely expence whereof costs ... upwards of £60." And
the boy must have been well away from the atmosphere of his home, in
these first years after his mother's death, if the allegations of his
grandmother, old Lady Gould, may be believed.

These hitherto unknown records of Henry Fielding's boyhood are to be
found in the proceedings of a Chancery suit begun by Lady Gould, on
behalf of her six grandchildren, Henry, Edmund, [6] Katherine, Ursula,
Sarah and Beatrice, three years after the death of their mother--namely,
on the 10th of February 1721, and instituted in the name of Henry Fielding
as complainant. Lady Gould opens her grandchildren's case with a
comprehensive indictment of her son-in-law. After reciting that her
daughter Sarah had married Edmund Fielding "without the consent of her
Father or Mother and contrary to their good likeing," Lady Gould mentions
her husband's bequest to their daughter, Sarah Fielding, of £3000 in trust
to be laid out in the purchase of lands for the benefit of her and her
children "with direction that the said Edmund Fielding should have nothing
to do nor intermeddle therewith." And how Sir Henry did in his lifetime
purchase "Eastover" estate for his daughter, but died before the trust was
completed; and that in 1713 his trustees, Edmund Fielding consenting,
settled the said estate upon trust for Sarah Fielding and her children
after her, the rents and profits to be paid for her, and acknowledged by
her receipt "without her Husband." And that if Sarah Fielding died
intestate the estate be divided among her children. The bill then shows
that Sarah Fielding did die intestate; and that then Henry and his sisters
and brother "being all Infants of tender years and uncapable of managing
their own affairs and to take Care thereof, well hoped that ... their
Trustees would have taken Care to receive the Rents of the said premises,"
and have applied the same for their maintenance and education. One of
these trustees, we may note, was Henry Fielding's uncle, Davidge Gould.
This reasonable hope of the six "Infants" was however, according to their
grandmother, wholly disappointed. For their uncle Davidge and his
co-trustee, one William Day, allowed Edmund Fielding to receive the rents,
nay "entered into a Combination and Confederacy to and with the said
Edmund Fielding," refusing to intermeddle with the said trust, whereby the
children were in great danger of losing their means of maintenance and
education. And this was by no means all. Lady Gould proceeds to point out
that her son-in-law had, since his wife's death, "intermarried with
one ... Rapha ... Widow an Italian a Person of the Roman Catholick
Profession who has severall children of her own and one who kept an eating
House in London, and not at all fitt to have the care of [the
complainants'] Education and has now two daughters in a Monastery beyond
Sea." It is not difficult to conceive the attitude of Lady Gould of
Sharpham Park to an Italian widow who kept an eating-house; but worse yet,
in the view of those 'No Popery' days, was to follow. "Not only so," says
her ladyship, "the said Edmund Fielding ... threatens to take your
[complainants] from school into his own custody altho' [their] said
Grandmother has taken a House in the City of New Sarum with an intent to
have [her granddaughters] under her Inspection and where ... Katherine,
Ursula and Sarah are now at school"; and "the said Mr Fielding doth give
out in speeches that he will do with [the complainants] what he thinks
fitt, and has openly commended the Manner of Education of young persons in
Monasteryes."

This comprehensive indictment against Colonel Fielding received a prompt
counter, the "Severall Answere of Edmund Fielding Esqre ... to the Bill
of Complaint of Henry Fielding, Katherine Fielding, Ursula Fielding,
Sarah Fielding, and Beatrice Fielding, Infants, by Dame Sarah Gould,
their Grandmother and next Friend," being dated February 23 1721, but
thirteen days after Lady Gould had opened her attack. Out of "a dutiful
Regard to the said Lady Gould his Mother-in-Law," Colonel Fielding
declares himself unwilling to "Controvert anything with her further than
of necessity." But he submits that, in the matter of his marriage, he was
"afterwards well approved of and received" by Sir Henry Gould and his
family; that he was also so happy as to be in favour with Lady Gould
"till he marryed with his now wife"; which he believes "has Occasioned
some Jealosye and Displeasure in the Lady Gould, tho' without Just
Grounds." Edmund Fielding then draws a pastoral picture of himself in
occupation of the East Stour estate, placed there by his father-in-law;
of his oxen and dairy; and of the judge's intention of spending half the
remainder of his days with his son-in-law on this Dorsetshire farm. He
admits his share in the trust settlement after Sir Henry's death; and
points out that his brother-in-law, Davidge Gould, made him pay heavily
on a portion of the estate. And he believes that, as his wife died
intestate, all his children are "Intituled to the said Estate in Equall
proportions."

Then follows the colonel's main defence. His eldest son Henry not being
yet fourteen years of age, he has, ever since the death of his wife,
continued in possession of the premises, taking the rents and profits
thereof, which amount to about £150; and he positively declares that he
has expended more annually on the maintenance and education of the said
complainants, ever since the death of their mother, than the clear income
of the said estate amounts to, and that he shall continue to take "a
Tender and affectionate care of all his said Children." Further, he
professes himself a "protestant of the Communion of the Church of
England," and asserts that he shall and will breed his said children
Protestants of that communion. He protests that his second wife is not an
Italian; nor did she keep an eating-house. He suggests that Lady Gould
took her house at Salisbury "as well with an Intent to convenience
herselfe by liveing in a Towne" as for the inspection of his children. He
"denyeth that he ever Comended the Manner of Education of young persons
in monasterys if it be meant in Respect of Religion." Finally, he says
that he has spent much money on improving the estate; that the income
from the estate is hardly sufficient to maintain his children according
to their station in the world since he is "nearly related to many Noble
Familys"; and he "veryly believes in his conscience he can better provide
for his said Children by reason of his relation to and Interest in the
said noble Familys than their said Grandmother (who is now in an advanced
age, being seventy yeares old or thereabouts)."

Here, it is plain, was a very pretty family quarrel. No man likes his
mother-in-law to say that he has married the keeper of an Italian
eating-house, especially if the fact is correct; or that he is perverting
his young children's trust money. Neither was Lady Gould likely to be
pacified by her son-in-law's remark that she was now "in an advanced
age"; while his suggestion that his "noble" family would be of far more
advantage to his children than that of the respectable Goulds would have
the added sting of undeniable truth.

The next extant move in the fray bears date five months later, July 18
1721, and includes a petition by 'Dame Sarah Gould' that the children be
not removed from the places where they then were until the case be heard;
and Lady Gould adds that if the children's persons or estates be "under
ye management or power of ye said Mr Fielding and his now wife ye Estate
would not be managed to ye best advantage and their Education would not
be taken care of and there would be a great hazard that ye children might
be perverted to ye Romish Religion." Then follows an order in Chancery,
under the same date, "that ye eldest son of ye Defend't. Fielding ... be
continued at Eaton School where he now is and that ye rest of ye children
be continued where they now are."

The next document merely records the inclusion of Henry's five-year-old
brother Edmund among the plaintiffs. And this is followed by a brief
Chancery order of November 30 1721, that "ye, plaintiff Henry Fielding
who is not [_sic_] at Eaton Schoole be at liberty to go to ye said Dame
Sarah Gould, his Grandmother and next friend during ye usual time of
recess from School at Xmas."

After these Christmas holidays spent by Henry Fielding with Lady Gould,
doubtless at her house in Salisbury, the Chancery records pass on to the
April following, 1722, when the boy's uncle and trustee Davidge Gould
makes a statement "sworn at Sharpham Park," which concludes that the
witness hears and believes that Edmund Fielding "has already three
children by his present wife who is reputed to be of the Romish church."
In this same month comes another order from the court that Henry be at
liberty to leave Eton for the Whitsun holidays 1722, and to go to Lady
Gould's house. In May Edmund Fielding appears as "of the Parish of Saint
James, in the County of Middlesex," and also as his children's "next
Friend and Guardian." But two days later the long suit is concluded by
the decision of the court, and here Colonel Fielding is, as heretofore,
defendant, Lady Gould being the children's "next friend."

The case came before the Lord Chancellor on the 28th of May 1722, and was
"debated in the presence of learned Counsels." The trust was upheld, and
Edmund Fielding was required to deliver possession of the estate,
rendering account of the rents and profits thereof since the death of his
first wife; but he was to have "any and what" allowance for improvements,
and for the children's maintenance and education. And it was further
ordered that the children then at school continue at such schools till
further order, and that "upon any breaking up at ye usuall times they do
go and reside with ye Lady Gould their Grandmother that they may not be
under the influence of ye Defendant Fielding's Wife, who appeared to be a
papist." [7]

So Lady Gould, for all her seventy years, won her case at every point.
And Colonel Edmund Fielding did not only lose the guardianship of his six
children, and the administration of their estate. For there was, we
learn, in court, during the hearing, one Mrs Cottington, the plaintiffs
aunt, "alleadging that there was a debt of £700 due from ye Defendant
Fielding to her"; which debt she offered should be applied for the
benefit of her nephews and nieces. Whereupon the court ordered that if
Mrs Cottington proved the same, a Master in Chancery should purchase
therewith lands to be settled for the "Infants" in like manner as the
trust estate.

It may be only a coincidence, but £700 is the sum specifically mentioned
in the proceedings brought by Colonel Fielding in October 1722, five
months after the loss of his Chancery suit, against the cardsharper,
Robert Midford, who was then apparently threatening him with outlawry for
the recovery of the gambling debt begun, as we have seen, at Princes'
Coffee-house six years before. Had the colonel borrowed the £700 from Mrs
Cottington, with intent to discharge those debts; and, on being brought
to law by her (on her nephews' and nieces' behalf) for that debt, did it
occur to him to escape from the clutches of the psuedo "Captain" Midford
by pleading, as he now does in this Bill of 1722, that he "was tricked,"
and also "that gaming is illegal"? The latter plea has something of
unconscious humour in the mouth of a gentleman who had lately lost £500
at faro. With this last echo of the coffee-house of St James's, and of
the colonel's financial difficulties, that brave soldier, if somewhat
reckless gambler, the Hon. Edmund Fielding vanishes from sight, as far as
the life of his eldest son is concerned.

At the triumphant conclusion of his grandmother's suit Henry Fielding
would be just fifteen years of age, and it is impossible not to wonder
what side he took in these spirited family conflicts. No evidence,
however, on such points appears in the dry legal documents; and all that
we have for guide as to the effect in this impressionable time of his
boyhood of the long months of contest, and of his strictly ordered
holidays with his grandmother, is the declaration on the one hand that
"filial piety ... his nearest relations agree was a shining part of his
character," and on the other, the undeniably strong Protestant bias that
appears in his writing. Of his aunt, Mrs Cottington, we get one later
glimpse, when in 1723 she is made his trustee, in place of his uncle,
Davidge Gould, Mrs Cottington being then resident in Salisbury. At the
end of the following year, however, in December 1724, Davidge Gould
resumes his trusteeship, and with the record of that fact the disclosures
yielded by these ancient parchments as to Henry Fielding's stormy boyhood
come to an end.

From these records it becomes possible to gain some idea of the
surroundings of the great novelist's early youth. Before his mother's
death, indeed, when he was a boy of eleven, we already knew him as
suffering the rough jurisdiction of his Trulliberian tutor, Parson Oliver
of Motcombe village, and perhaps as under the wise and kindly guidance of
the good scholar-parson, who was later to win the affection and respect
of thousands of readers under the name of "Parson Adams." But now, for
the first time, we learn of the disastrous second marriage by which
Colonel Fielding, within two years of his first wife's death, placed a
lady of at least disputable social standing at the head of his household,
and one, moreover, whose Faith roused the bitter religious animosities of
that day. What wonder that the old Lady Gould strove fiercely to remove
Henry Fielding, and his sisters and young brother, from East Stour, when
a Madame Rasa was installed in her daughter's place. And accordingly, as
we have seen, even before the conclusion of the suit, Henry was
provisionally ordered by the Court of Chancery to spend his holidays with
his grandmother. Fielding would then be fourteen years old; and the
judge's decision six months later that future holidays should be passed
with Lady Gould, away from the influence of the second Mrs Fielding,
doubtless severed the lad's connection with his dubious stepmother for
the next six years. His home life, then, during the latter part of his
Eton schooling would be under Lady Gould's care; and was probably spent
at Salisbury.

Of his Eton life, from his entrance at the school, when twelve years old,
we know practically nothing. From the absence of his name on the college
lists, it may be inferred that he was an Oppidan. It is said that he gave
"distinguished proofs of strong and peculiar parts"; and that he left the
school with a good reputation as a classical scholar. And it is not
surprising to learn that here, as he himself tells us, his vigorous
energies made acquaintance with that 'birchen altar' at which most of the
best blood in England has been disciplined. "And thou," he cries, "O
Learning (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." [8] That the sacrifice
was not made in vain appears from the reputation with which Fielding left
Eton of being "uncommonly versed in the Greek authors and an early master
of the Latin classics"; and also from the yet better evidence of his own
pages. Long after these boyish days we find him, in the words of "The man
of the Hill," thus eloquently acknowledging the debt of humanity, and
doubtless his own, to those inestimable treasures bequeathed to the world
by ancient Greece: "These Authors, though they instructed me in no Science
by which Men may promise to themselves to acquire the least Riches, or
worldly Power, taught me, however, the Art of despising the highest
Acquisitions of both. They elevate the Mind, and steel and harden it
against the capricious Invasions of Fortune. They not only instruct in the
Knowledge of Wisdom, but confirm Men in her Habits, and demonstrate
plainly, that this must be our Guide, if we propose ever to arrive at the
greatest worldly Happiness; or to defend ourselves, with any tolerable
Security, against the Misery which everywhere surrounds and invests us."
[9] And that this was no mere figure of speech appears from that touching
picture which Murphy has left us of the brilliant wit, the 'wild' Harry
Fielding, when under the pressure of sickness and poverty, quietly reading
the _De Consolations_ of Cicero. His Plato accompanied him on the last sad
voyage to Lisbon; and his library, when catalogued for sale on behalf of
his widow and children, contained over one hundred and forty volumes of
the Greek and Latin classics.

Thus, supreme student and master as he was of "the vast authentic book of
nature," there is abundant proof that Fielding fulfilled his own axiom
that a "good share of learning" is necessary to the equipment of a
novelist. Let the romance writer's natural parts be what they may,
learning, he declared, "must fit them for use, must direct them in it,
lastly must contribute part at least of the materials." [10] Looking back
on such utterances by the 'father of the English Novel,' written at the
full height of his power, it is but natural to wonder if the boy's eager
application to Greek and Latin drudgery had in it something of
half-conscious preparation for the great part he was destined to play in
the history of English literature.

It is clear that Henry Fielding flung his characteristic energies
zealously into the acquirement of the classical learning proffered him at
Eton; but a fine scholarship, great possession though it be, was not the
only gain of his Eton years. Here, says Murphy in his formal
eighteenth-century phrasing, young Fielding had "the advantage of being
early known to many of the first people in the kingdom, namely Lord
Lyttelton, Mr Fox, Mr Pitt, Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, and the late Mr
Winnington, etc."

Of these companions at Eton, George Lyttelton, afterwards known as the
"good Lord Lyttelton," statesman and orator, stands foremost by virtue of
the generous warmth of a friendship continued throughout the novelist's
chequered life. To Lyttelton _Tom Jones_ was dedicated; it was his
generosity, as generously acknowledged, that supplied Fielding, for a
time, with the very means of subsistence; and to him was due the
appointment, subsequently discharged with so much zealous labour, of
Magistrate for Westminster and Middlesex. It is recorded that George
Lyttelton's school exercises "were recommended as models to his
schoolfellows." Another Eton friend, Thomas Winnington, made some figure
in the Whig political world of the day; he was accredited by Horace
Walpole with having an inexhaustible good humour, and "infinitely more wit
than any man I ever knew." Of the friendship with Sir Charles Hanbury
Williams, of which we first hear at Eton, little is known, save the
curious episode of the recovery, many years after its author's death, of
Fielding's lost play _The Good-Natured Man>_, which had apparently been
submitted to Sir Charles, whose celebrity was great as a brilliant
political lampoonist. Of the acquaintance with Henry Fox, first Baron
Holland, we hear nothing in later life; but the name of the greatest of
all these Eton contemporaries, that of the elder Pitt, recurs in after
years as one of the party at Radway Grange, in Warwickshire, to whom
Fielding, after dinner, read aloud the manuscript of _Tom Jones_.
[11] A reference to his fellow-Etonian may be found in one of the
introductory chapters of that masterpiece, where Fielding, while again
advocating the claims of learning, takes occasion to pay this sonorous
tribute to Pitt's oratory: "Nor do I believe that all the imagination,
fire, and judgment of Pitt, could have produced those orations that have
made the senate of England in these our times a rival in eloquence to
Greece and Rome, if he had not been so well read in the writings of
Demosthenes and Cicero, as to have transferred their whole spirit into his
speeches and, with their spirit, their knowledge too."

However excellent a knowledge of the classics the youthful scholar took
away with him from Eton, the rigours of his studies do not appear to have
diminished that zest for life with which the very name of Henry Fielding
is invested. For the obscurity of these early years is for a moment
lifted to disclose the young genius as having already, before he was
nineteen, fallen desperately in love with a beautiful heiress in
Dorsetshire; and, moreover, as threatening bodily force to accomplish his
suit. The story, as indicated in the surviving outlines, might be the
draft for a chapter of _Tom Jones_. The scene is Lyme Regis. The chief
actors are Harry Fielding, scarce more than a schoolboy; a beautiful
heiress, Miss Sarah Andrew; [12] and her uncle, one Mr Andrew Tucker, a
timorous and crafty member of the local corporation. The handsome Etonian,
who had been for some time resident in the old town, fell madly in love,
it seems, with the lady, who is stated to have been his cousin on his
mother's side. The views of her guardian were, however, opposed to the
young man's suit, Mr Andrew Tucker mercenarily designing to secure the
heiress for his own son. Thereupon Harry Fielding is said to have made a
desperate attempt to carry the lady off by force, and that, moreover, "on
a Sunday, when she was on her way to Church." Further, the efforts of the
impetuous youth would seem to have extended to threatened assaults on the
person of his fair cousin's guardian, Mr Tucker; for we find that
affrighted worthy flying for protection to the arm of the law, as recorded
in the _Register Book_ of Lyme Regis, under date of the 14th November
1725:--"... Andrew Tucker, Gent., one of the Corporation, caused Henry
Fielding, Gent., and his servant or companion, Joseph Lewis--both now for
some time past residing in the borough--to be bound over to keep the
peace, as he was in fear of his life or some bodily hurt to be done or to
be procured to be done to him by H. Fielding and his man. Mr A. Tucker
feared that the man would beat, maim, or kill him." No words could more
aptly sum up this delightful story than those of Mr Austin Dobson: "a
charming girl, who is also an heiress; a pusillanimous guardian, with
ulterior views of his own; a handsome and high-spirited young suitor; a
faithful attendant ready to 'beat, maim or kill' on his master's behalf; a
frustrated elopement and a compulsory visit to the mayor--all these with
the picturesque old town of Lyme for a background, suggest a most
appropriate first act to Harry Fielding's biographical tragi-comedy."
[13] It is possible that Fielding's own pen supplied the conclusion to
this first act. For he tells us, in the preface to the _Miscellanies_,
that a version, in burlesque verse, of part of Juvenal's sixth satire was
originally sketched out before he was twenty, and that it was "all the
Revenge taken by an injured Lover." The story loses none of its zest,
moreover, when we remember that Harry Fielding was at this time still a
Ward of Chancery.

[1] Chancery Proceedings 1720 sqq. _Fielding_ v. _Fielding_. From the
records of this Chancery suit, instituted on behalf of Henry Fielding and
his brother and sisters, as minors, by their grandmother Lady Gould, are
taken the hitherto unpublished facts concerning the novelist's boyhood,
contained in this chapter. The original documents are preserved in the
Record Office.

[2] See Appendix A.

[3] By means of a legacy of £3000 left by her father for his daughter's
sole use, "her husband having nothing to doe with it."

[4] _History and Antiquities of Leicestershire_. J. Nichols. 1810. Vol.
iv. Part i. p. 292. Nichols does not state his authority for this
statement, and it is not confirmed by local records. See Hutchins'
_History of Dorset_ for the list of Stour Provost rectors.

[5] Chancery Proceedings, 1722. _Fielding_ v. _Midford_. Record Office.

[6] Edmund's name was added in October following.

[7] _Chancery Decrees and Order Books_. Record Office.

[8] Tom Jones, Book xiii. Introduction.

[9] Ibid., Book viii., ch. xiii.

[10] _Tom Jones_, Book ix. Introduction.

[11] See _infra_, chap. xi.

[12] Fifty years ago a portrait of the beautiful heiress, in the character
of Sophia Western, was still preserved at the house of Bellairs, near
Exeter, then the property of the Rhodes family. The present ownership of
the picture has, so far, eluded inquiry.

[13] _Fielding_, Austin Dobson, p. 202.



CHAPTER II

PLAYHOUSE BARD

    "I could not help reflecting how often the greatest abilities lie
    wind-bound, as it were, in life; or if they venture out, and
    attempt to beat the seas, they struggle in vain against wind and
    tide."--_Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon_.

It was but three years after the Lyme Regis episode that Henry Fielding,
then a lad of one and twenty, won attention as a successful writer of
comedy. Of this his first entry into the gay world there are little but
generalities to record; but, inaccurate as Murphy is in some matters of
fact, there seems no reason to doubt the truth of the engaging picture
which he draws of the young man's _début_ upon the Town. We read of the
gaiety and quickness of his fancy; the wild flow of his spirits; the
brilliancy of his wit; the activity of his mind, eager to know the world.
To the possession of genius allied to the happiest temper, a temper "for
the most part overflowing into wit, mirth, and good-humour," young
Fielding added a handsome face, a magnificent physique (he stood over six
feet high), and the fullest vigour of constitution. "No man," wrote his
cousin, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, "enjoyed life more than he did." What
wonder that he was soon "in high request with the men of taste and
literature," or that report affirms him to have been no less welcome in
ranks of society not at all distinguished by a literary flavour.

That a youth so gifted, so "formed and disposed for enjoyment," should
find himself his own master, in London, almost presupposes a too liberal
indulgence in the follies that must have so easily beset him. When the
great and cold Mr Secretary Addison, no less than that "very merry
Spirit," Dick Steele, and the splendid Congreve, drank more than was good
for them, what chance would there be for a brilliant, ardent lad of
twenty, suddenly plunged into the robust society of that age? If
Fielding, like his elders, indisputably loved good wine, let us remember
that none of the heroes of his three great novels, neither that rural
innocent Joseph Andrews, nor the exuberant youth Tom Jones, nor erring,
repentant Captain Booth are immoderate drinkers. The degradation of
drinking is, in Fielding's pages, accorded to brutalised if honest
country squires, and cruel and corrupt magistrates; and there is little
evidence throughout his life to indicate that the great novelist drank
more freely than did the genial heroes of his pen. As regards Murphy's
general assertion that, at this his entrance into life, young Fielding
"launched wildly into a career of dissipation" no other reputable
contemporary evidence is discoverable of the "wildness" popularly
attributed to Fielding. That his youth was headlong and undisciplined is
a plausible surmise; but justice demands that the charge be recognised as
a surmise and nothing more. How keenly, twenty years later, he could
appreciate the handicap that such early indulgences impose on a man's
future life may be gathered from a passage in _Joseph Andrews_ which is
not without the ring of personal feeling. The speaker is a generous and
estimable country gentleman, living in Arcadian retirement with his wife
and children. Descended of a good family and born a gentleman, he narrates
how his education was acquired at a public school, and extended to a
mastery of the Latin, and a tolerable knowledge of the Greek, language.
Becoming his own master at sixteen he soon left school, for, he tells his
listeners, "being a forward Youth, I was extremely impatient to be in the
World: For which I thought my Parts, Knowledge, and Manhood thoroughly
qualified me. And to this early Introduction into Life, without a Guide, I
impute all my future Misfortunes; for besides the obvious Mischiefs which
attend this, there is one which hath not been so generally observed. The
first Impression which Mankind receives of you, will be very difficult to
eradicate. How unhappy, therefore, must it be to fix your Character in
Life, before you can possibly know its Value, or weigh the Consequences of
those Actions which are to establish your future Reputation?" [1] That the
wise and strenuous Fielding of later years, the energetic student at the
Bar, the active and patriotic journalist, the merciless exponent of the
hypocrite, the spendthrift, and the sensualist, the creator of the most
perfect type of womanhood in English fiction (so said Dr Johnson and
Thackeray) should look back sadly on his own years of hot-blooded youth is
entirely natural; but even so this passage and the well-known confession
placed in the mouth of the supposed writer of the _Journey from this World
to the Next_, [2] no more constitute direct evidence than do Murphy's
unattested phrases, or the anonymous scurrilities of eighteenth-century
pamphleteers.

By birth and education Fielding's natural place was in the costly society
of those peers and men of wealth and fashion who courted the brilliant
young wit; but fortune had decreed otherwise, and at this his first
entrance on the world he found, as he himself said, no choice but to be a
hackney writer or a hackney coachman. True, his father allowed him a
nominal £200 a year; but this, to quote another of his son's
observations, "anybody might pay that would." The fact was that Colonel
Fielding's marriage with Madame Rasa had resulted in a large and rapidly
increasing family; and this burden, together with "the necessary demands
of his station for a genteel and suitable expence," made it impossible
for him to spare much for the maintenance of his eldest son. Launched
thus on the Town, with every capacity for spending an income the receipt
of which was denied to him, the young man flattered himself that he
should find resources in his wit and invention; and accordingly he
commenced as writer for the stage. His first play, a comedy entitled
_Love in Several Masks_, was performed at Drury Lane in February 1728,
just before the youthful dramatist had attained his twenty-first year. In
his preface to these 'light scenes' he alludes with some pride to this
distinction--"I believe I may boast that none ever appeared so early on
the stage";--and he proceeds to a generous acknowledgment of the aid
received from those dramatic stars of the eighteenth-century, Colley
Gibber, Mr Wilks and Mrs Oldfield, all of whom appeared in the cast. Of
the two former he says, "I cannot sufficiently acknowledge their civil and
kind behaviour previous to its representation"; from which we may
conclude, as his biographer Laurence points out, that Harry Fielding was
already familiar with the society of the green-room. To Mrs
Oldfield,--that charming actress

  "In publick Life, by all who saw Approv'd
  In private Life, by all who knew her Lov'd"--

the young man expresses yet warmer acknowledgments. "Lastly," he
declares, "I can never express my grateful sense of the good nature of
Mrs Oldfield ... nor do I owe less to her excellent judgment, shown in
some corrections which I shall for my own sake conceal." The comedy is
dedicated, with the graceful diction and elaborate courtesies of the
period, to Fielding's cousin, that notable eighteenth-century wit, the
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu; and from the dedication we learn that to Lady
Mary's approval, on her first perusal, the play owed its existence. What
the approval of a great lady of those times meant for the young writer
may be measured by the fact that Fielding concludes his dedication by
solemnly 'informing the world' that the representation of his comedy was
twice honoured with Her Ladyship's presence.

In view of the frequent accusation of coarseness brought against
Fielding, we may quote a few lines of the prologue with which he made his
literary entry into the world. Here his audience are promised

  "Humour, still free from an indecent Flame,
  Which, should it raise your Mirth, must raise your Shame:
  Indecency's the Bane to Ridicule,
  And only charms the Libertine, or Fool:
  Nought shall offend the Fair One's Ears to-day,
  Which they might blush to hear, or blush to say.
  No private Character these Scenes expose,
  Our Bard, at Vice, not at the Vicious, throws."

Thus it was with an honourable declaration of war against indecency and
libel that the young wit and man of fashion, began his career as "hackney
writer." If to modern taste the first promise lacks something of
fulfilment, it is but just to remember that to other times belong other
manners.

In the play, rustic and philosophic virtue is prettily rewarded by the
possession of a beautiful heiress, while certain mercenary fops withdraw
in signal discomfiture; and that Fielding, at one and twenty, had already
passed judgment on that glittering 'tinsel' tribe, is clear enough from
his portrait of the "empty gaudy nameless thing," Lord Formal. Lord
Formal appears on the stage with a complexion much agitated by a day of
business spent with "three milleners, two perfumers, my bookseller's and
a fanshop." In the course of these fatigues he has "rid down two brace of
chairmen"; and had raised his colour to "that exorbitancy of Vermeille"
that it will hardly be reduced "under a fortnight's course of acids." It
is the true spirit of comedy which introduces into this closely perfumed
atmosphere the bluff country figure of Sir Positive Trap, with his
exordiums on the rustic ladies, and on "the good old English art of
clear-starching." Sir Positive hopes "to see the time when a man may
carry his daughter to market with the same lawful authority as any other
of his cattle"; and causes Lord Formal some moments' perplexity, his
lordship being "not perfectly determinate what species of animal to
assign him to, unless he be one of those barbarous insects the polite
call country squires." In this production of a youth of twenty we may
find a foretaste of that keen relish in watching the human comedy, that
vigorous scorn of avarice, that infectious laughter at pretentious folly,
which accompanied the novelist throughout his life.

To this same year is attributed a poem called the _Masquerade_, which need
only be noticed as again emphasising its author's lifelong war against the
evils of his time. The _Masquerade_ is a satire on the licentious
gatherings organised by the notorious Count Heidegger, Master of the
Revels to the Court of George II.

Many years later Fielding reprinted [3] two other poetical effusions
bearing the date of this his twenty-first year. Of these the first,
entitled "A Description of U----n G----(alias _New Hog's Norton_) in
_Com-Hants_" identified by Mr Keightley as Upton Grey in Hampshire, is
addressed to the fair _Rosalinda,_ by her disconsolate _Alexis_. Alexis
bewails his exile among

  "Unpolish'd Nymphs and more unpolish'd Swains,"

and describes himself as condemned to live in a dwelling half house, half
shed, with a garden full of docks and nettles, the fruit-trees bearing
only snails--

  "Happy for us had Eve's this Garden been
  She'd found no Fruit, and therefore known no Sin,"--

the dusty meadows innocent of grass, and the company as innocent of wit.
This sketch of rural enjoyments recalls a later utterance in _Jonathan
Wild_, concerning the votaries of a country life who, with their trees,
"enjoy the air and the sun in common and both vegetate with very little
difference between them." With one or two eloquent exceptions there is
scarce a page in Fielding's books devoted to any interest other than that
of human nature.

The second fragment is a graceful little copy of verse addressed to
_Euthalia_, in which we may note, by the way, that the fair Rosalinda's
charms are ungallantly made use of as a foil to Euthalia's dazzling
perfections. As Fielding found these verses not unworthy of a page in his
later _Miscellanies_ they are here recalled:

  TO EUTHALIA.

  WRITTEN IN THE YEAR 1728.

  "Burning with Love, tormented with Despair,
  Unable to forget or ease his Care;
  In vain each practis'd art _Alexis_ tries;
  In vain to Books, to Wine or Women flies;
  Each brings _Euthalia's_ Image to his Eyes.
  In _Lock's_ or _Newton's_ Page her Learning glows;
  _Dryden_ the Sweetness of her Numbers shews;
  In all their various Excellence I find
  The various Beauties of her perfect Mind.
  How vain in Wine a short Relief I boast!
  Each sparkling Glass recalls my charming Toast.
  To Women then successless I repair,
  Engage the Young, the Witty, and the Fair.
  When _Sappho's_ Wit each envious Breast alarms,
  And _Rosalinda_ looks ten thousand Charms;
  In vain to them my restless Thoughts would run;
  Like fairest Stars, they show the absent Sun."

_Love in Several Masks_ was produced, as we have seen, in February, 1728;
and it is a little surprising to find the young dramatist suddenly
appearing, four weeks later, as a University student. He was entered at
the University of Leyden, as "Litt. Stud," on the 16th of March 1728. The
reason of this sudden change from the green-room of Drury Lane to the
ancient Dutch university must be purely matter of conjecture, as is the
nature of Fielding's undergraduate studies, Murphy having lately been
proved to be notably erroneous as to this episode. [4] His name occurs as
staying, on his entry at Leyden, at the "Casteel von Antwerpen"; and
again, a year later, in the _recensiones_ of the University for February
1729, as domiciled with one Jan Oson. As all students were annually
registered, the omission of any later entry proves that he left Leyden
before 1730; with which meagre facts and his own incidental remark that
the comedy of _Don Quixote in England_ was "begun at Leyden in the year
1728," our knowledge of the two years of Fielding's university career
concludes. In February 1730 he was presumably back in London, that being
the date of his next play, the _Temple Beau_, produced by Giffard, the
actor, at the new theatre in Goodman's Fields.

The prologue to the _Temple Beau_ was written by that man of many parts,
James Ralph, the hack writer, party journalist and historian, who was in
after years to collaborate with Fielding, both as a theatrical manager and
as a journalist. Ralph's opening lines are of interest as bearing on
Fielding's antagonism to the harlequinades and variety shows, then
threatening the popularity of legitimate drama:

  "Humour and Wit, in each politer Age,
  Triumphant, rear'd the Trophies of the Stage:
  But only Farce, and Shew, will now go down,
  And HARLEQUIN'S the Darling of the Town."

Ralph bids his audience turn to the 'infant stage' of Goodman's Fields
for matter more worthy their attention; and his promise that there

  "The Comick Muse, in Smiles severely gay,
  Shall scoff at Vice, and laugh its Crimes away"

must surely have been inspired by the young genius from whom twenty years
later came the formal declaration of his endeavour, in _Tom Jones,_
"to laugh mankind out of their favourite follies and vices."

The special follies of the _Temple Beau_ have, for background, of course,
those precincts in which Fielding was later to labour so assiduously as a
student, and as a member of the Middle Temple; but where, as the young
Templar of the play observes, "dress and the ladies" might also very
pleasantly employ a man's time. But except for an oblique hit at duelling,
a custom which Fielding was later to attack with curious warmth, this
second play seems to yield few passages of biographical interest. Of very
different value for our purpose is the third play, which within only two
months appeared from a pen stimulated, presumably, by empty pockets. This
was the comedy entitled the _Author's Farce_, being the first portion of a
medley which included the '_Puppet Show call'd the Pleasures of the Town_;
the whole being acted in the Little Theatre in the Haymarket, long since
demolished in favour of the present building.

In the person of Harry Luckless, the hero of the _Author's Farce_, it is
impossible not to surmise the figure of young Fielding himself; a figure
gay and spirited as those of his first comedy, but, by now, well
acquainted with the hungers and the straits of a 'hackney writer.' Mr
Luckless wears a laced-coat and makes a handsome figure (we remember that
Fielding had always the grand air), whereby his landlady, clamouring for
her rent, upbraids him for deceiving her: "Cou'd I have guess'd that I had
a Poet in my House! Cou'd I have look'd for a Poet under lac'd Clothes!"
The poor author offers her the security of his (as yet unacted) play;
whereupon Mrs Moneywood (lineal ancestress of Mrs Raddles) pertinently
cries out: "I would no more depend on a Benefit-Night of an unacted Play,
than I would on a Benefit-Ticket in an undrawn Lottery." Luckless next
appeals to what should be his landlady's heart, assuring her that unless
she be so kind as to invite him "I am afraid I shall scarce prevail on my
Stomach to dine to-day." To which the enraged lady answers: "O never fear
that: you will never want a Dinner till you have dined at all the
Eating-houses round.--No one shuts their Doors against you the first time;
and I scarce think you are so kind, seldom to trouble them a second." And
that the good landlady had some grounds for her wrath is but too apparent
when she announces: "Well, I'm resolv'd when you are gone away (which I
heartily hope will be very soon) I'll hang over my Door in great red
Letters, _No Lodging for Poets_ ... My Floor is all spoil'd with Ink, my
Windows with Verses, and my Door has been almost beat down with Duns.'
While the landlady is still fuming, enters our author's man, Jack.

    "_Jack_. An't please your Honour, I have been at my Lord's,
    and his Lordship thanks  you for the Favour you have offer'd of
    reading your Play to him; but he has such a  prodigious deal of
    Business he begs to be excus'd. I have been with Mr _Keyber_
    too: he made no Answer at all...."

    "_Luckless_. Jack.

    "_Jack_. Sir.

    "_Luckless_. Fetch my other Hat hither.  Carry it to the
    Pawnbroker's.

    "_Jack_. To your Honour's own Pawnbroker.

    "_Luckless_. Ay And in thy way home call at the Cook's Shop.
    So, one way or other I find, my Head must always provide for my
    Belly."

At which moment enters the caustic, generous Witmore, belabouring the
profanity, the scurrility, the immodesty, the stupidity of the age with
one hand, the while he pays his friend's rent with the other; and who,
incidentally, is requested by that irascible genius to kick a worthy
publisher down the stairs, on the latter's refusal to give fifty
shillings "no, nor fifty farthings" for his play. Once mollified by the
settlement of her bill, we have the landlady playing advocate for her
hapless lodger in words that sound very like the apologia of Mr Harry
Fielding himself: "I have always thought, indeed, Mr _Luckless_ had a
great deal of Honesty in his Principles; any Man may be unfortunate: but I
knew when he had Money I should have it...." And the good woman's
reminiscence that while her lodger had money her doors were thundered at
every morning between four and five by coachmen and chairmen; and her wish
that that pleasant humour'd gentleman were "but a little soberer,"
finishes, we take it, the portrait of the Fielding of 1730. "Jack call a
coach; and d'ye hear, get up behind it and attend me," cries the
improvident poet, the moment his generous friend has left him; and so we
are sure did young Mr Fielding put himself and his laced coat into a
coach, and mount his man behind it, whenever the exigencies of duns and
hunger were for a moment abated. And with as gallant a humour as that of
his own Luckless did he walk afoot, when those "nine ragged jades the
muses" failed to bring him a competency.

Such failure on the part of the Muses was due to no want of wooing on his
part. During the six years between Fielding's first appearance as dramatic
author in 1728, and his marriage in 1734, there stand no fewer than
thirteen plays to his name. Of these none have won any lasting reputation;
and to this period of the great novelist's life may doubtless be applied
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's description, when lamenting that her kinsman
should have been "forced by necessity to publish without correction, and
throw many productions into the world he would have thrown into the fire,
if meat could have been got without money, and money without scribbling."
Lady Mary's account moreover is reinforced by Murphy's classical periods:
"Mr Fielding's case was generally the same with that of the poet described
by Juvenal; with a great genius, he must have starved if he had not sold
his performance to a favourite actor. _Esurit, intactam Paridi, nisi
vendit Agaven_." A complete list of all these ephemera will be found in
the bibliography at the end of this volume; here we need but notice those
to which a special interest attaches. Thus, that incomparable comic
actress, Kitty Clive, was cast for a part in the _Lottery_, a farce
produced in 1731; and three years later Fielding is adapting for her,
especially, the _Intriguing Chambermaid_. It was in these two plays, and
that of the _Virgin Unmasked_, that the town discovered the true comic
genius of Kitty Clive "the best player I ever saw," in Dr Johnson's
opinion. For this discovery Fielding takes credit to himself, in the
dedication addressed to Mrs Clive, which he prefixed to the _Intriguing
Chambermaid_; and in which he finds opportunity to pay a noble tribute to
the private life of that inimitable hoyden of the stage. "I cannot help
reflecting" he writes, "that the Town hath one great obligation to me, who
made the first discovery of your great capacity, and brought you earlier
forward on the theatre, than the ignorance of some and the envy of others
would have otherwise permitted.... But as great a favorite as you at
present are with the audience you would be much more so were they
acquainted with your private character ... did they see you, who can charm
them on the stage with personating the foolish and vicious characters of
your sex, acting in real life the part of the best Wife, the best
Daughter, the best Sister, and the best Friend." That this splendid praise
was as sincere as it was generous need not be doubted. No breath of
slander, even in that slanderous age, seems ever to have dulled the
reputation of the queen of comedy, and "better romp than any I ever saw in
nature"--to quote Dr Johnson again,--Kitty Clive.

So few of Fielding's letters have been, to our knowledge, preserved, that
the following note addressed to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and concerning
the _Modern Husband_, a comedy produced in 1731 or 1732, must here be
given, though containing little beyond the fact that the dramatist of
three years' standing seems still to have placed as high a value on his
cousin's judgment, as when recording her approval of his first effort for
the stage. The play was a piece of admittedly moral purpose, and was
dedicated to Sir Robert Walpole. The first line of the autograph is,
apparently, missing.


"I hope your Ladyship will honour the Scenes, which I presume to lay
before you, with your Perusal. As they are written on a Model I never yet
attempted, I am exceedingly anxious least they should find least Mercy
from you than my lighter Productions. It will be a slight compensation to
the modern Husband, that your Ladyship's censure will defend him from the
Possibility of any other Reproof, since your least Approbation will
always give me a Pleasure, infinitely superior to the loudest Applauses
of a Theatre. For whatever has past your judgment, may, I think without
any Imputation of Immodesty, refer Want of Success to Want of Judgment in
an Audience. I shall do myself the honour of waiting on your Ladyship at
Twickenham next Monday to receive my Sentence, and am, Madam, with the
most devoted Respect

"Your Ladyship's
"most Obedient most humble Servant
"Henry Ffielding. [5]

"London 7'br 4."

In 1731-32 the burlesque entitled the _Tragedy of Tragedies; or the Life
and Death of Tom Thumb the Great_, took the Town. The _Tragedy_ parodies
the absurdities of tragedians; and so far won immortality that in 1855 it
was described as still holding the stage. But its chief modern interest
lies in the tradition that Swift once observed that he "had not laughed
above twice" in his life,--once at the tricks of a merry-andrew, and again
when Fielding's Tom Thumb killed the ghost. The design for the
frontispiece of the edition of 1731, here reproduced, is from the pencil
of Hogarth; and is the first trace of a connexion between Fielding and the
painter who was to be honoured so frequently in his pages. An adaptation
from Molière, produced in 1733, under the title of the _Miser_, won from
Voltaire the praise of having added to the original "quelques beautes de
dialogue particulières a sa [Fielding's] nation." The leading character in
the _Miser_, Lovegold, became a stock part, and survived to our own days,
having been a favourite with Phelps. In _Don Quixote in England_, produced
in 1733 or 34, [6] Fielding reappears in the character of patriotic censor
with the design, as appears from the dedication to Lord Chesterfield, of
representing "the Calamities brought on a Country by general Corruption."
No less than fifteen songs are interspersed in the play, and it is matter
for curious conjecture why none of them was chosen for a reprint among the
collected verses published ten years later in the _Miscellanies_. Time has
almost failed to preserve even the hunting-song beginning finely--

  "The dusky Night rides down the Sky,
    And ushers in the Morn;
  The Hounds all join in glorious Cry,
    The Huntsman winds his Horn:"

But a happier fate has befallen the fifth song, now familiar as the first
verse of the _Roast Beef of Old England_. It is eminently appropriate that
the most distinctly national of English novelists should have written:

  "_When mighty Rost Beef was the_ Englishman's _food,
  It ennobled our Hearts, and enriched our Blood;
  Our Soldiers were brave and our Courtiers were good.
    Oh, the Rost Beef of old England,
    And old_ England's _Rost Beef!_

  "_Then_, Britons, _from all nice Dainties refrain,
  Which effeminate_ Italy, France, _and_ Spain;
  _And mighty Rost Beef shall command on the Main.
    Oh, the Rost Beef_, etc."

To this truly prolific period of the young 'hackney writer's' pen belongs
an _Epilogue_, hitherto overlooked, written for Charles Johnson's five-act
play _Caelia or the Perjur'd Lover_, and spoken by Kitty Clive. The lines,
which are hardly worth reprinting, consist of an ironic attack on the
laxity of town morals, where "Miss may take great liberties upon her," and
each woman is virtuous till she be found out.

An average of two plays a year is a record scarcely conducive to literary
excellence; any more than is the empty cupboard, and the frequent recourse
to 'your honour's own pawnbroker,' so often and so honourably familiar to
struggling genius. "The farces written by Mr Fielding," says Murphy"...
were generally the production of two or three mornings, so great was his
facility in writing"; and we have seen Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's
assertion that much of his work would have been thrown into the fire had
not his dinner gone with it. Of the struggles of these early years [7]
(struggles never wholly remitted, for, to quote Lady Mary again, Fielding
would have wanted money had his hereditary lands been as extensive as his
imagination) we get further suggestions in the _Poetical Epistle_
addressed to Sir Robert Walpole when the young poet was but twenty-three.
The lines go with a gallant spirit, but it is not difficult to detect a
savour of grim hardship behind the jests:

  "While at the Helm of State you ride,
  Our Nation's Envy and its Pride;
  While foreign Courts with Wonder gaze,
  And curse those Councils which they praise;
  Would you not wonder, Sir, to view
  Your Bard a greater Man than you?
  Which that he, is you cannot doubt,
  When you have heard the Sequel out.
  .    .    .    .    .
  "The Family that dines the latest,
  Is in our Street esteem'd the greatest;
  But latest Hours must surely fall
  Before him who ne'er dines at all.

  Your Taste in Architect, you know,
  Hath been admir'd by Friend and Foe;
  But can your earthly Domes compare
  With all my Castles--in the Air?

  "We're often taught it doth behove us
  To think those greater who're above us;
  Another Instance of my Glory,
  Who live above you, twice two Story,
  And from my Garret can look down
  On the whole Street of Arlington." [8]

Not to depend too greatly on Mr Luckless for our picture of Fielding as a
playwright, we will conclude it with the well-known passage from Murphy:
"When he had contracted to bring on a play, or a farce, it is well known,
by many of his friends now living, that he would go home rather late from
a tavern, and would the next morning deliver a scene to the players,
written upon the papers which had wrapped the tobacco in which he so much
delighted." Would that some of those friends had recorded for our delight
the wit that, alas! has vanished like the smoke through which it was
engendered. What would we not give for the table-talk of Henry Fielding.

[1] _Joseph Andrews_, Book iii. Chap. iii.

[2] _Miscellanies_, ed. 1743, vol. ii. p. 62.

[3] In the _Miscellanies_ of 1743.

[4] _Fielding_, Austin Dobson, 1907. App. iv.

[5] What appears to be the original autograph of the above letter is now
(1909) in the library of the Boston Athenaeum, having been presented by Mr
C. P. Greenough.

[6] _Notitia Dramatica_ (British Museum. MSS. Dept.) and Genest give 1734
as the date of Don Quixote; Murphy, edition of 1766, vol. iii p. 249,
gives 1733.

[7] For the refutation of Genest's confusion of Timothy Fielding, a
strolling player, with Henry Fielding, see Austin Dobson, _Fielding_, pp.
28, 29.

[8] The _Miscellanies_. Edition 1743.



CHAPTER III

MARRIAGE


    "What happiness the world affords equal to the possession of such
    a woman as Sophia I sincerely own I have never yet discovered."
    --_Tom Jones_.

Out of the paint and powder of the green-room, the tobacco clouds of the
tavern, the crowded streets where hungry genius went afoot one day, and
rode in a coach the next--in a word, out of the Town as Harry Fielding
knew it--we step, in the year 1734, into the idyll of his life, his
marriage with Charlotte Cradock. For to Fielding the supreme gift was
accorded of passionate devotion to a woman of whose charm and virtue he
himself has raised an enduring memorial in the lovely portrait of Sophia
Western. It is this portrait, explicitly admitted [1], that affords almost
our only authentic knowledge of Charlotte Cradock, beyond the meagre facts
that her home was in Salisbury, and that there she and her sisters reigned
as country belles. For it was not in the gay world of 'Riddoto's, Opera's,
and Plays,' nor among the humbler scenes of the great city in which he
delighted to watch the humours of simple folk (the highest life being in
his opinion 'much the dullest'), that Fielding found his wife. Doubtless
his six years about town, as hackney author, with his good birth, his
brilliant wit, and his scanty means, had made him well acquainted with
every phase of society, "from the Minister at his Levee, to the Bailiff at
his spunging-house; from the Duchess at her drum, to the Landlady behind
her bar"; but it was in the rural seclusion of an old cathedral town that
he wooed and won the beautiful Miss Cradock. Indeed it is impossible to
conceive of Sophia as for ever domiciled in streets. The very apostrophe
which heralds her first appearance in _Tom Jones_ is fragrant with
flower-enamelled meadows, fresh breezes, and the songs of birds "whose
sweetest notes not even Handel can excel"; and it is thus, with his
reader's mind attuned to the appropriate key, that Fielding ushers in his
heroine: "... lo! adorned with all the Charms in which Nature can array
her; bedecked with Beauty, Youth, Sprightliness, Innocence, Modesty, and
Tenderness, breathing Sweetness from her rosy Lips, and darting Brightness
from her sparkling Eyes, the lovely _Sophia_ comes." Of middle size, but
rather inclining to tall, with dark hair "curled so gracefully on her neck
that few could believe it to be her own," a forehead rather low, arched
eyebrows, and lustrous black eyes, a mouth that "exactly answered Sir John
Suckling's description in those lines

  'Her lips were red and one was thin,
  Compar'd to that was next her chin.
    Some bee had stung it newly,'"

with a dimple in the right cheek, and a complexion rather more of the
lily than the rose unless increased by exercise or modesty when no
vermilion could equal it--such was the appearance of Sophia, who, most of
all "resembled one whose image never can depart from my breast."

Nor was the beautiful frame, Fielding hastens to add, disgraced by an
unworthy inhabitant. He lingers on the sweetness of temper which
"diffused a glory over her countenance which no regularity of features
can give"; on her perfect breeding, "though wanting perhaps a little of
that ease in her behaviour which is to be acquired only by habit, and
living within what is called the polite circle"; on the "noble, elevated
qualities" which outshone even her beauty.

The only facts recorded concerning Miss Cradock are that her home was in
Salisbury, or New Sarum as the city was then called, and that she
possessed a small fortune. It is said, but on what authority is not
stated, that she was one of three beautiful sisters, the belles of the
country town; and it is in accordance with this tradition that Fielding
should celebrate in some verses "writ when the Author was very young,"
the beauty and intellectual charm of the Miss Cradocks. When printing
these verses many years afterwards, in his _Miscellanies_ he describes the
poem as originally partly filled in with the 'Names of several young
Ladies,' which part he now omits, "the rather, as some Freedoms, tho'
gentle ones, were taken with little Foibles in the amiable Sex, whom to
affront in Print, is, we conceive, mean in any Man, and scandalous in a
Gentleman." Certainly the Miss Cradocks suffered no affront in the lines
retained, wherein the young poet affirms that of all the famed nymphs of
Sarum, that favoured city,

  "Whose Nymphs excel all Beauty's Flowers,
  As thy high Steeple doth all Towers"

the 'C----cks' were the best and fairest. Nay, has not great Jove himself
apportioned a 'celestial Dower' to these most favoured of maidens,

  "To form whose lovely Minds and Faces
  I stript half Heaven of its Graces."

