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strongly the native bent of his genius. From these it appears that, indifferent to the ordinary amusements of boys, he used to gather his schoolfellows round him and tell them affecting stories; having, even at that period, composed A little history of a servant-man, who was preferred by a young lady to a great lord who was a libertine. At thirteen, he was a favourite with all the girls in the neighbourhood, who were fond of books. He read to them, as they sat at work with their needles, and wrote or corrected for three of them in particular their love-letters; with such strict secrecy, that no one of the party suspected him to be the secretary of the other two. Even before that age, he had written an anonymous letter of grave advice to an elderly widow-lady. Who does not see, that his most admired works are only the expansion of those talents, which thus in their germ prompted his boyish efforts?
His father had originally intended him for the church; but being unable to give him any farther education than what the grammar-school of Christ's Hospital had afforded, he left him to choose a profession for himself. With his natural turn for letters, he fixed upon that of a printer: and he was accordingly, in 1706, bound apprentice to Mr. John Wylde, a severe task-master, for - seven years. As he was extremely conscientious, therefore, he was obliged to steal from rest and recreation his times for mental mprovement. An extensive correspondence with a gentleman of rank and fortune, who excelled in the epistolary stile, proved a valuable training for the mode of composition, which was subsequently to gain him his celebrity. After six additional years of labour as journeyman and corrector of the press, in 1719 he took up his freedom, and commenced business in Salisbury Court, Fleet Street, on his own account. His leisure-hours he filled by compiling Indexes for the booksellers, and writing prefaces and what he calls - honest dedications.'
Dissimilar as their geniuses may seem, when the witty and wicked Duke of Wharton about the year 1723 was active in opposition to the court, and in order to render himself popular in the city had become a member of the Wax Chandler's company, Mr. Richardson was his printer, and held a high place in his favour. From his press issued the political paper, called “The True Briton,' which was published twice a week; but out of an unwillingness to subject himself to prosecution,* after a short time he refused to have any
farther concern with it. He printed, also, from 1736 to 1737 a newspaper, named “The Daily Journal ;' and, in 1738, · The Daily Gazetteer.? Under the recommendation likewise of Speaker Onslow, whom he frequently visited at Ember Court, he was appointed to print the first edition of The Journals of the House of Commons, of which he completed twenty six volumes. Mr. Onslow, from his high esteem for him, would have procured him some honourable office under the government; but Richardson, whose business was extensive and lucrative, declined the offer.
In 1741, he published his · Pamela, f which gained
* From the original edition Mr. Nichols infers, that he printed only six numbers; and, from internal evidence, that he wrote the last of them himself.
† A scheme, it appears, had been proposed to him by two respectable booksellers, Rivington and Osborne, of writing • Familiar Letters to and from several persons upon business and
him both fame and profit. From a letter of Aaron Hill's to Mallett, it appears that the latter suspected his correspondent of having had a hand in this performance: “You ask me, in your postscript, whether you are right in guessing, there are some traces of my hand in • Pamela ?" No, Sir, upon my faith, I had not any (the minutest share) in that delightful nursery of virtues. The sole and absolute author is Mr. Richardson of Salisbury Court; and such an author too he is, that hardly mortal ever matched him for his ease of natural power. He seems to move like a calm summer-sea, that swelling upward with unconscious deepness lifts the heaviest weights
other subjects.' This he performed with great readiness; and in the progress of it conceived the History of Pamela,' founded upon a real occurrence, of which the first two volumes were written in two months, in 1729. Such was it's popularity, that it ran through five editions in a year, and was even recommended from the pulpit, particularly by Dr. Slocock, Rector of Christ Church, Surry: Mr. Pope declared, it would do more good than many volumes of sermons;' and Lucas, the author of the
Search after Happiness,' calls it “ the best book ever published, and calculated to do most good.” Yet Dr. Watts, in reference to some of it's indefensibly indelicate scenes, wrote him word, that he understood the ladies complained they could not read them without blushing. On the subject of this novel, Goldoni has founded two plays; • Pamela Nubile,' and 'Pamela Maritata. Fielding however, though both he and his two sisters were on friendly terms with the author, it is well known wrote his “ Joseph Andrews' in ridicule of • Pamela:' and hence perhaps, a portion of the acrimony, with which Richardson in his • Letters' always speaks of Tom Jones. As a moral work, he could not reprobate it's hero, the Charles Surface of romance, too much. But he should have remembered, that reprobation is always suspicious in a rival author. In humour and comic character he was, indeed, excelled by Fielding: but, in deep pathos and consistent virtue, who shall vie with Richardson?
into the skies, and shows no sense of their incumbency. He would, perhaps, in every thing he says or does be more in nature than all men before him, but that he has one fault to an unnatural excessand that is, modesty. The book was published many months, before I saw or heard of it; and when he sent it me, among some other pieces, it came without the smallest hint that it was his, and with a grave apology as for a trifle of too light a species. I found out whose it was by the resembling turn of Pamela's expressions, weighed with some which I had noted as peculiar in his letters: yet very loth he was, a long time, to confess it. And, to say the least I can of qualities which he conceals with as much fear as if they were ignoble ones, he is so honest, open, generous, and great a thinker, that he cannot in his writings paint a virtue, that he needs look farther than his heart to find a pattern for. Let me not, therefore, rob him for a moment, in so just a mind as yours, by interception of his praises: The glory is, and ought to be, his only. And I am much mistaken in the promise of his genius, or Pamela (all lovely as she is, in her unheeded hasty dress) is but a dawning to the day he is to give us.”
In 1748, his · Clarissa' made it's appearance, and very justly added a still greener wreath to the author's brow.* It is indeed the work, upon which his fame
* The Abbé Prevost, under the conviction that to French teaders Clarissa required some softening, having rather abridged than translated it, a more faithful version was subsequently given by Le Tourneur. It was, also, rendered into German under the auspices of the celebrated Haller, and by the Rev. Mr. Stinstra into Dutch. The subjoined Epigram by Mr. Graham of King's
principally rests; and it will transmit his name to posterity as one of the ornaments of the age in which he lived. In one of Mr. Hill's letters to him, upon this occasion, occur the following passages : Your Clarissa “ is full of varied and improving beauties, of such striking force, that they monopolise my thoughts, and every thought throughout my family.
They give a body and material tangibility to fancy, take possession of the sleep, and dwell like birdlime on the memory! We are acquainted with, and see, and know with the completest intimacy each man, maid, woman, tree, house, field, step, incident, and place throughout this exquisite creation! We agree, and every day afresh remark to one another, that we can find no difference at all in the impression of things really done and past and recollected by us, and the things we read of in this intellectual world, which you have naturalised us into.'
“ I never open you, without new proof of what I have a thousand times asserted, that you are a species in your single self, that never had nor will have
College, Cambridge, is characterised not less by it's perfect justness, than by it's Grecian simplicity:
• This work is Nature's; every tittle in't
She wrote, and gave it Richardson to print.' Johnson, in his Biographical Preface to Rowe's Poems, observes ; “ It was in the power of Richardson alone, to teach us at once esteem and detestation (of Lovelace); to make virtuous resentment overpower all the benevolence which wit, and elegance, and courage naturally excite; and to lose, at last, the hero in the villain :" and Mrs. Sheridan, to “ pay the tribute due to exemplary goodness and distinguished genius, when found united in one person,” inscribed her Memoirs of Miss Sidney Biddulph to the author of Clarissa,' and Sir Charles Grandison.'