Obrazy na stronie

Our philosopher felt himself interested in this event; but he was not, perhaps, altogether so happy in the tidings of Mademoiselle La Roche's marriage as her father supposed him. Not that he was ever a lover of the lady's; but he thought her one of the most amiable women he had seen, and there was something in the idea of her being another's for ever, that struck him, he knew not why, like a disappointment. After some little speculation on the matter, however, he could look on it as a thing fitting, if not quite agreeable, and determined on this visit to see his old friend and his daughter happy.

On the last day of his journey, different accidents had retarded his progress: he was benighted before he reached the quarter in which La Roche resided. His guide, however, was well acquainted with the road, and he found himself at last in view of the lake, which I have before described, in the neighbourhood of La Roche's dwelling. A light gleamed on the water, that seemed to proceed from the house; it | moved slowly along as he proceeded up the side of | the lake, and at last he saw it glimmer through the

trees, and stop at some distance from the place where

| he then was. He supposed it some piece of bridal | merriment, and pushed on his horse that he might be a spectator of the scene; but he was a good deal shocked, on approaching the spot, to find it proceed from the torch of a person clothed in the dress of an attendant on a funeral, and accompanied by several others, who, like him, seemed to have been employed in the rites of sepulture.

On Mr —'s making inquiry who was the person they had been burying, one of them, with an accent more mournful than is common to their profession, answered, “then you knew not Mademoiselle, sir? you never beheld a lovelier.” “La Roche!’ exclaimed he, in reply. “Alas! it was she indeed!' The appearance of surprise and grief which his countenance assumed attracted the notice of the peasant with whom he talked. He came up closer to Mr ; “I perceive, sir, you were acquainted with Mademoiselle La Roche.” “Acquainted with her | Good God! when– how—where did she die? Where is her father?” “She died, sir, of heart-break, I believe; the young gentleman to whom she was soon to have been married, was killed in a duel by a French officer, his intimate companion, and to whom, before their quarrel, he had often done the greatest favours. Her worthy father bears her death as he has often told us a Christian should; he is even so composed as to be now in his pulpit, ready to deliver a few exhortations to his parishioners, as is the custom with us on such occasions: follow me, sir, and you shall hear him.’ He followed the man without answering.

The church was dimly lighted, except near the pulpit, where the venerable La Roche was seated. His people were now lifting up their voices in a psalm to that Being whom their pastor had taught them ever to bless and to revere. La Roche sat, his figure bending gently forward, his eyes half-closed, lifted up in silent devotion. A lamp placed near him threw its light strong on his head, and marked the shadowy lines of age across the paleness of his brow, thinly covered with gray hairs. The music ceased: La Roche sat for a moment, and nature wrung a few tears from him. His people were loud in their grief. Mr was not less affected than they. La Roche arose: “Father of mercies,” said he, ‘forgive these tears; assist thy servant to lift up his soul to thee; to lift to thee the souls of thy people. My friends, it is good so to do, at all seasons it is good; but in the days of our distress, what a privilege it is 1 Well saith the sacred book, “Trust in the Lord ; at all times trust in the Lord.” When every other support fails us, when the fountains of worldly comfort are dried up, let us then seek those living waters which

flow from the throne of God. "Tis only from the belief of the goodness and wisdom of a Supreme Being that our calamities can be borne in that manner which becomes a man. Human wisdom is here of little use; for, in proportion as it bestows comfort, it represses feeling, without which we may cease to be hurt by calamity, but we shall also cease to enjoy happiness. I will not bid you be insensible, my friends—I cannot, I cannot, if I would (his tears flowed afresh)—I feel too much myself, and I am not ashamed of my feelings; but therefore may I the more willingly be heard; therefore have I prayed God to give me strength to speak to you, to direct you to him, not with empty words, but with these tears; not from speculation, but from experience; that while you see me suffer, you may know also my consolation.

