Abbildungen der Seite

rest in the same class with Moses, HOMER, EuRIPIDES, and SOPHOCLES, to be read alternately.

“ Oh Richardson, I dare pronounce that the most veritable history is full of fictions, and thy romances are full of truths. History paints some individuals; thou paintest the human species. -History attributes to some individuals what they have neither said, nor done; all that thou attributest to man he has said and done. History embraces but a portion of duration, a point on the surface of the globe; thou hast embraced all places and all times. The human heart, which has ever been and ever shall be the same, is the model thou copiest. If we were severely to criticise the best historian, would he maintain his ground as thou? In this point of view, I venture to say, that frequently history is a miserable romance; and romance, as thou hast composed it, is a good history. Painter of nature, thou never liest!

“I have never yet met with a person who shared my enthusiasm, that I was not tempted to embrace, and to press him in my arms! “ Richardson is no more! His loss touches

brother was no more.

I bore him in my heart without having seen him, and knowing him but by his works. He has not had all the reputation he merited. Richardson! if living,

me, as if

thy merit has been disputed; how great wilt thou appear to our children's children, when they shall view thee at the distance we now view Homer. Then who will dare to steal a line from thy sublime works! Thou hast had more admirers amongst us than in thine own country, and at this I rejoice !"

It is probable that to a Frenchman the style of Richardson is not so objectionable when trans

lated, as to ourselves. I think myself, that it is ; very idiomatic and energetic; others have thought

differently. The misfortune of Richardson was, that he was unskilful in the art of writing, and that he could never lay the pen down while his inkhorn supplied it.

He was delighted by his own works. No author enjoyed so much the bliss of excessive fondness. I heard from the late Charlotte Lenox, the anecdote which so severely reprimanded his innocent vanity, which Boswell has recorded. This lady was a regular visitor at Richardson's house, and she could scarcely recollect one visit which was not taxed by our author reading one of his voluminous letters, or two or three, if his auditor was quiet and friendly.

The extreme delight which he felt on a review of his own works the works themselves witness. Each is an evidence of what some will deem a

violent literary vanity. To Pamela is prefixed a letter from the editor (whom we know to be the author), consisting of one of the most minutely laboured panegyrics of the work itself, that ever the blindest idolator of some ancient classic paid to the object of his phrenetic imagination. In several places there, he contrives to repeat the striking parts of the narrative, which display the fertility of his imagination to great advantage. To the author's own edition of his Clarissa is appended an alphabetical arrangement of the sentiments dispersed throughout the work ; and such was the fondness that dictated this voluminous arrangement, that such trivial aphorisms as, “ habits are not easily changed;" “ Men are known by their companions," &c. seem alike to be the object of their author's admiration. This collection of sentiments, said indeed to have been sent to him anonymously, is curious and useful, and shows the value of the work, by the extensive grasp of that mind which could think so justly on such numerous topics. And in his third and final labour, to each volume of Sir Charles Grandison is not only prefixed a complete index, with as much exactness, as if it were a History of England, but there is also appended a list of the similes and allusions in the volume; some of which do not exceed three or four in nearly as many hundred pages.

Literary history does not record a more singular example of that self-delight which an author has felt on a revision of his works. It was this intense pleasure which produced his voluminous labours. It must be confessed there are readers deficient in that sort of genius which makes the mind of Richardson so fertile and prodigal.


In our third volume some notice has been taken of the attempts to recompose the Bible, in a finical affected style; but the broad vulgar colloquial diction, which has been used by our theological writers, is less tolerable than the quaintness of Castalion and the floridity of Pere Berruyer. I omitted to preserve a specimen in its proper place.

The style now noticed was familiar to, and long disgraced the writings of, our divines; and we see it sometimes still employed by some of a certain stamp. Matthew Henry, whose Commentaries are well known, writes in this manner on Judges ix.—“ We are here told by what acts Abimelech got into the saddle.—None would have dreamed of making such a fellow as he king.– See how he has wheedled them into the choice. He hired into his service the scum and scoundrels of the country. Jotham was really a fine gentleman.— The Sechemites that set Abimelech up, were the first to kick him off. The Sechemites said all the ill they could of him in their tabletalk; they drank healths to his confusion.—Well, Gaal's interest in Sechem is soon at an end. Exit Gaal!"

Lancelot Addison, by the vulgar coarseness of his style, forms an admirable contrast with the amenity and grace of his son's Spectators. He tells us, in his voyage to Barbary, that“ A rabbin once told him, among other heinous stuff, that he did not expect the felicity of the next world on the account of any merits but his own; whoever kept the law would arrive at the bliss, by coming upon his own legs."

It must be confessed that the rabbin, considering he could not conscientiously have the same creed as Addison, did not deliver any very “ heinous stuff,” in believing that other people's merits have nothing to do with our own; and that 66

we should stand on our own legs!" But this was not “ proper words in proper places!"

« ZurückWeiter »