406 Account of the Life and Writings »f Henry Fielding, Esq. British

and widow of general Charles Churchill, brother to John duke of Marlborough, by whom he had one son James, lord Norri?, who died of the small-pox, February 25, 1717-8. His lordship departing this life without other issue, on June 16, 1743, he was succeeded in his honours and estate by his nephew,

Willoughby Bertie, the late earl, eldest Ion of the honourable James Bertie, Esq; second son of James, the first earl of Abingdon, who was born November 28, 1692, and married, in August 1727, Anna-Maria, daughter of Sir John Collins, bai t, by whom he had issue three sons and seven daughrers; viz. James lord Norris, who was burnt in his bed at Rycote j Willoughby, who succeeded him; and Peregrine: and the ladies Elizabeth, Jane, Bridget, Anne, Eleanora, Mary, and Sophia. His lordship died June 10, 1760, and was succeeded by his second son,

Willoughby, the present earl of Abingdon, who was born January

15, 1740, a>id is yet unmarried. His brother Peregrine, the youngest son, is at present captain of a (hip of war in his majesty's nary.

His lordship's titles are, Earl of Abingdon, Baron Norris of Rycote, and High Steward of Abingdon and Wallingford.

Arms.] Argent, three battering rams barways, proper, arm'd and garnilh'd azure; an annulet for difference.

Crest.] On a wreath, the head and bust of a king coup'd, proper, crown'd ducally, and charged on the chest with a fret, or.

Support en.] On the dexter side, x pilgrim or friar vested in russet, with his staff and pater-noster, or. On the sinister, a savage wreath'd about the temples and middle with ivy, proper. On each of their chefls a fret, or.

Motto.] Virtus arietefortiir. Virtue stronger than a battering-ram.

Chief Seats.] At Witham, in Berkshire; Rycote, in Oxfordst.ire; Lincotn's-Imi-Fields, London.

Account of the Life and Writings of Henry Fielding, Esq. ExtreSed from Mr. Murphy'/ Essay on his Life and Genius, prefixed to the last Edition of bis Works. [Concluded.]

\X7 E are now arrived at the second grand epoch of Mr. Fielding's genius, when, as Mr. Murphy remarks, all his faculties ■were in perfect unison, and conspired to produce a complete work.

If, says he, we consider Tom Jones in the fame light in which the ablest critics have examined the Iliad, the Æneid, and the Paradise Lost, namely, with a view to the sable, the manners, the sentiments,

and the style, we shall find it standing the test of the severest criticism. In the first place, rhe action has that unity, which is the boast of the great models of composition; it turns upon a single event, attended wkh many circumstances, and many subordinate incidents, which seein, in the progress of the work, to perplex, to entangle, and to involve the whole in difficulties, and lead on the reader's imagination, with an eagerness


Mag. Account osthe Life and Writings of Henry Fielding, Esq. 407 4«8 Aectunt of the Life and Wriii

ness of curiosity, through scenes of prodigious variety, till at length the different intricacies and complications of the fable are explained after the fame gradual manner in which they had been worked up to a crisis: incident arises out of incident: the feeds of every thing that shoots up are laid [sown] with a judicious hand, and whatever occurs in the latter part of the story, seems naturally to grow out of those passages which preceded; so that, upon the whole, the business with great propriety and probability works itself up into various embarrassments, and then afterwards, by a regular series of events, clears itself from all impediments, and brings itself inevitably to a conclusion; like a river, which, in its progress, foams amongst fragments of rocks, and for a while seems pent up by unsurmountable oppositions; then angrily dashes for a while, then plunges under ground into caverns, and runs a subterraneous course, till at length it breaks out again, meanders round the country, and with a clear placid stream flows gently into the ocean. By this artful management, our author has given us the perfection of fable ; which, as the writers upon the subject have justly observed, consists in such obstacles to retard the final issue of the whole, as lhall at leafy in their consequences, accelerate the catastrophe, and bring it evidently and necessarily to that period only, which, in the nature of things, could arise from it; so that the action could not remain in suspence any longer, but must naturally close and determine itself. ■