From this charming sisterhood Harry Fielding won his bride, but not until
four years of waiting had been accomplished. So much may be assumed from
the early date of the verses entitled "Advice to the Nymphs of _New
S---m_. Written in the Year 1730." Here the newly returned student from
Leyden, the successful dramatist from Drury Lane, bids the Salisbury
beauties cease their vain endeavours to contend with the matchless charms
of his Celia. And here, in a pretty compliment introduced to the great Mr
Pope, then at the height of his fame, we are reminded that Celia's lover
is already a man of letters, for all his mere three and twenty years. When
Celia meets her equal, then, he declares, farthing candles shall eclipse
the moon, and "sweet _Pope_ be dull."

It is these youthful love-verses, verses as he himself was the first to
admit, that were 'indeed Productions of the Heart rather than the Head,'
that afford our only record of Fielding's wooing. Thus, he sings his
passion for _Celia_ in the declaration

  "I hate the Town, and all its Ways;
  Ridotto's, Opera's, and Plays;
  The Ball, the Ring, the Mall, the Court;
  Where ever the Beau-Monde resort....
  All Coffee-houses, and their Praters;
  All Courts of Justice, and Debaters;
  All Taverns, and the Sots within 'em;
  All Bubbles, and the Rogues that skin 'em,"

in short, the whole world 'cram'd all together,' because all his heart is
engrossed for Celia. Again, Cupid is called to account, in that the
careless urchin had left Celia's house unguarded from thieves, save for
an old fellow "who sat up all Night, with a Gun without any Ammunition."
Celia, it seems, had apprehended robbery, and her poet's rest is troubled:

  "For how should I Repose enjoy,
  While any fears your Breast annoy?
  Forbid it Heav'n, that I should be
  From any of your Troubles free."


Cupid explains his desertion by ingeniously declaring that a sigh from
Celia had blown him away

  "_to Harry Fielding's breast_,"

in which lodging the 'wicked Child' wrought unconscionable havoc. Again,
Celia wishes to have a "Lilliputian to play with," so she is promptly
told that her lover would doff five feet of his tall stature, to meet her
pleasure, and

  "Then when my Celia walks abroad
  I'd be her pocket's little Load:
  Or sit astride, to frighten People,
  Upon her Hat's new fashion'd Steeple."

Nay, to be prized by Celia, who would not even take the form of her
faithful dog Quadrille.

Jove, we may remember, had dowered the lovely Miss Cradocks with minds as
fair as their persons; and the excellence of Celia's understanding is
again celebrated in a neatly turned verse upon her 'having blamed Mr Gay
for his Severity on her Sex.' Had other women known a tenderness like
hers, cries the poet, Gay's darts had returned into his own bosom; and
last of all should such blame come from her

  "in whose accomplish'd Mind
  The strongest Satire on thy Sex we find."


The love story that first ran to such pleasant rhymes, in the old
cathedral town, was destined to know many a harsh chapter of poverty and
sickness; but throughout it all the affection of the lovers remained
true; and there is no reason to doubt that, had it been in Harry
Fielding's power to achieve it, the promise of perhaps the most charming
of his love verses would have been fulfilled:

  "Can there on Earth, my _Celia_, be,
  A Price I would not pay for thee?
  Yes, one dear precious Tear of thine
  Should not be shed to make thee mine."

To read Swift's _Journal to Stella_ is almost a sacrilege; the little
notes that Dick Steele would write to his 'dearest Prue' at all hours of
day and night, from tavern and printing office, are scarce less private;
no such seals have been broken, no such records preserved, of the love
story of Harry Fielding. But to neither Swift nor Steele was it given to
raise so perfect and imperishable a memorial of the women loved by them,
as that reared by the passionate affection and grief of Fielding for
Charlotte Cradock. To this day the beautiful young figure of Sophia
Western, all charm and goodness, is alive in his immortal pages. And if,
as her friend Lady Bute asserts, Amelia also is Mrs Fielding's portrait,
then we know her no less intimately as wife and mother. We watch her brave
spirit never failing under the most cruel distresses and conflicts; we
play with her children in their little nursery; we hear her pleasant wit
with the good parson; we feel her fresh beauty, undimmed in the poor
remnants of a wardrobe that has gone, with her trinkets, to the
pawnbroker; we see a hundred examples of her courage and tenderness and
generosity. There is nothing in Fielding's life that is more to his honour
than the brief words in which so competent an observer as Lady Bute summed
up his marriage with Charlotte Cradock, "he loved her passionately and she
returned his affection."

It was in the little country church of St Mary Charlcombe, a remote
village some two miles from Bath, that "Henry Fielding, of ye Parish of St
James in Bath, Esq., and Charlotte Cradock of ye same Parish, spinster"
were married, on the 28th of November 1734. [2] Fifty years later the
village was described as containing only nine houses, the church, well
fitted for the flock, being but eighteen feet wide. The old Somerset
historian, Collinson, tells us how the hamlet stood on rising ground, in a
deep retired valley, surrounded by noble hills, and with a little stream
winding through the vale.

In the January following Fielding and his wife were presumably back in
town; for in this month he produced, at Drury Lane, the brisk little
farce called _An Old Man taught Wisdom_, a title afterwards changed to the
_Virgin Unmasked_. It is probable that this farce was especially written
to suit Kitty Clive in her excelling character of hoyden; and to it, as we
have seen, together with two of its predecessors, is assigned the credit
of having first given that superb comic actress an opportunity of
revealing her powers. Mrs Clive here played the part of Miss Lucy, a
forward young lady who after skittishly interviewing a number of suitors
proposed by her father, finally runs away with Thomas the footman. The
little piece is said to have achieved success; but scarce had it been
staged when "the prolific Mr Fielding," as a newspaper of the day styles
him, brought out a five-act comedy, named the _Universal Gallant: or The
different Husbands_, which wholly failed to please the audience, and
indeed ran but for three nights.

The dedication of this play is dated from "Buckingham Street, Feb. 12,"
and assuming Buckingham Street, Strand, to be the district meant, it is
probable that the newly married 'poet' and his wife were then living with
Mrs Fielding's relatives; for although the rate-books for Buckingham
Street fail to show the name of Fielding, they do show that a Mr Thomas
Cradock was then a householder in the street. In an _Advertisement_,
prefixed to the published copies of this ill-fated comedy, the
disappointed author deprecates the hasty voice of the pit in words that
suggest the anxiety of a man now responsible for a happiness dearer than
his own. "I have heard," he writes, "that there are some young Gentlemen
about this Town who make a Jest of damning Plays--but did they seriously
consider the Cruelty they are guilty of by such a Practice, I believe it
would prevent them"; the more, that if the author be "so unfortunate to
depend on the success of his Labours for his Bread, he must be an inhuman
Creature indeed, who would out of sport and wantonness prevent a Man from
getting a Livelihood in an honest and inoffensive Way, and make a jest of
starving him and his Family." There is other evidence that young men about
town were wont to amuse themselves by damning plays 'when George was
King.' In the _Prologue_ to this same condemned play, spoken by the actor
Quin, and said to have been written after the disastrous first night's
performance, a more elaborate indictment is laid against the audiences of
the day. The _Critick_, it seems, is grown so captious that if a poet
seeks new characters he is denounced for dealing in monsters; if they are
known and common, then he is a plagiarist; if his scenes are serious they
are voted dull; if humorous they are 'low' (a true Fielding touch). And
not only the critic but also the brainless beau stands, as we have seen,
ready to make sport of the poor author. For such as these

  _"'Tis not the Poet's wit affords the Jest,
  But who can Cat-call, Hiss, or Whistle best."_

In previous years the brilliant Leyden student might have merely derided
his enemies; to the Fielding of February 1735, struggling to support
himself and his beautiful country bride, this 'cruel usage' of his 'poor
Play' assumed a graver aspect:

  _"Can then another's Anguish give you Joy?
  Or is it such a Triumph to destroy?
  We, like the fabled Frogs, consider thus,
  This may be Sport to you, but it is Death to us."_

This note of personal protest recalls an indisputably reminiscent
observation in _Amelia_, to the effect that although the kindness of a
faithful and beloved wife compensates most of the evils of life, it
"rather serves to aggravate the misfortune of distressed circumstances,
from the consideration of the share which she is to bear in them." We all
know how bravely Amelia bore that share; how cheerfully she would cook the
supper; how firmly she confronted disaster. To realise how deeply Fielding
felt the pain of such struggles when falling upon "the best, the worthiest
and the noblest of women" we need but turn again to his own pages. If,
cries Amelia's husband, when his distresses overwhelm him, "if I was to
suffer alone, I think I could bear them with some philosophy"; and again
"this was the first time I had ever felt that distress which arises from
the want of money; a distress very dreadful indeed in the married state
for what can be more miserable than to see anything necessary to the
preservation of the beloved creature and not be able to supply it?"

To supply for his Celia much less than the necessities of life Harry
Fielding would undoubtedly have stripped his coat, and his shirt with it,
off his back; but, at the end of this same month of February, fortune
made the young couple sudden amends for the anxieties that seem to have
surrounded them. This turn of the wheel is reflected with curious
accuracy by an anonymous satirist of 1735:

  "F---g, who _Yesterday_ appear'd so rough,
  Clad in coarse Frize, and plaister'd down with _Snuff_,
  See how his _Instant_ gaudy _Trappings_ shine;
  What _Play-house_ Bard was ever seen so fine!
  But this, not from his _Humour_ glows, you'll say
  But mere _Necessity_;--for last Night lay
  In pawn the Velvet which he wears to Day." [3]

This relief, for a time at least, from the pressing anxieties of a
'play-house bard,' befell by the death of Charlotte Fielding's mother,
Mrs Elizabeth Cradock of Salisbury, who died in February, but a week or
two after the execution of a will wholly in favour of that 'dearly
beloved' daughter. As the details of Mrs Fielding's inheritance have not
hitherto been known, some portions of her mother's will may be quoted.
"... I Elizabeth Cradock of Salisbury in the County of Wilts ... do make
this my last will and testament ... Item I give to my daughter Catherine
one shilling and all the rest and residue of my ready money plate jewels
and estate whatsoever and wheresoever after my debts and funeral charges
are fully paid and satisfied I give devize and bequeath the same unto my
dearly beloved daughter Charlott Ffeilding wife of Henry Ffeilding of
East Stour in the County of Dorset Esqre." Mrs Cradock proceeds to revoke
all former wills; and appoints her said daughter "Charlott Ffeilding" as
her sole executrix. The will is dated February 8 1734, old style, viz.
1735; and was proved in London on the 25th of the same month, 'Charlott
Ffeilding,' as sole executrix, being duly sworn to administer. The
provision of one shilling for another, and apparently _not_ dearly
beloved, daughter, Catherine, recalls the wicked sister in _Amelia_ who
"had some way or other disobliged her mother, a little before the old lady
died," and who consequently was deprived of that inheritance which
relieved Amelia and her husband from the direst straits.

As no plays are credited to Fielding's name for the ensuing months of
1735, it is a reasonable inference that the young Salisbury heiress, whose
experience of London had, doubtless, included a pretty close acquaintance
with the hardships of struggling genius, employed some of her inheritance
to enable her husband to return to the home of his boyhood, on the
"pleasant Banks of sweetly-winding Stour." There is no record of how the
Stour estate, settled on Henry Fielding and his brother and sisters, was
apportioned; but an engraving published in 1813 shows the old stone
"farmhouse," which Fielding occupied, the kitchen of which then still
remained as it was in the novelist's time, when it served as a parlour.
Behind the house stood a famous locust tree; and close by was the village
church served at this time, as the parish registers show, by the Rev.
William Young, the original of the immortal Parson Adams of _Joseph
Andrews_. [4] From a subsequent deed of sale we know that the estate
consisted of at least three gardens, three orchards, eighty acres of
meadow, one hundred and forty acres of pasture, ten acres of wood, two
dove-houses, and "common of pasture for all manner of cattle." To the
stone farmhouse, and to these orchards and meadows, commons and pastures,
Fielding brought his wife, probably in this year of 1735; and memories of
their sojourn at Stour surely inspired those references in _Amelia_ to the
country life of 'love, health, and tranquillity,' a life resembling a calm
sea which "must appear dull in description; for who can describe the
pleasures which the morning air gives to one in perfect health; the flow
of spirits which springs up from exercise; the delights which parents feel
from the prattle and innocent follies of their children; the joy with
which the tender smile of a wife inspires a husband; or lastly the
cheerful solid comfort which a fond couple enjoy in each others'
conversation.--All these pleasures, and every other of which our situation
was capable we tasted in the highest degree."

That a man endowed with Fielding's intense joy in living--he was "so
formed for happiness," wrote his cousin Lady Mary, "it is a pity he was
not immortal"--should eagerly taste all the pleasures of life as a country
gentleman, and that in 'the highest degree,' is entirely consonant with
his character. At the very end of his life, when dying of a complication
of diseases, his happy social spirit was still unbroken; for we find him
even then writing of his inability to enjoy an agreeable hour "without the
assistance of a companion which has always appeared to me necessary to
such enjoyment." [5] Nor would the generous temper, which was ever ready
to share his most needed guinea with a friend scarce poorer than himself,
be infected with niggardliness by the happy enjoyment of that position to
which he was by birth entitled. The well-known account therefore, given by
Murphy, of the East Stour episode is exactly what we might have expected
of Harry Fielding in the part of country gentleman: "To that place [_i.e._
his estate of East Stour]," says Murphy, "he retired with his wife, on
whom he doated, with a resolution to bid adieu to all the follies and
intemperances to which he had addicted himself in the career of a town
life. But unfortunately a kind of family pride here gained an ascendant
over him, and he began immediately to vie in splendour with the
neighbouring country 'squires. With an estate not much above two hundred
pounds a year, and his wife's fortune, which did not exceed fifteen
hundred pounds, he encumbered himself with a large retinue of servants,
all clad in costly yellow liveries. For their master's honour, these
people could not descend so low as to be careful of their apparel, but in
a month or two were unfit to be seen; the 'squire's dignity required that
they should be new-equipped; and his chief pleasure consisting in society
and convivial mirth, hospitality threw open his doors, and, in less than
three years, entertainments, hounds, and horses, entirely devoured a
little patrimony...." This account is prefaced by gross inaccuracies of
fact, inexplicable in a biographer writing but ten years after the death
of his subject; but, as Mr Austin Dobson says, "there can be little doubt
that the rafters of the old farm by the Stour, with the great locust tree
at the back, which is figured in Hutchins's _History of Dorset_, rang
often to hunting choruses, and that not seldom the 'dusky Night rode down
the Sky' over the prostrate forms of Harry Fielding's guests."
Petty-minded moralists like Murphy have gravely admonished the great
novelist's memory for not having safely bestowed his estate in the consols
of the period; they forget that a spirit of small economy is generally the
compensation awarded to the poor average of humanity. The genius of
Fielding knew how to enjoy splendidly, and to give lavishly.

[1] _Tom Jones_. Book xiii. Introduction.

[2] See the registers of St Mary Charlcombe. As Sarah Fielding, the
novelist's sister, was buried in the entrance to the chancel of this
church, it would appear that some connection existed between Charlcombe
and the Fielding family.

[3] _Seasonable Reproof--a Satire in the manner of Horace_, 1735.

[4] The entry in the East Stour Registers is "W'm. Young, Curate
1731-1740."

[5] _Voyage to Lisbon_.



CHAPTER IV

POLITICAL PLAYS

    "Whoever attempteth to introduce corruption into any community,
    doth much the same thing, and ought to be treated in much the
    same manner with him who poisoneth a fountain."
    --Dedication of the _Historical Register_.

A prolonged retirement into Dorsetshire, however pleasant were the banks
of Stour with a beautiful young wife, and a sufficient estate, could
scarce be expected of Fielding's restless genius. He was now thirty-five;
his splendid physique was as yet unimpaired by the gout that was so soon
to attack him; his powers were still hardly revealed; and, as far as we
can discover, he was, at the moment, under no pressure for money. Still,
the hunting choruses of the Squire Westerns of Dorsetshire can hardly
have long sufficed for one whom Lyttelton declared to have had "more wit
than any man I ever knew"; and the social and political conditions of the
country were increasingly calculated to inflame into practical activity
that "enthusiasm for righteousness," which Mr Gosse has so well detected
in Fielding. [1] The distracted state of the London stage, divided by the
factions of players and managers, afforded moreover an excellent
opportunity for a dramatist of some means to essay an independent venture.
And accordingly, at the beginning of 1736, we find the Harry Fielding of
the green-room and the poet's garret, the Henry Fielding Esqre of East
Stour, suddenly throwing the full force of his energies into political
life, as the manager of, and writer for, a theatre with indisputable
political aims. For the next eight years of his short life Fielding was
largely occupied in the lively turmoil of eighteenth-century politics; and
here, first by means of the stage, and later as journalist, he played a
part which has perhaps been somewhat unduly overshadowed by the surpassing
achievements of his genius as father of the English novel. But if we would
perceive the full figure of the man this time of boisterous political
warfare is of no mean account. In the dedication of his first party play,
the amazingly successful _Pasquin_, Fielding subscribes himself as "the
most devoted Servant of the public"; and no more appropriate keyword could
be found for the energies which he threw into those envenomed political
struggles of 1736-41.

At the date of his first plunge into these struggles England stood sorely
in need of a pen as biting, as witty and as fearless, as that of Henry
Fielding. For over ten years the country had been ruled by one of those
"peace at any price" Ministers who have at times so successfully inflamed
the baser commercial instincts of Englishmen. Sir Robert Walpole, the
reputed organiser of an unrivalled system of bribery and corruption, the
Minister of whom a recent apologist frankly declares that to young members
of Parliament who spoke of public virtue and patriotism he would reply
"you will soon come off that and grow wiser," the autocrat enamoured of
power who could brook no colleague within measurable distance, the man of
coarse habits and illiterate tastes, above all the man who induced his
countrymen to place money before honour, and whose administration even an
admirer describes as one of unparalleled stagnation--such a man must have
roused intense antagonism in Fielding's generous and ardent nature. For,
from the days of his first boyish satires to the last energetic acts of
his life as a London magistrate, for Fielding to see an abuse was to set
about reforming it. To his just sense of the true worth of money, the
wholesale corruption of English political life accredited to Walpole, the
poisoning, to adopt his own simile, of the body politic, must have seemed
the vilest national crime. There could never have been the least sympathy
between the mercenary and apathetic methods of Walpole and the
open-hearted genius of Fielding. And, added to such fundamental opposition
of character, the influence of Fielding's old school friend, George
Lyttelton, would, at this juncture especially, draw him into the active
ranks of the Opposition.

Lyttelton was then rising into celebrity as a ready parliamentary speaker;
a celebrity as yet not wholly eclipsed by the youthful oratory of William
Pitt, the young cornet of the horse, who also had lately taken his seat on
the Opposition benches. It was the burning patriotism, the lofty character
and the towering genius of Pitt, the fluency and personal integrity of
Lyttelton, that led the younger members of the Opposition in the House of
Commons; while in the Lords another friend from whom Fielding was to
receive "princely benefactions," the young Duke of Bedford, a man of
"inflexible honesty and goodwill to his country," attacked Walpole's
alleged corrupt practices in the election of Scottish peers. With leaders
such as William Pitt and Lyttelton on the one hand, and the corrupt figure
of Walpole on the other, there is no wonder that Fielding flung all his
generous force into the effort to free England from so degrading a
domination. Accordingly, in 1736, when the young Pitt's impassioned
eloquence was soon to alarm the _Great Man_--"we must muzzle that terrible
Cornet of the Horse," Sir Robert said--and when fierce and riotous
hostility to the government had broken out in the country over an
attempted Excise Bill, Fielding appears as a frankly political manager of
the "New Theatre" in the Haymarket. This small theatre stood precisely
adjoining the present Palladian structure, as may be seen from a print of
1820, showing the demolition of the old building and the adjacent façade
of the modern "Haymarket." According to Tom Davies, who, as an actor in
Fielding's company and as an author of some pretensions should be
reliable, Fielding was a managing partner of this "New Theatre," in
company with James Ralph, "about the year 1735." [2] And apparently early
in 1736 [3] his political, theatrical, and social satire of _Pasquin_
appeared on the little stage, and immediately captured the town.

In _Pasquin_ a perfectly outspoken attack on Walpole's corrupt methods is
united with a comprehensive onslaught on abuses in the stage, law,
divinity, physic, society, and on the odes of Colley Cibber, sufficient
one might suppose to satisfy even Fielding's zeal. In an exuberant
newspaper advertisement of the 5th of March Mr Pasquin is announced as
intending to "lay about him with great impartiality," and throughout the
play Fielding's splendid figure may be felt, swinging his satiric club
with a boisterous enjoyment. The immediate success achieved by the piece
was certainly not due to any great dramatic excellence; and that so
loosely knit a medley as _PASQUIN, a Dramatic Satire on the Times: Being
the Rehearsal of Two Plays, viz. A Comedy call'd THE ELECTION and a
Tragedy, call'd The Life and Death of COMMON-SENSE_ should have achieved
almost as long a run as the _Beggars Opera_, shows that the public
heartily sympathised with the satirist. _Pasquin_ begins with the
rehearsal of a comedy, called _The Election_, consisting of a series of
broadly humorous scenes in which the open and diverse bribery at
elections, the equally open immorality of fashionable town life, the
connivance of country dames, and the inanity of the beau monde, are
satirised. The country Mayor, the Ministerial candidates and the
Opposition squire drink, bribe and are bribed with complete impartiality.
A scene devoted to the political young lady of the day affords opportunity
for a hit at the sickly and effeminate Lord 'Fanny' Hervey, that
politician whom Pope described as a "mere white curd of Asse's milk," and
of whom Lady Mary Wortley Montagu observed that "the world consisted of
men, women, and Herveys." Pope had stigmatised Hervey as _Lord Fanny_, and
Fielding obviously plays on the nickname by references to the value
attached by certain young ladies to their fans. "Faith," says his comic
author, "this incident of the fan struck me so strongly that I was once
going to call this comedy by the name of the Fan." The comedy ends with
the successful cooking of the election returns by Mr Mayor in favour of
the Ministerial candidates, for which "return" he is promised a "very good
turn very soon"; and by the precipitate marriage of one of the said
candidates to the Mayor's daughter "to strengthen his interest with the
returning officer."

Having settled the business of the corrupt and corrupting Ministry in his
comedy, Mr Pasquin proceeds to exhibit the rehearsal of his tragedy, _The
Life and Death of Common Sense_. Here the satirist, leaving politics,
applies his cudgel mainly to the prevailing taste for pantomime, a form of
entertainment introduced it was said some thirty years previously by one
Weaver, a country dancing master, and already lashed by Sir Richard Steele
in his couplet:

  "Weaver, corrupter of the present age,
  Who first taught silent sins upon the stage."

That the Covent Garden manager, John Rich, [4] could engage four French
dancers, and a German with two dogs, taught to dance the _Louvre_ and the
_Minuet_, at ten pounds a night, and clear thereby "above 20 good houses,"
while the Othello of Booth and the Wildair of Wilkes were neglected, was
sufficient to rouse the indignation alike of moralists, dramatists and
playgoers. Fielding in turn took the matter up with all his natural
warmth; and in _Pasquin_ he represents the kingdom of the Queen of Common
Sense as invaded by a vast army of "singers, fidlers, tumblers, and
ropedancers," who moreover fix their standard in Covent Garden, the
headquarters of Rich.

Not content with assailing this public folly, the 'Tragedy' of _Pasquin_
strikes a higher note by ranging among the foes of Common Sense three
unworthy professors of Law, Medicine, and Religion; callings, as Fielding
is careful to point out,

  "in themselves designed
  To shower the greatest blessings on Mankind."

Queen Common Sense seemingly receives her deathblow; but her ghost finally
rises victorious, and so justifies the author's contention that his "is
almost the only play where she has got the better lately." The vigour with
which Mr Pasquin here 'laid about him,' in such matters as the legal
abuses relating to imprisonment for debt, may be inferred from the
following passage. Queen Common Sense is speaking to the representative of
_bad_ Law, and tells him she has heard that men

  "unable to discharge their debts
  At a short warning, being sued for them,
  Have, with both power and will their debts to pay,
  Lain all their lives in prison, for their costs.

  _Law_. That may perhaps be some poor person's case
  Too mean to entertain your royal ear.

  _Q.C.S_. My Lord, while I am Queen I shall not think
  One man too mean, or poor, to be redress'd."

So too, the great genius of Fielding, when in long after years harnessed
to the drudgery of a London magistrate, held no porter's brawl or beggar's
quarrel too mean "to be redress'd."

The immediate success of _Pasquin_ attests, as we have said, the readiness
of London audiences in 1736 to applaud an honest and humorous presentation
of wicked Ministers, corrupt clergy, lawyers, and doctors, inane
Laureates, and degrading public entertainments. Mrs Delany, gathering
London news for Dean Swift, writes on April 22, "When I went out of Town
last Autumn, the reigning madness was Farinelli; I find it now turned on
_Pasquin_, a dramatic satire on the times. It has had almost as long a run
as the Beggar's Opera; but in my opinion not with equal merit, though it
has humour." [5] We are told how the piece drew numerous enthusiastic
audiences "from _Grosvenor_, _Cavendish_, _Hanover_, and all the other
fashionable Squares, as also from _Pall Mall_ and the _Inns of Court_" And
on the 26th of May a benefit performance for the author was announced as
the "60th. Day." The vogue of the satire even demanded a key, as may be
seen in an advertisement in the _London Daily Post_ for May 17: _This Day
is published, Price Four-Pence. A Key to Pasquin, address'd to Henry
Fielding Esqre._

Mr Pasquin's own advertisements for his little theatre are not without the
zest with which our beef-eating ancestors attacked politics, social abuses
and one another. The announcement for March 5, ran as follows:--

    "_By the_ Great Mogul's _Company of_ English
    _Comedians, Newly Imported_. At the New Theatre in the
    Haymarket, this Day, March 5, will be presented

    PASQUIN,

    A Dramatick SATYR on the times.

    Being a Rehearsal of two PLAYS, viz. a Comedy call'd The
    ELECTION; and a Tragedy, call'd The Life and Death of COMMON
    SENSE....

    N.B.--Mr Pasquin intending to lay about him with great
    Impartiality, hopes the Town will all attend, and very civilly
    give their Neighbours what the find belongs to 'em.

    N.B.--The Cloaths are old, but the Jokes entirely new...."

In the following month the Opposition was busy over the marriage of their
chief supporter, the Prince of Wales; and Mr Pasquin duly chronicles the
event in his advertisements of the 28th of April, observing that his
company "by reason of the Royal Wedding expecting no Company but
themselves, are obliged to defer Playing till tomorrow." A few days
later, on the 12th of May, Sir Robert Walpole celebrated the royal
marriage by a grand evening entertainment given at his house in St James
Park; and on the same night 'Pasquin' had the audacity to advertise a
special performance, in the following terms (the "country party," it
should be understood, was a usual name for Walpole's opponents):--

"For the Benefit of Miss Burgess, who has so zealously espoused the
Country Interest.... Miss Burgess hopes all Patriots and Lovers of their
Country will appear in her favour and give all encouragement to one who
has so early distinguished herself on the side of Liberty." In Pasquin's
_Election_ scenes, this lady played the part of Miss Stitch, a political
damsel, opposed to Walpole's candidate. Next day appeared an ironic
counter-advertisement of a performance for "the Benefit of Miss Jones (the
Mayor's daughter who hath so furiously espoused the Court [_i.e._
Walpole's] Interest....) _N.B._--Miss Jones does not doubt that all true
loyal People will give her all Encouragement in their Power, as she has
engaged in so unpopular a Side and even given away her FAN (which very few
young ladies would) for the service of the Country: she hopes the
Courtiers will not let her be out of pocket by the Bargain." Here, again,
is doubtless a hit at Lord 'Fanny' Hervey; as well as a plain hint that
those who espoused Walpole's cause might expect ample payment for their
trouble.

Is there any wonder that a wrathful and uneasy Minister, not yet
overthrown, shortly took stringent measures against the 'liberty' of the
stage; measures by which a political stage censorship was formally
established, and the topical gaiety of our theatre, and the pungency of
our theatrical announcements, henceforth immeasurably dulled.

A few further points of minor interest remain to be noted concerning that
popular and scathing personage Mr Pasquin. By May the company styled
themselves "Pasquin's Company of Comedians"; a fresh indication of the
credit attaching to the performance. In the previous month a contributor
to _The Grub Street Journal_ tells "Dear Grub" that he has seen Pope
applauding the piece; and, although the statement was promptly denied, a
rare print by Hogarth lends some colour to a very likely story; for the
great Mr Pope, the terror of his enemies, the autocrat of literature, was
warmly on the side of the Opposition. Hogarth depicts the stage of
Fielding's theatre, and thereon a scene in the fifth act of _Pasquin_, in
which the foes of Queen Common Sense are for the moment triumphant. The
side boxes are well filled; and in one of them Mr Pope's deformed figure,
apparently, turns away, declaring: "There is no whitewashing this stuff."
The curious may find another plate by Hogarth in which Pope _is_ busy
whitewashing Lord Burlington; but the drift of the remark for the
Opposition drama of _Pasquin_ seems obscure. The gains that accrued to
Fielding from the success of _Pasquin_ are indicated by another rare
print, that entitled the _Judgement of the Queen o' Common Sense.
Addressed to Henry Fielding Esqre._ Here, again, it is _Pasquin's_ satire
on the prevailing furore for pantomime that is chiefly illustrated; as
Common Sense gives to Rich, the harlequin, a halter, while to Fielding she
accords an overflowing purse. Supporting Fielding are a long lean
Shakespeare, and two figures, possibly the distinguished players Kitty
Clive and Quin; on the opposite side, behind Harlequin, are figures
representing the bad clergy, lawyers, and doctors satirised in the
_Tragedy_; and the whole is balanced by the emergence of the ghost in
Hamlet, from a trap door in the foreground. Doggerel verses, at the foot
of the print, celebrate the arrival of a bard, "from ye Great Mogul,"
bringing with him _Wit, Humour, and Satyr_, and receiving the Queen's
"honest favour," in "show'rs of gold."

Under those golden showers, and with the applause of 'all the fashionable
Squares' ringing in his ears, we may leave Mr Pasquin. Fielding's first
venture as political dramatist and theatrical manager had proved
brilliantly successful; his little theatre, like his own Tom Thumb, had
assailed a dozen giant abuses, an all-powerful Minister among them, and
the town had applauded the courage and wit of the performance. In the
following season, those same boards were to witness the author of
_Pasquin_ "laying about him" with an even greater political audacity.

       *       *       *       *       *

Content, doubtless, with the success of _Pasquin_, Fielding does not seem
to have launched any further political attacks during the remaining months
of 1736. A newspaper advertisement of June announces the intention of the
'Great Mogul's Company of Comedians' to continue "playing twice a week
during the summer season," and _Pasquin_ remained occasionally in the
bills as late as the 2nd of July. The public were advised that "This is
much the coolest House in Town"; and audiences must have been drawn even
in August, for in that month one small and presumably party play was
performed, the _New Comi-Tragical Interlude call'd the Deposing and Death
of Queen Gin_. This little piece consisted of only two scenes, and was
probably a skit on a Bill "against spirituous liquors" which Walpole had
supported earlier in the year. The measure met with violent opposition,
including petitions from the Liverpool and Bristol merchants; and in view
of Sir Robert's own notorious excesses with the bottle a temperance Bill
from his hands may well have roused Fielding's ironic laughter. The
authorship of the satire is unknown; but the moral appears to have been
unexceptionable, as _Queen Gin_, in the final scene, "drinks a great
quantity of liquor and at last dies."

Fielding clearly began his second year at the 'little theatre' with some
social or political exhortation, as the following bill appears for
January:--"By a Company of Comedians, At the New Theatre in the Haymarket,
this Day, January 26, will be presented a Dramatick Satire on the Times
(never performed before) call'd The Mirrour." By February "the Original
Company who perform'd _Pasquin_" are notified on the bills; and on the 2nd
of March a performance is announced of a _Dramatick Tale of the King and
the Miller of Mansfield_, presumably the same _Miller of Mansfield_ openly
declared by one of Walpole's "hired scribblers" to be aimed at the
overthrow of the Ministry. [6] All such preliminary skirmishes, however,
served but to introduce the grand attack of the _Historical Register for
the Tear 1736_, the first performance of which may be assigned to the end
of March 1737. [7]

In the _Register_ we have the most complete display of Fielding's vigour
as a fighting politician. Here, to recur to Mr Pasquin's characteristic
phrase, he "lays about him" with a gusto and honest frankness quite lost
among our own tepid conventions. But however hard the hitting, however
boisterous the broad humour, however biting the irony, it is noteworthy
that in this his chief political satire, written moreover for a yet
unregulated stage, Fielding never stoops to the shameless personalities of
his day. The fashion of the eighteenth-century permitted even the great
and classical genius of Pope to hurl lines at the persons of his opponents
that, to modern ears, scarcely bear quotation. Fielding, as we know,
constantly asserted his intention of throwing not at the vicious but at
vice; and accordingly, even in this party play, flung openly in the face
of the Minister, there is but one reference (and that only a fling at his
"lack of any the least taste in polite literature") to the notorious
personal failings of Sir Robert. It is against the Minister, and not the
man, that the hot-blooded Opposition dramatist directs his humour and his
irony. Fielding's manly and generous nature here permitted no virulent
personalities to blacken his pages. [8]

The irony of the _Register_ is chiefly reserved for the _Dedication to the
Public_, designed for the reader at leisure; though here Walpole is
indicated broadly enough, first in the figure of an ass hung out on a
signpost, and again as "Old Nick," for "who but the devil could act such a
part." Here the attacks of the Ministerial papers are parried by ironic
explanations that "The Register is a ministerial pamphlet calculated to
infuse into the minds of the people a great opinion of their ministry,"
explanations full of admirable fencing and excellent hits. And in these
dedicatory pages Fielding utters a sonorous warning to his countrymen
concerning the insidious policy that was undermining their very
constitution: "... Here is the danger, here is the rock on which our
constitution must, if it ever does split. The liberties of a people have
been subdued by conquests of valour and force, and have been betrayed by
the subtle and dexterous arts of refined policy, but these are rare
instances; for geniuses of this kind are not the growth of every age,
whereas if a general corruption be once introduced, and those, who should
be the guardians and bulwarks of our liberty, once find or think they find
an interest in giving it up, no great capacity will be required to destroy
it. On the contrary the meanest, lowest, dirtiest fellow, if such an one
should ever have the assurance in future ages to mimick power, and
browbeat his betters, will be as able as Machiavel himself could have
been, to root out the liberties of the bravest people." From the
solemnities of the _Dedication_ we come to the "humming deal of satire,"
and the boisterous action, of the play itself. As in the case of _Pasquin_
the form of the drama is that of a rehearsal, a form which affords
excellent opportunities for such explanatory asides as that addressed to
the critic who complains of the attempt to review a year's events in a
single play: "Sir," says the author, "if I comprise the whole actions of a
year in half an hour, will you blame me, or those who have done so little
in that time?" The long years of Walpole's power were admittedly "years
without parallel in our history, for political stagnation." Scene one
discovers five 'blundering blockheads' of politicians, in counsel with one
silent "little gentleman yonder in the chair;" who knows all and says
nothing, and whose politics lie so deep that "nothing but an inspir'd
understanding can come at 'em." The blockheads, however, have capacity
enough to snatch hastily at the money lying on their council table.
Walpole's jealousy of power, it may be remembered, had driven almost every
man of ability out of his ministry. Then comes a vivacious parody on the
fashionable auctions of the day. Lots comprising "a most curious remnant
of Political Honesty," a "delicate piece of Patriotism," and a "very clear
Conscience which has been worn by a judge and a bishop" and on which no
dirt will stick, go for little or nothing, while Lot 8, "a very
considerable quantity of Interest at Court," excites brisk bidding, and is
finally knocked down for one thousand pounds. From the excellent fooling
of the auction, the action suddenly changes to combined satire on the
Ministry and on the two Cibbers, father and son. The Ministry are
ingeniously implied to have been damn'd by the public; to give places with
no attention to the capacity of the recipient; and to laugh at the dupes
by whose money they live. A like weakness for putting blockheads in office
and for giving places to rogues, and a like contempt of the public, is
allegorically conveyed in the third act, in which 'Apollo' casts the parts
for a performance among sundry unworthy actors, and declares that the
people may grumble 'as much as they please, as long as we get their
money.' "There sir," cries the author to the critic of the rehearsal, "is
the sentiment of a great man." The _Great Man_ was a phrase, to use Pope's
words, "by common use appropriated to the first minister"--that is, to
Walpole. In the next scene the effrontery of the piece culminates in a
ballet where the Prime Minister appears, leading a chorus of false
patriots, who, to use Fielding's own words, are set in the 'odious and
contemptible light' of a set of "cunning self-interested fellows who for a
little paltry bribe would give up the liberties and properties of their
country." These worthy patriots are of four types, the noisy, the
cautious, the self-interested (he whose shop is his country) and the
indolent ("who acts as I have seen a prudent man in company, fall asleep
at the beginning of a fray and never wake 'till the end o't"). To them
enters Quidam, unblushingly announced in the play bill as "Quidam, Anglice
a Certain Person," in other words Walpole himself. Quidam pours gold into
the pockets of the four patriots, drinks with them, and then, when the
'bottle is out' (a too frequent occurrence at Sir Robert's table) takes up
his fiddle, strikes up a tune and dances off, the patriots dancing after
him. But even this is not all. "Sir," says the author, "every one of these
patriots have a hole in their pockets as Mr Quidam the fiddler there
knows; so that he intends to make them dance 'till all the money is fall'n
through, which he will pick up again and so not lose one halfpenny by his
generosity...." We may suppose that the final scene lost nothing in
breadth by the acting of Quidam; and it is not surprising that the
immediate result was the subjugation not, alas! of the Ministry, but of
the liberty of the stage. Walpole's fall was delayed for three years; the
destruction of the political stage was accomplished in three months.

It is difficult to imagine that any party, in those days of comparatively
arbitrary power, would venture a public satire so unveiled and so menacing
as that of the _Register_, unless supported by some confidence in the
immediate fall of their opponents. Without such confidence the political
tactics of such an onslaught would be simple foolhardiness. Signs of these
false hopes are not wanting in the slight, but equally bold, satire on the
sycophants represented as composing Walpole's _levée_, which was shortly
added to the _Register_. This little sketch, in which a protest concerning
the damning, early in the year, of Fielding's ballad farce _Eurydice_ is
combined with the political satire, was advertised as follows:--

    "EURYDICE HISS'D: or, a Word to the Wise, giving an Account of
    the Rise, Progress, Greatness, and Downfal of Mr Pillage, ... with
    the dreadful Consequence and Catastrophe of the whole." [9]

We have the authority of Tom Davies, at this time a member of Fielding's
company, for the statement that "Fielding in his _Eurydice Hiss'd_ had
brought on the Minister [Walpole] in a _levée_ scene" [10]; and as Pillage
is the "very great man" who holds the _levée_ in the fragment, the above
allusion to an expected downfall of Walpole's Ministry seems obvious.
Passages of similar import to the advertisement occur in the piece itself.
Thus the play is declared to convey a "beautiful image of the instability
of human greatness"; and the spectacle is promised of the 'author of a
mighty farce' at the pinnacle of human greatness and adored by a crowd of
dependants, become by a sudden turn of fortune, scorned, "deserted and
abandon'd."

The single scene of the play opens when Pillage is at the zenith of his
power; a stage direction orders that "The Lèvee enters, and range
themselves to a ridiculous tune"; a partition of places ensues under the
allegory of the business arrangements of a theatrical manager; and the
author explains that by this _levée_ scene he hopes that persons greater
than author-managers may learn to despise sycophants. Close on the heels
of the _levée_ comes the catastrophe. Not one honest man, Pillage sadly
admits, is on his side; as his 'shallow plot' opens out the first applause
changes to hisses; his farce is damn'd; and he himself is left consoling
the solitude of his downfall by getting exceedingly drunk on a third
bottle.

The figure of a fallen Minister boozing away his own intolerable
reflections, was not calculated to pacify that notoriously hard drinker,
Sir Robert, already soundly pilloried in the _Register_, and severely
indited by _Pasquin_. By the end of April the _Register_ had reached its
thirty-first performance, a good run at that date; and according to an
advertisement in the _Craftsman_ the satire was still being played on the
7th of May. In little more than four weeks, and after the alleged
perpetration of a treasonable and profane farce called _The Golden Rump_,
a Bill for stifling the liberty of the stage under a censorship was
introduced, had passed through both Houses, and received the royal assent.
Well might Lord Chesterfield exclaim in the brilliant speech which, in
Smollet's words, "will ever endear his character to all the friends of
genius and literature, to all those who are warmed with zeal for the
liberties of their country," that the Bill was not only "of a very
extraordinary nature, but has been brought in at a very extraordinary
season and pushed with very extraordinary despatch." Concerning the nature
of the measure Chesterfield had no doubt. He saw its tendency towards
restraining the "liberty of the Press which will be a long stride towards
the destruction of Liberty itself"; he pointed out that a Minister who has
merited the esteem of the people will neither fear the wit nor feel the
satire of the theatre; he denounced the subjugation of the stage under "an
arbitrary Court license" which would convert it into a canal for conveying
the vices and follies of "great men and Courtiers" through the whole
kingdom; he protested against the Bill as an encroachment not only on
liberty but also on property, for "Wit, my Lords, is a sort of property;
it is the property of those that have it, and too often the only property
that they have to depend on."

As a manager of the intrepid little theatre in the Haymarket, as well as
the author of the most successful of the offending plays, the Licensing
Act fell with double weight on Fielding. "When I speak against the Bill,"
cried Chesterfield, "I must think I plead the cause of Wit, I plead the
cause of Humour, I plead the cause of the British Stage, and of every
gentleman of taste in the Kingdom." Looking back over two centuries, we
honour Chesterfield in that, unknown to himself, he also pleaded the cause
of the greatest of English humourists. But appeals on behalf of genius and
freedom were thrown away upon Walpole; the Act received the royal assent
on June 21 1737; and, in the honourable company of Wit, Humour, and Taste,
Fielding was forced to retire from the theatre, on the boards of which he
had for two years so vigorously assailed Ministerial corruption and
autocracy.

[1] _Works of Henry Fielding_, Edited by Edmund Gosse. Introduction,
p. xxi.

[2] _Life of Garrick_. T. Davies. 1780, vol. i. p. 223.

[3] _Notitia Dramatica_, MSS. Dept. British Museum, speaks of _Pasquin_ as
performed for the fortieth time on April 21, 1736: and quotes an
advertisement of the play for March 5. There seems to be no record of the
actual first night.

[4] Rich appears to have been the manager at Covent Garden from 1733 to
1761.

[5] _Autobiography of Mrs Delany._ 1861. Vol I. p. 554.

[6] See Fielding's ironic reference to such "iniquitous surmises" in the
Dedication to the _Historical Register_.

[7] The earliest newspaper reference, so far available, is that of the
_Daily Journal_ for April 6 1737, which speaks of April 11 as the ninth
day of the _Register_.

[8] In the succeeding Epilogue of _Eurydice Hiss'd_ it must be admitted
that Sir Robert's love of the bottle is broadly satirised.

[9] _Daily Advertiser_, April 29. 1737.

[10] _Life of Garrick_, T. Davies, vol. ii. p. 206.



CHAPTER V

HOMESPUN DRAMA

    "Virtue distrest in humble state support."
    Prologue to _Fatal Curiosity_.

The Licensing Act of June 1737 thus brought Henry Fielding's career as
political dramatist to a hasty conclusion; a conclusion quite unforeseen
by the luckless author, as appears from his _Dedication_ to the
_Historical Register_, published almost at the moment when the Act became
law: "The very great indulgence you have shown my performances at the
little theatre these two last years," he says, addressing his public,
"have encouraged me to the proposal of a subscription for carrying on that
theatre, for beautifying and enlarging it, and procuring a better company
of actors."

Before finally losing sight of the stage on which _Pasquin_ and the
_Register_ had scored such signal success, we may notice some minor
incidents of these two years of Fielding's administration. His company
does not seem to have included either Macklin, Quin, or Kitty Clive; but
that distinguished actress Mrs Pritchard, the central figure of Hogarth's
charming group called "The Green Room, Drury Lane," is said to have made
her first appearance on his boards, [1] and his players also included that
man of many parts Tom Davies. Davies was a student of Edinburgh
University; an actor at Drury Lane and elsewhere; a bookseller of whom the
elder D'Israeli said 'all his publications were of the best kind'; the
writer of various works including a _Life of Garrick_; and a particular
friend of Dr Johnson. In the first year of Fielding's management in the
Haymarket, Davies was cast for a principal part in George Lillo's tragedy
_Fatal Curiosity_; and it is to his pen that we owe the only known
contemporary reference to the active part taken by Fielding himself in the
affairs of his theatre.

Lillo, a jeweller of Moorfields, had captured the town, a few years
previously, by his tragedy of common life, _George Barnwell_; and among
the dramatists selected by Fielding for representation on his stage the
most interesting is undoubtedly this pioneer of the coming revolution in
English literature. For, incredible as it may seem, until that first
performance of _Barnwell_, no writer, to quote Tom Davies' own words "had
ventured to descend so low as to introduce the character of a merchant or
his apprentice into a tragedy." Certain "witty and facetious persons who
call themselves the town," continues Davies, brought to the first night
copies of the old ballad on which the jeweller's play was based, meaning
to mock the new tragedy with the old song; but so forcible and pathetic
were Lillo's scenes that these merry gentlemen were obliged "to throw away
their ballads, and take out their handkerchiefs." More tears, we learn,
were shed over this 'homespun drama' than at all the imitations of ancient
fables by learned moderns. To Fielding this revolution, from the buskin'd
heroics of the Alexanders and Clelias to the living and natural pathos of
the tragedy of a poor London apprentice, must have appealed with
extraordinary force; for it is the especial glory of his own genius that,
throwing aside all the traditions of his age, and 'adventuring on one of
the most original expeditions that ever a writer undertook,' [2] he was to
discover a new world for English fiction, the world of simple human
nature. That expedition must have been already forming in his mind when,
night after night, in the hottest part of the year, _George Barnwell_ was
playing to crowded houses, and convincing the astonished audiences of 1731
that even so low a creature as a London apprentice was possessed of
passions extremely like their own. Some ten years later, when Fielding
revealed the first true sign of his own surpassing genius in the _History
of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews_, he chose for his hero a country
footman. The worthy City jeweller was, in his own limited measure, the
forerunner, on the stage, of that new era in English literature created by
honest Andrews and Parson Adams, Partridge and Mrs Slipslop, Fanny and
Sergeant Atkinson, Tow-wouse and Mrs Miller, to name but a few of
Fielding's immortal portraits, drawn from the 'vast authentic book of
Nature.'

It is no wonder then, to return to Tom Davies, that a play by Lillo was
announced on the bills of Fielding's theatre within a few months of the
opening of his management. On May 27, 1736, the following advertisement
appeared:

    "Guilt its Own Punishment. Never Acted before. By Pasquin's
    Company of Comedians. Being a True Story in Common Life and the
    Incidents extremely affecting." By the Author of George Barnwell.

Davies' part in the play was a chief one, that of young Wilmot, and the
story of the performance may be given in his own words. "Mr Fielding, who
had a just sense of our author's merit, and who had often in his humourous
pieces laughed at those ridiculous and absurd criticks who could not
possibly understand the merit of Barnwell, because the subject was low,
treated Lillo with great politeness and friendship. He took upon himself
the management of the play and the instruction of the actors. It was
during the rehearsal of the _Fatal Curiosity_ that I had an opportunity to
see and to converse with Mr Lillo. Plain and simple as he was in his
address, his manner of conversing was modest affable and engaging. When
invited to give his opinion how a particular sentiment should be uttered
by the actor he expresst himself in the gentlest and most obliging terms,
and conveyed instruction and conviction with good nature and good
manners.... Fielding was not content merely to revise the 'Fatal
Curiosity,' and to instruct the actors how to do justice to their parts.
He warmly recommended the play to his friends and to the public. Besides
all this he presented the author with a well written prologue."

This _Prologue_, which has apparently hitherto escaped the collectors of
Fielding's _Works_, seems worthy of a reprint here, if only for its
characteristic sympathy with virtue and distress 'in humble state,' and
for the opening tribute to 'Shakespeare's nature' and to 'Fletcher's
ease.'

PROLOGUE TO THE FATAL CURIOSITY

  "The Tragic Muse has long forgot to please
  With Shakespeare's nature or with Fletcher's ease:
  No passion mov'd, thro' five long acts you sit,
  Charm'd with the poet's language or his wit.
  Fine things are said, no matter whence they fall;
  Each single character must speak them all.

  "But from this modern fashionable way
  To-night our author begs your leave to stray.
  No fustian hero rages here to-night,
  No armies fall to fix a tyrant's right:
  From lower life we draw our scenes' distress:
  --Let not your equals move your pity less!
  Virtue distrest in humble state support;
  Nor think she never lives without the court.

  "Tho' to our scenes no royal robes belong
  And tho' our little stage as yet be young
  Throw both your scorn and prejudice aside;
  Let us with favour not contempt be try'd,
  Thro' the first act a kind attention lend
  The growing scene shall force you to attend:
  Shall catch the eyes of every tender fair,
  And make them charm their lovers with a tear.
  The lover too by pity shall impart
  His tender passion to his fair one's heart:
  The breast which others' anguish cannot move
  Was ne'er the seat of friendship or of love."


Notwithstanding all the manager's friendly efforts, the play met at first
with very little success, a failure in Davies' opinion "owing in all
probability to its being brought on in the latter part of the season, when
the public had been satiated with a long run of _Pasquin_," but, he adds,
"it is with pleasure I observe that Fielding generously persisted to serve
the man whom he had once espoused; he tacked the 'Fatal Curiosity' to his
Historical Register which was played with great success in the ensuing
winter." [3]  We owe no inconsiderable debt to Tom Davies in that he has
preserved for us this picture of Fielding, actively engaged in the
stage-management of his little theatre; a picture, moreover, that does
equal honour to the brilliant wit, the successful political satirist, and
to that modest, gentle Nonconformist poet, the man of whom it was said
that he "had the spirit of an old Roman joined to the innocence of a
Primitive Christian," George Lillo.

A few weeks before the production of Lillo's tragedy, and while _Pasquin_
was still in the full tide of political success, an event occurred of
closer import to Fielding's affectionate nature than all the applause of
the Opposition and the town. This was the birth, in April, 1736, of his
daughter Charlotte. No English writer has left more charming pictures of
mother and child than those we owe to the tenderness and simplicity of
Fielding's pen. When we find Squire Western turning, in his latter days,
to Sophia's nursery, and hear him declaring that the prattling of his
granddaughter is "sweeter Music than the finest Cry of Dogs in _England_"
when we see Captain Booth stretched at full length on the floor of his
poor lodgings, with his "little innocents" jumping over him, we are almost
inclined to forgive alike the brutalities of the old foxhunter, and the
weaknesses of the young soldier. Fielding's affection for his children,
his apprehensions for their ultimate provision, his anxiety in their
sickness, his grief at the loss of a little daughter, are manifest in his
pages. If anything could exceed the satisfaction which the brilliant
success of _Pasquin_ must have given to his buoyant nature, it would be
the birth of this, the first child apparently, of his marriage with the
beautiful Charlotte Cradock. The entry in the registers of St Martin's in
the Fields runs as follows: Baptized May 19th, 1736 Charlotte Fielding, of
Henry and Charlotte, Born April 27th.

