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The influence of Shakespeare on Fielding

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THE INFLUENCE OF SHAKESPEABE
ON FIELDING
A
Thesis
Presented to
the Faculty of the Department of English
University of Southern California
In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree
Master of Arts
by
Rose A. Rowalt
May 1940
UMI Number: EP44134
All rights reserved
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UMI EP44134
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T h i s thesis, w r i t t e n by
Hose A. Rowalt
un d e r the d i r e c t i o n o f h . . ^ F a c u l t y C o m m it te e ,
a n d a p p r o v e d by a l l it s m e m b e r s , has been
presented to a n d accepted by the C o u n c i l on
G ra d u a t e S t u d y a n d Research in p a r t i a l f u l f i l l ­
m e n t o f t h e r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r th e d e g r e e o f
MASTER OF ARTS
Dean
Secretary
D ate.
June...19 _4;Q
F acu lty Com m ittee
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TABLE OP CONTENTS
CHAPTER
INTRODUCTION
I.
PAGE
.................................
THE LIFE OF HENRY FIELDING .
........... . .
i
1
II.- SHAKESPEARE IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. . . . .
10
FIELDING'S PLAYS AND P O E M S .............
25
III.
IV.
. . .
FIELDING'S NEWSPAPER WORK AND MISCELLANEOUS
WRITINGS...............................
. . 43
V.
THE NOVELS OF FIELDING......................64
VI.
ROMEO AND JULIET AND TOM J O N E S .............. 76
VII.
VIII.
IX.
FIELDING'S INTEREST IN OTHELLO...............
OTHELLO AND FIELDING'S AMELIA
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS.
84
. ...............100
......... 141
BI B L I O G R A P H Y ...................................
146
INTRODUCTION
This thesis presents the results of an investigation
of the influence of Shakespeare on Fielding*
Certain kin­
ships occur to all who are familiar with the works of both
authors*
In writing of Fielding's genius, Arthur Murphy,
his first biographer, who had known Fielding personally,
said of him:
Shrewd and piercing in his discernment, he saw the
latent sources of human actions, and he could trace the
various incongruities of conduct arising from them*
• • • The various ruling passions of men, their foi­
bles, their oddities, and their humours, engaged his
attention; and, from these principles, he loved to ac­
count for the consequences which appeared in their be­
haviour* The inconsistencies that flow from vanity,
from affectation, from hypocrisy, from pretended friend­
ship, and, in short, all, the dissonant qualities, which
are often blended together by the follies of men, eould
not fail to strike a person who had so fine a sense of
ridicule*1
The quotation could be applied to Shakespeare as a writer of
comedies with equal justice*
Both Shakespeare and Fielding reached the pinnacle of
excellence in the form of art that was moat significant of
their periods*
The Elizabethan drama and the eighteenth-
century novel were pioneered by others, but they received
their greatest expression from the genius of Shakespeare and
1
Arthur Hhirphy, An Essay on the Life and Genius of
Henry Fielding* Eso*, in Works of Henry Fielding* with a
Memoir of the Life and Writings of the Author * by Sir Walter
Scott (New York: Geo* A* Leavitt, Publisher, [n.dj] ), p* 21.
ii
of Fielding, respectively.
Coincidentally, few artists have suffered so much
from the probably erroneous identification of incidents in
their creative writings with their private lives.
This con­
fusion of creative work with the private life of the author
has been possible because of the mystery which shrouds the
lives of both men.
Neither of them was blessed with a great
biographer during the lifetime of his relatives, friends, and
associates.
Scant, too, is the knowledge of the writing habits of
both authors.
Ho commonplace books or journals of either, no
publications or journals of members of their households are
extant.
Their works, with the dates of publication, and pub­
lishers' records, are the only sources of information, and
they reveal very little.
It is not the purpose of this thesis, however, to
dwell on kinships, and the similarity of the treatment of
these two peculiarly English geniuses by posterity, but to
discover whether the one exerted a definite and tangible in­
fluence on the other.
The evidence compiled from the works
of Fielding seems to prove beyond reasonable doubt that there
was such an influence, and that it bore fruit in his two
great novels, Tom Jones and Amelia.
The method used in this study has been to tabulate
quotations from the works of Shakespeare, and references and
iii
allusions to the dramatist or his works found in the works of
Fieldingi and to stake such deductions therefrom as may fairly
be made*
The works of Fielding have been searched for paral­
lels to, and parodies and reminiscences of, the works of
Shakespeare*
An attempt has been made to find any resem­
blances in plot, character, and incident in Fielding's works
to those of Shakespeare*
The possible influence of Romeo and Juliet on Tom
Jones has been commented on by a number of Fielding critics,
but has not previously been made the subject of a careful in­
vestigation*
The fact that Othello may have had considerable
influence on Amelia has hitherto passed quite unnoticed, so
far as this investigator has been able to discover*
The data
concerning Othello and Amelia constitute the most important
discovery of this study*
Since Fielding's claim to be included among the Eng­
lish classics must rest on his novels, it is the influence of
Shakespeare on Fielding as a novelist that merits investiga­
tion*
This study has been commenced, however, as Fielding
began his writing career, with his plays and poems, in order
that the growth of Shakespeare's influence might be traced*
Fielding's miscellaneous writings, including his newspaper
leaders, have been investigated for the same purpose, and
also because his essays and articles represent the viewpoint
of the author as distinguished from his characters in drama
iv
and fiction*
This study resulted from, a suggestion made by Profes­
sor Frederic T* Blanchard in his seminar in Fielding at the
University of California at Los Angeles in 1937*
Any information which throws light on the influences
that helped to form a creative mind is valuable.
This in­
vestigator believes that this study makes an important addi­
tion to the existing knowledge of the influences which con­
tributed to the creative genius of Henry Fielding, the first
great English novelist*
CHAPTER I
THE LIFE OF HENRY FIELDING
A knowledge ©f the type and extent of Fielding* s edu­
cation* and of certain incidents in his life* is necessary
before one can view any influence on bis work witb proper
perspective.
Chronological considerations will also carry
considerable weight in the presentation of the data concern­
ing the influence of Shakespeare on two of Fielding* s novels*
For these reasons* a brief summary of the major faets of his
life will be the subject of this chapter*
Cross* s excellent
biography^ has been the chief source of information*
BIRTH, EDUCATION, AND EARLY WRITING
Henry Fielding was of aristocratic lineage and* had it
not been for the untimely deaths of his mother and his mater­
nal grandfather* might never have become a professional
writer*
In the paternal line* he was the great-grandson of
the Earl of Desmond* and the grandson of the Archdeacon of
Dorset*
His mother was Sarah Gould Fielding* daughter of Sir
Henry Gould* a judge of the Queen* s Bench* and his father
Lieutenant Edmund Fielding* later a lieutenant general*
Wilbur L* Cross* The History of Henry Fielding
(New Haven* Yale University Press* 191S) * 3 vols*
Henry, -the oldest of six children, was b o m April 22, 1707.
His birthplace is unknown, but was probably Sharpham Park, a
manor near Glastonbury, seat of Sir Henry Gould.
Sir Henry did not have a high opinion of the business
acumen of his son-in-law, and planned to establish a trust
fund for his daughter and her children.
Unfortunately, he
died in 1710 before completing the projected arrangements.
On April 13 or 14, 171S, Sarah Gould Fielding died intestate,
and her husband, now Colonel Fielding, became the manager of
her estate.
In 1719 Colonel Fielding married Anne, or Eleanor,
Hapha, said to be an Italian, and a Roman Catholic, with two
daughters.
Family dissension caused the colonel to place his
four daughters in boarding school at Salisbury.
Lady Gould
moved to Salisbury to be near her granddaughters and kept Ed­
mund, the younger boy.
Henry was sent to Eton.
In April, 1721, he ran away from Eton and fled to his
grandmother.
At this time his father and Lady Gould were en­
gaged in a suit over custody of the children.
Harry was re­
turned to Eton by order of the Lord Chancellor, with permis­
sion to visit his grandmother during holidays.
He probably
remained at Eton until 1724-25, although there is no record
of this,
m the eighteenth century it was customary to pre­
serve only the lists of poor scholars on the foundation.
Of the curriculum at Eton, and Henry*s studies, Pro-
3
fessor Cross sayst
He was trained to write Latin with, ease, and made use
of it at a later period in burlesque of the ponderous
style then current among classical scholars* But in
writing Creek, he newer went-beyond a few happy phrases
and plays upon them for comic effect* From this lack of
facility with Creek may be dram an inference* It is
that, owing to one or more interruptions in his stay at
Eton, he never passed beyond the fifth form; for boys in
the sixth form were then required to mite a set of Creek
verses once or hwiee a week*
The curriculum at Eton was very circumscribed when
compared with what it is to-day* There was no science,
of course; no modern language or modern literature; no
mathematics beyond arithmetic and the most elementary al­
gebra; practically nothing except Latin— the main study-®
and some Creek* But within its limits it was a splendid
training for a boy like Harry Fielding*2
La 1735 Henry fell in love with an heiress, Hiss Sarah
Andrew, but was prevented by her family from marrying her*
In revenge he modernised in burlesque verse part of Juvenal *s
Sixth Satire on the disloyalties of women*
In January, 1728,
he published a poem in London called The Masquerade* In Feb­
ruary, 1728, his first play, Love In Several Masques* was
performed at the Drury Lane Theatre*
Hither Henry or his family must have decided that he
needed more study, for on March 16, 1728, he enrolled in Ley­
den University as a student of letters, which meant at that
time Latin and Creek literature*
His name was entered again
on February 22, 1729, but not thereafter*
2
Ibid*) i) 43*
4
Ee next reappears in London, where in 1730 his play
The Temple Bean m s performed at a new theater in Goodman's
Fields*
funds*
Ee probably left Leyden because he was short of
*
He m s now a handsome young gentleman with a social
position to maintain, as a member of a distinguished family*
He m s supposed to have an allowance of two hundred pounds per
annum, but his father by this time had a large family by his
second wife, and Murphy quotes Fielding as saying of his al­
lowance that “anybody might pay it that would."3
Young Fielding, like the young Shakespeare, turned
playwright to earn his living*
He remained closely connected
with the theater for some years, except for an interlude as a
country gentleman in 1734-35.
In 1736 he organized “The
Great Mogul's Company of Comedians'* and leased the Little
Theatre in the Haymarket.
His theatrical career m s cut
short by the Licensing Act of 1737 which closed all but the
two royal theaters*.
The occasion for Fielding's leaving the theatrical
world for a period to lead the life of a country squire was
his marriage to Miss Charlotte Cradock, of Salisbury , on No­
vember 28, 1734*
She and her sister were considered great
Arthur Ito^hy, An Essay on the Life and Genius of
Henrv Fielding* E s q . , in Works of Henry~Fielding* with a
Memoir ..of the ..Life and Writings of.the Author* by Sir Walter
Scott (New York; Geo. A. Leavitt, Publisher, [n.d.]), p. 21.
beauties*
Fielding, who had known the family for several
years, had addressed a poem to the sisters, and a number of
poems to Charlotte*
Be was very deeply in love with his
young wife, and after her death immortalized her charms in
the heroines of his two novels, Tom Jones and Amelia.After the closing of his theater in 1737, Fielding en­
tered the Middle Temple to study law*
To help out his fi­
nances he started the journal The Champion with Ralph Allen
in 1739*
Fielding wrote the chief papers until 1740, and
occasional contributions until 1741*
Be completed his law course and was called to the bar
in 1740.
Be rode the western circuit, and was probably none
too prosperous, although the details of his life at this time
are unknown*
Be himself has given us a pathetic picture of
his situation in the Preface to the Miscellanies, published
in 1743.
JURIST, JOURNALIST, AND NOVELIST
On the recommendation of Lyttelton and the Duke of
Bedford, he was appointed a justice of the peace for the Bow
Street Court, Covent harden, in 1748.
This office he held
until his death*
Joseph Andrews* a parody on Richardson*s Pamela* and
the first of Fielding*s novels, was published in 1742*
It
m s followed by the Miscellanies in 1743, containing a com-
6
edy* a farce* several essays* and the satirical Jonathan
Wild.
In the fallowing year his writing career was interrupt­
ed by the death of his adored wife* who was buried Kovember
14* 1744.
lady Mary Wortley Montagu* his second cousin*
wrote that his grief “approached to frenzy* •
Arthur Murphy
says of the illness and death of Fielding*s wife:
To these discouraging circumstances * if we add the in­
firmity of his wife* whom he loved tenderly* and the ago­
nies he felt on her account* the measure of M s afflic­
tion will be well nigh full. To see her daily languish­
ing and wearing away before M s eyes* was too much for a
man of M s strong sensations; the fortitude of mind with
which he met all the other calamities of life deserted
him on this most trying occasion; and her death* which
happened about this time* brought on such a vehemence of
grief* that M s friends began to think him in danger of
losing his reason.5
When his grief had somewhat abated* he resumed M s le­
gal and journalistic careers.
In 1745 he started a journal
called The True Patriot which lasted some months.
In 174?
he commenced The Jacobite *s Journal w M c h appeared through
the greater part of 1748.
His final newspaper * The Covent-
(Sarden Journal, came out in 1752.
From 1751 to 1754 he pub­
lished a number of pamphlets and tracts inspired by M s ex­
perience as a Bow Street justice.
4
Wilbur L* Cross* op. cit. * II, 11, citing Letters
and Works of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. 1861, I* 106.
sArthur Murphy, op. cit..p. 28*
Fielding himself had been ill for some years, his
splendid constitution broken by overwork*
This ailing man,
matured by varied experience, published in 1749 his master­
piece, Tom Jones* which set the pattern for the English nov­
el*
There is nothing in the keen comment of the prolegome-
nous essays, in the vital and often rollicking fiction, to
suggest the illness and sorrows of the author*
In 1751 he
published his final novel, Amelia* Competent, but not so ro­
bust as its predecessor, it perhaps reflects its author *s
failing physical powers*
On November 27, 1747, Fielding married Mary Daniel,
his housekeeper, who had been his first wife's maid.