"In the execution of this plan, thus regular and uniform, what a variety of humorous scenes, descriptions, and characters, has our author

found means' to incorporate with the principal action; and this too, without distracting the reader's attention with objects foreign to his subject, or weakening the general intertst by a multiplicity of episodical events. Still observing the grand essential rule of unity in the design, 1 believe no author has introduced a greater diversity of characters, or displayed them more fully, or in more various attitudes. Allworthy is the most amiable picture of a man who does hanour to his species: in his own heart he finds constant propensities to the most benevolent and generous actions, and his understanding conducts him with discretion in the performance of whatever his goodness suggests to him. And though it is apparent that the author laboured this portrait can amove, and meant to osser it to mankind as a just object of imitation, he has soberly restrained himself within th; bounds of probability, nay, it may be said, of strict truth: as in the general opinion, he is supposed to have copied here the features of a worthy character lately deceased. Nothing can be more entertaining than Western; his nilsic manners, his natural undisciplined honesty, his half-enlightened unclerstanding.wjth the self-pleasing shrewdness which accompanies it, and the biass of his mind to mistaken politics, are all delineated with precision and fine humour. The sisters of those two gentlemen are aptly introduced, and give rife to many agreeable scenes. Tom Jones will at all times be a fine lesson to young men of good tendencies to virtue, who yet suffer the impetuosity of their passions to hurry them away. Thwackutn and Square are excellently opposed to each other; the former is a well drawn 3 G 1 picture

jiicture of a divine who is neglectful of the moral part o£ his character, and oitentatiuusly talks of religion and grace; the latter is a strong ridicule of those who have high ideas of the dignity of opr nature, and of the native beamy of virtue, without owning any obligations of conduct from religion. Jn short, all the characters down tq Partridge, and even to a maid or an hosiler at an inn, are drawn with truth and humour: and indeed they abound so much, and are lo often brought forward in a dramatic manner, that every tiling may be said to he here in action; every thing has Manners ; ,and the very manners >vhich belong to it in -human life. They look, they act, they speak to our imaginations just as they appear to us in the world. The SentiMents whkh they utter, ate peculiarly annexed to their habits, passions, and ideas; which is what poetical piopiiety requires; and, to {he honour of the author it must be said, that, whenever he addresses us in person, he is always in the interests of virtue and religion, and inspires, in a strain of moral reflection, a true love of goodness asid honour, with a just detestation of i/nposture, hypocrisy, and all specious pretences to uprightness."

Thus we have traced our author in his progress to the time when the vigour of his mind was in its full grow th of perfection ; from this period, it funk, but by flow dtgiees, into a decline: Amelia, which incite Jed Tom J.o,nes in about four years, has indeed the marks of geuius, but of a genius beginning to fall info its decay. The author's invention in this perfoi ma nee does not appear-tp have lost its fertility; }Js judgment too feems as strong as

tgs if Henry Fielding, Esq. British

ever; but the warmth of imagination is abated ; and in his lancskips or his scenes of life, Mr. Fielding is no longer the colouriit he was ber fore. The personages of the piece delight too much in narrative, and their characters have not those touches of singularity, those specific differences, w hich are so beautifully marked in our author's former woiks: of cpurfe the humour, which coniisis in happy delineations of the caprices and predominant foibles of the. human .wind, loses here ib high flavour and relish. And yet Amelia holds the fame proportion to Tom Jones, that the Ody ITey of Homer bears, in the estimation of Longinus, to the Iliad. A fine vein of morality runs through the whole; many of the situations are affecting and lender; the sentiments ate delicate; and, upon the whole, it is the Odyssey, the moral and pathetic work of Henry Fielding.

While he was planning and executing this piece, it should be remembered, that he was distracted by that multiplicity of avocations, which surround a public magistrate; and his constitution, now greatly impaired and enfeebled, was labouring under attacks of the gour,which were,' of course,' severer than ever. However, the activity of his mind was not to be subdued. One literary pursuit was no sooner over, than fresli game arose. A periodical paper, under the title of The Cc-ztmt GurUen 'journal, by Sir Alexander Diancanjir, hnigbl, and Censor Genera! os Great Britain, was immediately set on foot. It was published twice in every week, viz. on Tuesday and Saturday, and co.vduced so much to the entertainment of the public, for a twelvemonth together, that it was at hngth felt with a general