The dates of _Pasquin_, of Lillo's tragedy, and of the _Historical
Register_, cover a considerable portion of the years 1736, 1737, and their
production in a theatre under Fielding's own management practically
presupposes his presence in London at that time. This by no means fits in
with Murphy's implication that Fielding retired to Stour on his marriage,
and that, remaining there, he ran through his "little patrimony," in "less
than three years." A complete country retirement cannot be assigned to
those busy years in the Haymarket; and in 1736 the journey from London to
Dorsetshire was no trifling undertaking. But it seems quite possible that
Fielding and his wife went down to their small estate in Dorsetshire for
part or all of the summer, autumn and winter of both 1736 and 1737. This
would cover the hunting months, and "hounds and horses," according to
Murphy, filled a large part in Fielding's country life at Stour; the time
would be that of the comparatively dull season for the theatre in the
Haymarket; and, with the year immediately preceding _Pasquin_, we should
thus, perhaps, account sufficiently for Murphy's "three years". Certain
passages in the _Miscellanies_, published long after the pleasant meadows
and the modest house at Stour--no less than the turmoil of the green-room
and the crowded political audiences in the Haymarket--were things of the
past, have a personal ring, reminiscent perhaps of such months of "sweet
Retirement" in Dorsetshire. Thus one of the characters in the _Journey
from this World to the next_ recalls the change, from a life of "restless
Anxieties," to a "little pleasant Country House, where there was nothing
grand or superfluous, but everything neat and agreeable"; and how, after a
little time, "I began to share the Tranquillity that visibly appeared in
everything round me. I set myself to do Works of Fancy and to raise little
Flower-Gardens, with many such innocent rural Amusements; which altho'
they are not capable of affording any great Pleasure, yet they give that
serene Turn of the Mind, which I think much preferable to anything else
Human Nature is made susceptible of." To this pleasant picture of "rural
Amusements," and tranquillity, it is surely not impertinent to add this
further passage, as a possible echo of Charlotte Fielding's thought, well
acquainted as she must have been both with the "sweetly winding banks of
Stour" and with the clamorous successes of political drama: "in all these
various Changes I never enjoyed any real Satisfaction, unless in the
little time I lived retired in the Country free from all Noise and Hurry."

In the summer or autumn of 1737 the curtain was finally rung down on all
the 'noise and hurry,' the achievements and audacities of Fielding's
"little stage"; a few months later, and the country retirement at Stour
had also become but a memory of that short life into which he managed to
compress "more variety of Scenes than many People who live to be very
old."

[1] _Life of Garrick_. T. Davies, vol. ii.

[2] _Works of Henry Fielding_, edited by Edmund Gosse. Introduction, p.
xxix.

[3] _The Works of Mr George Lillo, with some Account of his Life_, T.
Davies.



CHAPTER VI

BAR STUDENT. JOURNALIST

    "the ... Covetous, the Prodigal, the Ambitious, the Voluptuous,
    the Bully, the Vain, the Hypocrite, the Flatterer, the Slanderer,
    call aloud   for the _Champion's_ Vengeance."
    --The _Champion_, Dec. 22, 1739.

There is no record of when or how Fielding disposed of his share in the
management of the New Theatre in the Haymarket. But on June 21 1737,
Walpole's Bill for regulating the stage received, as we have seen, the
royal assent; and there can be no doubt that Sir Robert would at once
apply his newly acquired powers to removing the dances of the fiddler, Mr
Quiddam, and the drunken consolations of Mr Pillage, from the Haymarket
boards, if indeed these gentlemen had not anticipated events by already
removing themselves. We may safely assume that Henry Fielding's career as
political dramatist came to an abrupt conclusion some time in the summer
of 1737. [1]

It remains a matter for speculation why, after seven years spent in
producing a stream of not unsuccessful social comedies and farces, leading
up to a final and brilliant success in the field of political satiric
drama, Fielding should have thrown up the stage as a whole, when suddenly
debarred from those party onslaughts which had occupied but a fraction of
his dramatic energies. The cause was not any lack of popularity. "The
farces written by Mr Fielding," wrote Murphy in 1762, "were almost all of
them very successful, and many of them are still acted every winter, with
a continuance of approbation." And it is obvious that the fashionable
vices and follies of the time afforded ample inducement to a satiric
dramatist to continue 'laying about him,' even when Ministerial offences
had been rendered inviolate by Act of Parliament. Neither was Fielding's
sanguine temperament likely to be daunted by the single failure of his
farce _Eurydice_, which had been damned at Drury Lane on February 19 of
this same year: "disagreeable impressions," Murphy tells us, "never
continued long upon his mind." The most satisfactory solution of the
matter seems to be that now, in the approaching maturity of his powers,
the 'Father of the English Novel' was becoming conscious that the true
field for his genius lay in a hitherto unattempted form of imaginative
narration, and not within the five acts of comedy or farce. The entirely
original conceptions of a _Joseph Andrews_ and a _Jonathan Wild_ may
already have begun to captivate the vigorous energies of his mind. We have
his own word for assigning "some years" to the writing of _Tom Jones_; it
is therefore not unreasonable to suppose that the conception of the first
English "Comic Epic Poem in Prose" may date as far back as the summer of
1737.

Leaving surmise for fact, it is certain that this year marks the dividing
line in Fielding's life.

Henceforth he ceases to be the witty, facile, popular dramatist; and he
enters slowly on his birthright as the first in time, if not in genius, of
English novelists. To this complete severance from the theatre belongs his
own remark that "he left off writing for the stage when he ought to have
begun." Arrived at a late maturity, and with accumulated stores of
observation and insight,--"he saw the latent sources of human action,"
says Murphy--his genius happily turned into a channel carved, with
splendid originality, for itself alone. After nine years of servitude to
the limitations of dramatic construction, limitations he was wont to
relieve, as his friend James Harris tells us, by "pleasantly though
perhaps rather freely" _damning the man who invented fifth acts_, Fielding
was now soon to discover his freedom in the spacious, hitherto
unadventured, regions of prose fiction. But genius, especially genius with
wife and child to support, cannot maintain life on inspiration alone; and,
accordingly, the ex-dramatist now flung himself, with characteristic
impetuosity and courage, into a struggle for independence at the Bar,
perhaps the most arduous profession, under all the circumstances, that he
could have chosen. For a reputation as the writer of eighteen comedies,
and as the reckless political dramatist whose boisterous energies had set
the town ringing with _Pasquin_ and the _Register_, the fame in short of
being the successful manager of _The Great Mogul's Company of Comedians_,
was surely the last reputation in the world to bring a man briefs from
cautious attorneys. And, with whatever hopes of political patronage, any
temperament less buoyant might well have hesitated to embark on reading
for the Bar at the age of thirty. But "by dificulties," says his earliest
biographer, "his resolution was never subdued; on the contrary they only
roused him to struggle through them with a peculiar spirit and
magnanimity." So, within six months of the closing down of his little
theatre under Walpole's irate hand, Fielding had formally entered himself
as a student at the Middle Temple.

The entry in the books of that society runs as follows:--

    [574 G] 1 Nov'ris. 1737.

    _Henricus Fielding, de East Stour in Com Dorset Ar, filius et
    haeres apparens Brig: Gen'lis: Edmundi Fielding admissus est in
    Societatem Medii Templi Lond specialiter at obligatur una cum &c.

    Et dat pro fine_ 4. 0. 0.

Of the ensuing two and a half years of student life in the Temple we know
practically nothing, beyond one vivacious picture of Harry Fielding's
attack upon the law. "His application while a student in the Temple,"
writes Murphy, "was remarkably intense; and though it happened that the
early taste he had taken of pleasure would occasionally return upon him,
and conspire with his spirits and vivacity to carry him into the wild
enjoyments of the town, yet it was particular in him that amidst all his
dispositions nothing could suppress the thirst he had for knowledge, and
the delight he felt in reading; and this prevailed in him to such a
degree, that he has been frequently known by his intimates, to retire late
at night from a tavern to his chambers, and there read and make extracts
from the most abstruse authors, for several hours before he went to bed;
so powerful were the vigour of his constitution and the activity of his
mind."

One of the few pages of Fielding's autograph that have come down to us is
presumably a relic of these student days. In the catalogue of the
_Morrison Manuscripts_ occurs this description of two undated pages in his
hand: "List of offences against the King and his state immediately, which
the Law terms High Treason. Offences against him in a general light as
touching the Commonwealth at large, as Trade etc. Offences against him as
supreme Magistrate etc." Were ever genius and wit more straitly or more
honourably shackled than that of Henry Fielding, gallantly accepting such
toil as this, toil moreover that must have weighed with double weight on a
man who had spent nine years in the company of those charming if 'fickle
jades' the Muses.

All efforts have failed to trace where Fielding and his wife and child (or
children--the date of the birth of his daughter Harriet is not known)
lived during these laborious months; but that money was needed in the
summer following his entry at the Middle Temple may be inferred from the
sale of the property at Stour. According to the legal note of this
transaction, [2] "Henry ffeilding and Charlotte his wife" conveyed, in the
Trinity Term of 1738, to one Thomas Hayter, for the sum of £260, "two
messuages, two dove-houses, three gardens, three orchards, fifty acres of
Land, eighty acres of meadow, one hundred and forty acres of pasture, ten
acres of wood and common and pasture for all manner of cattle with the
appurtenances in East Stour." It does not need a very active imagination
to realise the keen regret with which Fielding must have parted with his
gardens and orchards, his pastures, woods and commons. Sixty years ago the
barn and one of the "dove-houses" had been but recently pulled down; and
to this day the estate is still known as "Fielding's Farm." [3]

It has been stated, on what authority does not appear, that, after leaving
Stour, Fielding went to Salisbury, and there bought a house, his solicitor
being a Mr John Perm Tinney. Whatever be the fact as to the Salisbury
residence, it is certain that a full year after the sale of the
Dorsetshire property the Temple student was by no means at the end of his
resources. For in the following letter [4] to Mr Nourse, the bookseller,
dated July 1739, we find him requiring a London house at a rent of forty
pounds and with a large "eating Parlour."


"Mr Nourse,

Disappointments have hitherto prevented my paying y'r Bill, which, I
shall certainly do on my coming to Town which will be next Month. I
desire the favour of y'u to look for a House for me near the Temple. I
must have one large eating Parlour in it for the rest shall not be very
nice.

Rent not upwards of £40 p. an: and as much cheaper as may be. I will take
a Lease for Seven years. Yr Answer to this within a fortnight will much
oblige.

Y'r Humble Serv't

Henry Ffielding.

I have got Cro: Eliz. [5]

"July 9th 1739."

This note, written a year before Fielding's call to the Bar, suggests
that his early married life was by no means spent in the "wretched
garrett" of Lady Louisa Stuart's celebrated reminiscence.

In the September following the sale of his Dorsetshire estate Fielding had
to regret the death of George Lillo, to whose success he had devoted so
much personal care and energy, when staging Lillo's tragedy _Fatal
Curiosity_ on the boards of the little theatre in the Haymarket. The close
relationship in intellectual sympathy between Lillo's talent and the
genius of Fielding has already been noticed. But apart from this
intellectual sympathy, the personal worth and charm of the good tradesman
is noteworthy, as affording striking proof of the quality of man chosen by
the 'wild Harry Fielding' for regard and friendship. And it should be
remembered that in those days to bridge the social gulf between the
kinsman of the Earl of Denbigh and a working jeweller, required courage as
well as insight. Some time after Lillo's death a generous memorial notice
of him appeared in Fielding's paper the _Champion_. The writer detects in
his work "an Heart capable of exquisitely Feeling and Painting human
Distresses, but of causing none"; and declares that his title to be called
the best tragic poet of his age, "was the least of his Praise, he had the
gentlest and honestest Manners, and, at the same Time, the most friendly
and obliging. He had a perfect Knowledge of Human Nature, though his
Contempt of all base Means of Application, which are the necessary Steps
to great Acquaintance, restrained his Conversation within very narrow
Bounds: He had the Spirit of an old _Roman_, joined to the Innocence of a
primitive Christian; he was content with his little State of Life, in
which his excellent Temper of Mind gave him an Happiness, beyond the Power
of Riches, and it was necessary for his Friends to have a sharp Insight
into his Want of their Services, as well as good Inclinations or Abilities
to serve him. In short he was one of the best of Men, and those who knew
him best will most regret his Loss." [6] In the excellent company of Henry
Fielding's friends George Lillo may surely take his stand beside the 'good
Lord Lyttelton,' the munificent and pious Allen, and not far from 'Parson
Adams' himself.

No record has survived of Fielding's share in the political struggles of
his party, during his first two years of "intense application" to the law.
Walpole's power had been sensibly lessened by the death of the Queen, and
he was losing the support of the country and even of the trading classes.
The Prince of Wales, now openly hostile to the "great man," was the
titular head of an Opposition numbering almost all the men of wit and
genius in the kingdom. Lyttelton, Fielding's warmest friend, had become
secretary to the Prince, and was recognised as a fluent leader of the
Opposition in the House of Commons. Another friend, John Duke of Argyll,
had joined the ranks of the Opposition in the Lords. On the whole the
author of _Pasquin_, may well have hoped for a speedy fall of the
"Colossos," with "its Brains of Lead, its Face of Brass, its Hands of
Iron, its Heart of Adamant," and the accession to power of a party not
without obligations to the fearless manager of the little theatre in the
Haymarket. During these years the Opposition, even though supported by
Pope and Chesterfield, Thomson and Bolingbroke, could scarcely fail to
utilise the trenchant scorn, the whole-hearted vigour, the boisterous
humour, of Fielding's genius; and Murphy, speaking vaguely of Fielding's
legal years, says that a "large number of fugitive political tracts, which
had their value when the incidents were actually passing on the great
scene of business, came from his pen." It is not however till November
1739, two years and a half after the pillorying of Walpole on the
Haymarket boards, that Fielding is again clearly seen, 'laying about' him,
in those clamourous eighteenth-century politics.

His choice of a new weapon of attack is foreshadowed in the noble
concluding words of the _Introduction_ to the _Historical Register_; words
written on the very eve of the Ministerial Bill gagging that and all other
political plays: "If nature hath given me any talents at ridiculing vice
and imposture, I shall not be indolent, nor afraid of exerting them, while
the liberty of the press and stage subsists, that is to say while we have
any liberty left among us." A few weeks after these words were published
the liberty of the stage was triumphantly stifled by Walpole's Licensing
Bill. But even "old Bob" himself dared not lay his hand on the liberty of
the British Press; and so we find Mr Pasquin reappearing under the guise,
or in the company, of the _Champion and Censor of Great Britain_,
otherwise one _Captain Hercules Vinegar_, a truculent avenger of wrong and
exponent of virtue, in whose fictitious name a political, literary, and
didactic newspaper entered the field of party politics on November 15,
1739. The paper, under the title of the _Champion_, was issued three times
a week, and consisted of one leading article, an anti-Ministerial summary
of news, and literary notices of new books. The first number announced
that the author and owner was the said Captain Hercules Vinegar, and that
the Captain would be aided in various departments by members of his
family. Thus the Captain's wife, Mrs Joan Vinegar, a matron of a very
loquacious temper, was to undertake the ladies' column, and his son Jack
was to have "an Eye over the gay Part of the Town." The criticism was to
be conducted by Mr Nol Vinegar who was reported to have spent one whole
year in examining the use of a single word in Horace. And the politics
were to be dealt forth by the Captain's father, a gentleman intimately
versed in kingdoms, potentates and Ministers, and of so close a
disposition that he "seldom opens his Mouth, unless it be to take in his
Food, or puff out the Smoke of his Tobacco."

The paper bore no signed articles; but judging from an attack levelled
against it in a pamphlet of the following year, [7] Fielding and his
former not very worshipful partner in the Haymarket management, James
Ralph, were the reputed "authors," Ralph being in a subordinate position.
Thus, it is stated that Ralph, "is now say'd to be the 'Squire of the
_British_ CHAMPION"; the writer identifies _Captain Vinegar_ and the
author of _Pasquin_ as one and the same person; he describes Pasquin and
Ralph as the "Authors of the Champion"; he asserts that the old Roman
statues of Pasquin and Marfario, "are now dignified and distinguished (by
The CHAMPION and his doughty Squire RALPH), under the Names [_sic_] of
Captain Hercules Vinegar."; he prints an address to the "_Self-dubb'd
Captain_ Hercules Vinegar," and his "Man _Ralph_"; and appends some
doggerel verse entitled "Vinegar and his gang." But from all this nothing
definite emerges as to the precise part taken by Fielding in the
authorship of the _Champion_. The pamphleteer accredits a fragment of a
paper signed C. to the _Captain_, and attributes two papers, [8] signed C.
and L., to "Mr Pasquin"--_i.e._ Fielding; and as the reprint of the
_Champion_, which appeared in 1741, announces that all papers so signed
are the "Work of one Hand," there is so much external proof that all such
pages in these volumes (numbering some sixty essays) are by Fielding. Dr
Nathan Drake, writing in 1809, more than sixty years after the appearance
of the paper, asserts, without stating his reasons, that the numbers
marked "C." and "L." "were the work of Fielding." This view is further
supported by the opinion of Mr Austin Dobson, that many of the papers
signed _C._ "are unmistakably Fielding's."

On the other hand Murphy, writing only twenty-two years after the
appearance of the paper, but often with gross inaccuracy, states that the
_Champion_ "owed its chief support to his [Fielding's] abilities," but
that "his essays in that collection cannot now be so ascertained as to
perpetuate them in this edition of his works." Boswell refers to Fielding
as possessing a "share" in the paper. A manuscript copy of some of the
Minutes of meetings of the _Champion_ partners, written out in an
eighteenth-century handwriting, and now in the possession of the present
writer, confirms Boswell's note, in as far as an entry therein records
that "Henry Fielding Esq. did originally possess Two Sixteenth Shares of
the Champion as a Writer in the said paper." One of the lists of the
partners of the _Champion_ which occur in the same manuscript, is headed
by the name of "Mr Fielding." Finally, a contemporary satirical print
shows Fielding with his "length of nose and chin" and his tall figure,
acting as standard-bearer of the _Champion_; the paper being represented
in its political capacity of a leading Opposition organ. There is,
moreover, the internal evidence of style and sentiment. Thus the matter
rests; and although it is exceedingly tempting to use the _Champion_ for
inferences as to the manner in which Fielding approached his new craft of
journalism, and as to his attitude on the many subjects, theological,
social, political and personal, handled in these essays, the evidence
seems hardly sufficient to warrant such deductions. It does, however, seem
clear, taking as evidence the shilling pamphlet already
mentioned,[9] that Harry Fielding, the intrepid and audacious Mr Pasquin
of 1736-7 reappeared, laying about him with his ever ready cudgel now
raised to the dignity of a miraculous Hercules club, as the _Champion_ of
1739-41. To all lovers of good cudgelling, whether laid on the shoulders
of the incorrigible old cynic Sir Robert, or on those of the egregious
Colley Cibber, or falling on the follies and abuses of the day, the
"Pasquinades and Vinegarades" of _Captain Hercules Vinegar_, and his
"doughty Squire Ralph," may be commended. And no fault can be found with
the _Captain's_ declaration, when establishing a Court of Judicature for
the trial and punishment of sundry offenders in his pages, that "whatever
is wicked, hateful, absurd, or ridiculous, must be exposed and punished,
before this Nation is brought to that Height of Purity and good Manners to
which I wish to see it exalted." [10]

One personal sketch of Fielding himself deserves quotation, whether drawn
by his own hand or that of another. The _Champion_ for May 24, 1740,
contains a vision of the Infernal Regions, where Charon, the ghostly
boatman, is busy ferrying souls across the River Styx. The ferryman bids
his attendant Mercury see that all his passengers embark carrying nothing
with them; and the narrator describes how, after various Shades had
qualified for their passage, "A tall Man came next, who stripp'd off an
old Grey Coat with great Readiness, but as he was stepping into the Boat,
_Mercury_ demanded half his Chin, which he utterly refused to comply with,
insisting on it that it was all his own." Fielding's length of chin and
nose was well known; and not less familiar, doubtless, was the 'old Grey
Coat,' among the purlieus of the Temple.

The beginning of the year 1740, when the lusty _Champion_ and his cudgel
were well established, and _Captain Hercules'_ private legal studies were
drawing to a close, was marked by a fresh outburst of the old feud with
Colley Cibber. Cibber, already notorious as actor, dramatist, manager, the
Poet Laureat of "preposterous Odes," and the 'poetical Tailor' who would
even cut down Shakespeare himself, now appeared in the character of
historian and biographer, publishing early in 1740 the famous _Apology for
the Life of Mr Colley Cibber, Comedian, and late Patentee of the Theatre
Royal. With an Historical View of the Stage during his Own Time._

Cibber, soon to be scornfully chosen by Pope as dunce-hero of the
_Dunciad_, had, for the past six years, been pilloried by Fielding; and,
not unmindful of these onslaughts, he inserted in his new work a virulent
attack on the late manager of the New Theatre in the Haymarket. The tenor
of _Pasquin_ was here grossly misrepresented. Fielding was described as
being, at the time of entering on his management, "a Broken Wit"; he was
accused of using the basest dramatic means of profit, since "he was in
haste to get money"; and the final insult was added by Cibber's stroke of
referring to his enemy anonymously, as one whom "I do not chuse to name."

Looking back across two centuries on to the supreme figures of Pope and
Fielding, it is matter for some wonder that these giants of the intellect
should have greatly troubled to annihilate a Colley Cibber. A finer
villain, it seems to us, might have been chosen by Pope for the six
hundred lines of his _Dunciad_ a worthier target might have drawn the
arrows of Fielding's _Champion_. But Cibber possessed at least the art of
arousing notable enmities; and the four slashing papers in which the
_Champion_ [11] promptly parried the scurrilities of the _Apology_ still
make pretty reading for those who are curious in the annals of literary
warfare. It is noteworthy that these _Champion_ retorts are honourably
free from the personalities of an age incredibly gross in the use of
personal invective. Fielding's journal, even under the stinging
provocation of the insults of the _Apology_, was still true to the
standard set in the _Prologue_ of his first boyish play

  'No private character these scenes expose.'

It is Cibber's ignorance of grammar, his murder of the English tongue,
his inflated literary conceit, rather than his 'private character' that
are here exposed.

Some time during the latter half of 1740 the whole feud between Cibber,
Pope, Fielding and Ralph was reprinted in the shilling pamphlet, already
referred to, entitled _The Tryal of Colley Cibber_. The collection
concludes as follows:

    "ADVERTISEMENT

    "If the Ingenious _Henry Fielding_ Esq.; (Son of the Hon.
    Lieut. General  _Fielding_, who upon his Return from his
    Travels entered Himself of the  _Temple_ in order to study
    the Law, and married one of the pretty Miss  _Cradocks_ of
    _Salisbury_) will _own_ himself the AUTHOR of 18
    strange Things  called Tragical _Comedies_ and Comical
    _Tragedies_, lately advertised by _J. Watts_, of
    _Wild-Court_, Printer, he shall be _mentioned_ in
    Capitals in the _Third_ edition of Mr CIBBER'S _Life_,
    and likewise be placed _among_ the _Poetae minores
    Dramatici_ of the Present Age; then will both his _Name and
    Writings be remembered on Record_ in the immortal _Poetical
    Register_ written by Mr Giles Jacob."


The whole production affords a lively example of the full-blooded
pamphleteering of 1740; and throws valuable light on Fielding's repute as
the _Champion_.

As regards Ralph's collaboration with Fielding at this period (a
collaboration further affirmed by Dr Nathan Drake's assertion, written in
1809, that James Ralph was Fielding's chief coadjutor in that paper) it
may be recalled that ten years previously this not very reputable American
had provided a prologue for Fielding's early play, the _Temple Beau_; and
that he appears again as Fielding's partner in the management of the
Little Theatre in the Haymarket. Gradually relinquishing his theatrical
ambitions, Ralph appears to have turned his talents to political
journalism, and according to Tom Davies was becoming formidable as a party
writer for the Opposition in these last years of Walpole's administration.
Boswell tells us that Ralph ultimately succeeded Fielding in his share of
the _Champion_; [12] but we have no definite knowledge of what precise
part was taken by him in the earlier numbers. No continued trace occurs of
his collaboration with Fielding; and indeed it is difficult to conceive
any permanent alliance between Fielding's manly, independent, and generous
nature, and the sordid and selfish character, and mediocre talents of
James Ralph.

[1] The fullest newspaper for theatrical notices at this date, preserved
in the British Museum, the _London Daily Post_, is unfortunately missing
for this year.

[2] Now first printed, from documents at the Record Office.

[3] A table inscribed by a former owner as having belonged to Henry
Fielding, Esq., novelist, is now in the possession of the Somersetshire
Archaeological Society. The inscription adds that Fielding "hunted from
East Stour Farm in 1718." He would then be eleven years old!

[4] From the hitherto unpublished original, in the library of Alfred Huth,
Esq.

[5] "Cro: Eliz." is the legal abbreviation for Justice Croke's law reports
for the reign of Elizabeth.

[6] _Champion_, February 26, 1740.

[7] _The Tryal of Colley Cibber, Comedian etc._ 1740.

[8] Those of April 22, and April 29, 1740.

[9] And see _Daily Gazeteer_, Oct. 9, 1740.

[10] _Champion_, December 22, 1739.

[11] For April 22, April 29, May 6, and May 17.

[12] Boswell's _Johnson_, edited by Birkbeck Hill. Vol. i. p. 169. n. 2:
"Ralph ... as appears from the minutes of the partners of the _Champion_
in the possession of Mr Reed of Staple Inn, succeeded Fielding in his
share of the paper before the date of that eulogium [1744]."



CHAPTER VII

"COUNSELLOR FIELDING"

    "Wit is generally observed to love to reside in empty pockets."
    _Joseph Andrews_.

The last retort on Colley Cibber had scarcely been launched from the
columns of the _Champion_, when that intrepid 'Censor of Great Britain'
and indefatigable law student, _Captain Hercules Vinegar_, attained the
full dignities of a barrister of the Middle Temple. On June 20, 1740,
Fielding was called to the Bar; and on the same day the Benchers of his
Inn assigned to him chambers at No. 4 Pump Court, "up three pair of
stairs." This assignment, according to the wording of the Temple records,
was "for the term of his natural life." These chambers may still be seen,
with their low ceilings and panelled walls, very much to all appearance as
when tenanted by Harry Fielding. The windows of the sitting-room and
bedroom look out on to the beautiful old buildings of Brick Court, and
from the head of the staircase one looks across to the stately gilded
sundial of Pump Court, old even in Fielding's day, with its warning motto:

  "Shadows we are and like shadows depart."

Here, in these lofty chambers, up their "three pair" of worn and narrow
stairs, Fielding donned his barrister's gown, and waited for briefs; and,
possessing as he did an imagination "fond of seizing every gay prospect,"
and natural spirits that gave him, as his cousin Lady Mary tells us,
cheerfulness in a garret, this summer of 1740 must have been full of
sanguine hopes. He was now thirty-three, and his splendid physique had not
yet become shattered by gout. He had gained, Murphy observes, no
inconsiderable reputation by the _Champion_; his position as a brilliant
political playwright had been long ago assured by _Pasquin_; the party to
whose patriotic interests he had devoted so much energy and wit was now
rapidly approaching power; and two years of eager application had equipped
him with 'no incompetent share of learning' for a profession in which, we
are told, he aspired to eminence. The swift disappointment of these brave
hopes, the fast coming years of sickness, distress, and grief endow the
old chambers with something of tragedy; but in June, 1740, the shadows
were still but a sententious word on the dial.

There is practically no surviving record of Fielding's activity as a
barrister. From Murphy we learn that his pursuit of the law was hampered
by want of means; and that, moreover, even his indomitable energies were
soon often forced to yield to disabling attacks of illness. So long as his
health permitted him he "attended with punctual assiduity" on the Western
circuit, and in term time at Westminster Hall. But gout rapidly "began to
make such assaults upon him as rendered it impossible for him to be as
constant at the bar as the laboriousness of his profession required," and
he could only follow the law in intervals of health. Under such
"severities of pain and want" he yet made efforts for success; and the
tribute rendered by his first biographer to the courage of those efforts
deserves quotation in full: "It will serve to give us an idea of the great
force of his mind, if we consider him pursuing so arduous a study under
the exigencies of family distress, with a wife and children, whom he
tenderly loved, looking up to him for subsistence, with a body lacerated
by the acutest pains, and with a mind distracted by a thousand avocations
and obliged for immediate supply to produce almost extempore a farce, a
pamphlet, or a newspaper." Murphy's careless pen seems here to confuse the
student years with those of assiduous effort at the Bar; and the extempore
farces are, judging by the dates of Fielding's collected plays, no more
than a rhetorical flourish: but there seems no reason to doubt the
essential truth of this picture of the vigorous struggles of the sanguine,
witty, and not unlearned barrister, ambitious of distinction, and always
sensitively anxious as to the maintenance of his wife and children. We may
see him attending the Western circuit in March and again in August, riding
from Winchester to Salisbury, thence to Dorchester and Exeter, and on to
Launceston, Taunton, Bodmin, Wells or Bristol as the case might be;
constant in his appearance at Westminster; and supplementing his briefs by
political pamphlets written in the service of an Opposition supported by
the intellect and integrity of the day.

It is inexplicable that no records, in the letters or diaries of his
brother lawyers, should have come down to us of circuits, enlivened by the
wit of Harry Fielding; that practically all traces of his professional
work should be lost; and that concerning the many friendships which he is
recorded to have made at the Bar we should know practically nothing beyond
his own cordial acknowledgment of the lawyers' response, three years after
his call, to the subscription for the _Miscellanies_. In the preface to
those volumes he writes: "I cannot however forbear mentioning my sense of
the Friendship shown me by a Profession of which I am a late and unworthy
Member, and from whose Assistance I derive more than half the Names which
appear to this subscription." All that we have to add to this, is the
unconscious humour of Murphy's observation that the friendships Fielding
met with "in the course of his studies, and indeed through the remainder
of his life from the gentlemen of the legal profession in general, and
particularly from some who have since risen to be the first ornaments of
the law, will ever do honour to his memory." Had the names of these worthy
'ornaments' been preserved, posterity could now give them due recognition
as having been honoured by the friendship of Henry Fielding. [1]

Fielding in his habit, as he lived, is for ever eluding us. His tall
figure vanishes behind the prolific playwright, the exuberant politician,
the truculent journalist, the indefatigable magistrate, the great creative
genius. But at no point does the wittiest man of his day, and a lawyer of
some repute--'Mr Fielding is allowed to have acquired a respectable share
of jurisprudence'--escape us so completely as during these years of
'punctual assiduity' at the Bar. His very domicile is unknown, after the
surrender of those pleasant chambers in Pump Court, on November 28 1740.

The political activities of "Counsellor Fielding" stand out far more
clearly than do the legal labours of these years of struggle at the Bar.
The year of his call, 1740, was one of constant embarrassment for Sir
Robert Walpole, whose long enjoyment of single power was now at last
drawing to a miserable close. The conduct of the Spanish War was
arraigned, and suggestions were made that the Government were in secret
alliance with the enemy. When the news came, in March, that Walpole's
parliamentary opponent, the bluff Admiral Vernon, had captured Porto Bello
from Spain, with six ships only, the public rejoicing and votes of
congratulation were so many attacks on the peace-at-any-price Minister. A
powerful fleet, designed against Spain, lay inactive in Torbay the greater
part of the summer, through (alleged) contrary winds. And when Parliament
met in November 1740, an onslaught by the Duke of Argyll in the Lords
paved the way for the celebrated attack on Sir Robert in the Commons,
known as "The Motion" of February 13, 1741. A fine political cartoon
published in the following month, and here reproduced, in which Walpole
appears as mocking at the death and burial of this same "Motion" of
censure (which the House had rejected), places Fielding in the forefront
of the Opposition procession. The dead "Motion" is being carried to the
"Opposition" family vault, already occupied by Jack Cade and other
"reformers"; and the bier is preceded by five standard-bearers, sadly
carrying the insignia of the party's papers. Among these, and second only
to the famous _Craftsman_, comes Fielding's tall figure, bearing aloft a
standard inscribed _The Champion_, and emblazoned with that terrible club
of _Captain Hercules Vinegar_, which, we may recall, was always ready to
"fall on any knave in company." Behind the bier hobbles, clearly, the old
Duchess of Marlborough; and Walpole's fat figure stands in the foreground,
laughing uproariously at this "Funeral of Faction." In the doggerel verses
beneath this cartoon, it is very plainly hinted that "old Sarah," and the
Opposition, were in league with the Stewarts. In this historic debate, for
which members secured seats at six o'clock in the morning, the vote of
censure on "the _one person_" arraigned was defeated, Sir Robert once
again securing a majority, and so "the Motion" as the cartoonist depicts,
died "of a Disappointment." Another cartoon commemorating this ill-fated
effort is instructive as showing, again in the foreground of the fight, a
figure wearing a barrister's wig, gown, and bands, and inscribed with the
words _Pasquin_ and _The Champion_. The Opposition Leader, Pulteney, leads
both the _Pasquin_ figure, and another representing the paper _Common
Sense_, literally by the nose with the one hand, while with the other he
neatly catches, on his drawn sword, Walpole's organ the _Gazetteer_. In
doggerel verses attached to the print Fielding is complimented with the
following entire verse to himself:--

  "Then the Champion of the Age,
  Being Witty, wise, and Sage,
  Comes with Libells on the Stage."

This _Pasquin_ figure has none of the personal characteristics of
Fielding, neither his "length of nose" nor his stately stature, so well
suggested in the former print; but, lay figure though it be, it symbolises
no less clearly the prominent part he played in these final political
struggles of 1741. Also the lawyer's dress with which Fielding is here
signified is noteworthy; and similar acknowledgment of his new dignities
may be seen in the reference (in a copy of Walpole's _Gazetteer_ for 1740)
to the attacks levelled on Sir Robert by "Captain Vinegar--_i.e._
Counsellor F---d--g."

These popular indications of Fielding's activity in the fighting ranks of
the Opposition, during this last year of Walpole's domination, are
supplemented by the evidence of his own pen. As early as January 1741, and
while the grand Parliamentary attack of the 13th of February was but
brewing, he published an eighteenpenny pamphlet, in verse, satirising Sir
Robert's lukewarm conduct of the war with Spain. To the title of _The
Vernoniad_, there was added a lengthy mock-title in Greek, the whole being
presented as a lost fragment by Homer, describing, in epic style, the
mission of one "Mammon" sent by Satan to baffle the fleets of a nation
engaged in war with _Iberia_. "Mammon" is a perfectly obvious satirical
sketch of Walpole himself, in the execution of which the hand that had
drawn the corrupt fiddler "Mr Quidam" and the tipsy "Mr Pillage" for the
Haymarket stage, has in no wise lost its cunning. "Mammon" (Walpole was
reputed to have amassed much wealth) hides his palace walls by heaps of
"ill-got Pictures." The pictures collected at Houghton, the Minister's
pretentious Norfolk seat, were famous; and the notes to the "Text" are
careful to depict, in illustration, "some rich Man without the least Taste
having purchased a Picture at an immense Price, lifting up his eyes to it
with Wonder and Astonishment, without being able to discover wherein its
true Merit lies." "Mammon" declares virtue to be but a name, and his
wonted eloquence is bribery. Sir Robert asserted that every man has his
price. "Mammon" preserves dulness and ignorance, "while Wit and Learning
starve." Walpole's illiterate tastes were notorious. At the close of the
poem, "Mammon" accomplishes the behest of his master, Satan, by bribing
contrary winds to drive back the English ships (a satire on Walpole's
conduct of the war); and he finally returns to hell, and "in his Palace
keeps a _three Weeks'_ Feast." Sir Robert it may be noted usually
entertained for three weeks, in the spring, at Houghton. The whole is a
slashing example of the robust eighteenth-century political warfare,
polished by constant classical allusions and quotations; and doubtless it
was read with delight in the coffee houses of the Town in that critical
winter of 1740-1741. Two characteristic allusions must not be omitted.
Even in the heat of party hard hitting Fielding finds time for a thrust at
Colley Cibber, whose prose it seems was in several places by no means to
be comprehended till "explained by the _Herculean_ Labours of Captain
_Vinegar_" And there is a pleasant reference to "my friend Hogarth the
exactest Copier of Nature."

In this first month of 1741, Fielding published yet another poetical
pamphlet for his party, but of a less truculent energy. _True Greatness_
is a poem inscribed to a recruit in the Opposition ranks, the celebrated
George Bubb Dodington; and when the eulogiums offered by the poet to his
political leaders, Argyll, Carteret, Chesterfield, and Lyttelton, to all
of whom are ascribed that "True Greatness" which "lives but in the Noble
Mind," are completed by a description of Dodington as irradiating a blaze
of virtues, this particular pamphlet becomes somewhat rueful reading. For
Dodington was, if report speaks true, a pliant politician as well as an
ineffable coxcomb, although it must be admitted that he won eulogies and
compliments alike from the perfect integrity of Lyttelton, and the
honourable pen of James Thomson. Even Fielding's glowing lines do not
outstrip Thomson's panegyric in _The Seasons_.

A more enduring interest however than the merits or demerits of a
Dodington, lies in this shilling pamphlet. In it is clearly foreshadowed
Fielding's great ironic outburst on false greatness, given to the world a
few years later in the form of the history of that Napoleon in villany,
the "great" Mr Jonathan Wild. In the medium of stiff couplets (verse being
"a branch of Writing" which Fielding admits "I very little pretend to")
the subject-matter of the magnificent irony of _Jonathan Wild_ is already
sketched. Here the spurious "greatness" of inhuman conquerors, of droning
pedants, of paltry beaus, of hermits proud of their humility, is
mercilessly laid bare; and something is disclosed of the "piercing
discernment" of that genius which, Murphy tell us, "saw the latent sources
of human actions."

We have seen indications in Murphy's careless pages that these few years
of Fielding's assiduous efforts at the Bar were years burdened by
"severities of want and pain." It is difficult not to admit a reference to
some such personal experiences in a passage in this same poem. The lines
in question describe the Poet going hungry and thirsty

  "As down Cheapside he meditates the Song"....

a "great tatter'd Bard," treading cautiously through the streets lest he
meet a bailiff, oppressed with "want and with contempt," his very liberty
to "wholesome Air" taken from him, yet possessing the greatness of mind
that no circumstances can touch, and the power to bestow a fame that shall
outlive the gifts of kings. This latter claim foreshadows the magnificent
apostrophe in _Tom Jones_ on that unconquerable force of genius, able to
confer immortality both on the poet, and the poet's theme. Was the 'great
tatter'd Bard,' cautiously treading the streets, little esteemed, and yet
the conscious possessor of true greatness (did not the author of _Tom
Jones_ rely with confidence on receiving honour from generations yet
unborn), none other than the tall figure of Fielding himself? At least we
know that soon after this year he writes of having lately suffered
accidents and waded through distresses, sufficient to move the pity of his
readers, were he "fond enough of Tragedy" to make himself "the Hero of
one."

One of the rare fragments of Fielding's autograph, [2] refers both to this
pamphlet, and to the _Vernoniad_:


"Mr Nourse,

"Please to deliver Mr Chappell 50 of [crossed out: my] [_sic_] True
Greatness and 50 of the Vernoniad.

Y'rs

"Hen. Ffielding.

"_April_ 20 1741."

In June of this year occurred the death of General Edmund Fielding,
briefly noticed in the _London Magazine_ as that of an officer who "had
served in the late Wars against _France_ with much Bravery and
Reputation." The General's own struggles to support his large family
probably prevented his death affecting the circumstances of his eldest
son. In the same month Fielding appears as attending a "Meeting of the
Partners in the Champion," held at the Feathers Tavern, on June 29. The
list of the partners present at the Feathers is given as follows:--[3]

    Present

    Mr Fielding
    Mr Nourse
    Mr Hodges
    Mr Chappelle

    Mr Cogan
    Mr Gilliver
    Mr Chandler

The business recorded was the sale of the "Impressions of the Champion in
two Vollumes, 12'o, No. 1000." The impression was put up to the Company by
auction, and was knocked down to Mr Henry Chappelle for £110, to be paid
to the partners. The majority of the partners are declared by the Minutes
to have confirmed the bargain; the minority, as appears from the list of
signatures, being strictly that of one, Henry Fielding. After this
dissension Fielding's name ceases to appear at the _Champion_ meetings;
and as he himself states that he left off writing for the paper from this
very month the evidence certainly points to a withdrawal on his part in
June 1741 from both the literary and the business management of the paper.
The edition referred to in the Minutes is doubtless that advertised in the
_London Daily Post_ a few days before the meeting of the partners, as a
publication of the _Champion_ "in two neat Pocket Volumes." [4]

Meanwhile the whole force of the Opposition was thrown into the battle of
a General Election; and it is interesting to note that Pitt stood for the
seat for Fielding's boyish home, and the home of his wife, that of Old
Sarum. The elections went largely against Walpole, and by the end of June
defeat was prophesied for a Minister who would only be supported by a
majority of sixteen.

It is somewhat inexplicable that at this, the very moment of the
approaching victory of his party Fielding appears to have withdrawn from
all journalistic work. "I take this Opportunity to declare in the most
solemn Manner," he writes, in after years, "I have long since (as long as
from _June_ 1741) desisted from writing one Syllable in the _Champion_, or
any other public Paper." And yet more unexpected is the fact that six
months later, during the last weeks of Walpole's failing power, a rumour
should be abroad that Fielding was assisting his old enemy. In one of his
rare references to his private life, that in the Preface to the
_Miscellanies_, he seeks to clear himself from unjust censures "as well on
account of what I have not writ, as for what I have"; and, as an instance
of such baseless aspersions, he relates that, in this winter of 1741, "I
received a letter from a Friend, desiring me to vindicate myself from two
very opposite Reflections, which two opposite Parties thought fit to cast
on me, _viz_. the one of writing in the _Champion_ (tho' I had not then
writ in it for upwards of half a year) the other, of writing in the
Gazetteer, in which I never had the honour of inserting a single Word."
What can have occurred, in the bewildering turmoil of that
eighteenth-century party strife, that the author of _Pasquin_, the
possessor of "Captain Vinegar's" Herculean Club, should have to vindicate
himself from a charge of writing in the columns of Walpole's _Gazetteer_.
During these last months of Sir Robert's power his Cabinet was much
divided, and two of his Ministers were in active revolt; possibly rumour
assigned the services of the witty pen of Counsellor Fielding to these
Opposition Ministerialists. But that some change did indeed take place in
Fielding's political activities, in these last six months of 1741 is
obvious from his withdrawal from writing in any "Public" paper; and from
passages in the last political pamphlet known to have come from his pen.
This pamphlet, entitled _The Opposition. A Vision_, was published in the
winter of 1741, a winter of severe illness, and of "other circumstances"
which, as he tells us, "served as very proper Decorations" to the sickbeds
of himself, his wife, and child. It is a lively attack on the divided
councils and leaders of the Opposition, thrown into the form of a dream,
caused by the author's falling asleep over "a large quarto Book intituled
'An apology for the Life of Mr Colley Gibber, Comedian.'" In his dream
Fielding meets the Opposition, in the form of a waggon, drawn by very
ill-matched asses, the several drivers of which have lost their way. The
luggage includes the Motion for 1741, and a trunk containing the
_Champion_ newspaper. One passenger protests that he has been hugely
spattered by the "Dirt" of the "last Motion," and that he will get out,
rather than drive through more dirt. A gentleman of "a meagre aspect" (is
he the lean Lyttelton?) leaves the waggon; and another observes that the
asses "appear to me to be the worst fed Asses I ever beheld ... that long
sided Ass they call _Vinegar_, which the Drivers call upon so often to
_gee up_, and _pull lustily_, I never saw an Ass with a worse Mane, or a
more shagged Coat; and that grave Ass yoked to him, which they name
_Ralph_, and who pulls and brays like the Devil, Sir, he does not seem to
have eat since the hard Frost. [5] Surely, considering the wretched Work
they are employed in, they deserve better Meat."

The longsided ass, Vinegar, with the worst of manes and the most shagged
coat, short even of provender, recalls the picture, drawn twelve months
previously, of the great hungry tatter'd Bard; and the inference seems
fair enough that for Fielding politics were no lucrative trade. A more
creditable inference, in those days of universal corruption, it may be
added, would be hard to find. The honour of a successful party writer who
yet remained poor in the year 1741, must have been kept scrupulously
clean. The _Vision_ proceeds to show the waggon, with two new sets of
asses from Cornwall and Scotland (the elections had gone heavily against
Walpole in both these districts), suddenly turning aside from the "Great
Country Road" (the Opposition was known as the Country Party); and the
protesting passengers are told that the end of their journey is "St
James." Some of the asses, flinching, are "well whipt"; but the waggon
leaves the dreamer and many of its followers far behind. Suddenly a Fat
Gentleman's coach stops the way. The drivers threaten to drive over the
coach, when one of the asses protests that the waggon is leaving the
service of the country, and going aside on its own ends, and that "the
Honesty of even an Ass would start" at being used for some purposes. The
waggon is all in revolt and confusion, when the Fat Gentleman, who
appeared to have "one of the pleasantest and best natured Countenances I
ever beheld," at last had the asses unharness'd, and turned into a
delicious meadow, where they fell to feeding, as after "long Abstinence."
Finally, the pleasant-faced fat gentleman's coach proceeds on the way from
which the waggon had deviated, carrying with it some of the former drivers
of the same; the mob burn the derelict obstructing vehicle; and their
noise, and the stink and smoke of the conflagration wake the dreamer.

In this last word of Fielding's active political career (for his later
anti-Jacobite papers are concerned rather with Constitutional and
Protestant, than with party strife), a retirement from political
collar-work is certainly signified. His reasons for such a step escape us
in the mist of those confused and heated conflicts. His detestation of
Walpole's characteristic methods may very well have roused his ever ready
fighting instincts, whereas, once Walpole's fall was practically assured
the weak forces of the Opposition (William Pitt being yet many years from
power) could have availed but little to enlist his penetrating intellect.
And he may by now have found that politics afforded, in those days, but
scanty support to an honourable pen.

But supposition, in lack of further evidence, is fruitless; all that we
can clearly perceive is that this winter of sickness and distress marks a
final severance from party politics. The hungry 'hackney writer' of the
lean sides and shagged coat, if not, indeed, turned to graze in the fat
meadow of his dream, was at last freed from an occupation that could but
shackle the genius now ready to break forth in the publication of _Joseph
Andrews_.

[1] A tantalising reference to one such acquaintance occurs in Lord
Campbell's _Lives of the Chancellors_. Vol. v. p. 357. In notes made by
Lord Camden's nephew, George Hardinge, for a proposed Life of the Lord
Chancellor there is this entry: "formed an acquaintance ... with Henry
Fielding ... called to the Bar."

[2] Now in the possession of W. K. Bixby, Esq., of St Louis, U.S.A.

[3] In a manuscript copy of the Minutes, in the possession of the present
writer.

[4] _London Daily Post_, June 18-26, 1741.

[5] The hard frost would be the terrible preceding winter of 1739-40, a
winter long remembered for the severity of the cold, the cost of
provisions, and the suffering of the poor.



CHAPTER VIII

JOSEPH ANDREWS

    "This kind of writing I do not remember to have seen hitherto
    attempted in our language."
    Preface to _Joseph Andrews_.

On the 2nd of February 1742 Sir Robert Walpole, the 'Colossos' of popular
broadsides, under whose feet England had lain for exactly thirty years,
received his final defeat; and the intrepid wit, who for the past eight
years had heartily lashed the tyrannies and corruptions of that 'Great
Man,' enjoyed at last the satisfaction of witnessing the downfall of the
_Mr Quiddam_ and _Mr Pillage_ of his plays, of the _Plunderer_ and
_Mammon_ of his pamphlets, of the _Brass_ on whom many a stinging blow had
fallen in the columns of his _Champion_.

With the retirement of Walpole, Fielding's vigorous figure vanishes from
active political service. No more caustic Greek epics, translated from the
original "by Homer," no more boisterous interludes with three-bottle Prime
Ministers appearing in the part of principal boy, come from his pen. But
scarcely is the ink dry on the page of his last known political pamphlet,
when Fielding reappears, in this Spring of 1742, not as the ephemeral
politician, but as the triumphant discoverer of a new continent for
English literature; as the leader of a revolution in imaginative writing
which has outlived the Ministries and parties, the reforms, the broils,
and warfares of two centuries. For, to-day, the fierce old contests of
Whig and Tory, the far-off horrors of eighteenth-century gibbets, jails,
and streets, the succession of this and that Minister, the French Wars and
Pragmatic Sanctions of 1740 are all dead as Queen Anne. But the novel
based on character, on human life, in a word on 'the vast authentic Book
of Nature' is a living power; and it was by the publication, in February
1742, of _The Adventures of Mr Joseph Andrews and his Friend Mr Abraham
Adams_, that Fielding reveals himself as the father of the English novel.
Henceforth we can almost forget the hard-hitting political _Champion_; we
may quite forget the facile 'hackney writer' of popular farces, and the
impetuous studies of the would-be barrister. With the appearance of these
two small volumes Henry Fielding reaches the full stature of his genius as
the first, and perhaps the greatest, of English novelists.

It is difficult, at the present day, to realise the greatness of his
achievement. Fielding found, posturing as heroines of romance, the
_Clelias, Cleopatras, Astraeas_; he left the living women, Fanny Andrews,
Sophia Western, Amelia Booth. "Amelia," writes his great follower
Thackeray, "... the most charming character in English fiction,--Fiction!
Why fiction? Why not history? I know Amelia just as well as Lady Mary
Wortley Montagu." Again, Fielding found a world of polite letters, turning
a stiff back on all "low" naturalness of life. He taught that world (as
his friend Lillo had already essayed to do in his tragedy of a _London
Merchant_) that the life of a humble footman, of a poor parson in a torn
cassock, of the poverty-hunted wife of an impoverished army-captain, of a
country lad without known parentage, interest or fortune, may make finer
reading than all the Court romances ever written; and, moreover, that "the
highest life is much the dullest, and affords very little humour or
entertainment." And, having rediscovered this world of natural and simple
human nature, his genius proceeded to the creation of nothing less than an
entirely new form of English literary expression, the medium of the novel.