She had
no pretensions to beauty, but she had been devoted to the
first Mrs* Fielding and her children*
Discussing the excel­
lences of Charlotte with her had been Fielding's chief com­
fort in the first access of his grief*
LAST ILLNESS
Si 1754 he decided to try a journey to Portugal in an
attempt to regain his health*
The party consisted of Field­
ing and his wife and his oldest daughter ; Margaret Collier, a
friend of the family; Mrs* Fielding's maid, and a footman.
The trip in a sailing vessel was a long and trying one* Por­
tugal proved to have no magic power to cure his combination
of ailments, which included gout, dropsy, and asthma*
He
died in Junqueira, October 8, 1754, in his forty-eighth year,
and was buried in the British cemetery at Lisbon*
His Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon was posthumously
published on February 25, 1755*
Fielding had many warm friends in many circles of life*
The varied nature of his talents and activities exposed him
also to professional jealousies sued political enmities*
Vi­
tuperation, rather than the spirit of laissez-faire. was the
fashion in professional and political rivalries in the eight­
eenth century*
A great deal of invective was directed against
Fielding, but an examination of it discloses nothing perti­
nent to the subject of this thesis*
For those particularly
interested in the subject, an exhaustive history of commen­
tary on Fielding, both favorable and unfavorable, has been
published by Professor Blanchard*6
To be regretted is the loss of most of the letters and
papers of Fielding that must have been in existence at the
time of his death*
Concerning this loss, Professor Cross
sayss
Very likely scores of Fielding*s personal letters were
in existence at the time of his death* Had he possessed
the vanity of Sterna, he would have left directions to
Mrs* Fielding where she could have found them; he would
6
Frederic T* Blanchard, Fielding the Novelist (Hew
Havens Yale University Press, 1927), 655 pp*
9
have told her to ask his friends for them, to sell them
to his publisher, and to drive as hard a bargain as she
could with him, Or had Arthur Murphy been endowed with
the instinct of a biographer, he would have collected
them and published them with the Works of Henry Fielding,
Esq. But the man who never sat for his portrait had no
vanity, and the man who first wrote his life was without
the instinct of the biographer. So, having never been
assembled when they might have been, Fielding* s letters
were exposed to all the accidents of time in town and
country.'
Unless letters or journals are found at some future date, the
Works of Fielding must be the chief, indeed almost the only,
source of material concerning the influences which shaped
his art.
7
Cross, on. eit., I, xi-xii.
SHAKESPEARE Iff THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
Since Henry Fielding did not receive instruction in
Shakespeare in school, it is pertinent to inquire what other
sources of information were open to him, and whether he
availed himself of them*
The information needed for this in­
vestigation has been d r a m from the works of Fielding and
from two authorities*
The first is David Nichol Smith,1 who
has published three of his lectures previously delivered in
Birkbeck College, London, on the subject Shakespeare in the
Eighteenth Century* The second is Percy Fitzgerald,2 whose
Life of David Garrick gives a careful chronological history of
Garrick* s career, and in so doing presents the history of the
eighteenth century stage during Garrick's life*
CRITICS AND EDITORS OF SHAKESPEARE
Professor Smith commences his first lecture as follows:
My subject is 'Shakespeare in the Eighteenth Century* •
What was his reputation then, and how have the critics,
and the scholars, and the actors of that age contributed
to his fame? * . • At no time since his death has Shake­
speare not been placed upon a pinnacle by himself as the
greatest of all English writers* But each age has its own
David Nichol Smith, Shakespeare in the Eighteenth
Century (Oxfords At the Clarendon Press, 1928).
2Percy Fitzgerald, The Life of David Garrick (London:
Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent& Co., Ltd., 1899).
11
point of view} its own special interests) its characteristic
method of treatment . . .3
He reviews the history of seventeenth-century Shakespearean
criticism from Ben Jenson through Dryden> ineluding the ridi­
cule of Othello by Thomas Rymer.
In the third lecture) he
discusses Shakespeare's critics in the eighteenth century.
Johnson's famous Preface to Shakespeare) published in 1765,
and the opinions of later critics} have no bearing on this
study*
Of Pope's Preface) Professor Smith says;
• • • if we should want to know what
Shakespeare in the year 1725— what I
well-informed opinion— we shall find
great distinction of style in Pope's
was thought about
may call the average
it expressed with
Preface.^
Briefly) both Dryden and Pope acknowledged Shakespeare's gen­
ius ) but Dryden thought that his works showed the ill effects
of being born in a cruder age, while Pope shifted "the blame
for Shakespeare's faults from the Elizabethan age to the
Elizabethan theatre) and the acting profession."
The second lecture is concerned with the scholars) "the
men who endeavoured to establish the text of these plays9 ex­
plained their difficulties as far as they could) and told us
what they had discovered about them and their author."^ He
^Smith. o p . cit.% p. 1.
4
Ibid;) p. 64.
Ibid.) p. 63.
6Ibfd.. p. 29.
12
reviews briefly the history of the four collected editions of
Shakespeare1s works which appeared in the seventeenth century,
the four Folios*
In the first third of the eighteenth cen-
tury, the editions of Rowe, Pope, and Theobald were published*
These were followed by the editions of Hanmer and Warburton*
Theobald attempted the scholarly method, but was a man of mod­
erate literary capacity* while ttto Pope, Hanmer, and Warbur­
ton, all men of great distinction in other occupations, edit­
ing was chiefly a matter of taste •
Several of Fielding*s Shakespearean references indi­
cate that he was cognizant of the currents of thought about
Shakespeare in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries*
In
The True Patriot for Tuesday, November 5, 1745, he sayss
lt. * * X myself have known an individual in fashion, and then
out of fashion, and then in fashion again*
Shakespeare hath
shared both these fates in poetry . • *‘t8 In The CoventGarden Journal for Saturday, April 18, 1752, he satirizes at
considerable length the scholars who edit Shakespeare*
He
introduces his satire as follows!
You are sensible, I believe, that there is nothing in
this Age more fashionable, than to criticise on Shake­
speare: I am indeed told, that there are not less than
200 Editions of that Author, with Commentaries, Notes,
7
Ibid** pp* 44-45*
8The Works of Henry Fielding, ed. W* E* Henley, (New
Yorks Groseup and Sterling Co*, 1902), Mi seellane ous Writ­
ings I, 7.
13
Observations, &e. now preparing for the Press; as notiling
therefore is more natural than to direct, one*s Studies by
the Humour of the Times, 1 have myself employed some lei­
sure Hours on that great Poet* I here send yon a short
Specimen of my Labours, being some Emendations of that
most celebrated-Soliloquy in Hamlet, which as 1 have no
intention to publish Shakespeare myself, are very much at
the Service of any of the 300 Critics abovementioned.9
Professor Smith quotes from another of Fielding* s satires di­
rected at interpreters of Shakespeare*
He introduces the
quotation as follows*
But when taste runs riot, the turn comes for the other
side* Indeed, license of conjecture had already found
its satirist in Henry Fielding* It was the actors whom
he made fun of in his Journey from this World to the Hext*
but the fun might have been inspired by graver editors
In the prologue to his Elfrida, Mason extolled the Creek dra­
ma, with its chorus, as being superior to Shakespearean drama*
In The Covent-Garden Journal for Saturday, September 16, 1752,
Fielding warmly defends the dramatic technique of Shakespeare,
and satirizes Mason and his defense of the Creek chorus.-^1
In his prolegomenous essay in Book X, Chapter I,of Tom Jones*
Fielding writes:
Header, it is impossible we should know what sort of
person thou wilt be; for, perhaps, thou may*st be as
learned in human nature as Shakespeare himself was, and,
perhaps, thou may*st be no wiser than some of his editors*
How, lest this latter should be the case, we think proper,
before we go any farther together, to give thee a few
wholesome admonitions; that thou may*st not as grossly
^Cf . post* p. 51.
10
Smith, loc* cit** p* 45.
cf. post, p. 60.
11
Cf. post* p. 56.
For Fielding*s satire,
14
misunderstand, and misrepresent us, as some of the said
editors have misunderstood and misrepresented their
author#12
SH&KESFEARB IE THE EIGHTEENTH-CEKTURY THEATER
Because of his close connection with the stagey it is
natural that many of Fielding*s references to Shakespeare are
connected with his dramas as presented on the stage#
In two
of his own plays y The Author *s Farce and The Historical Reg­
ister# he satirised the Cibbers for altering Shakespeare.13
In his newspaper leaders he mentions two actors of the day in
connection with the parts they played:
Mr# derrick as King
Richard y and Mr# Harvard as Horatio and as the Friar in Romeo
and Juliet.1^
In Teat Jones he describes in detail the performance
of Hamlet by Garrick* s company, to which Tom takes Partridge
His satire on the reading of Shakespearean lines by actors in
A Journey from this World to the Hext has been mentioned above#
In The Champion for December 15 y 1739 y and in The Covent-Garden
Journal for Rovember 18, 1758, he mentions stage business used
by contemporary companies presenting Julius Caesar and Mae-
_
Cf# post#, p• 59•
13
Cf # post# y p. 33 , 34#
14
Cf. post., p. 51, 56.
15
Fielding, pp. cit. , Tom Jones# Bk. XVI, Chap. X.
beth.16 He apparently retained his interest in the theater
after he had given up writing plays*
In the same issue of The
Covent-Garden Journal he mentions ’’The War which is so lately
broke out between the two powerful States of Brury-Lane and
Covent-Garden • • •** In Book IX, Chapter I of Tom Jones he
writest
• • • As we must perceive that after the nicest strokes
of a Shakespeare or a Jonson, of a Wycherley or an Otway,
some touches of nature will escape the reader, which the
judicious action of a Garrick, or a Cibber, or a Clive,
can convey to him • • •
Be appends a footnote to the above statement, which is quoted
below:
There is a peculiar propriety in mentioning this great
actor, and these two most justly celebrated actresses, in
this place, as they have.all formed themselves on the
study of nature only, and not on the imitation of their
predecessors* Hence they have been able to excel all who
have gone before them} a degree of merit which the servile
herd of imitators can never possibly arrive at*
Professor Smith says of Shakespeare in the eighteenthcentury theater:
We shall have a lower opinion of this period if we
judge it by the theatrical representations* But these
are always a dangerous criterion* If in the future we
are to be judged by what some theatre managers have pro­
vided for our entertainment, there is no saying what may
be thought of us* The new versions of Shakespeare *s plays
may be divided roughly into three classes* There are the
adaptations which are indefensible, of no interest save
as awful examples of what can be produced by irresponsible
tinkering* There are others which are regrettable, but of
considerable historical interest because of their honest
and misguided endeavour to remove a supposed blemish, and
to make the play suit better the new conditions and the
new taste* And there are others which) though suggested
by Shakespeare's, or based on his, are in fact independ­
ent and original dramas* The great representative of
this third class is Dryden1s All for Love*1”
Professor Smith reviews the history of adaptations and
alterations*
King Lear was greatly altered from the original
by Nahum Tate, who restored Lear to his kingdom, gave Cordelia
a husband, and omitted the Fool*
Garrick restored many of
Shakespeare1s lines and cut out many of Tate's, but he re­
tained the love scenes and the happy ending, and did not re­
store the Fool*
Colman produced a version in 1768 which cut out the
love scenes and was close to the original for the first four
acts*
But he restored Lear to his kingdom, and did not re­
tain the Fool*
revived*
His production was not a success and was never
The following is quoted from Professor Smith:
• * * The Pr»amatJa Censor called for *a third altera-*
tion upon medium principles, between the latitude of Tate
and the circumscription of Colman** The problem of the
theatre managers then, as how, was to make the old plays
hit the popular taste, and this eritie argued that an
adaptation could hit it only if a chance was given to the
actresses* 'Every alterer of Shakespeare should remem­
ber,' he says, 'there were no female performers in his
days, and improve according to the present time such parts
as necessity, not want of genius or knowledge, made him
abbreviate*' In this sentence we have the explanation of
too much in the history of Shakespeare on the modem stage
17
Smith, op. cit., pp. 15-16*
17
Tate had seen the need of love scenes, and Garrick too;
Colman cut them out, and failed.
Throughout the whole of the eighteenth century, and till
1823, King Lear had a happy ending on the stage. . . .
The main conclusion that we have to draw from all this
is that we must be very careful in judging the taste of an
age by the stage productions of a dramatist who is not a
contemporary. Do not let us forget that Coleridge and
Hazlitt and Lamb never saw King Lear acted as written by
Shakespeare •18
A quotation from the same lecturer gives an idea of the
number of Shakespearean plays presented on the stage in the
eighteenth centurys
Condemn the bad work of the eighteenth century as we
like, and as we must, there are, 1 fear, some points in
which we cannot claim superiority. Shakespeare was regu­
larly acted then. Not a year passed but several of his
plays were produced on the two chief London stages, Drury
Lane and Lincoln* s Inn Fields or Covent Gardens In the
year of The Beggar*s Opera (1728) the ordinary playgoer
could have seen Hamlet. Othello. King Lear. Macbeth.
Henry IV (both parts), The Merry Wives. Richard III.
Henr.v VIII. and Julius Caesar, and about the same time
also, Measure for Measure. Timon of Athens, and The
Tempest.... • Every great actor from Betterton to Garrick,
and from Garrick to Kean, made his name by acting Shake­
speare. Nowadays a popular favourite may announce that
he, or she, is to make the experiment of appearing in a
Shakespearian role, but in the eighteenth century every .
actor who had won fame in his profession, or aspired to
it, had several of Shakespeare*s characters in his reper­
tory. The ordinary man who made a habit of going to the
theatre had, as a consequence, a wider knowledge of Shake­
speare than the corresponding man can boast to-day. For
our knowledge we are very little indebted to the stage.
