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own charge an impreffion of 2000 fets of his valuable Difcourfes, at a very confiderable expence. And they have been actually fent to all the islands and colonies of America. And by the care of the governors

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and clergy, it is hoped by this time, Some account of the late Henry Fieldthat they are all properly diftributed among the people of their respective colonies, to their great improve ment in the knowledge of rational and practical christianity. And to mention one inftance more of his great charity and care for the education of youth, he hath given to Catherine-hall in Cambridge, the place of his education, his valuable library of books; and, in his lifetime, and at his death, donations for the founding a librarian's place, and a scholarship, to the amount of feveral thousand pounds.

Befides these and many other public instances of his charity and munificence which might be mentioned, the private flow of his bounty to his many individuals was conftant and regular; and upon all just occafions he was ever ready to stretch forth his hand towards the needy and afflicted of which no one cau bear teftimony better than myself, whom he often employed as the diftributor of it.

He was indeed a perfon of great candour and humanity, had a tender feeling of diftrefs, and was eafily touched with the misfortunes of arhers. No man was ever more bappy in domestic life, and no one could fhew greater gentleness, goodnature, and affection to all around him. To his fervauts he was a kind and tender master; he knew how to reward fidelity and diligence; especially in those who had been long in his fervice. They were careful over him, and he remem

bered their care by leaving a large fum among them who had been nearest about him during his illnefs.

Enry Fielding was born at Sharpham Park in Somersetshire near Glastonbury, April 22, 1707. His father, Edmund Fielding, ferved in the wars under the duke of Marlborough, and arrived to the rank of lieutenant general, at the latter end of George I, or the beginning of George II. His mother was the daughter of judge Gold, the grandfather of the prefent Sir Henry Gold, one of the barons of the Exchequer. By thefe his parents he had four fifters, Catharine, Urfula, Sarah and Beatrice; and one brother, Edmund, who was an officer in the marine fervice. Sarah Fielding, his third fifter, is well known to the literary world by many elegant performances. Our author's mother having paid her debt to nature, lieutenant general Fielding married a fecond time, and the issue of that marriage were fix fons, George, James, Charles, John, William and Bafil, all dead, excepting John, who is at prefent in the commiffion of the peace for Middlefex, Surry, Effex, and the liberties of Westminster. Henry Fielding received the first rudiments of his education at home, under the care of the Rev. Mr. Oliver, of whom he has given a very humorous and ftriking portrait in Joseph Andrews, under the name of parson Trulliber. From Mr. Oliver's care he was removed to Eton School, where he became acquainted with lord

lord Lyttelton, Mr. Fox, Mr. Pitt, Sir Charies Hanbury Williams, the late Mr. Winnington, &c. When he left this great feminary, he was faid to be uncommonly verfed in the Greek and Latin claffics; for both which he ever retained a strong admiration. From Eton he was fent to Leyden, and there he ftudied the civilians for about two years. Remittances failing, at the age of twenty, or thereabout, he returned from Leyden to London, where, though under age, he found himself his own mafter: from that fource flowed all the inconveniencies that attended him throughout the remainder of his life. The brilliancy of his wit, the vivacity of his humour, and his high relish of social enjoyment, foon brought him into request with the men of taste and literature, and with the voluptuous of all ranks. His finances were not answerable to the frequent draughts made upon him by the extravagance which na turally followed. He was allowed, indeed, zool. a year by his father, but, as he himself used to say, any body might pay it that would. The fact was, general Fielding having married again foon after the death of our author's mother, had fo large an increase of family, and that too fo quick, that he could not fpare any confiderable difburfements for the maintenance of his eldest fon. Of this truth Henry Fielding was fenfible, and he was therefore, in whatever difficulties he might be involved, never wanting in filial piety, which, his nearest relations agree, was a fhining part of his character. Disappointments, indeed, were obferved to provoke him into occafional peevishnefs, and feverity of animadverfon: but his general

temper was remarkably gay, and for the moft part overflowing into wit, mirth, and good humour. As he difdained all littleness of fpirit, wherever he met with it in his dealings with the world, his indignation was apt to rife; and as he was of a penetrating difcernment, he could always develope selfishness, miftruft, pride, avarice, interested friendship, the ungenerous, and the unfeeling temper, however plaufibly disguised; and as he could read them to the bottom, fo he could likewife affault them with the keeneft ftrokes of fpirited and manly fatire. Difagreeable impreffions never continued long upon his mind ; his imagination was fond of feizing every gay profpect, and, in his worst adverfities, filled him with fanguine hopes of a better fituation. To obtain this, he flattered himself that he should find his refources in his wit and invention; and accordingly he commenced a writer for the ftage in the year 1727, being then about twenty years of age.

