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young women of taste and reading in the neighbourhood;" and long after, he was described by Dr. Johnson
one who “took care to be always surrounded by women, who listened to him implicitly and did not venture to contradict his opinions."
Richardson's Novels. — Richardson's three novels, Pamela (1740), Clarissa Harlowe (1748), and Sir Charles Grandison (1753), deal respectively with life in the humbler, higher, and aristocratic circles. Yet Richardson's purpose was not so much to picture that life in its various phases as to draw moral lessons from it. On the title-page of Pamela he announces that the work is “Published in order to cultivate the Principles of Virtue and Religion.” This avowedly moral purpose detracts somewhat from the human interest of Richardson's novels. His characters are not altogether real or true. Sir Charles Grandison, for example, is a fine gentleman, composed of all the virtues, but devoid of any redeeming grace of human weakness. Richardson had a profound knowledge of the human heart, but he had not learned to picture weakness as well as strength, and thereby to gain greater naturalness without sacrificing necessarily the moral interest.
Henry Fielding. - It was the publication of Pamela that turned the genius of Henry Fielding (1707-1754) to the writing of novels, but the spirit which moved the second great novelist of this epoch was very different from that of the moralist. With the mild and diminutive Richardson, sentimentalist, water-drinker, and vegetarian, the boisterous, easy-going, masculine Harry Fielding, with his big frame and high spirits, his keen sense of the ludicrous and his hearty hatred of affectation, could have but little in common. Richardson subsisted on weak tea and feminine adulation. Fielding,
according to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, "forgot everything when he was before a venison pasty, or over a flask of champagne." Yet, in spite of his debts, his extravagance, and the dash of the Bohemian in his youth, Fielding was a sound, sterling bit of manhood, of that sturdy, genuine type which we think of as emphatically English. Such a man was quick to detect a strain of false sentiment in Pamela, which its author was too serious or too conventional to perceive. So The Adventures of Joseph Andrews (1742), a "virtuous serving-man," supposed to be a brother of Pamela, was begun as a parody. But as the book grew, Fielding's interest carried him far beyond his primary intention, and the result was a great and original contribution to fiction.
Fielding differed from his predecessor in that he was contented to entertain or please the reader, and did not insist upon teaching him. His purpose was to show the life of the time, especially on its ridiculous side, and his work was eminently natural. Tom Jones, the hero of Tom Jones (1749), which is Fielding's masterpiece, is one of the most real characters in all fiction. In fact, Fielding's men and women live for us as men and women actually lived in that age no better, no worse; and though we miss in this realistic novelist many of the subtler and finer touches, we admire his grasp of fact, his manliness, and solidity. He hated cant and hypocrisy, and his large heart was very tender toward womanhood and goodness.
Other Writers. — Fielding and Richardson were the most important of these writers of the novel of domestic life in the eighteenth century. Other distinguished novelists of the same period were: LAURENCE STERNE (1713–1768), who wrote Tristram Shandy (1759-1767);
and GEORGE SMOLLETT (1721-1771), author of Roderick Random (1748) and Humphrey Clinker (1771). Toward the end of the century another school of novelists arose whose interest centered chiefly in the romance of adventure and in stories of magic and enchantment.
1702–1714 ALEXANDER POPE
1688–1744 The Rape of the Lock
1712–1714 The Dunciad
1728 Essay on Man
1732–1734 Battle of Blenheim, won by the Duke of Marlborough
1704 DANIEL DEFOE
1661-1731 His novels, including Robinson Crusoe
1719-1728 JONATHAN SWIFT
1667-1745 The Battle of the Books and The Tale of a Tub
1704 Gulliver's Travels
1728 RICHARD STEELE founds the Tatler
1709 Contributes to the Tatler, the Spectator, the Guardian 1709–1714 JOSEPH ADDISON contributes to the Tatler, the Spectator, the Guardian
.1709–1714 GEORGE I, the first of the Hanover kings
.1714-1727 Ministry of Robert Walpole
.1721-1742 The development of the novel by RICHARDSON, FIELDING,
SMOLLETT, and STERNE.
IV. THE MODERN ENGLISH PERIOD
THE BEGINNING OF MODERN LITERATURE
The work of the novelists, especially of Richardson and Fielding, is but one of many indications that in the middle of the eighteenth century a great change was coming over the spirit of English life and thought. That one writer devoted an entire book to the story of a serving-maid, and another wrote two novels in which the respective heroes were a serving-man and a foundling, is evidence that a new democratic feeling and a broader human sympathy were spreading over England, and in a definite way were influencing English literature. These and numerous other works, in both prose and verse, mark a wide departure from the literary ideals of Dryden and Pope. They prove that the English mind was freeing itself of conventions and rules; that men were finding new subjects to write about, new interests and enthusiasms to stir them to higher achievements; and that English literature was no longer restricted to the narrow life of Pope's London, but could portray with sympathy and renewed spiritual insight the life of the country and of the middle and lower classes as well as of the upper classes in the city. The
eighteenth century is a period of many and rapid changes. In it we see the birth and gradual development of modern England and of modern English literature, which in its breadth, its love of Nature, its imaginative power, and its faith, is at the furthest remove from the intellectual and cynical, though brilliant, age that preceded it. We pass from the narrowness of Pope's world to a world that has something of the large movement and exhaustless energy characteristic of Elizabethan England, and to a literature which is surpassed only by that of Shakespeare and his great contemporaries.
New Spiritual Growth. - The most significant of these changes in English life, the motive force back of many others, is the rise of a new spiritual and moral sensitiveness. Men could not, in the very nature of things, long remain satisfied with mere reason or common sense as the rule of life; nor with a religion that appealed only to the intellect, and was often insincere and cold; nor with a philosophy that ignored or discredited man's inner life and the experiences of the soul. The nation was too inherently emotional and religious for such a mood to endure. The higher side of man's nature began to assert itself, and those human hopes and longings which the "freezing reason” cannot satisfy began to stir and claim their due. It was inevitable that men should arise who would see through the shallowness and hardness of that life and of the system of thought that sustained it, and who, in the fuller power of a more perfect manhood, would throw a new spiritual energy and depth of meaning into politics, religion, philosophy, and poetry.
The Rise of Methodism. This growth of a new enthusiasm and faith is seen in a great wave of religious feeling that is associated with the rise of Methodism.