We are much more indebted to our educational system and,
if the truth must be spoken, to the machinery of examina18
Ibid. , pp. 23—25
18
tions* What Shakespeare himself would have thought of
this we may well wonder* And do not let us take too great
credit to ourselves because we study him in good texts,
whereas a hundred or two hundred years ago our ancestors
saw him acted in bad versions* m these versions as a
rule it was the minor parts that.suffered* Hamlet, Othello,
Iago, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Falstaff— all the great per­
sons of the Shakespearian drama were known to the playgoer,
and were his familiar acquaintances*^®
SHAKESPEARE IK THE TIME. OF GARRICK
The young David Garrick made his first stellar appear­
ance on the stage in 1741 in the role of King Richard III*
He
essayed his second Shakespearean role on March 11, 1742, when
he appeared as King Lear*
Garrick was the exponent of a more
natural style of acting, as opposed to the formal ranting of
the older school of actors*
Fitzgerald quotes as follows
from a contemporary critics
"Cibber*s Wolsey, Newton said,
and his Iago* all smelt strong of his Lord Foppington; and
Booth* s rage of Hotspur was the sarnie as that of his Lear.*80
Garrick first played Hamlet in Dublin in the autumn of
1742, and presented the play again in London in the season of
1742-43, with popular acclaim*
But Quin, the former favourite,
did not succumb without a struggle;
Of his activities Fitz­
gerald says:
~
H"
Smith, loc* cit* * pp* 25-27*
^Fitzgerald, op* cit** pp* 56-57*
19
Quin, meanwhile, was fighting a desperate and laborious
battle at Covent Carden, acting almost every night, and
in ail the most weighty and varied characters* If Gar­
rick was to appear in Richard on the thirteenth of October,
Quin had also the same play on the thirteenth, and mouthed
and "p&ved" in fiery and boisterous rivalry. Falstaff and
Julius Caesar were in vain attempted.2 1
In the seasons Of 1743-45, Garrick added Macbeth to his
Shakespearean repertoire, and Quin also acted Macbeth.
Garrick
gained in public favor, but no actor reigns long unchallenged.
Foote, a young actor of twenty-three, appeared in Othello* and
in Dublin another actor destined to gain great fame made his
debut, playing in Othello there in 1743.
Sheridan*
Ris name was Thomas
Garrick was no laggard in learning new roles, and
soon he presented Othello. Of his presentation, Fitzgerald
sayst
Macklin must have had some satisfaction in witnessing
what was scarcely a failure, but what some were eager to
consider a failure) for, on March the 7th (1744), Gar­
rick attempted "Othello", for the first time* Then it was
that old Quin, turning to Hoadly, made the smart and not
unfair criticism, "Here *s Pompey, but where *s the tea-kettle
and lamp"— an association that became almost irresistible
to any one thinking of the short figure, the blacked face,
and the bright scarlet officer's coat in which he absurdly
dressed himself • Otherwise he played it well, as we know
from the testimony of two friends; and, indeed, the char­
acter, full of fitful gusts of passion, must have suited
him excellently. But no splendour of acting could have
triumphed over the likeness to Hogarth's "black page. " 2 2
In the same season Sheridan came over from Ireland and appeared
21
£bid., p. 65.
22Ibid.* p. 78.
20
in Pierre % and in three Shakespearean dramas* Richard III,
Hamlet, and Othello. In the season of 1745-46 Othello was
given in Dublin with Garrick and Sheridan taking the parts of
lago and Othello alternately.
In the season of 1746-47 Eich
secured Garrick for six performances * one of which was* as
Fitzgerald says* “his weak part— Othello. 11
Of the season of 1746-47, Fitzgerald says:
“Covent
Garden led off in September* and on October the 4th the new
actor [Barry] made his debut in Othello.**
He was a tremen­
dous success* and Fitzgerald writes further:
. . . The greatest encouragement was the sight of old
Colley Cibber* that link between the new and the old school,
in the boxes* applauding vehemently and conspicuously; and
the new actor was told that the veteran preferred his
Othello to that of the famous Booth or Betterton* 23
A few nights later Garrick stepped upon the Covent Garden
boards as Hamlet*
Henry IV was played with Quin as Falstaff*
in which he was unapproachable* and Garrick as Hotspur, in
which he was never a success.
The season of 1747-48 saw the presentation of The Mer­
chant of Venice with Macklin as Shyloek (Garrick having fallen
ill a few days after the opening of the season), The Tempest,
and Macbeth* In the season of 1748-49, Garrick as manager of
Drury
Lane presented Barry in Othello and Hamlet, and two
Shakespearean revivals*
23
Ibid.* p. 105.
Cue of them was called* after the
fashion of -the time , by the two chief characters) and Garrick
jmfl Mrs* Pritchard were very popular in Beatrice and Benedick*
Of the other revival) Fitsgerald says:
A yet more important revival had been occupying his
thoughts) and was the result of much pains and care* This
was "Romeo and Juliet11— the play of poetry} grace ,and ten­
derness) put into the appropriate hands of the very priest
and priestess of grace) pathos9 and tenderness— Barry and
Mrs* Cibber* . . . He Garrick took the play with him
into his closet; butf with an odd inconsistency9 the man
who had just cleared "Macbeth" from the thick crusts and
varnishes with which Davenant and other Shakespearean
"restorers" had coated it9 did not shrink from putting an
entirely new catastrophe to the story of the Verona lovers*
There used to be many who have melted over the wakening of Juliet in the tomb) the long and touching scene
between the lovers that follows 9 and never dreamed that
Romeo died just after his combat with County Paris* 2 4
Also in this season t Fitzgerald says that "Garrick tried to
keep Barry in good humour by playing Iago to his Othello« a
part which he seems to have attempted only once • “ 2 6
On June 229 1749, Garrick was married) and in Septem­
ber he chose the part of Benedick in which to make his first
appearance of the season9 to the enjoyment of the audience*
At this time Quin, Barry, Woffington, Cibber, and Maeklin
withdrew from Garrick* s management*
Barry was jealous of
Garrick*s success in Hamlet* Under Rich, who had a talent for
spectacle, Barry and Cibber were to appear in Romeo and Ju­
22
liet.
Garrick prepared the part of Romeo, and trained Miss
Bellamy as Juliet.
The success was rather to Barry, and Gar­
rick later dropped the part.
Of the rival performances Fitz­
gerald says in parts
• • • The ladies protested that in the balcony scene
they could have wished Garrick to jump up to them, but that
they could have jumped down to the Covent Garden Romeos
and, with the true method of a public fureur, amateurs
would go and hear the first part of the play at one theatre,
and hurry away for the conclusion at the other t2 6
Fitzgerald does not go into particulars shout all of the
plays presented in 1749-51.
It is to be assumed that the thea­
ters presented their usual repertoire of contemporary and
Shakespearean plays.
King Richard.
Jit one time Quin was ttmuch hissed1* in
An unusual production of Othello was presented
which maty have had some influence on the composition of Field­
ing* s Amelia. Fitzgerald describes it as follows:
In March, 1751, Drury Lane was to witness an unusual
spectacle— perhaps the most remarkable, as well as the
boldest venture, known to the amateur stage. Such inter­
est and curiosity was excited by this performance, that
the House of Commons adjourned at three o*clock to attend
early. The Belaval family— men about town, bitten with a
taste for acting— had performed Othello at Lord Mexborough*s, and were fired with a desire for a larger field
of action. Garrick, one of whose little weaknesses was an
inclination to favour anything associated with persons of
quality, interrupted his regular performances, and allowed
his theatre to be used for the night. Ho expense was
spared. All parts of the house indifferently shone with
laces and jewels and costly dresses. Sven in the foot­
men *s gallery it was noted that half a dozen stars were
EG
Ibid.. p. 135.
23
glittering; the Royal princes, with some German ones, were
in the side boxes* All these glories were lit up by the
soft effulgence of wzxlights* On the stage were fresh
scenes, and new and gorgeous dresses* The music was ex­
cellent; The scene outside the playhouse is described to
have been almost ludicrous from confusion, and block of
chairs and coaches, which impeded each other from getting
near the door; and the mob were delighted at seeing fine
ladies and gentlemen picking their steps through the mud
and filth* Even at the mean public-houses close by, lords,
in stars and Garters and silk stockings, were seen waiting
until the street should clear a little* Sir Francis Bela*
val's performance excited great admiration* The expenses,
as may be imagined, were enormous* Garrick received £150
for his theatre, and thedresses, scenery, “wax-lights,H
cost upwards of .£1,000.27
The history of the English stage after 1751 is of no
significance to this study, since Fielding*s last novel, Amelia*
m s published in 1751*
It is obvious that any resident of Lon­
don during Fielding's lifetime had a much greater opportunity
to become familiar with the dramas of Shakespeare through the
medium of the stage than residents of the same city , or the me­
tropolises of America, have today*
In view of Fielding's close
association with the stage, there can be little doubt that he
was familiar with the various stage presentations of Shake­
speare's plays*
As mentioned above, he referred to several of
then in his works;
He knew Garrick well, and Fitzgerald de­
scribes a dinner party in Garrick's lodgings at which Field­
ing was a guest*2 2
27
Ibid*, p* 141*
28_
Ibid** p; 67*
24
DIB FIELDING HEAD SHAKESPEARE?
Did Fielding read the playsof Shakespeare, or did he
derive his knowledge entirly from the stage?
There is no
statement from. Fielding or anyone else to throw light on the
subject*
It is perhaps not assuming too much to believe that
one who consistently showed so much concern at alterations of
Shakespeare*s plays had read the originals*
It is known that
Fielding owned the Works of Shakespeare. Miss Thornbury, of
Wisconsin University , has published the list from the auction
of Fielding* s library.2 9
Item No. 376 is Shakespeare*s Works,
published in 1748, in nine volumes, which brought £ 0 .14. 6
Item No. 353 lists a number of miscellaneous works, among
them “Shakespear?“
Summary* Evidence from the works of Fielding shows
that he was familiar with the work of a number of the critics
and editors of Shakespeare, and took a great interest in it.
From the history of the eighteenth-century stage during his
lifetime, it is obvious that he had a much better opportunity
to become acquainted with dramatic presentations of Shake­
speare than novelists of today*
In his works he mentions hav­
ing seen several of Shakespeare *s plays*
He owned the Works
of Shakespeare.
29
Ethel Margaret Thornbury, Henry Fielding*s Theory
of the Comic Prose Enic (Madison: University of Wisconsin
Studies, in Language and literature Number 30, 1931), pp. 168189.
CHAPTER III
FIELD M G 1S ELAYS AMD POEMS
It would be futile, indeed, to attest to prove that
the young; playwright Fielding, busily grinding out comedies
and farces to earn his living, took Shakespeare for his model*
Shakespeare, it is true, wrote with his eye on the box-office,
even as did Fielding, and for this reason, each wrote in the
manner popular in his period*
The mode of the eighteenth cen­
tury was the comedy of manners, in imitation of Wycherley and
Congreve, the heroic play in the style of Dryden, ballad opera,
such as The Beggar*s Opera* and Italian opera, greatly re­
sented by English playwrights, including Fielding.
Fielding essayed all of the current English types, in­
cluding a burlesque heroic play, The Tragedies of Tragedies*
The Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great* He also wrote
some political satires, which Murphy credits with being in­
strumental in provoking the Licensing Act of 1737:
• • • it is said that the wit and humour of our modem
Aristophanes, Mr* Fielding, udiose quarry, in some of his
pieces, particularly the Historical Register* was higher
game than in prudence he should have chosen, were princi­
pal instruments in provoking that law under which the
British theatre has groaned ever since *^
Arthur Jiirphy, An Essav on the Life and Genius of
Henry Fielding* Eso*, in Works of Henry Fielding* with a
Memoir .of the Life and Writings of-the Author* by Sir Walter
Scott (Hew York: Geo* A* Leavitt, Publisher, tn.d.H >, p* 16*
26
It has been noted in the previous chapter that Fielding's
theatrical career was confined mostly to his youth, while his
novels were the work of his mature genius*
Because of his ne­
cessity, his plays were produced with a rapidity of which
Murphy says:
. . . To the same motive we must ascribe the multiplicity
of his plays, and the great rapidity with which they were
produced: for, we find that, though such a writer as Mr*
Congreve was content, in his whole life, to produce four
comedies and one tragedy, yet the exigence of our author *s
affairs required, at his hand, no less than eight entire
plays, besides fifteen farces, or pieces of a subordinate
nature**
It would be futile, also, to attempt to claim for Fielding
the degree of dramatic genius possessed by Shakespeare*
Arthur
Murphy's estimate of his ability as a dramatist has stood the
test of time, and is interesting as the verdict of a contem­
porary:
. • • It would lead a great way from the intention of
this essay, should we attempt to analyze the several dra­
matic compositions of this author; and indeed, as he con­
fessedly did not attain to pre-eminence in this branch of
writing, at least was unequal to his other productions, it
m y be sufficient to observe, that from the year 1727 to
the end of 1736, almost all his plays and farces were
written; not above two or three having appeared since that
time; so that he produced about eighteen theatrical per­
formances plays and farces included, before he was quite
thirty years old. • • . For, though it must be acknowl­
edged, that in the whole collection, there are few plays
likely to make any considerable figure on the stage here­
after, yet they are worthy of being preserved, being the
2
Ibid*, p» X4«
27
works of a genius, who in his wildest and most inaccurate
productions, yet occasionally displays the talents of a
master. Though in the plan of his pieces, he is not al­
ways regular, yet is he often happy in his diction and
style; and in every groupe that he has exhibited, there
are to be seen particular delineations that will amply re­
compense the attention bestowed upon them. The comedy of
the Miser i which he has mostly taken from Moli&re, has
maintained its ground upon the stage, ever since it was
first performed, and has the value of a copy from a great
painter by an eminent hand. If the comedy of Pasouin were
restored to the stagey it would, perhaps, be a more fa­
vourite entertainment with, our audiences than the much
admired Rehearsals a more rational one it certainly would
be, as it would undoubtedly be better understood.3
That Fielding would probably agree, in the main, with the
above criticism of his dramatic work may be inferred if we add
an observation of his own that “he left off writing for the
a
stage when he ought to have begun. “
It is certain that Fielding did not have Shakespeare in
mind as a model at the beginning of his career as a dramatist,
for in the Preface to his first play, Love in Several Masques,
he says, “These were difficulties which seemed rather to re­
quire the superior force of a Wycherley, or a Congreve, than of
a raw and unexperienced pen . . .“
In the manner of the Res­
toration drama, the subject of many of his plays can be ex-
York:
3
Ibid., pp. 15-16.
4
Ibid.. p. 23.
5The Works of Henry Fielding, ed. W. B. Henley, (Hew
Croscup and Sterling Co., 1902), Plays and Poems. I, 9.
28
pressed by a phrase borrowed from one of his characters, Sir
Simon Raffler, in The Universal Gallant; “Nothing but euekaldom, sir— cuekoldom everywhere•
What, then, can be gathered pertinent to the subject
of The Influence of Shakespeare on Fielding from a study of
Fielding* s plays?
