BECK index

British Novels and Plays 1715-88

by Sanderson Beck

Defoe’s Journalism and Robinson Crusoe
Defoe’s Cavalier & Captain Singleton
Defoe’s Moll Flanders, Col. Jack & Roxana
Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels
Richardson’s Pamela, Clarissa & Charles
Fielding’s Early Novels
Fielding’s Tom Jones and Amelia
Smollett’s Comic Novels
Goldsmith, Mackenzie & Burney
Plays by Steele, Gay and Lillo
Comedies by Goldsmith and Sheridan

Defoe’s Journalism and Robinson Crusoe

      Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) was born into a Presbyterian family and thus was a Dissenter. He was well educated but became a hosiery merchant about 1683. The next year he married Mary Tuffley, a merchant’s daughter with a dowry of £3,700, and they had eight children. He opposed James II and worked for the Glorious Revolution of William III. Defoe supported the war against France by insuring ships and was one of 19 merchants who went bankrupt in 1692. In 1695 he changed his last name from Foe to Defoe. His first book, An Essay Upon Projects, published in 1697 suggested economic and social reforms. He served as a secret agent for King William in England and Scotland for four years until 1701. That year Defoe challenged the Tory Commons and persuaded them to release 16 gentlemen of Kent whom they had illegally imprisoned. In 1702 he wrote the satirical pamphlet “The Shortest Way with the Dissenters” which sold many copies; but in May 1703 he was prosecuted for libel and pilloried for three days while a crowd drank to his health and bought his poem about the case. During the reign of Queen Anne he spied for the minister Harley and others, and he worked as a journalist publishing the Review 1704-13. In his life he wrote 566 works for 27 periodicals. Defoe put his name on less than a dozen of these, and after 1710 he used his name only on his apologia pro vita sua and An Appeal to Honour and Justice in 1715. That year he wrote The Family Instructor to advise parents how to raise their children.
      In 1869 William Lee collected many of Defoe’s short writings from 1716 to 1729. They include “Value of Public Opinion,” “Love is an Antidote to Party Spirit,” “Against Self Murder,” “Compassion on Famishing Thieves,” “Against publishing false Rumours of War,” “Party Spirit may lead to Unnatural Conduct,” “Against Flogging in the Army,” “Mercy, rather than Strict Justice, the Glory of a Prince,” “The Force of Conscience Irresistible,” “Discordant Parties sometimes the Safety of States,” “On Impediments to Justice,” “A Declaration in favour of Free Trade,” “A Defence of the Female Sex.,” “Obedience to Law, the People’s Happiness,” “That True Friendship is founded on Virtue,” “A plea for Charity to Destitute Labourers,” and “Wanted, an Honest Man.”
      In Mercurius Politicus! in June 1720 under “Wise Sayings” he wrote,

It has never been a good World
since Politics have opened the Way to Ecclesiastical Dignities.
Those were happy Times, and then Religion flourished,
when Piety and Virtue were the only Recommendations
to advance Men in the Church.
But since the Revenues of the Church
have been bestowed as Rewards on worldly Services,
Religion has always gone retrograde. (page 15)
Private Men are obliged by Laws and Penalties
to perform their Contracts;
Princes and States are above those Cobweb Fetters.
Ultima ratio Regum was the Motto
on the late King of France’s Great Guns;
and nothing could be more proper.
The longest Purse and the longest Sword decide all Right,
and bestow Kingdoms;
and Success, crowning the blackest Actions,
gilds them over with the Show of Justice.
It is a Prodigy scarce ever heard of in the World,
to restore what can be kept by Force,
though ever so infamously gained. (page 17)
The thirst after Gold is so insatiable that nothing can quench it;
and consequently it is Labor lost to endeavor to divert
poor Mortals from attempting to gorge themselves with Gain.
All Passions, not curbed, deprive Men of the Use of Reason.
No Passion is more unbounded than Avarice.
It is in vain to tell a covetous Man that there is
a Precipice before him, when he is in Pursuit of Money:
He then sticks at nothing; he hazards what he has,
in hopes of acquiring that which perhaps he never shall attain.
He values not his Life; and, what is still more dreadful,
he has no Regard to his Soul,
so he may but increase his Treasure.
What remains for such a Wretch,
when he meets with a grievous Disappointment,
and has parted with what he had,
to grasp at that which he had not?
The common Remedy in such a calamity, among us,
is a Razor, an Halter, a Pistol, or a large Dose of Opium,
and this, it is to be feared, will be the last Resource of many,
within a very few Years,—when they shall see
their vast Fortunes molder away,
and themselves reduced, perhaps to Beggary,—
after having built so many Castles in the Air,
and projected to raise Families from the vilest
of Circumstances to vie with the greatest of the Nobility.
This we see some have had the Fortune to do; and thus,
it is well known, great Estates are thrown away at Dice,
and beggarly sharping Gamesters
become Men of State and Quality. (page 48)

In Applebee’s Journal July 27, 1723 under “On the Insufficient Causes of Great Wars” he noted the wars of Israel’s monarchy costing 500,000 lives, Alexander’s conquest killing as many Persians as did Hannibal’s invasion of Italy, Julius Caesar’s armies destroying millions in Gaul and Britain, Cortez and Pizarro wiping out millions for gold and silver, wars between Emperor Charles V and King François, and recently Poland attacking Riga, Russia Narva, and the Turks the Morea.
      Defoe wrote his Tour Thro’ the whole island of Great Britain in three volumes from 1724 to 1726. In May 1726 he published The Political History of the Devil: As Well Ancient as Modern. He was skeptical of magic and witchcraft, and in the last trial for witchcraft in Britain in 1717 the jury acquitted despite 25 witnesses for the prosecution. The 1604 act making witchcraft a capital crime would be repealed in 1736. Defoe argued that if one believes in God and Spirit, then one must accept that there are negative spirits or devils, and he believed they influenced such Christian atrocities as the Crusades and the Inquisition and recent individuals such as the Duke of Alba, Buckingham, Richelieu, Mazarin, Cortez, Eugene, Luxembourg, and Marlborough. He asked if the passions of pride and avarice are not the devil inside a person. In November his A System of Magic; or, a History of the Black Art came out and was followed by An Essay on the History and Reality of Apparitions in March 1727.
      In July 1726 Defoe wrote about a wild child who had been found in the forests of Germany as Mere Nature Delineated. Also in 1726 he published The Complete English Tradesman arguing that the British are prosperous because they have the best system of trade. Yet he also wrote, “Trade is almost universally founded upon Crime.” Defoe published Augusta Triumphans: or, the Way to Make London the Most Flourishing City in the Universe in 1728, recommending a music academy and a university for London and offering reform proposals for insane asylums and ways of preventing the corruption of the youth and servants.

      On April 25, 1719 Defoe published The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pyrates. This novel was extremely popular as was the Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe released on August 20; but the Serious Reflections During the Life and Surpizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe: With his Vision of the Angelic World published on August 6, 1720 had few readers. The story seems to be based on the experience of Alexander Selkirk who was marooned on an island alone in the South Pacific 1704-09, but Defoe may also have drawn from An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon by Robert Knox that was published in 1681.
      Robinson Crusoe narrates his own story. His father advises him to find a moderate life between the extremes of riches and poverty. His older brother had been killed in the army, but the 19-year-old rejects his father’s advice not to go to sea. He experiences storms and begs God to save him but soon disregards his promises not to leave land again. After going by land from Yarmouth to London he joins a ship headed for Guinea in Africa. Turkish pirates take the ship, and Robinson is enslaved by a Moor for two years; but he escapes with young Xury in a boat, and they are picked up by a Portuguese vessel and taken to Brazil. Crusoe sells animal skins to the captain and buys land which he stocks with goods from England. He grows food and then plants tobacco. He buys an African slave and a European servant. Tobacco is successful, but after nearly four years he makes a will and sets sail for Africa with another English planter to get slaves.
      Along the coast of Guyana the ship is disabled and wrecked, but only Crusoe swims to shore. He sees the ship far off, but the tide brings it closer. He uses a raft to “plunder” supplies, tools, guns and powder from the wreck. He makes a tent with a sail and turns a cave into his storeroom. He sees no people nor wild beasts on the island but shoots game for additional food. He chooses a place that is good for his health with fresh water, shelter, security, and a view of the sea. He kills a goat and skins animals. He has three Bibles and some other books, and he thanks God for his blessings in his lonely place. He makes a chair and a table and begins keeping a journal starting with the day he arrived on September 30, 1659. He has a dog and two cats from the ship and builds a fence. He sows “corn” and plants more grain using a wooden spade. He begins reading the New Testament. Soon he has an acre that includes barley and rice. He finds he is free of lusts, pride, and coveting. He makes clothes from the skins and builds a little boat with a mast and sail. In his sixth year he sails around his island. He teaches a parrot to talk to him. He finds another wreck that has much liquor, guns, powder, and tools.
      One morning in his 24th year on the island he discovers five canoes on the shore and sees cannibals with captives. One captive escapes toward him, and Crusoe knocks down a cannibal and kills another who was aiming an arrow at him. The cannibals flee, and he finds they left behind three skulls from their gruesome feast. The man is grateful, and Robinson gives him food and calls him “Friday” for the day on which he was saved. Friday is a faithful and loving servant, and he learns to speak English. Crusoe teaches him about God and the devil who is not as strong as God. Friday informs him that 17 Europeans are prisoners on the mainland where he had lived.
      After three years they build another ship but discover three canoes with 21 “savages” and three prisoners. Robinson and Friday each have three guns and a pistol. Crusoe gives his sword and a pistol to the Spaniard, and the three men kill several cannibals while others flee in the boat. Friday has found his father. They cultivate more land, and the Spaniard leaves with Friday’s father to rescue the Europeans. A boat with Englishmen arrives, and the mutinous crew strands the captain and two others. After a scuffle in which two men are wounded the captain and the two sailors with Crusoe and Friday manage to regain the ship. The captain lets five mutineers stay on the island, but the mutineers’ captain is hanged at the yard-arm. Crusoe and Friday go with them back to England. Then they take a ship to Lisbon, and his heir, the Portuguese captain, tells him how well his plantation in Brazil has prospered. Crusoe returns with Friday to England a wealthy man. He marries and has three children; but after his wife’s death he and Friday intend to visit the colony on his island. As they sail to Brazil, Friday is killed. Crusoe takes a ship with more colonists to the island with cattle, sheep, and hogs, and their adventures are told in his further account.
      This realistic adventure story was very popular, and Defoe would write other novels and a history about pirates. Crusoe shows how an ingenious man can live independently if necessary, though he enjoys the company of a native whom he can convert to Protestant Christianity.

Defoe’s Cavalier & Captain Singleton

      In 1720 Defoe published anonymously his historical novel Memoirs of a Cavalier; or A Military Journal of the Wars in Germany, and the Wars in England. From the Years 1632 to 1648. Written threescore years ago, by an English gentleman, who served first in the army of Gustavus Adolphus, the Glorious King of Sweden, till his death, and after that in the Royal Army of King Charles the First, from the beginning of the Rebellion to the end of the War, hoping many would accept it as an authentic account, and Samuel Johnson and others did. His realistic narrative by the Cavalier is apparently based on The Swedish Intelligencer, Clarendon’s History of the Rebellion, Edmund Ludlow’s Memoirs, Bulstrode Whitelocke’s Memorials of the English Affairs, Jean Le Clerc’s Life of the Famous Cardinal—Duke de Richelieu, and probably other works by Echard, Sprigg, Richelieu, and T. Fairfax. In the preface he claimed that he found valuable papers in the closet of William III’s secretaries of state. The authorship was in doubt until it was included in the Ballantyne edition of Defoe’s collected works in 1810 with an introduction by Walter Scott, and modern scholars have agreed it is by Defoe.
      The Cavalier is the son of a gentleman and attended Oxford University, but he rejects the professions and goes to Paris in 1630 with his friend Fielding. The Cavalier kills a man in a swordfight, and they escape to Italy. They return to France and observe Cardinal Richelieu. They get in trouble again, but Queen Anne gives them a pass to join the French army fighting the Duke of Savoy in Italy. Emperor Ferdinand II rejects the “Famous Conclusions of Leipzig” and orders his general Tilly to fight. In 1631 the Cavalier and Fielding are in Vienna and then go to Bavaria. They witness German Protestants fighting for the Saxony Elector against the imperial Austrians. They arrive during the siege of Magdeburg, and the Cavalier describes the Catholic forces’ massacre, raping, and looting 25,000 people in May. From there they travel to find the Protestant army led by Sweden’s King Gustav who is supporting the Germans. A friend of the Cavalier’s father, Col. Hepburn, introduces him to Gustav, and they join the Swedes. The Cavalier fights well and becomes an officer, and his father raises and sends a cavalry regiment. The Cavalier is made a colonel and serves Gustav directly. He recalls that Gustav used to say, “An Enemy reduced to a Necessity of Fighting, is half Beaten.”1 He is captured by the imperial army, and Gustav is killed in the battle of Lützen.
      The Cavalier is paroled, and by 1635 he is in Holland observing the Dutch army led by Prince Maurits fighting the Spaniards. He returns to England, and he volunteers to serve King Charles I in a campaign in Scotland. He dislikes the religious conflict, and there is little fighting. When the English Civil War breaks out in 1642 the Cavalier remains loyal to the King. Whichever side wins battles, he feels that England is losing. After his father is wounded, he accepts the command of those royalists. He notes that they lost an opportunity of getting into London that would have been worth ten battles. After the indecisive battle of Edgehill in October he believes that an honorable peace should be arranged, but the war goes on. The Cavalier describes his adventures including a successful mission as a disguised spy. He especially complains that the Scots were fighting the King who has conceded their demands to respect their Presbyterian religion. Parliamentary forces capture his father, and he buys his parole for £4,000. The Cavalier and a small group are separated from the royal army and sail to Cornwall to join General Hopton’s troops. After Charles surrenders to the Scots, Hopton’s forces capitulate. The Cavalier is given parole, goes home, and fights no more. At the end of the book the Cavalier notes many ironic coincidences of events on the same day and month such as Charles I being beheaded on the same date as he had charged the Earl of Strafford and also the restoration of Charles II on the same day twenty years after a cabal had made a secret league with the Scots against Charles I.

