« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
heart, and that if we too openly set ourseives to wall it up with discipline, it escapes and looks for free air outside. You print at the end of Pamela the catalogue of the virtues of which she is an example; the reader yawns, for. gets his pleasure, ceases to believe, and asks himself if the heavenly heroine was not an ecclesiastical puppet, trotted out to give him a lesson. You relate at the end of Clarissa Harlowe the punishment of all the wicked, great and small, sparing none; the reader laughs, Bays that things happen otherwise in this world, and bids you put in here like Arnolphe, a description "of the cauldrons in which the souls of those who have led evil lives are to boil in the infernal regions." We are not such fools as you take us for. There is no need that you should shout to make us afraid; that you should write out the lesson by itself, and in capitals, in order to distinguish it. We love art, and you have a scant amount of it; we want to be pleased, and you don't care to please us. You copy all the letters, detail the conversations, tell every thing, prune nothing; your novels fill many volumes; spare us, use the scissors; be a skilled literary workman, not a registrar of the Rolls office. Do not pour out your library of documents on the high-road. Art is different from nature; the latter draws out, the first condenses. Twenty letters of twenty pages do not display a character; but one brilliant saying does. You are weighed down by your conscience, which compels you to move step by step and slow; you are afraid of your genius; you rein it in; you dare not use loud cries and free speech at the very moment when passion is most virulent. You flounder into emphatic and well-written phrases; † you will not show nature as it is, as Shakspeare shows it, when, stung by passion as by a hot iron, it cries out, rears, and bounds over your barriers. You can-spectable tradesman. not love it, and your punishment is that you cannot see it.
A se fish and misanthropical cynic in Molère's E ole des Femmes.-TR.
+ Clarissa and Pamela employ too many. In Novels and Novelists, by W. Forsyth, .871, it is said, ch. vii.: "To me, I confess, Clarissa Harlowe is an unpleasant, not to say odious book.... If any book deserved the
Fielding protests on behalf of nature and certainly, to see his actions and his persons, we might think him made expressly for that purpose: a robust strong.y built man, above six feet high sanguine, with an excess of good humor and animal spirits, loyal, generous affectionate, and brave, but imprudent extravagant, a drinker, a roysterer ruined as his father was before him having seen the ups and downs of life not always clean but always jolly. I ady Wortley Montague says of him: "His happy constitution made him :orget every thing when he was before a venison pasty, or cver a flask of champagne." Natural impulse, somewhat coarse but generous, sways him. does not restrain itself, it flows freely, it follows its own bent, not too choice in its course, not confining itself to banks, miry but copious, and in a broad channel. From the outset an abundance of health and physical impetuosity plunges Fielding into gross jovial excess, and the immoderate sap of youth_bubbles up in him until he marries and becomes ripe in years. He is gay, and seeks gayety; he is careless, and has not even literary vanity. One day Garrick begged him to cut down an awkward scene, and told him "that a repulse would flurry him so much, he should not be able to do justice to the part." the scene is not a good one, let them find that out," said Fielding; just as was foreseen, the house made a violent uproar, and the performer tried to quell it by retiring to the green-room, where the author was supporting his spirits charge of sickly sentimentality, it is this: and that it should have once been so widely popular, and thought admirably adapted to instruc young women in lessons of virtue and religion shows a strange and perverted state of the pub lic taste, not to say public morals." Oliphant, in her Historical Sketches of the Reign of George Second, 1869, says of the same novel (ii. x. 264): "Richardson was a re... a good printer, a comfortable soul, . never owing a guinea nor transgressing a rule of morality; and yet so much a poet, that he has added at least one character (Clarissa Harlowe) to the inheritance of the world, of which Shakspeare need not have been ashamed-the most celestial thing, the highest effort of his generation."-TR.
Lady Montague's Letters, ed. Lord Wharncliffe, ad ed. 3 rols. 1837: Letter to the Countess of Bute, iii. 120.
with a bottle of champagne.
"What is the matter, Garrick ? are they hissing me now?" Yes, just the same passage that I wanted you to retrench." Oh," replied the author, "I did not give them credit for it: they have found it out, have they?" In this easy manner he took all mischances. He went ahead without feeling the bruises much, like a confident man, whose heart expands and whose skin is thick. When he inherited some money he feasted, gave dinners to his neighbors, kept a pack of hounds and a lot of magnificent lackeys in yellow livery. In three years he had spent it all; but courage remained, he finished his law studies, prepared a voluminous Digest of the Statutes at Large, in two folio volumes, which remained unpubished, became a magistrate, destroyed bands of robbers, and earned in the most insipid of labors "the dirtiest money upon earth." Disgust, weariness did not affect him; he was too solidly made to have the nerves of a woman. Force, activity, invention, tenderness, all overflowed in him. He had a mother's fondness for his children, adored his wife, became almost mad when he lost her, found no other consolation than to weep with his maidservant, and ended by marrying that good and honest girl, that he might give a mother to his children; the last trait in the portrait of this valiant plebeian heart, quick in telling all, having no dislikes, but all the best parts of man, except delicacy. We read his books as we drink a pure, wholesome, and rough wine, which cheers and fortifies us, and which wants nothing but bouquet.