You behold the mourner of his only child, the last earthly stay and blessing of his declining years' Such a child too ! It becomes not me to speak of her virtues; yet it is but gratitude to mention them, because they were exerted towards myself. Not many days ago you saw her young, beautiful, virtuous, and happy: ye who are parents will judge of my o then—ye will judge of my affliction now. But I loo towards him who struck me ; I see the hand of a father amidst the chastenings of my God. Oh! could I make you feel what it is to pour out the heart when it is pressed down with many sorrows, to pour it out with confidence to him, in whose hands are life and death, on whose power awaits all that the first enjoys, and in contemplation of whom disappears all that the last can inflict. For we are not as those who die without hope; we know that our Redeemer liveth— that we shall live with him, with our friends his servants, in that blessed land where sorrow is unknown, and happiness is endless as it is perfect. Go, then, mourn not for me; I have not lost my child: but a little while and we shall meet again, never to be separated. But ye are also my children: would ye that I should not grieve without comfort? So live as she lived; that when your death cometh, it may be the death of the righteous, and your latter end like his.”

Such was the exhortation of La Roche; his audience answered it with their tears. The good old man had dried up his at the altar of the Lord; his countenance had lost its sadness, and assumed the glow of faith and of hope. Mr followed him into his house. The inspiration of the o: was past; at sight of him the scene they had last met in rushed again on his mind; La Roche threw his arms round his neck, and watered it with his tears. The other was equally affected; they went together in silence into the parlour where the evening service was wont to be performed. The curtains of the organ were open; La Roche started back at the sight. “Oh my friend,” said he, and his tears burst forth again. Mr had now recollected himself; he stept forward and drew the curtains close; the old man wiped off his tears, and taking his friend's hand, “You see my weakness,” said he ; "'tis the weakness of humanity; but my comfort is not therefore lost.” “I heard you,” said the other, “in the pulpit; I rejoice that such consolation is yours.” “It is, my friend,” said he, “and I trust I shall ever hold it fast. If there are any who doubt our faith, let them think of what importance religion is to calamity, and forbear to weaken its force; if they cannot restore our happiness, let them not take away the solace of our affliction.’

Mr. 's heart was smitten ; and I have heard him long after confess that there were moments when the remembrance overcame him even to weakness; when, amidst all the pleasures of philosophical discovery, and the pride of literary fame, he recalled to his mind the venerable figure of the good La Roche, and wished that he had never i...of

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composition was harmless and insipid, and its pro


ductions of intolerable length. The ‘Grand Cyrus' filled ten volumes! Admired as they were in their own day, the heroic romances could not long escape being burlesqued. The poet Scarron, about the time of our commonwealth, attempted this in a work which he entitled the ‘Comique Roman,’ or ‘Comic Romance,” which detailed a long series of adventures, as low as those of Cyrus were elevated, and in a style of wit and drollery of which there is hardly any other example. This work, though designed only as a ludicrous imitation of another class of fictions, became the first of a class of its own, and found followers in England long before we had any writers of the pure novel. Mrs Aphra Behn amused the public during the reign of Charles II. by writing tales of personal adventure similar to those of Scarron, which are almost the earliest specimens of prose fiction that we possess. She was followed by Mrs Manley, whose works are equally humorous, and equally licentious. The fictions of Daniel Defoe, which have been adverted to in the preceding section, are an improvement upon these tales, being much more pure, while they, at the same time, contain more interesting pictures of character and situation. Other models were presented in the early part of the century by the French novelist Le Sage, whose “Gil Blas, and “Devil on Two Sticks,’ imitating in their turn the fictions of certain Spanish writers, consist of humorous and satirical pictures of modern manners, connected by a thread of advenIn England, the first pictures of real life in prose fiction were given by Defoe, who, in his graphic details, and personal adventures, all in pressed with the strongest appearances of truth or probability, has never, in his own walk, been excelled. That walk, however, was limited: of genuine humour or variety of character he had no conception; and he paid little attention to the arrangement of his plot.

The gradual improvement in the tone and manners

of society, the complicated relations of life, the growing contrast between town and country manners, and all the artificial distinctions that crowd in with commerce, wealth, and luxury, banished the heroic romance, and gave rise to the novel, in which the passion of love still maintained its place, but was surrounded by events and characters, such as are witnessed in ordinary life, under various aspects and modifications. The three great founders of this improved species of composition—this new theatre of living and breathing characters—were Richardson, Fielding, and Smollett, who even yet, after the

lapse of more than a century, have had no superiors, and only one equal.