      In 1972 Manuel Schonhorn published A General History of the Pyrates and made a strong case for the authorship of Defoe, though some scholars are challenging this. The first volume was originally published in 1724 with the first chapter on Captain Avery. The second volume is based on the 1728 edition which begins with the fictional story of Captain Misson. This French naval officer flies a white flag with the words “A Deo a Libertate (For God and Liberty).” In that chapter the narrator wrote,

That reasoning Faculty, says he, which we perceive within us,
we call the Soul, but what that Soul is, is unknown to us.
It may die with the Body, or it may survive.
I am of Opinion it’s immortal;
but to say that this Opinion is the Dictate of Reason,
or only the Prejudice of Education, would, I own, puzzle me.
If it is immortal,
it must be an Emanation from the Divine Being,
and consequently at its being separated from the Body,
will return to its first Principle, if not contaminated.2

      Defoe read widely about voyages and pirates including books by Richard Hakluyt and William Dampier. In 1720 he published his novel The Life, Adventures and Piracies of the Famous Captain Singleton partially based on Robert Knox’s Historical Relation of Ceylon.
      Bob Singleton is raised by a gypsy and goes to sea when he is twelve. He is captured by a Turkish vessel which in turn is taken by a Portuguese ship. Singleton becomes a cabin boy and learns navigation. He joins a conspiracy near Madagascar, and he and 26 others are put ashore. They trade with the natives using bits of coins the Cutler makes. They build a ship and sail to Mozambique. From there they travel across Africa, capturing sixty natives to use as guides and bearers. Singleton becomes the leader, and they travel by rivers, across deserts, and over mountains. A native chief finds gold, and Freeman persuades them to stay and mine the precious metal which they share equally. Two hundred Africans help them get fifteen tons of ivory. After reaching the Gold Coast they disband, and Singleton sails to England.
      In two years he spends his money and then goes to Cadiz. He joins a mutiny on a ship, and Singleton replaces the captain to begin his life as a pirate. They capture a Spanish sloop, and he takes on the Quaker surgeon William Walters, who refuses to fight and uses his share of the booty for medical supplies. The pirates meet at Tobago, and off Brazil they capture a Portuguese man-of-war. From another ship they acquire many slaves. A sailor rapes the daughter and wife of a slave, and the slaves try to take control of the ship. William persuades the Europeans not to kill the slaves but to trade them for gold and a French sloop. After getting provisions at Madagascar they cross to Africa and find former companions with much gold.
      Singleton and William go to Ceylon on the Portuguese man-of-war and capture a ship from the Mughal court. Singleton wants to plunder the Spice Islands, but they are grounded north of the Philippines. After a storm and repairs they proceed and raid three Japanese ships, taking cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and gold. They go to Formosa and trade spices to the Chinese for more gold before sailing southwest to Java for provisions and then to Ceylon where they are attacked by natives with flaming arrows. William urges the captain to trade rather than plunder because more wealth can be gained with much less fighting. Singleton yields his command to the Quaker who supervises two trading voyages. William is captured and sends a message to Singleton; they pretend to be Persian merchants. William talks Bob out of committing suicide, and they travel to Alexandria and Venice as Singleton undergoes self-examination. They return to England, buy a house, and Bob repents and marries William’s sister to settle down for a quiet life.
      In this adventurous novel Defoe suggests the advantages of changing from piracy to commerce in order to reduce violence.

Defoe’s Moll Flanders, Col. Jack & Roxana

      In January 1722 Defoe published The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, who was born in Newgate, and during a life of continu’d variety for threescore years, besides her childhood, was twelve year a whore, five times a wife (whereof once to her own brother) twelve year a thief, eight year a transported felon in Virginia, at last grew rich, liv’d honest, and died a penitent, written from her own memorandums. The story is based on the biographies of the criminals Moll King and Callico Sarah.
      Moll Flanders relates how her mother was “convicted of Felony for a certain petty Theft,” but she “pleaded her belly” and seven months later Moll was born in Newgate prison. Her earliest memory is when she was with gypsies, but in Colchester she refuses to go on with them and is taken in by a nurse with a little school. She is taught to use a needle and to spin. She has a fear of being put to work and does not want to be a servant. The nurse dies when Moll is fourteen. Fortunately she is taken in by the Mayor’s family and receives some education along with their children. The older son begins kissing her, and he gives her gold to become his mistress. Then the younger son asks her to marry him as she has learned how to say no. She marries him and has two children, but after five years he dies. She gives her children to their father’s family. Moll marries a draper who spends her money and is imprisoned. She says she is a widow and calls herself “Mrs. Flanders.” Next she falls in love with a sea captain who takes her to Virginia. They have three children, but one dies. Moll learns that she and her husband have the same mother, and she reflects that “Matrimony like Death is a Leap in the Dark.” She renounces the marriage and goes back to England. She has an affair with a man who has a demented wife and nurses him when he is sick. Moll has three children and saves money, but then the gentleman leaves her to return to his wife.
      Moll meets a bank clerk; he informs her that he is married, but his wife is a whore. Moll urges him to get a divorce. She pretends to be a gentlewoman with money, and in Lancashire she attracts and falls in love with the Irish Jemmy whom she believes is a wealthy gentleman. After marrying they learn that they are both broke and have tricked each other. He takes to highway robbery, and she goes to London and gives birth to his child. The banker gets a divorce, and after giving up her baby to a nurse for £5 a year she marries the banker at an inn. That day she sees Jemmy and prevents him from being arrested. She and the banker have two children, but after five years he too dies. Needing money, she steals a bundle from a shop and a necklace off a little girl. She becomes a thief and sometimes a whore for the next twelve years. She has an affair with a gentleman she meets at Bartholomew Fair. Finally she is caught stealing silk and is put in Newgate prison. There she is reunited with the robber Jemmy. Defoe wrote of her self-awareness when she repents.

Then I repented heartily of all my Life past,
but that Repentance yielded me no Satisfaction, no Peace,
no not in the least, because, as I said to myself,
it was repenting after the Power of farther Sinning
was taken away: I seem’d not to Mourn
that I had committed such Crimes, and for the Fact,
as it was an Offence against God and my Neighbour;
but I mourned that I was to be punished for it;
I was a Penitent as I thought, not that I had sinned,
but that I was to suffer, and this took away all the Comfort,
and even the hope of my Repentance in my own Thoughts.3

She is sentenced to death; but she persuades a minister that she has repented, and she is given a reprieve and transported to Virginia. Jemmie is put on the same ship. She learns that her mother died, but her half-brother and their son live there. Moll and Jemmie prefer warm weather and ask to be transferred to Carolina; but the ship is overcrowded, and they go to Maryland instead. She learns that her mother left her a plantation on the York River. A Quaker helps them, and they work fifty acres and prosper. She visits her son and gives him a stolen watch. The plantation gives them £100 a year, and she makes her son her heir. Her half-brother dies, and at 70 Moll and Jemmy return to England where they resolve “sincere Penitence for the wicked Lives we have lived.”
      Defoe’s realistic portrait of the spirited woman in Moll Flanders describes the challenges an independent woman could face in a society that provided poor opportunities for women and the death penalty for theft. In 1727 he published “Conjugal Lewdness or, Matrimonial Whoredom” later changed to “A Treatise Concerning the Use and Abuse of the Marriage Bed” in which he praised marriage but denounced sexual and pecuniary motives. He argued that contraception is better than infanticide, though he called it diabolical.

      Late in the year of 1722 Defoe published The History and Remarkable Life of the truly Honourable Col. Jacque, commonly called Col. Jack, who was Born a Gentleman, put 'Prentice to a Pick−Pocket, was Six and Twenty Years a Thief, and then Kidnapped to Virginia, Came back a Merchant; was Five times married to Four Whores; went into the Wars, behaved bravely, got Preferment, was made Colonel of a Regiment, came over, and fled with the Chevalier, is still abroad completing a Life of Wonders, and resolves to die a General. Crime had been increasing in England since 1715, and from 1720 to 1726 Defoe interviewed famous criminals and wrote their stories in Applebee’s Original Weekly as well as in pamphlets on the notorious Jack Sheppard, Jonathan Wild, and others. Eight publishers had a share in the publication of Colonel Jack, which was one of his most popular novels with two reprints in 1723 and another in 1738. In the preface Defoe pleaded for the blessing and advantages of a well governed education and for the improvement of public schools and charity schools in order to avoid the ruin of thousands of youths.
      Col. Jack is the illegitimate son of a gentlewoman and a man of quality raised by a nurse with her son Captain Jack and another foster brother named Major Jack to distinguish the three Johns. After the nurse’s death when Col. Jack is ten, the homeless boys fall in with a gang of ragged rogues. After Captain Jack is caught stealing and taken to Newgate Prison, pick-pocket Will teaches Col. Jack. Will would pick a pocket and take a small amount, and then Col. Jack would return the wallet. He even persuaded one rich man to invest his reward for him. Not having any place to keep his money Jack uses the man as a bank. As he is more successful and develops a conscience, Col. Jack returns with interest the savings he had stolen from a poor woman. Will does not have such scruples and is eventually hanged for his plundering.
      Captain Jack escapes from prison, and he and the colonel go to Scotland. Col. Jack resolves to quit thieving, and they join the army but soon desert. They board a ship to go back to London, but they are abducted and taken to Virginia. Captain Jack manages to escape back to England and resumes his stealing for twenty years before he is hanged. Col. Jack is sold to a rich planter who promises him land after five years. He works hard and is made an overseer of slaves. He does not like whipping them, and he experiments with treating the slaves kindly. He tells his master he will not be his executioner. He talks with the slaves and finds that they respond with gratitude, which he considers the product of generous principles. He explains to his master that when they are used with compassion, they serve with affection. He reasons with them so that mercy will sink into their minds, and he explains gratitude and obligation. As a result the plantation is more orderly, and the Negroes work better than those driven by whips and chains. After only three years the master gives Jack his liberty and a small plantation nearby with money for supplies. Yet Jack continues to serve the gentleman until his death. Jack starts with two slaves, and they increase. He has a bondman teach him how to read and write. Jack makes the tutor his overseer and embarks for England. A French merchant vessel captures their ship, but they exchange him for a French merchant.
      Jack pretends to be French and calls himself Col. Jacque. He marries a woman, but she takes a lover and spends his money gambling. After a child is born, he attacks her lover and then leaves her. Learning she is pregnant, he divorces her and goes to France where he is given a company in an Irish brigade. During the War of the Spanish Succession he fights in France, Germany, and Italy. He is captured and taken to Hungary and then back to Italy where he is tricked into marrying an innkeeper’s daughter. They go to Paris where he recruits volunteers to fight against the English. Meanwhile his second wife also takes a lover. He wounds the man in a duel and flees to England, settling in Canterbury as a Frenchman. His third wife gives him three children but drinks too much and kills herself. He marries an older woman to take care of his children. She has children by him but dies. Jack participates in the Jacobite rebellion of 1715. Only two of his children survive a smallpox epidemic, and he returns to Virginia with his son. His plantation has thrived, and he is reunited with his first wife. She has repented, and they marry again and live happily. Hunted as a Jacobite, they flee to Antigua. She goes back to Virginia. He gets a pardon but Spaniards capture him on the way to Virginia and hold him as a hostage for several months while he makes money in illegal trading with them. Finally he and his wife return to England, and in his last years Col. Jack contemplates how good God is, and he recommends repentance to his readers.

      Defoe’s last novel was published on February 29, 1724 as The Fortunate Mistress: Or, A History of the Life and Vast Variety of Fortunes of Mademoiselle de Beleau, Afterwards Called the Countess de Wintselsheim, in Germany, Being the Person known by the Name of the Lady Roxana, in the Time of King Charles II. He probably included the reference to Charles II because he wanted to show how the era of George I was similar to the immorality of the restoration. Yet in his novel Roxana is only 12 years old when Charles II died.
      Defoe’s novels have been called spiritual autobiographies, and once again Roxana narrates her story. She is born in France; but her family has to leave in 1683 when Protestants were banished. At 15 her father gives her a dowry of £2,000 to marry a prosperous brewer. She admits she chose him because he is handsome; but she finds he is stupid and uneducated, and she warns ladies never to marry a fool. They have five children. He likes to hunt, and one day he goes off with two servants and does not come back. After a year she learns he is in prison and cannot pay his debts. After several years she has sold or pawned most of her silver and furniture. Her maid Amy has stayed on even though she has not been paid. The husband’s aunt says, “Charity begins at home” and wants to send the five children to the Parish, but her husband promises to raise them.
      After learning of her circumstances the landlord no longer collects the rent and becomes friendly, kissing her. His wife has deserted him, and he suggests they live together as man and wife. Roxana is reluctant to become a “whore,” and Amy offers to lie with the landlord. He gives them money and brings back their furniture. He says their situations are similar. She points out that he is rich and that she is poor, but he says he will equalize that. He comes to live with them, and Roxana gives in and shares her bed. After a while Amy criticizes Roxana for not bearing his child. She sends Amy to him, and she gives birth. Roxana has a daughter two years later. She dies after six months, but she bears a son. While they are in Paris on business, he is robbed and murdered; but he has left money to Roxana.
      A German prince in Paris is attracted to her and gives her presents, and she becomes his mistress. To save face she announces that she is going back to England, but she hides in her apartment with Amy who is instructed to admit only the prince. She gives birth, and the prince promises to acknowledge his son. Roxana discovers her husband with the gendarmes, and Amy confirms he is the father of the five children. Roxana goes with the Prince to Italy for two years, and another son dies after two months. After the prince’s wife dies, he repents and leaves Roxana after eight years. Roxana and Amy go back to England, and Roxana goes to Holland to get her money from a merchant. He asks her to marry; but she suspects his motives. Yet she is pregnant when she goes back to London. She bears another son, and not wanting to share her wealth she becomes a courtesan. She gives luxurious parties for high society and becomes famous for her Turkish dancing and is called Roxana.
      Roxana accepts a rich man as her lover after he offers her an income. For a few years she lives in retirement and begins to see friends again. Then she lives with a Quaker lady as Amy tells people her mistress has gone to the continent. The Dutch merchant and the French prince renew their suits. Roxana’s husband has died, and she agrees to live in Holland and become the merchant’s wife to make their son legitimate. Meanwhile her daughter Susan, who had lived with Roxana as her maid, has discovered that Roxana is her mother. Roxana does not want her past revealed and sends Amy to give her money. Amy threatens to murder the girl, and Roxana dismisses Amy. Susan does not make trouble, and Roxana goes back to Holland with her husband. The story ends with a tragic note with Roxana learning that Amy has had Susan killed, and Roxana is haunted by images of her daughter’s death.
      This realistic novel shows the difficulty of a woman who would like to retain her wealth while married but finds that a romantic relationship usually results in children.

Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels

      Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was born in Ireland and spent most of his life there. He earned an M. A. at Oxford in 1692 and was ordained an Anglican priest in 1695. In 1700 he became a vicar in County Meath and in 1713 Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. He wrote essays criticizing England’s exploitation of Ireland. His famous novel Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World In Four Parts By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships, known as Gulliver's Travels, was published without his name in England on October 28, 1726 and with his collected works in Ireland in 1735.
      The tales are preceded by a letter from Captain Gulliver stating he is trying to remove from himself the “habit of lying, shuffling, deceiving, and equivocating, so deeply rooted in the very souls of all my species, especially the Europeans.” He narrates how he was apprenticed to a physician, learned navigation, and studied at Leyden before making voyages to the Levant. He married but could not follow bad practices and so decided to go to sea. For six years he was a surgeon on two ships to the East and West Indies, and he read books and learned languages. He is shipwrecked in the South Seas northwest of Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) and manages to swim ashore before falling asleep. He awakes to find that little people have tied him down. He breaks some of the strings, and they shoot tiny arrows at him. Then they treat him hospitably. The Emperor comes to see him, and Gulliver tries several European languages to no avail. He releases those who shot arrows at him. The Lilliputians realize that the amount of food he requires could cause a famine, and they consider killing him; but the prospect of his corpse causing a plague dissuades them.
      The Emperor assigns scholars to teach him their language. He gives up his pistol and warns them to keep the gunpowder away from fire. They call him Man-Mountain and make him agree to a contract for his freedom and a daily allowance of food and drink equal to what would support 1,724 subjects. Gulliver offers to defend the Emperor and his state against invaders. He does this by stealing the ships of their enemy, the Blefuscu, who compel people to break their eggs at the big end. The Emperor wants to force his enemies to break their eggs at the small end, but Gulliver opposes their enslavement. When a fire breaks out in the palace, he uses his urine to douse the flames. Lilliputians believe that fraud is worse than theft and have made it a capital crime. In hiring people they are more concerned with good character than abilities, and they believe everyone can be truthful, just, and temperate. Ingratitude is also punished by death. Parents are required to surrender their children in their second year to be educated by skilled teachers. The four nurseries are divided by sex and social class. Two hundred seamstresses make shirts for Gulliver, and 300 cooks prepare his food. Gulliver is planning to visit the Emperor of Blefuscu and is accused of treason. They consider blinding him, but he takes a large ship and goes to Blefuscu. From there he repairs a wrecked boat, and with sails made by 500 workers he escapes and makes his way home.
      After two months with his family Gulliver goes to sea again, and he is stranded on the west coast of North America in Brobdingnag where the natives are twelve times larger than he. Gulliver is found in a wheat field by a farmer who makes money showing him to others. He manages to kill a large rat with his knife, pleasing the mistress. Her daughter he calls Glumdalclitch, and she undresses and dresses him and makes coarse shirts for him. The queen buys him for much gold and lets Glumdalclitch continue to instruct him. The king has studied and thinks Gulliver must be clockwork. The Queen likes to dine with him. Her dwarf becomes jealous and pesters him with insects he captured, but Gulliver kills them in the air with his knife. Maids of honor strip him and put him on their breasts, which he finds disgusting because of the bad smell and ugly skin. He entertains the king and queen with music and describes Great Britain and its government. After he tells of its history, they complain it is only “conspiracies, rebellions, murders, massacres, revolutions, and banishments” because of “avarice, faction, hypocrisy, perfidiousness, cruelty, rage, madness, hatred, envy, lust, malice, and ambition.” He warns them about gunpowder, and the king says he would have nothing to do with such a secret. Gulliver is carried in a box, but an eagle picks it up and drops it in the sea. He is rescued by a ship that takes him back to England.
      Gulliver’s wife does not want him leaving anymore, but he is hired as a surgeon on a ship that is boarded by pirates who set him adrift in a canoe. He is seen and drawn up to the flying island of Laputa. These people are obsessed with astronomy. The island uses a loadstone to rise and fall. To make sure the people below give them food the king threatens to hover over their land to block sun and rain or even crush them if necessary. Gulliver meets a prince who is practical and reasonable even though he is considered ignorant by others. Gulliver decides to leave and is put down in the dependent city of Balnibarbi. He visits the Academy of Lagado where scientists are occupied with endless experiments. He suggests improvements to empower the men most qualified.
      In the northern Pacific Ocean he travels to Glubbdubdrib where he finds sorcerers who can summon famous people who have died and converse with them. There he sees Julius Caesar, Junius Brutus, Socrates, Epaminondas, the Younger Cato, and Thomas More. He calls up Descartes and Gassendi, and they explain their systems to Aristotle who acknowledges his errors in the natural sciences. Gulliver moves on, and the polite and generous Luggnaggians ask him if he has seen the immortal Struldbruggs. He notices that the usual deformities of old age are much more severe among those who have lived for centuries. Then he sails to Japan and takes a Dutch ship to Amsterdam on his way back to England.
      After five months Gulliver leaves his wife pregnant to be captain of the merchant ship Adventure that is to trade with Indians in the South Sea. After a mutiny he is put on an unknown island. Two horses come up to him and are very friendly. He tries to understand their language and hears the word “Yahoo.” The horses call themselves “Houynhnhnms.” Gulliver learns that the Yahoos are primitive humans without clothes. He studies the Houynhnhnm language, and they wonder what he means by lying and fraud. The Houynhnhnms have no difficulty with the Yahoos. Gulliver explains how his people castrate horses and train them to serve them because their horses have no more reason than the Yahoos. He tells them of recent English history and its corrupt government. Princes often quarrel over territory, and they send forces to take over poor nations, killing and enslaving the people. Thus soldiering becomes an honored profession. He explains how pettifoggers manipulate the laws by avoiding the merits of the case to dwell on the circumstances while pointing to previous cases as precedents. He is especially critical of the first or chief minister of the state who now has much power by using insolence, lying, and bribery. The Houynhnhnm master suspects he is concealing particulars and saying what is not, and he tells how the Yahoos fight over shining stones in the fields.
      One day Gulliver takes off his clothes to go swimming, and the Houynhnhnms discover he looks just like a Yahoo. Their main virtues are friendship and benevolence. The Houynhnhnms believe that nature teaches them to love all their species, and they use reason to distinguish superior virtue. They teach the young temperance, industry, exercise, and cleanliness and give females the same education as the males. Once every four years the council of the nation meets for six days, and decisions are made by unanimous consent. Gulliver witnesses a council that is debating whether to exterminate the Yahoos. He admires their poetry with its similes and exactness. He finds their conversations improve his virtue, and he enjoys good health and tranquility. The Houynhnhnms decide that Gulliver must leave, and they exhort him to do so within two months. He builds a canoe and makes a dangerous voyage to New Holland where he is wounded by an arrow and taken to a Portuguese ship. Captain Pedro de Mendez treats Gulliver well even though he talks like a horse and takes him to Lisbon. Gulliver is warmly welcomed home by his family; but he admits that their sight fills him with disgust and contempt, and he makes four horses his friends. He states that he did not write for fame but for the public good, and he admits his own vices. He laments piracy and exploitative colonists, though he believes the British set a better example.
      This popular novel satirizes the plunder and hypocrisy of the European era of colonization that used force and power to dominate and exploit other nations, people, and animals. Gulliver experiences the power and the problems of being so much bigger like the powerful nations, but then he experiences the humiliation of being so much smaller. He makes fun of impractical scientists and fantasizes about communicating with the dead. Finally to get Europeans to see themselves from a different perspective he contrasts the nobility of reasoning horses to primitive and mean people.

Richardson’s Pamela, Clarissa & Charles

      Samuel Richardson was born near Derby on August 19, 1689 and had only common-school learning before being apprenticed in 1706 to the printer John Wilde in London for seven years. After completing that, he became the overseer of a printing office, and by 1719 he ran his own print-shop. In 1721 he married his former master’s daughter Martha Wilde. She bore six children and died in 1731, and the only child still living died the next year. Richardson married a bookseller’s sister, Elizabeth Leake, in 1733, and that year he began printing the journals of the House of Commons in 26 volumes. He wrote a book of advice for apprentices and by 1734 had five working for him. He and his second wife had four daughters who outlived them. He became a friend of Samuel Johnson, the painter William Hogarth, Colley Cibber, and David Garrick, and he printed the poems of Edward Young who was known for his Night Thoughts.
      Richardson was commissioned to write Familiar Letters on Important Occasions for country readers. The vast majority of these 173 letters are about women, and about half are on love and marriage. This work prepared him to write the first of three long epistolary novels, Pamela, or, Virtue Rewarded which was published in 1740. His wife Elizabeth and another lady living in their house learned of the story and persuaded him to read to them each installment. In 1741 Henry Fielding using a pseudonym satirized Pamela in An Apology for the life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews, and the next year he expanded it into Joseph Andrews, and Eliza Haywood’s satire that year was called The Anti-Pamela; or Feigned Innocence Detected. Charles Povey in his Virgin in Eden castigated the morality of Richardson’s story. While Defoe’s autobiographical novels mostly told the story of one’s actions, Richardson’s letters convey the thoughts and feelings of the various authors, giving the story different points of view.
      Pamela Andrews is fifteen and has been working as a servant for three years. In her first letter to her mother and father she reports that the lady of the house died of illness, but her son promises he will be her friend and that she will take care of the linen. He gives her four guineas, silver, and clothes from the lady’s dressing-room, and she curtseys and cries. Her parents write back that they are worried she will be ruined and warn her not to be too grateful and lose her virtue. Pamela writes that she would rather live in poverty than forfeit her good name. The housekeeper, Mrs. Jervis, is civil to her. In another letter she writes that the master’s sister, Lady Davers, is living with them. Her master, also called Mr. B, gives her more clothes. Pamela hopes Davers will take her in, but she refuses. The master is suggesting freedoms, but she is resolved to be virtuous. He calls her a fool but puts his arm around her and kisses her several times. She sobs, and he admits he demeaned himself. He offers her money, but she refuses to take it.
      She asks to lie with Mrs. Jervis who consents to share her bed. Mr. B offers to take her on his knee, and she is terrified. When he puts his hand “in my bosom,” she is indignant. As she is leaving, he tears off a piece of her gown. Later he says she must be ashamed for exposing him to Mrs. Jervis. Pamela wants to go home but is persuaded to stay. On another occasion he grabs her arm forcefully, leaving marks. The master learns Pamela is writing letters to her parents and begins intercepting them. He intimidates Mrs. Jervis and tells Pamela to go back to her poverty. She thinks that he no longer wants her and decides it is safe to stay. He hides in Mrs. Jervis’ closet to spy on them. He comes forth and threatens to throw Mrs. Jervis out the window, but she says she will leave with Pamela. He put his hand in her bosom again, and Pamela sighs, screams, and faints.
      She decides to go home, and he orders a coach; but it takes her to his country estate where the caretaker, Mrs. Jewkes, keeps her imprisoned. Pamela manages to get her letters out by giving them to the village’s minister, Mr. Williams. He tries to get people to help her, but they are afraid to upset Mr. B over a servant. Williams confesses he loves her and says he wants to marry her, but she declines and asks him to help her escape. Mrs. Jewkes suspects this and writes to the master in London. He sends agents who have Williams put in jail. That night Pamela escapes from a window to the garden but finds the gate locked and is found hiding in the woodshed. The master arrives and tries to force himself on Pamela with help from Mrs. Jewkes. Pamela goes into fits, and he feels bad and promises to stop molesting her. He says he cannot marry her because her social class is too far below his. After a while he proposes marriage, and she hopes her virtue will be rewarded; but a gypsy warns her to watch out for a sham wedding. She asks for a coach to visit her parents. Mrs. Jewkes shows Pamela’s letters to Mr. B. He sends her notes promising an honorable marriage which she receives on her way home.
      She realizes she is in love with him and goes back to be married to him by Mr. Williams with her father in attendance. Mr. Andrews goes home and tells his family about his virtuous daughter. Once married she is happy with Mr. B, and she forgives Mrs. Jewkes. However, Lady Davers is angry at her brother for marrying a servant, but gradually Pamela wins her over and gains her respect by sharing the letters she wrote. Mr. B confesses that he had an affair with Sally Godfrey and takes Pamela to meet his daughter at a boarding school. Pamela likes her and hopes to help raise her. Mr. B gives her parents money so that they can start a business. Lady Davers corresponds with Pamela, and during a visit Mr. B expresses remorse to his sister for how he mistreated Pamela whom he loves dearly now. He lays out 48 rules she is to follow, and she includes them in a long letter to her parents. Pamela’s beauty, virtue, and charming personality also win over Mr. B’s cantankerous uncle. Mr. B and Pamela move to London. When she is pregnant, she begins to suspect he is having an affair. After the child is born and christened, she receives an anonymous note that he is visiting a countess. She controls her jealousy and forgives him when he promises to end the affair and be faithful to her. She asks Lady Davers to send her letters to educate the countess. They adopt Sally’s daughter and bring her up with their son, and Mr. B spends the rest of his life devoted to the virtuous Pamela.
       This realistic novel portrays the psychology and social differences involved in a courtship and marriage between two people in vastly different social classes. The moral strength of the servant girl elevates her as he demeans himself by his arrogant behavior. Once they are married, the differences are resolved.