They may help answer the question of what
the young Fielding was reading, now that he was free from his
classical masters*
While he was turning out smart sex dramas
and enjoying life in the social and theatrical circles of the
great city, did he find time to know and admire Shakespeare?
Which of Shakespeare *s plays did he read?
From Fielding*s
plays must come as much of the answer as will ever be known,
unless letters or papers bearing on the subject are subse­
quently discovered*
It is not to be expected, of course, that Fielding
would write into his comedies and farces any conscious and
serious record of his intellectual growth, of the influences
that were tending to the fruition of his genius*
Inferences
will have to suffice, and too much must not be inferred from
casual allusions and quotations in smart popular comedies*
It would be comparable to estimating the reading of George
Kaufman and Moss Hart from their plays, and judging the influ­
ence it had on their talents*
6
Ibid.* 17,
88
.
29
SHAKESFEAHEAH REFERENCES M FIELDERS FLAYS
It is not surprising^ therefore} that in many of Field­
ing* & plays there are no traces of a knowledge of Shakespeare}
but this fact would not be proof} of course, of lack of knowledge.
Perhaps it is surprising to find references or allusions to
Shakespeare in eight} possibly-nine of his plays.
plays with their dates of publication are:
The eight
The Author *s Farce.
1730; Tom Thumb the Great. 1730-31; The Modem Husband. 1732;
The Covent Garden Tragedy. 1732; Tumble-Down Dick. 1736; Pasquin. 1736; Tbe Historical Register. 1736; The Wedding Day. 1743.
The ninth is The Miser. 1733} of which more will be said later.
The references to Shakespeare in these plays fall into
the following classifications:
(1) Casual allusions to the
author or his works t (2 ) casual quotations such as anyone might
make who had read the plays of Shakespeare or seen them per­
formed} (3) admiration of Shakespeare} (4) jibes at eighteenthcentury taste} (6 ) resentment toward his contemporaries who al­
ter the text of Shakespeare 9 (6 ) parallels and parodies.
A reference in the Prolegomena of The Covent Garden
Tragedy belongs in the first category.
Fielding prefixes to
the printed version of his play several mock criticisms to
which he affixes no names.
The first is in the form of a letter
from an ignorant and pretentious critic} who writes> “The Earl
of Essex, which you know is my favourite of all Shakespeare*s
30
plays 9 was acted the other night. • •
.tt7
The play referred to
is doubtless The Unhappy Favourite< Or, The Earl of Essex, by
John Banks,8 which the fictitious critic mistakenly attributes
to Shakespeare, although there is a slight possibility that he
is referring to Shakespeare*s Richard II*® A second casual
reference is found in The Modem Husband* as follows*
lord Richly* Virtue, like the Ghost in Hamlet, is here, there, and everywhere, and no where at all ♦ . .
Another example of the same type of reference is found in
Fasouins
Fustian* Britons, attend; and decent reverence show
To her, who made th* Athenian bosoms glow;
Whom the undaunted Romans could revere,
And who in Shakespeare1s time was worshipped here;
In the casual quotation class belongs the following
from the Prologue of The Wedding Days
wAs Falstaff says;
would it were bed-time, Hal, and all were well 11112
Admiration of Shakespeare is expressed in the follow1-
7
Ibid>* III, 104.
^Montague Summers, The Restoration Theatre (London*
Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1934), pp. 211, 331*
9
For a discussion of Richard II in connection with the
Essex treason, see E* K. Chambers, William Shakespeare (Ox­
ford* At the Clarendon Press, 1930), I, 65-68, and 353-356*
10
Fielding, op. cit** I, 63*
11
19
,
Ibid., IV, 203.
Ibid.* V, 68.
31
ing from the Preface of The Life and Death of Tom Thumb the
Great:
. . . X shall waive at present what hath caused such
feuds in the learned world, whether this piece was origi­
nally written by Shakespeare, though certainly that, were
it true, must add a considerable share to its merit; es­
pecially with such who are so generous as to buy and commend
what they never read, from an implicit faith in the author
only: a faith which our age abounds in as much as it can
be called deficient in any other.13
Admiration of Shakespeare and comment on eighteenth-century
taste are found in the following lines from Pasquin:
£ Ghost. Play-houses cannot flourish, while they dare
To nonsense give an entertainment's name,
Shakspeare, and Johnson, Dryden, Lee, and Row, A
Thou wilt not bear to yield to Sadler's We11s; 1
Can the whole world in science match our soil?
Have they a Locke, a Hewton, or a Boyle?
Or dare the greatest genius of their stage,
With Shakspeare »or immortal Ben engage?!©
One of Fielding's most sincere expressions of admiration is
found in The Historical Register for 1736, in a speech by Med­
ley which will be quoted later.
Fielding's comic genius lent itself well to satire, and
he was particularly fond of satirizing the contemporary scene,
the manners, politics, theater, and literary taste of his time.
An example is the following quotation from The Life and Death
13
Ibid., II, 8-9.
14
LIbid., IV, 213.
15
Ibid., IV, 228
32
of Tom Thumb the Great:
Mr. L— takes occasion in this place to commend the
great care of our author to preserve the metre of blank ve
verse, in which Shakespeare, Jonson, and Fletcher were
" ‘’
~ ns, in imitation
The following two quotations from Fasouin are of the same
type:
Hang this play, and all plays; the dancers are the only
people that support the house; if it were not for us, they
might act their Shakespeare to empty benches.1^
Fustian. Faith sir, out of their peculiar modesty;
intimating that after the audience had been tired with the
dull works of Shakespeare, Jonson, Vanbrugh, and others,
they are to be entertained with one of these pantomimes,
of which the master of the playhouse, two or three paint­
ers, and half a score dancing-masters are the compilers:
what these entertainments are, I need not inform you who
have seen *em; but I have often wondered how it was pos­
sible for any creature of human understanding, after hav­
ing been diverted for three hours with the productions of
a great genius, to sit for three more, and see a set of
people running about the stage after one another, without
speaking one syllable; and playing several Juggling tricks,
which are done at Fawksts after a much better manner; and
for this, sir, the-town does not only pay additional prices,
but loses several fine parts of their best authors, which
are cut out to make room for the said farces*1 8
It should be noted that Fustian and Medley are intelligent
playwrights, and that Fielding always puts his expressions of
admiration for Shakespeare in the mouths of intelligent and
16
Ibid.* II, 46-47.
17
Ibid., IV, 204.
18Ibid., IV, 222
admirable characters.
Speeches denoting lack of appreciation
are spoken by the foolish and ignorant*
Cross comments in considerable detail on Fielding*s in­
dignation at playwrights and theater managers who present al­
tered versions of Shakespeare *s plays*. Cross* s explanation
of the theatrical situation of the time makes the quotations
from Fielding *s plays more comprehensibles
At this juncture. Fielding stepped in to aid Highmore
by revising The Author*s Farce with reference to the present
theatrical situation. . . • This and all other changes,
however, were overtopped by the pointed ridicule of Theophilus Cibber as manager of Drury bane the previous year
under the tutelage of his father, Colley Cibber. As orig­
inally performed there had been some banter of Wilks and
the elder Cibbers Wilks, as he had since died, was of
course eliminated from the play, and young Cibber was sub­
stituted for him; Then the scenes in which the managers
appear were all expanded* The elder Cibber keeps his old
name of Marplay, Senior, and the younger Cibber is called
Marplay, Junior, in allusion to their practice of mutilat­
ing all plays before they would permit them to be acted*
Stopler, a very good eomedian, impersonated the father}
and Macklin took off to the life the son. Might after
night for the rest of January into February, these two
actors played the parts of foolish and discredited theat­
rical managers, making over Shakespeare, accepting poor
plays, rejecting good ones, and prattling over their own
that had been damned*1 9
The following is a quotation from The Author*s Farce;
Marplay* Jun. Ohi your humble servant--your very humble
servant,* sir. When you write yourself, you will find the
necessity of alterations. Why, sir, would you guess that
I had altered Shakespeare?
Witmore. Yes, faith, sir, no one sooner. 0
19
Wilbur L. Cross, The History of Henry Fielding
(Mew Havens Yale University Press, 1918), I, 149-150*
20
Fielding, op. cit., I, 206.
34
The following paragraph, is from Cross:
The second dramatic incident that had engaged the wits
during the past winter was Colley Cibber's attempt to make
over Shakespeare's King John* According -to Cibber, Shake­
speare had splendid opportunities in the material of this
tragedy, but for some reason missed most of them; especial­
ly did he fail to "inspirit" John with the resentment prop­
er to an English monarch against "the intoxicated tyranny"
of the Church of Rome* So Cibber stepped in and rewrote
the play, doing his will upon it* To bring to the front
his point of view, he even re-named it Papal Tyranny in
the Reign of King John* The wretched piece was put to re­
hearsal at Drury Lane, but the actors, knowing that it
would be damned, refused to go on with it, and it had to
be withdrawn* At one of the rehearsals Cibber, incensed
by the conduct of the company , put the play into his pock­
et and walked off with it* The press and the coffee-houses
were still rallying Cibber on his failure, when Fielding
took it up in The Historical Register* In one of the scenes
Apollo, a theatrical manager, is represented as casting the
parts for the original King John when Cibber under the name
of Ground-Ivy appears, and thus remonstrates with him;2 l
The following is the appropriate quotation from The Historical
Register:
Apollo* Give it me* The life and death of King John,
written by Shakespeare: who can act the king?
Prompter* Pistol, sir, he loves to act it behind the
scenes*
Apollo* Here are a parcel of English lords*
Prompter* Their parts are but of little consequence; I
will take care to cast them.
Apollo* Do; but be sure you give them to actors who will
mind their cues— Faulconbridge— What sort of character is
he?
Prompter. Sir, he is a warrior, my cousin here will do
him very well.
1 Plaver* X do a warrior, I never learnt to fence*
Apollo* Ho matter, you will have no occasion to fight;
can you look fierce, and speak well?
1 Player. Boh!
21
Cross, op* cit** I, 211-212*
35
Apollo* I would not desire a better warrior in the house
than yourself.— Robert Faulconbridge— What is this Robert?
Prompter* Really, sir, I don't well know what he is, his
chief desire seems to be for land, I think; he is no very
considerable character, anybody may do him well enough;
or if yon leave him quite out, the play will be little
the worse for it*
Apollo. Well, 1*11 leave it to you— Peter of Pomfret, a
prophet— have yon anybody that looks like a prophet?
Prompter. I have one that looks like a fool*
Apollo. Re'll do— Philip of France?
Prompter* I have cast all the French parts except the
ambassador*
Apollo. Who shall do it? Ris part is but short; have yon
never a good genteel figure, and one that can dance? For,
as the English are the politest people in Europe, it will
be mighty proper that the ambassador should be able at his
arrival to entertain them with a jig or two.
Prompter. Truly, sir, here are abundance of dancing mas­
ters in the houses who do little or nothing for their
money*
Apollo. Give it to one of them: see that he has a little
drollery though in him; for Shakespeare seems to have in­
tended him as a ridiculous character, and only to make the
audience laugh*
Sourwit* What's that, sir? Do you affirm that Shakespeare
intended the ambassador Chatilion a ridiculous character?
Medley* Ko* sir, I don't.
Sourwit. Oh, sir, your humble servant, then I misunder­
stood you; I thought X had heard him say so.
Medley* Yes, sir, but I shall not stand to all he says.
Sourwit. But, sir, you should not put a wrong sentiment
into the mouth of the god of wit*
Medley. X tell you he is the god only of modem wit, and
he has a very just right to be god of most of the modern
wits that X know; of some who are liked for their wit; of
some who are preferred for their wit; of some who live by
their wit; of those ingenious gentlemen who damn plays,
and those who write them,.too, perhaps* Here comes one of
his votaries; come, enter, enter— Enter Mr* Ground-Ivy.
Enter Ground-Ivy*
Ground-Ivy* What are you doing here?
Apollo* I am casting the parts in the tragedy of King
John*
Ground-Ivy* Then you are casting parts in a tragedy that
won't do*
Apollo. How, sir? Was it not written by Shakespeare, and
36
was not Shakespeare one of the greatest geniuses that
ever lived?
Ground-Ivy* ho, sir. Shakespeare was a pretty fellow,
and said some things which want only a little of my lick­
ing to do well enough} King John, as now writ, will not
do— But a word in your ear, I will make him do.
Apollo. How?
Ground-iw. By alteration, sirs it was a maxim of mine,
when I was at the head of theatrical affairs, that no
play, though ever so good, would do without alteration—
For instance, in the play before us, the bastard Faulconbridge is a most effeminate character, for which reason I
would cut him out, and put all his sentiments in the
mouth of Constance, who is so much properer to speak them—
Let me tell you, Mr. Apollo, propriety of character, dig­
nity of diction, and emphasis of sentiment, are the things
I chiefly consider on these occasions.
Promoter. I am only afraid as Shakespeare is so popular
an author, and you, asking your pardon, so unpopular—
Ground-Ivv. Damn me, 1*11 write to the town and desire
them to be civil, and that in so modest manner, that an
army of Cossacks shall be melted} I'll tell them that no
actors are equal to me, and no authors ever were superior5
and how do you think I can insinuate that in a modest man­
ner?
Prompter. Hay, faith, I can't tell.
Ground-Iw. Why, I'll tell them that the former only
tread on my heels, and that the greatest among the latter
have been damned as well as myself; and after that, what
do you think of your popularity? I can tell you, Mr.
Prompter, I have seen things carried in the house against
the voice of the people before to-day.
Apollo. Let them hiss, let them hiss, and grumble as
much as they please, as long as we get their money.
Medley. There, sir, is the sentiment of a great man, and
worthy to come from the great Apollo himself.
Sourwit. He's worthy his sire, indeed, to think of this
gentleman for altering Shakespeare.
Medley. Sir, I will maintain this gentleman as proper as
any man in the.kingdom for the business.
Sourwit. Indeed!
Medley. Ay, sir, for as Shakespeare Is already good
enough for people of taste, he must be altered to the pal­
ates of those who have none} and if you will grant that,
who can be properer to alter him for the worse? But if
you are so zealous in old Shakespeare's eause, perhaps
you may find by and by all this come to nothing— How for
Pistol.
m
Pistol enters % and overturns his Fathers
Ground-Ivy* Pox on*t, the boy treads close on my heels in
a literal sense*
Pistol* Tour pardon, sir, why will you not obey
Your son* s advice and give him still his way?