SAMUEL RICHARDsoN was born in Derbyshire in 1689, and was the son of a joiner, who could not afford to give his son more than the ordinary elements of education. When fifteen years of age, he was put apprentice to a printer in London; and by good conduct rose to be master of an extensive business of his own, and printer of the Journals of the House of Commons. In 1754 he was chosen master of the Stationers' Company, and in 1760 he purchased a moiety of the patent of printer to the king, which greatly increased his emoluments. He was a prosperous and liberal man—mild in his manners and dispositions—and seems to have had only one marked foible—excessive vanity. From a very early period of his life, Richardson was a fluent letterwriter: at thirteen he was the confidant of three young women, whose love correspondence he carried on without any one knowing that he was secretary to the others. Two London publishers having urged

him, when he was above the age of fifty, to write them a book of familiar letters on the useful concerns of life, he set about the composition of his Pamela, as a warning to young people, and with a hope that it would ‘turn them into a course of reading different from the pomp and parade of romance writing.” It was written in about three months, and published in the year 1741, with such success, | that five editions were exhausted in the course of

one year. ‘It requires a reader,’ says Sir Walter Scott, to be in some degree acquainted with the huge folios of inanity, over which our ancestors

yawned themselves to sleep, ere he can estimate the delight they must have experienced from this unexpected return to truth and nature.’ ‘Pamela became the rage of the town; ladies carried the volumes with them to Ranelagh gardens, and held them up to one another in triumph. Pope praised the novel as likely to do more good than twenty volumes of sermons; and Dr Sherlock recommended it from the pulpit! In 1749 appeared Richardson's second and greatest work, The History of Clarissa Harlowe; and in 1753 his novel, designed to repre

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sent the beau ideal of a gentleman and Christian,

| The History of Sir Charles Grandison. The almost | unexampled success and popularity of Richardson's | life and writings were to himself disturbed and | clouded by nervous attacks, which rendered him | delicate and feeble in health. He was flattered and soothed by a number of female friends, in whose society he spent most of his time, and after reaching the goodly age of seventy-two, he died on the 4th of July 1761. The works of Richardson are all pictures of the heart. No man understood human nature better, or could draw with greater distinctness the minute shades of feeling and sentiment, or the final results of our passions. He wrote his novels, it is said, in his back-shop, in the intervals of business; and must have derived exquisite pleasure from the moral anatomy in which he was silently engaged—conducting his characters through the scenes of his | ideal world, and giving expression to all the feelings, motives, and impulses, of which our mature is susceptible. He was happiest in female characters. Much of his time had been spent with the gentler sex, and his own retired habits and nervous sensibility approximated to feminine softness. He well repaid the sex for all their attentions by his character of Clarissa, one of the noblest tributes ever paid to female virtue and honour. The moral elevation of this heroine, the saintly purity which she preserves amidst scenes of the deepest depravity and the most seductive gaiety, and the never-failing sweetness and benevolence of her temper, render Clarissa one of the brightest triumphs of the whole range of imaginative literature. Perhaps the climax of her distress is too overwhelming—too oppressive to the feelings—but it is a healthy sorrow. We see the full radiance of virtue; and no reader ever rose from the perusal of those tragic scenes without feeling his moral nature renovated, and his detestation of vice increased. ‘Pamela' is a work of much humbler pretensions than ‘Clarissa Harlowe: it is like the domestic tragedy of Lillo compared with Lear or Macbeth. A simple country girl, whom her master attempts to seduce, and afterwards marries, can be no very dignified heroine. But the excellences of Richardson are strikingly apparent in this his first novel. His power of circumstantial painting is evinced in the multitude of small details which he brings to bear on his story—the very wardrobe of poor Pamela, her gown of sad-coloured stuff, and her round-eared caps—her various attempts at escape, and the conveyance of her letters—the hateful character of Mrs Jewkes, and the fluctuating passions of her master, before the better part of his nature obtains the ascendency—these are all touched with the hand of a master. The seductive scenes are too highly coloured for modern taste, and Pamela is deficient in natural dignity; she is too calculating, too tame and submissive; but while engaged with the tale, we think only of her general innocence and artlessness; of her sad trials and afflictions, down to her last confinement, when she hid her papers in the rose-bush in the garden, and sat by the side of the pond in utter despair, half-meditating suicide. The elevation of this innocent and lovely young creature to be the bride of her master is an act of justice; but after all, we feel she was too good for him, and wish ! she had effected her escape, and been afterwards united to some great and wealthy nobleman who had never condescended to oppress the poor and uni fortunate. The moral of the tale would also have been improved by some such termination. Esquire | B– should have been mortified, and waiting maids taught not to tolerate liberties from their young

masters, because, like Pamela, they may rise to obtain their hand in marriage.