Mag, Jaotint of the Life andU riiingi of Henry Fielding, Esq. 409

general regret, that the author's gratitude at every instance of friendhealth did not enable him to persist Ihip or generosity: steady in his in the undertaking any longer, private attachments, his affection Soon asier this work was dropt, was warm, sincere, and vehement; our author's whole frame of body in his resentments he. was manly, was so entirely shattered by conti- but temperate, seldom breaking out riual inroads of complicated difor- in his writings into gratifications of tiers, and the incessant fatigue of ill-humour, or personal satire. It business in his office, that, by the is to the honour of those whom he advice of his physicians, he was ob. loved, that he had too much peneJiged to set out for Lisbon, to try if traiion to be deceived in their chathere was any restorative quality in rasters; and it is to the advantage the more genial air of that climate, of his enemies, that he was above Even in this distressful condition, his passionate attacks upon them. Open, imagination still continued making unbounded, and social in his temper, its strongest efforts to display itself; he knew no love of money; but and the last fleams of his wit and inclining to excoss even in his very humour faifitly sparkled in the ac- virtues, he pushed his contempt of count he left behind him of his avawee into the opposite extreme of voyage to that place. About two imprudence and prodigality. When months after his arrival at Lisbon, young in life he had a moderate he yielded his last breath, in the estate, he soon suffered hospitality to year 1754, and in the forty-eighth devour it; and when in the latter year of his age. end of his days he had an income of He left behind him (for he mar- four or five hundred a year, he ried a second time) a wife, and four knew no use of money, but to keep children, three of which are still his table open to those who had living, and are now training up un- been his friends when young, and der the care of their uncle. had impaired their own fortunes, A Thus was closed a course of dis- sense of honour he had as lively and appointment, distress, vexation, in- delicate as most men, but sometimes firmity and study: for with each of his passions were too turbulent for these his life was variously chequer- it, or rather his necessities were too ed, and, perhaps, in stronger pro- pressing ; in all cafes where delicacy portions than has been the lotos was departed from, his friends know many. how his own feelings reprimanded Henry Fielding was in stature ra- him. The interests of virtue and ther rising above six feet; his frame religion he never betrayed; the of body large, and remarkably ro- former is amiably enforced in his bust, rill the gout had broke the vi- works; and, for the defence cf the gour of his constitution. His pas- latter, he had projected a laborious lions were, as the poet expresses it, answer to the posthumous philosotrembling'y ali-vt all o'er: whatever he phy of Bolingbroke; and the predesired, he desired ardently; he was paration he had made for it cf long alike impatient of disappointment, extracts and arguments from the or ill-usage, and the same quickness fathers and the most eminent wriof sensibility rendered him elate in ters of controversy, is still extant in prosperity, and overflowing with the hands of his brother. In sliort,

our 41 o Account of the List and Writings ofM. de Voltaire. British

tur author was unhappy, but not friend; a fatyrist of vice and evil

Vxious in his nature; in his under- manners, yet a lover of mankind;

standing lively, yet solid; rich in an useful citizen, a polished and in

invention, yet a lover of real sci- structivewit; and a magistrate zea

ence/; an observer of mankind, yet lous for the order and welfare of the

a (cho'ar of enlarged reading; a community which he served, spirited enemy, yet an indefatigable

Some Account os the List and Writings of M. DE Voltaire. ExtraQed from the Anecdotes of Literature, lately fubhjhtd.

"\T De Voltaire has long been • one of the most celebrated writers in Europe; and he is a singular instance of an author near fourscore years of age possessing almost all the fire and vivacity of his youth. The number of pieces, of ;i!l kinds, which have flowed from his pen, is surprizing. His tragedies have great merit; some of them not inferior to those os Racine himself; his comedies possess a vein of fiue humour. As to his Henriade, that poem, great as its reputation has been in France, is little read, and would not alone have secured its author's fame. The abbe Truhlet thinks it would have succeeded better in prose.

M. de Vultaire's historical pieces have often been attacked on the side of truth and impartiality, and there has been some reason for such suspicions. His Age of Louis XIV. is a defence of that ambitious monarch ; and that national partiality, pr rather vanity, so ilrong in the French, abounds in it: however, his style and manner of writing is admirable; there is something so lively and animated in this piece, that scarce any are more entertaining. His history of Charles XII. is equally amusing, but much more true. Prefixed to his histoiy of Peter the Gceat, is a long letter to

him from Stanislaus king of Poland, which gives him great encomiums for his veracity and surprising intelligence, and avows the truth of all those parts of the history, which his majesty could any way be acquainted with. His Essay on Universal History is a most beautiful and useful performance, full of the justest and most penetrating remarks on manners, customs, and opinions. His romances are exquisitely entertaining, particularly Zadig; and whatever may be objected to the morals of Candide, every one must allow that there is an amazing flow of wit, humour, ridicule, and satire, throughout the whole piece. The detached pieces and loose, essays which have dropped from this lively Frenchman's pen, are entertaining, full of wit, and wrote in a spirited style. This aiming at being universal has hurt his reputation, as it suffered some pieces to escape his pen unworthy of it. His explanation of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophy is but a trifling performance. As to his poetic pieces, many of them are as good as the language would permit. In some of his odes are several fine strokes, which rife above the French poetry, nor are his other variety of poems without their lustre; but his Maid of Orleans is scandalously indecent.

■ The

« 前へ次へ »