As for the characters, exception, so far as I know, has not been seriously taken to any save on the score of art and nature to Allworthy and Blifil, on the score of morality to Mr. Some have indeed expressed their desire for something with more air and fire than the heroine; but there are always people who grumble thus. It is my intention, therefore, to signify, that, as it is the nature of a kite to devour little birds, so is it the nature of such persons as Mrs.
Let us try to sweep the negatives aside before attempting the affirmative. Wilkins to insult and tyrannize over little people.
I have already in the General Introduction attempted to disable the objection to the " Man of the Hill," and I need say no more on that head except that he, like all his kind, is dis- tinctly a hors-d'oeuvre, to be taken or left at choice. This being indeed the means which they use to recompense to themselves their extreme servility and condescension to their superiors ; for nothing can be more reasonable, than that slaves and flatterers should exact the same taxes on all below them, which they themselves pay to all above them. Deborah had occasion to exert any extra- ordinary condescension to Mrs.
Nor do the other objections to construction seem to me much more valid. Bridget, and by that means had a little soured her natural disposition, it was usual with her to walk forth among these people, in order to refine her temper, by venting, and, as it were, purging off all ill humours ; on which Tom Jones, a Foundling 13 account she was by no means a welcome visitant: to say the truth, she was universally dreaded and hated by them all.
But it may be somewhat questioned whether the same playwright's habit did not in Fielding's case induce the fault of being contented, in rare instances, with what was necessary for the story. By comparing which with the former, the reader ntay possibly correct some abuse which he hath formerly been guilty of in the application of the word LOVE . This confession, though delivered rather in terms of contrition, as it appeared, did not at all mollify Mrs.
This operated, I think, even more strongly in the case of Blifil. Deborah, who now pronounced a second judgment against her, in more opprobrious language than before; nor had it any better success with the bystanders, who were now grown very numerous.
Of the actions and passions represented it is indeed possible for the advocatus diaboli to urge that, whatever their range and truth to nature within their limits, there is a certain want of height and depth in them. He proudly beats the air, conscious of his dignity, and meditates intended mischief. Deborah was proclaimed through the street, all the inhabitants ran trembling into their houses, each matron dreading lest the visit should fall to her lot.
If both Johnson and Thackeray seem to have preferred Amelia, enough allow- ance has been made in the General Introduction * for any ex- pression of the former, while the latter was evidently biassed at the particular moment. CHAPTER V CONTAINING A FEW COMMON MATTERS, WITH A VERY UNCOMMON OBSERVATION UPON THEM WHEN_her master was departed, Mrs.It is, however, undeniable that the defects of Allworthy and Blifil appear at this point more than elsewhere, and Introduction ix indeed to some extent produce the effect complained of. These two began presently to scrutinize the characters of the several young girls who lived in any of those houses, and at last fixed their strongest suspicion on one Jenny Jones, who, they both agreed, was the likeliest person to have committed this fact.And I shall further admit that these two characters, especially Blifil, seem to me almost the only spots in Fielding's sun. Pope's period of a mile introduces as bloody a battle as can possibly be fought without the assistance of steel or cold iron . This Jenny Jones was no very comely girl, either in her face or person; but nature had somewhat compensated the want of beauty with what is generally more esteemed by those ladies whose judgment is arrived at years of perfect maturity, for she had given her a very uncommon share of understanding.Of late there has been a disposition to demur to Coleridge's hardly less lofty eulogy of the mere craftsmanship shown in the novel. Being of a much more tempestuous kind than the former . Tacit obedience implies no force upon the will, and consequently may be easily, and without any pains, preserved; but when a wife, a child, a relation, or a friend, performs what we desire, with grumbling and reluctance, with expressions of dislike and dissatisfaction, the manifest difficulty which they undergo must greatly enhance the obligation.But Scott, a practised critic, a novelist of unsurpassed competence, and not always a very enthusiastic encomiast of Fielding, has endorsed it in the Introduction to the Fortunes of Nigel. In which is related what passed between Sophia and her aunt 209 VI. Honour, which may a little relieve those tender affections which the foregoing scene may have raised in the mind of a good- natured reader ....... A picture of formal courtship in miniature, as it always ought to be drawn, and a scene of a tenderer kind painted at full length 215 VIII. As this is one of those deep observations which very few readers can be supposed capable of making themselves, I have thought proper to lend them my assistance ; but this is a favour rarely to be expected in the course of my work.The famous preliminary observations have had ex- tended to them by severe judges the indulgence which I myself claim for the episodes, and while they cannot be said in any way to delay the action, they provide the book with an aiditional element of interest an element with which, to the same extent and in the same intensity, no other novel in the world is furnished. On her arrival in this place, she went immediately to the habitation of an elderly matron; to whom, as this matron had the good fortune to resemble herself in the comeliness of her person, as well as in her age, she had generally been more favour- able than to any of the rest.