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present lord Lyttelton, whose friend- determined to exert his best endeaship to our author softened the rt- vours to recover, what he had wangour of his misfortunes while he tonly thrown away, a decent comlived, and exerted itself towards petence; and being then about his memory when he was no more, thirty years of age, he becook himby taking pains to clear up impu- self to the study of the law. The tations of a particular kind, which friendships he met with from fome, had been thrown out against his who have since risen to be the first character,
ornaments of the law, will for ever Mr. Fielding had not been long a do honour to his memory. His apwriter for the stage, when he mar- plication, while he was a student ried Miss Craddock, a beauty from in the Temple, was remarkably Salisbury. About that time his intense he has been frequently mother dying, a moderate estate ač known by his intimates, to retire Stower in Dorsetshire devolved to late at night from a tavern to his him. To that place he retired with chambers, and there read, and his wife, on whom he doated, with make extracts from the most aba resolution to bid adieu to all the struse authors, for several hours be. follies and intemperances of a town fore he went to bed. After the culife. But unfortunately a kind of stomary time of probation at the family-pride here gained an ascend. Temple he was called to the bar. ant over him, and he began imme. He attended with assiduity both in diately to vie in splendor with the term-time and on the western cirneighbouring country squires. With cuit, as long as his health permitan estate not much above two hun- ted; but the gout soon rendered it dred pounds a year, and his wife's impossible for him to be as constant fortune, which did not exceed fif- at the bar as the laboriousness of teen hundred pounds, he encum- his profession required : he could bered himself with a large retinue only now follow the law by snatches, of servants all clad in costly yellow at such intervals as were free from inliveries. For their master's honour, difpofition; which could not but be these people could not descend so a dispiriting circumstance, as he saw low as to be careful in their appa- himself at once disabled from ever rel, but in a month or two were un- rifing to the eminence he aspired to. fit to be seen; the squire's dignity. However, under the severities of required that they should be new pain and want, he still pursued his equipped ; and his chief pleasure researches with an eagerness of cuconsisting in society and convival riosity peculiar to him; and tho' mirth, hospitality threw open his it is witcily remarked by Wycherly, doors, and in less than three years, that Apollo and Littleton seldom entertainments, hounds, and horses meet in the same bràin, yet Mr. entirely devoured a little patrimony, Fielding is allowed to have acquired which, had it been managed with a respectable share of jurisprudence, ceconomy, might have secured to and in some particular branches he him a state of independence for the is said to have arisen to a great derest of his life. Sensible of the dif- gree of eminence, more especially agreeable situation he had now re. in crown law, as may be judged duced himself to, he immediately from his leaving (wo volumes in VOL. V.
folio upon that fubject . This branch of writing is what he very work remains fill unpublished in little pretended to, and was very the hands of his brother, Sir John little his pursuit. Accordingly out Fielding; and by him I am in. of the new edition of his works, formed that it is deemed perfect in which was intended to confift enfome parts. It will serve to give tirely of pieces more highly finished us an idea of the great force and vi- than bis works of mere amusement gour of his mind, if we consider generally are, his verses are all diso him pursuing so arduous a study un- carded. der the exigencies of family distress, In the progress of Henry Field. with a wife and children, whom he ing's talents there seem to have been tenderly loved, looking up to him three remarkable periods; one, for subsistence, with a body lacerated when bis genius broke forth at by the acutest pains, and with a once, with an effulgente superior mind distracted with a thousand to all the rays of light it had before avocations, and obliged for imme- emitted, like the sun in his morndiate supply to produce almost ex- ing glory; the second, when it was tempore a play, a farce, a pam, displayed with collected force, and phlet, or a news-paper. A large a fallness of perfection, like the fun number of fugitive political tracts, in meridian majesty; and the third, which had their value when the in- when the same genius, grown more cidents were actually passing on the cool and temperate, itill continued great scene of business, came from to cheer and enliven, but shewed at his
pen: the periodical paper, the same time that it was tending to called The Champion, owed its its decline, like the fame fun, abating chief support to his abilities; and from his ardour, but Atill gilding the though his effays in that collection western hemisphere. cannot now be ascertained, yet the To these three epochas of our reputation arising to him at the time author's genius, there is an exact of publication was not inconfider- correspondency in the Joseph Anable. It does not appear that he drews, Tom Jones, and Amelia. It ever wrote mech poetry: correct will not be improper here to menversification probably required more tion that the reverend Mr. Young, pains and time than his exigencies a learned and much esteemed friend would allow. In the preface to his of Mr. Fielding's, fat for parson Miscellanies he tells us, that bis Adams. Mr. Young was remarkpoetical pieces were mostly written able for his intimate acquaintance when he was very young, and were with the Greek authors, and had productions of the heart rather than as passionate a veneration for Ærof the head. He adds, that this chylus as Parson Adams; the over
The gentlemen of the western circuit have a tradition concerning Fielding, which, though fomewhat inconsistent with the account that Mr. M. has given of him, yet is perfectly agreeable to the idea generally entertained of his humour and character. Having attended the judges two or three years without the least prospect of success, he published proposals for a new law-book : which being circulated round the country, the young barrister was, at the ensuing alfizes, loaded with briefs at every town on the circuit. But his practice thus Luc!denly increased, almost as suddenly declined.