For you, and all who will oppose his force,
Must be o*erthrown in this triumphant course*
Sourwit* I hope, sir, your Pistol is not intended- to bur­
lesque Shakespeare*
Medley* Ho, sir, I have too great an honour for Shake­
speare to think of burlesquing him, and to be sure of not
burlesquing him, I will never attempt to alter him for
fear of burlesquing him by accident, as perhaps others
have done•2 2
PARALLEL PASSAGES AMD PARODIES
Fielding* s knowledge of Shakespeare is shown not only
by quotations and allusions but by parallel passages and paro­
dies*
The fact that in The Life and Death of Tom Thumb the
Great he burlesqued the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet de­
tracts nothing from his admiration of Shakespeare*
To Field­
ing, the comic artist, the farce surely offered an irresitible
opportunity for such a burlesque*
commencing with Romeo and
J u l i e t .
The parallel passages follow,
^
33-39:
Juliet* 0 Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father, and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And 1*11 no longer be a Capulet.
Romeo* (Aside) Shall I hear more, or shall I
speak at this?
Fielding, op* cit.* IV, 260-64.
23
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare * ed* W. J.
Craig (Mew Yorks The Plymouth Publishing Company, 1923).
22
38
Jul. *Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Though art thyself though, not a Montague.
The following is from The Life and Death of Tom Thumb the
Greats
Huncamunca. 0 Tom Thumft! Tom Thumb I wherefore
art thou Tom Thumb?
Why hadst thou not been born of royal race?
Why had not mighty Bantam been thy father? .
Or else the king of Brentford, Old or Hew? 2 4
This passage from Tom Thumb the Great constitutes the only
evidence that Fielding was familiar with Borneo and Juliet be­
fore he wrote Tom Jones#
While the use of ghosts in drama is not confined to
Shakespeare and to Fielding, the part played by the Ghost in
Tom Thumb is reminiscent in some particulars of the Ghost in
Hamlet# of the Apparitions in Macbeth, and of the Soothsayer
in Julius Caesar, hike the Apparitions and the Soothsayer,
Fielding* s Ghost conveys a warning;
The warning of the
Soothsayer in Act I, Scene II of Julius Caesar is the famil­
iar “Beware the ides of March.1* The warning of the First
Apparition in Act IV, Scene I of Macbeth is as follows:
Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware Macduff;
Beware the thane of Fife.
In Tom Thumb. Act III, Scene III, the Ghost says:
Arthur, beware! . . .
Arthur, beware, beware, beware, beware!
24
Fielding, pp. cit., II, 3?.
39
like Macbeth, the King in Tom Thumb is dissatisfied with the
language in which the warning is couched*
In Act IV, Scene I,
Macbeth says*
I will be satisfied* deny me this,
And an eternal curse fall on you!
In Act
III, Scene II
ofTom
Thumb the Great, the King says:
D-n all thou hastseen!--dost thou, beneath
the shape
Of Gaffer Thumb, come hither to abuse me
With similes, to keep me on the rack?
Like the Ghost in Eamlet* Fielding* s Ghost is immune to blows*
In Act I, Scene I of Hamlet* Marcellus says;
We do it wrong, being so majestieal,
To offer it the shew of violence;
For it is, as the air, invulnerable,
And our vain blows malicious mockery*
In Act
III, Scene II
ofTom
Thumb* the King says:
Hence— or, by all the torments of thy hell,
1 * 1 1 run thee through the body, though thou* st
none*
The Ghost in Hamlet must vanish when the crowing of the
cock foretells the dawn, and the period when Fielding’s Ghost
may wander is terminated by the same signal*
The following is
from Hamlet* I, i, 147-49:
Ber; It was about to speak when the cock crew.
Hor. And then it started like a guilty thing
Upon a fearful summons*
The following lines are from Hamlet* I, ii, 214-19:
Hor*
My lord, I did;
But answer made it none; yet once me thought
It lifted up its head and did address
Itself to motion, like as it would speak;
40
But even then the morning cock crew loud,
And at the sound it shrunk in haste away
And vanish*d from our sight.
In Act III, Scene III of Tom Thumb, the Ghost says:
I must this moment hence,
Not frighted by your voice, but by the cocks!
In Pasouin Fielding echoes the familiar ‘‘Sleep no
more!1* from Macbeth.
The following lines are from Act II,
Scene II of Macbeth:
Macbeth. Methought I heard a voice cry ‘Sleep
no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep,*. • •
Lady Mw
What do you mean?
Macb. Still it cried, 'Sleep no morel* to all
the house:
•Glamis hath murder'd sleep, and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no morel'
The following passage is from Act IV, Scene I of Pasouin:
Firebrand. Voices were heard i* th* air, and
seem*d to say,
"Awake, my drowsy sons, and sleep no more.** . . .
2 Ghost. Awake, great Common Sense, and sleep
no more*
Look to thyself. • .
The title page of The Miser2 5 states that the comedy
was taken from Plautus and Moliere.
li&re,
27
-g
28
nor Marlowe
Heither Plautus,
Mo»
combines the lament of the miser for his
—
Ibid.. Ill, 176.
26
Ruth M. Stauffer, The Progress of Drama Through the
Centuries (Mew York: The MacMillan Company, 1927), p. 67.
27
Ibxd., p. 354.
28
Ibid., p. 160.
41
daughter with his lament for his lost money.2® Both Fielding
and Shakespeare use this device for heightening the comic ef­
fect.
When Harpagon, Moli^re*s miser, delivers his speech be­
wailing the loss of his money, he knows nothing of his daugh-’
terrs love for Valere. Fielding's miser, Lovegold, learns of
his double loss at about the same time, and on hearing of his
daughter's elopement, cries, *'Ohl my money, my money, my mon­
ey 1" somewhat in the manner of Shylock.
are the words of Harpagon:
The words, however,
‘’Alas I my poor moneyI my poor mon­
ey! my friend, my dear friend!— have they deprived me of you?
. .
.w30
Ho more can be said than that it is possible, and
even probable, that Fielding owed the idea of his miser griev­
ing for his lost money at the moment he learns of his daugh­
ter's elopement to Shakespeare's Shylock.
Summary. In reviewing the results of this study of
Fielding's plays, one finds more interest shown in Shakespeare
than would be ejected from a writer of sex dramas and polit­
ical satires in an age when the Shakespearean type of drama
was not the vogue*
In time, Fielding's Shakespearean refer-
For a comparison of the Aulularia of Plautus, Moliere's L'Avare, and Fielding's The Miser, see Carl von
Reinhardstoettner, Plautus (Leipzig: Verlag von Wilhelm
Friedrich, 1886), pp. 308-314.
30
Stauffer, op. cit.* p. 380;
ences extend from one of his earliest plays, The Author1 s
Farce* written in 1729, revised and published in 1730, to the
last of his published dramas, The Wedding Duv* published in
1743*
From these references it is apparent that Fielding
greatly admired Shakespeare's genius, and felt contempt for
those who failed to appreciate it*
plays, however, are not numerous*
References to particular
The plays referred to are
Hamlet* with one character, the Ghost; King John* with several
characters; Othellos and the characters Falstaff and Hal*
From the parallel passages and parodies found in The Life and
Death of Tom Thumb the Great* Pasouin* and The Miser it would
seem that Fielding was familiar with Romeo and Juliet* Julius
Caesar* Macbeth . Hamlet* and The Merchant of Venice * He shows
no marked preference for any one of the plays*
FIELDING'S POEMS
There is but one reference to Shakespeare in the Poems,
and that is found in an explanatory footnote to the moderni­
zation of Juvenal's Sixth Satires
We have here a little departed from the Latin. This
Latimus was a player, and used to act the part of the
gallant; in which, to avoid-the discovery of the husband,
he used to be hid in a chest, or clothes-basket, as Fal­
staff is concealed in the Merry Wives of Windsor* The
poet therefore alludes to that custom.31
Nothing of importance to this study was discovered in Field­
ing's Poems*
31
Fielding, op* cit.* V, 309*
CHAPTER IV
F IELDM G *S NEWSPAPER WORK AND MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS
Fielding: engaged in newspaper work with, the double
purpose of expressing his political views and enriching his
purse. Of his first periodical venture Cross says:
Accordingly* a partnership was formed for publishing
"The Champion,*1 Fielding*s first newspaper* There were
at least seven partners, probably eight, with Fielding
at the head* His associates were a group of six or seven
London booksellers, including Henry Chappelle, Lawton
Gilliver (formerly printer of "The Grub-street Journal"),
and John Nourse, to whom he was in debt for books* The
printing was undertaken by "J* Huggonson in Sword and
Buckler Court, over-against the Crown-Tavem on Ludgate
Hill." To Fielding were assigned "two sixteenth shares"
in the partnership* As an assistant editor, he engaged
James Ralph, who had aided him in the management of the
Little Theatre in the Haymarket, and was then directing
"The Universal Spectator* 1,1
The professed editor of the new periodical was "the
celebrated Capt* Hercules Vinegar, of Hockley in the Hole."
Fielding created a whole family for the captain, of whom
Cross says:
These imaginary Vinegars, in line with Steelers imag­
inary Bickerstaffs in "The Tatler," formed a pleasant de­
vice for multiplying the very few writers of "The Champion"--Fielding, Ralph, and stray correspondents, with
perhaps an occasional contribution from Lyttelton or an­
other light of the Opposition* 2
Of the articles written by Fielding, Cross writes:
1
Wilbur L* Cross, The History of Henry Fielding
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 191S), I, 250*
2
Ibid*« I, 255.
44
• * • The share that Fielding had in this entertaining
medley has never been determined; Murphy thought the
problem impossible of solution, and Fielding* s recent bi­
ographer, Miss Godden, seems to agree with him* But Pro­
fessor Wells has shown that the longer essays by Fielding
may be easily picked out. Beginning with the fifth num­
ber, nearly all the leading articles and some others were
marked at. the end, partly that each author might claim
his own, and partly that he might not be held responsible
for the opinions of another. In June, 1741, these articles,
with some miscellaneous paragraphs, down to June 19 of the
previous year, were collected in two volumes; and the pub­
lisher* s “Advertisement” expressly stated that “all papers
distinguished with a C or an L” were the work of one hand;
while those having double stars or signed "Lilbourne" came
from another. . . . Beyond question the signatures of C
and L were Fielding*s; and the two stars and Lilbourne be­
longed to Ralph. • • • The two volumes of "The Champion,"
as re-published, contain ninety-four issues. Sixty-two
articles and two paragraphs— one an index to the Times,
and the other a letter from Adam Double on the disen­
chantment of marriage--are intended to be covered by
Fielding* s marks. Forty-eight have the C, and sixteen
have the L.
But these sixty-four articles and paragraphs (all of
which except the paper of December 8 , followed by Adam
Double on his wife, have now been reprinted in the Henley
edition of Fielding) by no means comprise his whole con­
tribution to "The Champion" during this period; For va­
rious reasons-Fielding left several long articles and
many shorter ones without his usual marks*3
SHAKESPEAREAN REFERENCES IN THE CHAMPION
The first number of The Champion appeared November 15,
1739.
Fielding ceased writing for it in June, 1741, although
the paper continued under Ralph for several years.
The articles
reprinted in the Henley edition of Fielding have been used in
Cross, Toe., cit.
45
this investigation.
4
They contain rather a surprising num­
ber of references to Shakespeare* which may be classified
similarly to the references in the Plays and Poems.
The fol­
lowing quotation from The Champion for June 7, 1740* contains
a reference to the alteration of one of Shakespeare*s plays
by two famous playwrights*
There is nothing more ridiculous than the superstition
concerning names. . . . Sir William Bavenant and Mr. Dryden in their alteration of Macbeth record another sort of
Robin*
‘Liar Robin
You must bob in,*
alluding to a very ill quality in a gentleman of that
appellation;
A quotation from the paper for Saturday, March 1, 1739-
40 is an expression of indignation at playwrights who attach
the names of Shakespeare and other famous dramatists to their
own works*
Numberless are the arts which the street-walking-muses
make use of to lay their bastards at the doors of their
betters* or in other words* by which booksellers and their
bad authors endeavor to steal the names of good ones. . . .
I remember about twelve years ago, upon the success of a
new play of Shake speare *s, said to have been found some­
where by somebody, the craft set themselves to searching,
and soon after I heard that several more plays of Shake­
speare, Beaumont and Fleteher, and Ben Jonson were found,
and the town to be entertained with them| but the players,
for I know not what reason, discouraging this, practice, it
hath .since ceased.
The following from The Champion for Saturday, December 15, 1739,
4
The Works of Henry Fielding, ed; W. S. Henley, (Hew
York? Croscup and Sterling .Co, , 1902) , Miscellaneous Writ­
ings II.
46
is a satirical comment on a stage device used in the produc­
tion of one of Shakespeare *s plays:
* * • it would he therefore unjust 9 to take no notice
of a most excellent device made use of the other night,
where some one observing that Brutus says of Caesar, “The
angry spot doth glow on Caesar *s brow. “
Equipped the said Caesar with a large painted spot over
his eye* Such decorations as these are of great use to
an Author, as they greatly heighten a poetical image, and
at the same time help the audience to understand it: for
as Horace says, “Nothing makes so quick an impression on
the mind as, Qua sunt oculis subjects fidelibus.1*
A number issues of The Champion contain quotations
from Shakespeare, and these will be listed chronologically.
The first is from the issue for Tuesday, January 29, 1739-40:
A third ingredient in our politician must be ingrati­
tude. . . . There are some men of such milky natures, as
Lady Macbeth says in Shakespeare, that it will be diffi­
cult to bring them to this height of perfection. . . .
