Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

oqual;' such a glowing skill you have to call out life, and paint the features of the soul so speakingly! to conjure 'up, into the compass of so small a circle, such innumerable specimens of every humour, every passion! all the representative displays of nature!”.

By Lady Bradshaigh he was vehemently urged to make Lovelace renounce his vices, and to exhibit Clarissa happy in the married state. But this would have been grossly to violate the consistency of his heroine's character; between whom and her base betrayer an eternal wall of separation had been raised by the perpetration of his treachery. The moral, too, would have been diluted by the admixture of worldly happiness, under such circumstances : that moral, which now displays Virtue gloriously triumphant in a prison, in a brothel, in grief, in distraction, in despair, in death; every where lovely and commanding, the constant object of our most reverential and fondest affection, and even on the ground able to say with Constance,

Here is my throne, Kings, come and bow to it.” In 1751 he contributed to the Rambler No. 97, or Advice to Unmarried Ladies, which Johnson introduces to his readers as the production “ of an author, from whom the age had received greater favours; who had enlarged the knowledge of human nature, and taught the passions to move at the command of virtue." Greater favours,' observes Mr. Chalmers, “ the age had undoubtedly received from Richardson; for this paper is of very inferior merit in point of stile, and as to subject, proceeds upon an error that may be easily detected.*

be easily detected.* And yet, such is

* It complains, how much the modes of courtship are dege

the caprice of popular taste, No. 97 was the only paper in the Rambler which had a prosperous sale!

Having in both his preceding works made his principal character a woman, he now determined to give the world an example of a perfect man; 'one, in whom with every moral and christian virtue should be united every thing graceful and engaging in elegance and spirit. To this design he was partly stimulated by the remarks of his female coterie, who in answer to his reproaches that they liked Lovelace too well,” observed to him that he had given them nobody else to like; and that, if he did not wish they should regard men of pleasure with too favourable an eye, it was his duty to provide some one, whom they might like on principle.' Upon this, he determined to portray A Good Man, the title by which he always speaks of his new work while he is writing it, though he subsequently changed it to that of it's hero.

Accordingly, in 1753, he produced his · History of Sir Charles Grandison. This performance, though generally deemed far inferior to his Clarissa, possesses a very high degree of merit. sentations of madness," says Dr. Warton, “ that of Clementina, in the • History of Sir Charles Grandison, is the most deeply interesting. I know not whether even the madness of Lear is wrought up, and expressed by so many little strictures of nature and genuine passion. Shall I say, it is pedantry to prefer and compare the madness of Orestes in Euripides to this of Clementina ? "

“ Of all repre

nerated since the days of the Spectator, who repeatedly urges the same complaint!

It was Richardson's great fault, however, that he never knew when to have done with a character. Instead of leaving Clementina, where she might have been left with dignity, after her refusal of Sir Charles, within the walls of a convent completing the noble sacrifice which she had made of her love to her religion; with a total disregard to consistency he brings her to England, and leaves it to be inferred that she will finally accept the hand of the Count de Belvedere. But to this impropriety he was, probably, urged by his anxiety to make his work as instructive as possible, “ I want (says he, in a letter to Miss Mulso) to have young people think, there is no such mighty business as they are apt to suppose in conquering a first love."

Another particular, in which a Protestant reader will find something to censure, is the acquiescence of Grandison in a matrimonial arrangement with a Po. pish bigot, whose very love for him must expose him to the most distressing importunities on the subject of religion. The entertaining of Italian servants and an Italian Confessor, a stipulated surrender of half the year to Italy and of a certain portion of his children to the Italian faith-surely, these are among the sacrifices, which a conscientious man will scruple, and a wise man will refuse, to make. Upon his nice management, however, of the negotiation between his hero and the proud Porrettas, Richardson highly valued himself; and, in a letter to one of his French translators, he dexterously brings it forward as a proof of his liberality toward the Catholic creed.*

* So it, probably, was regarded by Catholics; for, in a recent

Soon after the appearance of these volumes, he was under the disagreeable necessity of laying before the public. The case of Samuel Richardson of London, printer, on the Invasion of his Property in The History of Sir Charles Grandison' before publication by certain Booksellers in Dublin. This transaction was, indeed, scandalous in the extreme: for these persons, by underhand negotiation with some of his treacherous workmen, were actually enabled to publish a cheap edition of nearly half the work, before the author himself in England had published a single volume.

His friends in Ireland, with the characteristic generosity of their country, expressed great indignation at the behaviour of the offenders, and did all they could to serve him; but to little purpose.

The circumstance vexed him to the heart. High in reputation, and sure of the sale of his work, he reasonably expected to reap the profit of it.

Notwithstanding his disappointment, however, in this particular instance, his fortune continued to in

In 1755, he was engaged in building in town, and in the country. He had, previously, 'become Master of the Stationers' Company. In 1760, he purchased a moiety of the patent of Law Printer, and carried on that department of business in partnership with Miss Catherine Lintot.* He now allowed himself some relaxation from business in the country, and only attended from time to time to his

crease.

Italian version of the Bible published at Naples, the translator in his preface warns his readers against English publications, with the exception of—the Clarissa' of Richardson.

* Subsequently married to Henry Fletcher, Esq. M. P. for Westmorland. This patent is at present possessed by Andrew Strahan, Esq. M.P.

successor.

printing-offices in town; having transferred the principal management of them to a nephew, his eventual

It was his custom (we are told) with a view of encouraging diligence and early rising in his journey.men to hide half a crown among the letters, that he who came earliest to work in a morning might find it. At other times, he brought fruit from his garden for the same purpose. His retirement was first at North End near Hammersmith, and afterward at Parson's Green, and his hospitable house was generally filled with the company of his friends of both sexes; more particularly young ladies, including Miss Mulso subsequently Mrs. Chapone, Miss Highmore afterward Mrs. Duncombe, and Miss Talbot, themselves distinguished in polite literature.* These however, though blessed with fame, affluence, and leisure, he had not health fully to enjoy. Fame, affluence, and leisure, alas! purchased by severe application, often come too late to be relished; and in a worldly, as well as in a religious sense,

• When we find The key of life, it opens to the grave.' His disorder increased upon him; and his valuable life was terminated, by a stroke of apoplexy, on the.

* In this mental seraglio, as it may be called (observes Mrs. Barbauld) he had great facilities for that knowledge of the female heart, which he has sợ eminently shown in his works: but it cannot be denied, that it had a tendency to feed the self-importance, which was perhaps his reigning foible. Experiencing no contradiction, and seeing no equal, he was constantly fed with adulation. Even his correspondences with his male friends (and he was remarkably fond of epistolary intercourse) turn almost entirely upon his own works, and abound with exaggerations of panegyric which must have been excessive, even when literary compliments were more in fashion than they are at present.

« ZurückWeiter »