      By 1744 Richardson was circulating the plot of his novel Clarissa to friends for suggestions. Then he worked on revising and condensing it from 1745 to 1747. The first two volumes of Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady: Comprehending The most Important Concerns of Private Life and particularly showing The Distresses that may attend the Misconduct Both of Parents and Children, In Relation to Marriage were published in December 1747, the next two in April 1748, and three more volumes concluded the first edition in December 1748. His final edition was printed in 1759 in eight volumes, and with nearly one million words it is the longest English novel. Most of the letters in the novel are by 18-year-old Clarissa Harlowe, her friend Miss Anna Howe, the libertine Robert Lovelace, and a few by his best friend Thomas Belton.
      The first letter in Clarissa is from Anna Howe to Clarissa Harlowe and describes how her brother James Harlowe provoked a sword fight with the rake Robert Lovelace who wounds James in the arm and then helps him get medical attention. Anna also asks for information on how Clarissa’s grandfather favored her in his will. He had already built a dairy-house for Clarissa to her taste. Having received the bulk of the estate, Clarissa lets her father and brothers handle the management. Lovelace has been courting her sister Arabella but rejects her after seeing the beauty of Clarissa. Arabella becomes very jealous, and her brother James, envious of Clarissa’s inheritance, suggests that Clarissa be married to wealthy Roger Solmes. Clarissa finds Solmes a repulsive dandy and rejects him. Her parents and siblings assume that Clarissa wants to marry Lovelace who may become an earl and has begun to pursue her. Her father James orders her to be courted by Solmes and to wed him, but she refuses to even sit by him or ever to marry him. Her father has Clarissa confined to her room.
      Lovelace feels snubbed by the Harlowe family and wants to seduce Clarissa. She writes letters to Anna Howe who advises her to escape her family and marry Lovelace. He sneaks into the garden and asks Clarissa to elope with him. She is reluctant but decides to leave her imprisonment. Lovelace promises to take her to his Uncle M. She is hoping that her cousin, Col. Morden, when he returns to England, will help her be reconciled with her family. However, Lovelace takes her to a house of prostitution run by a Mrs. Sinclair. To protect her Lovelace persuades Clarissa to pretend to be his wife waiting for a marriage settlement. She refuses to marry him but finds herself imprisoned again. Her father and his family disown her and refuse to send her clothes or money. Her father even curses her in this world and the hereafter. Clarissa rejects Lovelace’s wooing and tries to escape. After failure she manages to get to Hampton. Lovelace has two women pretend to be her cousins, and they persuade her to go back to her room. Unable to seduce her, Lovelace has prostitutes help him drug her and hold her down as he rapes her. He hopes that then she will wed him. Clarissa gets a letter from Anna who explains that she is confined in a brothel. Clarissa calls for help from a window, and Lovelace promises not to molest her.
      While he is away visiting Lord M, Clarissa steals a servant’s clothes and escapes again. Mrs. Sinclair learns where she is and has her arrested for not paying her rent. John Belford gets her out of jail and finds a place where she can stay with a glove-maker. They become friends, and Belford asks her to marry him. She says no, but she does appoint him the executor of her will. She becomes depressed with her miserable life and eats little while she writes letters trying to become reconciled with her family and appealing to friends. Belford blames Lovelace, who now believes he is in love with Clarissa; but she refuses to have anything to do with him. Her health is declining, but her father and brother James still refuse to receive her. She goes to an undertaker and buys a coffin with a plaque with the date of her death being the day she left her family’s house. Col. Morden visits her, but he cannot persuade her family to change their minds. He talks with Lovelace and Lord M who explain that Lovelace wants to marry her; but Morden cannot convince her to accept him. When the Harlowe family realizes that she is going to die, they change their attitudes and open the house to her and write to her, asking her to forgive them. By the time the letters arrive she has died. The coffin with her body is taken to the house and is interred in the family vault next to her grandfather’s. Lovelace goes to the continent and meets Col. Morden. They arrange a duel, and Lovelace is mortally wounded and asks that this be his expiation before he dies.
      Clarissa is considered Richardson’s greatest novel. The tragedy results from the greed, envy, and arrogance of her family after her grandfather enriched her with his legacy. She refuses to marry a rich fool or an aristocratic libertine, and she clings to her independence and virtue despite the overwhelming persecution by her family and harassment by Lovelace that make her a miserable prisoner. Yet she has faith that her virtue will be recognized in the hereafter, and she is not afraid to die.

      After portraying two virtuous women threatened by two libertine men and to respond to Fielding’s Tom Jones, Richardson decided to write a novel about an honorable man in The History of Sir Charles Grandison. Almost as long as Clarissa, it was published in seven volumes between November 1753 and March 1754 and is also a long series of letters. In the preface he concisely summarized his three novels this way:

   The first collection which he published, entitled PAMELA,
exhibited the beauty and superiority of virtue
in an innocent and unpolished mind,
with the reward which often, even in this life,
a protecting Providence bestows on goodness.
A young woman of low degree,
relating to her honest parents the severe trials she met with
from a master who ought to have been the protector,
not the assailer of her honor,
shows the character of a libertine in its truly contemptible light.
This libertine, however, from the foundation of good principles
laid in his early years by an excellent mother;
by his passion for a virtuous young woman;
and by her amiable example, and unwearied patience,
when she became his wife;
is, after a length of time, perfectly reclaimed.
   The second collection, published under the title of CLARISSA,
displayed a more melancholy scene.
A young lady of higher fortune, and born to happier hopes,
is seen involved in such variety of deep distresses,
as lead her to an untimely death;
affording a warning to parents against forcing the inclinations
of their children in the most important article of their lives;
and to children against hoping too far
from the fairest assurances of a man void of principle.
The heroine, however, as a truly Christian heroine,
proves superior to her trials; and her heart,
always excellent, refined and exalted by every one of them,
rejoices in the approach of a happy eternity.
Her cruel destroyer appears wretched and disappointed,
even in the boasted success of his vile machinations:
but still (buoyed up with self-conceit and vain presumption)
he goes on, after every short fit of imperfect,
yet terrifying conviction, hardening himself more and more;
till, unreclaimed by the most affecting warnings,
and repeated admonitions, he perishes miserably
in the bloom of life, and sinks into the grave
oppressed with guilt, remorse, and horror.
His letters, it is hoped, afford many useful lessons
to the gay part of mankind against that misuse
of wit and youth, of rank and fortune,
and of every outward accomplishment,
which turns them into a curse to the miserable possessor,
as well as to all around him.
   Here the editor apprehended he should be obliged to stop,
by reason of his precarious state of health,
and a variety of avocations which claimed his first attention:
but it was insisted on by several of his friends,
who were well assured he had the materials in his power,
that he should produce into public view
the character and actions of a man of true honour.
   He has been enabled to obey these his friends,
and to complete his first design: and now, therefore,
presents to the public, in Sir Charles Grandison,
the example of a man acting uniformly well
through a variety of trying scenes, because all his actions
are regulated by one steady principle:
a man of religion and virtue; of liveliness and spirit;
accomplished and agreeable; happy in himself,
and a blessing to others.
   From what has been premised, it may be supposed,
that the present collection is not published ultimately,
nor even principally, any more than the other two,
for the sake of entertainment only.
A much nobler end is in view.
Yet it is hoped the variety of characters and conversations
necessarily introduced into so large a correspondence
as these volumes contain, will enliven as well as instruct:
the rather, as the principal correspondents
are young ladies of polite education, and of lively spirits.
   The nature of familiar letters, written, as it were,
to the moment, while the heart is agitated by hopes and fears,
on events undecided, must plead an excuse
for the bulk of a collection of this kind.
Mere facts and characters might be comprised in a much
smaller compass: but, would they be equally interesting?
It happens fortunately, that an account of the juvenile years
of the principal person is narratively given
in some of the letters.

      In Sir Charles Grandison young Harriet Byron is an orphan who has been living with her aunt and uncle in Northamptonshire where she has been courted by three men she does not want to marry. As with Clarissa, they have not appealed to her feelings and mind. Having only known life in the country she is excited about visiting London. Harriet is welcomed into the home of her cousin, the wife of Archibald Reeves. Harriet has been well educated and is the heir to £15,000 from her grandparents. Thus she is invited often to social events in London and attracts six wealthy suitors. Sir Hargrave Pollexfen is especially persistent, but she explains that his morals are lacking and that she does not wish to see him anymore. During a masquerade ball at the Haymarket he abducts her and takes her to Lisson Grove where a widow and her two daughters help him keep her imprisoned. Hargrave tells her she must marry him and that he will kill anyone who tries to prevent this. She attempts to escape but is caught. He is taking her to his house at Windsor and stops at Hounslow Heath where Charles hears her screaming and rescues her, taking her to the home of his brother-in-law, the Earl of L, at Colnebrook. Hargrave challenges Charles to a duel, but he refuses to accept for ethical reasons and even persuades Hargrave to apologize. She accepts his apology but declines his marriage proposal, confessing that she has fallen in love with the virtuous Charles.
      Charles Grandison has inherited all of his father’s estate and generously provides for his sisters. After returning from a visit to Italy he gives permission, which his father had denied, for his older sister to marry Lord L, and he takes care of his younger sister Charlotte. He manages his estate successfully so that he can contribute to their marriages. His kindness is appreciated by many, and he persuades his family to accept his father’s former lover, Mrs. Oldham. Several women are attracted to Charles, and Harriet tries to hide her feelings toward the man who treats her like his sisters. When the Earl of D is courting Harriet, she learns that Charles is engaged to the Italian Clementina della Porretta. Charles explains that years ago he rescued her father, the Barone della Porretta, and Charles fell in love with his only daughter. However, she insisted that he become a Catholic, and he would not agree. After he left, she was so distraught that he later returns with doctors to help her. Clementina recovers but still refuses to wed an Anglican Protestant even after he has worked out the differences with her family. She is devoted to her faith and decides not to marry at all.
      Meanwhile Lady Olivia has also fallen in love with Charles and tries to stab him when he repulses her advances. Feeling liberated from these Italian entanglements he returns to England and courts Harriet and easily wins her hand. His sister Charlotte marries Lord G, and she and Harriet learn about marriage. Harriet also has to learn how to get along with his ward, Emily Jervois, who is also attracted to Charles. Harriet’s former suitor, Mr. Greville, wants to fight a duel with Charles and is mollified. Clementina refuses to marry as her parents demand and flees to Charles who manages to reconcile her with her family. Hargrave dies and leaves his estate to Harriet and Charles. Grandison financially assists Emily’s mother so that she can afford to become virtuous and turn her attention to religion. She and her second husband O’Hara were trying to make Emily wed a scoundrel who promised to share with them money he would get from Emily, but they are persuaded to mend their ways.
      Richardson’s novels about the problems in romance and marriage emphasize their feelings and thoughts and are meant to show how virtue can bring about better results than vice.

Fielding’s Early Novels

      Henry Fielding was born on April 22, 1707. His father Edmund was the Earl of Denbigh and in 1709 purchased for £2,800 a rank of colonel and a regiment to fight under the Duke of Marlborough. In 1710 Henry’s mother Sarah inherited the property of her father who had been a judge of the Queen’s Bench. Henry grew up on that farm. After Sarah’s death in 1718, his father remarried. Henry went to Eton College 1719-24 studying the classics and loving literature. In November 1725 his attempt to elope with Sarah Andrews failed. Henry wrote poetry and his first play, Love in Several Masques, in 1727, but in January 1728 it was delayed because of Cibber’s popular Provoked Husband. For 18 months Fielding studied classics at the University of Leyden, and he wrote three new plays. After courting her for four years he married Charlotte Craddock in 1734. He had several plays produced; but in 1737 his Historical Register, For the Year 1736 satirized Prime Minister Robert Walpole so severely that the Haymarket Theatre in London was closed, and in 1737 the Licensing Act ended his career as a playwright. He also wrote essays, and from November 1739 to June 1741 Fielding was the editor and main writer for the thrice-weekly newspaper opposing the government called The Champion, or, British Mercury. He also studied law in the Middle Temple and worked as a barrister on the Western Circuit.
      In April 1740 An Apology for the Life of Colley Cibber was published, and Fielding began satirizing it in The Champion. The enormous success of Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, or, Virtue Rewarded stimulated Fielding to write the novella, An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews, to satirize Pamela and Cibber in April 1741. Then in February 1742 Fielding published his comic novel, The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and of his Friend Mr. Abraham Adams, Written in Imitation of the Manner of Cervantes, Author of Don Quixote in which Pamela is presented as the older sister of Joseph.
      The virtuous Pamela is married to Squire Booby, and her older brother Joseph Andrews serves the widow, Lady Booby, the squire’s aunt. She is attracted to young Joseph, but he resists her advances as Pamela had the squire’s. The lady dismisses him, disappointing her maid, Mrs. Slipslop, who also likes Joseph. He goes to his sweetheart Fanny Goodwill in Somersetshire but on the road is robbed and left naked. He is cared for at an inn, and his old tutor, Parson Abraham Adams, pays his bill and takes him to Somersetshire to get his sermons he hopes to sell in London. Mrs. Slipslop comes by in a coach and gives the parson a ride as Joseph rides the horse. At the next inn the innkeeper insults Joseph, and Adams fights him until hog’s blood is poured on him. The forgetful parson leaves his horse behind and walks as Joseph rides in the coach. Adams hears a woman scream and tries to rescue her from her assailant, but he accuses Joseph and the woman of trying to rob him. A sheriff arrests them, and Adams learns that she is Fanny who was traveling to find Joseph. A witness recognizes Adams, and the judge releases them. They find Mrs. Slipslop and Joseph at an inn. He and Fanny are delighted to see each other, but jealous Slipslop leaves in the coach. The other three have no money, but a peddler has just enough to pay their bill.
      They travel on, and at his house Mr. Wilson with his wife tells the parson the story of his life, which resembles that of Fielding, and tells how gypsies stole their son who has a strawberry mark on his shoulder. Dogs from a hunt for a hare surround Adams, but Joseph helps rescue him. The angry squire softens his attitude after he sees pretty Fanny and invites them to supper. After the parson is mocked, the three leave; but during the night the squire’s men overcome the two men and abduct Fanny. They meet Lady Booby’s steward, Peter Pounce, who knows Fanny, and he manages to free her. They reach the parsonage, and the couple waits for their wedding banns to be announced. Lady Booby has a summer home in the parish and tries to block the wedding by having them arrested for larceny; but Squire Booby and Pamela arrive and insist on her relatives being released. Yet Pamela and her husband join Lady Booby in trying to persuade Joseph not to marry the lowly Fanny. A peddler arrives and informs them that Fanny was stolen by gypsies as a baby and may be Pamela’s sister; but that Joseph is the foundling lost by the Wilsons is proved when Wilson arrives and identifies his strawberry mark. Thus he is not really the brother of Pamela and Fanny. The social positions of the bride and groom having been established, they are all happy about the marriage.