flowings flowings of his benevolence were asmedy, the Wedding Day, was exhiAtrong, and his fits of reverie were bited on the stage; and, as we have as frequent, and occorred too upon already obferved, it was attended the most interesting occafions. Of with an indifferent share of success. this last observation, a fingular in- The law from this time had its hot Itance is given by a gentleman who and cold fits with him. The reserved, during the last war in Flan- peated shocks of illness disabled him ders, in the very fame regiment to from being as assiduous an attendant which Mr. Young was chaplain. at the bar, as his own inclination, On a fine summer's evening, he and patience of the most laborious thought proper to indulge himself application, would otherwise have in his love of a folitary walk; and made him. Besides the demands accordingly he fallied forth from for expence, which his valetudinahis tent: the beauties of the he- rian habit of body constantly made misphere, and the landskip round upon him, he had likewise a family him, preffed warmly on his imagi- to maintain ; from business he denation; his heart overflowed with rived little or no supplies, and his ' benevolence to all God's creatures, prospects therefore grew every day and gratitude to the Supreme Dif- more gloomy and melancholy. To penfer of that emanation of glory these discouraging circumstances, if which covered the face of things. we add the infirmity of his wife, It is very possible that a passage in whom he loved tenderly, and the his dearly beloved Æschylus occur- agonies he felt on her account, the red to his memory on this occasion, measures of his afflictions will be and seduced his thoughts into a pro- well nigh full. To see her daily found meditation. Whatever was languishing and wearing away bethe object of his reflections, certain fore his eyes, was too much for a it is, that something did powerfully man of his strong sensations ; the seize his imagination, so as to pre- fortitude of mind, with which he clude all actention to things that lay met all the other calamities of life, immediately before him: and, in deserted him on this most trying octhat deep fic of absence, Mr. Young casion; and her death, which happroceeded on his journey, till he ar- pened about this time, brought on rived very quietly and calmly in the such a vehemence of grief, that his enemy's camp, where he was, with friends began to think him in daodifficulty, brought to a recollection ger of lofing his reason. When of himself by the repetition of Qui the first emotions of his forrow va là, from the soldiers upon duty. were abated, he began again to The officer who commanded, find- struggle with his fortune. ing that he had ftrayed thither in gaged in two periodical papers fucthe undefigning fimplicity of his cessively : the first of these was heart, and seeing an innate good- called The True Patriot, which was ness in his prisoner, which com- set on foot during the late rebelmanded his respect, very politely lion, and was conducive to the exgave him leave to pursue his con- citement of loyalty, and a love for templations home again.
the conftitution in the breasts of his Soon after the publication of yo- countrymen. The Jacobite Jourseph Andrerus, Fielding's last co- nal was calculated to difcredit the
shattered remains of an unsuccess- ment, and elocution; and as thefe ful party, and, by a well-applied could not be all united in fo highraillery and ridicule, to bring the an assemblage, without a rich insentiments of the disaffected into vention, a fine imagination, an encontempt.
