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SAMUEL RICHARDSON, Esq.
PAMELA, CLARISSA HARLOWE,
SIR CHARLES GRANDISON.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
TO WHICH IS PREFIXED,
MEMOIR OF THE LIFE OF THE AUTHOR.
PUBLISHED BY HURST, ROBINSON, AND CO.
90, CHEAPSIDE, AND 8, PALL MALL.
PRINTED BY JAMES BALLANTYNE AND COMPANY,
At the Border Press, Edinburgh.
The Life of this excellent man, and ingenious author, has been writ.
1689. His father was one of many sons, sprung from a family of middling note, which had been so far reduced, that the children were brought up to mechanical trades. His mother was also decently descended, but an orphan, left such in infancy by the death of her father and mother, cut off within half-an-hour of each other by the great pestilence in 1663. Her name is not mentioned. His father was a joiner, and connected by employment with the unhappy Duke of Monmouth, after whose execution he retired to Shrewsbury, apprehensive, perhaps, of a fate similar to that of College, his brother in trade, and well known in those times by the title of the Protestant Joiner.
Having sustained severe losses in trade, the elder Richardson was unable to give his son Samuel more than a very ordinary education ; and our author, who was to rise so high in one department of literature, was left unacquainted with any language excepting his own. Under all these disadvantages, and perhaps in some degree owing to their existence, young Richardson very early followed, with a singular bias, the course which was most likely to render his name immortal. We give his own words, for they cannot be amended :
“ I recollect, that I was early noted for having invention. I was not fond of play, as other boys: my school-fellows used to call me Serious and Gravity ; and five of them particularly delighted to single me out, either for a walk, or at their fathers' houses, or at mine, to tell them stories, as they phrased it. Some I told them, from my reading, as true ; others from my head, as mere invention; of which they would be most fond, and often were affected by them. One of them particularly, I remember, was for putting me to write a history, as he called it, on the model of Tommy Pots; I now forget what it was, only that it was of a servant-man preferred by a fine young lady (for his goodness) to a lord, who was a libertine. All my stories carried with them, I am bold to say, an useful moral."* But
young Richardson found a still more congenial body of listeners among the female sex.-An old lady, indeed, seems to have resented an admonitory letter, in which the future teacher of morals contrasted her pretensions to religion with her habitual indulgence in slander and backbiting ; but with the young and sentimental his reception was more gracious. “ As a bashful and not forward boy," he says, “ I was an early favourite with all the young women of taste and reading in the neighbourhood. Half-a-dozen of them, when met to work with their needles, used, when they got a book they liked, and thought I should, to borrow me to read to them; their mothers sometimes with them; and both mothers and daughters used to be pleased with the ob
* Life of Richardson, vol. I, p. xxxvi. xxxvii.
servations they put me upon making.- I was not more than thirteen, when three of these young women, unknown to each other, having an high opinion of my taciturnity, revealed to me their love-secrets, in order to induce me to give them copies to write after, or correct, for answers to their lovers’ letters ; nor did any one of them ever know that I was the secretary to the others. I have been directed to chide, and even repulse, when an offence was either taken or given, at the very time that the heart of the chider or repulser was open before me, overflowing with esteem and affection; and the fair repulser, dreading to be taken at her word, directing this word, or that expression, to be softened or changed. One, highly gratified with her lover's fervour, and vows of everlasting love, has said, when I have asked her direction, I cannot tell you what to write ; but, (her heart on her lips) you cannot write too kindly. All her fear was only, that she should incur slight for her kindness."*
His father had nourished some ambitious views of dedicating young Richardson to the ministry, but, as his circumstances denied him the means of giving him necessary education, Samuel was destined to that profession most nearly connected with literature, and was bound apprentice to Mr John Wilde, of Stationers' Hall, in the year 1706. . Industrious as well as intelligent, regulated in his habits, and diverted by no headstrong passion from the strictest course of duty, Richardson made rapid progress in his employment as a printer. “ I served," he says,
a diligent seven years to it; to a master who grudged every hour to me that tended not to his profit, even of those times of leisure and diversion, which the refractoriness of my fellowservants obliged him to allow them, and were usually allowed by other masters to their apprentices. I stole from the hours of rest and relaxation, my reading times for improvement of my mind; and, being engaged in a correspondence with a gentleman, greatly my superior in degree, and of ample fortune, who, had he lived, intended high things
Life of Richardson, vol. I. p. xxxix. xl.