The preface to _Joseph Andrews_ shows that Fielding was perfectly
conscious of the greatness of his adventure. Such a species of writing, he
says, "I do not remember to have seen hitherto attempted in our language."
We can but wonder at, and admire, the superb energy and confidence which
could thus embark on the conscious production of this new thing, amid
want, pain, and distress. And wonder and admiration increase tenfold on
the further discovery that this fresh creation in literature, fashioned in
circumstances so depressing, is overflowing with an exuberance of healthy
life and enjoyment. Having entered on his fair inheritance of this new
world of human nature, Fielding pourtrays it from the standpoint of his
own maxim, that life "everywhere furnishes an accurate observer with the
ridiculous." So, into this, his newly-cut channel for imaginative
expression (to use Mr Gosse's happy phrase) he poured the strength of a
genius naturally inclined to that "exquisite mirth and laughter," which as
he declared in his preface to these volumes, "are probably more wholesome
physic for the mind and conduce better to purge away spleen, melancholy,
and ill affections than is generally imagined." No book ever more
thoroughly carried out this wholesome doctrine. The laughter in _Joseph
Andrews_ is as whole-hearted, if not as noisy, the practical jokes are as
broad, as those of a healthy school-boy; and the pages ring with a spirit
and gusto recalling Lady Mary's phrase concerning her cousin "that no man
enjoyed life more than he did." To quote again from Mr Gosse: "A good deal
in this book may offend the fine, and not merely the superfine. But the
vitality and elastic vigour of the whole carry us over every difficulty...
and we pause at the close of the novel to reflect on the amazing freshness
of the talent which could thus make a set of West country scenes, in that
despised thing, a novel, blaze with light like a comedy of Shakespeare."

So original in creation, so humane, so full of a brave delight in life,
was the power that, mastering every gloomy obstacle of circumstance, broke
into the stilted literary world of 1742; and Murphy's Irish rhetoric is
not too warm when he talks of this sunrise of Fielding's greatness "when
his genius broke forth at once, with an effulgence superior to all the
rays of light it had before emitted, like the sun in his morning glory."

Any detailed comment on the literary qualities of the genius which thus
disclosed itself would exceed the limits of this memoir; and indeed such
comment is, now, a thrice-told tale. To Sir Walter Scott, Fielding is the
"father of the English novel"; to Byron, "the prose Homer of human
nature." The magnificent tribute of Gibbon still remains a towering
monument, whatever experts may tell us concerning the Hapsburg genealogy.
"Our immortal Fielding," he wrote, "was of the younger branch of the Earls
of Denbigh, who drew their origin from the Counts of Hapsburg. The
successors of Charles V. may disdain their brethren of England; but the
romance of _Tom Jones_, that exquisite picture of human manners, will
outlive the palace of the Escurial and the Imperial Eagle of Austria."
Smollett affirmed that his predecessor painted the characters, and
ridiculed the follies, of life with equal strength, humour and propriety.
The supreme autocrat of the eighteenth century, Dr Johnson himself, though
always somewhat hostile to Fielding, read _Amelia_ through without
stopping, and pronounced her to be 'the most pleasing heroine of all the
romances.' "What a poet is here," cries Thackeray, "watching, meditating,
brooding, creating! What multitudes of truths has that man left behind
him: what generations he has taught to laugh wisely and fairly." Finally
we may turn neither to novelist nor historian, but to the metaphysical
philosopher, "How charming! How wholesome is Fielding!" says Coleridge,
"to take him up after Richardson is like emerging from a sick-room, heated
by stoves, into an open lawn on a breezy day in May." Such are some
estimates of the quality of Fielding's genius, given by men not
incompetent to appraise him. To analyse that genius is, as has been said,
beyond the scope of these pages. But Fielding's first novel is not only a
revelation of genius. It frankly reveals much of the man behind the pen;
and in its pages, and in those of the still greater novels yet to come, we
may learn more of the true Fielding than from all the fatuities and
surmises of his early biographers.

Thus in _Joseph Andrews_ for the first time we come really close to the
splendid and healthy energy, the detachment, the relentless scorn, the
warmth of feeling, that characterised Henry Fielding under all
circumstances and at all times of his life. This book, as we have seen,
was written under every outward disadvantage, and yet its pages ring with
vigour and laughter. Here is the same militant energy that had nerved
Fielding to fight the domination of a corrupt (and generally corrupting)
Minister for eight lean years; and which in later life flung itself into a
chivalrous conflict with current social crime and misery. Here is a
detachment hardly less than that which fills the pages of the last
_Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon_ with a courage, a gaiety, a serenity that
no suffering and hardship, and not even the near approach of death itself,
could disturb. Here, again, Fielding consciously avows a moral purpose in
his art; the merciless scorn of his insight in depicting a vicious man or
woman is actuated, he expressly declares, by a motive other than that of
'art for art's sake.' And as this motive is scarce perceptible in the
lifelike reality of the figures whom we see breathing in actual flesh and
blood in his pages, and yet is of the first importance for understanding
the character of their creator, the great novelist's confession of this
portion of his literary faith may be quoted in full. The passage occurs in
the preface to Book iii. of _Joseph Andrews_. Fielding is afraid, he
explains, that his figures may be taken for particular portraits, whereas
it is the type and not the individual that concerns him. "I declare here,"
he solemnly affirms, "once for all, I describe not Men, but Manners; not
an Individual, but a Species." And he proceeds to make example of the
lawyer in the stage coach as not indeed confined "to one Profession, one
Religion, or one Country; but when the first mean selfish Creature
appeared on the human Stage, who made Self the Centre of the whole
Creation; would give himself no Pain, incur no Damage, advance no Money to
assist, or preserve his Fellow-Creatures; then was our Lawyer born; and
while such a Person as I have described, exists on Earth, so long shall he
remain upon it." Not therefore "to mimick some little obscure Fellow" does
this lawyer appear on Fielding's pages, but "for much more general and
noble Purposes; not to expose one pitiful Wretch, to the small and
contemptible Circle of his Acquaintance; but to hold the Glass to
thousands in their Closets that they may contemplate their Deformity, and
endeavour to reduce it."

Yet another characteristic of Fielding's personality appears in the
conscious control exercised over all the humorous and satiric zest of
_Joseph Andrews_. Here is no unseemly riot of ridicule. The ridiculous he
declares in his philosophic preface is the subject-matter of his pages;
but he will suffer no imputation of ridiculing vice or calamity. "Surely,"
he cries, "he hath a very ill-framed Mind, who can look on Ugliness,
Infirmity, or Poverty, as ridiculous in themselves"; and he formally
declares that such vices as appear in this work "are never set forth as
the objects of Ridicule but Detestation." What then were the limits which
Fielding imposed on himself in treating this, his declared subject matter
of the ridiculous? Hypocrisy and vanity, he says, appearing in the form of
affectation; "Great Vices are the proper Object of our Detestation,
smaller Faults of our Pity: but Affectation appears to me the only true
Source of the Ridiculous." Such is Fielding's sensitive claim for the
decent limits of ridicule; and such the consciously avowed subject of his
work. But the force of his genius, the depth of his insight, the warmth of
his detestations and affections, soon carried him far beyond any mere
study in the ridicule of vain and hypocritical affectation. The immortal
figure of Parson Adams, striding through these pages, tells us infinitely
much of the character of his creator, but nothing at all of the nature of
affectation. The "rural innocence of a Joseph Andrews," to quote Miss
Fielding's happy phrase [1] and of his charming Fanny, are as natural and
fresh as Fielding's own Dorsetshire meadows, but instruct us not at all in
vanity or hypocrisy.

To turn to the individual figures of _Joseph Andrews_; what do they tell
us of the man who called them into being. First and foremost, it is Parson
Adams who unquestionably dominates the book. However much the licentious
grossness of Lady Booby, the shameless self-seeking of her waiting-woman,
Mrs Slipslop, the swinish avarice of Parson Trulliber, the calculating
cruelty of Mrs Tow-wouse, to name but some of the vices here exposed,
blazon forth that 'enthusiasm for righteousness' which constantly moved
Fielding to exhibit the devilish in human nature in all its 'native
Deformity,' it is still Adams who remains the central figure of the great
comic epic. Concerning the good parson, appreciation has stumbled for
adequate words, from the tribute of Sir Walter Scott to that of Mr Austin
Dobson. "The worthy parson's learning," wrote Sir Walter, "his simplicity,
his evangelical purity of heart, and benevolence of disposition, are so
admirably mingled with pedantry, absence of mind, and with the habit of
athletic and gymnastic exercise, ... that he may be safely termed one of
the richest productions of the Muse of Fiction." And to Mr Austin Dobson,
this poor curate, compact as he is of the oddest contradictions, the most
diverting eccentricities, is "assuredly a noble example of primitive
goodness, and practical Christianity." We love Adams, as Fielding intended
that we should, for his single-hearted goodness, his impulsiveness, his
boundless generosity, his muscular courage; we are never allowed to forget
the dignity of his office however ragged be the cassock that displays it;
we admire his learning; we delight in his oddities. But above all he
reflects honour on his creator by the inflexible integrity of his
goodness. A hundred tricks are played on him by shallow knaves, and the
result is but to convince us of the folly of knavery. His ill-clad and
uncouth figure moves among the vicious and prosperous, and we perceive the
ugliness of vice, and the poverty of wealth. With his nightcap drawn over
his wig, a short grey coat half covering a torn cassock, the crabstick so
formidable to ruffians in his hand, and his beloved AEschylus in his
pocket, Adams smoking his pipe by the inn fire, or surrounded by his
"children" as he called his parishioners vying "with each other in
demonstrations of duty and love," fully justifies John Forster's comment
on Fielding's manly habit of "discerning what was good and beautiful in
the homeliest aspects of humanity." Before the true dignity of Abraham
Adams, whether he be publicly rebuking the Squire and Pamela for laughing
in church, or emerging unstained from adventures with hogs-wash and worse,
the accident of his social position as a poor curate, contentedly drinking
ale in the squire's kitchen, falls into its true insignificance.

Rumour assigned to Fielding's friend and neighbour at East Stour, the Rev.
William Young, the honour of being the original of Parson Adams; and it is
a pleasant coincidence that the legal assignment for _Joseph Andrews_,
here reproduced in facsimile, should bear the signature, as witness, of
the very man whose "innate goodness" is there immortalised. If there be
any detractors of Fielding's personal character still to be found, they
may be advised to remember the truism that a man is known by his friends,
and to apply themselves to a study of William Young in the figure of
Parson Adams.

Of the charming picture of rustic beauty and innocence presented in the
blushing and warmhearted Fanny less need be said; for Fielding's ideal in
womanhood was soon to be more fully revealed in the lovely creations of
Sophia and Amelia. And honest Joseph himself, his courage and fidelity,
his constancy, his tenderness and chivalrous passion for Fanny, his
affection for Mr Adams, his voice "too musical to halloo to the dogs," his
fine figure and handsome face, concerns us here chiefly as demonstrating
that Fielding, when he chose, could display both virtue and manliness as
united in the person of a perfectly robust English country lad.

These then, are some of the figures that Fielding loved to create,
breathing into their simple virtues a vigorous human life, fresh as
Coleridge said, as the life of a Spring morning. In these joyous creations
of his heart and of his genius, the great novelist assuredly gives us a
perfectly unconscious revelation of his own character. And among the
changing scenes of this human comedy one incident must not be forgotten.
In the famous episode of the stage coach, all Fielding's characteristic
and relentless hatred of respectable hypocrisy, all his love of innate if
ragged virtue is betrayed in the compass of a few pages: in those pages in
which we see the robbed, half-murdered, and wholly naked Joseph lifted in
from the wayside ditch amid the protests and merriment of the respectable
passengers; and his shivering body at last wrapped in the coat of the
postilion,--"a Lad who hath since been transported for robbing a
Hen-roost,"--who voluntarily stripped off a greatcoat, his only garment,
"at the same time swearing a great Oath (for which he was rebuked by the
Passengers) 'that he would rather ride in his Shirt all his Life, than
suffer a Fellow-Creature to lie in so miserable a Condition.'"

Much has been written concerning the notorious feud between Fielding and
Richardson, a feud ostensibly based upon the fact that _Joseph Andrews_
was, to some extent, frankly a parody of Richardson's famous production
_Pamela_. In 1740, two years before the appearance of _Joseph Andrews_
that middle-aged London printer had published _Pamela, or Virtue
Rewarded_, achieving thereby an enormous vogue. That amazing mixture of
sententious moralities, of prurience, and of mawkish sentiment, became the
rage of the Town. Admirers ranked it next to the Bible; the great Mr Pope
declared that it would "do more good than many volumes of Sermons"; and it
was even translated into French and Italian, becoming, according to Lady
Mary Wortley Montagu, who did not love Richardson, "the joy of the
chambermaids of all nations." That all this should have been highly
agreeable to the good Richardson, a 'vegetarian and water-drinker, a
worthy, domesticated, fussy, and highly nervous little man,' ensconced in
a ring of feminine flatterers whom he called 'my ladies,' is obvious; and
proportionate was his wrath with Fielding's _Joseph Andrews_, of which the
early chapters, at least, are a perfectly frank, and to Richardson
audacious, satire on _Pamela_. The caricature was indeed frank. Joseph is
introduced as Pamela's brother; he writes letters to that virtuous
maid-servant; and the Mr B. of Richardson becomes the Squire Booby of
Fielding. But there can be hardly two opinions as to such ridicule being
an entirely justified and wholesome antidote to the pompous and nauseous
original. To Fielding's robust and masculine genius, says Mr Austin
Dobson, "the strange conjunction of purity and precaution in Richardson's
heroine was a thing unnatural and a theme for inextinguishable Homeric
laughter." To Thackeray's sympathetic imagination the feud was the
inevitable outcome of the difference between the two men. Fielding, he
says "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 moll-coddle 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, and had seen the daylight streaming in over thousands of empty
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. 'Wretch! Monster! Mohock!' shrieks the sentimental
author of _Pamela_; and all the ladies of his court cackle out an
affrighted chorus."

Looking back on the incident it seems matter for yet more Homeric laughter
that Richardson should have called the resplendent genius of Fielding
"low." But the feud, it may be surmised, led to much of the odium that
seems to have attached to Fielding's name amongst some of his
contemporaries. Feeling ran high and was vividly expressed in those days;
and when cousinly admiration for Fielding was coupled by an excellent
comment on Richardson's book as the delight of the maidservants of all
nations, personal retorts in favour of the popular sentimentalist were but
too likely to ensue. Apart from this aspect of the matter the ancient
quarrel does not seem a very essential incident in Fielding's life.

The lack of means indicated by Fielding himself, in his reminiscence of
this winter of 1741-2 as darkened by the illness of himself, his wife and
of a favourite child, attended "with other Circumstances, which served as
very proper Decorations to such a Scene," received but little alleviation
from the publication of _Joseph Andrews_. The price paid for the book by
Andrew Millar was but £183, 11s.; and there is no record that Millar
supplemented the original sum, as he did in the case of _Tom Jones_, when
the sale was assured. The first edition appears to have consisted of 1,500
copies. A second edition, of 2,000 copies was issued in the same
summer,[2] and a third edition followed in 1743.

Fielding's formal declaration that he described "not men but manners"; his
solemn protest, in the preface to this very book, that "I have no
Intention to vilify or asperse anyone: for tho' everything is copied from
the Book of Nature, and scarce a Character or Action produced which I have
not taken from my own Observations and Experience, yet I have used the
utmost Care to obscure the Persons by such different Circumstances,
Degrees, and Colours, that it will be impossible to guess at them with any
degree of Certainty"--represent rather his intention than the result. The
portraits of "manners" by the "prose Homer of human nature" were too
lifelike to escape frequent identification. Thus not only was the
prototype of Parson Adams discovered, but that of his antithesis, the
pig-breeding Mr Trulliber, was thought to exist in the person of the Rev.
Mr Oliver, the Dorsetshire curate under whose tutelage Fielding had been
placed when a boy. Tradition also connects Mr Peter Pounce with the
Dorsetshire usurer Peter Walter. [3]

Two echoes have come down to us of the early appreciation of this novel. A
translation of _Joseph Andrews_, "par une Dame Angloise," and bound for
Marie Antoinette by Derome le Jeune, was placed on the shelves of her
library in the Petit Trianon. [4] And, seven years after the appearance of
_Joseph Andrews_, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, when sixty years old, writes
from her Italian exile: "I have at length received the box with the books
enclosed, for which I give you many thanks as they amuse me very much. I
gave a very ridiculous proof of it, fitter indeed for my granddaughter
than myself. I returned from a party on horseback; and after having rode
20 miles, part of it by moonshine, it was ten at night when I found the
box arrived. I could not deny myself the pleasure of opening it; and
falling upon Fielding's works was fool enough to sit up all night reading.
I think Joseph Andrews better than his Foundling." [5]

[1] _Cleopatra and Octavia_. Sarah Fielding. Introduction.

[2] See the ledgers of Woodfall, the printer, quoted in _Notes and
Queries_, Series vi. p. 186.

[3] It is interesting to note that Samuel Rogers was heard to speak with
great admiration of chapter xiii. of Book iii., entitled "A curious
Dialogue which passed between Mr Abraham Adams and Mr Peter Pounce." (MS.
note by Dyce, in a copy of _Joseph Andrews_, now in the South Kensington
Museum.)

[4] This copy, published in Amsterdam in 1775, is now in the possession of
Mr Pierpont Morgan.

[5] Letters and Works of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Vol. ii. p. 194.



CHAPTER IX

THE _Miscellanies_ AND _Jonathan Wild_

    "Is there on earth a greater object of contempt than the poor
    scholar to a splendid beau; unless perhaps the splendid beau to
    the poor scholar."
    _Covent Garden Journal_, No. 61.

If the 'sunrise' of Fielding's genius did indeed shine forth on the
publication of _Joseph Andrews_, it was a sunrise attended by dark clouds.
For, with the appearance of these two little volumes, we enter on the most
obscure period of the great novelist's life, and on that in which he
appears to have suffered the severest 'invasions of Fortune.'

As regards the winter immediately preceding the appearance of that joyous
epic of the highway, he himself has told us that he was 'laid up in the
gout, with a favourite Child dying in one Bed, and my Wife in a Condition
very little better, on another, attended with other Circumstances, which
served as very proper Decorations to such a Scene.' In the following
February, an entry in the registers of St Martin's in the Fields records
the burial of a child "Charlott Fielding." So it is probable that the very
month of the appearance of his first novel brought a private grief to
Fielding the poignancy of which may be measured by his frequent betrayals
of an anxious affection for his children.

To such distresses of sickness and anxiety, there was now, doubtless,
added the further misery of scanty means. For a few months later an
advertisement (hitherto overlooked) appears in the _Daily Post_, showing
that Fielding was already eagerly pushing forward the publication of the
_Miscellanies_, that incoherent collection which is itself proof enough
that necessity alone had called it into being. "The publication of these
Volumes," he says, "hath been hitherto retarded by the Author's
indisposition last Winter, and a train of melancholy Accidents, scarce to
be parallel'd; but he takes this opportunity to assure his Subscribers
that he will most certainly deliver them within the time mentioned in his
last receipts, viz. by the 25th December next." [1]

We may take it, then, that the first six months of 1742 were attended by
no easy circumstances; and, accordingly, during these months Fielding's
hard-worked pen produced no less than three very different attempts to win
subsistence from those humoursome jades the nine Muses. To take these
efforts in order of date, first comes, in March, his sole invocation of
the historic Muse, the _Full Vindication of the Dutchess Dowager of
Marlborough_, published almost before Joseph Andrews was clear of the
printers, and sold at the modest price of one shilling. We learn from the
title page that the _Vindication_ was called forth by a "late _scurrilous_
Pamphlet," containing "_base_ and _malicious_ Invectives" against Her
Grace. Together with Fielding's natural love for fighting, a family tie
may have given him a further incitement to draw his pen on behalf of the
aged Duchess. For his first cousin, Mary Gould, the only child of his
uncle James Gould, M.P. for Dorchester, had married General Charles
Churchill, brother to the great Duke. Whether this cousinship by marriage
led to any personal acquaintance between 'old Sarah' and Harry Fielding we
do not know; and the muniment room at Blenheim affords no trace of any
correspondence between the Duchess and her champion. But certainly the
_Vindication_ lacks nothing of personal warmth. Fielding tells us that he
has never contemplated the character of that 'Glorious Woman' but with
admiration; and he defends her against the attacks of her opponents
through forty strenuous pages, in which the curious may still hear the
echoes of the controversies that raged round the Duke and his Duchess,
their mistress Queen Anne, and other actors of the Revolution. The
_Vindication_ appeared in March; and a second edition was called for
during the year. As far as Millar's payment goes Fielding, as appears from
the assignment in _Joseph Andrews_, received only £5; and it is to be
feared that the Duchess (who is said to have paid the historian Hooke
£5000 for his assistance in the production of her own celebrated pamphlet)
placed but little substantial acknowledgment in Fielding's lean purse. Her
champion at any rate had, within three years, modified the views expressed
in this _Vindication_, concerning the munificence of Her Grace's private
generosity; for in his journal the _True Patriot_, there occurs the
following obituary notice, "A Man supposed to be a Pensioner of the late
Duchess of Marlborough.... He is supposed to have been Poor."

This same month of March marked Fielding's final severance with the
_Champion_. The partners of that paper, meeting on March the 1st, ordered
"that Whereas Henry Fielding Esq., did Originally possess Two Sixteenth
Shares of the Champion as a Writer in the said paper and having withdrawn
himself from that Service for above Twelve Months past and refused his
Assistance in that Capacity since which time Mr Ralph has solely
Transacted the said Business. It is hereby Declared that the said Writing
Shares shall devolve on and be vested in Mr James Ralph." [2] It is
curious that Fielding did not add to his impoverished exchequer by selling
his _Champion_ shares.

Having sought assistance from the Muse of history in March, Fielding
returns to his old charmer the dramatic Muse in May; assisting in that
month to produce a farce, at Drury Lane, entitled _Miss Lucy in Town_. In
this piece, he tells us, he had a very small share. He also received for
it a very small remuneration; £10, 10s. being recorded as the price paid
by Andrew Millar.

In the following month Fielding's inexhaustible energies were off on a new
tack, producing, in startling contrast to _Miss Lucy_, a classical work,
executed in collaboration with his friend the Rev. William Young,
otherwise Parson Adams. The two friends contemplated a series of
translations of all the eleven comedies of Aristophanes; adorned by notes
containing "besides a full Explanation of the Author, a compleat History
of the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Greeks particularly of the
Athenians"; and in June they inaugurated their scheme with the work in
question, a translation of the Plutus.[3] William Young, says Hutchins,
"had much learning which was the cement of Mr Fielding's connexion with
him"; and Fielding's own scholarship, irradiated by his wit, would
assuredly have made him an ideal translator of Greek comedy. But the
public of 1742 appears to have afforded very little encouragement to this
scheme, preferring that "pretty, dapper, brisk, smart, pert, Dialogue" of
their own comedies, to which allusion is made in the authors' preface.

The rest of the year shows nothing from a pen somewhat exhausted perhaps
with the production of _Joseph Andrews_ of the historical _Vindication_,
and of parts of a Drury Lane farce and of the _Plutus_, all within five
months. And the winter following, in which the promised _Miscellanies_
should have appeared, brought, in the renewed illness of his wife, an
anxiety that paralysed even Fielding's buoyant vigour. This we learn from
his own touching apology for the further delay of those volumes; a delay
due, their author tells us, to "the dangerous Illness of one from whom I
draw all the solid Comfort of my Life, during the greatest Part of this
Winter. This, as it is most sacredly true, so will it, I doubt not,
sufficiently excuse the Delay to all who know me." [4] Early in the
following year, after this second winter of crushing anxiety, and under an
urgent pressure for means, Fielding tried again his familiar _rôle_ of
popular dramatist, giving his public the husks they preferred, in the
comedy of the _Wedding Day_. This comedy was produced at Drury Lane on the
17th of February 1743.

If Fielding had failed to descend to the taste of the Town in offering
them Aristophanes, he flung them in the _Wedding Day_ something too
imperfect for acceptance, even by the 'critic jury of the pit,' And the
bitter humour in which he was now shackling his genius to the honourable
task of immediate bread-winning, or in his own words to the part of
"hackney writer," comes out clearly enough in the well-known anecdote of
the first night of this comedy. In Murphy's words, Garrick, then a new
player, just taking the Town by storm, "told Mr Fielding he was
apprehensive that the audience would make free in a particular passage;
adding that a repulse might so flurry his spirits as to disconcert him for
the rest of the night, and therefore begged that it might be omitted. 'No,
d--mn 'em,' replied the bard, 'if the scene is not a good one, let them
find _that_ out.' Accordingly the play was brought on without alteration,
and, just as had been foreseen, the disapprobation of the house was
provoked at the passage before objected to; and the performer alarmed and
uneasy at the hisses he had met with, retired into the green-room, where
the author was indulging his genius, and solacing himself with a bottle of
champaign." Fielding, continues Murphy, had by this time drank pretty
plentifully, and "'_What's the matter, Garrick?_' says he, '_what are they
hissing now?_' Why the scene that I begged you to retrench; I knew it
would not do; and they have so frightened me that I shall not be able to
collect myself again the whole night. _Oh! d--mn 'em_, replies the author,
_they HAVE found it out, have they!_" That Fielding should be scornfully
indifferent to the judgment of the pit on work forced from him by
overwhelming necessities, and which his own judgment condemned, is a
foregone conclusion; but that he suffered keenly in having to produce
imperfect work, and was jealously anxious to clear his reputation, as a
writer, in the matter of this particular comedy, is no less apparent from
the very unusual personal explanation he offered for it, soon after the
brief run of the play was over. For no man was more shy of
autobiographical revelations. His biographers are continually reduced to
gleaning stray hints, here and there, concerning his private life.
[5] And therefore we can measure by this emergence from a habitual
personal reticence the soreness with which he now published work unworthy
of his genius. "Mr Garrick," Fielding tells us, speaking of this
distressed winter of 1742-3 "... asked me one Evening, if I had any play
by me; telling me he was desirous of appearing in a new Part [and] ... as
I was full as desirous of putting Words into his Mouth, as he could appear
to be of speaking them, I mentioned [a] Play the very next morning to Mr
_Fleetwood_ who embraced my Proposal so heartily, that an Appointment was
immediately made to read it to the Actors who were principally to be
concerned in it." On consideration, however, this play appeared to
Fielding to need more time for perfecting, and also to afford very little
opportunity to Garrick. So, recollecting that he still had by him a play
which, although 'the third Dramatic Performance' he ever attempted,
contained a character that would keep the audience's "so justly favourite
Actor almost eternally before their Eyes," he decided, with characteristic
impetuosity, to a change at the last moment. "I accordingly," he writes,
"sat down with a Resolution to work Night and Day, owing to the short Time
allowed me, which was about a Week, in altering and correcting this
Production of my more Juvenile Years; when unfortunately the extreme
Danger of Life into which a Person, very dear to me, was reduced, rendered
me incapable of executing my Task. To this Accident alone I have the
vanity to apprehend, the Play owes most of the glaring Faults with which
it appeared.... Perhaps, it may be asked me why then did I suffer a Piece
which I myself knew was imperfect, to appear? I answer honestly and
freely, that Reputation was not my Inducement; and that I hoped, faulty as
it was, it might answer a much more solid, and in my unhappy situation, a
much more urgent Motive." This hope was, alas, frustrated; not even the
brilliancy of a cast which included Garrick, Mrs Pritchard, Macklin, and
Peg Woffington, could carry the _Wedding Day_ over its sixth night; and
the harassed author received 'not £50 from the House for it.' The comedy
is a coarsely moral attack on libertinism, a fact which probably, in no
wise added to the popularity of the play in the pit and boxes of 1743.

A doggerel prologue, both written and spoken by Macklin, gives an
excellent picture of the playhouse humours, and of the wild pit, of those
exuberant days; and contains moreover the following sound advice,
addressed to Fielding

  "Ah! thou foolish follower of the ragged Nine
  You'd better stuck to honest Abram Adams, by half;
  He, in spite of critics can make your Readers laugh."

The next publication of these lean years was the _Miscellanies_, a
collection of mingled prose, verse, and drama, of which the only
connecting link seems to be the urgent need of money which forced so
heterogenous a medley from so great an artist. These long delayed volumes
appeared, probably, in April, and were, says Fielding, composed with a
frequent "Degree of Heartache." They include the lover's verses of his
early youth; philosophical, satiric, and didactic essays; a reprint of the
political effusion dedicated to Dodington; a few plays; the fragment
entitled _A Journey from this World to the Next_; and the splendid ironic
outburst on villany, _Jonathan Wild_.

The _Preface_, largely occupied as it is with those private circumstances
which forced the hasty production of the _Wedding Day_, has other matter
of even greater interest for the biographer. Thus Fielding's sensitive
care of his reputation in essential matters appears in the fiery denial
here given to allegations of publishing anonymous scandals: "I never was,
nor will be the Author of anonymous Scandal on the private History or
Family of any Person whatever. Indeed there is no Man who speaks or thinks
with more detestation of the modern custom of Libelling. I look on the
practice of stabbing a Man's Character in the Dark, to be as base and as
barbarous as that of stabbing him with a Poignard in the same manner; nor
have I ever been once in my Life guilty of it." Here too, he marks his
abhorrence of that 'detestable Vice' hypocrisy, which vice he was, before
long, to expose utterly in the person of Blifil in _Tom Jones_. His happy
social temperament is betrayed in the characteristic definition of good
breeding as consisting in "contributing with our utmost Power to the
Satisfaction and Happiness of all about us." And in these pages we have
Fielding's philosophy of _goodness_ and _greatness_, delivered in words
that already display an unrivalled perfection of style. Speaking of his
third volume, that poignant indictment of devilry the _Life of Mr Jonathan
Wild the Great_, it is thus that Fielding exposes the iniquity of villains
in "great" places:--"But without considering _Newgate_ as no other than
Human Nature with its mask off, which some very shameless Writers have
done, a Thought which no Price should purchase me to entertain, I think we
may be excused for suspecting, that the splendid Palaces of the Great, are
often no other than _Newgate_ with the Mask on. Nor do I know anything
which can raise an honest Man's Indignation higher than that the same
Morals should be in one Place attended with all imaginable Misery and
Infamy and in the other with the highest Luxory and Honour. Let any
impartial Man in his Senses be asked, for which of these two Places a
Composition of Cruelty, Lust, Avarice, Rapine, Insolence, Hypocrisy, Fraud
and Treachery, was best fitted, surely his Answer must be certain and
immediate; and yet I am afraid all these Ingredients glossed over with
Wealth and a Title, have been treated with the highest Respect and
Veneration in the one, while one or two of them have been condemned to the
Gallows in the other."

Here is the converse of that insight which could discern goodness under a
ragged cassock, or in a swearing postilion. And, having discerned the true
nature of such Great Men, Fielding proceeds to point out that "However the
Glare of Riches and Awe of Title may terrify the Vulgar; nay however
Hypocrisy may deceive the more Discerning, there is still a Judge in every
Man's Breast, which none can cheat or corrupt, tho' perhaps it is the only
uncorrupt thing about him"; that nothing is so preposterous as that men
should laboriously seek to be villains; and that this Judge, inflexible
and honest "however polluted the Bench on which he sits," always bestows
on the spurious Great the penalty of fear, an evil which "never can in any
manner molest the Happiness" of the "Enjoyments of Innocence and Virtue."

The subsequent philosophic dissertation on the qualities of goodness and
greatness is interesting for such passages as the definition of a good man
as one possessing "Benevolence, Honour, Honesty, and Charity"; and the
fine declaration that of the passion of Love "goodness hath always
appeared to me the only true and proper Object." And the very springs of
action underlying half at least of each of the three great novels, and
almost every page of _Jonathan Wild_, are revealed in the final
declaration of the writer's intention to expose in these pages vice
stripped of its false colours; to show it "in its native Deformity." As
the native and stripped deformity of vice is perhaps not often fully
apprehended and certainly is very seldom exposed in our own age, Fielding,
by the very sincerity and fire of his morality, doubtless loses many a
modern reader.

It is in the third volume of the _Miscellanies_, a volume completely
occupied by _Jonathan Wild_, that Fielding first fully reveals himself as
public moralist. And in this Rogue's progress to the gallows he displays
so concentrated a zeal, that nothing short of his genius and his humour
could have saved these pages from the dullness of the professional
reformer. For the little volume consists of a relentless exposure of the
deformity and folly of vice. Here the foul souls of Wild and his
associates, stripped of all the glamour of picturesque crime, stand
displayed in their essential qualities, with the result that even the
pestilential air of thieves' slums, of 'night cellars,' and of Newgate
purlieus, an air which hangs so heavy over every page, falls back into
insignificance before the loathsomeness of the central figure. A few years
later, in the preface to _Tom Jones_, Fielding formally asserted his
belief that the beauty of goodness needed but to be seen 'to attract the
admiration of mankind'; in _Jonathan Wild_ he appears to be already at
work on the converse doctrine, that if the deformity of vice be but
stripped naked, abhorrence must ensue. Such a naked criminal is Wild; and
in the contemplation of his vices, as in the case of the arch hypocrite
Blifil, in _Tom Jones_, and of the shameless sensualist "My Lord," in
_Amelia_, Fielding's characteristic compassion for the faults of hard
pressed humanity is, for the time, scorched up in the fierceness of his
anger and scorn at deliberate cruelty, avarice and lust. Under the spell
of Fielding's power of painting the devil in his native blackness, we feel
that for such as Wild hanging is too handsome a fate. It is easy for his
Newgate chaplain to assert that "nothing is so sinful as sin"; it takes a
great genius and a great moralist to convince us, as in this picture, that
nothing is so deformed or so contemptible. The dark places of _Jonathan
Wild_ receive some light in the character of the good jeweller, in the
tender scenes between that honest ruined tradesman and his wife and
children, and in the devoted affection of his apprentice. But the true
illumination of the book, and its personal value for the biographer, lie
in the white heat of anger, the "sustained and sleepless irony" to adopt
Mr Austin Dobson's happy phrase, with which Fielding, with a force
unwavering from the first page to the last, here assails his subject. An
underlying attack on the Ministerial iniquity of "Great Men" in high
places seems to be often suggested; if this be a true inference, it does
but give us further proof of Fielding's energies as a political, no less
than as a moral, reformer. Certainly, through all the squalid scenes of
the book, the contention is insisted on that criminals of Wild's
tyrannical stamp may as easily be found in courts, and at the head of
armies, as among the poor leaders of Newgate gangs. To the wise moralist
it is the same rogue, whether picking a pocket or swindling his country.

And not to forget the wit in the moral reformer, we may leave Mr Jonathan
Wild listening to one of the reasons given by the Newgate chaplain for his
Reverence's preference for punch over wine: "Let me tell you, Mr Wild
there is nothing so deceitful as the spirits given us by wine. If you must
drink let us have a bowl of punch; a liquor I the rather prefer as it is
nowhere spoken against in Scripture."

After _Jonathan Wild_ the most interesting fragment of the _Miscellanies_
is the _Journey from this World to the Next_. In this essay Fielding
reveals his philosophy, his sternness, his affections, and his humour, as
a man might do in intimate conversation. His warm humanity breathes in the
conception that "the only Business" of those who had won admission to
Elysium 'that happy Place,' was to "contribute to the Happiness of each
other"; and again in the stern declaration of Heaven's doorkeeper, the
Judge Minos, that "no Man enters that Gate without Charity." And indeed
the whole chapter devoted to the judgments administered by Minos on the
spirits that come, confident or trembling, before him, and are either
admitted to Heaven, sent back to earth, or despatched to the "little Back
Gate" opening immediately into the bottomless pit, is full of personal
revelation. We feel the glee with which Fielding consigns the "little
sneaking soul" of a miser to diabolically ingenious torments; the
satisfaction with which he watches Minos apply a kick to the retreating
figure of a duke, possessed of nothing but "a very solemn Air and great
Dignity"; and the pleasure it gave him to observe the rejection accorded
to "a grave Lady," the Judge declaring that "there was not a single Prude
in Elysium." Again, nothing could be more true to Fielding's nature than
the account of the poet who is admitted, not for the moral value he
himself places on his Dramatic Works (which he endeavours to read aloud to
Minos), but because "he had once lent the whole profits of a Benefit Night
to a Friend, and by that Means had saved him and his Family from
Destruction"; unless it were the account of the poverty driven wretch,
hanged for a robbery of eighteen-pence, who yet could plead that he had
supported an aged Parent with his labour, that he had been a very tender
Husband, and a Kind Father, and that he had ruined himself for being Bail
for a Friend. "At these words," adds the historian, "the gate opened, and
_Minos_ bid him enter, giving him a slap on the Back as he passed by him."

When the author's own turn came, he very little expects, he tells us, "to
pass this fiery Trial. I confess'd I had indulged myself very freely with
Wine and Women in my Youth, but had never done an Injury to any Man
living, nor avoided an opportunity of doing good; but I pretended to very
little Virtue more than general Philanthropy and Private Friendship." Here
Minos cut the speaker short, bidding him enter the gate, and not indulge
himself trumpeting forth his virtues. Whether or no we may here read the
reflections of Fielding's maturity, looking honestly back over his own
forty years and forward with humble fear into the future, we may certainly
see reflected in both confession and judgment much of the doctrine and the
practice of his life.

After the failure, early in 1743, of the _Wedding Day_, and the subsequent
publication of the _Miscellanies_, Fielding seems to have thrown his
energies for twelve months into an exclusive pursuit of the law. This
appears from his statement, made a year later, in May 1744, that he could
not possibly be the author of his sister's novel _David Simple_, which had
been attributed to him, because he had applied himself to his profession
"with so arduous and intent a diligence that I have had no leisure, if I
had inclination, to compose anything of this kind." Clearly, in the period
that covers the publication of _Joseph Andrews_ an historical pamphlet,
parts of a farce and of _Plutus_, and of the _Miscellanies_, Fielding
found both leisure and inclination for writing; so this sudden immersion
in law must relate to the twelve months or so intervening between these
works and the publication of his statement. Murphy corroborates this bout
of hard legal effort. After the _Wedding Day_ says that biographer "the
law from this time had its hot and cold fits with him." The cold fits were
fits of gout; and inconveniences felt by Fielding from these interruptions
were, adds Murphy "the more severe upon him, as voluntary and wilful
neglect could not be charged upon him. The repeated shocks of illness
disabled him from being as assiduous an attendant at the bar, as his own
inclination and patience of the most laborious application, would
otherwise have made him."

Mr Counsellor Fielding follows his retrospect of this strenuous attack on
the law with a declaration that, henceforth, he intends to forsake the
pursuit of that 'foolscap' literary fame, and the company of the
'infamous' nine Muses; a decision based partly on the insubstantial nature
of the rewards achieved, and partly it would seem due to the fact that at
Fielding's innocent door had been laid, he declares, half the anonymous
scurrility, indecency, treason, and blasphemy that the few last years had
produced. [6] In especial he protests against the ascription to his pen of
that 'infamous paltry libel' on lawyers, the _Causidicade_, an ascription
which, as he truly says, accused him "not only of being a bad writer and a
bad man, but with downright idiotism in flying in the face of the greatest
men of my profession." He also declares that no anonymous work had issued
from his pen since his promise to that effect; and that these false
accusations had injured him cruelly in ease, reputation and interest. This
solemn declaration that the now detested Muses shall no longer beguile
Fielding's pen affords excellent reading in view of the fact that this
absorbed barrister must, within a year or two, have been at work on _Tom
Jones_. The whole emphatic outburst was probably partly an effort to
assert himself as now wholly devoted to the law, and partly an example of
one of those "occasional fits of peevishness" into which, Murphy tells us,
distress and disappointment would betray him.

The preface to his sister's novel _David Simple_, in which Fielding took
occasion to announce these protests and assertions, is his only extant
publication for this year of 1744; and apart from its biographical value
is not of any great moment. Ample proof may be found in it of brotherly
pride and admiration for the work of a sister "so nearly and dearly allied
to me in the highest friendship as well as relation." There is the
noteworthy declaration that the "greatest, noblest, and rarest of all the
talents which constitute a genius" is the gift of "a deep and profound
discernment of all the mazes, windings, and labyrinths which perplex the
heart of man." The utterance concerning style, by so great a master of
English, is memorable--"a good style as well as a good hand in writing is
chiefly learned by practice." And a delightful reference should not be
forgotten to the carping ignorant critic, who has indeed, "had a little
Latin inoculated into his tail," but who would have been much the gainer
had "the same great quantity of birch been employed in scourging away his
ill-nature."

Disabled by gout and harassed by want of money, a yet greater distress was
now fast closing on Fielding in the prolonged illness of his wife. "To see
her daily languishing and wearing away before his eyes," says Murphy, "was
too much for a man of his strong sensations; the fortitude with which he
met all other calamities of life [now] deserted him." In the autumn of
1744 Mrs Fielding was at Bath, doubtless in the hope of benefit from the
Bath waters. And here, in November, she died. Her body was brought to
London for burial in the church of St. Martin's in the Fields; receiving
on the 14th of November, 1744, honourable interment in the chancel vault,
to the tolling of the great tenor bell, and with the fullest ceremonial of
the time. Indeed it is evident, from the charges still preserved in the
sexton's book, that Fielding rendered to his wife such stately honours as
were occasionally accorded to the members of the few great families
interred in the old church.

The death of this beloved wife, Murphy tells us, brought on Fielding "such
a vehemence of grief that his friends began to think him in danger of
losing his reason." When we remember that he himself has explicitly stated
that lovely picture of the 'fair soul in the fair body,' the Sophia of
_Tom Jones_, to have been but a portrait of Charlotte Fielding, we can in
some measure realise his overwhelming grief at her death. And that the
exquisite memorial raised to his wife by Fielding's affection and genius
was not more beautiful in mind or face than the original, is acknowledged
by Lady Bute, a kinswoman of the great novelist. Lady Bute was no
stranger, "to that beloved first wife whose picture he drew in his Amelia,
where, as she said, even the glowing language he knew how to employ did
not do more than justice to the amiable qualities of the original, or to
her beauty. He loved her passionately, and she returned his affection; yet
had no happy life for they were almost always miserably poor, and seldom
in a state of quiet and safety. His elastic gaiety of spirit carried him
through it all; but meanwhile, care and anxiety were preying upon her more
delicate mind, and undermining her constitution. She gradually declined,
caught a fever and died in his arms." That Fielding's married life was
unhappy, whatever were its outward conditions, is obviously a very shallow
misstatement; but, for the rest, the picture accords well enough with our
knowledge of his nature. The passionate tenderness of which that nature
was capable appears in a passage from those very _Miscellanies_, which, he
tells us, were written with so frequent a "Degree of Heartache." In the
_Journey from this World to the Next_, Fielding describes how, on his
entrance into Elysium, that "happy region whose beauty no Painting of the
Imagination can describe" and where "Spirits know one another by
Intuition" he presently met "a little Daughter whom I had lost several
years before. Good Gods! What Words can describe the Raptures, the melting
passionate Tenderness, with which we kiss'd each other, continuing in our
Embrace, with the most extatic Joy, a Space, which if Time had been
measured here as on Earth, could not have been less than half a Year."

The fittest final comment on Henry Fielding's marriage with Charlotte
Cradock is, perhaps, that saying of a member of his own craft of the
drama, "Now to love anything sincerely is an act of grace, but to love the
best sincerely is a state of grace."

[1] _Daily Post_, June 5, 1742.

[2] MS. copy of the Minutes of the Meetings of the Partners in the
_Champion_, in the possession of the present writer.

[3] See _Daily Post_. May 29, 1742.

[4] Preface to the _Miscellanies_.

[5] Such as the inscription on some verses, published in the
_Miscellanies_, as "Written _Extempore_ in the Pump-room" at Bath, in
1742.

[6] Preface to _David Simple_.



CHAPTER X

PATRIOTIC JOURNALISM

    "he only is the _true Patriot_ who always does what is in
    his Power for his Country's Service without any selfish Views or
    Regard to private Interests."--The _True Patriot_.

Fielding's active pen seems to have been laid aside for twelve months
after the death of his wife; and it is perfectly in accord with all that
we know of his passionate devotion to Charlotte Cradock that her loss
should have shattered his energies for the whole of the ensuing year.
Murphy, as we have seen, speaks of the first vehemence of his grief as
being so acute that fears were entertained for his reason. According to
Fielding's kinswomen, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Lady Bute, the first
agonies of his grief approached to frenzy; but "when the first emotions of
his sorrow were abated" his fine balance reasserted itself, and to quote
again from Murphy, "philosophy administered her aid; his resolution
returned, and he began again to struggle with his fortune."

As we hear no more of exclusive devotion to the law, it may be assumed
that the attempt of the previous year to live by that arduous calling
alone was now abandoned; and to a man of Fielding's strong Protestant and
Hanoverian convictions the year of the '45, when a Stewart Prince and an
invading Highland army had captured Edinburgh and were actually across the
border, could not fail to bring occupation. Fielding believed ardently
that Protestant beliefs, civil liberty, and national independence of
foreign powers were best safeguarded by a German succession to the English
throne; so by the time Prince Charles and 6,000 men had set foot on
English soil, the former 'Champion of Great Britain' was again up in arms,
discharging his sturdy blows in a new weekly newspaper entitled the _True
Patriot_.

The _True Patriot_ is chiefly notable as affording the first sign that
Fielding was now leaving party politics for the wider, and much duller,
field of Constitutional liberty. A man might die for the British
Constitution; but to be witty about it would tax the resources of a
Lucian. And, accordingly, in place of that gay young spark Mr Pasquin, who
laid his cudgel with so hearty a good will on the shoulders of the
offending 'Great Man,' there now steps out a very philosophic, mature, and
soberly constitutional _Patriot_; a patriot who explicitly asserts in his
first number, "I am of no party; a word I hope by these my labours to
eradicate out of our constitution: this being indeed the true source of
all those evils which we have reason to complain of." And again, in No.
14, "I am engaged to no Party, nor in the Support of any, unless of such
as are truly and sincerely attached to the true interest of their Country,
and are resolved to hazard all Things in its Preservation." Here is a
considerable change from the personal zest that placed Mr Quiddam and Mr
Pillage before delighted audiences in the Little Theatre in the Haymarket.

The available copies of the _True Patriot_, now in the British Museum,
[1] include only thirty-two numbers, starting from No. 1, which appeared
on the 5th of November, 1745, and ending on June 3, 1746. The first number
contains a characteristic tribute to Dean Swift, whose death had occurred
'a few days since.' Doctor Jonathan Swift, says the _Patriot_, was "A
genius who deserves to be rank'd among the first whom the World ever saw.
He possessed the Talents of a Lucian a Rabelais and a Cervantes and in his
Works exceeded them all. He employed his Wit to the noblest Purposes in
ridiculing as well Superstition in Religion as Infidelity and the several
Errors and Immoralities which sprung up from time to time in his Age; and
lastly in defence of his Country.... Nor was he only a Genius and a
Patriot; he was in Private Life a good and charitable Man and frequently
lent Sums of Money, without interest, to the Poor and Industrious; by
which means many Families were preserved from Destruction." In No. 2, the
_Patriot_ reiterates his "sincere Intention to calm and heal, not to blow
up and inflame, any Party-Divisions"; but even the task of defending the
British Constitution could not stifle Fielding's wit, and he escapes, for
breathing space as it were, into a column devoted to the news items of the
week, gathered from various papers, and adorned by comments of his own,
printed in italics. And in this running commentary on the daily occurences
of the time we get nearer, perhaps, to the table-talk of Henry Fielding
than by any other means. Thus he faithfully repeats the inflated obituary
lists that were then in fashion, but with such a variation as the
following, "Thomas Tonkin, ... universally lamented by his Acquaintance.
Upwards of 40 Cows belonging to one at Tottenham Court, _universally
lamented by all their Acquaintance_." On a notice of an anniversary
meeting of the Society for propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts there
is the pertinent comment "_It is a Pity some Method--was not invented for
the Propagation of the Gospel in Great Britain_." After the deaths of a
wealthy banker and factor, comes the obituary of "One Nowns a Labourer,
_most probably immensely poor, and yet as rich now as either of the two
Preceeding_"; beside which may be placed the very characteristic assertion
in No. 6 that "Spleen and Vapours inhabit Palaces and are attired with
Pomp and Splendor, while they shun Rags and Prisons."

There is scarcely a personal allusion in all the thirty-two numbers of the
_Patriot_, save the charming picture of that gentleman sitting in his
study "meditating for the good and entertainment of the public, with my
two little children (as is my usual course to suffer them) playing near
me." And the ending of his horrid nightmare, in which a Jacobite
executioner was placing a rope round his neck, "when my little girl
entered my bedchamber and put an end to my dream by pulling open my eyes,
and telling me that the taylor had brought home my cloaths for his
Majesty's Birthday." The number for January 28 must not be overlooked,
containing as it does, a scathing and humourous exposure of the profligate
young sparks of the Town, from no less a pen than that of the Rev. Mr.
Abraham Adams; and Parson Adams' letter concludes with a paragraph in
which may be heard the voice of the future zealous magistrate: "No man can
doubt but that the education of youth ought to be the principal care of
every legislation; by the neglect of which great mischief accrues to the
civil polity in every city." When himself but a lad of twenty, and in the
prologue of his first comedy, Fielding had entered his protest against
certain popular vices of the time, and had made merry over its follies.
The desire to make the world he knew too well a better place than he found
it is just as keen in the wit and humourist of thirty-nine; a desire,
moreover, undulled by twenty years of vivacious living. Surely not the
least amazing feature of Fielding's genius is this dual capacity for
exuberant enjoyment, and incisive judgement. "His wit," said Thackeray,
"is wonderfully wise and detective; it flashes upon a rogue and brightens
up a rascal like a policeman's lantern."

To this time of national ferment belongs a publication of which we know
nothing but the title, a _Serious Address_; and also one of our rare
glimpses of the novelist's home life. Joseph Warton writes to his brother
Tom, on October 29, 1746:--"I wish you had been with me last week 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 retir'd
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, Joseph Andrews above all his writings: he was extremely civil to me,
I fancy, on my Father's account." Joseph Warton's father was Vicar of
Basingstoke, Professor of Poetry at Oxford, and moreover, something of a
Jacobite; whereby, we may surmise, that the _True Patriot_ did not allow
his staunch Hanoverian sentiments too great an invasion into his private
society. Alas, that it did not occur to Warton to preserve, for the
entertainment of later ages, some fuller record of those two _noctes
ambrosianae_.

This sister, Sally Fielding as her cousin Lady Mary Wortley Montagu called
her, made some figure in the literary world of the day. Richardson
extolled her "knowledge of the human heart"; Murphy writes of her "lively
and penetrating genius"; and her classical scholarship is attested by a
translation of Xenophon's _Memorabilia_. That she also shared some of the
engaging qualities of her brother may be assumed from the lines written to
the memory of the "esteemed and loved ... Mrs. Sarah Fielding," by her
friend Dr. John Hoadley.