The second is from The Champion for Tuesday, March 4, 1739-40:
Shakespeare says in his Othello, “That reputation is an
idle and most false imposition, oft got without merit, and
lost without deserving.1*
The third is from the periodical for March
6
, 1739-40:
This is finely expressed in the following lines of
Shakespeare, which at the same time assert the inestimable
value of the possessing, and consequently the injury of
being deprived of a good character:
“Good name in man or woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse, steals trash; *bis some­
thing, nothing;
*Twas mine, *tis his, and hath been slave to
thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Eobs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed. “
47
The fourth is from the issue for Tuesday, June 10, 1740s
. • • but this disadvantage may be somewhat compensat­
ed, by diligently reading the Gazeteers, wherein some
principles may be found; which persons, educated to be
staunch Englishmen, may think (as Shakespeare says) best
honoured in the neglect;
The fifth is from The Champion for Thursday, June 12, 1740s
Another obstruction is, the great difference of opin­
ion concerning all works of wit and humour, so that there
is nothing truer than Shakespeare's observation in his
Love's Labour's Lost,
llA jest's prosperity lies in the ear
Of him that hears it, never in the tongue
Of him that makes it."
THE TRUE PATRIOT
Fielding's anti-Jacobite newspaper The True Patriot^
was first published Hovember 5, 1745, and the last number ap­
peared June 17, 1746.
signatures*
As in The Champion. Fielding uses various
Rusticus, Oliver Oldcoat, Heliogabalus, and pos­
sibly others.
The numbers reprinted in the Henley edition of
Fielding have been used in this study*
There are only two
references to Shakespeare, and both of them might be termed a
comment on the taste of Fielding's day.
The first is from
The True Patriot for Tuesday, November 5, 1745t
It is a phrase commonly used in the polite world, that
such a person is in fashion; nay, I myself have known an
individual in fashion, and then out of fashion, and then
in fashion again. Shakespeare hath shared both these
fates in poetry, and so hath Mr. Handel in musie. • •
5
Ibid.. I.
48
The second is from The True Patriot for Tuesday, April
8
,
1746t
, . . The play was Henry the Eighth, with that august
representation of the coronation. The former of these, .
instead of admiring the great magnificence exhibited in
that ceremony observed with a sigh. That he believed very
few of these clothes were paid for* And the latter being
asked how he liked the play? (being the first he had ever
seen) answered, It was all very fine} but nothing came up,
in his opinion, to the ingenuity of snuffing the candles*
THE JACOBITE'S JOURNAL
The first number of Fielding's third periodical, The
Jacobite *s Journal* was published December 5, 1747, the last
on November
6
, 1748.
The author, or editor, was purported to
be “John Trottplaid, Esq. , 11 really Fielding.
Later, Mr.
Trottplaid employed '‘Morgan Scrub, Grubstreet-Solicitor, whi­
leom Author of Old-England.** He also established a Court of
Criticism to try his vilifiers*
Henley publishes only two
numbers from The Jacobite's Journal and neither contains a
reference to Shakespeare.
THE COVENT-GARDEN JOURNAL
The first number of The Covent-Garden Journal appeared
January 4, 1752, the last November 25, 1752.
As editor,
Fielding used the name ttSir Alexander Drawcansir, Knt. Censor
of Great Britain.**
He introduced many contributors, actual
and fictitious, and used numerous signatures for his writings.
49
Of these contributors Cross has the following to says
It is Fielding who speaks through “Everybody** and “Nobody“ and the other characters which were enumerated in
the paragraphs a few pages back) with the possible excep­
tion of "Y. Y.“ In number forty he is three distinct in­
dividuals: he is Misotharsus (or the Hater of Pertness)
outlining a treatise on “The Art of Swaggering in Print,1*
Peter Upright praising Sir Alexander's essay on charity,
and Tom Thoughtless who despises the same essay, thnngK
he encloses a guinea for Pierce, the poor baker burned
out in Bloomsbury. In number sixty-two, he assumes the
name of Tragicomicus in order to write freely upon William
Mason's “Blfrida,“ a dramatic poem modelled on ancient
tragedy.6
This last periodical of Fielding* s is particularly rich
in references to Shakespeare.
They m y be classified in the
same manner as previous references, but because in several in­
stances there are several types of reference in one essay, the
leaders are quoted chronologically.
The Jensen edition of The
Covent-Garden Journal has been used in this study
Tuesday, February 4, 1752, Humber 10. . . . I would not
be thought to confine Wit and Humour to these Writers.
Shakespeare, Moliere, and some other Authors, have been blessed
with the same Talents, and have employed them to the same
Purposes.
Saturday, February 22, 1752, Humber 15. Hot to keep my
Reader any longer in Suspence , the Government I mean is
that of the Stage; a Government founded on a Set of Politics
peculiar to itself, and practised by no other Ration in the
known Parts of the World. . . .
A great poet, Contemporary with the Statesman last quot6
Cross, op. cit*, H , 275.
7
Gerard Edward Jensen, editor, The Covent-Garden Jour­
nal (Hew Haven: Yale University Press, 1915)•
50
ed, observes in one of his Satire s , that
The number may be hang*d, but not be crowned.
But this also is false with Respect to the People now un­
der Consideration, among whom it is very common to see
Crowns on the Head of the Canaille or Multitude# Indeed
the Title of King seems to be in no great Repute among
them, for except King Richard, King bear, and one or two
more, I have generally observed the regal Office to be
filled by some of the meanest of the People# • • •
Mr# Censor said, he was sorry to confess that Grubstreet had very fully made out its Title to a much greater
Antiquity than the Kingdoms of Wit and beaming# That the
two last had arisen from the first, and not that from
these# . * • That the Subjects of this Republic had never
paid any, not even the least Acknowledgments to the King­
dom of Wit; but that on the contrary, the Subjects of the
latter had always paid certain Tributes to Grubstreet.
That Shake spear himself was obliged to this Composition;
for that all his Admirers had ever accounted for certain
Passages in his Works, from his having been forced to com­
ply with the absurd Taste of his Audience, in other Words,
to pay a Tribute to Grubstreet#
The leader for Saturday, March 14, 1752, Number 21;
consists of a letter ridiculing the virtue of Axylus, one of
the fictitious contributors to The Covent-Garden Journal» and
extolling hypocrisy.
The letter is signed Iago*
One para­
graph reads:
• • • An instance of this I give you in myself, who,
without having ever done a single good action, have uni­
versally a good character; and this I have acquired by
only taking upon me the trouble of supporting one constant
series of hypocrisy all my days. Iago#
Saturday, March 21, 1752# Number 23# it is not easy
to say with any great Exactness what Form of Government
was preserved in this Commonwealth of literature during
the Reigns of Edward VI, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth;
for tho1 there.were some great Men in those Times, none
of them seemed to have affected the Throne of Wits Nay
Shakespear, who flourished in the latter end of the last
Reign, and who seemed so justly qualified to enjoy this
Crown, never thought of challenging it#
In the reign of James I. the literary Government m e
51
an Aristocracy, for I do not chuse to give it the evil
Name of Oligarchy, tho* it consisted only of fourj namely,
Master William Shake spear, Master Benjamin Johnson, Mas­
ter John Fletcher and Easter Francis Beaumont.
Tuesday, March 31, 1752. Number 26. WHOEVER can con­
template any one of our capital dramatic Pieces, and at­
tend to the several Excellencies which adorn it;- the seri­
ous, the facetious, the pathetic, the terrible, and (what
is above all) the sententious, the moral, and the rational,
— Whoever (I say) can contemplate all these beauties, and
mark how wonderfully they conspire in some single Perform­
ance, will not be surprized that not above ONE SHAKESFEAR
should arise in a Century, and that when he comes he comes
like a Prodigy of the better Sort, where Nature (according
to the Phrase of a great Philosopher) may be said t© have
outdone her usual Outdo ings. . . .
Tho* few think themselves qualified for Writers or Ac­
tors, yet all think themselves qualified to be adequate
HEARERS: This is a matter in which they have seldom any
Scruples. . • . I think there are very few capable of be­
ing those Hearers which they fancy themselves, that take
a thousand of human Race that have none of them lost their
Ears, and *tis well if there be ten among them who have
really Ears to hear. . . . Were we to recite Hamlet or Othel­
lo to these venerable Quadrupeds, I fear we should be sen­
tenced to lose our labour. . . .
There are a Race of Mortals in this Country, who go by
the Name of Bucks. . . . These same Bucks have I seen
stand the high Humour of Falstaff, with as much Insensi­
bility, as if they had not been Bucks. but Pigs of lead.
..
Tuesday, April 7 , 1752. Number 28. The good Judgment
of the Managers shews itself therefore in their Disposi­
tion of those Parts to Mr. Harvard*s Share; where all the
am [ijable Qualities of Human Nature are to be displayed;
since he who exerts these Qualities in private life, is
the most likely to represent them well on the Stage; such
are Horatio, the Friar in Romeo and Juliet, &c
The whole of Number 31 is a satire on the practice of
altering the text of Shakespeare *s plays s
Saturday, April 18, 1752.
Sir,
Number 31.
YOU are sensible, I believe, that there is nothing
52
in this Age more fashionable, than to criticise on Shake­
speare; I am indeed told, that there are not less than
200 Editions of that Author, with Commentaries, Notes,
Observations, &e. now preparing for the Press; as nothing
therefore is more natural than to direct one*s Studies by
the Humour of the Times, I have myself employed some lei­
sure Hours on that great Poet* I here send you a short
Specimen of my Labours, being some Emendations of that
most celebrated Soliloquy in Hamlet, which as I have no
intention to publish Shakespeare myself, are very much at
the Service of any of the 200 Critics abovementioned.
1
am, &e*
Hamlet, Act III* Scene 2.
To be, or not to be, that is the question*
This is certainly very intelligible; but if a slight
Alteration were made in the former Part of the Line, and
an easy Change was admitted in the last Word, the Sense
would be greatly improved* I would propose then to read
thus;
To be, or not;
To bet
That is the strong Hold;
Cato.
That is the BASTION*
The Fortress*
So Addison in
Here will I hold—
The military Terms which follow, abundantly point out this
Reading*
Whether *tis nobler in the Mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outragious Fortune ,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of Troubles,
And by opposing end them* ...
Suffering is, I allow, a Christian Virtue; but I ques­
tion whether it hath ever been ranked among the heroic
qualities* Shakespeare certainly wrote BUFFET: and this
leads us to supply Man for Mind; Mind being alike appli­
cable to both Sexes, whereas Hamlet is here displaying the
most masculine Fortitude* Slings and Arrows in the suc­
ceeding Line, is an Impropriety which could not have come
from our Author; the .former being the Engine which dis­
charges, and the latter the Weapon discharged* To the
Sling, he would have opposed the Bow; or to Arrows, Stones*
Read therefore WINGED ARROWS: that is, feathered Arrows;
53
a Figure very usual among Poets:
lad of Chevy Chase;
So in the classical Bal­
The Grey-Goose Wing that m s thereon
m his Hearts Blood was wet*
The next line is undoubtedly corrupt— to take Arms against
a Sea, can give no Man, I think, an Idea; whereas by a
slight Alteration and Transposition all will be set right,
and the undoubted Meaning of Shakespeare restored*
Or tack against an Arm *oth* Sea of Troubles,
And by composing end them.
By composing himself to Sleep, as he presently explains
himself* What shall I dot says Hamlet* Shall I buffet
the Storm, or shall I tack about and go to Rest?
To die* to Sleep;
No more; and by a Sleep to say we end
The Heart-ach, and the thousand natural Shocks
The Flesh is Heir to; *tis a Consummation
Devoutly to be wished; To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream;—
What to die first, and to go to sleep afterwards; and not
only so, but to dream too?— But tho* his Commentators were
dreaming of Nonsense when they read this Passage, Shake­
speare was awake when he writ it. Correct it thus;
-— To lie to sleep*
i.e. To go to sleep, a common Expression; Hamlet himself
expressly says he means no more: whieh he would hardly
have said, if he had talked of Death, a Matter of the
greatest and highest Nature: And is not the Context a De­
scription of the Power of Sleep, which every one knows
puts an End to the Heart-ach, the Tooth-ach, Head-ach,
and indeed every Ach? So our Author in his Macbeth,
speaking of this very Sleep, calls it
Balm of hurt Minds, great Nature *s second Course.
Where, by the bye, instead of second Course, X read SICK­
ENED DOSE; this being, indeed the Dose udiich Nature chuses
to apply to all her Shocks, and may be therefore well said
devoutly to be wished"for: which surely cannot be so gen­
erally said of Death.— But how can Sleep be called a Con­
summation?— The true Reading is certainly Consultation:
64
the Cause for the Effect, a common Metonymy, i.e. When
me are in any violent Pain, and a Set of Physicians are
met in a Consultation. it is to be. hoped the Consequence
will be a sleeping Dose. Death, I own, is very devoutly
to be apprehended, but seldom wished, I believe at least
byithe Patient himself, at all such Seasons.
For natural Shocks * I would read Shakes; indeed I know
only one Argument which..can be brought in Justifies [tion]
of the old Reading; and this is, that Shock hath the same
Signification, and is rather the better Word* In such
Cases, the Reader must be left to his Choice.
For in that Sleep of Death what Dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal Coil,
Must give us Pause—
Read and print thus;
For in that Sleep, of Death what Dreams may come?
When we have scuffled off, this mortal Call.
Must give us Pause—
i.e. Must make us stop. Shuffle is a paultry Metaphor,
taken from playing at Cards; whereas scuffle is a noble
and military Word.
The Whips and Scorns of Time.
Undoubtedly Whips and Spurs.
When he himself might his Quietus make
With a bare Bodkin.
With a bare Pipkin. The Reader will be pleased to observe,
that Hamlet, as we have proved, is here debating whether
it were better to go to sleep, or to keep awake; as an
Argument for the affirmative, he urges that no Man in his
Senses would bear The Whips and Scorns of Time, the Oppres­
sors Wrong. &c. when he himself, without being at the Ex­
pence of an Apothecary, might make his Quietus, or sleep­
ing Dose, with a bare Pipkin, the cheapest of all Vessels,
and consequently within every Man *s Reach.
— Who would Fardles bear,
To groan and sweat under a weary life?