‘Sir Charles Grandison' is inferior in general interest, as well as truth, to either of Richardson's other novels. The “good man' and perfect gentleman, perplexed by the love of two ladies whom he regarded with equal affection, is an anomaly in nature with which we cannot sympathise. The hero of ‘Clarissa,’ Lovelace, being a splendid and accomplished, a gay and smiling villain, Richardson wished to make Sir Charles in all respects the very opposite: he has given him too little passion and too much perfection for frail humanity. In this novel, however, is one of the most powerful of all our author's delineations—the madness of Clementina. Shakspeare himself has scarcely drawn a more affecting or harrowing picture of high-souled suffering and blighting calamity. The same accumulation of details as in “Clarissa,’ all tending to heighten the effect and produce the catastrophe, hurry on the reader with breathless anxiety, till he has learned the last sad event, and is plunged in unavailing grief. This is no exaggerated account of the sensations produced by Richardson's pathetic scenes. He is one of the most powerful and tragic of novelists; and that he is so, in spite of much tediousness of description, much repetition and prolixity of narrative, is the best testimony to his art and genius. The extreme length of our author's novels, the epistolary style in which they are all written, and the number of minute and apparently unimportant circumstances with which they abound, added to the more energetic character of our subsequent literature, have tended to cast Richardson's novels into the shade. Even Lord Byron could not, he said, read ‘Clarissa.’ We admit that it requires some resolution to get through a fictitious work of eight volumes; but having once begun, most readers will find it difficult to leave off the perusal of these works. They are eminently original, which is always a powerful recommendation. They show an intimate acquaintance with the human heart, and an absolute command over the passions; they are, in fact, romances of the heart, embellished by sentiment, and as such possess a deep and enchaining interest, and a power of exciting virtuous emotions, which blind us to blemishes | in style and composition, and to those errors in taste and manners which are more easily ridiculed than avoided in works so voluminous confined to domestic portraiture.


Coleridge has said, that to take up Fielding after Richardson is like emerging from a sick-room heated by stoves into an open lawn on a breezy day in May. We have felt the agreeableness of the transition: from excited sensibilities and overpowering pathos, to light humour, lively description, and keen yet sportive satire, must always be a pleasant change. The feeling, however, does not derogate from the power of Richardson as a novelist. The same sensation may be experienced by turning from Lear to Falstaff, from tragedy to comedy. The feelings cannot remain in a state of constant tension, but seek relief in variety. Perhaps Richardson stretches them too violently and too continuously; his portraits are in classes, full charged with the peculiarities of their master. Fielding has a broader canvass, more light than shade, a clear and genial atmosphere, and groups of characters finely and naturally diversified. Johnson considered him barren compared with Richardson, because Johnson loved strong moral painting, and had little sympathy for wit that was not strictly allied to virtue. Richardson, 161


too, was a pious respectable man, for whom the critic entertained great regard, and to whom he was under obligations. Fielding was a thoughtless man of fashion—a rake who had dissipated his fortune, and passed from high to low life without dignity or respect; and who had commenced author without any higher motive than to make money, and confer amusement. Ample success crowned him in the latter department. The inimitable character of Parson Adams, the humour of road-side adventures and alehouse dialogues, Towwouse and his termagant wife, Parson Trulliber, Squire Western, the faithful Partridge, and a host of ludicrous and witty scenes, and characters, and situations, all rise up at the very mention of the name of Fielding ! If Richardson “made the passions move at the command of virtue,’ Fielding bends them at will to mirth and enjoyment. He is the prince of novelists—holding the novel to include wit, love, satire, humour, observation, genuine pictures of human nature without romance, and the most perfect art in the arrangement of his plot and incidents. HENRY FIELDING was of high birth: his father (a grandson of the Earl of Denbigh) was a general in the army, and his mother the daughter of a judge.

Henry Fielding.