  "Her unaffected Manners, candid Mind,
  Her Heart benevolent, and Soul resign'd;
  Were more her Praise than all she knew or thought
  Though Athens Wisdom to her Sex she taught."

Sarah Fielding's name occurs again as living with her brother in that
house in Beaufort Buildings with which is associated perhaps the happiest
instance of Fielding's warm-hearted generosity. The story may be given as
nearly as possible in the words of the narrator, one G. S., writing from
Harley Street in 1786. After speaking of the conspicuous good nature of
"the late Harry Fielding," G. S. says: "His receipts were never large, and
his pocket was an open bank for distress and friendship at all times to
draw on. Marked by such a liberality of mind it is not to be wondered at
if he was frequently under pecuniary embarrassments.... Some parochial
taxes for his house in Beaufort Buildings being unpaid, and for which he
had been demanded again and again [we may remember how Mr. Luckless' door
was "almost beat down with duns"]...he was at last given to understand by
the collector who had an esteem for him, that he could procrastinate the
payment no longer." To a bookseller, therefore he addressed himself, and
mortgaged the coming sheets of some work then in hand. He received the
cash, some ten or twelve guineas, and was returning home, full freighted
with this sum, when, in the Strand, within a few yards of his own house,
he met an old college chum whom he had not seen for many years. "Harry
felt the enthusiasm of friendship; an hundred interrogatives were put to
him in a moment as where had he been? where was he going? how did he do?
&c. &c. His friend told him in reply he had long been buffeting the waves
of adverse fortunes, but never could surmount them." Fielding took him off
to dine at a neighbouring tavern, and as they talked, becoming acquainted
with the state of his friend's pocket, emptied his own into it; and a
little before dawn, he turned homewards "greater and happier than a
monarch." Arrived at Beaufort Buildings his sister, who had anxiously
awaited him, reported that the collector had called for the taxes twice
that day. "Friendship," answered Harry Fielding "has called for the money
and had it;--let the collector call again." Well might his cousin Lady
Mary say of the man of whom such a story could be told, "I am persuaded he
has known more happy moments than any prince upon earth."

During the summer following Warton's visit to the brother and sister,
Fielding published a _Dialogue between an Alderman and a Courtier_. And in
the following November his second marriage took place, at the little City
church of St Bene't's, Paul's Wharf. The story of this marriage cannot be
better told than in the words of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's
granddaughter, Lady Louisa Stuart, quoting from the personal knowledge of
her mother and grandmother:

"His biographers seem to have been shy of disclosing that after the death
of this charming woman [his first wife] he married her maid. And yet the
act was not so discreditable to his character as it may sound. The maid
had few personal charms, but was an excellent creature, devotedly attached
to her mistress, and almost broken-hearted for her loss. In the first
agonies of his own grief, which approached to frenzy, he found no relief
but from weeping with her; nor solace, when a degree calmer, but in
talking to her of the angel they mutually regretted. This made her his
habitual confidential associate, and in process of time he began to think
he could not give his children a tenderer mother, or secure for himself a
more faithful housekeeper and nurse. At least this was what he told his
friends; and it is certain that her conduct as his wife confirmed it, and
fully justified his good opinion." From a supposed allusion by Smollett,
in the first edition of _Peregrine Pickle_, (an allusion afterwards
suppressed) it would appear that Fielding's old schoolfellow and lifelong
friend 'the good Lord Lyttelton' so far approved the marriage as himself
to give Mary Daniel away; and, as the dates in the Twickenham Register of
births show that the marriage was one of justice as well as expediency,
this well accords with Lyttelton's upright and honourable character. Of
Fielding's affectionate and grateful loyalty to his second wife ample
evidence appears in the pages of his last book, the _Journal of a Voyage
to Lisbon_. Throughout this touching record of the journey of a dying man,
there are references to her tenderness, ability and devotion. At the sad
parting from children and friends, on the morning of their departure for
Lisbon, he writes of her behaviour as "more like a heroine and
philosopher, though at the same time the tenderest mother in the world."
When, during the voyage down the Thames, an unmannerly custom house
officer burst into the cabin where Fielding and his wife were sitting, the
man was soundly rated for breaking "into the presence of a lady without an
apology or even moving his hat"; by which we may see his sensitive care
that due respect was accorded her. He tells us how he persuaded her with
difficulty to take a walk on shore when their vessel was wind bound in
Torbay, it being "no easy matter for me to force [her] from my side." With
anxious forboding he thinks of his "dear wife and child" facing the world
alone after his death, for "in truth I have often thought they are both
too good and too gentle to be trusted to the power of any man I know, to
whom they could possibly be so trusted." And in a more formal tribute he
acknowledges the abilities that accompanied her worth, when he says that
"besides discharging excellently well her own and all tender offices
becoming the female character; ... besides being a faithful friend, an
amiable companion, and a tender nurse, [she] could likewise supply the
wants of a decrepit husband and occasionally perform his part." That
Fielding suffered socially by the fact of his second marriage is probable.
But the fact is proof, if proof were needed, of his courage in reparation,
and of the unworldly spirit in which he ultimately followed the dictates
of that incorruptible judge which he himself asserted to be in every man's
breast.

It was in December 1747, just a month after his second marriage, that
Fielding again flung himself into the arena of contentious journalism,
'brandishing' his pen as truculently as ever on behalf of the Protestant
and Hanoverian succession, and in despite of the Jacobite cause. He called
his new paper "_The Jacobite's Journal_, by John Trott Plaid Esq're.," and
the ironic title was accompanied by a woodcut traditionally associated
with Hogarth. The ironic mask, Fielding explains, was assumed "in order if
possible to laugh Men out of their follies and to make men ashamed of
owning or acting by" Jacobite principles.

The _Jacobite's Journal_ appeared at a moment when public opinion, and
public gossip also, seem to have been immersed in the question whether a
notorious pamphlet purporting to have been found among the papers of a
late Minister, Mr. Thomas Winnington, were genuine or a libel. Into this
fray Fielding promptly plunged, publishing, in December 1747, [2] a
shilling pamphlet entitled _A Proper Answer to a Late Scurrilous
Libel,... By the Author of the Jacobites Journal._ This little pamphlet,
copies of which may be seen in the British Museum, is merely a further
vigorous declamation for civil liberty and the Protestant religion, as
under King George, and contains hardly any reference either to Winnington
or to the author. It was retorted on in two further pamphlets. In one of
these a Lady Fanny and her friend, enjoying a 'Chit chat,' discuss the
news that Lady Fanny is she "whom F---g represents in a _Plaid Jocket_ in
the front of his _Jacobite_ Journal." "The Whirling Coxcomb," cries Lady
Fanny enraged, "what had he to do with ridiculing any Party, who had
travell'd round the whole Circle of Parties and Ministers, ever since he
could brandish a Pen." [3] Her Ladyship adds some further sneers on
writers pensioned to amuse people with their nonsense. The other counter
pamphlet consists of conversations overheard, all over the town, on the
subject of Winnington and his _Apology_. Here a mercer and a bookseller
abuse Fielding for boxing the political compass, and for selling his pen.
Another bookseller insinuates that Fielding's own attack on the _Apology_
is but a half-hearted affair--"Ah Sir, you know not what F---g could do if
he were willing ... you would have seen him mince and hash it so as to
make half the Town weep and the other laugh. Don't you think the Pen that
writ _Pasquin, Joseph Andrews_, and the _Champion_ could have answered the
Apology if he had had the Will?" "But I can't see why the Author of the
Jacobite Journal should want that will," protests a Bencher. "Alas Sir!"
cries the bookseller, "You forget the Power of _Necessity_. If a Man that
wants Bread can establish a Paper by the P--t Off--e [Post Office?] taking
off two thousand every week is he not more excusable...." To which the
Bencher replies that possibly it is Fielding's 'Wavering Principles' that
have "brought him to the Necessity of writing for Bread." [4] From all
which we may assume that Fielding's superiority to what he calls the
"absurd and irrational Distinction of Parties [which] hath principally
contributed to poison our Constitution" [5] was very little understood by
the heated party factions of 1747.

To call one's political opponent a 'Whirling Coxcomb,' or a 'pensioned
scribbler,' was a very mild amenity in eighteenth century party warfare;
and the abuse of such small fry as these anonymous pamphleteers might be
wholly disregarded did it not show Fielding's prominence, during these
anxious times, as a strenuous Hanoverian, and also the fact that he had
now not only largely abjured party politics, but that what party tenets he
still held were changed. Indeed as much may surely be deduced from the
following philosophic passage in his _True Patriot_. "I have formerly
shown in this Paper, that the bare objecting to a Man a _Change_ in his
_Political Notions_, ought by no means to affect any Person's _Character_;
because in a Country like this it is simply impossible that a Man of sound
Sense, and strict Honour, should always adhere to the same _Political
Creed_." [6] It is very little material to our knowledge of Fielding as an
honest man and a great genius to discover, were it possible, precisely
what changes his political views underwent. When Sir Robert Walpole
essayed to corrupt the nation Fielding fought strenuously in the cause of
political honour; when a Stewart invasion threatened (as he thought) both
civil liberty and Protestant beliefs he flung himself as zealously into
the defence of the Church of England and of the Hanoverian Government. It
is clear that the latter exertions stirred up much cheap obliquy; and it
must be admitted that such references to his antagonists as "last weeks
Dunghill of Papers" were likely to entail unsavory retort.

This abuse seems to have broken out with an excess of virulence not long
after the appearance of the _Jacobite's Journal_; a fate, as Fielding
observes, little to be expected by the editor of a loyal paper. His
dignified protest in the matter is worth recalling. In a leading article
he declares that "before my paper hath reached the 20th. number a heavier
load of Scandal hath been cast upon me than I believe ever fell to the
Share of a Single Man. The Author of the Journal was soon guessed at;
Either from some Singularity in Style, or from little care which being
free from any wicked Purpose, I have ever taken to conceal my Name. Of
this several Writers were no sooner possessed than they attempted to
blacken it with every kind of Reproach; pursued me into private Life,
_even to my boyish Years_; where they have given me almost every Vice in
Human Nature. Again they have followed me with uncommon Inveteracy into a
Profession in which they have very roundly asserted that I have neither
Business nor Knowledge: And lastly, as an Author they have affected to
treat me with more Contempt than Mr. Pope, who hath great Merit and no
less Pride in the Character of a Writer hath thought proper to bestow on
the lowest Scribbler of his Time. All this moreover they have poured forth
in a vein of Scurrility which hath disgraced the Press with every abusive
Term in our Language." Although, as Fielding adds, those who knew him
would not take their opinion from those who knew him not, it is to be
feared that the scurrilous libellers of the day succeeded in creating a
prejudice that is hardly yet dispersed. For such petty clamours would be
trifling enough round the figure of the creator of the English novel, were
it not that in the abuse of the gutter press of his day we may probably
find the reason for much of the vague cloud which has so strangely
overhung Fielding's name. In his own spirited protest he tells us of the
'ordure' that was thrown at him; and it is an old saying that if enough
mud be thrown some will stick.

In the February following the appearance of his new paper Fielding must
have been at Twickenham; for the baptism of his son William appears in the
Parish Register for that month. A writer of thirty years ago says that the
house celebrated as that in which Fielding lived was then still standing,
a quaint old fashioned wooden dwelling, in Back Lane; and adds the
information that Fielding had two rooms, the house being then let in
lodgings. [7] Lysons, however, in his _Environs of London_, published in
1795, says that Fielding "rented a house at this time in the Back-Lane at
Twickenham," adding that he received his information from the Earl of
Orford. The site is now occupied by a row of cottages. In his _Parish
Register for Twickenham_ Horace Walpole commemorates the great novelist's
residence in that quiet village, so full of eighteenth century memories.
Here, he says,

  "... Fielding met his bunter Muse,
  And, as they quaff'd the fiery juice,
  Droll Nature stamp'd each lucky hit
  With unimaginable wit."

Bunter was a cant word for a woman who picks up rags about the street; and
it may seem to later generations that the epithet fitted far more nicely
the _bunter muse_ of that "facile retailer of _ana_ and incorrigible
society-gossip," that rag-picker of anecdotes, Mr. Horace Walpole himself.

When the _Journal_ had been running some six months, Fielding formally
relinquished his ironic character of a Jacobite, partly because, as he
says, the evils of Jacobitism were too serious for jesting and required
more open denunciation; partly because the age required more highly
seasoned writing, the general taste in reading very much resembling "that
of some particular Man in eating who would never willingly devour what
doth not stink"; and partly from the ineptitude of the public to
appreciate the ironic method. This latter passage is of interest as coming
from the author of that great masterpiece in irony, _Jonathan Wild_.
Fielding has observed, he tells us that "though Irony is capable of
furnishing the most exquisite Ridicule; yet as there is no kind of humour
so liable to be mistaken it is of all others the most dangerous to the
Writer. An infinite Number of Readers have not the least taste or relish
for it, I believe I may say do not understand it; and all are apt to be
tired when it is carried to any degree of Length."

The _Jacobite's Journal_ is of course mainly occupied with maintaining the
Protestant British Constitution; but here, as in the _True Patriot_,
Fielding allows himself a pleasant running commentary on the daily news.
He also erects a _Court of Criticism_ in which, by virtue of his "high
Censorial Office," he administers justice in "all matters in the Republic
of Literature." By thus adopting the title of "Censor of Great Britain"
the editor of the _Jacobites Journal_ preserves his identity with that
censorial _Champion_ who nine years before had essayed to keep rogues in
fear of his Hercules' club. Two judgments delivered by the _Court_ are of
interest. In one, due castigation is given to that incorrigible mimic and
wit Foote, who was once threatened by no less a cudgel than that of Dr.
Johnson himself. Foote was evading all law and order by his inimitable
mimicries at the Little Theatre in the Haymarket; and for these
performances at his "scandal-shop" is very properly brought up before Mr.
Censor's _Court_. Whereupon Foote begins to mimic the _Court_ "pulling a
Chew of Tobacco from his Mouth, in Imitation of his Honour who is greatly
fond of that weed." The culprit suffers conviction for crime against law
and good manners. Having thus seen to the public welfare, Fielding also
happily settles a little score of his own on one of his anonymous
libellers. "One Porcupine Pillage," he records, "came into the court and
threw a great shovelful of dirt at his honour, _but luckily none of it hit
him_." His comments on weekly news items are no less characteristic than
those hidden in the columns of the _Patriot_. Thus, on a trotting match,
he observes, "Trotting is a Sport truly adapted to the English Genius."
And on a man found dead in Jewin Street "formerly an eminent Dealer in
Buckrams, but [who] being greatly reduced is supposed to have died for
Want," he notes, "_either of Common Sense in himself or Common Humanity in
his Aquaintance_." His own humanity is shown in the wise appeals, repeated
on more than one page of the _Journal_, for some effective provision for
the distressed widows and children of the poor clergy. And his unbiassed
judgment appears in the _amende honorable_ to Richardson, in the form of
generous and unstinted praise of _Clarissa_.

The first number of the _Jacobite's Journal_ was dated Dec. 5, 1747, and
'Mr. Trott Plaid' formally takes leave of his subject exactly eleven
months later, on November 5, 1748, declaring that Jacobites were, by then,
little to be feared. [8] Ten days before this last 'brandish' of
Fielding's Constitutional pen, on October 26, 1748, his oaths had been
received as a Justice of the Peace for Westminster.

[1] These are in the Burney Collection, and are inscribed "These papers
are by the celebrated Henry Fielding Esqre."

[2] See the _Gentleman's Magazine_. Dec. 1747.

[3] _A Free Comment on the Late Mr. W-G-N's Apology ... By a
Lady ..._ 1748.

[4] _The Patriot Analized_. 1748.

[5] _True Patriot No. 14_.

[6] _True Patriot_. No. 29. May 20, 1746.

[7] R. Cobbett. _Memorials of Twickenham_, 1872.

[8] The _Journal's_ epitaph was promptly written by a scurrilous opponent
in lines showing that the prominences of Fielding's profile were
well-known:

  Beneath this stone
  Lies _Trott Plaid John_
  His length of chin and nose.

See the _Gentleman's Magazine_, November 1748.



CHAPTER XI

TOM JONES

    "In God's Name let us speak out honestly and set the good against
    the bad."
    No. 48 of the _Jacobite's Journal_.

The two years of Fielding's life preceding his appointment as a Bow Street
magistrate (an appointment comparable only to the choice of Robert Burns
as an exciseman) were marked, as we have seen, by lively passages in the
political arena, and a steady output of political journalism. Indeed, by
this time, the public must have associated swingeing denunciations of
Jacobites, and glowing eulogies of the British Constitution, with Harry
Fielding's name; just as seven years previously he had been in their eyes
the 'Champion' journalist of a brilliant Opposition; and, for ten years
before that, the witty writer of a stream of popular farces and comedies.
For there is no evidence that his audacious innovation, his splendid
adventure in literature, _Joseph Andrews_, really revealed the existence
of a new genius in their midst to the Whigs and Tories of those factious
days, to the gay frequenters of the play-house, to the barristers at
Westminster Hall and on the Western Circuit. In 1748 Fielding must have
been, to his many audiences, a witty and well-born man of letters who, at
forty-one, had as yet achieved no towering success; a facile dramatist;
and a master of slashing political invective, growing perplexingly
impartial, alike in his praise and his condemnation. While, as regards
outward circumstances, the struggling barrister, baffled in his
professional hopes by persistent attacks of gout, was now so far enlisted,
to use his own fine image, under the black banner of poverty, that even
the small post and hard duties of a Bow Street magistrate were worth his
acceptance. [1]

Such was Harry Fielding as the world of 1748 knew him, in the Coffee
houses, the Mall, the Green-room and the Law-courts. What that world did
not know was that all this dramatic, journalistic, and political action,
was little more than the surface movement of a vitality far too exuberant
to be contained in any one groove of hackney writing,--of an impetuous
'enthusiasm for righteousness' far too ardent to pass by any flagrant
social, moral, or political abuse without inflicting some form of
chastisement; and that beneath this ever active surface movement
Fielding's genius was slowly maturing in that new continent of literature
the borders of which he had already crossed seven years before. In the
pages of _Joseph Andrews_, he had, as we know, tentatively explored that
continent feeling his way along the unknown paths of this long neglected
world of human nature; bringing back with him one immortal figure, that
living embodiment of simple piety and scholarship, of charity and honest
strength, Parson Adams; disclosing hints of discoveries, not yet
perfected, among the humours and villanies, the virtues and charms, of a
dozen other inhabitants of his _terra incognita_. But there is no sign
that the greatness of his discovery, the splendour of his addition to the
empire of English literature, was in the least apprehended during the
seven years following the appearance of _Joseph Andrews_. Only Fielding
himself was conscious that he had created a kind of writing "hitherto
unattempted in our language."

And, having crossed the borders of this new continent, he seems, after his
first survey, to have deliberately immersed himself in one portion, and
that the blackest, of his re-discovered world. For _Jonathan Wild_, with
its disclosure of the active spirit of 'diabolism,' of naked vice, is
little else than the exploration of those darkest recesses of human nature
which can be safely entered only by the sanest and healthiest of
intellects. Fielding's strength was equal to his exploit; and from this,
his second adventure, he brought back a picture of the deformity and folly
of vice, drawn with a just and penetrating scorn unequalled, perhaps, by
any English moralist. But neither of these two essays in the new field of
writing had covered more than isolated or outlying portions, the first in
sunlight, the second in shadow, of that vast territory. And it was not
till the perfect maturity of his powers and of his experience, not till he
had seen both the 'manners of many men,' and the workings of many hearts,
not in a word till he had made himself master of great tracts of that
human nature which had so long lain neglected, that Fielding in _Tom
Jones_ disclosed himself as the creator of the English novel.

Little is known as to when the conception of _Tom Jones_ first shaped
itself in his mind, of where he lived during the writing of the great
Comic Epic, or of the time occupied in its completion. Appropriately for a
book expressly designed "to recommend goodness and innocence" the plan of
the novel was suggested, many years before its appearance, by the 'good
Lord Lyttelton'; and we know, further, that the writing occupied 'some
thousands of hours'; but _Tom Jones_ does not emerge into definite
existence till the summer of 1748.

Legend it is true, attesting to the greatness of the achievement contained
in the six little volumes, endows many localities with the fame of their
origin. A well-credited contemporary writer, the Rev. Richard Graves,
declared that the novelist "while he was writing his novel of Tom Jones"
lived at Tiverton (Twerton), one and a half miles from Bath, and dined
daily at Prior Park the seat of his munificent and pious friend Ralph
Allen. Mr Graves says that Fielding then lived in "the first house on the
right hand with a spread eagle over the door." [2] Salisbury is insistent
that part at least of the great novel was written at Milford House, near
to that city. An anonymous old engraver asserts the same honour for
Fielding's Farm at East Stour, an assertion certainly not confirmed by the
newly found documents concerning Fielding's sale of property at Stour in
1738. Twickenham claims that the book was wholly composed in the house in
Back Lane. And to an ancient building at Tintern Parva in the Wye Valley,
said to have once been the lodging of the Abbot of Tintern, was also
assigned the reputation of being the birthplace of the English novel. If
the latter tradition were true, the fact that it was in the Harlequin
chamber of the Abbots of Glastonbury that Henry Fielding was born, becomes
strangely matched by the birth, some forty years later, of his
masterpiece, in the lodging of the Abbot of Tintern. The one point of real
interest in all these traditions is the fact that the fame of _Tom Jones_
has been sufficient to create a widespread popular legend. The truth
probably is that the book was written in the many shifting scenes of
Fielding's life during these years; now at Bath whither his gout and the
generous hospitality of Ralph Allen would take him; now in Salisbury, the
home of his boyhood, and the scene of his courtship with the lovely
original of Sophia Western; possibly in his own county of Somerset; and
most probably both at Twickenham, and in London.

From these various legends it is pleasant to be able to disentangle one
clear picture of the making of _Tom Jones_. Before the manuscript was
placed in the printers' hands Fielding submitted it to the opinion both of
the elder Pitt, and of the estimable and pious Lyttelton; and the account
of this memorable meeting cannot be better given than in the words of a
descendant of the hostess on that occasion, the Rev. George Miller,
great-grandson of that Sanderson Miller of Radway, Warwickshire, who
numbered many men of note among his acquaintance, and with whom Fielding
was on terms of intimate friendship. [3] Writing to the present writer, in
1907, Mr. Miller says: "Lord Chatham and Lord Lyttleton came to Radway to
visit my ancestor, when Lord Chatham planted three trees to commemorate
the visit, and a stone urn was placed between them. Fielding was also of
the party and read 'Tom Jones' in manuscript after dinner for the opinion
of his hearers before publishing it. My father told me this often and he
had the account from his Grandmother who survived her husband several
years and who was the hostess on the occasion." Unhappily no record exists
of the comments of one of the greatest of English statesmen when listening
to this reading, in manuscript, of indubitably one of the greatest of
English novels.

The vagueness which hangs over the places in which _Tom Jones_ was
written, the certainty that in all of them poverty was constantly present,
is in perfect accord with the power of detachment manifested in this book
from circumstances that would surely have tinged, if not over-whelmed, a
weaker genius. Sickness and poverty are stern sponsors; but neither were
suffered to leave more than two traces on the pages destined to outlive so
greatly the harsh circumstances in which they had birth. There is the
frank acknowledgement of the writer's dependence on Lyttelton's noble
generosity, without which the book had never, Fielding says, been
completed, since "I partly owe to you my Existence during great Part of
the Time which I have employed in composing it." And a touching betrayal
occurs of his anxiety for the future provision of the "prattling babes,
whose innocent play hath often been interrupted by my labours." Fielding
was sensitively anxious for his wife and children; but, for himself,
living as he did with visions such as that of the _Invocation_ introducing
Book xiii of _Tom Jones_, the precise situation of his "little Parlour,"
or the poorness of its furniture, cannot have appeared very material.
"Come bright Love of Fame," he cries "... fill my ravished Fancy with the
Hopes of charming Ages yet to come... Do thou teach me not only to
foresee, but to enjoy, nay, even to feed on future Praise. Comfort me by a
solemn Assurance, that when the little Parlour in which I sit at this
Instant, shall be reduced to a worse furnished Box, I shall be read, with
Honour, by those who never knew nor saw me, and whom I shall neither know
nor see."

This capacity of Fielding for relegating circumstance to its true level,
the detached idealism that moulded his genius, are, indeed, shown once for
all in the fact that the exquisite picture of virtue, the whole-hearted
attack on vice, the genial humour, the sunny portraits of humanity, the
splendid cheerfulness of _Tom Jones_, that 'Epic of Youth,' came from a
man in middle age, immersed in disheartening struggles, and fighting
recurrent ill health. Superficial critics have called Fielding a realist
because his figures are so full-blooded and alive that we feel we have met
them but yesterday in the street; to eyes so shortsighted life itself must
seem merely realistic. As none but an idealist could have conceived Parson
Adams, so the creator of Sophia again announced himself an idealist in the
Dedication of _Tom Jones_. Here, in language of pure symbolism, he
contends that the ideal virtues such as goodness and innocence, may most
effectively be presented to men in a figure, for "an Example is a Kind of
Picture, in which Virtue becomes as it were an Object of Sight, and
strikes us with an Idea of that Loveliness, which _Plato_ asserts there is
in her naked Charms." [4] To the man who could write thus, and, who, in
later pages of his great 'Epic,' could humbly desire of Genius "do thou
kindly take me by the Hand, and lead me through all the Mazes, the winding
Labyrinth of Nature. Initiate me into all those Mysteries which profane
Eyes never beheld,"--to this man the material surroundings of life must
have seemed of little greater import than the fittings of that narrow box
to the occupation of which he looked forward with so calm a foresight.
Indeed he himself acknowledges a carelessness of outward comfort on his
own behalf. "Come," he cries, to the spirit of mercenary success, "Thou
jolly Substance, with thy shining Face, ... hold forth thy tempting
Rewards; thy shining chinking Heap; thy quickly-convertible Bank-bill, big
with unseen Riches; thy often-varying Stock; the warm, the comfortable
House; ... Come thou, and if I am too tasteless of thy valuable Treasures,
warm my Heart with the transporting Thought of conveying them to others."
His happy constitution, wrote his cousin Lady Mary, "made him forget
everything when he was before a venison pasty or a flask of champagne";
but behind those healthy exhilarations was, assuredly, a serenity based on
a clear perception of the values of life. To a man of Fielding's happy
social temperament, and who was yet also initiated into mysteries and
occupied in converting ideal loveliness into 'an object of sight,' such
matters as duns and pawnbrokers would seem precisely fit for oblivion in
venison and champagne. In the creator of Tom Jones and of Sophia the most
indestructible delight in living, and the keenest discernment of the
unsubstantial qualities of that delight, appear to have been admirably
interwoven.

By June 11, 1748, the book was far enough advanced for the publisher,
Andrew Millar, to pay £600 for it, as appears from a receipt now in the
possession of Mr. Alfred Huth. [5] And it is eminently characteristic of
the finances of a man who, as Lady Mary said, would have wanted money had
his estates been as extensive as his imagination, that the receipt for
this £600 is dated more than six months before the publication of the
book. For it was not till February 28, 1749, that the _General Advertiser_
announced

    This day is published, in six vols., 12 mo
    THE HISTORY OF TOM JONES,
    A FOUNDLING
    _Mores hominum multorum vidit_.
    _By_ HENRY FIELDING, _Esqre_

Henceforth Fielding ceases to be the boisterous politician, the witty
dramatist; his poverty and his struggles for subsistence fall back, at his
own bidding, among the accidents of life; and he stands revealed as the
supreme genius, the creator of the English novel, the inheritor of that
lasting fame which he had dared so confidently to invoke.

The immediate success of the book, in that eighteenth-century world into
which it was launched, is attested by the notice in the _London Magazine_
of the very month of its publication. Under the heading of a "Plan of a
late celebrated NOVEL," the _Magazine_ devotes its five opening pages to a
summary of a book "which has given great Amusement and we hope Instruction
to the polite Part of the Town." The summary is preceded by a description
of _Tom Jones_ as a novel "calculated to recommend religion and virtue, to
shew the bad consequences of indiscretion, and to set several kinds of
vice in their most deformed and shocking light." The reviewer declares
that "after one has begun to read it, it is difficult to leave off before
having read the whole." And he concludes, "Thus ends this pretty novel,
with a most just distribution of rewards and punishments, according to the
merits of all the persons who had any considerable share in it." [6] Three
months later Horace Walpole wrote, "Millar the bookseller has done very
generously by him [Fielding]: finding Tom Jones, for which he had given
him £600, sell so greatly, he has since given him another hundred." An
admirer breaks out into rhyme, in the _Gentleman's Magazine_ for August
1749,--

  "let Fielding take the pen!
  Life dropt her mask, and all mankind were men."

thereby anticipating Thackeray's famous complaint that in his day no one
dared "to depict to his utmost power a Man." Lady Bradshaigh, writing by a
happy irony of fate to Richardson, says "as to Tom Jones I am fatigued
with the name, having lately fallen into the company of several young
ladies, who had each a 'Tom Jones' in some part of the world, for so they
call their favourites." The gentlemen also had their Sophias, one indeed
having bestowed that all-popular name on his 'Dutch mastiff puppy.' That
eccentric eighteenth century philosopher, and enthusiastic Greek scholar,
Lord Monboddo declared that _Tom Jones_ had more of character in it than
any other work, ancient or modern, known to him, adding, "in short, I
never saw anything that was so animated, and as I may say, _all alive_
with characters and manners as _the History of Tom Jones_"; a criticism
that recalls Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's remark that no man enjoyed life
more than did Fielding. Doubtless it was his own magnificent capacity for
living that endowed the very creatures of his pen with so abundant a
vitality. In her own copy Lady Mary wrote _Ne plus Ultra_.

To turn from the popular voices of the day to the comments of those
capable of appraising genius, "What a master of composition Fielding was!"
exclaimed Coleridge, "Upon my word I think 'Oedipus Tyrannus,' the
'Alchemist,' and 'Tom Jones' the three most perfect plots ever planned."
To Sir Walter Scott _Tom Jones_ was "truth and human nature itself."
Gibbon described the book as "the first of ancient or modern romances";
and, as we have seen, declared that its pages would outlive the Imperial
Eagle of those Hapsburgs from whom Fielding was said to be descended.
"There can be no gainsaying the sentence of this great judge," wrote
Thackeray. "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." Pilgrims from all the world have likewise admired _Tom Jones_.
Translations have appeared in French, German, [7] Spanish, Swedish,
Russian, Polish and Dutch; and as for the English editions, they range
from the three editions issued within the year of publication to the
several noble volumes newly edited in our own day, and the sixpenny copies
on our railway bookstalls. So fully has time justified the invocation to
future fame sent forth from the little ill-furnished parlour of the
struggling barrister.

To analyse the grounds for a chorus of praise ranging from the 'young
ladies' of the eighteenth century to the utterances of distinguished
critics, and popular authors of our own day, would be to confound literary
criticism with biography. But there are some points appertaining to
Fielding's great novel which cannot be here disregarded, in that they
closely affect his personal character. Such are the light in which he
himself regarded his masterpiece, the intention with which he wrote it,
and the means which he selected to carry that intention into effect.

All these he himself very plainly sets forth in his _Dedication_ to
Lyttelton and in other passages of _Tom Jones_. As to his intention. "I
declare," he says, in the _Dedication_, "that to recommend Goodness and
Innocence hath been my sincere Endeavour in this History." And the means
selected for this end, and for the companion object of persuading men from
guilt, are as clearly stated. First as we have seen, Fielding plays the
part of pure idealist, purposing to create a picture "in which virtue
becomes as it were an object of sight." For such pictures we have but to
think of Sophia Western, and of that final page of _Tom Jones_, than which
no more charming representation of mutual affection, esteem, and well
doing can be imagined. But besides this means of reaching his audience
Fielding adopted, he tells us, a second method. He argues that no
acquisitions of guilt can compensate a man for the loss of inward peace,
for the attendant horror, anxiety, and danger, to which he subjects
himself; thus endeavouring to enlist man's self-interest no less than his
admiration, on the side of virtue. Again, he explains yet another method
by which he essays to foil the progress of evil, viz. to show that virtue
and innocence are chiefly betrayed "into the snares that deceit and
villainy spread for them" by indiscretion; a moral which he has "the more
industriously laboured ... since I believe it is much easier to make good
Men, wise than to make bad Men good." For this purpose, he concludes,
namely to show, as in a figure, the beauty of virtue, to persuade men that
in following innocence and virtue they follow their own obvious interests,
to arm them from the snares of villainy and deceit, "I have employed all
the Wit and Humour of which I am Master in the following History; wherein
I have endeavoured to laugh Mankind out of their favourite Follies and
Vices."

And, conscious that wit and humour require a rein quite unneeded by the
methods of the professional moralist, Fielding further asserts that in
these pages his laughter is worthy of the aim which he sets before him.
Here, he carefully insists, are wit and humour wholly void of offence. He
assures his reader that in the whole course of the work, he will find
"nothing prejudicial to the Cause of Religion and Virtue; nothing
inconsistent with the strictest Rules of Decency, nor which can offend
even the chastest Eye in the Perusal." As the almost incredible change
from the manners of 1749 to those of the following century, and of our own
day, has injuriously affected the reputation of Fielding among readers
ignorant of past conditions, this protest, in striking accord with the
prologue for his first play acted when he was but a lad of twenty, cannot
be too emphatically recorded. And no further justification of Fielding's
words need be entered than that verdict of the eighteenth century scholar
and bishop of the English Church, Doctor Warburton, when he declared that
"Mr. Fielding [stands] the foremost among those who have given a faithful
and chaste copy of life and manners."

Such were the noble purposes to which Fielding consciously dedicated his
genius in _Tom Jones_, and such was the careful restraint with which he
exercised his chosen methods of wit and humour. That these purposes,
executed by a supreme genius in the language and scenes of his own day,
should ever have laid their author open to a charge of immorality is
perhaps one of the most amazing pieces of irony in the whole history of
English literature. But as this charge of moral laxity has been seriously
brought against the pages of _Tom Jones_, and is perhaps not yet quite
exploded, it cannot be wholly disregarded. The imputation amounts,
briefly, to a too easy forgiveness for the youthful sins of Jones, and the
involving that engaging youth in too deep a degradation. The answers to
these charges are, firstly, that Fielding held strongly, and here
exhibits, the humane and wise doctrine that a man should be judged, not by
what he sometimes does, but by what he _is_. And, secondly, that as Sir
Walter Scott pointed out, when dealing with this very matter, "the vices
into which Jones suffers himself to fall are made the direct cause of
placing him in the distressful situation which he occupies during the
greater part of the narrative; while his generosity, his charity, and his
amiable qualities become the means of saving him from the consequences of
his folly." Fielding was not wholly concerned with the acts of a man; to
him the admission of the Penitent Thief into Paradise, at the eleventh
hour, could have been no stumbling block. And, further, Tom Jones not only
suffers for his ill doing, but wins no heaven until he wholly purges
himself from the sin which did so easily beset him.

The distinction between doing and being is very fully enunciated by
Fielding himself, in the _Introduction_ to Book vii. "A single bad Act,"
he says, "no more constitutes a Villain in Life, than a single bad Part on
the Stage". And again, "Now we, who are admitted behind the Scenes of this
great Theatre of Nature, (and no Author ought to write any Thing besides
Dictionaries and Spelling-Books who hath not this Privilege) can censure
the Action, without conceiving any actual Detestation of the Person, whom
perhaps Nature may not have designed to act an ill Part in all her Dramas:
For in this Instance, Life most exactly represents the Stage, since it is
often the same Person who represents the Villain and the Heroe". Coleridge
has expressed the same truth in words written in a copy of _Tom Jones_,
"If I want a servant or mechanic I wish to know what he _does_--but of a
Friend I must know what he _is_. And in no writer is this momentous
distinction so finely brought forward as by Fielding. We do not care what
Blifil does ... but Blifil _is_ a villain and we feel him to be so." [8]

It is true that, as Scott regrets the depth of degradation into which Tom
Jones is suffered to fall, so Coleridge expresses a wish, "relatively to
Fielding himself" that the great novelist had emphasised somewhat more the
repentance of his hero: but this may be balanced by that other noble
tribute to his morality, "I dare believe who consulted his heart and
conscience only without adverting to _what the world_ would say could rise
from the perusal of Fielding's _Tom Jones_, _Joseph Andrews_ and _Amelia_
without feeling himself the better man--at least without an intense
conviction that he could not be guilty of a base act." [9] To be forced to
watch the temporary degradation of a noble nature, and the miseries
ensuing, is surely one of the most effective means of rousing a hatred of
vice. That such an exhibition should ever have been construed into moral
laxity on the part of the author, especially when the restoration of the
hero's character is drawn as entirely due to his ingrained worship of
innocence and virtue, is almost incredible.

In exact accordance with Fielding's character as moralist in intent,
although supreme artist in execution, is the fact of the dedication of
_Tom Jones_ to his life-long friend Lyttelton. George Lyttelton,
statesman, scholar, and orator, was a friend of whom any man might be
proud. It was said of him that he "showed the judgment of a minister, the
force and wit of an orator, and the spirit of a gentleman." As theologian
he wrote a treatise on _The Conversion of St. Paul_ which, a hundred years
later, was described as being "still regarded as one of the subsidiary
bulwarks of Christianity." As poet he won the praise of Gray for his
tender and elegiac verse. Thomson sang of his "sense refined," and adds

  Serene yet warm, humane yet firm his mind
  As little touch'd as any man's with bad;

And Pope drew his character as

  "Still true to virtue and as warm as true."

It was to this devout scholar, this refined gentleman, this warm-hearted
follower of virtue, that _Tom Jones_ was dedicated, nay more, to him it
owed both origin and completion. "To you, Sir," Fielding writes in his
_Dedication_, "it is owing that this History was ever begun. It was by
your Desire that I first thought of such a Composition.... Again, Sir,
without your Assistance this History had never been completed.... I partly
owe to you my Existence during great Part of the Time in which I have
employed in composing it." And that Lyttelton cordially approved the book
which owed so much to his own insight and generosity is evident from the
references, in the _Dedication_, to his favourable judgment.

With the appearance of _Tom Jones_ Fielding steps into his own place among
the immortals. But lofty as his genius was, his feet were firmly planted
in the world which he relished so keenly. To no man could be applied more
happily the motto chosen by him for his title page, _mores hominum
multorum vidit_--he saw the manners of many men. This characteristic
emerges in a personal reminiscence of the novelist, at the very moment
when the sheets of _Tom Jones_ were passing through the press. The
great-nephew of his intimate friend Mrs Hussey relates; "Henry Fielding
was fond of colouring his pictures of life with the glowing and variegated
tints of Nature, by conversing with persons of every situation and
calling, as I have frequently been informed by one of my great aunts, the
late Mrs Hussey, who knew him intimately. I have heard her say, that Mr
Fielding never suffered his talent for sprightly conversation to mildew
for a moment; and that his manners were so gentlemanly, that even with the
lower classes, with which he frequently condescended particularly to chat
such as Sir Roger de Coverley's old friends, the Vauxhall water-men, they
seldom outstepped the limits of propriety. My aunt ... [was] a fashionable
sacque and mantua-maker, and lived in the Strand, ... One day Mr Fielding
observed to Mrs Hussey, that he was then engaged in writing a novel, which
he thought would be his best production; and that he intended to introduce
into it the characters of all his friends. Mrs Hussey, with a smile,
ventured to remark, that he must have many niches, and that surely they
must already be filled. 'I assure you, my dear madam,' replied he, 'there
shall be a bracket for a bust of you.' Some time after this, he informed
Mrs Hussey that the work was in the press; but, immediately recollecting
that he had forgotten his promise to her, went to the printer, and was
time enough to insert, in vol. iii. p. 17, where he speaks of the shape of
Sophia Western--'Such charms are there in affability, and so sure is it to
attract the praises of all kinds of people.... It may indeed be compared
to the celebrated Mrs Hussey.' To which observation he has given the
following note: 'A celebrated mantua-maker in the Strand, famous for
setting off the shapes of women.'" [10]

Here is yet further proof, that Fielding loved not only to see the manners
of many men, but also to render them whatever service lay within his
power. Never were the warmest heart and the loftiest genius more happily
united than in the creator of the English novel.

Lyttelton not only suggested and approved the great Comic Epic, and
enabled distressed genius to live while composing it; his own worth and
benevolence, together with those of the generous Allen, afforded Fielding,
as he tells us, the materials for the picture here presented of Allworthy.
"The World," he says, speaking of this picture, "will not, I believe, make
me the Compliment of thinking I took it from myself. I care not: This they
shall own, that the two Persons from whom I have taken it, that is to say,
two of the best and worthiest Men in the World, are strongly and zealously
my Friends." And a point of still closer personal interest is the fact,
already noticed, that in the lovely character and person of Sophia
Western, Fielding raised an enduring memorial to that beloved wife whose
death had occurred a few years before the publication of _Tom Jones_. The
authenticity of the portrait is explicitly stated in the _Invocation_
prefixed to Book xiii. Apostrophizing that 'gentle Maid,' bright 'Love of
Fame,' Fielding bids her, in the eighteenth century phrase that falls so
strangely on a modern ear, "Foretell me that some tender Maid, whose
Grandmother is yet unborn, hereafter, when under the fictitious Name of
_Sophia_ she reads the real worth which once existed in my _Charlotte_,
shall, from her sympathetic Breast, send forth the _Heaving Sigh_." Then
follows, immediately, his own desire that he too may live in the knowledge
and honour of far distant readers. Fielding lies buried under southern
skies, far from his wife's English grave; but in the immortal pages of his
masterpiece they are not divided.

[1] The Fiat appointing Fielding as Magistrate for the City and Borough of
Westminster, now in the House of Lords, is dated July 30, 1748.

[2] On the house identified with Mr Graves' description, and now known as
"Fielding's Lodge," a tablet has recently been placed, through the energy
of Mr R. G. Naish of Twerton.

[3] See _Life of the Earl of Hardwicke_. G. Harris. 1847. Vol. II. pp.
456-7.

[4] _Tom Jones_. Dedication.

[5] See Appendix for this, hitherto unpublished, receipt.

[6] _London Magazine_. Feb. 1749.

[7] In Germany an edition of 1771 was followed by a second in 1780, and a
third in 1786. In 1765 a lyrical comedy founded on the famous novel was
acted in Paris; and the same year it was transformed into a German comedy
by J.H. Steffens.

[8] S. T. Coleridge. Manuscript notes in a copy of _Tom Jones_, now in the
British Museum.

[9] Ibid.

[10] J. T. Smith. _Nollekens and his Times_. Vol. i. pp. 124-5.



CHAPTER XII

MR JUSTICE FIELDING

  "The principal Duty which every Man owes is to his Country."
  _Enquiry into the ... Increase of Robbers_.

To have created the English novel were, it might seem, achievement enough
to tire for a while the most vigorous of intellects; but to the author of
_Tom Jones_ the apathy of repose was unknown. At no period of Fielding's
short life can he be discerned as doing nothing; and, indeed, to an
insight so penetrating, to an ardour so irrepressible, the England of
George the Second can have afforded but very little inducement to
inaction.

Thus, in the one month of October 1748, the pages of _Tom Jones_ must have
been nearing completion, if indeed the sheets were not already passing
through the press. The Hanoverian philippics of "Mr Trott-Plaid" were
still resounding in the _Jacobite's Journal_. While, on the 26th. of the
month, Fielding's oaths were received for an entirely new rôle, that of a
Justice of the Peace for Westminster. [1] Ten days later the _Jacobite's
Journal_ had ceased to exist; and that a rumour was abroad connecting this
demise of the _Journal_ with the bestowal of a new and arduous post on its
editor appears from a paragraph in the _London Evening Post_. On Nov. 8,
that organ prepares its readers for the fact that the now defunct "Mr
Trott-Plaid" may possibly "rise awful in the Form of a Justice." Within
four weeks of this announcement 'Justice Fielding's' name appears for the
first time in the Police-news of the day, in a committal dated December
10th [2]. And two days later he is sending three thieves to the Gatehouse,
and admitting a suspected thief to bail, "after an Examination which
lasted several hours." And it is interesting to notice that throughout
this first month of his magisterial work the now 'awful form' of Justice
Henry Fielding was kept constantly tempered in the public mind by the fact
of his still undiminished popularity as a dramatist. In this December his
comedies, with the inimitable 'romp' Kitty Clive as _Miss Lucy_, or the
_Intrigueing Chambermaid_ or _Chloe_, as the case might be, were played no
fewer than nine times on the Drury Lane boards.

Scarcely had Fielding bent his genius to these new responsibilities of
examining Westminster suspects and sending the rogues of that city to
prison, than he appears preparing for an extension of those duties over
the county of Middlesex. To be a county magistrate in 1750, however,
necessitated the holding of landed estate worth £100 per annum; and
Fielding's estate, for many years, seems to have been his pen. In this
difficulty he turned to the Duke of Bedford, whose public virtues, and
private generosity, were so soon to be acknowledged in the Dedication of
_Tom Jones_. It was but three weeks after his appointment that the
Westminster magistrate wrote as follows to the giver of those "princely
Benefactions":


"Bow Street. Decr. 13. 1748.

"My Lord,

"Such is my Dependence on the Goodness of your Grace, that before my Gout
will permit me to pay my Duty to you personally, and to acknowledge your
last kind Favour to me, I have the Presumption to solicite your Grace
again. The Business of a Justice of Peace for Westminster is very
inconsiderable without the Addition of that for the County of Middlesex.
And without this Addition I cannot completely serve the Government in that
office. But this unfortunately requires a Qualification which I want. Now
there is a House belonging to your Grace, which stands in Bedford St., of
70l. a year value. This hath been long untenanted, and will I am informed,
require about 300l. to put in Repair. If your Grace would have the
Goodness to let me have a Lease of this House, with some other Tenement
worth 30l. a year, for 21 years, it would be a complete Qualification. I
will give the full Worth for this lease, according to the valuation which
any Person your Grace shall be pleased to appoint sets upon it. The only
favour I beg of your Grace is, that I be permitted to pay the Money in two
years, at four equal half-yearly Payments. As I shall repair the House as
soon as possible, it will be in Reality an Improvement of that small Part
of your Grace's estate, and will be certain to make my Fortune.

"Mr Butcher will acquaint your Grace more fully than perhaps I have been
able to do; and if Your Grace thinks proper to refer it to him, I and mine
will be eternally bound to pray for your Grace tho I sincerely hope you
will not lose a Farthing by doing so vast a service to,

"My Lord your Grace's
"Most obliged most obed' humble servant
"H. Ffielding." [3]

It seems probable that the Duke found better means of helping wit and
genius, than by the leasing of the dilapidated tenement in Bedford Street.
At any rate a month later, on January 11, we find Fielding duly swearing
to an estate as consisting of "several Leasehold Messuages or Tenements
Lying or being in the several parishes of St Paul Covent Garden, St Martin
in the ffields, St Giles in the ffields, and St Georges Bloomsbury ... now
in the possession or occupation of [my] Tennants or Undertennants, for and
during the Term of Twenty one years of the clear yearly value of £100...."
This statement, which is preserved in the Middlesex Records, is followed
by Fielding's signature, appended to an oath that his qualification to
serve as a Justice of the Peace for the county is as above described. [4]

On the day following this sworn statement, January 12, 1749, his oaths
were received as a Justice of the Peace for Middlesex. [5] But even this
did not satisfy all the requirements of those days of doctrinal
inquisitions and Jacobite risings. The certificate may still be seen among
the Middlesex Records, duly certified by Charles Tough, Minister of the
Parish and Church of St Pauls, Covent Garden, and 'Sworn in Court,' that
"Henry Fielding Esq. on Sunday the 26th day of March, 1749, did receive
the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper in ye Parish Church aforesaid,
immediately after Divine Service and Sermon, according to the usage of the
Church of England." [6] And among the same archives the dusty _Oath Roll_
is preserved, bearing, under date of April 5, 1749, the signature of
_Henry ffielding_ to a declaration of disbelief in the doctrine of
Transubstantiation; a comprehensive oath of faithful service to King
George and abjuration of King James; an oath directed against the power of
the Holy See; and an oath of true allegiance to King George. All which
oaths and declarations, it appears from the endorsement of the _Roll_,
were taken immediately after the administration of Holy Communion, as
attested by two credible witnesses.[7]

It is with this second Commission in the Peace that we enter on the last
five years of Fielding's crowded life, years full of that valiant struggle
with eighteenth century crime to which the health of the great novelist
was ultimately sacrificed. For no magistrate ever fulfilled more
faithfully, or at greater personal cost, the first obligation of his Oath,
"Ye shall swear that as Justice of Peace ... ye shall do equall right to
the Poor and to the Rich, after your Cunning Witt and Power and after the
Laws and Customes of the Realm...." And Fielding brought to his new post
something more than a zealous discharge of the daily and nightly duties of
an eighteenth century police magistrate. His genius and his patriotism
found opportunity in the squalid Bow Street Court-room for advocating
reforms as yet untouched by the slow hand of the professional
philanthropist. The names of those reformers, of the men and women who
swept away the pestilential horrors of eighteenth century prisons, of the
statesmen who abolished laws that hung a man for stealing a handkerchief,
and destroyed the public gallows that gave the mob their _Tyburn holiday_,
of the creators of our temperance legislation, of our poor-law system, of
our model dwellings,--all these are held high in honour. Because Henry
Fielding was above all things a great creative genius his wise and
strenuous efforts to raise social conditions, and to eradicate social
sores, have been unduly forgotten.