Who indeed would bear any thing for such a Reward?
true Reading is
The
55
— Who would for th* Ales bear
To groan*
Who would bear the Miseries of Life, for the Sake of the
Ales* In the Days of Shakespeare , when Diversions were
not arrived at .that Degree of Elegance to which they have
been since brought* the Assemblies of the People for Mirth
were called by the name of an Ale* This was the Drum or
Rout of that Age* and was the Entertainment of thebetter
Sort, as it is at this Day of the Vulgar* Such are the
Easter-Ales and the Whitsun-Ales« at present celebrated
all over the West of England* The Sentiment therefore of
the Poet, is this; Who would bear the Miseries of Life*
to enjoy the Pleasures of itj which latter Word is by no
forced Metaphor called THE ALES OF LIFE*
And make us rather bear the H i s we have*
Than fly to others that we know not of*
This* I own* is Sense as it stands; but the Spirit of the
Passage will be improved, if we read
Than try some others* <Scc*
— Thus the native Hue of Resolution,
Is sicklied o*er with the pale Cast of Thought*
Read,
— Thus the native Blue of Resolution*
Is pickled o*er in a stale Cask of Salt*
This restores a most elegant Sentiment; I shall leave the
Relish of it therefore with the Reader, and conclude by
wishing that its Taste may never be obliterated by any
future Alteration of this glorious Poet* a *
Saturday* April 25, 1752* Humber 33* . . • But this
State of joyous Tranquillity was not of long Durations I
had scarce began my Breakfast* when my Ears were saluted
with a genteel Whistle, and the Moise of a Pair of Slippers
descending the Stair-Case; and soon after I beheld a Con­
trast to my former Prospect, being a very beauish Gentle­
man* with a huge laced Hat on as big as Pistol's in the
Play; a Wig somewhat disheveled, and a Face which at once
gave you a perfect Idea of Emptiness, Assurance and In­
temperance.
• • • He then looked full in my Face* and asked the
Landlord if he had ever been at Drury-Lane Play House;
56
which he answered in the negative* What* says he, did you
never hear talk of Mr* Garrick and King Richard? no Sir,
says the Landlord. By G ~ . says the Gent* he is the elev- *
erest Fellow in England: he then spouted a Speech out of
King Richard* which begins, with give me an Horse, &c.
There, says he, that is just like Mr* Garrick*
Saturday, July IS, 1752. Number 55* By this Means chief­
ly the Tragic Humour differs from the Comic 5 it is the
same Ambition which raises our horror in Macbeth, and our
Laughter at the drunken Sailors in the Tempest; the same
Avarice which causes the dreadful Incidents in the Fatal
Curiosity of Lillo, and in the Miser of Moliere; the same
Jealousy which forms an Othello, or a Suspicious Husband.
Saturday, August 1, 1752. Number 57. In short, I collect
from various Hints sent me by my Correspondents; that the
Rakes and Harlots of the Town begin to regard me as their
Well-Wisher, as what Falstaff calls a Friend to us Youth.
In number sixty-two, as mentioned in the quotation from
Cross, Fielding uses the signature Tragicomicus in commenting
on Mason1s Elfrida, and the following addition to the above
quotation from Cross makes the leader more comprehensible:
. . . This curious production in blank verse is unbro­
ken by acts or scenes and has Ha continued chorus** of Brit­
ish maidens, who never leave the stage and thus render im­
possible any deviation from the unities of time and place
as well as of action. It is the kind of tragedy, said
Mason in letters pref ixed to the piece, which a Greek dram­
atist would write were he living in the eighteenth century.
Indeed, nobody would have ever thought of constructing a
drama otherwise, had there been no Shakespeare, who, how­
ever elevated his genius, lacked the sober judgment of Ra­
cine. Tragicomicus, who feels like doing a mischief to the
critic who picks faults in Shake speare, exposes the absurd­
ity of any attempt to restore the unities and chorus of
pseudo-classicism.
Fielding*s essay follows:
Saturday, September 16, 1752.
Number 62.
5?
To Sir Alexander Drawcansir, Knt.
Censor of Great Britain
Bedlam, Apr. 9, 1752
Sir,
I have been confined in this Place four Years; my
Friends, that is, my Relations, but as I call them, my
Enemies, think me Mad, but to show you X am not, I'll
send you a Specimen of my Present State of Mind.— About a
Week ago, a grave Gentleman came to the Grate of my Cell
and threw me in a Pamphlet, written it seems by a Gent, of
Cambridge. I read it over, and approve the Drama much,
but I must send you some Thoughts that occur*d to me from
Reading the Prefix'd Five Letters--the Author it seems
lives at Pembroke-Hall, in Cambridge, where Sophocles,
Euripides, and Aeschilus, have, 1 don't doubt, been his
darling Studies, not forgetting the abominable Rules of
Aristotle, who indisputably wrote very properly concern­
ing Dramatic Poetry at his Time of Day, but what a Figure
wou'd a Modern Tragedy make with his three Unities!— if
Shakespeare had observed them— he wou'd have flown like a
Faper-Kite« not soar'd like an Eagle.— Again, Sir, as to
his Chorus he is so fond of, why that did very well amongst the Greek Writers; but me thinks this Mr. Chorus
would be a very impertinent Fellow if he was to put in his
Observations on any of Shakespeare's interesting Scenes:
as for Example, what do you think of this same Chorus, if
he was to be upon the Stage when, in the Play of Othello,
Iago is imprinting those exquisite Tints of Jealousy upon
Othello's Mind in the third Act: or suppose when Desdemona
drops the fatal Handkerchief, the Chorus was to call after
her to bid her take it up again, or.tell the Audience what
was to happen in Case she did not.— Or suppose, Sir, this
same Chorus was to stand by, and tell us Brutus and Cassius
were going to differ, but that they would, make it up again—
would not this prevent the noble Anxiety this famous Scene
in Julius Caesar raises in the Minds of a sensible Audience?
I am,
. Sir, yours in clean Straw,
TRAGICOMICUS.
N.B. I have no Objection to the Choruses of the immortal
Handel.
If you observe, Sir, this learned Gentleman finds fault
with Shakespeare's Chorus in Harry the Vth, and says it
would do better in other Metre.— If I had him here, I be­
lieve I should do him a Mischief.
58
Saturday, November 18, 1752* Number 71* The War which
is so lately broke out between the two powerful States of
Drury-Lane and Covent-Garden, . • •
He first reinforced the Forces under Macbeth, which
before consisted of only five Pair of fighting Men, with
three Pair more of Candle-Snuffers and Scene Men; so that
between the Trees of Bimam-Wood, they made a most formi­
dable Appearance*
Summary* Fielding resented the practice of contempo­
rary playwrights who claimed that their plays were recently
discovered plays of Shakespeare*
He comments on the fact that
Shakespeare was forced to comply with the taste, of the audi­
ence in his writing, and that he has been in fashion and out
of fashion since his death*
He thinks that Shakespeare pos­
sessed wit and humour, indeed that he was well qualified to
sit on the Throne of Wit in his day, although he was too mod­
est to claim it.
He was right in ignoring the three classical
unities and in not using the Chorus of the Greek and Latin
plays.
In fact, he was so great, that the world could pro­
duce only one Shakespeare in a century*
The following plays are referred to or quoted from
once:
Q
Love*s Labour*s Lost« Henry VIII* Romeo and Juliet*
The Tempest* and King Lear. The following are mentioned or
quoted from several times:
Macbeth* Julius Caesar* Othello *
King Richard* Hamlet* and Henry IV* A number of Shakespearean
characters are specifically mentioned;
Brutus, Caesar, Lady
8
The quotation from The Champion for June 10, 1740, has
not been located with certainty. - Cf. ante* p. 47.
Macbeth., King Richard, King Lear, Iago, Falstaff, Horatio, the
Friar (in Romeo and Juliet), Hamlet, Sailors (in The Tempest),
Othello, Desdemona, Cassius, fighting men, candle snuffers and
scene men (in Macbeth) • The characters quoted are Brutus,
Lady Macbeth, Iago, Rosaline, Hamlet, King Richard, and Fal­
staff*
Most of the references to plays or characters indi­
cate that Fielding had seen the plays performed*
He mentions
two actors of the day in connection with the parts they played
Mr* Garrick as King Richard, Mr* Harvard as Horatio and as
the Friar in Romeo and Juliet*
All of Fielding*s periodicals were published when he
was past thirty, so that the opinions expressed in them are
those of his mature mind, the opinions of a man who had read
not a little and who had had considerable experience in life*
OTHER MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS
The following miscellaneous writings of Fielding, pub­
lished in the Miscellanies of 1743, have been investigated:
An Essav on Conver sation: A Journey From This World to the
Next: An Essay on the Knowledge of the Characters of Men: An
Essay on Nothing? The Opposition; A Vision: and in addition,
The Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon i published 1764*
Most of
the references belong to the casual allusion type, but A
Journey From This World to the Next contains a satire of some
length on those who quibble over interpretations of Shake­
60
speare, The references are quoted below*
From An Essay on Conversation?
. . . The sharpest wit therefore is only to be indulged
the free use of it* for no more than a very slight touch
is to be allowed; no hacking, nor bruising, as if they
Q
were to hew a carcase for hounds, as Shakspeare phrases it.
From A Journey From This World to the Next?
I then observed Shakspeare standing between Betterton
and Booth, and deciding a difference between those two
great actors concerning the placing an accent in one of
his lines: this was disputed on both sides with a warmth
which surprised me in Elysium, till I discovered by intu­
ition that every soul retained its principal characteris­
tic, being, indeed, its very essence. The line was that
celebrated one in Othello—
Put out the light, and then put out the light.
according to Betterton.
thus:—
Mr.Booth contended to have it
Put out the light, and then put out
THE light.
I could not help offering my conjecture on this occasion,
and suggested it might perhaps be—
Put out the light, and then put out THY light.
Another hinted a reading very sophisticated in my opinion—
Put out the light, and then put out THEE, light.
making light to be the vocative case.
altered the last word, and read—
Another would have
Put out thy light, and then put out thy sight•
But Betterton said, if the text was to be disturbed, he
saw no reason why a word might not be changed as well as a
9
G. H. Maynadier, editor, The Works of Henry Fielding
(New York: The Jenson Society* 1905), Miscellaneous Writings.
II, 241i
“
61
letter, and, instead of “put out thy light," you may read
“put out thy eyes.** At last it was agreed on all sides
to refer the matter to the decision of Shakespeare him­
self, who delivered his sentiments as follows* “Faith,
gentlemen, it is so long since I wrote the line, I have
forgot my meaning* This I know, could I have dreamt so
much nonsense would have been talked and writ about it, I
would have blotted it out of my works; for I am sure, if
any of these be my meaning, it doth me very, littie honour."
He was then interrogated concerning some other ambig­
uous passages in his works; but he declined any satisfactory
answer| saying, if Mr* Theobald had not writ about it suf­
ficiently, there were three or four more new editions of
his plays coming out, which he hoped would satisfy every
ones concluding, “I marvel nothing so much as that men
will gird themselves at discovering obscure beauties in an
author* Certes the greatest and most pregnant beauties
are ever the plainest and most evidently striking; and
when two meanings of a passage can in the least ball ance
our judgments which to prefer, I hold it matter of unques­
tionable certainty that neither.of them is worth a farthing."
From his works our conversation turned on his monument;
upon which, Shakspeare, shaking his sides, and addressing
himself to Milton, cried out, "On my word, brother Milton,
they have brought a noble set of poets together; they would
have been hanged erst have [ere they had] convened such a
company at their tables when alive*" "True, brother," an­
swered Milton, "unless we had been as incapable of eating
then as we are now."
A crowd of spirits now joined us, whom I soon perceived
to be the heroes, who here frequently pay their respects
to the several bards the recorders of their actions* • • •
Several applied themselves to Shakspeare, amongst whom
Henry IT* made a very distinguishing appearance*2^
From An Essay on the Knowledge of the Characters of Mens2-2• • • for nothing is truer than that observation of
Shakespeare:
A man may smile, and smile, and be a villain*
10
Maynadier (ed.), op* cit•, I, 50-53*
11
Fielding, op. cit.* I, 286.
62
• • • And hare I shall dismiss my character of a sanctified hypocrite9 .with the honest wish which Shakespeare
hath launched forth against an execrable villains
That Heaven would put in every honest hand a whip,
To lash the rascal naked through the world.
From An Essay on nothings ^
There is nothing falser than that old proverb which
(like many other falsehoods) is in every one *s mouth:
Ex nihile nihil fit
Thus translated in Shakespeare, in Lear:
Hothing can come of nothing.
From the Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon:
Monday, July 8 . Here we past that cliff of Dover which
makes so tremendous a figure in Shakspeare, and which who­
ever reads without being giddy, must, according to Mr.
Addison* s observation, have either a very good head or a
very bad one} but which whoever contracts any such ideas
from the sight of, must have at least a poetic if not a
Shakspearian genius. ^3
Sunday, July 19. Whether he guessed right or no is not
worth my while to examine. Certain it is, that the latter,
having wrought M s features into a proper harmony to become
the characters of Iago, Shylock, and others of the same
cast, gave a semblance of truth to the observation that
was sufficient to confirm the wit of it*«
The Opposition: A Vision contains no Shakespearean
references.
T M s fact seems strange, because it has come to
seem that Fielding wrote little in prose without referring to
or quoting from Shakespeare.
12
Ibid.. I, 310.
13
ibid.. Ill, 223.
14
Ibid.. Ill, 236.
These miscellaneous writings show Fielding to be fa­
miliar with Midsummer-Eight*s Dream* Othello* King Lear* The
Merchant of Venice * Henry V, and Hamlet* Several of his quota­
tions are free renderings of Shakespeare *s text*
CHAPTER V
THE HOVELS OF FIELDIHS
Fielding quotes from or alludes to both classic and
English authors so freely in Tom Jones that he might be in
danger of an accusation of pedantry were it not that his style
is devoid of ostentation and pomposity.
It is probable that
he consciously introduced literary allusions in an effort to
ward off unworthy imitators in the new art of the novel.
In
one of his prolegomenous essays he writes rt0f Those Who Law­
fully May9 And Of Those Who May Hot 9 Write Such Histories As
This.*-*- He says9 “I shall here venture to mention some qual­
ifications 9 every one of which are in a pretty high degree
necessary to this order of historians. “ The first is genius9
and the second 9 learnings
A competent knowledge of history and of the belleslettres is here absolutely necessary; and without this
share of knowledge at least 9 to affect the character
of an historian is as vain as to endeavor at building a
house without timber or mortar9 or brick or stone.