      In April 1743 Fielding published Miscellanies in three volumes. In the second volume was included the novella, A Journey from this World to the Next, and volume three was taken up with his novel, The Life of Jonathan Wild the Great.
      In the Introduction to A Journey from this World to the Next Fielding used the fictional framing that a stationer gave him this manuscript of about a hundred pages that no one would print and that had been rejected by the Royal Society. At the end of the Introduction he wrote that the author

everywhere teaches this moral,
That the greatest and truest happiness
which this world affords,
is to be found only in the possession of goodness and virtue;
a doctrine which, as it is undoubtedly true,
so hath it so noble and practical a tendency,
that it can never be too often
or too strongly inculcated on the minds of men.

The author begins the narration by stating that he died on December 1, 1741 in Cheapside, After he is sure that his body is dead, he leaves it and finds his way to a stagecoach with six other spirits who had died. He is told he could not stay there if he died a natural death. The passengers each tell how they died. They stop at the City of Diseases where they learn about cures. Then they continue their journey to the Palace of Death. On the way they see several souls who are going to be born again. At the monstrous Wheel of Fortune they learn of ten lots which are designed to be equal to each other and contained the following destinies: 1: earl, riches, health disquietude, 2: cobbler, sickness, good-humor, 3: poet, contempt, self-satisfaction, 4: general, honor, discontent, 5: cottage, happy love, 6: coach and six, impotent jealous husband, 7: prime-minister, disgrace, 8: patriot, glory, 9: philosopher, poverty, ease, and 10: merchant, riches, care.
      At the gate of Elysium the departed souls are judged by King Minos who decides whether they have to return to Earth or may enter Elysium. Those who are allowed to enter have helped other people in their lives. A man hanged for stealing is allowed to enter because he had cared for an aged parent and was a tender husband and a kind father. A captain claims he served his country by killing its enemies; but Minos learns that his army had invaded another country and plundered it, and so he is sent back. Minos lets in the poor people, but he stops a parson and tells him he must go back to the other world “for no man enters that gate without charity.” Minos also rejects a grave lady for having been a prude. In Elysium the narrator talks with some famous souls. He is surprised to see Oliver Cromwell, who explains that he had to go back for a life during the restoration of Charles II with the lot containing army, cavalier, and distress. He meets Julian the apostate who gives an account of his lives as a slave, an avaricious Jew, a general, an heir, a carpenter, a beau, a fop, a monk, a fiddler, a wise man, a king, a fool, a beggar, a statesman, a soldier, a tailor, an alderman, a poet, a knight, and a dancing master. A footnote explains that the rest of the manuscript is lost except for book 19 chapter 7 about Anna Boleyn, who is admitted because of what she suffered as queen for four years. Henry’s sister Sarah may have written this chapter.

      In The Life of Mr. Jonathan Wild the Great Fielding considers the infamous criminal, Jonathan Wild, who was hanged on May 24, 1725 a “great man” because he was a thorough villain. Fielding published this novel soon after the fall of Robert Walpole and used the expression “great man” to reflect on the former Prime Minister.
      Several of Wild’s ancestors had been hanged for stealing or treason. The boy reads about famous villains and learns how to pick pockets. At the age of 17 Jonathan is in prison when he meets the Count La Ruse who is held for his debts. Jonathan helps him get out, and they work together picking pockets and steal from each other. Jonathan spends a few years in America and then returns to England to become great by cheating others. He meets his former schoolmate Heartfree, an honest jeweler. Jonathan and La Ruse pretend to be his friends but steal his jewels and money and pay thugs to beat him. La Ruse absconds with most of the money, and Heartfree is imprisoned for debt. Jonathan desires virtuous Mrs. Heartfree and persuades her to go with him and her remaining jewels to Holland. During a storm at sea Jonathan tries to force himself on her, but the captain puts him adrift in a boat. They say that a man destined to be hanged need not fear drowning, and Jonathan is rescued and returns to England. He makes up stories about his adventures, but Heartfree is beginning to suspect his sincerity. When Jonathan urges him to kill the guards and escape, Heartfree realizes his friend is a rogue. Jonathan decides to get Heartfree hanged. He finally gets her father’s permission to marry Laetitia, and after two weeks of honeymoon love they fight and cheat each other. He persuades officers that Heartfree cheated his creditors by having his wife leave with jewels, and he is sentenced to be hanged. However, Jonathan is arrested, and Laetitia is imprisoned for picking pockets. She is hoping to see her husband hanged before she is. Mrs. Heartfree returns on the day her husband is to be hanged and manages to save him. She had obtained a precious jewel from a native chief and got Heartfree released. Jonathan and his wife are hanged on the same day with their friends except for La Ruse, who was caught in France and tortured on the wheel.

      Fielding opposed the Jacobite rebellion that began on July 23, 1745 when “Bonnie Prince Charlie” landed in Scotland with supporters who proclaimed his father James VIII. On October 3 Fielding pleased the government by publishing A Serious Address to the People of Great Britain in which the Certain Consequences of the Present Rebellion are fully demonstrated, and then four days later he had printed The History of the Present Rebellion in Scotland, followed on the 12th by A Dialogue Between the Devil, the Pope, and the Pretender. Then he edited the weekly True Patriot: and the History of Our Own Times for 33 issues from November 5 until its last issue on June 17, 1746.

Fielding’s Tom Jones and Amelia

      On November 27, 1747 Fielding married Mary Daniel when she was six-months pregnant. He had been working on The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. The first three volumes were published in September 1748 and the last three volumes in February 1749. He dedicated it in gratitude to his friend George Lyttleton who had been giving him money during the writing and who helped him get appointed justice of the peace for Westminster on October 25, 1748. In the dedication he wrote of his hope that the reader will not find anything against religion, virtue, or decency because he recommends goodness and innocence which are scarcely ever injured except by indiscretion. He wrote,

It is much easier to make good Men wise,
than to make bad Men good.
For these purposes I have employed all the Wit
and Humour of which I am Master in the following History;
wherein I have endeavored to laugh Mankind
out of their favourite Follies and Vices.

The highlights of this novel were very well depicted in the Oscar-winning film Tom Jones in 1963, and my lengthy movie mirror is a detailed description of the story that can be read at Tom Jones surely has to rank as one of the greatest comic novels ever written in its portrayal of a handsome young man overcoming his illegitimacy amid temptations as he pursues his one true love, Sophia, which of course means wisdom.

      Henry Fielding, after reading Richardson’s Clarissa, decided to write a novel of moral and social reform, and he published Amelia on December 19, 1751 with a second printing in January 1752 cut short by its lack of popularity. Yet Amelia was twice translated into German in 1752, in Dutch in 1756 and French in 1762. As a justice of the peace Fielding had become more acquainted with the law and the process of justice including the prisons. In 1751 he had published his Enquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers, and in 1752 he would edit the twice-weekly Covent-Garden Journal sold for three pence which contained mostly literary criticism and social commentary. On April 13 he wrote Examples of the interposition of providence in the detection and punishment of murder Containing, above thirty cases, and 3,000 copies were printed. More importantly on January 29, 1753 some 2,000 copies were printed of his Proposal for Making an effectual Provision for the Poor for Amending their Morals, and for Rendering them useful Members of the Society with plans for proposed buildings. Suffering from poor health he moved to the country in December 1753, and then in June 1754 he went to Lisbon where he began working on a history of Portugal. Fielding died on October 8 and left behind his Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon that was published in February 1755.
      Samuel Richardson took offense at the “lowness” of Amelia and did not read it all, but Samuel Johnson reported that he enjoyed reading it all without stopping. In the first chapter of Amelia Fielding challenged the superstition that our experiences are to be attributed to good and bad Fortune rather than our own prudence or lack of it. He concluded his “exordium” this way:

To retrieve the ill consequences of a foolish conduct,
and by struggling manfully with distress to subdue it,
is one of the noblest efforts of wisdom and virtue.
Whoever, therefore, calls such a man fortunate,
is guilty of no less impropriety in speech than he would be
who should call the statuary or the poet fortunate
who carved a Venus or who writ an Iliad.
   Life may as properly be called an art as any other;
and the great incidents in it
are no more to be considered as mere accidents
than the several members of a fine statue or a noble poem.
The critics in all these are not content with seeing anything
to be great without knowing why and how it came to be so.
By examining carefully the several gradations
which conduce to bring every model to perfection,
we learn truly to know that science
in which the model is formed: as histories of this kind,
therefore, may properly be called models of human life,
so, by observing minutely the several incidents
which tend to the catastrophe or completion of the whole,
and the minute causes whence those incidents are produced,
we shall best be instructed in this most useful of all arts,
which I call the art of life.

      In the second chapter Fielding acknowledged “that no human institution is capable of consummate perfection.” Captain William Booth has been arrested with others by a watchman in Westminster after defending a stranger who was assaulted by a gang who escaped by bribing constables. Booth without money and poorly dressed was sentenced to prison where he had his coat and snuff-box stolen. Miss Matthews is brought in and uses her gold to secure a private room. She knows him and sends him a guinea he uses to get back his belongings. She tells him she was charged for using a penknife against a soldier who was seducing her by promising to marry her. Booth tells her how he eloped with beautiful Amelia Harris after her parents refused to let her wed him because he is a poor soldier. The kind Dr. Harrison reconciled him with Amelia’s mother, who took care of pregnant Amelia when Booth was ordered to Gibraltar. He was commended for his bravery, but his wound led to illness. Amelia left her child with her mother and her sister Elizabeth to go nurse her husband, and she became sick too. Booth tells how he asked the Harris family for money so that they could go to a better climate, but Elizabeth sent a curt rejection. Sergeant Atkinson, Amelia’s foster brother, gave them a loan, and they went to Montpelier where they met Col. Bath and his sister. They had a second child and learned that Mrs. Harris died, leaving her estate to Elizabeth, who discouraged them from staying with her. Dr. Harrison helped Booth become a farmer so that he could supplement his half-pay from the army; but his farming mistakes irritated his neighbors. They were broke, and Dr. Harrison was away traveling. Booth went to London and found a place they could live; but then he was put in prison. Miss Matthews understands and pays the jailer so that he can be in her cell for a few nights. The soldier she stabbed recovers, and she helps get Booth released too. Before they leave, Amelia arrives and is glad he is freed.
      The Booths live in London. His friend, Col. James, has married Miss Bath but soon is weary of her. Amelia renews her friendship with Mrs. James. Booth confides in James that he is afraid that Miss Matthews will tell his wife of their affair in her cell. James loans him money and desires Miss Matthews but cannot get her to stop sending Booth threatening letters. In the park the Booths meet Sergeant Atkinson and welcome him into their home to help with their children, and he is attracted to their landlady, Mrs. Ellison. Miss Matthews turns James against Booth, and James similarly infects his brother-in-law, Col. Bath, who challenges Booth to a duel. Booth wounds him; but Bath recovers and now respects Booth and reconciles him with James. Mrs. Ellison tries to get the lord who helped Booth pay his gambling debts involved with Amelia, but at a masquerade Amelia is protected by her neighbor, Mrs. Bennet, who drinks the drugged wine the lord prepared for Amelia. Mrs. Bennet warns Amelia and admits that she just married Sergeant Atkinson. Amelia is grateful but learns that her husband has been imprisoned for debt on a warrant from Dr. Harrison who was deceived by false accusations that Booth was being extravagant. When he learns the truth, he gets Booth released. Amelia sends Mrs. Atkinson in her costume to the masquerade, and Col. James thinks she is Amelia. Booth loses money to an old friend and is afraid he will be put back in prison. Miss Matthews persuades him to visit Col. James, and they plan a duel. Booth is incarcerated for the debt, and Dr. Harrison persuades James to forgive Booth. Miss Matthews says she will leave him alone. Dr. Harrison finds out that Elizabeth and the lawyer Murphy cheated Amelia out of her inheritance, and Murphy is convicted of forgery. Elizabeth flees to France, and Amelia sends her an allowance. Booth has learned not to gamble and settles down with Amelia and their friends.

