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circumstances in which he is placed. His priests are only described as priests : his valets, his players, his women, his courtiers, and his sharpers, are all the same. Nothing can well exceed the monotony of the work in this respect ;-at the same time that nothing can exceed the truth and precision with which the general manners of these different characters are preserved, nor the felicity of the particular traits by which their leading foibles are brought out to notice. Thus, the Archbishop of Grenada will remain an everlasting memento of the weakness of human vanity; and the account of Gil Blas' legacy, of the uncertainty of human expectations. This novel is as deficient in the fable as in the characters. It is not a regularly-constructed story, but a series of adventures told with equal gayety and good sense, and in the most graceful style possible.
" It has been usual to class our own great novelists as imitators of one or other of these two writers. Fielding, no doubt, is more like Don Quixote than Gil Blas; Smollett is more like Gil Blas than Don Quixote: but there is not much resemblance in either case. Sterne's Tristram Shandy is a more direct instance of imitation. Richardson can scarcely be called an imitator of any one; or, if he is, it is of the sentimental refinement of Marivaux, or the verbose gallantry of the writers of the seventeenth century.
- There is very little to warrant the common idea, that Fielding was an imitator of Cervantes, -except his own declaration of such an intention in the title-page of Joseph Andrews,—the romantic turn of the character of Parson Adams (the only romantic character in his works),--and the proverbial humour of Partridge, which is kept up only for a few pages. Fielding's novels are, in general, thoroughly his own; and they are thoroughly English. What they are most remarkable for, is neither sentiment, nor imagination, nor wit, nor humour, though there is a great deal of this last quality ; but profound knowledge of human nature at least of English nature, and masterly pictures of the characters of men as he saw them existing. This quality distin. guishes all his works, and is shown almost equally in all of them. As a painter of real life, he was equal to Hogarth; as a mere observer of human nature, he was little inferior to Shakspeare, though without any of the genius and poetical qualities of his mind. His humour is less rich and laughable than Smollett's ;-his wit as often misses as hits ;-- he has none of the fine pathos of Richardson or Sterne:<but he has brought together a greater variety of characters in common life,-marked with more distinct peculiarities, and without an atom of caricature, than any other novel-writer whatever. The extreme subtilty of observation on the springs of human conduct in ordinary characters, is only equalled by the ingenuity of contrivance in bringing those springs into play in such a manner as to lay open their smallest irregularity. The detection is always complete, and made with the certainty and skill of a philosophical experiment, and the ease and simplicity of a casual observation. The truth of the imitation is indeed so great, that it has been argued that Fielding must have had his materials ready-made to his hands, and was merely a transcriber of local manners and individual habits. For this conjecture, however, there seems to be no foundation. His representations, it is true, are local and individual; but they are not the less profound and natural. The feeling of the general principles of the human nature operating in particular circumstances, is always intense, and uppermost in his mind : and he makes use of inci. dent and situation only to bring out character. za .."It is perhaps scarcely necessary to give any illustration of these remarks. Tom Jones is full of them. The moral of this book has been objected to, and not altoge
ther without reason ; but a more serious objection has been made to the want of refinement and elegance in the two principal characters. We never feel this objection, indeed, while we are reading the book ; but at other times we have something like a lurking suspicion that Jones was but an awkward fellow, and Sophia a pretty simpleton. We do not know how to account for this effect, unless it is that Fielding's constantly assuring us of the beauty of his hero, and the good sense of his heroine, at last produces a distrust of both. The story of Tom Jones is allowed to be unrivalled ; and it is this circumstance, together with the vast variety of characters, that has given the History of a Foundling so decided a preference over Fielding's other novels. The characters themselves, both in Amelia and Joseph Andrews, are quite equal to any of those in Tom Jones. The account of Miss Mathews and Ensign Hibbert,--the way in which that lady reconciles herself to