He was born at Sharpham Park, Somersetshire, April 22, 1707. The general had a large family, and was a bad economist, and Henry was early familiar with embarrassments. He was educated at Eton, and afterwards studied the law for two years at Leyden. In his twentieth year his studies were stopped, “money-bound,’ as a kindred genius, Sheridan, used to say, and the youth returned to England. His father promised him £200 per annum, but this, the son remarked, “any one might pay who would !’ The same sum came to him in a few years by the death of his mother, from whom he inherited a small estate of that amount per annum. He also obtained £1500 by his marriage with Miss Cradock, a lady of great beauty and worth, who resided in Salisbury. Having previously subsisted by writing for the stage, in which he had little success, Fielding gladly retired with his wife to the country. Here, however, he lived extravagantly; kept a pack of hounds, and a retinue of servants, and feasted all

the squires in his neighbourhood. In three years he was again penniless. He then renewed his legal studies, and qualified himself for the bar. His practice, however, was insufficient for the support of his family, and he continued to write pieces for the stage, and pamphlets to suit the topics of the day. In politics he was an anti-Jacobite, and a steady supporter of the Hanoverian succession. In 1742 appeared his novel of Joseph Andrews, which at once stamped him as a master, uniting to genuine English humour the spirit of Cervantes and the mock heroic of Scarron. There was a wicked wit in the choice of his subject. To ridicule Richardson’s ‘Pamela,’ Fielding made his hero a brother of that renowned and popular lady; he quizzed Gammar Andrews and his wife, the rustic parents of Pamela, and in contrast to the style of Richardson's work, he made his hero and his friend Parson Adams, models of virtue and excellence, and his leading female characters (Lady Booby and Mrs Slipslop) of frail morals. Even Pamela is brought down from her high standing of moral perfection, and is represented as Mrs Booby, with the airs of an upstart, whom the parson is compelled to reprove for laughing in church. Richardson's vanity was deeply wounded by this insult, and he never forgave the desecration of his favourite production. The ridicule was certainly unjustifiable; but, as Sir Walter Scott has remarked, “how can we wish that undone without which Parson Adams would not have existed?’ The burlesque portion of the work would not have caused its extensive and abiding popularity. It heightened its humour, and may have contributed at first to the number of its readers, but “Joseph Andrews' possessed strong and original claims to public favour, and has found countless admirers among persons who knew nothing of ‘Pamela.” Setting aside some ephemeral essays and light pieces, Fielding's next works were A Journey from this World to the Nert, and The History of Jonathan Wild. A vein of keen satire runs through the latter, but the hero and his companions | are such callous rogues, and unsentimental ruffians, that we cannot take pleasure in their dexterity and

success. The ordinary of Newgate, who administers consolation to Wild before his execution, is the best character in the novel. The ordinary preferred a bowl of punch to any other liquor, as it is nowhere

spoken against in Scripture; and his ghostly admonitions to the malefactor are in harmony with this

predilection. In 1749 Fielding was appointed one of the justices of Westminster and Middlesex, for | which he was indebted to the services of Lyttel- || ton. He was a zealous and active magistrate; but | the office of a trading justice, paid by fees, was as | unworthy the genius of Fielding as Burns's provi

sion as an exciseman. It appears, from a statement

made by himself, that this appointment did not bring him in, ‘of the dirtiest money upon earth,’ | £300 a-year. In the midst of his official drudgery | and too frequent dissipations, our author produced Tom Jones, unquestionably the first of English novels. He received £600 for the copyright, and such was |

its success, that Millar the publisher presented £100 more to the author. In 1751 appeared Amelia, for which he received £1000. Johnson was a great admirer of this novel, and read it through without stopping. Its domestic scenes moved him more deeply than heroic or ambitious adventures; but the conjugal tenderness and affection of Amelia are but ill requited by the conduct of Booth, her husband, who has the vices without the palliation of youth possessed by Tom Jones, independently of his ties as a husband and father. The character of Amelia was drawn for Fielding's wife, even down to the accident which disfigured her beauty; and the frailties of