Such a man was sure to dislike Richardson. He who loves expansive and liberal nature, drives from him like foes the solemnity, sadness, and pruderies of the Puritans. His first literary work was to caricature Richardson. His first hero, Joseph, is the brother of Pamela, and resists the proposals of his mistress, as Pamela does those of ner master. The temptation, touching in the case of a girl, becomes comical in that of a young man, and the tragic turns into the grotesque. Fielding laughs heartily, like Rabelais, or Scar
* Roscoe's Life of Fielding, p. xxv.
He imitates the emphatic style; ruffles the petticoats and bobs the wigs; upsets with his rude jests all the seriousness of conventionality. If we are refired, or simply well dressed don't let us go along with him. He will take us to prisons, inns, dunghills, the mud of the roadside; he will make us flounder among rollicking, scandal. ous, vulgar adventures, and crude pic tures. He has plenty of words at com mand, and his sense of smell is not delicate. Mr. Joseph Andrews, after leaving Lady Booby, is felled to the ground, left naked in a ditch, for dead; a stage-coach came by; a lady objects to receive a naked man inside; and the gentlemen, "though there were several greatcoats about the coach," could not spare them; the coachman, who had two greatcoats spread under him, refused to lend either, lest they should be made bloody.* This is but the outset, judge of the rest. Joseph and his friend, the good Parson Adams, give and receive a vast number of cuffs; blows resound; cans of pig's blood are thrown at their heads; dogs tear their clothes to pieces; they lose their horse. Joseph is so good-looking, that he is assailed by the maid-servant, "obliged to take her in his arms and to shut her out of the room; "t they have never any money; they are threatened with being sent to prison. Yet they go on in a merry fashion, like their brothers in Fielding's other_novels, Captain Booth and Tom Jones. These hailstorms of blows, these tav ern brawls, this noise of broken warm ing-pans and basins flung at heads, this medley of incidents and downpour. ing of mishaps, combine to make the most joyous music. All these honest folk fight well, walk well, eat well drink still better. It is a pleasure ti observe these potent stomachs; roast beef goes down into them as to its natural place. Let us not say that these good arms practise too much on their neighbors' skins: the neighbors' hides are tough, and always heal quick ly. Decidedly life is a good thing and we will go along with Fielding smiling by the way, with a broken head and a bellyful.
* The Adventures of Joseph Andrews, bk i. ch. xii. Ibid. i. ch. xviii.
Shall we merely laugh? There are many things to be seen on our journey: the sentiment of nature is a talent, like the understanding of certain rules; and Fielding, turning his back on Richardson, opens up a a domain as wide as that of his rival. What we call nature is this brood of secret passions, often malicious, generally vulgar, always blind, which tremble and fret within us, ill-covered by the cloak of decency and reason under which we try to disguise them; we think we lead them, and they lead us; we think our action 3 our own, they are theirs. They are so many, so strong, so interwoven, so ready to rise, break forth, be carried away, that their movements elude all our reasoning and our grasp. This is Fielding's domain; his art and pleasure, like Molière's, are in lifting a corner of the cloak; his characters parade with a rational air, and suddenly, through a vista, the reader perceives the inner turmoil of vanities, follies, lusts, and secret rancors which make them move. Thus, when Tom Jones' arm is broken, philosopher Square comes to console him by an application of stoical maxims; but in proving to him that "pain was the most contemptible thing in the world," he bites his tongue, and lets slip an oath or two; whereupon Parson Thwackum, his opponent and rival, assures him that his mishap is a warning of Providence, and both in consequence are nearly coming to blows. In the Life of Mr. Jonathan Wild, the prison chaplain having aired his eloquence, and entreated the condemned man to repent, accepts from him a bowl of punch, because "it is nowhere spoken against in Scripture;" and after drinking, repeats his last sermon against the pagan philosophers. Thus unveiled, natural impulse has a grotesque appearance; the people advance gravely, cane in hand, but in our eyes they are all naked. Understand, they are every whit naked; and some of their attitudes are very lively Ladies will do well not to enter here. This powerful genius, frank and joyous, loves boorish feasts like Rubens; the red faces, beaming with good humor, sensuality, and energy, move about his pages, flutter hither and • History of a Foundling, bk. v. ch. ii.