His firft dramatic piece foon after adventured into the world, and, was called, Love in feveral Mafques. It immediately fucceeded the Provoked Hufband, a play, which, for the continued fpace of twenty-eight nights received as great and as just applaufes, as ever were bestowed on the English ftage. Notwithstanding thefe obftacles, Fielding's play was favourably received. His fecond play, the Temple Beau, appeared the year after. From the year 1727, to the end of 1736, asmost all his plays and farces were written, not above two or three having appeared fince that time; fo that he produced about eighteen theatrical performances, plays and farces included,

cluded, before he was quite thirty years old. Though in the plan of his pieces he is not always regular, yet he is often happy in his diction and ftile; and in every groupe, that he has exhibited, there are to be seen particular delineations that will amply recompenfe the attention bestowed upon them. The comedy of the Mifer, which he has moftly taken from Moliere, has maintained its ground upon the ftage ever fince it was first performed, and has the value of a copy from a great painter by an eminent hand. If the comedy of Pafquin was reftored to the ftage, it would perhaps be a favourite entertainment with our audiences. It is faid, that the wit and humour of our modern Aristophanes, Mr. Fielding, whofe quarry in fome of his pieces, particularly the Hiftorical Regifter, was higher game than in prudence he fhould have chofen, were principal inftruments that occafioned that law, which fubjected all new pieces to the inspection of a licenfer.

In the comedy called Rape upon Rape, or the Coffee-houfe Politician, we have an admirable draught of a character very common in this country, namely, a man who is fmitten with an infatiable thirst for news, and concerns himself more about the ballance of power than of his books. The folly of these ftatesmen out of place is there exhibited with a mafterly ridicule; and indeed in all the plays of our author, however in fome refpects deficient, there are ftocks of humour and half-length paintings, not excelled by fome of the ableft artifls. His farces were almost all of them very fuccefsful, and many of them are ftill acted every winter with ap

probation. They were generally the production of two or three mornings. It need not be obferved, in juftification of their being preferved in the fame collection with his more important works, that farce is deemed by our best critics an appendage of the theatre, as well as pieces of a higher nature. A learned and excellent critic (the Rev. Mr. Hurd) has given it a full confideration in his Differtation on the feveral Provinces of the Drama. "The reprefentations, fays he, of common nature may either be taken accurately, fo as to reflect a faithful and exact image of their original, which alone is that I would call Comedy; or they may be forced and overcharged above the fimple and juft proportions of nature; as when the exceffes of a few are given for ftanding characters, when not the man (in general) but the paffion, is defcribed; or when, in the draught of the man, the lead, ing feature is extended beyond meafure; and in these cafes the reprefentation holds of the province of farce." The Lottery, the Intri guing Chambermaid, and the Virgin Unmask'd, befides the real entertainment they afford, had on their first appearance this additional merit, that they ferved to make early discoveries of that true comic genius which was then dawning forth in Mrs. Clive.

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from hypocrify, from pretended friendship, and in fhort, all the diffonant qualities, which are often whimfically blended together by the folly of men, could not fail to ftrike a perfon who had fo fine a fenfe of ridicule and accordingly we find that he never feems fo happy, as when he is developing a character made up of motley and repugnant properties. To fearch out and to describe objects of this kind, feems to have been the favourite bent of his mind, and from his happy descriptions of the manners, he may juftly be pronounced an admirable Comic Genius in the largest acceptation of the phrafe, implying humorous and pleasant imitation of men and manners, whether in the way of fabulous narration, or of dramatic compofition. In the former fpecies of writing lay the excellence of Mr. Fielding in dramatic imitation he must be allowed to fall fhort of the great mafters in that art.