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there is sound sense, affection, and gratitude in this

step of Fielding, but it is probable the noble families to whom he was allied might regard it as a stain on his escutcheon. “Amelia' was the last work of fiction that Fielding gave to the world. His last public act was an undertaking to extirpate several gangs of thieves and highwaymen that then infested London. The government employed him in this somewhat perilous enterprise, placing a sum of £600 at his disposal, and he was completely successful. The vigour and sagacity of his mind still remained, but Fielding was paying, by a premature old age and decrepitude, for the follies and excesses of his youth. A complication of disorders weighed down his latter days, the most formidable of which was dropsy. As a last resource he was advised to try the effect of a milder climate, and departed for Lisbon in the spring of 1754. Nothing can be more touching than the description he has given in his posthumous work, A Voyage to Lisbon, of this parting scene:– Wednesday, June 26, 1754–Qn this day 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 doted 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 learned to bear pains and to despise death. In this situation, as I could not conquer nature, I submitted entirely to her, and she made as great a fool of me as she had ever done of any woman whatsoever: under pretence of giving me leave to enjoy, shedrew me in to suffer, the company of my little ones during eight hours; and I doubt whether in that time I did not undergo more than in all my distemper. At twelve precisely mycoach was at the door, which

was no sooner told me, than I kissed my children round, and went into it with some little resolution. My wife, who behaved more like a heroine and philosopher, though at the same time the tenderest mother in the world, and my eldest daughter, followed me; some friends went with us, and others here took their leave; and I heard my behaviour applauded, with many murmurs and praises to which I well knew I had no title; as all other such philosophers may, if they have any modesty, confess on the like occasions.' The great novelist reached Lisbon, and resided in that genial climate for about two months. His health, however, gradually declined, and he died on the 8th of October 1754. It is pleasing to record that his family, about which he evinced so much tender solicitude in his last days, were sheltered from want by his brother and a private friend, Ralph Allen, Esq., whose character for worth and benevolence he had drawn in Allworthy, in “Tom Jones.'

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The English factory at Lisbon erected a monument over his remains. The irregularities of Fielding's life (however dearly he may have paid for fame) contributed to his riches as an author. He had surveyed human nature in various aspects, and experienced its storms and sunshine. His kinswoman, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, assigns to him an enviable vivacity of temperament, though it is at the expense of his morality. “His happy constitution,' she says, “even when he had, with great pains, half demolished it, made him forget every evil when he was before a venisonpasty, or over a flask of champagne; and I am persuaded he has known more happy moments than any prince upon earth. His natural spirits gave him rapture with his cook-maid, and cheerfulness when he was starving in a garret.' Fielding's experience as a Middlesex justice was unfavourable to his personal respectability; but it must also have brought him into contact with scenes and characters well fitted for his graphic delineations. On the other hand, his birth and education as a gentleman, and his brief trial of the life of a rural squire, immersed in sports and pleasure, furnished materials for a Squire Western, an Allworthy, and other country characters, down to black George the gamekeeper; while, as a man of wit and fashion on the town, and a gay dramatist, he must have known various prototypes of Lord Fellamar and his other city portraits. The profligacy of Lady Bellaston, and the meanness of Tom Jones in accepting support from such a source, are, we hope, circumstances which have rarely occurred even in fashionable life. The tone of morality is never very high in Fielding, but the case we have cited is his lowest descent. Though written amidst discouraging circumstances and irksome duties, ‘Tom Jones' bears no marks of haste. The author committed some errors as to time and place, but his fable is constructed with historical exactness and precision, and is a finished model of the comic romance. “Since the days of Homer,’ says Dr Beattie,” “the world has not seen a more artful epic fable. The characters and adventures are wonderfully diversified; yet the circumstances are all so natural, and rise so easily from one another, and co-operate with so much regularity in bringing, or even while they seem to retard the catastrophe, that the curiosity of the reader is always kept awake, and, instead of flagging, grows more and more impatient as the story advances, till at last it becomes downright anxiety. And when we get to the end, and look back on the whole contrivance, we are amazed to find that of so many incidents there should be so few superfluous; that in such a variety of fiction there should be so great a probability, and that so complex a tale should be so perspicuously conducted, and with perfect unity of design.” The only digression from the main story which is felt to be tedious is the episode of the Man of the Hill. In “Don. Quixote’ and “Gil Blas' we are reconciled to such interpolations by the air of romance which pervades the whole, and which seems indigenous to the soil of Spain. In Cervantes, too, these digressions are sometimes highly poetical and striking tales. But in the plain life-like scenes of “Tom Jones'—English life in the eighteenth century, in the county of Somerset—such a tedious “hermit of the vale' is felt to be an unnatural incumbrance. Fielding had little of the poetical or imaginative faculty. His study lay in real life and everyday scenes, which he depicted with a truth and freshness, a buoyancy and vigour, and such an exuberance of practical

* Byron has styled Fielding “the prose Homer of human nature."

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