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importunately called for from abroad. Mr. Johnson's labours will now, and, I dare say, very fully, supply that want, and greatly contribute to the farther spreading of our language in other countries. Learners were discouraged by finding no standard to resort to, and consequently thought it incapable of any. They will be undeceived and encouraged.
There are many hints and considerations relative to our language, which I should have taken the liberty of suggesting to Mr. Johnson, had I not been convinced that they have equally occurred to him: but there is one, and a very material one it is, to which perhaps he may not have given all the necessary attention. I mean the genteeler part of our language, which owes both its rise and progress to my fair countrywomen, whose natural turn is more to the copiousness than to the correction of diction. I would not advise him to be rash enough to proscribe any of those happy redundancies and luxuriancies of expression, with which they have enriched our language. They willingly inflict fetters, but very unwillingly submit to wear them. In this case the talk will be so difficult, that I design, as a common friend, to propose in some future paper, the means which appear to me the most likely to reconcile matters.
P.S. I hope that none of my courteous readers will upon this occasion be so uncourteous, as to suspect me of being a hired and interested puff of this work; for I most solemnly protest, that neither Mr. Johnson, nor any person employed by him, nor any bookseller or booksellers concerned in the success of it, have ever offered me the usual compliment of a pair of gloves or a bottle of wine: nor has even Mr. Dodsley, though my publisher, and, as I am informed, deeply interested in the sale of this dictionary, so much as invited me to take a bit of mutton with him.-Miscellaneous Pieces.
HENRY FIELDING was born in 1707, at Sharpham Park in Somersetshire. His father, General Edmund Fielding, who belonged to a younger branch of the Denbigh family, had served under Marlborough, and was a person of good position in society, but seems to have set his son the bad example of extravagance. Henry Fielding was educated at Eton, where he is said to have acquired a great familiarity with the Latin and Greek classics. He afterwards studied jurisprudence at Leyden, but was compelled to return to England in consequence of his father's inability to support him at that University. Finding himself at the age of twenty thrown upon his own resources, with an allowance from his father,' as he said himself, which any one might pay who could, and with no choice but to be a hackney writer or a hackney coachman,' he preferred the former alternative, and became a dramatic author. None of his farces or comedies obtained, or indeed deserved, any considerable success; they can hardly be said to contain any promise of his future excellence. At the age of twenty-eight he married, and, inheriting at the same time a small estate, retired to the country. Here however in two years he had completely ruined himself by a ludicrous extravagance, and returned to London to study law. To maintain himself and his family he again wrote plays, and was besides concerned in more than one of the periodicals of the day. At thirty-five the desire of ridiculing Richardson's Pamela suggested to him the composition of Joseph Andrews, and having once found the true bent of his genius, he followed it up with ardour, and,
while still occupied with periodical writing and with the duties of a stipendiary magistracy, he found time for the production of his later and equally celebrated novels. But his health, which had long been declining, at last gave way altogether, and in 1754, as a last chance for life, he sailed for Lisbon, but only to die there in the autumn of the same year.
Fielding's English is pure, simple, and unaffected. But his high place in English literature is due not so much to his style, though original and excellent in its kind, as to his transcendent genius as a novelist; to his wide human sympathies, his just conception and sharp delineation of character, his humour, so copious as to extend with undiminished force over his voluminous writings, and the buoyant sense of the enjoyment of life which he has infused into pages composed not unfrequently under the pressure of much physical suffering.
1. The Rescue of a Kitten.
THIS gale continued till towards noon; when the east end of the island bore but little a-head of us. The captain swaggered, and declared he would keep the sea; but the wind got the better of him, so that about three he gave up the victory, and, making a sudden tack, stood in for the shore, passed by Spithead and Portsmouth, and came to an anchor at a place called Ryde on the island.
A most tragical incident fell out this day at sea. While the ship was under sail, but making, as will appear, no great way, a kitten, one of the four of the feline inhabitants of the cabin, fell from the window into the water; an alarm was immediately given to the captain, who was then upon deck, and received it with the utmost concern and many bitter oaths. He immediately gave orders to the steersman in favour of the poor thing, as he called it; the sails were instantly slackened, and all hands, as the phrase is, employed
to recover the poor animal. I was, I own, extremely surprised at all this; less, indeed, at the captain's extreme tenderness, than at his conceiving any possibility of success; for, if puss had had nine thousand, instead of nine lives, I concluded they had been all lost. The boatswain, however, had more sanguine hopes; for, having stript himself of his jacket, breeches, and shirt, he leaped boldly into the water, and to my great astonishment, in a few minutes, returned to the ship, bearing the motionless animal in his mouth. Nor was this, I observed, a matter of such great difficulty as it appeared to my ignorance, and possibly may seem to that of my fresh water reader: the kitten was now exposed to air and sun on the deck, where its life, of which it retained no symptoms, was despaired of by all.
The captain's humanity, if I may so call it, did not so totally destroy his philosophy, as to make him yield himself up to affliction on this melancholy occasion. Having felt his loss like a man, he resolved to shew he could bear it like one; and having declared he had rather have lost a cask of rum or brandy, betook himself to threshing at backgammon with the Portuguese friar, in which innocent amusement they had passed about two-thirds of their time.
But, as I have, perhaps, a little too wantonly endeavoured to raise the tender passions of my readers in this narrative, I should think myself unpardonable if I concluded it, without giving them the satisfaction of hearing that the kitten at last recovered, to the great joy of the good captain, but to the great disappointment of some of the sailors, who asserted that the drowning a cat was the very surest way of raising a favourable wind; a supposition of which, though we have heard several plausible accounts, we will not presume to assign the true original reason.-A Voyage to Lisbon.
2. The Sea Captain.
BUT, to return from so long a digression, to which the use of so improper an epithet gave occasion, and to which the novelty of the subject allured, I will make the reader amends by concisely telling him, that the captain poured forth such a torrent of abuse that I very hastily, and very foolishly, resolved to quit the ship. I gave immediate orders to summon a hoy to carry me that evening to Dartmouth, without considering any consequence. Those orders I gave in no very low voice; so that those above stairs might possibly conceive there was more than one master in the cabin. In the same tone I likewise threatened the captain with that which, he afterwards said, he feared more than any rock or quicksand. Nor can we wonder at this when we are told he had been twice obliged to bring to and cast anchor there before, and had neither time escaped without the loss of almost his whole cargo.
The most distant sound of law thus frightened a man who had often, I am convinced, heard numbers of cannon roar round him with intrepidity. Nor did he sooner see the hoy approaching the vessel than he ran down again into the cabin, and, his rage being perfectly subsided, he tumbled on his knees, and a little too abjectly implored for mercy.
I did not suffer a brave man and an old man to remain a moment in this posture; but I immediately forgave him.
And here, that I may not be thought the sly trumpeter of my own praises, I do utterly disclaim all praise on the occasion. Neither did the greatness of my mind dictate, nor the force of my Christianity exact this forgiveness. To speak truth, I forgave him from a motive which would make men much more forgiving if they were much wiser than they are; because it was convenient for me so to do.