the death of her father,--the inflexible Colonel Bath, the insipid Mrs James, the complaisant Colonel Trent,--the demure, sly, intriguing, equivocal Mrs Bennet,--the lord who is her seducer, and who attempts afterwards to seduce Amelia by the same mechanical process of a concertticket, a book, and the disguise of a great-coat,--his little fat short-nosed, red-faced, good-humoured accomplice, the keeper of the lodging-house, who, having no pretensions to gallantry herself, has a disinterested delight in forwarding the intrigues and pleasures of others (to say nothing of honest Atkinson, the story of the miniature-picture of Amelia, and the hashed mutton, which are in a different style), are master-pieces of description. The whole scene at the lodging-house, the masquerade, &c. in Amelia, is equal in interest to the parallel scenes in Tom Jones, and even more refined in the knowledge of character. For instance, Mrs Bennet is superior to Mrs Fitzpatrick in her own way. The uncertainty in which the event of her interview with her former seducer is left is admirable. Fielding was a master of what may be called the double entendre of character, and surprises you no less by what he leaves in the dark (hardly known to the persons themselves), than by the unexpected discoveries he makes of the real traits and circumstances in a character with which, till then, you find you were unacquainted. There is nothing at all heroic, however, in the style of any of his delineations. He never draws lofty characters or strong passions ;-all his persons are of the ordinary stature as to intellect; and none of them trespass on the angelic nature, by elevation of fancy, or energy of purpose. Perhaps, after all, Parson Adams is his finest character. It is equally true to nature, and more ideal than any of the others. Its unsuspecting simplicity makes it not only more amiable, but doubly amusing, by gratifying the sense of superior sagacity in the reader. Our laughing at him does not once lessen our respect for him. His declaring that he would willingly walk ten miles to fetch his sermon on vanity, merely to convince Wilson of his thorough contempt of this vice, and his consoling himself for the loss of his Æschylus, by suddenly recollecting that he could not real it if he had it, because it is dark, are among the finest touches of naiveté. The night-adventures at Lady Booby's with Beau Didapper and the amiable Slipslop, are the most ludia crous; and that with the huntsman, who draws off the hounds from the poor Parson, because they would be spoiled by following vermin; the most profound. Fielding did not often repeat himself: but Dr Harrison, in Amelia, may be considered as a variation of the charac ter of Adams: so also is Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield; and the latter part of that work, which sets out 80 delightfully, an almost entire plagiarism from Wile son's account of himself, and Adams' domestic history..
“ Smollett's first novel, Roderick Random, which is also his best, appeared about the same time as Fielding's Tom Jones; and yet it has a much more modern air with it: but this may be accounted for from the circumstance, that Smollett was quite a young man at the time, whereas Fielding's manner must have been formed long before. The style of Roderick Random, though more scholastic and elaborate, is stronger and more pointed than that of Tom Jones; the incidents follow one another more rapidly (though it must be confessed they never come in such a throng, or are brought out with the same dramatic facility); the humour is broader, and as effectual; and there is very nearly, if not quite, an equal interest excited by the story. What then is it that gives the superiority to Fielding ? It is the superior insight into the springs of human character, and the constant development of that character through every change of circumstance. Smollett's humour often arises from the situation of the persons, or the peculiarity of their external appearance, as,-—from Roderick Random's carrotty locks, which hung down over his shoulders like a pound of candles ; or Strap's ignorance of London, and the blunders that follow from it. There is a tone of vulgarity about all his productions. The incidents frequently resemble detached anecdotes taken from a newspaper or magazine; and, like those in Gil Blas, might happen to a hundred other characters. He exhibits only the external accidents and reverses to which human life is liable,-not 'the stuff' of which it is composed. He seldom probes to the quick, or penetrates beyond the surface of his characters; and therefore he leaves no stings in the minds of his readers, and in this respect is far less interesting than Fielding. His novels always enliven, and never tire us: we take them up with pleasure, and lay them down without any strong feeling of regret. We look on and laugh, as spectators