Smollett’s Comic Novels

      Tobias Smollett was baptized on March 19, 1721 in a Presbyterian church in Dumbartonshire. He attended the University of Glasgow and was apprenticed there to a surgeon. In 1739 he went to London with his play Regicide but could not get it produced. He became a surgeon’s second mate in the Royal Navy and sailed to Jamaica where he married the wealthy heiress Anne Lascelles in 1747. Their only child Elizabeth was born the next year and died at the age of fifteen. He published “The Tears of Scotland” poem to mourn the Scottish loss in the battle at Culloden in April 1746. He published his first novel, The Adventures of Roderick Random, in 1747 and translated Le Sage’s picaresque romance Gil Blas in 1748 and The Devil upon Crutches in 1750. He went to Paris, and his novel The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle came out in 1751. The next year his “Essay on the External Use of Water” criticized the claims of the health resort at Bath and made him less popular. His novel, The Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom, in 1753 portrays an immoral character who lies, cheats, and seduces, and it did not do well. His translation of Don Quixote completed in 1755 was popular and is highly regarded. By then Smollett was suffering from tuberculosis.
      He edited the Tory Critical Review from 1756 to 1763. He published his Complete History of England in four volumes (1757-58) and completed the Continuation in five volumes by 1765. His novel, Sir Launcelot Greaves, was not well received (1760-61). He also contributed to a general history of the world in 58 volumes by writing about France, Italy, and Germany. He and his friend John Wilkes helped get the release of the Jamaican Francis Barber, Samuel Johnson’s manservant, in October 1760, and his other friends included David Garrick, Laurence Sterne, Oliver Goldsmith, and the famous surgeon, John Hunter. Admiral Charles Knowles sued Smollett for a libel in the Critical Review, and he had to pay a fine of £100 and spend three months in the King’s Bench Prison. In 1762 he began editing The Briton in support of the Earl of Bute. He also worked on the 8-volume Present State of all Nations and translated the works of Voltaire in 35 volumes. In 1766 he published his Travels through France and Italy which took him as far south as Rome. He probably wrote the anonymous 1769 novel, The History and Adventures of an Atom, that satirized the government of George II during the war against France by describing an ancient culture in Japan. His best novel is generally considered to be The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (1771). He spent his last years in Italy trying to recover from tuberculosis and died there in September 1771.
      The main character in the autobiographical Adventures of Roderick Random narrates the story in the style of Defoe. He is from Scotland, and his father is disinherited for having married a servant. His mother dies, and his father leaves; but his grandfather sends Roderick to school where he is popular with the boys but is often punished. After his grandfather’s death his uncle, Lieutenant Tom Bowling, sends him to the university until Bowling is dismissed from his ship for dueling. Roderick, like the author, becomes a surgeon’s apprentice. He works for a chemist and falls in love with Miss Williams before he learns she is a prostitute. He is accused of stealing and loses his job, but he takes care of Williams while she is ill and gets a position as a surgeon’s mate on a man-of-war. The tyrannical Captain Oakhum comes close to hanging Roderick for criticizing him and mistaking his Greek notebook as a code for spying. After the battle at Cartagena he becomes a surgeon’s mate on a ship returning to England. After the captain dies, Lieutenant Crampley runs aground by the Sussex coast. On the shore the crew robs Roderick, but an old woman helps him become a footman for a spinster. He displays his knowledge of literature and falls in love with her niece Narcissa, but her brother wants her to wed a wealthy knight. Roderick stops the man from forcing himself upon her and beats him. He is captured by smugglers and taken to Boulogne. He discovers that Bowling fled there because he thought he killed a man in a duel; but Roderick explains the man is alive.
      Roderick and a friar are robbed on their way to Paris, and he enlists in the French army as a private and participates in the battle of Dettingen. Roderick finds his boyhood friend, Hugh Strap, who helps him get out of the army. They go to Paris, and Roderick manages to get new clothes so that he can pretend he is rich. Then they go to London where they join some fashionable men. Once again Roderick gets involved with a woman without realizing she sells her body. Then he meets Melinda who wins so much money from him at cards that she rejects his marriage proposal because he is too poor. A friend promises to help him win his cousin Miss Snapper, who is another heiress, for a loan of £500 to be paid back after the marriage. Roderick goes with the young woman and her mother to Bath and saves them from being robbed by a highwayman. Although she is physically disabled, he likes her because she is intelligent and humorous. However, when Roderick sees Narcissa again, he realizes he is in love with her and leaves Miss Snapper. Narcissa likes him too, and her brother thinks he has money. Melinda arrives in Bath and tells the brother about Roderick. Lord Quiverwit is courting Narcissa, and Roderick fights a duel with him. Narcissa’s brother takes her away, but Miss Williams is her maid and as Roderick’s friend wants to help him. Roderick goes back to London, and Bowling makes him a ship surgeon on a voyage that picks up slaves in Guinea. He also gives Roderick £1,000 to buy goods to sell, and he makes a large profit on the voyage. In Spanish America they discover a rich Englishman known as Don Rodrigo who turns out to be Roderick’s father. Roderick returns to England and marries Narcissa, and they go to live on the Random estate that his father purchased from his bankrupt older brother.

      Smollett’s comic novel, The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, is another picaresque romance that satirizes contemporary morals.Peregrine Pickle is the oldest son of a successful merchant who has retired to the country and married a domineering woman. Their neighbor Commodore Hawser Trunnion runs his house like a ship with Lt. Hatchway and his servant, seaman Tom Pipes. Mrs. Pickle alienates her husband’s sister Grizzle who wants to get out of the house and contrives to marry Trunnion after some comic difficulties. As Mrs. Trunnion she transforms the commodore’s house. When he objects, she pretends to be pregnant. Young Peregrine is abused by his mother and neglected by his father. Disliking his pranks, they send him away to school which he does not like. He writes to Trunnion who decides to adopt him as his son and heir. His uncle Trunnion also decides to send Peregrine to school at Winchester with Pipes as his servant. Peregrine falls in love with visiting Emilia Gauntlet and leaves school to lodge in her village. When they learn that he has fallen for a poor girl, his parents disown him; but Trunnion sends him to Oxford where Emilia joins him. Before being sent on a tour of the continent, Peregrine and Emilia pledge their mutual devotion. Pipes accompanies him to France where Peregrine tries to seduce an Englishman’s wife, Mrs. Hornbeck. He meets her again in Paris and runs off with her until the British ambassador gets her to go back to her husband. Peregrine is jailed; he fights a duel with a musketeer over a woman, picks a fight with a nobleman at a masquerade ball, and is put in the Bastille with an artist he met. Pipes gets him released, but he is expelled from France. Peregrine resumes his affair with Mrs. Hornbeck and is imprisoned again.
      Peregrine returns to England and finds Emilia disinterested. He is called home by the illness and death of his uncle Trunnion and learns he inherited his house and £30,000. He goes back to London where he indulges in a dissipated life. He tries to win Emilia again, fails, and tries to force himself on her at a masquerade. Her uncle forbids him to see her again. He meets the notorious Lady Vane (a real person), who shares her amorous memoirs with him. He learns the secrets of women from his friend Cadwallader who is a fortune-teller. After attending Grizzle Trunion’s funeral he befriends a beggar girl and buys her fine clothes, but trying to pass her off in society loses him several friends. His pursuit of Emilia fails again as does his expensive run for Parliament. He is facing ruin and tries to live by doing translations and writing satires, but the latter causes a politician to have him thrown in jail. Hatchway and Pipes bring their savings to get him out of Fleet prison, but he refuses their help. He is determined to make money writing or starve. Emilia’s brother, Captain Gauntlet, discovers Peregrine’s situation and having been promoted because of Peregrine’s help, he is eager to return the favor. A debtor pays Peregrine the £700 he owes him. Emilia inherits £10,000 and offers to marry him. He gallantly refuses to burden her with his desperate situation. His father dies, and the fortune he inherits enables him to leave prison. He gives his mother an allowance, moves to the country, and marries Emilia.

      Smollett’s last novel in 1771, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, is generally considered his best. The series of letters presents the different views of the six main characters.
      Wealthy Squire Matthew Bramble lives with his middle-aged sister Tabitha Bramble who is still hoping to get married. She is not well educated and is condescending to servants. Matthew suffers from gout, writes to his doctor, and is going to Bath to get healed with his sister, her maid, Winifred Jenkins, and his manservant. Bramble’s orphaned wards, his niece Lydia Melford and his nephew Jerry Melford, decide to go with them. At a boarding-school Lydia had fallen in love with the actor George Wilson. Her brother Jerry has recently graduated from Oxford and tried to defend her honor in a duel with the actor but could not arrange it. At an inn along the way Wilson pretends to be a Jewish peddler and presents himself to Lydia who has her maid Winifred follow the actor. She talks with him and tells Lydia that he is a gentleman with honorable intentions, but the maid forgets his real name.
      At Bath they enjoy its festivities. Tabitha is trying to get a marriage proposal from an eligible man while Matthew and many others are disappointed the waters are not healing them. Bramble decides to go back to London. On the way in a coach accident Tabitha’s dog bites the squire’s servant who then kicks the dog. To please his sister Bramble dismisses his servant and hires the ostler Humphry Clinker as postilion with another coach. Tabitha and her maid complain that Humphry is not wearing a shirt, and the squire learns his story and gives him money for new clothes. The grateful Clinker goes with them to London where they visit Vauxhall Gardens and attend parties. Humphry enjoys preaching in the style of the Methodists and soon wins over Tabitha and her maid. Bramble believes it is hypocrisy and tries to stop the sermons, but Tabitha insists they proceed.
      Bramble’s family learns that Humphry has been arrested for highway robbery. The squire finds out that he is innocent and was framed by an ex-convict who gets paid for turning in criminals. Humphry’s preaching has gained sympathy from the jailer, his family, and other prisoners. Bramble brings in the victim, and he testifies that Humphry did not rob him. Converted prisoners have stopped drinking in the taproom, and Humphry is quickly released. Bramble promises not to obstruct his preaching. They travel north and bathe in Scarborough, the squire without his clothes in a cart. Finding the water cold, he shouts and swims away. Humphry thinks he is drowning and goes in clothed to save him, exposing the squire on the beach.
      They stop at an inn in Durham, and Lieutenant Obadiah Lismahago tells them of his adventures with natives in North America. Tabitha is attracted to him and arranges to meet him again. Meanwhile the maid Winifred has fallen in love with Humphry. They arrive in Edinburgh, and Lydia faints at the sight of a man who resembles Wilson. On the way back south Lismahago rejoins the party to the delight of Tabitha. Near Dumfries the coach overturns while crossing a stream. Jerry and Lismahago rescue the women while Humphry dives down to release the squire. At the tavern Bramble finds his college friend Dennison who is now a farmer. When Humphry hears Dennison call the squire Matthew Lloyd, he gets excited and shows Bramble papers which prove that he is the squire’s natural son. Bramble graciously accepts him and explains to his family. Winifred is worried he will no longer wish to marry her, but Humphry has religious humility. Next Bramble learns that the actor Wilson is actually Dennison’s son who had run away when his father tried to force him into a marriage. George told his father he loves Lydia, and now Dennison is happy to accept them. Lismahago proposes to Tabitha, and she eagerly agrees. They all go to Dennison’s home. Humphry asks Winifred to marry him, and they prepare for three weddings. Suddenly all are happy, and even Bramble is glad to return home to his doctor.

Goldsmith, Mackenzie & Burney

      Oliver Goldsmith once said that he was born on November 10, 1728, but it may have been 1730. He was from Ireland and earned his bachelor degree at Trinity College in Dublin in 1749. His father had died in 1747, and he lived with his mother until 1752 when he went to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh until 1755. After a walking tour of Flanders, France, Switzerland, and northern Italy he lived in London from 1756. He assisted a schoolmaster and wrote reviews of books. In April 1759 he published his Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe. His Chinese Letters in the newspaper, The Public Ledger, were collected and printed as The Citizen of the World in 1762. His poem, The Traveler, was successful in December 1764. He became one of the nine members of the Club described by Boswell in the Life of Samuel Johnson. Boswell seemed to have little respect for Goldsmith, but Johnson said, “No man was more foolish when he had not a pen in his hand, or more wise when he had.” On October 28, 1762 Johnson got him an advance of £60 on his only novel, The Vicar of Wakefield: A Tale, Supposed to be written by Himself that was not published until 1766. Goldsmith wrote two comedies (discussed below). He wrote eight volumes of his History of the Earth and Animated Nature before his misdiagnosis of a kidney infection led to his early death on April 4, 1774.
      The Vicar of Wakefield is considered one of the best novels of the 18th century and is still popular. The vicar, Dr. Primrose, narrates the novel, describing his happy marriage to Deborah and the trials of his charming children—George, Olivia, Sophia, Moses, and two small boys. They are hospitable to guests, and he explains that by sending off troublesome guests with a gift they never return. George was named after an uncle who left them £10,000. Mrs. Primrose describes their children by saying, “They are as heaven made them, handsome enough, if they be good enough; for handsome is that handsome does.”4 George is sent to Oxford, but Moses is educated at home for business. The vicar gives his profits of £35 a year to orphans and widows of the clergy in their diocese. He believes in monogamy and is reluctant to let George marry Miss Arabella Wilmot because her father is working on his fourth wife. After the vicar’s broker disappears with his money, Wilmot decides to break off the match. George goes to London, and the Primroses move to a smaller farm on the estate of Squire Thornhill. The daughters are attracted to Mr. Burchell even though he is older. Yet Squire Thornhill is younger and has a wealthy uncle. The vicar describes how they begin the day at dawn with a prayer before breakfast and then work to sunset, and after dinner they talk by the fire. Moses debates the value of marrying a free-thinker, and Deborah says Olivia is skilled in controversy.
      Deborah hopes that Olivia will marry Squire Thornhill. Burchell loves Sophia, but Dr. Primrose considers him too poor. Two ladies invite the girls to live with them in the city, and the family agrees; but when they learn that Burchell has secretly slandered the girls to change the mind of the two ladies, Primrose bans Burchell from their house. Thornhill has not proposed to Olivia, and her father urges her to marry their neighbor farmer, Mr. Williams; but four days before the wedding they are told that she ran away with Burchell. The vicar tries to find Olivia to help her, but he becomes sick and is laid up at an inn. After recovering he heads home and meets Arabella Wilmot who asks about George. Primrose has not heard from him, and he tells Thornhill he does not know where Olivia is. George has had no luck and comes home, but the squire gets him a commission in the army. Arabella promises to wait for him. Primrose finds Olivia in an inn, and she explains that she ran away with Squire Thornhill, not Burchell, and that he tricked her with a false wedding ceremony and soon left her. As they approach their house, they see it burning down. No one is hurt, but all their property is destroyed. They are allowed to live in an outbuilding on the estate. Squire Thornhill is planning to wed Arabella and offers to find a husband for Olivia. This makes the vicar angry, and the squire demands the rent not paid since the fire. Primrose cannot pay, and Thornhill sends him to debtors’ prison. There he finds George who has been sentenced to hang for trying to kill the Squire. Then they learn that Sophia has been abducted.
      Suddenly their fortunes shift as their virtues are rewarded. Burchell rescues Sophia and tells her that he is the squire’s uncle, Sir William Thornhill. The vicar and George are released. Olivia learns that her wedding to Squire Thornhill was with a real priest. Sophia marries Sir William, and George weds Arabella. The broker is caught, and the money is returned to Dr. Primrose.