lightened judgment, and a lively By this time Fielding had attained wit, we may fairly here decide his the age of forty-three; and being character, and pronounce him the incessantly pursued by reiterated at- English Cervantes. It may be addtacks of the gout, he was wholly ed, that in many parts of the Tom rendered incapable of pursuing the Jones we find he poffeffed the softer business of a barrifter any longer. graces of character-painting, and of He was obliged therefore to accept description: many fituations and the office of an acting magistrate in sentiments are touched with a delithe commission of the peace for cate hand, and throughout the Middlesex, with a yearly penfion work he seems to feel as much deout of the public-service money. light in describing the amiable part That he was not inattentive to the of human nature, as is his early calls of his duty, is evident from days he had in exaggerating the the many tracts he published re- strong and harsh features of tarpilating to several of the penal laws, tude and deformity. This circumand to the vices and mal-practices tance breathes an air of philanwhich those laws were intended to thropy through his work. restrain, particularly a Charge to Thus have we traced our author the grand jury, delivered at Weft- in his progress to the time when miniter on the 29th of June, 1749, the vigour of his mind was in its and the Enquiry into the Cause of full growth of perfection ; from the Increase of Robberies, and a this period it sunk, but by Now Proposal for the Maintenance of the degrees, into a decline: Amelia, Poor.
which succeeded Tom Jones in about Amidft these severe exercises of four years, has indeed the marks of his understanding, and all the la- genius; but of a genius beginning borious duties of his office, his in- to fall into its decay. Amelia is the vention could not lie fill; but he Odyssey, the moral and pathetic found leisure to amuse himself, and work, of Henry Fielding *. afterwards the world, with the Hi- While he was planning and exeftory of Tom Jones. And now we cuting this piece, it should be reare arrived at the second grand membered, that it was distracted epoch of Mr. Fielding's genius, by that multiplicity of avocations when all his faculties were in per- which surround a public magistrate; fect unison, and conspired to pro- and his conftitution, now greatly duce a complete work, eminent impaired and enfeebled, was labourin all the great essentials of com- ing under the attacks of the gout, pofition, in fable, character, senti- which were, of course, severer than
* Amelia, in the new edition of Mr. Fielding's works, is printed from a copy corrected by the author's own hand. The exceptionable passages, which inadvertency had thrown out, are here retrenched ; and the work, upon the whole, will be found nearer perfection than it was in its original state,
ever. However, the activity of his now the tender guardian of his old mind was not to be subdued. One phans. literary pursuit was no sooner over, Thus was closed a course of difthan fresh game arose. A periodi- appointment, distress, vexation, incal paper, under the title of The firmity, and study ; for with each Covent Garden Journal, by Sir of these his life was variously cheAlexander Drawcanfir, Knight, and quered, and, perhaps, in stronger Cenfor General of Great Britain, proportions than has been the lot was immediately set on foot. It of many. We have feen how Mr. was published twice in every week, Fielding very soon squandered away viz. on Tuesday and Saturday, and his small patrimony, which, with conduced so much to the entertain. economy, might have procured ment of the public, that it was felt him independence: we have seen with a general regret that the au- how he ruined, into the bargain, a 'thor's health did not enable him to constitution, which, in its orignal persist in the undertaking any lon- texture, seemed formed to last much ger. Soon after this work was longer. When illness and indigence dropt, by the advice of physicians were once let in upon him, he no Mr. Fielding set out for Lisbon : longer remained the matter of his the last gleams of bis wit and hu- own actions ; and that nice delicacy mour sparkled in the account he of conduct, which alone constitutes left behind him of his Voyage to and preserves a character, was octhat place. In this his latt sketch casionally obliged to give way. he puts us in mind of a person, un- When he was not under the imme. der sentence of death, jefting on diate urgency of want, they, who the scaffold: for his strength was were intimate with him, are ready now quite exhausted ; and in about to aver, that he had a mind greatly two months after his arrival at Lif- superior to any thing mean or litbon, he yielded his last breath, in tle; when his finances were exthe year 1754, and in the forty- hausted, he was not the most ele. eighth year of his age.
gant in the choice of the means to He left behind him (for he mar. redress himself, and he would insied a second time) a wife, and stantly exhibit a farce or a puppetfour children, three of which are shew in the Hay-market theatre, Alli living, and are now training which was wholly inconfiftent with up in a handsome course of educa- the profellion he had embarked in. tion under the care of their uncle, But his intimates can witness how with the aid of a very generous do- much his pride suffered, when he nation, given annually by Ralph was forced into measures of this Allen, Esq; for that purpose. Ăn kind; no man having a juster senle instance of humanity, which the of propriety, or more honourable reader did not want to learn of him, ideas of the employment of an auwhose life is a constant effufion of thor and a scholar. munificence ; but for the sake of Henry Fielding was in ftature the writer, whole works have af- rather rising above fix feet; his forded such exquisite entertainment, frame of body large, and remarkhe will be glad to know that the ably robust
, till the gout had broke generous patron of the father is the vigour of his conllitution. His