"Whatever he desired, he desired ardently," says Murphy. We soon have
evidence of Justice Henry Fielding's ardent desire to cleanse London from
some of the crying evils of his time. Of these evils none pressed more
cruelly on the honest citizens than the prevalence and brutality of street
robberies. To the well-protected Englishman of to-day the London of 1750
would seem a nightmare of lawlessness. Thieves, as Fielding tells us,
attacked their victims with loaded pistols, beat them with bludgeons and
hacked them with cutlasses; and as to the murderers of the period, he has
recorded how he himself was engaged on _five_ different murders, all
committed by different gangs of street robbers within the space of one
week. The exploit of one such gang may be quoted, from a newspaper
paragraph of the first month of Fielding's administration at Bow Street.
"On Friday evening," says the _General Advertiser_ for January 23, 1749,
"about twenty fellows arm'd with Pistols, Cutlasses, Hangers, &c. went to
the Gatehouse and one of them knocking at the Door, it was no sooner
open'd than they all rush'd in, and struck and desperately wounded the
Turnkey, and all that oppos'd them, and in Triumph carried off the Fellow
who pick'd General Sinclaire's pocket of his watch as he was going into
Leicester House." Surely, cries the indignant newspaper, "this instance of
Daring Impudence must rouse every Person of Property to assemble and
consult means for their own Security at least; for if Goals can be forc'd
in this manner, private Houses can make but little resistance against such
Gangs of Villains as at present infest this Great Metropolis." It was
admitted that the numbers and arms of street robbers rendered it
ordinarily impossible to arrest them in the act; and Fielding tells us how
"Officers of Justice have owned to me that they have passed by [men] with
Warrants in their Pockets against them without daring to apprehend them;
and indeed they could not be blamed for not exposing themselves to sure
Destruction: For it is a melancholy Truth, that at this very Day a Rogue
no sooner gives the Alarm within certain Purlieus, than twenty or thirty
armed Villains are found ready to come to his Assistance." And the new
Justice found no effectual means at his disposal for coping with what he
very aptly calls the enslaved condition of Londoners, assaulted, pillaged,
and plundered; unable to sleep in their own houses, or to walk the
streets, or to travel in safety. There were the Watch, who, we learn from
_Amelia_ were "chosen out of those poor old decrepid People, who are from
their Want of bodily Strength rendered incapable of getting a Livelihood
by Work. These Men, armed only with a Pole, which some of them are scarce
able to lift, are to secure the Persons and Houses of his Majesty's
Subjects from the Attacks of Gangs of young, bold, stout, desperate and
well-armed Villains.... If the poor old Fellows should run away from such
Enemies, no one I think can wonder, unless he should wonder that they are
able even to make their Escape." [8] These lineal descendants of Dogberry
were supplemented by constables who it appears had to apply to the
military when called upon to cope with the mere suppression of a
gaming-house; and by "Thief-catchers," individuals so popularly odious
that "the Thief-catcher is in Danger of worse Treatment from the Populace
than the Thief." While the law was thus handicapped, the thief, on his
side, had the advantage of the irregular buildings and the immense number
of lanes, alleys, courts, and bye-places of London and Westminster, which,
says Fielding, "had they been intended for the very purpose of
concealment, they could scarce have been better contrived. Upon such a
view the whole appears as a vast Wood or Forest, in which a Thief may
harbour with as great Security as Wild Beasts do in the Desarts of Africa
or Arabia." Also the thief's organisation was excellent: "there are at
this Time," Fielding observes, "a great Gang of Rogues whose Number falls
little short of a Hundred, who are incorporated in one Body, have Officers
and a Treasury; and have reduced Theft and Robbery into a regular System."
Further, he could generally bribe or deter the prosecutor. And in a last
resource "rotten Members of the Law" forged his defence, and abundant
false witnesses supported it. An illuminating example of the methods
employed by our Georgian ancestors towards "deterring" prosecution occurs
in a smuggling case of 1748, perpetrated shortly before Fielding first
took office. A party of smugglers caught a custom-house officer and a
shoemaker on their way to give evidence. The officer had 'every joint of
him' broken; and after other torture, the description of which is more
suitable for eighteenth century pages than our own, was dispatched. The
less fortunate shoemaker was hung by the middle over a dry well, and left
there. Several days afterwards the smugglers, returning and hearing him
groan, cut the rope, let him drop to the bottom, and threw in logs and
stones to cover him. And it was not only from the common thief that the
Londoner of 1750 suffered. That fine flower of eighteenth century
lawlessness, the gentleman of the road, carried his audacities into the
heart of the Town itself. "I was sitting in my own dining-room on Sunday
night," writes Horace Walpole, to a friend, "the clock had not struck
eleven, when I heard a loud cry of 'stop thief!' A highwayman had attacked
a postchaise in Piccadilly: the fellow was pursued, rode over the
watchman, almost killed him, and escaped."

It was into a conflict with this epidemic of crime that Fielding, at
forty-three, and with already broken health, flung his energies, to such
purpose that in these last five years of his life it is but too easy to
forget the creator of _Joseph Andrews_, of _Tom Jones_, and of _Amelia_,
in his last 'ardent desire,' as ardently pursued, to purify the sorely
diseased body politic. His method of attack was twofold. He dealt
vigorously with the individual criminal; and he sought to remove some of
the causes by which those criminals were engendered. The individual attack
is, for the most part, but sordid reading. Thus from a fragment of the
Westminster _Committment Books_, preserved with the Middlesex Records, we
may see how in January and February of this year 1749 'Henry Fielding
Esq.' committed to the New Prison such cases as:

Thomas Thrupp                for riot
Thomas Trinder               for burglary
T. Chamberlain and Terence
Fitz Patrick                 for assault
C. O'Neal                    for assaulting two Watchmen
Mary Hughes and Caterine
Edmonds                      for assault and beating
John Smithson                for exercising the art of pattenmaker
                             without having been brought up thereto
                             for seven years
Cornelius York               for filing guineas
Christo Kelsey               for ill fame
Bryan Park                   for assault


This sorry list, interspersed with cases of murder, of robbery with
violence, and of smuggling, may doubtless be extended over the entire five
years of Fielding's work on the Bench; and to reiterate the details of
such work would be as tedious now as the monotonous discharge of these
duties must once have been to the author of _Tom Jones_. [9] Of much more
enduring interest is the great novelist's second line of attack on the
problem confronting him.

For Henry Fielding's insight was far too profound for him to fail to
strike at the root of individual crime, in those conditions which bred the
criminal as surely as, to use his own favourite simile, unclean
surroundings breed disease. And he had not been six months on the Bench
before finding his first opportunity in a _Charge_ delivered, as their
Chairman, to the Westminster Grand Jury, on June 29, 1749. [10] This "very
loyal, learned, ingenious, excellent and useful" Charge was published "By
Order of the Court, and at the unanimous Request of the Gentlemen of the
Grand Jury"; and it is, Mr Austin Dobson tells us, "still regarded by
lawyers as a model exposition." It is also a stirring appeal to the worthy
jurors to discharge their duties as befitted men called upon to exercise
one of the most ancient and honourable of English liberties: "Grand
Juries, Gentlemen," declared their new Chairman, "are in Reality the only
Censors of this Nation. As such, the Manners of the People are in your
Hands, and in yours only. You, therefore, are the only Correctors of
them.... To execute this Duty with Vigilance, you are obliged by the Duty
you owe both to God and to your Country." Here is the same zeal, now
directed to stimulating the conscience of the Westminster Jurors, which
moved _Captain Vinegar_ to lay about him so lustily on all the abuses
within reach of his newspaper, and which inspired the 'father of the
English Novel' with the admitted motive,--"I declare, that to recommend
Goodness and Innocence hath been my sincere Endeavour in this History"--if
not with the consummate art of his pages.

Fielding specially directs the energies of his jurors to the repression of
open profligacy, the more as, through the 'egregious folly' of their
parents, the _Town_ had then become the 'seminaries of education' for
youths of birth and station. And he bids them attend to those 'temples of
iniquity' the masquerade rooms of the time, with a side glance at Foote's
scandalous performances; to the gaming houses; to the prevalent vice of
profane swearing, that "detestable Crime, so injurious to the Honour of
God, so directly repugnant to His positive Commands, so highly offensive
to the Ears of all good Men, and so very scandalous to the Nation in the
Ears of Foreigners"; and to the libeller, a species of 'Vermin' whom "men
ought to crush wherever they find him, without staying till he bite them."
It is noteworthy also, that to the genius of Fielding, 'watching,
brooding, creating,' the characteristic feature of his age seemed to be a
"fury after licentious and luxurious pleasures." "Gentlemen," he cries,
"our News-Papers, from the Top of the Page to the Bottom, the Corners of
our Streets up to the very Eves of our Houses, present us with nothing but
a View of Masquerades, Balls, and Assemblies of various Kinds, Fairs,
Wells, Gardens, &c. tending to promote Idleness, Extravagance and
Immorality, among all Sorts of People." Many of the public, he declares,
make diversion "no longer the Recreation or Amusement, but the whole
Business of their Lives"; and not content with three theatres they must
have a fourth. What would he have said to a London in which not four but a
hundred and twenty theatres draw nightly, and sometimes twice a day, their
crowded audiences.

Two days after the delivery of this _Charge_ (which the _General
Advertiser_ praises as "excellent and learned") a three days street riot
broke out, which it fell to Fielding to subdue. On Saturday July 1 a mob
had gathered in the Strand, about a disorderly house where a sailor was
said to have been robbed. Beadle Nathaniel Munns, arriving on the scene,
found the mob crying out "Pull down the house, pull down the house!"; and
sent for the constables. Meanwhile the mob broke open the house and
demolished and stripped the same; and throwing the goods out of the
windows, set fire to them, causing such danger of a general conflagration
that 'the parish engines' were sent for. A constable, _not being able to
find any magistrate in Town_, went to Somerset House to procure assistance
from the military, and on his returning with a corporal and twelve men, a
force that later that night was increased to an officer and forty men, the
mob was at last dispersed. On the next day, however, Sunday, they
reassembled, and proceeded to demolish a second house, and to burn the
goods thereof with an even larger fire than that of the preceding night.
Mr Saunders Welch, High Constable for Holborn and, Fielding tells us, "one
of the best Officers who was ever concerned in the Execution of Justice,
and to whose Care, Integrity and Bravery the Public hath, to my Knowledge,
the highest Obligations," passing through Fleet Street at the time, saw
this second fire, and was told by the owner of another house that the mob
threatened to come to him next. Upon which Mr Welch "well knowing the
Impossibility of procuring any Magistrate at that Time who would act,"
went to the Tilt Yard and procured an officer and some forty men; and
returning, found the third house in great part wrecked, the danger of fire
here being aggravated by the extreme narrowness of the street on both
sides and the fact that the premises of a bank were adjacent. This same
Sunday night, also, the mob broke open the night-prison under Beadle
Munns' house, rescuing two prisoners; and forced the Watch-house of the
Liberty with stones and brick bats, to the imminent danger of the Beadle's
life, as "sworn before me, Henry Fielding." Till three in the morning Mr
Welch and the soldiers remained on duty, by which time the rioters had
again dispersed. All this time Fielding, Mr Welch records, was out of
town; but, by noon on Monday, the Justice was back in Bow Street: and, on
being acquainted with the riot, immediately dispatched an order for a
party of the Guards to bring the prisoners to his house, the streets being
then full of a riotous crowd threatening danger of rescue. Fielding
proceeded to examine the prisoners, a "vast mob" meanwhile being assembled
in Bow Steet, and the streets adjacent. On information of the threatening
aspect of the people he applied to the Secretary at War for a
reinforcement of the Guards; and from his window, spoke to the mob,
informing them of their danger, and exhorting them to disperse, but in
vain. Rumours, moreover, came that four thousand sailors were assembling
to march to the Strand that Monday night. In view of these rumours and of
the riotous state of the streets, Fielding, the officer of the guard, and
Mr Welch "sat up the whole night, while a large party of soldiers were
kept ready under arms who with the peace officers patrolled the streets."
And thanks to this vigorous action on the part of their new magistrate the
citizens found peace restored within twelve hours of his return to town.

The same day as that on which Fielding was addressing the riotous mob from
his Bow Street windows, and sitting up all night with the officer of a
military guard, he found time to write to the Duke of Bedford on his own
behalf and on that of his family, concerning the provision for which he
betrays so constant an anxiety.


"Bow Street. July 3. 1749.

"My Lord,

"The Protection which I have been honoured with receiving at the Hands of
your Grace, and the goodness which you were pleased to express some time
toward me, embolden me to mention to your Grace that the Place of
Solicitor to the Excise is now vacant by the Death of Mr Selwyn. I hope
no Person is better qualified for it, and I assure you, my Lord, none
shall execute it with more Fidelity. I am at this Moment busied in
endeavouring to suppress a dangerous Riot, or I w'd have personally
waited on your Grace to solicite a Favour which will make me and my
Family completely happy.

"I am, &c.,

"H. Ffielding." [11]

The vacant post was secured, alas, by another candidate.

A few weeks after the riotous scenes which had enabled Fielding to show
himself a man of prompt action in times of popular ferment, the
publication is advertised of his _Charge_, published "by order of the
Court and at the request of the Gentleman of the Grand Jury." And on the
same day he submits to the Lord Chancellor a copy both of this pamphlet,
and of a draft of a _Bill for the better preventing Street Robberies &c_,
the design of which it appears Lord Hardwick had already encouraged.


"Bow Street, July 21. 1749.

"My Lord,

"I beg your Lordship's acceptance of a Charge given by me to the Grand
Jury of Westminster though I am but too sensible how unworthy it is of
your notice.

"I have likewise presumed to send my Draught of a Bill for the better
preventing street Robberies &c. which your Lordship was so very kind to
say you would peruse; I hope the general Plan at least may be happy in
your Approbation.

"Your Lordship will have the goodness to pardon my repeating a desire
that the name of Joshua Brogden, may be inserted in the next commission
of the Peace for Middlesex and Westminster for whose [integrity] and
Ability in the Execution of his office. I will engage my credit with your
Lordship, an Engagement which appears to me of the most sacred Nature.

"I am,
"My Lord, with the utmost Respect and Devotion,
"Your Lordship's most Obed't
"Most humble Servant
"H. Ffielding. [12]

"To the Right Hon'ble.
"The Lord High Chancellor of G. Britain."

All trace of the text of this draft Bill seems to have been lost; but the
fact of the Lord Chancellor's consent to consider its provisions shows
clearly enough how rapidly Fielding was adding to his now achieved fame as
the author of _Tom Jones_ the very different reputation of an authority on
criminal legislation.

The application on behalf of Joshua Brogden, later if not at this time the
Justice's Clerk, recalls the further pleasant tribute paid to the
soundness of Mr Brogden's morals in the _Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon_.
If all Fielding's modest magisterial income of £300 a year had gone, as he
declares it should have done, to his clerk, that functionary would, he
tells us, have been "but ill paid for sitting almost sixteen hours in the
twenty four, in the most unwholesome, as well as nauseous air in the
universe, and which hath in his case corrupted a good constitution without
contaminating his morals." It was Joshua Brogden who had witnessed, a few
months earlier, the agreement with Andrew Millar for _Tom Jones_. Could
the good clerk but have played the part of a Boswell to his illustrious
master we should have something more than our present scanty materials for
the personal life of Henry Fielding.

Yet another of Fielding's rare letters belongs to this year; a letter
conveying his formal congratulations to Lyttelton, on that model
statesman's second marriage, and in which his warm heart again makes
application, not on behalf of his own scanty means, but for a friend.


"Bow Street, Aug't 29, 1749.

"Sir,

"Permit me to bring up the Rear of your Friends in paying my Compliments
of Congratulation on your late Nuptials. There may perhaps be seasons when
the Rear may be as honourable a Post in Friendship as in War, and if so
such certainly must be every time of Joy and Felicity. Your present
situation must be full of these; and so will be, I am confident, your
future Life from the same Fountain. Nothing can equal the excellent
character your Lady bears among those of her own Sex, and I never yet knew
them speak well of a woman who did not deserve their good words. How
admirable is your Fortune in the Matrimonial Lottery! I will venture to
say there is no man alive who exults more in this, or in any other
Happiness that can attend you than myself; and you ought to believe me
from the same Reason that fully persuades me of the satisfaction you
receive from any Happiness of mine; this Reason is that you must be
sensible how much of it I owe to your goodness; and there is a great
Pleasure in Gratitude though it is second I believe to that of
Benevolence; for of all the Delights upon Earth none can equal the
Raptures which a good mind feels on conferring Happiness on those whom we
think worthy of it. This is the sweetest ingredient in Power, and I
solemnly protest I never wished for Power, more than a few days ago for
the sake of a Man whom I love, and that more perhaps from the esteem I
know he bears towards you than from any other Reason. This Man is in Love
with a young Creature of the most apparent worth, who returns his
affection. Nothing is wanting to make two very miserable People extremely
Blessed but a moderate portion of the greatest of human Evils. So
Philosophers call it, and so it is called by Divines, whose word is the
rather to be taken, as they are, many of them, more conversant with this
Evil than ever Philosophers were. The Name of this man is Moore to whom
you kindly destined that Laurel, which, though it hath long been withered,
may not probably soon drop from the Brow of its present Possessor; but
there is another Place of much the same Value now vacant: it is that of
Deputy Licensor to the Stage. Be not offended at this Hint; for though I
will own it impudent enough in one who hath so many Obligations of his own
to you, to venture to recommend another man to your Favour, yet Impudence
itself may possibly be a Virtue when exerted on the behalf of a Friend; at
least I am the less ashamed of it, as I have known men remarkable for the
opposite Modesty possess it without the mixture of any other good Quality.
In this Fault then you must indulge me; for should I ever see you as high
in Power as I wish, and as it is perhaps more my Interest than your own
that you should be, I shall be guilty of the like as often as I find a Man
in whom I can, after much intimacy discover no want, but that of the Evil
above mentioned. I beg you will do me the Honour of making my Compliments
to your unknown Lady, and believe me to be with the highest Esteem,
Respect, Love, and Gratitude

"Sir,
"Y'r most obliged
"Most obed't
"humble Servant

"Henry Fielding.

"To the Hon'ble
"George Lyttelton, Esqr." [13]

This Edward Moore was a poet held worthy, it would seem, to possess the
Laureat's 'withered' laurel (even in 1749 Fielding cannot refrain from a
thrust at Colley Cibber); a journalist; a writer of whom Dibden declared
that the tendency of all his productions was to "cultivate truth and
morality"; a tradesman in the linen business; and the son of a dissenting
minister: a combination of circumstances closely recalling Fielding's
friendship for the good dissenter, jeweller, and poet, George Lillo. And
it is to an undated letter by Edward Moore, hitherto overlooked, that we
owe one of the rare references to Henry Fielding from a contemporary pen.
Moore is writing to a dissenting minister at Taunton, one Mr John Ward, of
whom it was said that venerable as he himself was for learning, worth, and
piety he deemed it "_an honour to have his name connected with that of
Moore_,"--a further proof of the quality of man whom Fielding choose for
friend. Moore had been prevented, by Fielding's illness, from appointing
an evening on which he might invite the Taunton minister to his lodgings
to meet there some of the first wits of the day. "It is not," he writes,
"owing to forgetfulness that you have not heard from me before. Fielding
continues to be visited for his sins so as to be wheeled about from room
to room; when he mends I am sure to see him at my lodgings; and you may
depend upon timely notice. What fine things are Wit and Beauty, if a Man
could be temperate with one, or a Woman chaste with the other! But he that
will confine his acquaintance to the sober and the modest will generally
find himself among the dull and the ugly. If this remark of mine should be
thought to shoulder itself in without an introduction you will be pleased
to note that Fielding is a Wit; that his disorder is the Gout, and
intemperance the cause." It is of course idle to contend that Fielding
always carried a cool head. Murphy tells us that to him might justly be
applied a parody on a saying concerning Scipio,--"always over a social
bottle or a book, he enured his body to the dangers of intemperance, and
exercised his mind with Studies." But we must in justice remember that the
Augustan age of English literature concerned itself but very little with
our modern virtue of sobriety. That Fielding, with the other great men of
his day, very often drank more than was good for him, amounts to little
more than saying that he wore a laced coat when he had one, and carried a
sword at his side.

The execution of one of the Strand rioters, Bosavern Penlez by name, in
September, had roused much controversy; and as the evidence in the case
was in Justice Fielding's possession, and the attacks were levelled at the
Government, we find him plunged once more into political pamphleteering in
the publication, under the date of 1749, of the learned little treatise
entitled "_A True State of the Case of Bosavern Penlez' who suffered on
account of the late riot in the Strand. In which the Law regarding these
Offences and the Statute of George I. commonly called the Riot Act are
fully considered_." The pamphlet opens with a warm protest against the
abuse to which Fielding had been subjected by his political opponents. "It
may easily be imagined," he writes, "that a Man whose Character hath been
so barbarously, even without the least Regard to Truth or Decency,
aspersed, on account of his Endeavours to defend the present Government,
might wish to decline any future Appearance as a political Writer"; but
more weighty considerations move him to lay the defence of the Riot Act in
general, and of this application of it in particular, before a public
which had been imposed upon "in the grossest and wickedest manner." We
have already quoted the vivid depositions concerning this Strand riot,
which were sworn before Fielding, and which he here reproduces; and his
historical defence of the public need of suppressing riots, from the days
of Wat Tyler onwards, may be left to the curious reader. Needless to say,
Fielding makes out an excellent case against the toleration of mob law:--
"When by our excellent Constitution the greatest Subject, no not even the
King himself, can, without a lawful Trial and Conviction divest the
meanest Man of his Property, deprive him of his Liberty, or attack him in
his Person; shall we suffer a licentious Rabble to be Accuser, Judge,
Jury, and Executioner; to inflict corporal Punishment, break open Men's
Doors, plunder their Houses, and burn their Goods?" And, at the close,
this pamphlet reveals the warm-hearted magistrate no less than the erudite
lawyer. For of the two condemned prisoners, Wilson and Penlez, the case of
the former seemed to Fielding "to be the Object of true Compassion."
Accordingly he laid the evidence in his possession before "some very noble
Persons," and, he adds, "I flatter myself that it might be a little owing
to my Representation, that the Distinction between an Object of Mercy, and
an Object of Justice at last prevailed". So the felon gained his respite,
and a lasting niche for his name, in that he owed his life partly if not
wholly to the generous compassion of Henry Fielding. The pamphlet seems to
have made its mark, for a second edition was advertised within a month of
publication.

This eventful year, the year which had seen the publication of _Tom
Jones_, the shackling of Fielding's genius within the duties of a London
magistrate, the issue of two pamphlets occupied with criminal reform and
administration, the drafting of a proposed Criminal Bill, and the
suppression of a riot, closed sadly with the death of Fielding's little
daughter, Mary Amelia, when barely twelve months old. She was buried at St
Paul's, Covent Garden, on the seventeenth of December, 1749. And some time
in the autumn or early winter Fielding himself appears to have been
dangerously ill. This we learn from the following paragraph in the
_General Advertizer_ for December 28: "Justice Fielding has no
Mortification in his Foot as has been reported: that Gentleman has indeed
been very dangerously ill with a Fever, and a Fit of the Gout, in which he
was attended by Dr Thompson, an eminent Physician, and is now so well
recovered as to be able to execute his Office as usual."

[1] His Commission in the Peace for Westminster bears date October 25.
1748.

[2] An application is reported for the 2nd of December before "Justice
Fielding" of Meards Court, St. Anne's, but for reasons given below this
_may_ refer to John Fielding.

[3] From the autograph now at Woburn Abbey, and printed in the
_Correspondence of John Fourth Duke of Bedford_. Vol. i. p. 589.

[4] Middlesex Records. Volume of _Qualification Oaths for Justices of the
Peace_. 1749. From an entry dated July 13, 1749, in the same volume,
Fielding appears to have then owned leases in the three first named
parishes only.

[5] See the King's Writ, now preserved in the Record Office.

[6] Middlesex Records. _Sacramental Certificates_.

[7] Middlesex Records. _Oath Rolls_.

[8] _Amelia_. Book i. Chapter ii.

[9] The Westminster _Session Rolls_, preserved among the Middlesex
Records, contain many recognizances all signed by Fielding.

[10] "On Friday last," announces the General Advertiser for May 17,
"Counsellor Fielding, one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace was
chosen Chairman of the Sessions at Hicks Hall for the County of
Middlesex"; a statement not very compatible with the incontestable
evidence preserved in the _General Orders Books_ of the Middlesex Records,
by which it appears that John Lane Esq're was elected Chairman of the
Middlesex General Sessions and General Quarter Session from Ladyday 1749
to September 1752. The personal paragraphist of 1749 was perhaps no less
inaccurate than his descendant of to-day. But a few weeks later this
honour of chairmanship was certainly accorded to Fielding by his brethren
of the Bench for Westminster. An entry in the _Sessions Book_ of
Westminster, 1749 runs as follows: "May. 1749, Mr Fielding elected
chairman of this present Session and to continue untill the 2nd day of the
next." _MSS Sessions Books for Westminster. Vol. 1749_. Middlesex Records.

[11] From the autograph now at Woburn Abbey, and printed in the
_Correspondence of John, Fourth Duke of Bedford_, vol. ii. p. 35.

[12] From the hitherto unpublished autograph now in the British Museum.

[13] This letter is now in the Dreer Collection of the Historical Society
of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, U.S.A.



CHAPTER XIII

FIELDING AND LEGISLATION

    "The Subject, as well as the Child, should be left without excuse
    before he is punished: for, in that case alone, the Rod becomes
    the Hand either of the Parent or the Magistrate."
    _Inquiry Into the Causes of the late Increase of Robbers_.

There is no Bill for the suppression of street robberies on the Statute
Book for 1749 or 1750; so the draft which Fielding, with characteristic
energy, despatched to the Lord Chancellor but a few months after his
appointment to the Bench, was, presumably, pigeon-holed. Meanwhile, the
criminal conditions of the metropolis seem to have become, if anything,
more scandalous. In February 1750, the _Penny Post_ reports the gaols in
and about London to be "now so full of Felons and desperate Rogues that
the Keepers have not fetters enow to put upon them; so that in some
Prisons two or three are chained together to prevent their escape." And on
the fifth of the same month the _General Advertiser_ hears that "near 40
Highwaymen, street Robbers, Burglars, Rogues, Vagabonds, and Cheats have
been committed within a week last past by Justice Fielding." But however
full of business the Bow Street court-room might be, that dreary routine
[1] would make, as we have said, but equally dreary reading. And the fact
that both John and Henry Fielding appear to have been known as 'Justice
Fielding' during the lifetime of the latter, lessens whatever biographical
value might be extracted from the constant newspaper paragraphs recording
the Fielding cases. It is clear that the house in Bow Street was the
centre of an active campaign against the thieves, murderers, professional
gamblers, and highwaymen, who were then so rife. Military guards conducted
thither prisoners, brought for examination from Newgate, for fear of
rescue from gangs lurking in the neighbouring streets. All "Persons who
have been robbed" and their servants, were desired, by public
advertisement, to attend Justice Fielding "at his House in Bow Street," to
identify certain prisoners under examination. And thither came the
"porters and beggars," the composing of whose quarrels Henry Fielding
himself has told us, occupied his days. The generous spirit in which he
treated such poor clients, and his tenderness for those driven by want
into crime, are eminently characteristic of the man. By adjusting, instead
of inflaming, these squalid quarrels, and by "refusing to take a shilling
from a man who must undoubtedly would not have had another left," he
reduced a supposed income of £500 a year to £300. And if the picture of
the poor wretch, driven to highway robbery by the sight of his starving
family, whom Tom Jones relieved from his own scanty purse, be not proof
enough of the compassion that tempered Justice Fielding's sternness, we
have his own express pleading for these unhappy victims of circumstance:
"what can be more shocking," he cries, "than to see an industrious poor
Creature, who is able and willing to labour forced by mere want into
Dishonesty, and that in a Nation of such Trade and Opulence." So justly
could Fielding apportion the contributary negligence of society towards
the criminals bred by its apathy.

And it was not only the impoverished porter who found help at Bow Street.
"When," says Murphy, "in the latter end of [Mr Fielding's] days he had an
income of four or five hundred a-year, he knew no use of money but to keep
his table open to those who had been his friends when young, and had
impaired their own fortunes." As Mr Austin Dobson says, in commenting on
one of Horace Walpole's scurrilous letters, [2] "it must always have been
a more or less ragged regiment which met about that kindly Bow Street
board." The man who parted with his own hardly won arrears of rent to
relieve the yet greater need of a College friend, was little likely to be
less generous when the tardy 'jade Fortune' at last put some secured
income into his hands.

No special event marks the spring and summer of 1750. On the 11th of
January the Westminster General Quarter Sessions opened, and on the
following day Fielding was again elected as chairman "for the two next
Quarter Sessions"; which election was repeated, "for the two next
Sessions, [3]" in July. The Registers of St Paul's Covent Garden record
the baptism of a daughter, Sophia, on the 21st of January. And an
indication that the zealous magistrate was plunged, personally, into some
of the tumults of the time occurs in the following trifling note to the
Duke of Bedford.


"My Lord,

"In obedience to the Commands I have the Honour to receive from your
Grace, I shall attend tomorrow morning and do the utmost in my Power to
preserve the Peace on that occasion.

"I am, with gratitude and Respect,
"My Lord,
"Your Grace's most obliged
"most obedient humble servant.

"Henry Ffielding. [4]

"Bow Street,

"May 14, 1750."

By the autumn, however, a rumour was abroad that the now famous author of
_Tom Jones_ was engaged on pages of a very different nature. The _General
Advertiser_, for October 9, announces:--

"We hear that an eminent Magistrate is now employed in preparing a
Pamphlet for the Press in which the several causes that have conspired to
render Robberies so frequent of late will be laid open; the Defects of our
Laws enquired into, and Methods proposed which may discourage and in a
great measure prevent this growing Evil for the future."

This pamphlet, in which many a later reform was urged by Fielding's
far-sighted zeal, seems to have been still in preparation for the next two
months. And in November the reform of the law had to give place to a more
immediate urgency in protecting the Lord Chancellor. The keepers of three
gaming houses, closed by his lordship's orders, were reported to be
plotting against that exalted dignitary; and the case, as appears from the
following letter to a lawyer, Mr Perkins, was in Fielding's hands. [5]


"Sir

"I have made full enquiry after the three Persons and have a perfect
account of them all. Their characters are such that perhaps three more
likely Men could not be found in the Kingdom for the Hellish Purpose
mentioned in the Letter. As the Particulars are many and the Affair of
such Importance I beg to see you punctually at six this evening when I
will be alone to receive you--and am, Sir,

"Yr. most obed;
"humble servant

"He Ffielding.

"Bow Street. Nov. 25. 1750."

When the keepers of gambling houses dared to fly at such high game as the
person of the Lord Chancellor, there is no wonder that the safety of his
Majesty's ordinary lieges was of small account. "Robbery," writes Horace
Walpole, a few weeks before the date of the above letter, "is the only
thing which goes on with any vivacity." And at the close of the year a
Royal Proclamation was actually published, promising £100 over and above
other rewards, and a free pardon, to any accomplice who should apprehend
offenders committing murder, or robbery by violence, in London streets or
within five miles of London, providing such an accomplice had not himself
dealt a mortal wound. So startling a confession of impotence on the part
of the Government served very fitly to introduce the pamphlet, then on the
eve of publication. And if further proof be needed of the conditions of
public safety at the beginning of the year 1751, it may be seen in the
passage of the King's Speech delivered at the opening of Parliament on the
17th of January, in which his Majesty exhorted the Commons to suppress
outrages and violences on life and property; words representing, of
course, the policy of the Ministry.

The title of Fielding's little book, dedicated to Lord Hardwick, and
published about January 22, is _An Enquiry into the Causes of the late
Increase of Robbers &c. with some Proposals for remedying this growing
Evil. In which the Present Reigning Vices are impartially exposed; and the
Laws that relate to the Provision for the Poor and to the Punishment of
Felons are largely and freely examined_. The _Enquiry_ opens with a
powerful denunciation of the licence then allowed to the three great
causes, in Fielding's opinion, of the increasing demoralisation of the
'most useful Part' of the people. These were, first, the immense number of
places of amusement, all seducing the working classes to squander both
their money and their time; this being "indeed a certain Method to fill
the Streets with Beggars and the Goals with Debtors and Thieves." Here, in
Fielding's view, new legislation was demanded. The second cause of the
late excessive increase of crime, according to the _Enquiry_, was an
epidemic of gin drinking, "a new Kind of Drunkenness unknown to our
Ancestors [which] is lately sprung up amongst us." Gin, says Fielding,
appeared to be the principal sustenance of more than an hundred thousand
Londoners, "the dreadful Effects of which I have the Misfortune every Day
to see, and to smell too." The crime resulting from such drunkenness was
obvious; but Fielding, looking far beyond the narrow confines of his
court-room, beheld a future gin-sodden race, and he appeals to the
legislature to put a stop to a practice, the consequences of which must
alarm "the most sluggish Degree of Public Spirit." It is surely something
more than a coincidence that a few weeks after these warnings were
published, Hogarth issued his awful plate of _Gin Lane_. A third source of
crime, in Fielding's eyes, was the gambling among the 'lower Classes of
Life,'--a school "in which most Highwaymen of great eminence have been
bred," and a habit plainly tending to the "Ruin of Tradesmen, the
Destruction of Youth, and to the Multiplication of every Kind of Fraud and
Violence." In this case the 'Eminent Magistrate' finds new legislation
less needed than a vigorous enforcement of existing laws; such, he adds,
"as hath lately been executed with great Vigour within the Liberty of
Westminster." Before long the pages of _Amelia_ were to bring home yet
more forcibly to Fielding's readers the cruel results of the pleasures (or
speculations) of the needy gambler,--the 'Destruction of Familys,' thereby
incurred, no less than the breeding of highwaymen. Who does not remember
"that famous scene when Amelia is spreading, for the recreant who is
losing his money at the Kings Arms, the historic little supper of hashed
mutton, which she has cooked with her own hands, and denying herself a
glass of white wine to save the paltry sum of sixpence, 'while her Husband
was paying a Debt of several Guineas incurred by the Ace of Trumps being
in the hands of his Adversary'--a scene which it is impossible to read
aloud without a certain huskiness in the throat." [6] The last great cause
of crime which the _Enquiry_ considers, and with much learning and detail,
is the condition of the poor. Here Fielding's views on our modern problem
of the unemployed may be read. And here occurs a splendid denunciation of
the 'House of Correction' or Bridewell of the period, a prison for idle
and disorderly persons where "they are neither to be corrected nor
employed: and where with the conversation of many as bad and sometimes
worse than themselves they are sure to be improved in the Knowledge and
confirmed in the Practice of Iniquity." The most impudent of the wretches
brought before him, Fielding tells us, were always "such as have been
before acquainted with the Discipline of Bridewell." These prisons, from
which the disorderly and idle came out, "much more idle and disorderly
than they went in," were, says Fielding, no other than "Schools of Vice,
Seminaries of Idleness, and Common-sewers of Nastiness and Disease." A
fixed (and lower) rate of wages, it is curious to note, is one remedy
advocated in the _Enquiry_, for raising the condition of the poor.

Such were the 'temptations' to robbery that Fielding would have removed,
nobly conceiving the highest office of the legislature to be that of
prevention rather than cure. The _Enquiry_ concludes with offering some
more immediate palliatives for the diseased state of the body politic, in
the removing of actual 'Encouragement to Robbery.' First among such
encouragements Fielding places the fact that "the Thief disposes of his
goods with almost as much safety as the honestest Tradesman"; and he urged
the need of legislation to prohibit the amazing advertisements by which
our ancestors promised to give rewards for the recovery of stolen goods
"_and no questions asked_." Such advertisements he declares to be "in
themselves so very scandalous and of such pernicious Consequence, that if
Men are not ashamed to own they prefer an old Watch or a Diamond Ring to
the Good of [the] Society it is a pity some effectual Law was not
contrived to prevent their giving this public Countenance to Robbery for
the future." And, under this head, he advocates legislation either for the
regulating of pawnbrokers, or for the entire extirpation of a "Set of
Miscreants which, like other Vermin, harbour only about the Poor and grow
fat sucking their Blood." The subsequent legislation by which prosecutors
were recompensed for loss of time and money, when prosecuting the 'wolves
in society,' may be added to the measures forseen if not actually promoted
by Fielding's enlightened zeal. And in nothing was he more in advance of
his age than in his denunciation of that scandal of the eighteenth
century, the conduct and frequency of public executions. It has taken our
legislators a hundred years to provide the swift, solemn and private
executions urged by Henry Fielding, in place of the brutal 'Tyburn
holiday' enacted every six weeks for the benefit of the Georgian mob.
Another matter demanding legislation was the great probability of escape
afforded to thieves by the narrow streets and the common-lodging houses of
the day. Of the latter, crowded with miserable beds from the cellar to the
garret, let out, at twopence a night the single beds, and threepence the
double ones, Fielding draws a picture as terrible as any of his friend
Hogarth's plates. And he concludes "Nay I can add what I myself once saw
in the Parish of Shoreditch where two little Houses were emptied of near
seventy Men and Women," and where the money found on all the occupants
(with the exception of a pretty girl who was a thief) "did not amount to
one shilling." In all these houses gin, moreover, was sold at a penny the
quartern. Housed thus, in conditions destructive of "all Morality, Decency
and Modesty," with the street for bed if they fall sick ("and it is almost
a Miracle that Stench, Vermin, and Want should ever suffer them to be
well"), oppressed with poverty, and sunk in every species of debauchery,
"the Wonder in Fact is," cries Fielding, "... that we have not a thousand
more Robbers than we have; indeed that all these wretches are not thieves
must give us either a very high Idea of their Honesty or a very mean one
of their Capacity and Courage." And, leaving for a moment legislative
reform, Fielding delivers a vigorous attack on the national sluggishness
of public spirit which helped to render robbery a fairly safe profession.
With such sluggishness his ardent nature had very little sympathy. "With
regard to Private Persons," he protests, "there is no Country I believe in
the World where that vulgar Maxim so generally prevails that what is the
Business of every Man is the business of no Man; and for this plain
Reason, that there is no Country in which less Honour is gained by serving
the Public. He therefore who commits no crime against the Public, is very
well satisfied with his own Virtue; far from thinking himself obliged to
undergo any Labour, expend any Money, or encounter any Danger on such
Account." And in no part of the _Enquiry_ does the writer more truly show
his wisdom than in the pages on 'false Compassion' that plausible weakness
which refuses to prosecute the oppressors of the helpless and innocent,
and which at that time, in the person of his Majesty, King George II. was,
it appears, very active in pardoning offenders when convicted. Fielding's
arguments are incontestable; but his apologue may have found even more
favour in the age of wit. He hopes such good nature may not carry those in
power so far, "as it once did a Clergyman in _Scotland_ who in the fervour
of his Benevolence prayed to God that He would be graciously pleased to
pardon the poor Devil."

To the devil, whether in man or in society, Fielding was ever a 'spirited
enemy'; and his first biographer tells us that "to the unworthy he was
rather harsh." But the last page of this little book breathes that spirit
of tenderness for hard pressed humanity which in Fielding was so
characteristically mingled with a wholesome severity. If the legislature
would take proper care to raise the condition of the poor, then he
declares the root of the evil would be struck: "nor in plain Truth will
the utmost severity to Offenders be justifiable unless we take every
possible Method of preventing the offence ... the Subject as well as the
child should be left without Excuse before he is punished: for in that
Case alone the Rod becomes the Hand either of the Parent or the
Magistrate." And his last word is one of compassion for the "many
Cart-loads of our Fellow-creatures [who] once in six weeks are carried to
Slaughter"; of whom much the greater part might, with 'proper care and
Regulations' have been made "not only happy in themselves but very useful
Members of the Society which they now so greatly dishonour in the Sight of
all Christendom."

Henry Fielding is himself his own best illustration when he declares that
the "good Poet and the good Politician do not differ so much as some who
know nothing of either art affirm; nor would _Homer_ or _Milton_ have made
the worst Legislators of their Times."

To the reader of to-day the _Enquiry_ betrays no party flavour, but its
sedate pages clearly stirred up the hot feeling of the times. Early in
February the Advertiser announced "_This Day is published A Letter to
Henry Fielding Esqre. occasioned by his Enquiry into the causes of the
late increase of Robbers &c_." And about the end of the month there
appeared _Considerations_, in two numbers of the _True Briton_, "on
Justice Fielding's 'Enquiry,' shewing his Mistakes about the Constitution
and our Laws and that what he seems to propose is dangerous to our
Properties, Liberties and Constitution." On March 7 was announced
_Observations on Mr Fielding's Enquiry_, by one B. Sedgley. Some
opposition squib, too, must have been launched, to judge by the following
item from an advertisement column of the same date: "a Vindication of the
Rights and Privileges of the Commonality of England, in Opposition to what
has been advanced by the Author of the Enquiry, or to what may be
promulgated by any Ministerial Artifices against the public Cause of Truth
and Liberty. _By_ Timothy Beck_ the Happy Cobler of Portugal-street_."
[7] Perhaps some collector of eighteenth century pamphlets may be able to
reveal these comments of the '_Happy Gobler of Portugal-street_' upon the
'artifices' of Henry Fielding. [8]

In the February following the publication of the _Enquiry_ a Parlimentary
Committee was appointed "to revise and consider the Laws in being, which
relate to Felonies and other Offences against the Peace." [9] The
Committee included Lyttelton and Pitt, and there is of course every
probability that Fielding's evidence would be taken; but it seems
impossible now to discover what share he may have had in this move by the
Government towards fresh criminal legislation. There is, however, the
evidence of his own hand that in the matter of prison administration his
efforts were not limited to academic pamphlets, or to the indictment, so
soon to be published, contained in the terrible prison scenes of _Amelia_.
The following letter to the Duke of Newcastle [10] shows an anxious
endeavour to secure such good government as was possible for at least one
of the gaols.


"My Lord

"It being of the utmost consequence to the Public to have a proper Prison
Keeper of the new Prison at the Time, I beg leave to recommend Mr William
Pentlow a Constable of St George Bloomsbury to your Grace's Protection in
the present Vacancy. He is a Man of whose Courage and Integrity I have
seen the highest Proofs, and is indeed every way qualified for the
charge. I am with the most Perfect Respect,

"My Lord,
"Your Grace's most obedient
"and most humble servant,

"Henry Ffielding
"Bow Street Jan. 15. 1750 [1751]."

A second edition of the _Enquiry_ appeared early in the spring; and
according to the _Journals of the House of Commons_ it was resolved, in
April, that a Bill be brought in on the resolution of the Committee
appointed two months previously to consider criminal legislation. Again it
can only be surmised that Fielding's assistance would be invoked in the
drafting of this Bill. That his vigorous denunciations of the national
danger of the gin curse were in complete accord with the feeling of the
Government is apparent from the fact that two months later, in June 1751,
the _Tippling Act_ [11] received the royal assent, by which Act very
stringent restrictions were imposed on the sale of spirits.

In June Fielding again appears as Chairman of the Westminster Sessions.
[12] And in September cases occur as brought before John Fielding and
others "at Henry Fielding's house in Bow Street," [13] from which it
appears that Fielding's blind half-brother was already acting as his
assistant. In the following month John Fielding appears among the Justices
of the Westminster Quarter Sessions. [14]

The year that had seen the publication of the _Enquiry_, affords proof
enough of Fielding's active labours in criminal and social reform; but the
last month of this year is marked by an occurrence of much greater import
for English literature, the publication of the third great novel,
_Amelia_.

[1] Doubtless faithfully rendered in the old print, here reproduced, of
Fielding's blind half-brother, assistant, and successor, Sir John
Fielding, hearing a Bow Street case.

[2] See Appendix.

[3] Middlesex Records. _MSS. Sessions Books_. 1750.

[4] From the hitherto unpublished autograph, now at Woburn Abbey.

[5] This hitherto unpublished letter is now in the British Museum. It is
addressed to "--Perkins, Esq. at his Chambers No. 7, in Lincolns Inn
Square," and is sealed with Fielding's seal, a facsimile of which appears
on the cover of the present volume.

[6] _Fielding_. Austin Dobson. p. 156.

[7] _The General Advertiser_. March 7, 1751.

[8] The _London Magazine_ for February devoted five columns to an
"Abstract of Mr Fielding's Enquiry"; and in the following month the
_Magazine_ again noticed the book, by printing a long anonymous letter in
which Fielding is attacked as a 'trading author' and a 'trading justice,'
and in which the writer shows his intellectual grasp by advocating in all
seriousness a law prohibiting the sovereign from gambling!

[9] See _Journals of the House of Commons_. Vol. xxii. p. 27, and the
_London Magazine_. Vol. xx. p. 82. The _Catalogue of Printed Papers. House
of Commons_, 1750-51, includes "A Bill for the more effectual preventing
Robberies Burglaries and other Outrages within the City and Liberty of
Westminster--" &c.

[10] This hitherto unpublished letter is now in the British Museum. It is
endorsed "Jan. 15, 1750(1)."

[11] 24 George II. c. 40. June 1751.

[12] Middlesex Records. _Sessions Book_. 1751.

[13] _General Advertiser_. Sept. 9. 1751.

[14] Middlesex Records. _Sessions Book_. October, 1751.



CHAPTER XIV

AMELIA

    "of all my Offspring she is my favourite Child."
    The _Covent Garden Journal_. No. 8.

On the 2nd of December 1751 the _General Advertiser_ announces that

    _On Wednesday the 18th of this Month will be published_

    IN FOUR VOLUMES DUODECIMO

    AMELIA

    By HENRY FIELDING, Esq;
    _Beati ter et amplius
    Quos irrupta tenet Copula_. HOR.

And the puff preliminary of the period may be read in the same columns,
declaring that the "earnest Demand of the Publick" had necessitated the
use of four printing presses; and that it being impossible to complete the
binding in time, copies would be available "sew'd at Half-a-Guinea a
Sett." Sir Walter Scott tells us that, at a sale to booksellers before
publication, Andrew Millar, the publisher, refused to part with _Amelia_
on the usual discount terms; and that the booksellers, being thus
persuaded of a great future for the book, eagerly bought up the
impression. Launched thus, and heralded by the popularity with which _Tom
Jones_ had now endowed Fielding's name, the entire edition was sold out on
the day of publication; an event which evoked the observation from Dr
Johnson that _Amelia_ was perhaps the only book which being printed off
betimes one morning, a new edition was called for before night. The Doctor
gave not only unstinted praise, but also an involuntary tribute to
_Amelia_. He read the book through, without pausing, from beginning to
end. And he pronounced Amelia herself to be "the most pleasing heroine of
all the romances." [1]

But to the majority of readers Amelia is, assuredly, something more than
the most charming of heroines. She is the delightful companion; the wise
and tender friend; a woman whose least perfection was that dazzling beauty
which shone with equal lustre in the 'poor rags' lent her by her old
nurse, or in her own clothing, just as the happy purity of her nature only
glows more brightly for the dark scenes through which she moves. In the
whole range of English literature there is surely no figure more warmly
human, and yet less touched with human imperfection; none more simply and
naturally alive, and yet truer in every crisis (and there were few of the
sorrowful things of life unknown to her) to the best qualities of generous
womanhood. And if it is largely for her glowing vitality that we love
Amelia, we love her none the less in that she is no fool. It was hardly
necessary to tell us, as Fielding is careful to do, that her sense of
humour was keen, and that her insight into the ridiculous was tempered
only by the deeper insight of her heart. Her understanding of her husband
is as perfect as her love for him; and that love is far too profound to
allow a moment's suggestion of mere placid amiability. Amelia, whether
quizzing the absurdities of the affected fine ladies of her own rank, or
cooking her husband's supper in the poor lodgings of their poverty;
whether so radiant with happiness after seeing her little children
handsomely entertained that with flushed cheeks and bright eyes, "she was
all a blaze of beauty," or, pale with distress, bravely carrying her own
clothes and the children's trinkets to the pawnbroker; whether betraying
her own noble qualities of silence and forgiveness, or losing her temper
with Mrs Bennett,--commands equal affection and admiration. "They say,"
wrote Thackeray, "that it was in his own home that Fielding knew her and
loved her: and from his own wife that he drew the most charming character
in English fiction--Fiction? Why fiction! Why not history? I know Amelia
just as well as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu."

Lady Mary, and her daughter Lady Bute, have left very definite statements
concerning this portrait which their cousin was alleged to have hidden
under the fair image of Amelia. Lady Bute we are told was no stranger "to
that beloved first wife whose picture he drew in his Amelia, where, as she
said, even the glowing language he knew how to employ did not do more than
justice to the amiable qualities of the original...." [2] And Lady Mary
herself writes, "H. Fielding has given a true picture of himself and his
first wife, in the characters of Mr and Mrs Booth [Amelia and her
husband], some compliments to his own figure excepted; and I am persuaded
several of the incidents he mentions are real matters of fact." [3]
Against these persuations we must place the fact that this book contains
no such explicit statement as that which in _Tom Jones_ assures us of the
original of the beautiful Sophia. But we shall not love Amelia the less if
we see her, with her courage and her beauty, her happy gaiety of spirit,
her tenderness and strength, solacing the distresses and calming the
storms of Fielding's restless genius, rather than devoting those qualities
to assuaging the misfortunes of Captain William Booth. For indeed Captain
Booth has but one substantial title to our regard, and that is his
adoration for his wife. True, he is a pretty figure of a man; he has a
handsome face; he fights bravely, and would kick a rogue through the
world; he believes in and loves his friends; and he plays charmingly with
his children. But, deprive him of the good genius of his life, and Captain
Booth would very speedily have sunk into the ruin and despair of any other
profligate young gamester about the Town; and for this his adoration the
culprit wins our forgiveness, even as Amelia not only forgave but forgot,
when by virtue of her own unconscious goodness the Captain retrieved
himself, at last, from the folly of his ways. Undoubtedly the man whom
Amelia loved, and who had the grace to return that passion, was no
scoundrel at heart.

It is impossible, now, to discover with any certainty the incidents which
Lady Mary was persuaded were matters of fact. The experiences of Captain
Booth, when essaying to turn gentleman farmer, have been quoted as copies
of Fielding's own ambitions at East Stour; but surely on very slender
evidence. Much more personal seem many of the later scenes in the poor
London lodgings, scenes of cruel distress and perfect happiness, of bitter
disappointments and sanguine hope. Here, very probably, we have echoes of
the struggles of Harry and Charlotte Fielding, in the days of hackney
writing and of baffled efforts at the Bar; just as the dry statement by
Arthur Murphy, that Fielding was "remarkable for ... the strongest
affection for his children," comes to life in the many touching pictures
of Amelia and Booth with their little son and daughter. The pursuit of
such identity of incident may the more cheerfully be left to the
anecdotist, in that the biographical value of _Amelia_, is far more than
incidental. For the book is, as has been said, a one-part piece. Round the
single figure of Amelia all the other characters revolve; and it was of
Amelia that Fielding himself has told us, in words that are a master key
to his own character "of all my offspring she is my favourite Child." As
surely as a man may be known by his choice in a friend, so is the nature
of the artist betrayed when he avows his partiality for one alone among
all the creations of his genius.