thither, and jostle each other, and their overflowing instincts break forth in violent actions. Out of such he creates his chief characters. He has none more lifelike than these, more broad'y sketched in bold and dashing outline, with a more wholesome color. If so ber people like Allworthy remain in a corner of his vast canvas, characters full of natural impulse, like Western, stand out with a relief and brightness, never seen since Falstaff. Western is a country squire, a good fellow in the main, but a drunkard, always in the saddle, full of oaths, ready with coarse language, blows, a sort of dull carter, hardened and excited by the brutality of the race, the wildness of a country life, by violent exercise, by abuse of coarse food and strong drink, full of English and rustic pride and prejudice, having never been disciplined by the constraint of the world, because he lives in the country; nor by that of education, since he can hardly read; nor of reflection, since he cannot put two ideas together; nor of authority, because he is rich and a justice of the peace, and given up, like a noisy and creaking weathercock, to every gust of passion. When contradicted, he grows red, foams at the mouth, wishes to thrash some one. "Doff thy clothes." They are even obliged to stop him by main force. He hastens to go to All worthy to complain of Tom Jones, who has dared to fall in love with his daughter: "It's well for un I could not get at un: I'd a licked un; I'd a spoiled his caterwauling; I'd a taught the son of a whore to meddle with meat for his master. He shan't eve have a morsel of meat of mine, or varder to buy it. If she will ha un, one snack shall be ber portion. I'd sooner give my estate to the sinking fund, that it may be sent to Hanover, to corrupt our nation with."* Allworthy says he is very sorry for it: "Pox o' your sorrow. It will do me abundance of good, when I have lost my only child, my poor Sophy that was the joy of my heart, and all the hope and comfort of my age. But I am resolved I will turn her out o' doors; she shall beg, and starve, and rot in the streets. Not one hapenny, not a hapenny shall she
* Ibid. bk. vi. ch. x.
ever hae o' mine. The son of a bitch | boy? What, shall it be t▸morrow of was always good at finding a hare sit- next day? I shan't be put off a minting and be rotted to'n; I little thought ute longer than next day; I am re what puss he was looking after. But solved. I tell thee it is all flimit shall be the worst he ever vound in flam. Zoodikers! she'd have the his life. She shall be no better than wedding to-night with all her heart carrion; the skin o'er it is all he shall Would'st not, Sophy?... Where the ha, and zu you may tell un." His devil is Allworthy; Harkee, Alldaughter tries to reason with him; he worthy, I'll bet thee five pounds to : storms. Then she speaks of tender- crown, we have a boy to-morrow rine neзs and obedience; he leaps about months. But prithee, tell me what the room for joy, and tears come to his wut ha? Burgundy, champagne, or eyes. Then she recommences her what? For please Jupiter, we'll make prayers; he grinds his teeth, clenches a night on't."* And when he be his fists, stamps his feet; "I am deter- comes a grandfather, he spends his mined upon this match, and ha him † time in the nursery, "where he declares you shall, damn me, if shat unt. Damn the tattling of his little granddaughter, me, if shat unt, though dost hang thy. who is above a year and a half old, is self the next morning." He can find sweeter music than the finest cry of no reason; he can only tell her to be a dogs in England." This is pure nagood girl. He contradicts himself, de- ture, and no one has displayed it more feats his own plans; is like a blind free, more impetuous, ignoring all bull, which butts to right and left, rule, more abandoned to physical pasdoubles on his path, touches no one, sions than Fielding. and paws the ground. At the least sound he rushes head foremost, offensively, not knowing why. His ideas are only starts or transports of flesh and blood. Never has the animal so completely covered and absorbed the man. It makes him grotesque; he is so natural and so brute-like: he allows himself to be led, and speaks like a child. He says: "I don't know how 'tis, but, Allworthy, you make me do always just as you please; and yet I have as good an estate as you, and am in the commission of the peace just as yourself." Nothing holds or lasts with him; he is impulsive in every thing; he lives but for the moment. Rancor, interest, no passions of long continuance affect him. He embraces people whom he just before wanted to knock down. Every thing with him disappears in the fire of the momentary passion, which floods his brain, as it were, in sudden waves, and drowns the
Now that he is reconciled to Tom Jones, he cannot rest until Tom marries his daughter: "To her, boy, to her, go to her. That's it, little honeys, O that's it. Well, what, is it all over? Hath she appointed the day,
* History of a Foundling, bk. vi. ch. x. + Blifil.
* History of a Foundling, xvi. ch. ii Ibid. xviii. ch. ix.
