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character of the person they present. Their general method is to affix names to certain personages, whom they introduce to their readers, whom they lead through dangers and distresses, or exhibit in circumstances of ridicule, without having it in view to il. lustrate any one predominant or leading principle of the human heart ; without making their readers one bit better acquainted with the characteristic features of those persons at the end of the story than at the beginning. Hence there are so few novels which give lasting pleasure, or can bear to be perused oftener than once. From the surprise occasioned by the novelty or nature of the events, they may carry their readers once through them; but, as they do not illustrate any of the principles of the mind, or give any interesting views of character, they raise no desire for a second perusal, and ever after lie neglected on the shelf.
How very different from these are the novels, which, in place of relying upon the mere force of incident, bring the characters of their personages fully before us, paint all their shades and attitudes, and by making us, as it were, intimately acquainted with them, deeply engage our hearts in every circumstance which can affect them? This happy talent of delineating all the delicate features and nice tints of human character, never fails to delight, and will often atone for
defects. It is this which ren. ders Richardson so interesting, in spite of his immea. surable tediousness ; it is this which will render Fielding ever delightful, notwithstanding the indelicate coarseness with which he often offends us.
N° 32. SATURDAY, MAY 15, 1779.
Happiness has been compared, by one of my predecessors, to a Game ; and he has prescribed certain rules to be followed by the players. These, indeed, are more necessary than one might suppose at first sight; this game, like most others, being as often lost by bad play as by ill luck. The circumstances I am placed in, some of which I communicated to my readers in my introductory paper, make me often a sort of looker-on at this game ; and, like all lookerson, I think I discover blunders in the play of my neighbours, who frequently lose the advantages their fortune lays open to them,
To chase the allusion a little farther, it is seldom that opportunities occurof brilliant strokesor deep calculation. With most of us, the ordinary little stake is all that is played for; and he who goes on observing the common rules of the game, and keeping his temper in the reverses of it, will find himself a gainer at last. In plainer language, happiness, with the bulk of men, may be said to consist in the power of enjoying the ordinary pleasures of life, and in not being too easily hurt by the little disquietudes of it. There is a certain fineness of soul, and delicacy of sentiment, with which few situations accord, to which many seeming harmless ones give the greatest uneasiness. The art desipere in loco' (by which I understand being able not only to trifle, upon occasion, ourselves, but also to bear the foolery of others). is a qualification extremely useful for smoothing a man's way through the world.
I have been led into this train of thinking, by some circumstances in a visit I had lately the pleasure of receiving from my friend Mr. Umphraville, with whom I made my readers acquainted in some former Numbers. A particular piece of business occurred, which made it expedient for him to come to town ; and though he was, at first, extremely averse from the journey, having never liked great towns, and now relishing them less than ever, yet the remonstrances of his man of business, aided by very urgent requests from me, at length overcame him. ' He set out, therefore, attended by his old family-servant, John, whom I had not failed to remember in my in. vitation to his master.
At the first stage on the road, John told me, his master looked sad,
eat little, and spoke less. Though the landlord ushered in dinner in person, and gave his guest a very minute description of his manner of feeding his mutton, Mr. Umphraville remained a hearer only, and shewed no inclination to have him sit down and partake of his own dishes ; and, though he desired him, indeed, to taste the wine, of which he brought in a bottle after dinner, he told him, at the same time, to let the ostler know he should want his horses as soon as possible. The landlord left the room, and told John, who was eating his dinner, somewhat more deliberately, in the kitchen, that his master seemed a melancholy kind of a gene, tleman, not half so good-humoured as his neighbour Mr. Jolly
John, who is interested both in the happiness and honour of his master, endeavoured to mend matters in the evening, by introducing the hostess very particularly to Mr. Úmphraville; and, indeed, venturing to invite her to sup with him. Umphraville was too
shy, or too civil to decline the lady's company, and John valued himself on having procured him so agreeable a companion. His master complained to me, since he came to town, of the oppression of this landlady's company, and declared his resolution of not stopping at the George on his way home.
The morning after his arrival at my house, while we were sitting together, talking of old stories, and old friends, with all the finer feelings afloat about us, John entered, with a look of much satisfaction, announcing the name of Mr. Bearskist. This gentleman is a first cousin of Umphraville's, who resides in town, and whom he had not seen these six
He was bred a mercer, but afterwards extended his dealings with his capital, and has been concerned in seve. ral great mercantile transactions. While Umphraville, with all his genius, and all his accomplishments, was barely preserving his estate from ruin at home, this man, by dint of industry and application, and partly from the want of genius and accomplishments, has amassed a fortune greater than the richest of his cousin's ancestors was ever possessed of. He holds Umphraville in some respect, however, as the representative of his mother's family, from which he derives all his gentility, his father having sprung nobody knows whence, and lived nobody knows how, till he appeared behind the counter of a woollendraper, to whose shop and business he succeeded.
My friend, though he could have excused his visit at this time, received him with politeness. He introduced him to me as his near relation; on which the other, who mixes the Aippant civility of his former profession with somewhat of the monied confidence of his present one, made me a handsome com. pliment, and congratulated Mr. Umphraville on the possession of such a friend. He concluded, however, with a distant insinuation of his house's being
à more natural home for his cousin when in town, than that of any other person. This led to a de. scription of that house, its rooms and its furniture, in which he made no inconsiderable eulogium on his own taste, the taste of his wife, and the taste of the times. Umphraville blushed, bit his lips, complained of the heat of the room, changed his seat, in short suffered torture all the way from the cellar to the garret.
Mr. Bearskin closed this description of his house with an expression of his and his wife's earnest de. sire to see their cousin there. Umphraville declared his intention of calling to inquire after Mrs. Bearskin and the young folks, mentioning, at the same time, the shortness of his proposed stay in town, and the hurry his business would necesarily keep him in while he remained. But this declaration by no means satisfied his kinsman; he insisted on his spending a day with them so warmly, that the other was at last overcome, and the third day after was fixed on for that purpose,
which Mr. Bearskin informed us would be the more agreeable to all parties, as he should then have an opportunity of introducing us to his London correspondent, a man of great fortune, who had just arrived here on a jaunt to see the country, and had promised him the favour of eating a bit of mutton with him on that day. I would have excused myself from being of the party; but not having, any more than Umphraville, a talent at refusal, was, like him, overpowered by the solicitations of his cousin.
The history of that dinner I may possibly give my readers hereafter, in a separate paper, a dinner, NOW-a-days, being a matter of consequence, and not to be managed in an episode. The time between was devoted by Mr. Umpbraville to business, in which he was pleased commonly to ask my advice, and to communicate his opinions. The last I found generally