As to the remaining figures in this "model of human life," to quote
Fielding's own descriptive phrase of his book, those which tell us most of
their author are that worthy, authoritative, humourous clergyman, Dr
Harrison; the good Sergeant Atkinson; and that fiery pedant Colonel Bath,
with his kind heart hidden under a ferocious passion for calling out every
man whom he conceived to have slighted his honour. Dr Harrison does not
win quite the same place in our hearts as the man whom Thackeray calls
'dear Parson Adams'; his cassock rustles a little too loudly; the saint is
a trifle obscured in the Doctor. But yet we love him for his warm and
protecting affection for his 'children' as he calls Amelia and Booth; for
his dry humour; and for that generosity which was for ever draining his
ample purse. And perhaps we like him none the less for his scholar's
raillery of that early blue-stocking Mrs Bennet; while his dignity never
shows to greater advantage than when he throws himself bodily on the
villain Murphy, achieving the arrest of that felon by the strength of his
own arm, and the nimbleness of his own legs. And to this good Doctor is
given a saying eminently characteristic of Justice Fielding himself. We
are told that "it was a maxim of his that no man could descend below
himself in doing any act which may contribute to protect an innocent
person, or to bring a rogue to the gallows." Another trait of the Doctor
recalls Fielding's oft reiterated aversion to what he calls grave formal
persons: "You must know then, child," said he, to poor Booth, sunk in the
melancholy problem of supporting a wife and three children on something
less than £40 a year, "that I have been thinking on this subject as well
as you; for I can think, I promise you, with a pleasant countenance." Of
Amelia's foster-brother Sergeant Atkinson (from whom Major William Dobbin
is directly descended) it is enough to say that the noble qualities
concealed beneath the common cloth of his sergeant's coat perfectly
confirm a sentence written many years before by the hand of his author. "I
will venture to affirm," Fielding declares, in his early essay on the
_Characters of Men_, "that I have known ... _a Fellow whom no man should
be seen to speak to_, capable of the highest acts of Friendship and
Benevolence."

Fielding's energies in this his last novel, a novel be it remembered
written in the midst of daily contact with the squalid vices exhibited in
an eighteenth century court-room, seem to have been almost wholly absorbed
in creating the most perfect escape from those surroundings in the person
of Amelia. Beside the figure of his 'favourite child,' the vicious
criminals of his stage, the malefic My Lord, the loathsome Trent, the
debased Justice, the terrible human wrecks in Newgate, are but dark
figures in a shadowy back-ground. Still, the great moralist shows no lack
of vigour in his delineations of such offspring of vice. The genius that
knew how to rouse every reader of _Tom Jones_ to 'lend a foot to kick
Blifil downstairs,' awards in the last pages of _Amelia_, a yet more
satisfying justice to that nameless connoisseur in profligacy, My Lord.

In his Dedication to Ralph Allen, Fielding states that his book "is
sincerely designed to promote the Cause of Virtue, and to expose some of
the most glaring Evils, as well public as private, which at present infest
this Country". The statement seems somewhat needless when prefacing pages
which enshrine Amelia; and where also are displayed Blear Eyed Moll in the
prison yard of Newgate, as Newgate was twenty years before the prison
reforms of Howard were heard of; Justice Thrasher and his iniquities; the
'diabolisms' of My Lord and of his tool Trent; the ruinous miseries of
excessive gambling; and the abuses of duelling. Indeed the avowedly
didactic purpose of the moralist seems at times to cloud a little the fine
perception of the artist. There are passages, in this book which, much as
they redound to the honour of their writer, are indisputably heavy
reading. But what shall not be forgiven to the creator of Amelia. "To have
invented that character," cries Thackeray, also becoming didactic, "is not
only a triumph of art, but it is a good action." And he tells us how with
all his heart he loves and admires the 'kindest and sweetest lady in the
world'; and how he thinks of her as faithfully as though he had
breakfasted with her that morning in her drawing-room, or should meet her
that afternoon in the Park.

It is recorded that Fielding received from Andrew Millar £1000 for the
copyright of _Amelia_. But the reception of the new novel, after the first
rush for copies, seems to have done little credit either to the brains or
to the heart of the public. And in the month following _Amelia's_
appearance, Fielding satirises the comments of the Town, in two numbers of
his _Covent Garden Journal_; protesting that though he does not think his
child to be entirely free from faults--"I know nothing human that is
so,"--still "surely she does not deserve the Rancour with which she hath
been treated by the Public." As ironic specimens of the faults complained
of in his heroine, he quotes the accusations that her not abusing her
husband "for having lost Money at Play, when she saw his Heart was already
almost broke by it, was _contemptible Meanness_"; that she condescends to
dress her husband's supper, and to dress her children, to whom moreover
she shows too much kindness; that she once mentions the DEVIL; that she is
a _low_ character; and that the beauty of her face is hopelessly flawed by
a carriage accident. Such are some of the charges brought against the
lovely Amelia by the "Beaus, Rakes, fine Ladies, and several formal
Persons with bushy wigs and canes at their Noses," who, in Fielding's
satire, crowd the Court where his book is placed on trial for the crime of
dullness. Then Fielding himself steps forward, and after pleading for this
his 'favourite Child,' on whom he has bestowed "a more than ordinary Pains
in her Education," he declares, with the same hasty petulance that
characterised that previous outburst in the preface to _David Simple_,
that indeed he "will trouble the World no more with any children of mine
by the same Muse." Two months later the _Gentleman's Magazine_ prints a
spirited appeal against this resolution. "His fair heroine's nose has in
my opinion been too severely handled by some modern critics," [4] writes
Criticulus, after a passage of warm praise for the characterisation, the
morality, and the 'noble reflections of the book'; and he proceeds to
point out that the writings of such critics "will never make a sufficient
recompense to the world, if _Mr Fielding_ adheres to what I hope he only
said in his warmth and indignation of this injurious treatment, that he
will never trouble the public with any more writings of this kind." The
words of the enlightened _Criticulus_ echo sadly when we remember that in
little more than two years the great genius and the great heart of Henry
Fielding were to be silenced.

The _London Magazine_ for 1751 devotes the first nine columns of its
December number to a resume of the novel, and continues this compliment in
another nine columns of appendix. With a fine patronage the reviewer
concludes that "upon the whole, the story is amusing, the characters kept
up, and many reflections which [sic] are useful, if the reader will but
take notice of them, which in this unthinking age it is to be feared very
few will." Some imperfections he kindly excuses on the score of "the
author's hurry of business in administering impartial justice to his
majesty's good people"; but he cannot excuse what he declares to be the
ridicule of _Liberty_ in Book viii.; and he solemnly exhorts the author
that as "he has in this piece very justly exposed some of the private
vices and follies of the present age" so he should in his next direct his
satire against political corruption, otherwise 'he and his patrons' will
be accused of compounding the same. [5] It seems incredible that any
suggestion should ever have attached to the author of _Pasquin_ and the
_Register_, as to one who could condone public corruption. And as for the
accusation of tampering with "Liberty" the like charge was brought, we may
remember, by the "Happy Cobler of Portugal Street" against Fielding's
_Inquiry into the Encrease of Robbers_. The literary cobblers who pursued
_Amelia_ with the abuse of their poor pens may very well be consigned to
the oblivion of their political brother. The comment of one hostile pen
cannot however be dismissed as coming from a literary cobbler, and that is
the 'sickening' abuse, to use Thackeray's epithet, which Richardson
dishonoured himself in flinging at his great contemporary. That abuse the
sentimentalist poured out very freely on _Amelia_; but, as Mr Austin
Dobson says, "in cases of this kind _parva seges satis est_, and Amelia
has long since outlived both rival malice and contemporary coldness. It is
a proof of her author's genius that she is even more intelligible to our
age than she was to her own." [6]

In Fielding's satiric description of the Court before which his Amelia
stood her trial, he describes himself as an 'old gentleman.' The adjective
seems hardly applicable to a man of forty five; but, to quote again from
Mr Austin Dobson, "however it may have chanced, whether from failing
health or otherwise, the Fielding of _Amelia_ is suddenly a far older man
than the Fielding of _Tom Jones_. The robust and irrepressible vitality,
the full veined delight of living, the energy of observation and strength
of satire, which characterise the one, give place in the other to a calmer
retrospection, a more compassionate humanity, a more benignant criticism
of life." Murphy's Irish tongue declares a similar feeling in his
comparison of the pages of this, the last of the three great novels, to
the calm of the setting sun; a sun that had first broken forth in the
'morning glory' of _Joseph Andrews_, and had attained its 'highest warmth
and splendour' in the inimitable pages of _Tom Jones_. There is indeed a
mature wisdom and patience in Amelia such as none but a pedant could
demand of her enchanting younger sister Sophia. In these later pages
Sophia has grown up into a gracious womanhood, while losing none of her
girlhood's gaiety and charm. That Amelia, his older and wiser though
scarce sadder child, was the nearest, as he himself tells us, to
Fielding's own heart, is one more indication that here is the perfected
image of that beloved wife, from whose youthful grace and beauty his
genius had already modelled one exquisite memorial.

[1] _Anecdotes_. Mrs Piozzi. p. 221.

[2] Letters and Works of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Introductory
Anecdotes, p. cxxiii.

[3] Ibid. Vol. ii. p. 289.

[4] It is curious that to this unlucky incident, based according to Lady
Louisa Stuart, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's grand-daughter, on a real
accident to Mrs Fielding, Dr Johnson attributed the failure of the book
with the public: "that vile broken nose ruined the sale," he declared.
Early in January Fielding himself protests in his _Covent Garden Journal_
that every reader of any intelligence would have discovered that the
effects of Amelia's terrible carriage accident had been wholly remedied by
"a famous Surgeon"; and that "the Author of her History, in a hurry,
forgot to inform his Readers of that Particular." The particular has by
now fallen into its due insignificance, and, save for Johnson's
explanation therein of the poor sale of the book, is scarce worth
recalling.

[5] _London Magazine_. December 1751. p. 531 and Appendix.

[6] _Fielding_. Austin Dobson. p. 161.



CHAPTER XV

JOURNALIST AND MAGISTRATE

    "However vain or romantic the Attempt may seem I am sanguine
    enough to aim at serving the noble Interests of Religion, Virtue,
    and good Sense, by these my lucubrations."
    The _Covent Garden Journal_. No. 5.

Nothing could be more characteristic of Fielding's active spirit than were
the early months of 1752. For, no sooner had he deposited the four volumes
of _Amelia_ in the hands of the public, essaying to win his readers over
to a love of virtue and a hatred of vice, by placing before their eyes
that true "model of human life," than we find him launching a direct
attack on the follies and evils of the age, by means of his old weapon,
the press.

The first number of the _Covent Garden Journal_ appeared on the 4th of
January, and its pages, produced under Fielding's own management and
apparently largely written by his own pen, provided satires on folly,
invectives against vice, and incitements to goodness and sense, delivered
in the name of one _Sir Alexander Drawcansir, Knt. Censor of Great
Britain_. [1] The new paper ran but for seventy-two numbers; perhaps for
all the wit and learning, the fire and zest of its columns, the public
were reluctant to buy their own lashings. But it may be doubted whether,
except in the pages of his three great novels, Henry Fielding ever
revealed himself more completely than in these his last informal
'lucubrations.' Here, the active Justice, the accomplished scholar, the
lawyer, and man of the world, the first wit of his day, talks to us of a
hundred topics, chosen indeed on the spur of the moment, but discussed in
his own incomparable words, and with the now mature authority of one, who
had "dived into the inmost Recesses of Human Nature." No subject is too
abstruse, none too trifling, for _Mr Censor_ to illumine. Freed from the
political bands of the earlier newspapers, this last _Journal_, produced
be it remembered by a man in shattered health, and distracted by the
squalid business of a Bow Street Court-room, ranges over an amazing
compass of life and manners.

Thus, one January morning, _Sir Alexander's_ readers would open their
paper to find him deploring the decline of "a Religion sometime ago
professed in this Country, and which, if my Memory fails me not was called
Christian." The following Saturday they are presented with a learned and
pleasant argument to prove that every male critic should be eighteen years
of age, and "BE ABLE TO READ." A few days later the pages of writers
purveying the prevalent "Infidelity, Scurrility, and Indecency" are
ingeniously allotted to various uses. In February the _Journal_ accords a
noble tribute "to that great Triumvirate Lucian, Cervantes, and Swift";
not indeed "for that Wit and Humour alone, which they all so eminently
possesst, but because they all endeavoured with the utmost Force of their
Wit and Humour, to expose and extirpate those Follies and Vices which
chiefly prevailed in their several Countries." The design of Aristophanes
and Rabelais on the other hand, appears to _Mr Censor_, if he may speak
his opinion freely, "very plainly to have been to ridicule all Sobriety,
Modesty, Decency, Virtue, and Religion out of the world." From such
considerations it is an easy passage to a definition of 'real Taste' as
derived from a "nice Harmony between the Imagination and the Judgment";
and to these final censorial warnings:--"_Evil Communications corrupt good
Manners_ is a quotation of St Paul from Menander. EVIL BOOKS CORRUPT AT
ONCE BOTH OUR MANNERS AND OUR TASTE." Four days after this learned
'lucubration' the voice of the warm-hearted magistrate speaks in a
reminder of the prevailing abject misery of the London poor who "in the
most miserable lingering Manner do daily perish for Want in this
Metropolis." And in almost the next number his Honour gives his readers
letters from the fair _Cordelia_, from _Sarah Scandal_, and from other
correspondents, of a wit pleasant enough to drive London's poverty far
from their minds. Two days after attending to these ladies, the _Censor_
takes up his keenest weapons in an attack on that "detestable vice of
slander" by which is taken away the "_immediate Jewel of a Man's Soul_,"
his good name; a crime comparable to that of murder. Here we have _Sir
Alexander_ speaking with the same voice as did the playwright and
journalist of ten years previously, when he declared, in his
_Miscellanies_, that to stab a man's character 'in the dark' is no less an
offence than to stab his flesh in the same treacherous manner. Indeed,
throughout these last columns of weekly satire, wit, and learning,
Fielding remains true to the constant tenor of his genius. He exposes the
miser, the seducer of innocence, the self-seeker, the place-hunter, the
degraded vendor of moral poison, the 'charitable' hypocrite, with the same
fierce moral energy as that with which, when but a lad of one and twenty,
he first assailed the vices of the society in which his own lot was cast.
His unconquerable energy, an energy that neither sickness nor distress
could abate, still assaults that "cursed Maxim ... that Everybody's
business is Nobody's." And his wit has lost none of its point when
thrusting at the lesser follies of the day; at the fair Clara's devotion
to her pet monkey; at the insolence of the Town Beau at the playhouse; at
the arrogance of carters in the streets; at the vagaries of fashion
according to which Belinda graces the theatre with yards of ruff one day,
and on the next discards that covering so entirely that the snowy scene in
the boxes "becomes extremely delightful to the eyes of every Beholder."

It is quite impossible to convey, within the limits of a few pages, all
that _Sir Alexander_ tells us of what he sees and hears, as the
tragi-comedy of life passes before his Bow Street windows. For Fielding
possessed in the highest degree the art of hearing, to use his own
analysis, not with the ear only (an organ shared by man with "other
Animals") but also with the head, and with the heart; just as his eye
could penetrate beneath the velvet coat of the prosperous scoundrel, the
reputation of the illiterate author, or the sorry rags of some honest hero
of the gutter. And his _Covent Garden Journal_ is, in truth, his journal
of eleven months of a life into the forty odd years of which were
compressed both the insight of genius, and the activities of twenty
average men. Such a record cannot be sifted into a summary. The
acknowledged motive of this last of Fielding's newspapers is, however,
concise enough; and does equal honour to his patriotism and his humanity.
The age, as it seemed to him, was an age of public degradation. Religion
was vanishing from the life of the people; politics were a petty question
of party jealousy; literary taste was falling to the level of alehouse wit
and backstairs scandal; the youth of the nation were completing their
education, when fifteen or sixteen years old, by a course of the Town, and
then qualifying for a graduate's degree in like knowledge, by a foreign
tour; the 'mob' was gaining a dangerous excess of power; the leaders of
society were past masters and mistresses of vice and folly; the poor in
the streets were sunk in misery, or brutalised into reckless crime. This
was the England that _Mr Censor_ saw from his house in Bow Street; this
was the England which he set out to purify; and the means which he chose
were his own familiar weapons of satire and ridicule. Of these, ridicule,
he declares, when his _Journal_ was but four weeks old, "is commonly a
stronger and better method of attacking Vice than the severer kind of
Satire." In accordance with which view, _General Sir Alexander_ is
represented, in a mock historic forecast, as having, in the space of
twelve months, entirely cleansed his country from the evils afflicting it,
by means of a "certain Weapon called a Ridicule." These evils moreover
Fielding held to be most readily combated by assailing "those base and
scandalous Writings which the Press hath lately poured in such a torrent
upon us that the Name of an Author is in the ears of all good Men become
almost an infamous appelation"; and, accordingly, the first number of his
new paper discloses _Sir Alexander_ in full crusade against these
Grub-Street writers. But that he soon perceived the quixotic impolicy of
such a campaign, appears very clearly, as early as the fifth number of the
_Journal_:--"when Hercules undertook to cleanse the Stables of Augeas (a
Work not much unlike my present Undertaking) should any little clod of
Dirt more filthy perhaps than all the rest have chanced to bedawb him, how
unworthy his Spirit would it have been to have polluted his Hands, by
seizing the dirty clod, and crumbling it to Pieces. He should have known
that such Accidents were incident to such an Undertaking: which though
both a useful and heroic office, was yet none of the cleanliest; since no
Man, I believe, ever removed great quantities of Dirt from any Place
without finding some of it sticking to his skirts." Such dirty clods were
undoubtedly thrown by nameless antagonists, as unworthy of Fielding's
steel as was one whose name has come down to us, the despicable Dr John
Hill, who once suffered a public caning at Ranelagh; and one clod, "more
filthy perhaps than all the rest," soiled the hands of Smollett. [2] But
the dirt which was very freely flung on to our eighteenth-century Hercules
has, by now, fallen back, with great justice, on to the heads of his
abusers. Fielding has placed on record, in the _Journal_, his conviction
that the man who reads the works of the five heroic satirists, Lucian,
Cervantes, Swift, Moliere and Shakespeare, "must either have a very bad
Head, or a very bad Heart, if he doth not become both a Wiser and a better
Man." To-day, 'party and prejudice' having subsided, we are ready to say
the same of the readers of the _Covent Garden Journal_; perceiving that,
if _Mr Censor_, like his five great forerunners, chose to send his satire
"laughing into the World," it was that he might better effect the
'glorious Purpose' announced in the fifth number of his paper: "However
vain or romantic the Attempt may seem, I am sanguine enough to aim at
serving the noble Interests of Religion, Virtue, and good Sense, by these
my Lucubrations."

To most men the production, twice a week, of a newspaper so wide in scope
as the _Covent Garden Journal_ (for its columns included the news of the
day, as well as the manifold 'censorial' energies of _Sir Alexander_)
would have been occupation enough; especially with a "constitution now
greatly impaired and enfeebled," and when "labouring under attacks of the
gout, which were, of course, severer than ever."

But there is no hint of either editorial or valetudinarian seclusion in
the fragmentary glimpses obtainable of Mr Justice Fielding during these
eleven months of 1752. Thus, by an advertisement recurring throughout the
_Journal_, he expressly invites to his house in Bow Street, "All Persons,
who shall for the Future suffer by Robbers Burglars &c.," that they may
bring him "the best Description they can of such Robbers, &c., with the
Time, and Place, and Circumstances of the Fact"; and that this invitation
was likely to bring half London within his doors appears from Fielding's
own description of the condition of the capital at the time. "There is not
a street," he declares, speaking of Westminster, "which doth not swarm all
day with beggars, and all night with thieves. Stop your coach at what shop
you will, however expeditious the tradesman is to attend you, a beggar is
commonly beforehand with him; and if you should directly face his door the
tradesman must often turn his head while you are talking to him, or the
same beggar, or some other thief at hand will pay a visit to his shop!"
And nothing could prove more conclusively the arduousness of Fielding's
work as a magistrate than the record of the last ten days of January,
1752. On the night of the 17th a peculiarly brutal murder had been
perpetrated on a poor higgler in Essex; and the _Journal_ for January 28,
tells us how Fielding "spent near eight hours," examining, separately,
suspected persons, "at the desire of several gentlemen of Fortune in the
County of Essex"; having on the previous Friday and Saturday, been engaged
"above Twenty hours in taking Depositions concerning this Fact." Then, on
the day after the arrival of the murder suspects, we find two of the
Shoreditch constables bringing no fewer than ten "idle lewd and
disorderly" men and women before the Justice; a woman was charged by a
diamond seller on suspicion of feloniously receiving "three Brilliant
Diamonds"; Mr Welch, the notable High Constable of Holborn, brought
seventeen "idle and lewd Persons" whom he had apprehended the night
before; and, to complete this single day's work, an Italian was brought
in, "all over covered with [the] Blood" of a brother Italian, whose head
he had almost cut off. Twenty-nine cases on one day, and these in the
midst of eight hour examinations concerning a murder, were surely work
enough to satisfy even Fielding's energies. And, as another entry in his
_Journal_ mentions the examination of a suspected thief "very late at
Night," there seems to have been no hour out of the twenty-four in which
the great novelist did not hold himself at the service of the public.

Meanwhile, the criminal licence of the streets was now receiving
Ministerial attention. The King's Speech, delivered at the opening of
Parliament in the previous November, had contained a passage which might
have been inspired by Fielding himself: "I cannot conclude," said His
Majesty, "without recommending to you in the most earnest manner, to
consider seriously of some effectual provisions to suppress those
audacious crimes of Robbery and Violence which are now become so
frequent...and which have proceeded in great Measure from that profligate
Spirit of Irreligion, Idleness, Gaming, and Extravagance, which has of
late extended itself in an uncommon degree, to the Dishonour of the
Nation, and to the great Offence and Prejudice of the sober and
industrious Part of the People." Six weeks later the first number of the
_Journal_, makes comment on the need of fresh legislation to suppress
drunkenness; and on the twenty first of the month _Sir Alexander_
announces, with something of special information in his tone, that the
immediate suppression of crimes of violence "we can with Pleasure assure
the Public is at present the chief attention of Parliament."

It must have been with something of the pleasure which he so earnestly
desires in one of the last utterances of his pen--"the pleasure of
thinking that, in the decline of my health and life, I have conferred a
great and lasting Benefit on my Country,"--that Fielding saw the royal
assent given, in the following March, to an Act for the "_better
preventing Thefts and Robberies and for regulating Places of Public
Entertainment, and punishing Persons keeping disorderly Houses_."
[3] For this Act is directed to the suppression of four of the abuses so
strongly denounced, twelve months previously, in his own _Enquiry_; and
when we recall the fact that he had already submitted, to the Lord
Chancellor, draft legislation for the suppression of robberies, it is at
least a plausible surmise that here we have a memorial of Henry Fielding's
patriotic energy, preserved on the pages of the Statute Book itself.
[4] The four points so specially urged in the _Enquiry_, and here made
law, are the suppression of the "multitude of places of Entertainment" for
the working classes; the better suppression of Gaming Houses; the
punishment of the scandalous advertisements offering rewards 'and no
questions asked' for stolen goods; and the payment of certain prosecutors
for their expenses in time and trouble, when a conviction had been
obtained.

In this same month of March another Act, which closely concerned
Fielding's official work, received the royal assent. This was an Act "for
better preventing the horrid Crime of Murder." [5] The pressing need of
such a measure had been already urged in the _Covent Garden journal_. In
February the _Journal_ declares that _"More shocking Murders have been
committed within the last Year, than for many Years before. To what can
this be so justly imputed as to the manifest decline of Religion among the
lower People. A matter, which even, in a Civil Sense, demands the
attention of the Government."_ And Mr Censor returns to the subject on
March 3: _"More Murders and horrid Barbarities have been committed within
the last twelvemonth, than during many preceding years. This as we have
before observed, is principally to be attributed to the Declension of
Religion among the Common People."_ By the end of the month the
above-named Act had received the royal assent; and the first clause
thereof again yielded Fielding the satisfaction of seeing a measure which
he had warmly recommended in his Enquiry now placed on the Statute Book,
namely the clause that the execution of the criminal be made immediate on
his conviction. This Act, moreover, provides for the abatement of another
scandal exposed by Fielding many years previously, in the pages of
Jonathan Wild, that of the excessive supply of drink allowed to condemned
prisoners.

In the following month Fielding carried out a scheme, conceived he tells
us "some time since," for combating this prevalence of murder. This was
his shilling pamphlet, published about April 14, entitled "Examples of the
Interposition of Providence in the _Detection_ and _Punishment_ of MURDER.
Containing above thirty cases, in which this dreadful crime hath been
brought to light in the most extraordinary and miraculous manner." The
advertisement describes the _Examples_ as _"very proper to be given to all
the inferior Kind of People; and particularly to the Youth of both sexes,
whose natural Love of Stories will lead them to read with Attention what
cannot fail of Infusing in to their tender Minds an early Dread and
Abhorrence of staining their Hands with the Blood of their
Fellow-creatures"_ Low as was the price, a "large allowance" was made by
Andrew Millar to those who bought any quantity; and Fielding distributed
the little volume freely in Court.

The thirty-three _Examples_ are introduced and concluded by Fielding's own
denunciation of this, "the blackest sin, which can contaminate the hands,
or pollute the soul of man." And from these pages we may learn his own
solemnly declared belief in a peculiarly "immediate interposition of the
Divine providence" in the detection of this crime; and also his faith in
"the fearful and tremendous sentence of eternal punishment" as that
divinely allotted to the murderer. He warns the murderer, moreover, that
by hurrying a fellow-creature to a sudden and unprepared death he may be
guilty of destroying not only his victim's body, but also his soul. And it
may be questioned whether Fielding ever put his unrivalled mastery of
style to a nobler intention than in the closing words of this pamphlet,
words designed to be read by the lowest of the people: "Great courage may,
perhaps, bear up a bad mind (for it is sometimes the property of such)
against the most severe sentence which can be pronounced by the mouth of a
human judge; but where is the fortitude which can look an offended
Almighty in the face? Who can bear the dreadful thought of being
confronted with the spirit of one whom we have murdered, in the presence
of all the Host of Heaven, and to have justice demanded against our guilty
soul, before that most awful judgement-seat, where there is infinite
justice as well as infinite power?"

The dedication of this pamphlet, dated Bow Street, April 8, 1752, is
addressed to Dr Madox, Bishop of Worcester, and in it Fielding recalls a
conversation he had some time previously had with that prelate, in which
he had mentioned the plan of such a book, and received immediate
encouragement from his lordship. A further appreciation of the _Examples_
appears in a paragraph in the _Journal_ for May 5: "Last week a certain
Colonel of the Army bought a large number of the book called _Examples of
the Interposition of Providence in the Detection and Punishment of
Murder_, in Order to distribute them amongst the private soldiers of his
Regiment. An Example well worthy of Imitation!"

Fielding never allows us to forget for any length of time one or another
of his contrasting activities, however absorbed he may seem to be in some
one field of action. Now, when he is plunged in a hand-to-hand struggle
with the criminal conditions of London, when he is admonishing the gayer
end of the Town with his weekly censorial satire and ridicule, and while
he is watching the enactment of new legislation for which he had so
strenously pleaded,--he suddenly reappears in his earlier rôle of
classical scholar. On June 17, the columns of the _Journal_ advertise
proposals for "A New Translation into English of the Works of LUCIAN. From
the original Greek. With Notes, Historical, Critical and Explanatory. By
Henry Fielding Esquire; and the Rev. Mr William Young." To which notice
there is added, a few days later, the assurance that "Everything which
hath the least Tendency to the Indecent will be omitted in this
Translation." The most delightful, perhaps, of all the leading articles in
the _Covent Garden Journal_ is that in which the merits of this "Father of
True Humour" are delineated. The facetious wit, the "attic Elegance of
Diction," the poignant satire, the virtues and abilities of Lucian are
here so persuasively presented that scarce a reader but surely would
hasten, as he laid his paper down, to Mr Fielding's or Mr Young's house,
or to Millar in the Strand or Dodsley in Pall Mall, where orders (with a
guinea to be paid on booking the same) were received. And this essay is
also memorable for the express declaration therein contained that Fielding
had "formed his stile" upon that of Lucian; and, again, as betraying a
note of disappointment, an acknowledgment that worldly fortune had indeed
treated him somewhat harshly, such as Fielding's sanguine courage very
seldom permits him to utter. The concluding words, written on his own
behalf and on that of Mr Young, are words of gentle protest to the public
for their lack of support to "two gentlemen who have hitherto in their
several capacities endeavoured to be serviceable to them without deriving
any great Emolument to themselves from their Labours." And when he tells
us how that 'glory of human Nature, Marcus Aurelius' employed Lucian "in a
very considerable Post in the Government," since that great emperor "did
not, it seems, think, that a Man of Humour was below his Notice or unfit
for Business of the gravest Kind," we cannot but remember that the
business on which the Government of George II. thought fit to employ the
inimitable genius of Henry Fielding was that of a Bow Street magistrate.

The onerous drudgery of that business, or else lack of response from a
public deaf to its own interests, seems to have brought to nothing the
project of this translation; and so English literature is the poorer for
the loss of the works of the 'Father of Humour' translated by the
incomparable pen of the 'Father of the English Novel.'[6]

Four months after the publication of the proposals for _Lucian_, Fielding
took formal leave of the readers of his _Covent Garden Journal_, telling
them that he no longer had "Inclination or Leisure," to carry on the
paper. His brief farewell words contain an assurance very like that
solemnly made, we may remember, five years before the publication of _Tom
Jones_. At present, he declares, he has "No intention to hold any further
correspondence with the gayer Muses"; just as eight years before he had
announced that henceforth the 'infamous' Nine should have none of his
company. To this declaration is added a protest against the injustice of
attributing abuse to a writer who "never yet was, nor ever shall be the
author of any, unless to Persons who are or ought to be infamous." From
the tenor of this parting speech it is clear that Fielding was, at the
time, feeling keenly the imputation, flung by some of his contemporaries,
of producing 'scandalous Writings'; unmindful for the moment of his own
calmer and wiser utterance, when he declared that men who engage in an
heroic attempt to cleanse their age will undoubtedly find some of the dirt
thereof sticking to their coats. "As he disdained all littleness of
spirit, where ever he met with it in his dealings with the world, his
indignation was apt to rise," says his contemporary Murphy; and we know
from earlier protests how cruelly Fielding suffered from the attribution
to his pen of writings utterly alien to his character. "... really," he
cries, in the last words of the _Journal_, "it is hard to hear that
scandalous Writings have been charged on me for that very Reason which
ought to have proved the Contrary namely because they have been
Scandalous."

The year 1752 closes with the birth of another daughter, born presumably
in the house in Bow Street, as her baptism under the name of Louisa is
entered in the registers of St Paul's, Covent Garden.

The curtain that, in Fielding's case, hangs so closely over all the
pleasant intimate details of life, lifts once or twice during this year of
incessant activity, and discloses just those warmhearted acts of kindness
that help us to think of Harry Fielding with an affection almost as warm
and personal as that we keep for Dick Steele or Oliver Goldsmith.
Fielding, we know, had "no other use for money" than to help those even
less fortunate than himself; and several incidents of this year show how
he turned his opportunities, both as journalist and magistrate, to like
generous uses. Thus there is the story of how, one day in March, "A poor
girl who had come from Wapping to see the new entertainment at Covent
Garden Theatre had her pocket cut off in the crowd before the doors were
opened. Tho' she knew not the Pickpocket she came immediately to lay her
complaint before the Justice and with many tears lamented not the loss of
her Money, but of her Entertainment. At last, having obtained a sufficient
Passport to the Gallery she departed with great satisfaction, and
contented with the loss of fourteen shillings, though she declared she had
not much more in the world." [7] Another day, or night rather, it is a
poor troup of amateur players who had good reason to be grateful to the
kindly Justice:--"last Monday night an Information was given to Henry
Fielding Esquire: that a set of Barber's apprentices, Journeymen
Staymakers, Maidservants &c. had taken a large room at the Black House in
the Strand, to act the Tragedy of the Orphan; the Price of Admittance One
shilling. About eight o'clock the said Justice issued his Warrant,
directed to Mr Welch, High Constable, who apprehended the said Actors and
brought them before the said Justice, who out of compassion to their Youth
only bound them over to their good behaviour. They were all conducted
through the streets in their Tragedy Dresses, to the no small diversion of
the Populace." [8] And in May both the ample energies and scanty purse of
Justice Fielding were occupied in collecting a subscription for a young
baker and his wife and child, who, by a disastrous fire, were suddenly
plunged into destitution. For these poor people Fielding obtained no less
a sum than £57, within a fortnight of his announcement of their distress
in the columns of the _Journal_. The list of subscribers, published on May
16, shows a guinea against his own name, and a like sum, it may be noted,
from the wealthy Lyttelton.

The splendour of Fielding's genius has shone, as Gibbon foretold,
throughout the world. His indefatigable labours in cleansing England from
some of the evils that then oppressed her deserve to be remembered, if not
by all the world, at least by the citizens of that country which, in the
decline of 'health and life,' he yet strove so eagerly to benefit.

[1] A dramatic satire, advertised in March at Covent Garden Theatre and
written (as stated by Dibdin, _History of the Stage_. Vol. v. p. 156), by
the actor Macklin, bore for sub-title _Pasquin turned Drawcansir, Censor
of Great Britain_. The name, and the further details of the advertisement,
recall Fielding's early success with his political _Pasquin_: but all
further trace of this 'Satire' seems lost. See Appendix C.

[2] _A faithful Narrative..._. By Drawcansir.... Alexander. 1752.

[3] 25. G II. cap 36.

[4] All trace seems now lost of the actual part Fielding may have taken in
the drafting of this Act.

[5] 25. G. II. c. 37.

[6] It would seem, from the following advertisement, that Fielding's
inexhaustible pen published, about this time, a sixpenny pamphlet on 'a
late Act of Parliament'; but all trace of it has been lost:--"A speech
made in the Censorial Court of Alexander Drawcansir, Monday, 6th June,
1752, concerning a late Act of Parliament. Printed for the Author. Price
6d." _The General Advertiser_, June 27, 1752.

[7] The _General Advertiser_ March 4. 1752.

[8] The _General Advertiser_, April 15, 1752.



CHAPTER XVI

POOR LAW REFORM

  "... surely there is some Praise due to the bare Design of doing a
  Service to the Public."--Dedication of the _Enquiry_.


It is evident that the beginning of the year 1753 found Fielding fully
conscious that now he could only anticipate a 'short remainder of life.'
But neither that consciousness, nor the increasing burden of ill-health,
availed to dull the energies of these last years. Scarcely had that
indomitable knight, General Sir Alexander Drawcansir retired from the
active public service of conducting the _Covent Garden Journal_ when his
creator reappeared with an astonishingly comprehensive and detailed plan
of poor-law reform; a plan adapted to the whole kingdom, and which
according to a legal comment involved "nothing less than the repeal of the
Act of Elizabeth and an entire reconstruction of the Poor Laws." [1]
Poor-law reform was at this time occupying the attention of the
nation, and apparently also of the legislature. And we know, from the
_Enquiry into the Increase of Robberies_, that the question of lessening
both the sufferings and the criminality of the poor had for years occupied
Fielding's warm heart and active intellect. But the extent to which he
devoted these last months of his life to the cause of the poorest and most
degraded deserves more than a passing recognition. He tells us, in the
_Introduction_ to the pamphlet embodying his great scheme, that he has
applied himself long and constantly to this subject; that he has "read
over and considered all the Laws, in anywise relating to the Poor, with
the utmost Care and Attention," in the execution of which, moreover, he
has been for "many Years very particularly concerned"; and that in
addition to this exhaustive study of the laws themselves, he has added "a
careful Perusal of everything which I could find that hath been written on
this Subject, from the Original Institution in the 43d. of _Elizabeth_ to
this Day." Such was the laborious preparation, extending presumably over
many months, which the author of _Tom Jones_, and the first wit of his
day, devoted to solving this vast problem of social reform.

Fielding was far too well skilled in the art of effective construction to
present the public with undigested note-books from his voluminous reading.
His scheme, based on all the laws, and upon all the comments on all the
laws, regarding the poor, enacted and made for two hundred years, is a
marvel of conciseness and practical detail; and, together with an
_Introduction_ and an _Epilogue_, does but occupy the ninety pages of a
two-shilling pamphlet.

The pamphlet was published at the end of January 1753, with the title _A
Proposal for making an effectual Provision for the Poor, for amending
their Morals, and for rendering them useful Members of the Society. To
which is added a Plan of the Buildings proposed, with proper
Elevations ... By Henry Fielding, Esq.; Barrister-at-Law, and one of His
Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Middlesex_. The
dedication, dated January 19, is to Henry Pelham, then Chancellor of the
Exchequer, and from it we learn that Fielding had personally mentioned his
scheme to this Minister. The Introduction presents an eloquent appeal for
some effectual remedy for the intolerably diseased state of the body
politic as regarded the distresses and vices of the poor, their unseen
sufferings no less than their frequent misdeeds. Fielding protests against
the popular ignorance of these sufferings in words that might have been
spoken by some pleader for the East End 'Settlements' of to-day. "If we
were," he declares, "to make a Progress through the Outskirts of this
Town, and look into the Habitations of the Poor, we should there behold
such Pictures of human Misery as must move the Compassion of every Heart
that deserves the Name of human. What indeed must be his Composition who
could see whole Families in Want of every Necessary of Life, oppressed
with Hunger, Cold, Nakedness, and Filth, and with Diseases, the certain
Consequence of all these; what, I say, must be his Composition, who could
look into such a Scene as this, and be affected only in his Nostrils?" As
an instance of Fielding's personal knowledge of the London slums of his
day, a reference made by Mr Saunders Welch to their joint work is of
interest. Writing in the same year, 1753, he mentions assisting "Mr Henry
Fielding in taking from under one roof upwards of seventy lodgers of both
sexes." [2]

To this little known misery of the poor, who "starve and freeze and rot
among themselves," was added the problem of streets swarming with beggars
during the day, and with thieves at night. And the nation groaned under
yet a third burden, that of the heavy taxes levied for the poor, by which
says Fielding "as woeful experience hath taught us, neither the poor
themselves nor the public are relieved." To attack such a three-headed
monster as this was an adventure better fitted, it might seem, for that
club which "Captain Hercules Vinegar" had wielded thirteen years before,
when in the full tide of his strength, than for the pen of a man in
shattered health, and already serving the public in the daily labours of a
principal magistrate. But nothing could restrain the ardour of Fielding's
spirit, how frail so ever had become its containing 'crust of clay,' when
great abuses and great misery made their call on his powers; or
countervail against the hope, with which the _Introduction_ to his plan
concludes. If that plan fails, he shall indeed, he declares have "lost
much Time, and misemployed much Pains; and what is above all, shall miss
the Pleasure of thinking that in the Decline of my Health and Life, I have
conferred a great and lasting Benefit on my Country."

The _Plan_ is that of the erection of a vast combined county workhouse,
prison, and infirmary; where the unemployed should find, not only work but
_skilled instruction_, the poor relief, and the sick a hospital; where
discipline and good order should be stringently enforced; and where two
chaplains should labour at that 'correction and amendment' of the mind
which "in real truth religion is alone capable of effectually executing."
The entire scheme is worked out with extraordinary detail, in fifty-nine
clauses; and is preceded by an elaborate architectural plan of the
proposed institution (which was to house no less than five thousand six
hundred persons) with its workshops, its men's quarters rigorously divided
from those for the women, its recreation ground, its provision shops, its
cells for the refractory and for prisoners, and its whipping post. And the
pamphlet concludes by lengthy arguments in favour of the various clauses;
and by a personal protest concerning the disinterestedness of proposals
which "some few enemies" might assert to show signs of a design for
private profit. Fielding touchingly disavows any thought of occupying,
officially, the great house raised by his imagination. To a man in his
state of health such a project would, he says, be to fly in the face of
the advice of his 'Master,' Horace; "it would be indeed _struere dotnos
immemor sepulchri_." And, he adds, those who know him will hardly be so
deceived "by that Chearfulness which was always natural to me; and which,
I thank God, my Conscience doth not reprove me for, to imagine that I am
not sensible of my declining Constitution." The concluding words of this,
Fielding's last legislative effort, betray a like calm assurance that his
day's work was drawing to its close. He has now, he tells us, "no farther
Design than to pass my short Remainder of Life in some Degree of Ease, and
barely to preserve my Family from being the Objects of any such Laws as I
have here proposed."

It is wholly in keeping with the genius of Henry Fielding that almost the
last endeavour of his intellect should have been devoted to relieving the
wretchedness and lessening the vices of the poorest and most miserable of
his countrymen. The _Proposal for ... the Poor_ is written by the hand of
the accomplished lawyer and indefatigable magistrate; but the energy that
accomplished so great a labour, in spite of broken health and among a
thousand interruptions, sprang from the heart which had already
immortalised the ragged postilion of _Joseph Andrews_ and the starving
highwayman of _Tom Jones_.

This last January but one of Fielding's life was not only occupied by the
publication of proposals for an 'entire reconstruction of the Poor Laws.'
In 1753 a London magistrate, or at least Mr Justice Fielding, was at the
service of the public on Sunday no less than during the week; and on the
first Sunday of the New Year the Bow Street room echoed to threats that
read strangely enough when we think of the unknown petty thief,
threatening sudden death to 'our immortal Fielding.' "Yesterday," says the
_General Advertiser_ for Monday, January 8, "John Simpson and James Ellys
were commited to Newgate by Henry Fielding Esq., for shop-lifting." The
charge was one of stealing five silk handkerchiefs, and when the two men
"were brought before the Justice they behaved in a very impudent saucy
manner, and one of them said hewished he had a Pistol about him, he would
blow the Justice's Brains out; upon which a Party of the Guards was sent
for who conducted them safe to Newgate." The Bow Street house, moreover,
must have been full not only of prisoners and witnesses brought before the
Justice, but also of victims of all manner of theft. For two comprehensive
notices appear in the _Advertiser_ for this month, repeating the previous
invitation accorded to such sufferers in the _Covent Garden Journal_. On
January 1, all persons cognizant of any burglary robbery or theft are
desired to communicate immediately with Mr Brogden, clerk to Justice
Fielding, "at his office at the said Justice's in Bow Street." And again,
towards the end of the month, "All Persons that have been robbed on the
Highway in the County of Middlesex within this three months last past, are
desired to apply to Mr Brogden, at Mr Justice Fielding's in Bow Street,
Covent Garden." And here, too, came the solicitors that sought counsel's
opinion on their client's behalf, with their fees; the magistrate of this
period being under no disability in regard to his private practice.

It was to his reputation as an advising barrister, and perhaps a little to
the kindness of heart that must have been familiar to all who knew him,
that Fielding owed his connection with that extraordinary popular
excitement of 1753, the mysterious case of the servant girl Elizabeth
Canning. On the 29th of January 'Betty Canning' presented herself, after a
month's disappearance, at the door of her mother's house in London, in a
deplorable state of weakness and distress, and declared that she had been
kidnapped by two men on New Year's night, taken to a house on the Hertford
road, and there confined by an old gipsy woman for twenty-eight days, in a
hay loft, with a pitcher of water and a few pieces of bread for sole
sustenance. On the twenty ninth day, according to her own account, she
escaped through a window and made her way back to her home. Her
neighbours, fired with pity for her sufferings, subscribed means for a
prosecution; and, says Fielding, in the pamphlet which he published two
months after these events, "Mr. _Salt_, the Attorney who hath been
employed in this Cause, ... upon this Occasion, as he hath done upon many
others, ... fixed upon me as the Council to be advised with." Then we have
the following little domestic sketch, the only picture left to us of Henry
Fielding as a practising barrister: "Accordingly, upon the _6th of
February_, as I was sitting in my Room, Counsellor _Maden_ being then
with me, my Clerk delivered me a Case, which was thus, as I remember,
indorsed at the Top, The Case of Elizabeth Canning _for_ Mr Fielding's
_opinion_, and at the Bottom, _Salt_, Solr. Upon the Receipt of this Case,
with my Fee, I bid my Clerk give my Service to Mr. _Salt_ and tell him,
that I would take the Case with me into the Country, whither I intended to
go the next Day, and desired he would call for it the _Friday_ Morning
afterwards; after which, without looking into it, I delivered it to my
Wife, who was then drinking Tea with us, and who laid it by."

Mr Brogden however presently returned upstairs, bringing the solicitor
with him, who earnestly desired his counsel not only to read the case at
once but also to undertake in his capacity of magistrate an examination of
the injured girl, and of a supposed confederate of the gipsy. This task
Fielding at first declined, principally on the ground that he had been
"almost fatigued to death with several tedious examinations" at that time,
and had intended to refresh himself with a day or two's interval in the
country, where he had not been "unless on a Sunday, for a long time." The
persuasions of the solicitor, curiosity as to the extrordinary nature of
the case, and "a great compassion for the dreadful condition of the girl,"
however induced him to yield; and the next day the eighteen year old
heroine of a story that was soon to set all London quarrelling, was
brought in a chair to Bow Street, and then led upstairs, supported by two
friends, into the presence of the Justice. An issue of warrants followed
upon her examination, and a further examination of a suspected confederate
of the gipsy; the gipsy herself and her chief abettor having already been
arrested by another magistrate. Some days later, Fielding being then out
of town, "several noble Lords" sent to his house, desiring to be present
while he examined the gipsy woman; and the matter being arranged, "Lord
Montfort," says Fielding, "together with several gentlemen of fashion came
at the appointed time." The company being in the Justice's room, the
prisoners and witnesses were brought up; and apparently some charge was
afterwards brought against Fielding as to the manner of his examination,
for he here takes occasion to declare, what all who knew him must have
known to be the truth, "I can truly say, that my Memory doth not charge me
with having ever insulted the lowest Wretch that hath been brought before
me." Public opinion became hotly divided as to whether Betty Canning had
indeed suffered all she declared at the hands of the gipsy, Mary Squires,
or had maliciously endeavoured to perjure away the old woman's life. The
Lord Mayor, Sir Crisp Gascoyne, and Fielding's old antagonist the
despicable Dr Hill ardently supported the gipsy; Fielding, in the pamphlet
already quoted, and which was published in March, as warmly espoused the
cause of the maid servant whom he calls "a poor, honest, innocent, simple
Girl, and the most unhappy and most injured of all human Beings." The
excitement of the Town over this melodramatic mystery is reflected in the
fact that a second edition of Fielding's pamphlet (entitled _A clear state
of the Case of Elizabeth Canning_) was advertised within a few days of its
first publication. [3] And, also, in the appearance of the sixpenny print,
here for the first time reproduced, in which occurs the only
representation of Henry Fielding known to have been drawn during his life
time. This print, which bears the inscription "drawn from the life by the
Right Honourable the Lady Fa--y K--w," shows Fielding's tall figure, his
legs bandaged for gout, the sword of Justice in his hand and her scales
hanging out of his pocket, speaking on behalf of his trembling client
Elizabeth Canning; while opposed to him are my Lord Mayor, the notorious
Dr Hill, and the old gipsy. The background is adorned with pictures of the
newly built Mansion House, and of the College of Surgeons. [4]

But for the glimpses it affords us of Fielding as a barrister, and for his
characteristic championship of what he was convinced was the cause of
innocence oppressed, this once famous case might have been left
undisturbed in the dust of the _State Trials_, had it not incidentally
been the means of preserving two of the extremely rare letters of the
novelist. These letters, [5] hitherto unpublished, are addressed by
Fielding to the Duke of Newcastle, and were both written in the month
following the publication of his pamphlet. The fact that both letters are
dated from Ealing shows that his connection with what was then a pleasant
country village was earlier than has been supposed; and the acute
suggestions in the second letter seem to indicate a suspicion of some of
Betty Canning's supporters, if his conviction in the girl's own innocence
still remained unshaken.


"My Lord Duke

"I received an order from my Lord Chancellor immediately after the
breaking up of the Council to lay before your Grace all the Affidavits I
had taken since the Gipsey's Trial which related to that Affair. I then
told the Messenger that I had taken none, as indeed the fact is the
Affidavits of which I gave my Lord Chancellor an Abstract having been all
sworn before Justices of the Peace in the Neighbourhood of Endfield, and
remain I believe in the Possession of an Attorney in the City.

However in Consequence of the Commands with which your Grace was pleased
to honour me yesterday, I sent my Clerk immediately to the Attorney to
acquaint him with these Commands, which I doubt not he will instantly
obey. This I did from my great Duty to your Grace for I have long had no
Concern in this Affair, nor have I seen any of the Parties lately unless
once when I was desired to send for the Girl (Canning) to my House that a
great Number of Noblemen and Gentleman might see her and ask her what
Questions they pleased. I am, with the highest Duty,

"My Lord,
"Your Graces most obedient
"and most humble servant
"Henry Ffielding.
"Ealing. April 14, 1753
"His Grace the
"Duke of Newcastle."


"My Lord Duke,

"I am extremely concerned to see by a Letter which I have just received
from Mr Jones by Command of your Grace that the Persons concerned for the
Prosecution have not yet attended your Grace with the Affidavits in
Canning's Affair. I do assure you upon my Honour that I sent to them the
Moment I first received your Grace's Commands and having after three
Messages prevailed with them to come to me I desired them to fetch the
Affidavits that I might send them to your Grace being not able to wait
upon you in Person. This they said they could not do, but would go to Mr
Hume Campbell their Council, and prevail with him to attend your Grace
with all their Affidavits many of which, I found were sworn after the Day
mentioned in the order of Council. I told them I apprehended the latter
could not be admitted, but insisted in the strongest terms on their
laying the others immediately before your Grace, and they at last
promised me they would, nor have I ever seen them since. I have now again
ordered my Clerk to go to them to inform them of the last Commands I have
received, but as I have no Compulsory Power over them I can not answer
for their Behaviour, which indeed I have long disliked, and have
therefore long ago declined giving them any Advice, nor would I unless in
Obedience to your Grace have anything to say to a set of the most
obstinate Fools I ever saw; and who seem to me rather to act from a
Spleen against my Lord Mayor, than from any Motive of protecting
Innocence, tho' that was certainly their Motive at first. In Truth, if I
am not deceived, I Suspect they desire that the Gipsey should be
pardoned, and then to convince the World that she was guilty in order to
cast the greater Reflection on him who was principally instrumental in
obtaining such Pardon. I conclude with assuring your Grace that I have
acted in this Affair, as I shall on all Occasions with the most dutiful
Regard to your Commands, and that if my Life had been at Stake, as many
know, I could have done no more.

"I am, with the highest Respect,
"My Lord Duke
"Y Grace's most obedient,
"and most humble servant,
"Henry Ffielding.
"Ealing
"April 27. 1753.
"His Grace the Duke of Newcastle."

The dates of these letters show Fielding to have been at Ealing in the
early spring of this year; and thus afford some confirmation of Lysons'
remark in his _Environs of London_, published forty years later that
"Henry Fielding had a country house at Ealing where he resided the year
before his death." [6] In May a connection with Hammersmith is indicated,
in the burial there of his little daughter Louisa. The entry in the
Hammersmith Registers is as follows: "May 10th. Louisa, d. of Henry
Fielding Esqr."

