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Pamela, in the words of the Journal de Police,1 was
an insult to the entire French nation." In July 1742 Crébillon told Lord Chesterfield that, without Pamela, the Parisians would not know what to read or to say. How the book was dramatised and imitated, has already been told in Chapter ii. Clarissa was even more successful; and by the time Grandison appeared, in the words of the late M. Joseph Texte (to whose admirable chapter on Richardson's influence in France we at this point cheerfully acknowledge our obligations), "admiration had become infatuation." The colossal Éloge of Diderot in Suard's Journal Étranger (1761) indicates the culminating point. In seventeen pages of breathless eulogy,2 thrown off at a burst, Diderot dilates upon his theme. With much of this magniloquent rhapsody it is now difficult to sympathise, though of its sincerity there can be no doubt. Diderot was wrong-as M. Texte points out-in vaunting the purity of Clarissa at the expense of certain French writers; in preferring its author before Montaigne, Nicole, and La Rochefoucauld for his knowledge of the human heart, and in commending him for a delicacy of art in which he is obviously deficient. But at least he had read him, he admired him enthusiastically, and he seized his distinctive
1 The reference is apparently to the passage from Mr. Defreval's letter, thus impartially rendered by Prévost:-"Tu [Pamela] pourras servir de modèle aux écrivains d'une nation voisine, qui auront l'occasion maintenant de recevoir en bon argent sterling, à la place de la fausse monnaie qui a eu si long-tems cours parmi nous dans des pièces ou l'on ne trouve que légèreté de cette inconstante nation." (Œuvres de Prévost, Paris, 1784, 1. xvi.). Why Prévost did not modify or soften this injudicious passage, is difficult to understand.
2 Assézat's edition, 1875, vol. v.
characteristics. His admiration will not even admit that he is wearisome. "You accuse him of being tedious! Have you then forgotten the trouble, the attention, the manoeuvring that are necessary before the humblest enterprise can be brought to a successful issue - before a lawsuit can be ended, a marriage arranged, a reconciliation effected? Think what you please of these details; but they will be interesting to me, if they are true, if they call the passions into play, if they exhibit character. They are commonplace,' say you; 'this is what we see every day?' You are wrong; it is what happens every day before your eyes, without your ever perceiving it. . . . Know that it is upon this multitude of little things that illusion depends: it is very difficult to imagine them: it is harder still to reproduce them." There is more: of Richardson's analytic power, of his fascination for the writer. "O Richardson, Richardson man unique in my eyes, you shall be my reading at all times!" Forced by necessity, he will sell his books. But Richardson he will keep — on the same shelf as Moses, Homer, Euripides, and Sophocles; and he will study them by turns.
Diderot praised Richardson because Richardson confirmed his own theories; Voltaire, on the other hand, and despite his own effort of Nanine, depreciated him because his views were opposed to those which he himself advocated. But, in 1760, just a year before Richardson's death had prompted the dithyrambs of Diderot, appeared a novel by a writer as great as either, La Nouvelle Héloïse. That Rousseau was influenced by Richardson, that he went beyond him in style, that he imported into his pages a nature-worship which he had
certainly not found in his model, that he had built upon Richardson's basis with greater genius things which need not here be repeated. "Richardson" -says M. Texte "wrote a novel; and Rousseau writes a poem. The one is a very great novelist, but a very bad writer; the other is an incomparable artist in words. The one has no style at all; the other has renewed the French language from its foundation."
This is the modern view.1 But as Richardson's novels during his life-time had been preferred, even in France, to the performances of Le Sage and Prévost and Marivaux, so after his death their popularity was but little affected by the masterpiece of Rousseau. He continued to be, as he had been, the model of the Anglo-maniacs, and the English novel remained the fashion in France for many years to come. As late as 1785 a French critic was found to write- 66 Clarissa, the greatest among English novels, has also become the first among our own.' And long after he ceased to be imitated, he continued to have admirers in Rousseau's country, and admirers of the greatest, from Chateaubriand and André Chénier to George Sand and Alfred de Musset- Alfred de Musset, for whom Clarissa was "le premier Roman du Monde."
Of a very definite kind was also Richardson's influence in Germany. Gellert the fabulist, as already mentioned, translated Pamela and Sir Charles Grandison, and came no whit behind Diderot in panegyric.
1 It was not, of course, the view of the Critical Review for September 1761, which compared the two writers. Nor was it Richardson's, who is said to have decorated his own version of the New Eloisa with anything but notes of admiration. (Nichols's Anecdotes, 1812, iv. p. 598.)
Richardson's works, he wrote, were imperishable :they were nature, taste, and religion. Immortal as was Homer among Christians, Richardson was more immortal still. Gellert went further; he emulated Richardson in a long novel called Das Leben der Schwedischen Gräfin von G. Hermes, Wieland, and a host of minor imitators, of whom the histories may be found in Erich Schmidt,1 followed suit, and, like the French, they too carried Richardson to the stage. Wieland took Clementina for the theme of a tragedy; and Lessing's epoch-making drama of Miss Sara Sampson, among other English influences, clearly betrays. the study of Clarissa, while Coleridge traces Richardson in the Robbers of Schiller. Lastly, in the Grandison der Zweite of Musæus, he suffered the penalty of Teutonic parody.
1 Richardson, Rousseau und Göthe, 1875.
Anecdotes, Nichols's, 3, 188.
Shamela Andrews, An, 42-45.
Beaumont, History of Mrs.,
Bedlam, a visit to, 24.
Bell's Buildings, 175.
"B. F." of the Fleet, 165.
- Sir Roger, 132.
Bridgen, Edward, 1, 4, 60 note,
Mrs. (Patty Richardson),
Bridges, Miss Ann, 14.
Browne, Isaac Hawkins, 112.
Bacon on Praise, 110.
Balliol, Master of, The, 158, 197. Burney, Charlotte, 122, 139.
- Fanny, 122, 199.
4, 8, 10, 11, 14, 25, 27, 31, 34, 36,
Basire, James, 191 note.
Cambridge, Richard Owen, 112,
Cameron, Dr. Archibald, 136.