      Henry Mackenzie was born on July 26 (OS), 1745 in Edinburgh where he attended school and the university. His mother taught him sensitivity; but she died when he was fourteen. He studied law in London 1765-68, returned to Scotland and wrote the unpublished tragedy, Virginia; or The Roman Father, in 1769. Influenced by Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments and Goldsmith’s novel, The Vicar of Wakefield, his first novel, The Man of Feeling, published in May 1771 was sentimental and popular. In 1773 his novel, The Man of the World, came out, and his tragedy, The Prince of Tunis, was produced in Edinburgh. His epistolary novel, Julia de Roubigné, printed in 1777 has been compared to Richardson’s Clarissa and Rousseau’s La Nouvelle Héloise but has been generally neglected, though some consider it his best work. Between 1779 and 1787 Mackenzie wrote nearly a hundred essays for the Mirror and the Lounger. His comedy, The Force of Fashion, had only one performance at Covent Garden in 1789. In 1814 Walter Scott dedicated his Waverley novels to Mackenzie and called him “our Scotland’s Addison.”
      In The Man of Feeling Mr. Harley is from a family of country gentry but was an orphan raised by an unmarried aunt. His inheritance provides him with a small income which enables him to live in moderation as a virtuous man. He is secretly in love with his neighbor, the heiress Miss Walton. He goes to London to try to lease some crown-lands next to his property so that he can rent them out. He meets a beggar who has taken to fortune-telling to get more money. Harley has difficulty getting the baronet to help him get the lease, and he finds that a former footman panders to the rich. Harley visits the insane at Bedlam and feels sympathy and weeps for a woman grieving over the death of her lover. While walking in a park he sees an old gentleman helping a beggar and goes with him to a public house to drink cider. He loses much money in a card game and later learns they cheated him. On the street a hungry prostitute asks him for food, and he goes with Emily Atkins to a place where she can eat. She tells him her plight, and he gives her his last half-guinea and promises to call on her the next day. To pay the bill he leaves his watch. At her place she tells him her sad story of how a man seduced her, and she wants to return to her father, a retired army captain. Suddenly Captain Atkins bursts in and threatens Harley until his daughter explains he is there to help her.
      Harley learns from the baronet that the lease went to the former footman, and he heads for home. While walking the last mile he meets the old soldier Edwards, and Harley realizes he is a farmer he used to know. Because of enclosure acts the landlord had moved Edwards and his family to a worse farm. Edwards and his son who was married ended up as tenants on a small patch of poor land. Then the son was pressed into the military. Edwards bribed officials to let him replace his son and is nearly broke. Edwards served in India where an old Hindu gave him some gold. Now he has returned to visit his son. Harley goes with him, and they discover that the son and his wife have died, leaving two small children. Harley offers to let Edwards work a farm on his estates so that he can take care of the two children. When he gets home, Harley learns that Miss Walton is engaged to marry a rich man. Harley has never told anyone of his love for her, and broken-hearted he becomes very ill. She comes to visit him to cheer up the man she respects. Realizing he is dying he tells her he loves her, and she admits she loves him and faints. He dies, and she decides not to marry.
      Mackenzie’s Julia de Roubigné is about romantic complications with a tragic conclusion, but it includes this perceptive paragraph about slavery in Martinique:

 I have been often tempted to doubt, whether
there is not an error in the whole plan of negro servitude;
and whether whites, or creoles born in the West Indies,
or perhaps cattle, after the manner of European husbandry,
would not do the business better and cheaper
than the slaves do?
The money which the latter cost at first,
the sickness (often owing to despondency of mind)
to which they are liable after their arrival,
and the proportion that die in consequence of it,
make the machine, if it may be so called, of a plantation,
extremely expensive in its operations.
In the list of slaves belonging to a wealthy planter,
it would astonish you to see the number unfit for service,
pining under disease, a burden on their master.—
I am talking only as a merchant;
but as a man—Good heavens!
when I think of the many thousands of my fellow-creatures
groaning under servitude and misery!—Great God!
hast thou peopled those regions of thy world for the purpose
of casting out their inhabitants to chains and torture?—
No; thou gavest them a land teeming with good things,
and lighted’st up thy sun to bring forth spontaneous plenty;
but the refinements of man, ever at war with thy works,
have changed this scene of profusion and luxuriance
into a theatre of rapine, of slavery, and of murder!5

      Frances Burney was born on June 13, 1752. Her family moved to London in 1760, and her mother died in 1762. She and her siblings were often cared for by their grandmothers. Her father Charles Burney composed music, became a doctor of music at Oxford, and wrote The General History of Music in four volumes that were published 1776-89. Frances was called Fanny and started writing when she was ten. Her step-mother made her burn her first novel, The History of Caroline Evelyn, in 1767. She began writing a diary and then journal letters. Her first novel about the daughter of Caroline Evelyn initially called Evelina was published anonymously in 1778 and is considered her best work. She delighted in hearing people discuss the novel without knowing she was the author. She became a close friend of Samuel Johnson in his last years before his death in 1784 and of his friends, the Thrales. Hester Thrale persuaded Burney to write a comedy in 1779, but her father and Samuel Crisp talked her out of getting The Witlings produced. While serving Queen Charlotte 1786-91 she wrote four tragedies and later three more comedies. Only one tragedy was produced and had only one performance in 1795. None of her plays were published during her long life. Burney wrote three more novels—Cecilia (1782), Camilla (1796), and The Wanderer (1814) that were commercially successful. She married Alexandre d’Arblay in 1793, and they lived in France 1802-12 during the war with England. Her father died in 1814, and she published Memoirs of Doctor Burney in 1832. She died in 1840, and her diaries and letters started being published in 1843.
      Burney’s Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World had eighteen British editions from 1778 to 1822 and was translated into Dutch (1779), German (1780-85), and French (1797). It was also published in America in 1792, 1794, and 1797. She dedicated the novel to the authors of the monthly and critical reviews, and in the preface she expressed her gratitude for the knowledge of Johnson, the eloquence of Rousseau, the emotional powers of Richardson, the wit of Fielding, and the humor of Smollett. Published at first in three volumes, the novel consists of a series of letters. This novel describes manners and frictions between social classes mostly from the viewpoint of a young lady.
      Evelina’s mother Caroline was abandoned by her husband, Sir John Belmont, and after her death Evelina is left a ward of Rev. Arthur Villars. He refused to send her to her grandmother Madame Duval in France or to Mrs. Mirvan in London. Thus she was raised at Berry Hill in Dorsetshire and kept away from London and her father. She is now 17 years old, and Villars lets her visit Mrs. Mirvan’s mother Lady Howard. From there Mrs. Mirvan and her daughter are allowed to take her to London where she enjoys fashionable society, though she is embarrassed by her lack of proper manners, especially by rakish Sir Clement Willoughby. She meets her grandmother Duval who is thrown into mud, and Evelina does not like her coarseness. Clement embarrasses her again by delaying her coach because of his concern for her honor. He is relieved when she returns to Howard Grove. Lady Howard and Madame Duval want to make Belmont acknowledge his daughter, but Villars promised her mother he would never allow that. Captain Mirvan and Clement play another practical joke on Madame Duval. Villars allows Evelina to go with her grandmother to London, but she does not like her chaperone or her less fashionable friends. Evelina meets the poor Scottish poet Macartney and stops him from taking his own life and gives him money. She is attracted to Lord Orville but regrets meeting him when she is with vulgar people. Madame Duval wants Evelina to marry the son of a silversmith, and Evelina resents her grandmother’s middle-class friends who take her to Marylebone pleasure garden where she is harassed by a drunk sailor and protected by prostitutes and then is seen by Orville.
      Evelina writes to Villars who invites her to return to Berry Hill. From there she writes to Mrs. Mirvan about her experience in London, but she is devastated to receive an insulting letter she thought was from Orville after she had written him to distinguish herself from her crude acquaintances. Evelina becomes ill, and her neighbor, Mrs. Selwyn, takes her to the baths at Bristol Hotwells. There Evelina is glad to see polite Orville and other London friends until Macartney shows up and embarrasses her. Later she explains to Orville, and he asks her to marry him. A girl claiming to be Belmont’s daughter arrives, but Mrs. Selwyn believes that Evelina is his daughter. Macartney tries to return the money that Evelina gave him; but she is afraid that people will suspect that she had an affair with him. Yet Orville urges her to see the young poet. Macartney tells her that he thinks he is a son that Belmont refuses to acknowledge. She realizes that would make him her brother but says nothing about it. Villars learns that John Belmont has returned to England with a woman he is calling his daughter, and Villars wants to get Evelina her rights by making him acknowledge her. Mrs. Selwyn helps resolve the confusion, and the claimed daughter is shown to be the daughter of the poor nurse Polly Green, who replaced Evelina with her baby. Evelina is happy to learn that Belmont had not rejected her but had been tricked, and they are reconciled. The pretended daughter is also treated kindly as it was not her fault. Evelina agrees to share her inheritance with her. Clement confesses that he forged the insulting letter to Evelina. Sir John also recognizes Macartney as his son. He was attracted to Polly’s daughter until he thought she was his sister. Now there is a double wedding between them as Evelina marries Lord Orville.

Plays by Steele, Gay and Lillo

      Richard Steele was baptized in Dublin on March 12, 1672. After studying at Oxford for four years he spent several years in the army and in 1700 seriously wounded another officer in a duel. In 1701 he published “The Christian Hero” arguing that only religious principles can make a great man. He wrote and produced three comedies 1701-5 and is known for writing essays 1710--14 in The Tatler and The Spectator with his friend Joseph Addison. In 1714 George I appointed him a justice of the peace, and he became supervisor of the Drury Lane Theatre. His fourth and last play, The Conscious Lovers, was produced on November 7, 1722 and was published on December 1. In the preface he wrote that he wanted to improve comedy with a “joy too exquisite for laughter.” This play established a new style promoting virtue and was performed 491 times in the 18th century including 110 benefits and 10 command performances and others at the desire of merchants.
      The Conscious Lovers is loosely adapted from Terence’s The Woman of Andros. The servant Humphrey tells Sir John Bevil that wealth gave his master loose manners in his youth while poverty restrained his own. Sir John is expecting his son Junior to wed the great India merchant’s daughter, Lucinda Sealand. Young Bevil has been taking care of Sealand’s older daughter Indiana and likes her. He realizes that his father would never approve the marriage, and so he refrains from declaring his love. Mr. Sealand breaks off the match because young Bevil appears to be in love with Indiana, and Mrs. Sealand does not approve. The junior Bevel assures his father he will not marry without his consent, but he also says he will only wed one who pleases him. His friend Myrtle likes Lucinda, and young Bevil sends a letter to Lucinda suggesting she cancel their engagement. Sealand’s sister Isabella tells Indiana that she approves of young Bevil, though she believes all men are hypocrites. Junior tells Indiana that he esteems her as a “result of reason” which he considers the “height of human glory.” His servant Tom kisses Lucinda’s maid Phillis who explains to Lucinda that for the vulgar that is a sign of love. Lucinda says that Bevil applied to her parents for her, but her father is concerned about the other woman.
      Mrs. Sealand gets her cousin Cimberton interested in Lucinda for her money, but she calls him a “stupid coxcomb.” Myrtle disguised as the lawyer Bramble and Tom as old Target come to Mrs. Sealand to delay the marriage to Cimberton. When young Bevil gets the letter from Lucinda, Myrtle becomes jealous and challenges his friend to a duel; but Bevil rejects “the decisions a tyrant custom has introduced to the breach of all laws, both divine and human.” After a discussion Myrtle agrees the duel is a bad idea. Mr. Sealand tells Sir John that the wedding is off until he knows more about the son’s relationship with Indiana. Myrtle goes back to the Sealand house disguised as Cimberton’s Uncle Geoffry but reveals himself to Lucinda. Mr. Sealand goes to see Indiana, and Isabella recognizes him as her brother. Indiana says young Beryl did not try to seduce her. She tells how she lost her father when she, her mother, and her Aunt Isabella were captured by French privateers. Sealand identifies her bracelet as his first wife’s and learns that her father’s name was Danvers. He then explains that he is her father but changed his name to Sealand. He recognizes his sister and approves of his long-lost daughter Indiana marrying young Bevil who then arrives with his father. The son is elated by the news and embraces Indiana. Then he asks Sealand to let Lucinda marry Myrtle. When Cimberton learns that Lucinda’s fortune has been cut in half, he rejects her. Myrtle then reveals himself and accepts her with all his heart.

      John Gay was baptized on September 16, 1685. He served as a secretary to aristocrats. He made and lost a fortune investing in South Sea speculation. In the Scriblerus Club he became friends with John Arbuthnot, Thomas Parnell, Jonathan Swift, and Alexander Pope. He wrote poetry and plays, and is most famous for The Beggar’s Opera which was produced in London on January 29, 1728 and had a run of 62 performances. With music by Johann Christoph Pepusch the play satirized Italian opera and is considered the first ballad opera, a forerunner of musical comedies. The Beggar’s Opera was also taken as a symbolic satire of Prime Minister Robert Walpole, and in 1729 his government banned Gay’s sequel Polly which is set in the West Indies.
      The Beggar’s Opera is introduced by a beggar and a player. Mr. Peachum at a table with his accounts book sings the first song and explains that as a fence he, like lawyers, protects and encourages cheats. His wife is concerned that their daughter Polly is fond of the highway robber, Captain Macheath. Polly admits she allows him her favors and shows the watch he gave her. Her father warns her not to marry him, or he will cut her throat. Mrs. Peachum wonders how she could support the expense of a husband who gambles, drinks, and whores. Polly says she did not marry him for honor or money, but she loves him. Her mother admits a frail woman can make her fortune but then must be sure she is not found out. She thinks Macheath may have two or three wives already. Mr. Peachum tells Polly that as the captain may rob, his business is to take robbers. Peachum tells his wife that they are still making money off the captain’s thefts, and so his death can be put off; but he admits that gratitude must give way to interest. The Peachums are afraid that Macheath may kill them so that his wife Polly would have their fortune. They want Polly to spy on him, but she warns Macheath to hide from her parents.
      Thieves are drinking at a tavern near Newgate Prison, and Macheath tells his gang that Peachum is still useful to them; but a pistol is their last resort. Then he leaves them to hide out. Macheath is with eight women he loves, and Polly is not there. He has taken money on the road but lost it gambling. Jenny Diver and Suky Tawdry inform Peachum, and he comes in with constables and has Macheath arrested and taken to Newgate. Lockit welcomes him and gets him to pay for better fetters. Lucy Lockit complains that Macheath has another wife as promises mean little to him. He offers to marry Lucy, and she would like to be made an honest woman. Lockit and Peachum agree to go halves on the reward for Macheath, and Peachum reminds his partner they have to pay spies to get information. Lucy tells her father Lockit that she loves Macheath, and Lockit advises her to get all the money she can from him. Macheath asks Lucy if twenty guineas will move her father. Polly is upset that Macheath has been imprisoned and promises to stay with him until death. Lucy wishes Polly had been hanged five months ago. Lucy asks Macheath if he has two wives. He tries to pacify them as he is facing hanging. Lucy threatens to have Polly thrown out of the prison. Macheath promises Lucy he will not be false to her, and she steals the keys from her father and releases him.
      Lucy tells her father she helped Macheath escape because of Peachum and Polly, and Lockit asks how much she got. She did it for love, and he blames her poor education. He calls her a slut and blames her for ignoring her interest. Lockit looks for Macheath who is in a gambling house. Lockit advises Peachum to watch Polly in order to find Macheath. Lucy feels torn apart by jealousy, rage, love, and fear and tries to poison Polly. She admits to Polly that they both have been too fond. They discover that Mrs. Trapes betrayed Macheath who is back in custody. Lockit tells him his trial is imminent. Because of his prison break Macheath is to be executed, and he calls Peachum and Lockit scoundrels. He advises Lucy and Polly to go to the West Indies to find husbands. A jailor brings in four women each with a child to see Macheath. The beggar and the player discuss the sad ending and decide that the rabble can bring about a reprieve. In the last scene Macheath realizes he must choose one wife, and in a dance he offers the ladies a partner and takes Polly as his own.