It is not because he loves it like the great impartial artists, Shakspeare and Goethe; on the contrary, he is eminently a moralist; and it is one of the great marks of the age, that refor matory designs are as decided with him as with others. He gives his fictions a practical aim, and commends them by saying that the serious and tragic tone sours, whilst the comi style disposes men to be "more full o good humor and benevolence." Moreover, he satirizes vice; he looks upon the passions not as simple forces, but as objects of approbation or blame. At every step he suggests moral conclusions; he wants us to take sides; he discusses, excuses, or condemns. He writes an entire novel in an ironical style,§ to attack and destroy rascal ity and treason He is more than a painter, he is a judge, and the two parts agree in him. For a psychology produces a morality: where there is an idea of man, there is an ideal of man, and Fielding, who has seen in man na ture as opposed to rule, praises in man nature as opposed to rule; so that, according to him, virtue is but an in stinct. Generosity in his eyes is, like * Ibid. xviii. ch. xii.
Last chapter of the History of a Found
all sources of action, a primitive inclination; like all sources of action, it flows on receiving no good from catech.sms and phrases; like all sources of action, it flows at times too copious and quick. Take it as it is, and do not try to oppress it under a discipline, or to replace it by an argument. Mr. Richardson, your heroes, so correct, constrained, so carefully made up with their impedimenta of maxims, are cathedral vergers, of use but to drone in a procession. Square or Thwackum, your tirades on philosophical or Christian virtue are mere words, only fit to be heard after dinner. Virtue is in the mood and the blood; a gossipy education and cloistral severity do not assist it. Give me a man, not a showmannikin or a mere machine, to spout phrases. My hero is the man who is born generous, as a dog is born affectionate, and a horse brave. I want a living heart, full of warmth and force, not a dry pedant, bent on squaring all his actions. This ardent and impulsive character will perhaps carry the hero tou far; I pardon his escapades. He will get drunk unawares; he will pick up a girl on his way; he will hit out with a zest; he will not refuse a duel; he will suffer a fine lady to appreciate him, and will accept her purse; he will be imprudent, will injure his reputation, like Tom Jones; he will be a bad manager, and will get into debt, like Captain Booth. Pardon him for having muscles, nerves, senses, and that overflow of anger or ardor which urges forward animals of a noble breed. But he will let himself be beaten till the blood flows, before he betrays a poor gamekeeper. He will pardon his mortal enemy readily, from sheer kindness, and will send him money secretly. He will be loyal to his mistress, and will be faithful to her, spite of all offers, in the worst destitution, and without the least hope of winning her. He will be liberal with his purse, his trouble, his sufferings, his blood; he will not boast of it; he will have neither pride, vanity, affectation, nor dissimulation; brave ry and kindness will abound in his heart, as good water in a good spring. He may be stupid like Captain Booth, a gambler even, extravagant, unable to manage his affairs, liable one day
through temptation to be unfaithful to his wife; but he will be so sincere ir his repentance, his error will be so involuntary, he will be so carefully, gen uinely tender, that she will love hin exceedingly, and in good truth he will deserve it. He will be a nurse to her when she is ill, behave as a mother to her; he will himself see to her lying-in; he will feel towards her the adoration of a lover, always, before all the world, even before Miss Matthews, who seduced him. He says "If I had the world, I was ready to lay it at my Amelia's feet; and so, heaven knows, I would ten thousand worlds."† He weeps like a child on thinking of her; he listens to her like a little child. "I believe I am able to recollect much the greatest part (of what she uttered); for the impression is never to be effaced from my memory." ‡
He dressed himself "with all the expedition imaginable, singing, whistling, hurrying, attempting by every method to banish thought," S and galloped away, whilst his wife was asleep, because he cannot endure her tears. In this soldier's body, under this brawler's thick breastplate, there is a true woman's heart, which melts, which a trifle disturbs, when she whom he loves is in question; timid in its tenderness, inexhaustible in devotion, in trust, in self-denial, in the communication of its feelings. When a man possesses this, overlook the rest; with all his excesses and his follies, he is better than your well-dressed devotees.
To this we reply: You do well to defend nature, but let it be on condition that you suppress nothing. One thing is wanting in your strongly-built folks
refinement: delicate dreams, enthusiastic elevation, and trembling delicacy exist in nature equally with coarse vig.
Amelia is the perfect English wife, an ex cellent cook, so devcted as to pardon her hus forward to the accoucheur. She says ever band his accidents nfidelities, always looking (bk. iv. ch. vi.), "Dear Billy, though my un derstanding be much inferior to yours." is excessively modest, always blushing and love-letters, she throws them away, and says Bagillard having written her some (bk. iii. ch. ix.): "I would not have such a letter in my possession for the universe; 1 thought my eyes contaminated with reading
+Amelia, bk. ii. ch. viii. Ibid. bk. iii. ch. ii.
↑ Ibid. bk. iii. ch. i.