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did in print, by a reference to the doctrines of Mr. Joseph Addison as expressed in the fortieth number of the Spectator. Then he sends her vol. v. of the novel, which, as it contains the catastrophe, only makes matters worse. She still implores him to reconsider his plan. "It is too shocking and barbarous a story for publication." "I am as mad as the poor injured Clarissa," she says, in concluding her epistle; "and am afraid I cannot help hating you, if you alter not your scheme." Other letters follow. She does not care to see the remaining volumes; she cannot promise to read them; she is not at all anxious to know what becomes of all Clarissa's wicked relations. She wishes they had all been dead ten years ago. "I am indifferent now about every character in the book." When she does read them, as of course she does, she is terribly affected. "I verily believe I have shed a pint of tears, and my heart is still bursting, tho' they cease not to flow at this moment, nor will, I fear, for some time." "My spirits are strangely seized," she says again. "My sleep is disturbed; waking in the night, I burst into a passion of crying; so I did at breakfast this morning, and just now again." She is still unconvinced as to the ending of the book. She has lost an amusement she had set her heart upon, and now she must lock up the volumes, never more to be looked into. It might have been otherwise; it might have been that some one of them would for her life have "adorned her toilet." These
1"We shall defeat this great End [the raising of Commiseration and Terror in the Minds of the Audience], if we always make Virtue and Innocence happy and successful."- Spectator, 16th April 1711.
testimonies to Richardson's power "to raise and alarm the Passions 99 come from a married woman of forty. We shall hear more of her in the succeeding chapter. under her real name.
In a Postscript to the novel Richardson deals with the above objections, and with some others which had been made to different parts of his heroine's story. As regards a "fortunate ending," he elaborates his arguments to "Mrs. Belfour," and justifies his action by long quotations from Addison and Rapin with regard to the practice of the ancients. And he winds up by saying that "if the temporary sufferings of the Virtuous and the Good can be accounted for and justified on Pagan principles, many more and infinitely stronger reasons will occur to a Christian Reader in behalf of what are called unhappy Catastrophes, from a consideration of the doctrine of future rewards; which is every where strongly enforced in the History of Clarissa." Nevertheless, he contends that poetical justice has on the whole been observed in his book, since all the bad characters are exemplarily punished, while the good ones are made signally happy, Clarissa alone excepted, whom "Heaven only could reward." He goes on to vindicate her from the charge of coldness; defends his making Lovelace a believer-notwithstanding his infamy, and extenuates the apparent insipidity of Miss Howe's lover, Hickman. He excuses his choice of the Epistolary Style upon the plea that he had already employed it with success in Pamela, and mistrusted his talent for narrative. And he defends, less successfully, "the Length of the piece" (it was the first and second volumes in particular that were objected to) by the contention that in order to give an air of
probability to a story of real life, minuteness and circumstantiality were unavoidable, in addition to which it had always been proposed that the story should be regarded as the mere vehicle of the instruction which was its real object. This brings us naturally to Johnson's well-known answer to Erskine when he complained that the author of Clarissa was very tedious. "Why, Sir," he said, "if you were to read Richardson for the story, your impatience would be so much fretted that you would hang yourself. But you must read him for the sentiment, and consider the story as only giving occasion to the sentiment."
The Postscript, it will be observed, makes no reference to certain other objections to what one of Richardson's foreign critics designates "the privilege, which he derives from the unbounded liberty of his country." The writer who has been already quoted from the Gentleman's of 1749,' and who, although he describes Richardson as "Mr. Robinson, a Bookseller," appears in other respects to be sagacious and well informed, complains, amid much praise, that the particulars of freedoms taken by Lovelace "exceed the bounds of decency." The scenes at Mrs. Sinclair's he says - make him apprehend-an apprehension which, it is needless to say, proved in the sequel to be quite groundless-that in France Clarissa would share the fate of Corneille's tragedy of Théodore, which failed upon the stage, on account of a similar subject. These censures were answered by Mr. Urban, probably, as before suggested, upon the inspiration of Richardson himself. "The freedoms here objected to, seem to have been particularised to do justice to the virtue 1 See ante, p. 92.
Whatever coarseness of expression the great Corneille was guilty of in his Théodore, all such seems to be avoided in Clarissa. A nice person of the sex may not, moreover, be able to bear those scenes in action, and on the stage, in presence of a thousand witnesses, which she may not think objectible in her closet." "Objectible" has certainly a smack of the Richardsonian vocabulary. In what is apparently a very rare Richardsonian pamphlet, the Answer to the Letter of a Very Reverend and Worthy Gentleman, observing upon the warmth of what is known as the fire-plot scene in volume four, which the writer had characterized as the "only exceptionable" scene in the entire book, Richardson defends himself at great length. His defence is too detailed to be summarised here, but its main points are the obvious ones that his descriptions are everywhere more restrained than those of his contemporaries, and that in such a description as that excepted against, and given by Lovelace himself, "the Lady's personal as well as intellectual Beauties, and his avowed Passion for her, characteristically required that it should be done with Warmth." Richardson, in short, shows himself more of an artist and realist than the moralist he professed to be. As an artist his defence is unanswerable. But as a moralist, it is easy to see that he might be accused (as Fielding was) of depicting his hazardous situations with too manifest a gusto; and there is something also in the suggestion of M. Texte that, with Richardson as with Rousseau, "sensibility verges upon sensuality." In any case, the objections above referred to show that, notwithstanding the favourite explanation of "other times, other manners,"
contemporary critics of Clarissa found very much the same fault with her history as people do to-day.
The copy of the little pamphlet we have before us has no title-page, so that it is not possible to say when it was published. But the date at the end of the letter is 8th June 1749. A year later, Messrs. Osborn, Millar, Rivington, and Leake issued a small octavo of 76 pages entitled Meditations collected from the Sacred Books; and adapted to the different Stages of a deep Distress; gloriously surmounted by Patience, Piety and Resignation. Being those mentioned in the History of Clarissa as drawn up for her own Use.1 Opposite the bastard-title is a sonnet to Richardson signed T. E. (i.e. Thomas Edwards of the Canons of Criticism). The "Advertisement to the Reader " states that the Editor of the History of Clarissa having transcribed, for the use of some select friends, the Thirty-six Meditations of the heroine, four only of which are inserted in the history, was induced to give them to the public "as serviceable to all such as labour under great afflictions and disappointments." It would also serve, it was alleged, to accentuate the fact that Clarissa was not a mere Novel or Romance, but a religious work. Whether the Meditations which follow, and which are referred to in a letter to Richardson from Mrs. Delany's sister, Mrs. Dewes, of 24th September 1750, were originally part of the unabridged book, is not clear; but Clarissa certainly writes meditations and leaves them in her Will to her friend Mrs. Norton, while the Advertisement further gives Belford's account of her from Letter cxx. The different exercises are from Job,
1 For reference and access to this little-known book, the writer is indebted to the kindness of Mr. H. Buxton Forman.