      George Lillo was born in London either on February 3, 1691 or February 4, 1693. He became a partner in his father’s jewelry business and wrote seven plays between 1730 and his death in 1739. His first play, Silvia, or the Country Burial, was a ballad opera, and his second, The London Merchant: or The History Of George Barnwell, produced in June 1731 at Drury Lane Theatre was his most successful and portrayed the business class with melodramatic sentimentality. Rousseau and Diderot praised The London Merchant, and Lessing, Goethe, and Schiller were influenced by it and his tragedy, Fatal Curiosity, or Guilt Its Own Punishment (1736).
      In his preface to The London Merchant Lillo argued that moral tragedy is most excellent and can excite passions in order to correct those that are criminal and encourage virtue. He quotes Hamlet to show how the guilty can be touched by watching a play. George Barnwell works as an apprentice for the wealthy merchant Thorowgood whose only heir is his daughter Maria. Sarah Millwood tells her servant Lucy that being without virtue she can do anything, and she hopes to take advantage of a young and innocent man. Millwood seduces Barnwell, saying she would like to live in the same house. He thinks she loves him and puts himself at her command. She urges him to be less obedient to his master and steal money that she says she needs. Barnwell realizes he is a thief but does not confide in the apprentice Trueman. The sensitivity of Thorowgood persuades Barnwell to confess, and his master warns him not to let vice become habitual. Barnwell decides to renounce Millwood, but she and Lucy come to see him. Millwood pretends she is being evicted and gets him to steal more money. He promises to prevent her ruin and brings them a bag of money. Thorowgood believes his merchant business enriches his country and has Barnwell’s accounts inspected.
      Trueman shows Maria a letter from Barnwell admitting that he embezzled cash and that he has left. George goes to Millwood; but she refuses to see him unless he robs and kills his rich uncle. Barnwell is wearing a mask and approaches the uncle with a pistol but throws it down. The uncle tries to draw his sword, and Barnwell stabs him with a dagger. The uncle blesses his nephew and forgives his murderer. Barnwell removes his mask and kisses his dying uncle. Lucy comes to Thorowgood with the news that Barnwell has killed his uncle. Barnwell goes to Millwood with bloody hands, and she agrees to hide him and asks what gold and jewels he has brought her. He admits he fled the scene, and she castigates him for not robbing and for coming to her with his guilt. Now she refuses to entertain him, and he wants to die. She summons an officer and turns in the murderer, but her servants Lucy and Blunt have her arrested too. They are both sentenced to death. Millwood does not ask for mercy. Barnwell is visited by Thorowgood in a dungeon and repents, hoping for heavenly mercy. Before the executions Millwood refuses to repent or ask for forgiveness, but Barnwell prays for her as they are taken to the gallows. Trueman hopes to learn from the ruin of others to prevent one’s own.

Comedies by Goldsmith and Sheridan

      Oliver Goldsmith wrote two plays. The Good-Natur’d Man was performed at the Covent Garden Theatre in 1768 with a complicated plot but could not compete with Hugh Kelly’s False Delicacy at Drury Lane Theatre. However, Goldsmith’s comedy, She Stoops to Conquer or The Mistakes of a Night, produced on March 15, 1773 was a great success and is still popular.
      Mr. Hardcastle has a daughter Kate, and his second wife by her previous husband has a son Tony Lumpkin. She maintains that he has not come to the age of discretion yet, but Tony insists on going out to an ale-house to drink with his buddies. Hardcastle tells Kate that he has chosen young Charles Marlowe for her to marry and promises he is a scholar, generous, brave and handsome but reserved. She likes it all except his timidity. Kate confides in her cousin Constance Neville who is in love with Mr. Hastings, though her only fortune is in jewels she inherited. Mrs. Hardcastle wants Constance to marry Tony, and she pretends to be interested. At the ale-house Tony meets Marlowe and Hastings. Tony tells them they are lost and suggests they go to a nearby inn which is actually the Hardcastle home. There Marlowe and Hastings are disappointed with the service. Marlowe explains that he is nervous with fashionable women but is free and easy with those of a lower class. Hardcastle calls his place “Liberty Hall” and says they can do as they please, but he is treated as an innkeeper. Hardcastle became frustrated trying to improve the government and has decided to mend himself. Marlowe wants to choose what he has for supper. Constance is happy to see Hastings and tells him this is her aunt’s house.
      Marlowe meets Kate who is dressed up, and he is very shy. They discuss sentimentality and hypocrisy. Tony tells his cousin Constance he seeks no nearer relationship with her. Tony quarrels with his mother, but he offers to help Hastings run off with Constance by getting the jewels for them. Hardcastle complains that Marlowe treats him as a servant. He finds Kate in plain clothes, and she says Marlowe is quite bashful. They agree to reject Marlowe. Tony steals the jewels from his mother’s keeping and gives the casket to Hastings saying, “Ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no fibs.” Mrs. Hardcastle tells Constance she does not need jewels at her age and soon discovers they are gone. Kate learns that her brother tricked them into taking the house for an inn. Marlowe did not really look at Kate before and now takes her as a barmaid and is so free with her that he tries to kiss her. When her father comes in, Marlowe goes out. Hardcastle does not like his impudence, but she asks for an hour to convince him. Hastings tells Constance that he gave the jewels to Marlowe to put in their baggage, but Marlowe has his servant give the casket to the “landlady” to keep it safe and tells Hastings of this. Hardcastle finds a servant drunk and tells Marlowe and his drunk friends to leave his house. Marlowe asks for the bill, and Hardcastle says he expected a well-bred man from his father’s letter and leaves the room. Kate explains to Marlowe that her brother tricked them about the inn. Marlowe wants to leave, but Kate pretends to cry and says she has no fortune but her character. Marlowe likes her, but he feels the class difference makes an honorable connection impossible.
      Kate has “stooped to conquer” but now must explain to her father. Tony pretends to court Constance, and his mother says they will marry tomorrow. Tony has a letter read to his mother in which Hastings asks for his help with horses so that he can run off with Constance. Mrs. Hardcastle says she will defeat their plots. Marlowe tells Tony and Hastings that he has been insulted and is despised. Tony promises to help them. Hastings learns that Connie and Mrs. Hardcastle drove off. Sir Charles Marlowe arrives and is welcomed by Hardcastle who assures him that his daughter and Marlowe’s son like each other. Young Marlowe tells Hardcastle that he and Kate had only one formal meeting and that he is leaving. Tony drove the coach and took Mrs. Hardcastle and Connie in a circle, and they return. Kate has her father and Sir Charles hide behind a screen as she shows them how Marlowe feels about her. When they come forward, Marlowe learns that Kate is Hardcastle’s daughter. Hastings and Constance come in, and he explains why they came back. Tony learns he is of age and declares that he refuses Constance and that she may marry whom she pleases. Hardcastle says that Marlowe may take his daughter as a wife.

      Richard Brinsley Sheridan was born on October 30, 1751 in Dublin. His mother Frances Sheridan wrote three plays and four novels, and his father Thomas Sheridan was an actor and manager of a theater in Dublin. He also wrote the comedy, Captain O'Blunder or The Brave Irishman (1738), and lectured on elocution. Richard was educated in London, and in 1770 the family moved to Bath. In March 1772 Richard eloped to France with Elizabeth Linley, and over her he fought duels with Thomas Matthews on May 4 and July 1. He studied law and married Elizabeth in April 1773.
      Young Sheridan’s first play, The Rivals, opened at Covent Garden on January 17, 1775 and was severely criticized for being too long with too many puns. He revised the play, limiting the vocabulary mistakes to Mrs. Malaprop, a term his play created. His comedy re-opened on January 28 and was successful. The Rivals takes place in Bath in one day. Captain Jack Absolute has been pretending to be Ensign Beverley because the romantic heiress Lydia Languish reads many novels and desires a poor man. She tells her cousin Julia she put off Beverley with an anonymous letter and fears she has lost him. Julia is in love with Faulkland who taxes her with his caprices. Absolute tells his servant Fag to keep his lies to his father Sir Anthony Absolute to a minimum. Anthony tells his son that he has picked an attractive young wife for him, but Jack says his heart is set on an angel and will not obey him. The father gives him six hours to agree, or he will disinherit him.
      Lydia is also being courted by Bob Acres and Sir Lucius O’Trigger. Absolute finds out that Lydia is the woman his father wants him to wed and tells him he is penitent and will submit. Faulkland is so insecure in his love for Julia that he is jealous she is happy when he is absent, and they quarrel. Mrs. Malaprop is upset by a letter from Beverley criticizing her abuse of words which are humorous as errors but also have subtle meanings as to her state of mind as well. When Lydia sees Absolute she takes him for Beverley; but when his father introduces him to her as Absolute, she is upset because of his previous deception. She eventually renounces him. Lucius persuades “fighting Bob” Acre to challenge Beverley to a duel; but when Bob discovers that Beverley is actually his friend Absolute, he refuses to fight. Lucius then challenges Absolute to a duel because his honor was challenged by letters from Lydia using the name “Delia.” They meet on the dueling field. Mrs. Malaprop admits that she wrote the Delia letters, and Lucius realizes he was tricked. Lydia sees that Absolute was willing to fight for her and agrees to marry him. Anthony persuades Julia to wed Faulkland.

      Sheridan’s greatest comedy, The School for Scandal, was presented a Drury Lane Theatre on May 8, 1777. The gossips are first exposed at the home of Lady Sneerwell who admits she loves to reduce others to “the level of my own injured reputation.” She loves the libertine Charles Surface and would sacrifice everything to get him. Snake says that Sir Peter Teazle praises Charles as “a man of sentiment.” His brother Joseph Surface arrives because Sneerwell is helping him to win over Peter’s ward Maria who does not like malicious wit. Joseph agrees, but Sneerwell argues that malice “makes it stick.” Joseph believes Mrs. Candour’s defense may be dangerous. Candour asks Maria about her affair with Charles which is widely reported. Joseph agrees that Charles is in a bad situation because of his imprudence but hopes he will reform. Maria tires of Benjamin Backbite and the malice and leaves. Elderly Peter has been married to young Lady Teazle for six months and has had a miserable time because she dissipates his fortune and opposes his humors. He tells his servant Rowley that she is wrong in all their disputes. Peter was a guardian of Joseph and Charles Surface until their uncle Oliver Surface made them independent. Peter believes that Joseph is a model young man. Rowley tells Peter that Oliver has just arrived after being away for sixteen years to see how his nephews are doing.
      Lady Teazle quarrels with her husband who does not want to go with her to Lady Sneerwell’s, but he arrives later. Maria puts off Joseph and defends his brother. Joseph asks for help from Lady Teazle and discovers she is attracted to him. Oliver with help from Rowley and the Jewish Moses plan to test the brothers. Peter criticizes Maria for preferring the foolish Charles. Peter and his wife argue again, and she says he always provokes her. She feels a fool for having married him, and he accuses her of seeing Charles. They agree to separate, and she leaves. Oliver pretends to be Mr. Premium and goes with Moses to help Charles get more money. Charles offers as collateral his future inheritance from his rich uncle, and he admits he has sold many possessions of his. What is left are family pictures, and Premium offers to buy them. After negotiation he ends up generously giving him £800 for all of them except the one of Oliver which Charles refuses to sell.
      Joseph is entertaining Lady Teazle and has her hide behind a screen when her husband Peter arrives. He believes his wife is having an affair and suspects Charles which Joseph says is impossible. Peter softens and says he will let her have £800 a year and the rest after his death. Peter offers to talk of Joseph’s hopes with Maria, and Joseph tries to keep him quiet. A servant announces that Charles is outside. Peter sees a woman behind the screen, and Joseph says it is a French milliner and has Peter hide in the closet. Joseph tells his brother that Peter thinks his wife is having an affair with Charles who denies it and says he likes Maria. Charles thinks Lady Teazle prefers Joseph who says Peter is listening from the closet. Charles pulls Peter out of the closet, and Peter admits he was wrong about Charles. Joseph tells his servant to keep Lady Sneerwell from coming in. Peter mentions the girl; the brothers tussle, and the screen falls down, exposing Lady Teazle. She refuses to back up Joseph’s story that she is there to help him with Maria, and she admits she was seduced there but now hates him.
      Oliver, pretending to be Mr. Stanley, calls on Joseph who tells him that he got little from his uncle but a few presents; but Oliver knows they were worth £12,000. Rowley comes in and says that Oliver is back. At Teazle’s house Candour, Backbite, Sneerwell, and Crabtree are gossiping about the rumors of a duel between Peter and his nephew, but they differ on which nephew it was and whether they fought with pistols or swords and how Peter was wounded. Oliver arrives and hears their stories. Then Peter walks in and tells them to leave his house. Rowley and Oliver remain and laugh with Peter about what happened at Joseph’s. There Joseph and Sneerwell discuss what to do, and she leaves. Oliver arrives, followed quickly by Charles who thinks Oliver is his broker Premium while Joseph takes him for Stanley. The brothers are trying to force him out when Peter, his wife, Maria, and Rowley enter. The Teazles recognize Oliver, and the brothers look at each other. Oliver describes Joseph’s ingratitude, and Charles is worried too. Oliver is happy that Charles kept his portrait and shakes his hand. Snake is brought in to counter the claims of Sneerwell who leaves in fury followed by Joseph. Charles and Maria are going to marry.

Romantic Era of English Literature 1789-1830


1. Memoirs of a Cavalier by Daniel Defoe ed. James T. Boulton, p. 156.
2. A General History of the Pyrates by Daniel Defoe, Volume 2, p. 389.
3. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe ed. Edward Kelly, 214.
4. The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith, p. 21.
5. Quoted in The Man of Feeling by Henry Mackenzie, p. 108.

Copyright © 2017 by Sanderson Beck

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Britain of Georges I-III 1714-88
Wesley, Hume, Johnson, Smith & Pope
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