An ingenious writer (Mr. Hurd) has paffed a judgment upon Ben Johnfon, which, though Fielding did not attain the fame dramatic eminence, may be justly applied to him. "His tafte for ridicule was ftrong, but indelicate, which made him not over-curious in the choice of his topics. His Ayle in picturing his characters, though mafterly, was without that elegance of hand, which is required to correct and allay the force of fo bold a colouring. Thus the byas of his nature leading him to Plautus rather than Terence, for his model, it is not to be wondered that his wit is too frequently cauftic; his raillery coarse; and his humour exceffive." This want of refinement feems to

woundings which every fresh difap pointment gave Fielding, before he was yet well difciplined in the school of life: and perhaps too the afperity of his Mufe was not a little encouraged by the practice of two great wits, who had fallen into the fame vein before him; I mean Wy. cherley and Congreve, who were not fond of copying the amiable part of human life. In his ftyle, Mr. Fielding derived an error from the fame fource: he fometimes forgot that humour and ridicule were the two principal ingredients of comedy; and, like Congreve, he frequently aimed at decorations of wit, which do not appear to make part of the ground, but feem rather to be embroidered upon it.

There is another circumstance refpecting the drama, in which Fielding's judgment feems to have failed him: the ftrength of his genius certainly lay in fabulous narration; and he did not fufficiently confider that fome incidents of aftory, which, when related, may be worked up into a deal of pleafantry and humour, are apt, when thrown into action, to excite fenfations incompatible with humour and ridicule.

To these causes of his failure in the province of the drama, may be added, that fovereign contempt he always entertained for the underftandings of the generality of mankind. It was in vain to tell him, that a particular scene was dangerous on account of its coarfeness, or because it retarded the general business with feeble efforts ot wit; he doubted the difcernment of his auditors, and so thought himself fecured by their ftupidity, if not by his own humour and vivacity. A very remarkable inftance of this dif

have been principally owing to the pofition appeared, when the co.

medy of the Wedding-Day was put into rehearsal. An actor, who was principally concerned in the piece, and, though young, was then, by the advantage of happy requifites, an early favourite of the public, told Mr. Fielding he was apprehenfive that the audience would make free with him in a particular paffage; adding, that a repulfe might fo flurry his fpirits as to difconcert him for the rest of the night, and therefore begged, that it might be omitted. "No, d-mn 'em, replied the bard, if the scene is not a good one, let them find that out,' Accordingly the play was brought on without alteration, and, just as had been foreseen, the disapprobation of the house was provoked at the paffage before objected to; and the performer, alarmed and uneafy at the hiffes he had met with, retired into the green-room, where the author was folacing himself with a bottle of champaign. He had by this time drank pretty plentifully; and cocking his eye at the actor, while ftreams of tobacco trickled down from the corner of his mouth, "What's the matter, Garrick fays he, what are they hiffing now?" "Why the fcene that I begged you to retrench; knew it would not do, and they have fo frightened me, that I fhall not be able to collect myfelf again the whole night." "Oh! d--mn 'em, replies the author, they have found it out, have they?"

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If we add to the foregoing remarks an obfervation of his own, namely, that he left off writing for the stage, when he ought to have begun; and together with this confider his extreme hurry and difpatch, we fhall be able fully to account for his not bearing a more diftinguished

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place in the rank of dramatic writers. It is apparent, that in the frame and conftitution of his genius there was no defect, but fome faculty or other was fuffered to lie dormant, and the rest of course were exerted with lefs efficacy at one time we see his wit fuperfeding all his other talents; at another his invention runs riot, and multiplies incidents and characters in a manner repugnant to all the received laws of the drama. Generally his judgment was very little confulted, And indeed, how could it be otherwife? When he had contracted to bring on a play, or a farce, he would go home rather late from a tavern, and would, the next morning, deliver a fcene to the players written upon the papers which had wrapped the tobacco in which he fo much delighted.

Though it was the lot of Henry Fielding, to write always with a view to profit, he derived but fmall aids towards his fubfiftence from the treafurer of the play-house. One of his farces he has printed as it was damned at the theatre royal in Drury-lane; and that he might be more generous to his enemies than they were willing to be to him, he informs them, in the general preface to his mifcellanies, that for the Wedding - Day, though acted fix nights, his profits from the house. did not exceed fifty pounds. A fate not much better attended him in his earlier productions; but the feverity of the public, and the malice of his enemies met with a noble alleviation from the patronage of the late duke of Richmund, John duke of Argyll, the late duke of Roxborough, and many perfons of diftinguished rank and character; among whom may be numbered the prefent

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