The nearer Fielding's life draws to its premature close, the greater his
physical suffering, so much the more eager seems his desire to leave
behind him some practical achievement. We have already seen and wondered
at his gigantic scheme for poor-law reform, published in the beginning of
this year of fast declining 'health and life.' Six months later came the
commission in the execution of which the remains of that health and life
were literally sacrificed in the effort to win some provision for his
family, in the event of his own death. Early in August the distinguished
Court surgeon John Ranby had persuaded him to go immediately to Bath. And
he tells us, in that _Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon_, [7] from which we
have, from his own lips, the details of these last months, "I accordingly
writ that very night to Mrs Bowden, who, by the next post, informed me she
had taken me a lodging for a month certain." At this moment, when
preparing for his journey, and while "almost fatigued to death with
several long examinations, relating to five different murders, all
committed within the space of a week, by different gangs of street
robbers," Fielding received what might indeed be called a fatal summons to
wait on the Duke of Newcastle, at his house in Lincoln's Inn Fields, to
consult on a means for "putting an immediate end to those murders and
robberies which were every day committed in the streets." This visit cost
him a severe cold; but, notwithstanding, he produced, in about four days,
a scheme for the destruction of the "then reigning gangs" of robbers and
cut-throats, and for the future protection of the public, which was
promptly accepted, and the execution of which was confided into Fielding's
hands. "I had delayed my Bath-journey for some time," he proceeds,
"contrary to the repeated advice of my physical acquaintance, and to the
ardent desire of my warmest friends, tho' my distemper was now turned to a
deep jaundice; in which case the Bath-waters are generally reputed to be
almost infallible. But I had the most eager desire of demolishing this
gang of villains and cut-throats." After some weeks the requisite funds
were placed at Fielding's disposal; and so successful were his methods,
that within a few days, the whole gang was dispersed, some in custody,
others in flight. His health was by this time "reduced to the last
extremity"; but still, he tells us, he continued to act "with the utmost
vigour against these villains." And, amid all his 'fatigues and
distresses,' the satisfaction he so ardently desired came to him. During
the "remaining part of the month of November and in all December," those
darkest of months, not only was there no such thing as a murder, but not
one street robbery was committed. When we recall the amazing condition of
London at this time, when street robberies and murders were of almost
daily occurrence, we realise the magnitude of this achievement on the part
of a dying man. "Having thus fully accomplished my undertaking," Fielding
continues, "I went into the country in a very weak and deplorable
condition, with no fewer or less diseases than a jaundice, a dropsy, and
an asthma, altogether uniting their forces in the destruction of a body so
entirely emaciated, that it had lost all its muscular flesh." It was now
too late to apply the Bath treatment; and even had it been desirable it
was no longer possible, for the sick man's strength was so reduced that a
ride of six miles fatigued him intolerably. The Bath lodgings, which
Fielding, surely with his old invincible hopefulness, had hitherto kept
were accordingly relinquished; and even his sanguine nature realised the
desperate condition of his case. At this point in his narration he breaks
off with a characteristically frank disclosure of the chief motive which
had inspired him to the heroic exertions of these later months of 1753. At
the beginning of the winter his private affairs it seems, "had but a
gloomy aspect." The aspect of his own tenure of life we know. And hence to
distress of body was added that keenest of all distresses of the mind, the
despair of putting his family beyond the reach of necessity. It was gladly
therefore that Fielding offered up the 'poor sacrifice' of his shattered
health, in the hope of securing a pension for his family, in case his own
death were hastened by these last labours for the public.

If sickness was not allowed to hinder Fielding's energies for the benefit
of the public, and for the future provision of his family, neither did he
permit it to dull the activities of friendship. Early in December, when
his illness must have been acute, he wrote the following hitherto
unpublished letter to the Lord Chancellor, on behalf of his friend Mr
Saunders Welch: [8]


"My Lord,

"As I hear that a new Commission of the Peace is soon to pass the Great
Seal for Westm'r. give me Leave to recommend the name of Saunders Welch,
as well as to the next Commission for Middx. Your Lordship will, I hope,
do me the Honour of believing, I should not thus presume, unless I was
well satisfied that the Merit of the Man would justifie my Presumption.
For this besides a universal Good Character and the many eminent services
he hath done the Public, I appeal in particular to Master Lane; and shall
only add, as I am positive the Truth is, that his Place can be filled
with no other more acceptable to all the Gentlemen in the Commission, and
indeed to the Public in general. I am with the highest Duty and Respect,

"My Lord,
"Your Lordship's most obedient
"and most humble servant,
"Henry Ffielding."
"Decr 6. 1753
"To the Lord High Chancellor"

[1] _Life of Henry Fielding_. Frederick Lawrence, p. 138.

[2] Saunders Welch. _A Letter on the subject of Robberies, wrote in the
year 1753_.

[3] See the _Public Advertiser_ 1753 March 17, 20, 24 &c.

[4] This unique contemporary print of Fielding may be seen in the British
Museum, Print Room, _Social Satires_, No. 3213.

[5] Record Office. _State Papers. Domestic_ G. II., 127, no. 24.

[6] Lysons. _Environs of London_. 1795. Vol. ii. p. 229.

[7] The quotations from the _Voyage to Lisbon_ are from the edition
recently prepared by Mr Austin Dobson, for the 'World's Classics.'

[8] This letter is now in the British Museum. The endorsement on the back
is: "Dec. 6, 1753 from Mr Fielding recommending Mr. Saunders Welch to be
in the Com. of ye Peace for Westmr and Middx."



CHAPTER XVII

VOYAGE TO LISBON--DEATH

    "satisfied in having finished my life, as I have probably lost it in
     the service of my country."
    _Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon_.

To a man dying of a complication of disorders the terrible winter of
1753-4 brought added danger; a winter which, says Fielding, "put a lucky
end, if they had known their own interests, to such numbers of aged and
infirm valetudinarians." But this, too, his splendid constitution
struggled through; and in February 1754, he was back in town, in a
condition less despaired of, he tells us, by himself than by any of his
friends.

And if he did not allow himself to despair, neither did he, even now,
relinquish all his magistrate's work. On the 26th of February cases are
actually recorded as brought before him. [1] But within a few days,
apparently, of this date treatment employed on the advice of Dr Joshua
Ward, so weakened a body already 'enervate' and emaciated, that at first
the patient "was thought to be falling into the agonies of death." On
March 6, he was, he tells us, at his worst--that "memorable day when the
public lost Mr Pelham. From that day I began slowly, as it were, to draw
my feet out of the grave; till in two months time I had again acquired
some little degree of strength."

Before the expiration of these two months that 'little degree of strength'
was again being expended in the drudgery of the Bow Street court-room.
"Yesterday," states the _Public Advertiser_ of April 17, "Elizabeth Smith
was committed to Newgate by Henry Fielding Esqre; being charged with
stealing a great quantity of Linnen." [2] And five days later, on April
22, a committal is recorded in the Middlesex _Sessions Book_. [3]

Although Fielding could now leave his sickroom, when called thence to
commit a thief to Newgate, a newspaper paragraph, dated a little earlier
in this same month of April, shows that the public were apprehensive that
the protection afforded them by their indefatigable magistrate was now of
a very precarious duration. The writer refers to the complete success of
Mr Fielding's _Plan_ for the subjugation of criminals, executed the
previous winter, pointing out that "the Public who had such Reason to
suspect the contrary have suffered fewer Outrages than have happened any
Winter this Twenty years." And without making any direct statement as to
the fast failing strength of the author and executor of that _Plan_, he
continues in words that plainly indicate the abdication of those zealous
energies: "The whole Plan we are assured is communicated to Justice John
Fielding and Mr Welch who are determined to bring it to that perfection of
which it is capable." This 'assurance' of the _Advertiser_ is confirmed by
Fielding's own words in the _Voyage to Lisbon_. "I therefore" he says,
speaking clearly of the winter or spring of 1753-4, "resigned the office
[of principal Justice of the Peace in Westminster] and the farther
execution of my plan to my brother, who had long been my assistant."

This blind brother, who in his turn became famous as a London magistrate,
was now a Justice of the Peace for Middlesex [4] as well as for
Westminster; and was at this time living in the Strand, as the Resident
Proprietor [5] of that enterprising _Universal Register Office_ which has
won incidental immortality in his brother's pages, and which combined such
heterogeneous activities as those of an Estate Office, Registry for
servants of good character, Lost Property Office, Curiosity Shop and
General Agency.

Another announcement in the columns of the _Advertiser_ links this last
Spring of Fielding's life with that earlier Spring of 1743, when as a
popular play-wright and a struggling barrister, absorbed in anxiety for
the health of a beloved wife and with his own health already attacked, he
published that masterpiece of irony _Jonathan Wild_. Now, while he was
still slowly drawing his 'feet out of the grave,' after those critical
first days of March, a new edition of the _History_ of that "Great Man,"
with "considerable Corrections and Additions," was advertised; the actual
date of publication being, apparently, about March 19. The new edition
appeared with a prefatory note, "from the Publisher to the Reader," which
although it bears no signature conveys, undoubtedly, Fielding's intention,
if not his actual words. There is the familiar protest against the
"scurrility of others," the odium of which had fallen on the innocent
shoulders of "the author of our little book"; and there is a solemn
declaration that the said little book shows no reason for supposing any
'personal application' to be meant in its pages "unless we will agree that
there are without those Walls [i.e. of Newgate], some other bodies of men
of worse morals than those within; and who have consequently, a right to
change places with its present inhabitants." Then follows an explicit
reference to a chapter in the _History_ of the arch-villain Wild, which is
obviously designed to satirise the condition of English politics, if not
the person of any one politician. The disclaimer, seems on the whole, to
partake very properly of the ironic nature of the ensuing pages; although
it recalls that youthful declaration of the young dramatist, prefixed to
his first comedy acted nearly thirty years before, that no private
character was the target of his pen.

At the end of these two months of March and April, spent as we have seen
in acquiring some little degree of strength, and in at least attempting to
expend the same on the consignment of petty thieves to Newgate, Fielding
again submitted his dropsy to the surgeon, the consequences of which he
now bore much better. This improvement, he tells us, he attributed greatly
to "a dose of laudanum prescribed by my surgeon. It first gave me the most
delicious flow of spirits, and afterwards as comfortable a nap." Lady Mary
Wortley Montagu has recorded how her cousin's 'happy constitution,' even
when half-demolished, could enjoy, with undiminished zest "a venison
pasty, or a flask of champagne." Surely none other than Henry Fielding
could have recorded with like zest this 'delicious flow of spirits' and
'comfortable nap' derived from a dose of laudanum.

The month of May, with its promise of relief from the still lingering
winter, had now begun. Fielding therefore resolved, he says, to visit a
little country house of his "which stands at Ealing, in the county of
Middlesex, in the best air, I believe, in the whole kingdom." [6] Towards
the end of the month, he had resort to a long forgotten eighteenth century
panacea, the tar-water discovered by Bishop Berkeley; and very soon
experienced effects far beyond his "most sanguine hopes." Success beyond
Fielding's most sanguine hopes must have been great indeed; and
accordingly we hear how this tar-water, from the very first, lessened his
illness, increased his appetite, and very slowly added to his bodily
strength. By the end of the month a third application by his surgeon
revealed distinctly favourable symptoms; but still both the dropsy and the
asthma were becoming more serious; and the summer, which the doctors
seemed to think the sick man's 'only chance of life' seemed scarce likely
to visit England at all in that sunless year. "In the whole month of May
the sun scarce appeared three times" we learn, from the _Voyage_. Fearing
therefore the renewed assaults of winter, before he had recruited his
forces so as "to be in anywise able to withstand them," Fielding resolved,
with the approval of a very eminent physician, to put an already formed
project into immediate execution. This was to seek further recovery in
some warmer climate. At first Aix was thought of, but here the
difficulties of travel in the reign of George II. for invalids of slender
means, proved insuperable. The journey by land, "beside the expense of
it," Fielding found to be "infinitely too long and fatiguing"; and no ship
was announced as sailing within 'any reasonable time' for that part of the
Mediterranean. Lisbon accordingly was decided upon; and John Fielding soon
discovered a ship with excellent passenger accommodation, and which was
due to sail in three days. "I eagerly embraced the offer," writes
Fielding, as though he were starting on a pleasure cruise, instead of
facing all the miseries of travel, when unable to make the least use of
his limbs, and when his very appearance "presented a spectacle of the
highest horror"; and he adds "I began to prepare my family for the voyage
with the utmost expedition." Twice, however, the captain put off his
sailing, and at length his passenger invited him to dinner at Ealing, a
full week after the declared date of departure. Meanwhile Fielding's
condition seems at least to have become no worse, for the _Public
Advertiser_ of June 22 has "the pleasure to assure the Publick that the
Report of the Death of Henry Fielding Esquire; inserted in an Evening
paper of Thursday is not true, that Gentleman's Health being better than
it has been for some Month's past."

It was not till the 26th of June that, in the memorable opening words of
the _Voyage_, "the most melancholy sun I had ever beheld arose, and found
me awake at my house at Fordhook. By the light of this sun, I was, in my
own opinion, last to behold and take leave of some of those creatures on
whom I doated with a mother-like fondness, guided by nature and passion,
and uncured and unhardened by all the doctrine of that philosophical
school where I had learnt to bear pains and to despise death." The morning
was spent with his children, the eldest of whom was then a boy of six; and
"I doubt not," he writes, "whether, in that time, I did not undergo more
than in all my distemper." At noon his coach was at the door, and this
"was no sooner told me than I kiss'd my children round, and went into it
with some little resolution." His wife, behaving "more like a heroine and
philosopher, tho' at the same time the tenderest mother in the world," and
his eldest daughter, followed him; and the invalid was swiftly driven the
twelve miles to Rotherhithe. Here the task of embarking a man quite bereft
of the use of his limbs had to be accomplished. This difficulty was
overcome with the aid of Saunders Welch, the friend of whom Fielding says
"I never think or speak of but with love and esteem" [7]; and, at last,
the traveller was "seated in a great chair in the cabin," after fatigues,
the most cruel of which he declares to have been the inhuman jests made
upon his wasted and helpless condition by the rows of sailors and watermen
through whom he had been compelled to pass.

From this moment we may read of the pleasures and thoughts, the
experiences and meditations, but scarcely ever of the sufferings of the
dying novelist, in the pages of what has been well called "one of the most
unfeigned and touching little tracts in our own or any other literature"
[8] Confined for six weeks in the narrow prison of an eighteenth century
trading vessel; unable to move save when lifted by unskilled hands; with
food often intolerable to the healthiest appetite; with no relaxation save
the company of the rough old sea-dog who commanded the _Queen of
Portugal_; and fully conscious that his was a mortal illness,--the
inexhaustible courage, the delight in man and in nature, the genius of
Henry Fielding still triumphed over every external circumstance.
Throughout the voyage, fortune, moreover, seemed determined to heap on the
unhappy traveller all manner of additional discomforts; and yet when we
lay down this little volume "begun in pain, and finished almost at the
same period with life," [9] the pictures left on the mind glow almost as
brightly as those which fill the pages written in the full vigour of
Fielding's manhood, and which, as Coleridge said, breathe the air of a
spring morning.

First came a delay of three days off the squalid shores of Wapping and
Rotherhithe, whereby opportunity was afforded of "tasting a delicious
mixture of the air of both these sweet places," and of enjoying such a
concord of the voices of seamen, watermen, fishwomen, oyster women and
their like as Hogarth indicated "in that print of his which is enough to
make a man deaf to look at." This delay, moreover, threatened to bring
Fielding within need of a surgeon when none should be procurable. His
friend Mr William Hunter of Covent Garden, brother of the more famous John
Hunter, relieved this apprehension; but now fresh trouble occurred in the
torments of toothache which befell Mrs Fielding. A servant was despatched
in haste to Wapping, but the desired 'toothdrawer,' arrived after the ship
had at last, on Sunday morning, the 30th of June, left her unsavoury
moorings. That Sunday morning "was fair and bright," and the diarist
records how, dropping down to Gravesend, "we had a passage thither I think
as pleasant as can be conceiv'd." The yards of Deptford and Woolwich were
'noble sights'; the Thames with its splendid shipping excelled all the
rivers of the world; and the men of war, the unrivalled Indiamen, the
other traders, and even the colliers and small craft, all combined to form
"a most pleasing object to the eye, as well as highly warming to the heart
of an Englishman, who has any degree of love for his country, or can
recognise any effect of the patriot in his constitution." And here
Fielding gives us a notable example of his own healthy taste in
recreation; a taste agreeing very ill with the scurrilous popular myths
concerning him, but entirely consonant with the manifest atmosphere of his
genius. He deplores the general neglect of "what seems to me the highest
degree of amusement: that is, the sailing ourselves in little vessels of
our own"; an amusement which need not "exceed the reach of a moderate
fortune, and would fall very short of the prices which are daily paid for
pleasures of a far inferior rate."

Fortune, as we have said, seemed to grudge every little pleasure that
could have alleviated the condition of the helpless invalid on board the
_Queen of Portugal_. The relief obtained from Mr Hunter, he tells us, "the
gaiety of the morning, the pleasant sailing with wind and tide, and the
many agreeable objects with which I was constantly entertained during the
whole way, were all suppressed and overcome by the single consideration of
my wife's pain, which continued incessantly to torment her." The second
despatch of a messenger, in great haste to bring the best reputed operator
in Gravesend recalls Murphy's words: "Of sickness and poverty he was
singularly patient and under pressure of those evils he could quietly read
_Cicero de Consolatione_; but if either of them threatened his wife he was
impetuous for her relief." The remedies both of the Gravesend 'surgeon of
some eminence,' and of yet another practitioner, who was sent for from
Deal, were ineffectual; but about eight in the evening of the following
day, when the ship under contrary winds, was at anchor in the Downs, Mrs
Fielding fell asleep; and to that accident we owe one of the most
characteristic passages in the _Voyage_. His wife's relief from pain
would, Fielding tells us, "have given me some happiness, could I have
known how to employ those spirits which were raised by it: but
unfortunately for me, I was left in a disposition of enjoying an agreeable
hour, without the assistance of a companion, which has always appeared to
me necessary to such enjoyment; my daughter and her companion were both
retired sea-sick to bed; the other passengers were a rude school boy of
fourteen years old, and an illiterate Portuguese friar, who understood no
language but his own, in which I had not the least smattering. The captain
was the only person left, in whose conversation I might indulge myself;
but unluckily for me, besides his knowledge being chiefly confined to his
profession, he had the misfortune of being so deaf, that to make him hear
my words, I must run the risque of conveying them to the ears of my wife,
who, tho' in another room (called, I think, the state-room; being indeed a
most stately apartment capable of containing one human body in length, if
not very tall, and three bodies in breadth) lay asleep within a yard of
me. In this situation necessity and choice were one and the same thing;
the captain and I sat down together to a small bowl of punch, over which
we both soon fell fast asleep, and so concluded the evening." In the
record of the previous day, while sketching the humours of Jacks in
office, Fielding incidentally shows himself as no less careful of the
respect due to his wife than he was solicitous for her comfort. A
ruffianly custom-house officer had appeared in their cabin, wearing a hat
adorned with broad gold lace, and 'cocked with much military fierceness.'
On eliciting the information that 'the gentleman' was a riding surveyor,
"I replied," says Fielding, "that he might be a riding surveyor, but could
be no gentleman, for that none who had any title to that denomination,
would break into the presence of a lady, without any apology or even
moving his hat. He then took his covering from his head, and laid it on
the table, saying he asked pardon." To this 'riding surveyor' we owe also
an indication that Fielding found room in the narrow confines of a cabin
for his Plato; for the rude insolence of that functionary recalls to his
mind the Platonic theory of the divine original of rulers, and he proceeds
to quote a long passage from the _Laws_, which even his ready scholarship
could scarce have had by heart.

Contrary winds continued to baffle all Captain Veal's seamanship, and
afforded his passenger opportunities for a spirited protest concerning the
need of some regulation both of the charges of long-shore boatmen, and of
the manners of captains in the Royal Navy. On the evening of July 8 the
_Voyage_ records that "we beat the sea off Sussex, in sight of Dungeness,
with much more pleasure than progress; for the weather was almost a
perfect calm, and the moon, which was almost at the full, scarce suffered
a single cloud to veil her from our sight"; and on the 18th of the month
the _Queen of Portugal_ put in to Ryde, at which place she remained
wind-bound for no less than eleven days.

These eleven days Fielding spent, by his wife's persuasions, on shore, at
the poor village inn which, together with a little church and some thirty
houses, then constituted the village of Ryde. Of the hardships and humours
of that sojourn the _Voyage_ affords an account worthy of a place among
the pages of either of the three great novels. The landlady, an incredibly
mean and heartless shrew, inflicted daily annoyances and extortions on her
wind-bound victims. The squalid building, partly constructed of
wreck-wood, could scarce house the party. The food supplies, other than
those the visitors brought with them, were chiefly 'rusty bacon, and worse
cheese,' with very bad ale to drink. And on the first afternoon, the house
was found to be so damp from recent scrubbing that Mrs Fielding, who
"besides discharging excellently well her own, and all the tender offices
becoming the female character; who besides being a faithful friend, an
amiable companion, and a tender nurse, could likewise supply the wants of
a decrepit husband, and occasionally perform his part," hastily snatched
the invalid from "worse perils by water than the common dangers of the
sea," and ordered dinner to be laid in a dry and commodious barn. So
seated, "in one of the most pleasant spots, I believe, in the kingdom,"
and regaled on bacon, beans, and fish, "we completed," says Fielding, "the
best, the pleasantest, and the merriest meal, with more appetite, more
real, solid luxury, and more festivity, than was ever seen in an
entertainment at White's."

On Sunday the three ladies went to church, "attended by the captain in a
most military attire, with his cockade in his hat, and his sword by his
side" (Captain Veal had commanded a privateer); and Fielding, while left
alone, pursued those researches into human nature of which he never
wearied by conversation with the landlord, a fine example of henpecked
humanity. On the following day the ladies, again attended by Captain Veal,
enjoyed a four mile walk, professing themselves greatly charmed with the
scenery, and with the courtesy of a lady who owned a great house on this
part of the coast, and who "had slipt out of the way, that my wife and her
company might refresh themselves with the flowers and fruits with which
her garden abounded." Within twenty four hours this generous householder
had sent a message to the inn, placing all that her garden or house
afforded at the disposal of the travellers. Fielding's man-servant was
despatched with proper acknowledgements, and returned "in company with the
gardener, both richly laden with almost every particular which a garden at
this most fruitful season of the year produces."

That evening, on a change of wind, Captain Veal came to demand his
passengers' instant return. This would have been "a terrible circumstance
to me, in my decayed condition," admits Fielding, "especially as very
heavy showers of rain, attended with a high wind, continued to fall
incessantly; the being carried thro' which two miles in the dark, in a wet
and open boat, seemed little less than certain death." Happily the wind
again veered till the following morning, when Fielding and the three
ladies, together with their manservant and maid, were safely re-embarked,
not however without much agitation over the temporary loss of their
tea-chest. This calamity was first compensated by the prompt aid of the
hospitable lady aforementioned, and then averted by the diligent search of
William the footman who at last discovered the hiding place of the missing
'sovereign cordial,' and thus, concludes his master, "ended this scene,
which begun with such appearance of distress, and ended with becoming the
subject of mirth and laughter." Once more on board, Ryde and its beautiful
prospect, its verdant elms, its green meadows, and shady lanes all
combining in Fielding's opinion to make a most delightful habitation,
faded from view. And, by seven o'clock, "we sat down" he says, "to regale
ourselves with some roasted venison, which was much better drest than we
imagined it would be, and an excellent cold pasty which my wife had made
at Ryde, and which we had reserved uncut to eat on board our ship, whither
we all cheerfully exulted in being returned from the presence of Mrs
Humphreys, [the landlady] who by the exact resemblance she bore to a fury,
seemed to have been with no great propriety settled in Paradise."

It is while commenting on the charm of the view from Ryde,--"I confess
myself so entirely fond of a sea prospect, that I think nothing on the
land can equal it,"--that Fielding incidentally utters that extraordinary
reference to Sir Robert Walpole as "one of the best of men and of
ministers." The only explanation of these words at all consonant with what
we know of Fielding's life seems to be that here he adopts once more his
familiar use of irony.

The cheerfulness of spirit with which the invalid encountered every fresh
distress, and 'exulted' in every pleasant sight and trifling pleasure,
during those days at Ryde, is very fully reflected in the following
letter, happily preserved from the untoward fate which has apparently
befallen every other intimate word from his pen. It was written to his
brother John, on the first day of anchorage off Ryde.


"On board the Queen of Portugal, Richd. Veal at anchor on the Mother Bank,
off Ryde, to the care of the Post Master of Portsmouth--this is my Date
and y'r Direction.

"July 12 1754

"Dear Jack, After receiving that agreeable Lre from Mess'rs. Fielding &
Co., we weighed on monday morning and sailed from Deal to the Westward
Four Days long but inconceivably pleasant passage brought us yesterday to
an Anchor on the Mother Bank, on the Back of the Isle of Wight, where we
had last Night in Safety the Pleasure of hearing the Winds roar over our
Heads in as violent a Tempest as I have known, and where my only
Consideration were the Fears which must possess any Friend of ours (if
there is happily any such), who really makes our Well being the Object of
his Concern especially if such Friend should be totally inexperienced in
Sea Affairs. I therefore beg that on the Day you receive this Mrs Daniel
may know that we are just risen from Breakfast in Health and Spirits this
twelfth Instant at 9 in the morning. Our Voyage hath proved fruitful in
Adventures all which being to be written in the Book you must postpone
yr. Curiosity. As the Incidents which fall under yr Cognizance will
possibly be consigned to Oblivion, do give them to us as they pass. Tell
yr Neighbour I am much obliged to him for recommending me to the care of
a most able and experienced Seaman to whom other Captains seem to pay
such Deference that they attend and watch his Motions, and think
themselves only safe when they act under his Direction and Example. Our
Ship in Truth seems to give Laws on the Water with as much Authority and
Superiority as you Dispense Laws to the Public and Examples to yr
Brethern in Commission, Please to direct yr Answer to me on Board as in
the Date, if gone to be returned, and then send it by the Post and
Pacquet to Lisbon to

"Y'r affec't. Brother
"H. Fielding [10]

"To John Fielding Esq. at his House in Bow Street Cov. Garden London."

It is probable, as Mr Austin Dobson has pointed out, that the Mrs Daniel,
whose anxieties Fielding here shows himself anxious to relieve, was his
second wife's mother. And by this time his brother was doubtless occupying
that house in Bow Street so frequently advertised to the public, when any
work was on foot for their protection, as the residence of 'Henry
Fielding, Esqre.'

The almost diabolic figure of the Ryde landlady had scarcely left his
pages, when Fielding found a new subject for his portraiture, in the
pretentious ill-bred follies of a young officer, a nephew of the captain,
who arrived on board to visit his uncle, and who serves as an excellent
foil for the simple-hearted merits of the elder man. A rising wind,
however, cut short the Lieutenant's stories, and two nights later blew a
hurricane which Fielding declares, "would have given no small alarm to a
man, who had either not learnt what it is to die, or known what it is to
be miserable"; continuing, in words that need no comment, "my dear wife
and child must pardon me, if what I did not conceive to be any great evil
to myself, I was not much terrified with the thoughts of happening to
them: in truth, I have often thought they are both too good, and too
gentle, to be trusted to the power of any man." The sea he loved so well
was not to be Fielding's grave. Early the next morning the _Queen of
Portugal_ was at anchor in Torbay; and the whole party sat down "to a very
chearful breakfast."

For a whole week the travellers were kept wind-bound off the Devon coast,
now at anchor, now making vain efforts to proceed. We hear of the 'fine
clouted cream,' and the delicious cyder of the county (two hogsheads of
which latter Fielding purchased as presents for his friends); of the
excellence of the local fish named 'john dóree,' of the scandalous need of
legislation for the protection of sea-men when ashore from land-sharks, a
digression which includes a pleasant interpretation of the myth of Ulysses
and Circe as none other than the dilemma of a Homeric merchant skipper
whose crew Circe "some good ale-wife," had made drunk "with the spirituous
liquors of those days"; of the difficulty with which Fielding could
persuade his wife "whom it was no easy matter for me to force from my
side" to take a walk on shore; and of the captain's grievous lamentations,
which "seemed to have some mixture of the Irish howl in them," [11] when
his cat was accidentally suffocated. Also, to these last wind-bound days
belongs that famous incident which does perhaps no less honour to the hot
tempered tyrannical old skipper than to his illustrious passenger.

Fielding, having just finished dinner, was enjoying some good claret in
the cabin, with his wife and her friend--a cheerful moment, when
conversation 'is most agreeable,' when Tom, the captain's general
factotum, burst in on them and began, without saying a 'by your leave', to
bottle half a hogshead of small beer. After requests and protests, equally
unavailing, this functionary found himself, says Fielding, threatened
"with having one bottle to pack more than his number, which then happened
to stand empty within my reach." Thereupon Tom reported his version of the
matter to the captain, who came thundering down to the cabin in a rage
that knew no bounds of language or civility. This behaviour from a man who
had received not only liberal payment from his passenger for
accommodation, but also such frequent stores of fresh provisions that
Fielding's private purse had indeed gone some way in maintaining the
ship's crew, that passenger justly resented, and to a hasty resolve of
quitting the ship by a hoy that should carry him to Dartmouth, he added
threats of legal action. The 'most distant sound of law,' however, he
tells us, "frightened a man, who had often, I am convinced, heard numbers
of cannon roar round him with intrepidity. Nor did he sooner see the hoy
approaching the vessel, than he ran down again into the cabin, and his
rage being perfectly subsided, he tumbled on his knees, and a little too
abjectly implored for mercy. I did not suffer a brave man and an old man,
to remain a moment in this posture; but I immediately forgave him." It is
this incident that Thackeray chooses to complete his picture of the great
novelist; adding that memorable comparison between the "noble spirit and
unconquerable generosity" of Fielding, and the lives of many unknown
heroes of the sea: "Such a brave and gentle heart, such an intrepid and
courageous spirit I love to recognise in the manly the English Harry
Fielding."

Within a week of this reconciliation the ship had made such progress
southward that the captain 'in the redundancy of his good humour, declared
he would go to church at Lisbon on Sunday next' (not the least pleasant of
the pictures which Fielding gives us of the privateer is that of his
summoning all hands on deck on a Sunday morning and then reading prayers
'with an audible voice'); but again the wind played him false, becalming
him near Cape Finisterre. This last calm, however, brought with it
sufficient compensation: "tho' our voyage was retarded, we were
entertained with a scene which as no one can behold without going to sea,
so no one can form an idea of anything equal to it on shore. We were
seated on the deck, women and all, in the serenest evening that can be
imagined. Not a single cloud presented itself to our view, and the sun
himself was the only object which engrossed our whole attention. He did
indeed set with a majesty which is incapable of description, with which,
while the horizon was yet blazing with glory, our eyes were called off to
the opposite part to survey the moon, which was then at full, and which in
rising presented us with the second object that this world hath offered to
our vision. Compared to these the pageantry of theatres, or splendor of
courts, are sights almost below the regard of children."

Four days later, at midnight, the anchor was cast off Lisbon, after a calm
and moonlit passage up the Tagus, a passage, Fielding writes, "incredibly
pleasant to the women, who remained three hours enjoying it, while I was
left to the cooler transports of enjoying their pleasures at second-hand;
and yet, cooler as they may be, whoever is totally ignorant of such
sensation, is, at the same time, void of all ideas of friendship."

On the day following, the 24th of June, he landed, and that evening
enjoyed the long unknown luxury of a good supper, in a kind of
coffee-house "very pleasantly situated on the brow of a hill, about a mile
from the city, [which] hath a very fine prospect of the River Tajo from
Lisbon to the sea." With that pleasant prospect the Voyage closes. Begun
as it was to while away the enforced solitude of his cabin, a condition,
which no man, he tells us, disliked more than himself and which mortal
sickness rendered especially irksome, these pages, some of which "were
possibly the production of the most disagreeable hours which ever haunted
the author," reveal Fielding to us if not as Mr Lowell has said "with
artless inadvertence" at least with perfect fullness. The undimmed gaiety
of spirit, the tender affection, the constant desire to remove those evils
which he found oppressing his country-men by sea not less than on land,
the 'enthusiasm for righteousnes,' the humour of the first of English
novelists, burn here as brightly as though the writer were but midway in
his life's voyage. The hand that exposed evil in its native loathsomeness
in a Blifil and a Wild has not lost its cunning in depicting Mrs
Humphreys; the eye that delighted in the green fields of England saw in
the southern sunset that which made human creations 'almost below the
regard of children.' And to the last the patriotic energies of the author
of _Pasquin_ and of the _Champion_, of the whole hearted social reformer,
of the tireless magistrate, knew no relaxation. Page after page of the
_Voyage_ justify the passage in which he tells us how "I would indeed have
this work, which, if I live to finish it (a matter of no great certainty,
if indeed of any great hope to me), will be probably the last I shall ever
undertake, to produce some better end than the mere diversion of the
reader"; and manifest his desire, here explicitly stated, to finish life
"as I have probably lost it, in the service of my country."

We have no knowledge concerning the four months following the last entry
in the pages of the _Voyage to Lisbon_. On October 8, 1754, the end so
calmly expected came; and in the beautiful English cemetery, facing the
great Basilica of the Heart of Jesus, was laid to rest all that an alien
soil could claim of 'our immortal Fielding.'

[1] The _Public Advertiser_, 1754, February 26.

[2] The _Public Advertiser_ 1754, April 17.

[3] Middlesex Records. _Sessions Book_. 1754.

[4] See the Middlesex Records.

[5] See the _Public Advertiser_. February, 1754.

[6] This little house was apparently replaced by a larger house; and it is
probably this second building of which a sketch is inserted in a copy of
Lysons' _Environs_ to be seen in the Guildhall Library. It is now pulled
down.

[7] Dr Johnson spoke of Saunders Welch as "one of my best and dearest
friends."

[8] Austin Dobson. _Fielding_, p. 170.

[9] "Dedication" of the _Voyage_, written possibly by John Fielding.

[10] Austin Dobson. _Fielding_, p. 179. From the autograph in the
possession of Mr Frederick Locker.

[11] This and the following passage occur in the second version of the
_Voyage to Lisbon_.



APPENDIX A

_The Hapsburg genealogy_

It appears that the Hapsburg descent, formerly claimed by the Denbigh
family, must now be abandoned. The arguments against this descent,
published by Mr Horace Round, have been accepted by Burke. Further, Dr G.
F. Warner permits me to publish his statement that "I have myself seen
the documents upon which it [the claim] rests, and found them to be
unmistakeable forgeries."

As regards Henry Fielding's family it is interesting to find that his
grandfather the Rev. and Hon. John Fielding was not only Canon of
Salisbury, and a Doctor of Divinity, but also Archdeacon of Dorsetshire.
Canon John Fielding was buried at Salisbury. His son George (Henry
Fielding's uncle) was Lt. Colonel of the "Royal Regiment of the Blues,"
and Groom of the Bed-chamber to Queen Anne and to George II. He is buried
in St George's Chapel, Windsor. (J. Nichols. _History and Antiquities
of Leicestershire_. 1810. Vol. iv. pt. i. p. 394.)



APPENDIX B

_Receipt and Assignment of "Tom Jones"_

The following documents are in the possession of Alfred Huth Esq., and
are now first published

June 11 1748.

Rec'd. of Mr. Andrew Millar Six hundred Pounds being in full for the sole
Copy Right of a Book called the History of a Foundling in Eighteen Books.
And in Consideration of the said Six Hundred Pounds I promise to asign
over the said Book to the said Andrew Millar his Executors and assigns
for ever when I shall be thereto demanded.

£   s   d
£600, 00, 00. Hen. Ffielding

The said Work to contain Six Volumes in Duodecimo.

Know all Men by these Presents that I Henry Fielding of St. Paul's Covent
Garden in the County of Middlesex Esq'r. for & in consideration of the
Sum of Six hundred Pounds of lawful Money of Great Britain to me in hand
paid by Andrew Millar of St. Mary le Strand in the County afores'd.
Bookseller the Receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged and of which I do
Acquit the s'd. Andrew Millar his Executors & Assigns, have bargained
sold delivered assigned & set over all that my Title Right and Property
in & to a certain Book printed in Six Volumes, known & called by the Name
& Title of The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, inv'd. written by me
the s'd. Henry Fielding, with all Improvements, Additions or Alterations
whatsoever which now are or hereafter shall at any time be made by me the
s'd. Henry Fielding, or any one else by my authority to the s'd. Book To
Have and to Hold the s'd. bargained Premises unto the s'd. Andrew Millar,
his Ex'ors Adm'ors or Assigns for ever And I do hereby covenant to & with
the s'd. Andrew Millar his Ex'ors Adm'ors & Assigns that I the s'd. Henry
Fielding the Author of the s'd. bargained Premises have not at any time
heretofore done committed or suffered any Act or thing whatsoever by
means whereof the s'd bargained Premises or any part thereof is or shall
be impeached or encumbered in any wise And I the s'd Henry Fielding for
myself my Ex'ors Adm'ors & Assigns shall warrant & defend the s'd
bargained Premises for ever against all Persons whatsoever claiming under
me my Ex'ors Adm'ors or Assigns.

In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this twenty fifth
day of March One thousand seven hundred & forty nine.

H F fielding [Illustration: Seal.]

Signed sealed & delivered
by the within named Henry
Fielding the day and year within
mentioned, in the presence of
Jos. Brogden



APPENDIX C

    "_Pasquin turned Drawcansir_"

The _General Advertiser_ for March 13, 1752, Page 3, advertises, as
for Macklin's Benefit, at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden,

"A New Dramatic Satire of Two Acts, call'd
Covent Garden Theatre; or Pasquin turned Drawcansir
Censor of Great Britain

Written on the Model of the Comedies of Aristophanes and the Pasquinades
of the Italian Theatre in Paris; With Chorusses of the People after the
manner of the Greek Drama. The Parts of the Pit, and Boxes, the Stage,
and the Town to be performed by themselves for their Diversion; the Part
of several dull disorderly Characters in and about St. James, to be
performed by certain Persons for Example; and the Part of
Pasquin-Drawcansir to be performed by his Censorial Highness, for his
Interest.

The Satire to be introduced by an Oration, and to conclude by a
Peroration: Both to be spoken from the Rostrum, in the Manner of certain
Orators by Signer Pasquin."

This advertisement is also in the _Covent Garden Journal_, with the
addition of "galleries" after the word _Boxes_. According to Dibdin,
_History of the Stage_, Vol. V. (preface dated 1800) p. 156, this satire
was _by_ Macklin.



APPENDIX D

_The Walpole 'anecdote'_

The following reference to Fielding occurs in a letter by Horace Walpole,
to George Montagu, dated May 18, 1749. It may be prefaced by the
statement that Fielding's strenuous opposition to Sir Robert Walpole was
not likely to be overlooked by Sir Robert's son; and by Mr Austin
Dobson's comment "his [Horace Walpole's] absolute injustice, when his
partisan spirit was uppermost, is everywhere patent to readers of his
Letters ... the story no doubt exaggerated when it reached him, loses
nothing under his transforming and malicious pen." Walpole writes: "He
[Rigby] and Peter Bathurst t'other night carried a servant of the
latter's, who had attempted to shoot him, before Fielding; who, to all
his other vocations, has, by the grace of Mr Lyttelton, added that of
Middlesex justice. He sent them word he was at supper, that they must
come next morning. They did not understand that freedom, and ran up,
where they found him banqueting with a blind man, a whore, and three
Irishmen, on some cold mutton and a bone of ham, both in one dish, and
the dirtiest cloth. He never stirred nor asked them to sit. Rigby, who
had seen him so often come to beg a guinea of Sir C. Williams, and
Bathurst, at whose father's he had lived for victuals, understood that
dignity as little, and pulled themselves chairs; on which he civilised."

The 'blind man' was doubtless the half brother later to be knighted for
his distinguished public services, Sir John Fielding; and, adds Mr Austin
Dobson, "it is extremely unlikely the lady so discourteously
characterised could have been any other than his wife, who Lady Stuart
tells us 'had few personal charms.' There remain the 'three Irishmen' who
may, or may not, have been perfectly presentable members of society. At
all events, their mere nationality, so rapidly decided upon, cannot be
regarded as a stigma." Bearing in mind, on the one hand, our knowledge of
Fielding as he reveals himself in his own pages, and in his friendships,
and on the other the character earned by Horace Walpole's pen, it seems
matter for doubt whether this 'anecdote' deserves even a place in an
appendix.



APPENDIX E

_Fielding's Will_

Fielding's will was discovered in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, by
Mr G. A. Aitken. It is undated:--

IN THE NAME OF GOD AMEN--I HENRY FIELDING of the parish of Ealing in the
County of Middlesex do hereby give and bequeath unto Ralph Allen of Prior
Park in the County of Somerset Esqr and to his heirs executors
administrators and assigns for ever to the use of the said Ralph his
heirs &c all my Estate real and personal wheresoever and whatsoever and
do appoint him sole EXECUTOR of this my last Will--Beseeching him that
the whole (except my shares in the Register Office) may be sold and
forthwith converted into Money and Annuities purchased thereout for the
lives of my dear Wife Mary and my daughters Harriet and Sophia and what
proportions my said Executor shall please to reserve to my sons William
and Allen shall be paid them severally as they shall attain the age of
twenty and three And as for my Shares in the Register or Universal
Register Office I give ten thereof to my aforesaid Wife seven to my
Daughter Harriet and three to my daughter Sophia my Wife to be put in
immediate possession of her shares and my Daughters of theirs as they
shall severally arrive at the Age of 21 the immediate Profits to be then
likewise paid to my two Daughters by my Executor who is desired to retain
the same in his Hands until that time--Witness my Hand--HENRY
FIELDING--Signed and acknowledged as his last Will and Testament by the
within named Testator in the presence of--MARGARET COLLIER--RICHD
BOOR--ISABELLA ASH--

Proved 14th November 1754.

Extracted from the Principal Registry of the Probate Divorce and
Admiralty Division of the High Court of Justice

In the Prerogative Court of Canterbury

November 1754

HENRY FIELDING Esquire--On the fourteenth day Administration (with the
Will annexed) of the Goods Chattels and Credits of Henry Fielding late of
Ealing in the County of Middlesex but at Lisbon in the Kingdom of
Portugal Esquire deceased was granted to John Fielding Esquire the Uncle
and Curator or Guardian lawfully assigned to Harriet Fielding Spinster a
Minor and Sophia Fielding an Infant the natural and lawfull Daughters of
the said Deceased and two of the Residuary Legatees named in the said
Will for the use and benefit of the said Minor and Infant and until one
of them shall attain the age of twenty one years for that Ralph Allen
Esquire the sole Executor and Residuary Legatee in Trust named in the
said Will hath renounced as well the Execution thereof as Letters of
Administration (with the said Will annexed) of the Goods Chattels and
Credits of the said deceased and Mary Fielding Widow the Relict of the
said deceased and the other Residuary Legatee named in the said Will hath
also renounced Letters of Administration (with the said Will annexed) of
the Goods Chattels and Credits of the said deceased--the said John
Fielding having been first sworn duly to administer.

In addition to the property mentioned here, Fielding possessed a library,
as Mr Austin Dobson discovered, [1] which when sold six months after his
death, "for the Benefit of his Wife and Family," realised £364, 7s. 1d. or
"about £100 more than the public gave in 1785 for the books of Johnson."
[2] Also according to the _Recollections of the Late John Adolphus_, by
Henderson, Fielding purchased a 90 years' lease of a house near
Canterbury, for one of his daughters.

Of the children mentioned in this will, William became, a contemporary
writer tells us, "an eminent barrister at law and inherits the integrity
of his father and a large share of his brilliant talents." [3] Mr Austin
Dobson refers to William Fielding as being like his father "a strenuous
advocate of the poor and unfortunate," and adds that the obituary notice
in the _Gentleman's Magazine_ records his worth and piety. [4] Harriet
Fielding is said to have been of "a sweet temper and great understanding."
[5] Allen Fielding became Vicar of St. Stephens Canterbury, and was
"greatly beloved by all, especially the little children," writes a
descendant. Allen Fielding's four sons all took Orders, and of the second,
Charles, it was written on his death, that "he had not only a heart that
could feel for others, but a heart that lived in giving." [6] The noble
qualities of Henry Fielding found their echo in his descendants.

[1] Austin Dobson. _Fielding_. Appendix IV. p. 212-13; _and Eighteenth
Century Vignettes_, 1896, pp. 164-178.

[2] Austin Dobson. _Fielding_. Appendix IV. p. 212-13; _and Eighteenth
Century Vignettes_, 1896, pp. 164-178.

[3] J. Nichols. _History and Antiquities of Leicestershire_. 1810. Vol.
iv. Pt. I. p. 594.

[4] Austin Dobson. _Fielding_, p. 192.

[5] T. Whitehead. _Original Anecdotes of the late Duke of Kingston_, 1795.
p. 95.

[6] _Some Hapsburghs, Fieldings, Denbighs and Desmonds_, by J. E. M. F.



APPENDIX F

_Fielding's Tomb and Epitaph_

Fielding's present tomb, in the beautiful English cemetery at Lisbon, was
erected in 1830. On one side is inscribed:

    LUGET BRITANNIA GREMIO NON DARI
    FOVERE NATUM

On the other side are the following lines:

    Henrici Fielding
    A Somersetensibus apud Glastoniam oriundi
    Viri summo ingenio
    en quae restant:
    Stylo quo non alius unquam
    Intima qui potuit cordis reserare mores hominum excolendos
    suscepit
    Virtuti decorum, vitio foeditatem asseruit, suum cuique tribuens;
    Non quin ipse subinde irritaretur evitandis
    Ardensin amicitia, in miseria sublevanda effusus
    Hilaris urbanus et conjux et pater adamantus.
    Aliis non sibi vixit
    Vixit sed mortem victricem vincit dum natura durat dum saecula
    currunt
    Naturae prolem scriptis prae se ferens
    Suam et sua genlis extendet famam. [1]

[1] _Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries_. Vol. viii. p. 353.



APPENDIX G

_Fielding's posthumous play "The Fathers"_

Fielding's play _The Fathers_ or _The Good-natured Man_ seems to have been
lost (apparently after being submitted to Sir Charles Hanbury Williams)
till twenty years after Fielding's death. It was discovered by M'r Johnes,
M.P. for Cardigan, in 1775, or 1776, who sent it to Garrick. Garrick
recognised it as "Harry Fielding's Comedy"; and, after revision, it was
produced at Drury Lane on November 30, 1778. Garrick not only appeared in
the cast, but also wrote both prologue and epilogue. A note, in the
Morrison Manuscripts, from Garrick to D'r John Hoadley, dated January 3,
1776, concludes thus "We have found the lost sheep, Henry Fielding's Good
Natured Man which was mislaid near twenty years." [1] In the following
pleasant letter Sir John Fielding commends Mrs Fielding's Benefit night to
Dr Hunter.

"Sir John Fielding presents his compliments to Dr. Hunter, and acquaints
him that the Comedy of 'The Good-natured Man' written by the late Mr.
Henry Fielding will be performed at Drury Lane next Monday being the
Author's Widow's night.

"He was your old and sincere friend. There are no other of his Works left
unpublished. This is the last opportunity you will have of shewing any
respect to his Memory as a Genius, so that I hope you will send all your
Pupils, all your Patients, all your Friends, & everybody else to the Play
that Night, by which Means you will indulge your benevolent feelings and
your Sentiments of Friendship. [2]

"Bow Street, Dec'r 4, 1778."

[1] Morrison Manuscripts. Catalogue.

[2] _The Athenaeum_. February 1. 1890.



APPENDIX H

_Undated Accounts of Fielding at Salisbury and at Barnes_

Research has so far failed to identify the period of Fielding's
traditional residence in Salisbury. According to the following passage in
_Old and New Sarum or Salisbury_, by R. Benson and H. Hatcher, 1843, he
occupied three houses in or near Salisbury. "It is well known that
Fielding the Novelist married a lady of Salisbury named Craddock [sic] and
was for a time resident in our City. From tradition we learn that he first
occupied the house in the Close at the south side of St Anne's Gate. He
afterwards removed to that in St Anne's Street next to the Friary; and
finally established himself in the Mansion at the foot of Milford Hill,
where he wrote a considerable portion of his _Tom Jones_." [1]

Fielding's residence in Barnes is no less illusive. The following passage
occurs in the edition of 1795 of _Lyson's Environs of London_: "Henry
Fielding, the celebrated Novelist, resided at Barnes, in the house which
is now the property of Mr Partington." [2] In the edition of 1811 the
house is described as "now the property of Mrs Stanton, widow of the late
Admiral Stanton." [3] In Manning and Bray's _Surrey_ the name of the house
is given: "On Barnes Green is a very old house called Milbourne House....
It was once the residence of Henry Fielding the celebrated novel writer.
The widow of Admiral Stanton is the present owner of this house." [4] The
Barnes Rate-books appear to throw no light on the date of Fielding's
residence at Milbourne House. It is noteworthy that both the Barnes and
Salisbury statements indicate a man of some means, living as befitted a
Fielding.

[1] _History of Wiltshire_. Sir R. C. Hoare; volume entitled "Old and New
Sarum or Salisbury," by R. Benson and H. Hatcher, 1843. p 602.

[2] Lysons. _Environs of London_, edition of 1795. Vol. i. part iii. p.
544.

[3] _Ibid_. Edition 1811. Vol. i. p. 10.

[4] Manning and Bray. _History of Surrey_, 1814, vol. iii. p. 316.



APPENDIX I

_An undated letter of Fieldings to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu_

The following undated letter is printed in _The Letters and Works of
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu_ edited by Lord Wharncliffe and W. M.
Thomas. Lord Wharncliffe includes it with the letters from originals
among the Wortley papers. [1]


Wednesday evening

Madam,--I have presumed to send your ladyship a copy of the play which
you did me the honour of reading three acts of last spring, and hope it
may meet as light a censure from your ladyship's judgment as then; for
while your goodness permits me (what I esteem the greatest, and indeed
only happiness of my life) to offer my unworthy performances to your
perusal, it will be entirely from your sentence that they will be
regarded, or disesteemed by me. I shall do myself the honour of calling
at your ladyship's door to-morrow at eleven, which, if it be an improper
hour, I beg to know from your servant what other time will be more
convenient. I am with the greatest respect and gratitude, madam,

Your ladyship's most obedient, most devoted humble servant.

[1] Letters and Works of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, edited by Lord
Wharncliffe and W. M. Thomas. Vol. ii. p. 3, note I, and p. 22.



APPENDIX J

FIELDING'S _Tom Thumb_

This play appears to have carried some political significance in
Fielding's day; if it was not, indeed, written with a political intention.
This may be gathered from an article in the _Daily Post_ of March 29,
1742, apropos of a performance of the _Tragedy of Tragedies_, that night,
at Drury Lane. The article attributes, in detail, political intentions to
the _Tragedy_--"a Piece at first calculated to ridicule some particular
Persons and Affairs in Europe (at the Time it was writ) but more
especially in this Island."





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