The third is conversations
“How this conversation in our his­
torian must be universal 9 that is 9 with all ranks and degrees
of men. 11 Lastly9 he who essays the comic-prose-epic must have
a good heart 9 and be capable of feeling.
Of the conscious use of learning to discourage imita1
The Works of Henry Fielding, ed. W. E. Henley (Hew
Yorks Croscup and Sterling Co. 9 1902) 9 Tom Jones. Bk. IX9
Chap. I.
65
tors lie says:
I quest,ion not but the ingenious author of the Specta­
tor was principally induced to prefix Greek and Latin mot­
toes to every paper, from the same consideration, of guard­
ing against the pursuit of those scribblers, who, having
no talents of a writer but what is taught by the writingmaster, are yet nowise afraid nor ashamed to assume the
same titles with the greatest genius, than their good
brother in the fable was of braying in the lion* s skin*
By the device, therefore, of his motto, it became im­
practicable for any man to presume to imitate the Specta­
tors, without understanding at least one sentence in the
learned languages* In the same manner I have now secured
myself from the imitation of those who are utterly inca­
pable of any degree of.reflection, and whose learning is
not equal to an essay*
The same scribblers who were not equal to an essay would not
be equal to casual references to belles lettres*
SHAKESPEAREAN REFERENCES IN JOSEPH ANDREWS AND JONATHAN WILD
Shakespearean references are not numerous in Fielding's
first two novels, Joseph Andrews* published in 1742, and Jona­
than Wild* published in the Miscellanies of 1743*
Parson
Adams, the chief character in Joseph Andrews* is a classical
scholar, and consequently the novel is richer in classical
quotations.and references.
The first reference in Joseph
Andrews is a description of Parson Trulliber found in Book II,
3
Chapter XIV, as follows:
2
Ibid*, pp* 154-55*
66
• . • He was indeed one of the largest men you should
see} and could have acted the part of Sir John Falstaff
without stuffing.
The only other reference is the following from Book III, Chap­
ter X:
. . . “Kot so fast|** says the player {to the poet):
"the modern actors are as good at least as their authors;
nay, they come nearer their illustrious predecessors; and
I expect a Booth on the stage again sooner than a Shake­
speare or an Otway . • ."
The following reference from Book I, Chapter X, of
Jonathan. Wild is the only one found in the novels4
. . . For my own part, let any man choose to himself
two beaux, let them be captains or colonels, as well-dressed
men as ever lived. I would venture to oppose a single Sir
Isaac Kewton, a Shakespeare, a Milton, or perhaps some few
others, to both these beaux; nay, and I very much doubt
whether it had not been better for the .world in general
that neither of these beaux had ever been born than that
it should have wanted the benefit arising to it from the
labor of any one of those persons.
SH&KESFEARMT HEFEHEHCES M TOM JOKES
In Tom Jones Fielding is lavish with Shakespearean
quotations and references.
They are listed below in the order
of their appearance in the novel.
The first is from Book I,
Chapter VIII;
This hole in her brother *s study-door was indeed as
well known to Miss Bridget, and had been as frequently
applied to by her, as the famous hole in the wall was by
Thisbe of old. . . . It is true, some inconveniences at4
Fielding, op. cit. , Jonathan Wild;
67
tended this intercourse? and she had sometimes reason to
cry out with Thisbe? in Shakespeare? ”0? wicked? wicked
wall!
From Book II? Chapter III:
This good woman was? no more than Othello? of a dispo­
sition
To make a life of jealousy
And follow still the changes of the moon
With fresh suspicions—
With her? as well as him?
— To be once in doubts
Was oiice to be resolv'd— ©
she therefore ordered Jenny immediately to pack up her
alls and begone ? for that she was determined she should
not sleep that night within her walls.
From Book III? Chapter VI:
We would not? however? have our reader imagine that
persons of such characters as were supported by Thwackum
and Square would undertake a matter of this kind . . .
before they had thoroughly examined it? and considered
whether it was (as Shakespeare phrases it) "Stuff o' th'
conscience?" or no.”
From Book V? Chapter VII:
. . . If the wisest of men hath compared life to a span?
surely we may be allowed to consider it as a day.?a
Midsummer-Night's Dream? V? i? 182 {Pyramus]] . Errone­
ously attributed to Thisbe by Fielding. The line reads? "0
wicked wall! through whom I see no bliss." Thisbe says (1.191)?
"0 wall! full often hast thou heard my moans." 6Othello, III, iii, 177-81.
[Othello] . '
"^Othello, I? ii, 2.
7a
Shakespeare compares life to a span in three plays,
as follows:
Some ? how brief the life of man
Runs his erring pilgrimage
That the stretching of a span
Buckles in his sum of age.
As You Like It, III, ii, 138-41, [Celia].
68
From Book VI, Chapter I:
. . . Or why, in any case, will we, as Shakespeare
phrases it, “put the world in our own person? “ 8
From Book VII, Chapter Is
The brevity of life hath likewise given occasion to
this comparison. So the immortal Shakespeare—
— Life's a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more.
For which hackneyed quotation I will make the reader
amends by a very noble one, which few, I believe, have
read. It is taken from a poem called the Deity . . .=*
From Book VII, Chapter XIV s
. . . In the right hand he carried a sword, and in the
left a candle. So that the bloody Banquo was not worthy
to be compared to iiim.1^
From Book VIII, Chapter Is
• • • Hay, perhaps it will be credited that the villain
went two days afterward with some young ladies to the play
of Hamlet . . .
From Book IX, Chapter Is
. . . Here I mean such imitators as Rowe was of Shake­
speare, or as Horace hints some of the Romans were of Cato,
by bare feet and sour faces.
From Book IX, Chapter Is
• . • As we must perceive that after the nicest strokes
of a Shakespeare or a Jonson, of a Wycherley<or an Otway,
A-life's but a span.
Othello. II, iii, 75 flagoj .
To steal from spiritual leisure a brief span
To keep your earthly audit. Henry VIII. Ill, ii,
141-2 [King Henry] •
8
Much Ado About Nothing, II, I, 218 [Benedick] .
9
Macbeth. V, v, 24-6, [Macbeth] •
10
■
Hamlet.
69
some touches of nature will escape the reader, which the
judicious action of a Garrick, or a Cibber, or a Clive,
can convey to him • . •
From Book IX', Chapter Ills
.... For this reason Shakespeare hath artfully intro­
duced his Desdemona, soliciting favors for Cassio of her
husband, as the means of inflaming, not only his jealousy,
but his rage, to the highest pitch of madness; and we
find the unfortunate Moor less able to command his passion
on this occasion, than even when he beheld his valued pres­
ent to his wife in the hands of his supposed rival.-11
From Book X, Chapter Is
Reader, it is impossible we should know what sort of
person thou wilt be; for, perhaps, thou may1st be as
learned in human nature as Shakespeare himself was, and,
perhaps , thou may *st be no wiser than some of his editors.
Row, lest this latter should be the case, we think proper,
before we go any farther together, to give thee a few
wholesome admonitions; that thou may* st not as grossly
misunderstand and misrepresent us, as some of the said
editors have misunderstood and misrepresented their author.
. . . The allusion and metaphor we have here made use of,
we must acknowledge to be infinitely too great for our
occasion; but there is, indeed, no other, which is at all
adequate to express the difference between an author of
the first rate and a critic of the lowest.
From Book X, Chapter VIII s
0 Shakespeare I had I thy pen I
From Book XI, Chapter Is
Shakespeare hath nobly touched this vice when he says,
HWho steals my purse steals trash; ltis something,
nothing;
*Twas mine, *tis his, and hath been slave to
thousands:
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that WHICH ROT ENRICHES -HIM,
BUT MAKES ME POOR INDEED.”12
11
Othello.
12
Othello, III, iii, 167-61 [iagoj •
70
From Book XI, Chapter Is
To suck we may parody the tender exclamation of Maeduff, “Alas! Thou hast written no b o o k . Hl3
From Book XII, Chapter X:
Jones, who in the compliance of his disposition (though
not in his prudence) a little resembled his lovely Sophia,
was easily prevailed on to satisfy Mr# Bowling *s curiosity
by relating the history of his birth and education, which
he did, like Othello,
— Even from his boyish years,
To thl very moment he was bade to tells
the which to hear, Bowling, like Besdemona, did seriously
incline 5
He swore *twas strange , *twas passing strange 5
*Twas pitiful, *twas wondrous pitiful.1 4
From Book XIII, Chapter Is
. . . Come, thou that hast inspired thy Aristophanes,
thy Lucian, thy Cervantes, thy Rabelais, thy Moliere,
thy Shakespeare, thy Swift, thy Marivaux, fill my pages
with humor . . •
From Book XVII, Chapter III:
But affairs were not in so quiet a situation in the
bosom of the other conspirator} his mind was tossed in
all the distracting anxiety so nobly described by Shake­
speare—
Between the acting of a dreadful thing
And the first motion, all the interim is
Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream}
The genius and the mortal instruments
Are then in council} and the state of man,
Like to a little kingdom, suffers then
The nature of an insurrection.1 5
13
Macbeth.
14
0thello, I, iii, 132-33, and 160-61 [Othello] .
^Julius Caesar. II, I, 63-9 [Brutus] •
71
The greater part of Chapter V* Book: XVI is given over
to a description of a performance of Hamlet by Garrick* s com­
pany, witnessed by Mrs. Miller, Tom Jones, and Partridge.
Fielding pays a high tribute to Garrick* s acting by means of
the comments of his characters.
From Book XVI, Chapter X:
. . . the whole produced that green-eyed monster men­
tioned by Shakespeare in his tragedy of Othello.
SHAKESPEAREAN REFERENCES IN AMELIA
Fielding does not display his learning in Amelia to the
same extent that he does in Tom Jones, but the novel contains
a greater number of Shakespearean quotations and references
than most works of fiction.
They are listed below*
From Book I, Chapter Vis
. . . Such indeed was her image that neither could
Shakespeare describe, nor Hogarth paint » nor Clive act,
a fury in higher perfection.
From Book I, Chapter VI:
But before we put sin end to this it may be necessary to
whisper a word or two to the critics, who have perhaps be­
gun to express no less astonishment than Mr. Booth that a
lady in whom we had remarked a most extraordinary power of
displaying softness shouldj the very next moment after the
words were out of her mouth, express sentiments becoming
the lips of a Dalila, Jezebel, Medea, Semiramis, Parysatis,
Tanaquil, Livilla, Messalina, Agrippina, Brunichilde, Elfrida, Lady Macbeth • . *
16
Fielding, op. cit.. Amelia.
72
Front Book III, Chapter VIII:
. . . The manly Brutus showed the utmost tenderness to
his Portia . •
From Book VI, Chapter Vs
The greatest genius the world hath ever produced ob­
serves, in one of his most excellent plays, that
Trifles, light as air,
Are to the jealous confirmation strong
As proofs of holy writ;1®
From Book VIII, Chapter VIII:
Nor poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drousy syrups of the East,
Will ever medicine them to slumber* 1 9
From Book VIII, Chapter X:
. . . The one is the brevity of life even at its long­
est duration, which the wisest of men hath compared to
the short dimension of a span* . . .2 0
From Book IX, Chapter VI:
. • • for, as Shakespeare says, dreams denote a fore­
gone conclusion* • •
From Book X, Chapter V:
ltIt is certainly the most cruel of all injuries,** said
Booth* '“How finely doth Shakespeare express it in his
OthelloI
22
lBut there, where I had treasured up my soul. *
“That Shakespeare,*1 cries the colonel, “was a fine fel­
low* He was a very pretty poet indeed* Was it not Shake17
Julius Caesar.
0thelio* III, iii, 323-25 jlago] .
19
Othello, III, iii, 331-33 ClagoJ.
18
20
Cf. ante* p. 67, footnote 7*
21
Othello, III, iii, 429 [OtherLcD •
22
Othello* IV, ii, 56 ]OthelloJ.
73
speare that wrote the play about Hotspur? You must re­
member these lines* I got them almost by heart at the
playhouse; for I never missed that play whenever it was
acted, if I was in town:
*By Heav*n it was an easy leap,
To pluck bright honor into the full moon,
Or drive into the bottomless deep. 1
“And— and— faith, I have almost forgot them} but I know
it is something about saving your honor from drowning.
0 it is very fine! I say, d— n me, the man that writ
those lines was the greatest poet the world ever produced*
There is dignity of expression and emphasis of thinking,
d— n me.**
From Book X, Chapter VI:
• • • She then went on, and related most of the circum­
stances which she had mentioned to the doctor, omitting
one or two ofthe strongest, and giving such a turn to the
rest that, if Booth had not had some of Othello*s blood
in him, his wife would have almost appeared a prude in
his eyes. . . .
From Book X, Chapter VII:
11. . • You will then find, I am afraid, that honor hath
no more skill in cookery than Shakespeare tells us it hath
in surgery. . • .**^4
From Book XI, Chapter II:
**»!• • for, as.Shakespeare somewhere says,
1Things ill begun strengthen themselves by ill.* . • •
*
t
PARALLEL PASSAGES
cA contributor to Hotes and Queries for June
8
, 1907,
23
First Part of King Henry IV. I, iii, 201-3 {Hotspur] •
24First Part of King Henry IV, V , i, 131 {Falstaff) .
25
Comedy of Errors. Ill, ii, 2 0 {Luciana"], as follows:
III deeds are doubled with an evil word* See also King John,
IV, ii, 219-20 {King John] , as follows:
How oft the.sight of means to do ill deeds
Makes deeds ill doneI
74
calls attention to two parallel passages in Tom Jones* They
are quoted below; 2 6
. . . In Tom Jones in the ninth chapter of the fourth
hook) he writes:-“Black George -was, in the main, a peace­
able kind of fellow, and nothing choleric nor rash; yet
did he hear about him something of what the ancients
called the irascible, and which his wife, if she had been
endowed with much wisdom, would have feared.1* This is
partly the language of Hamlet:Por, though I am not splenitive and rash,
Yet have I something in me dangerous,
Which let .thy witness fear. 2 7
Again in the seventh chapter of the fifth book:-“Some of
the company shed tears at their parting| and even the
philosopher Square wiped his eyes, albeit unused to the
melting mood. As to Mrs. Wilkins, she dropped her pearls
as fast as the Arabian trees their medicinal gums.1* This
is much the language of Othello sGf one whose subdued eyes,
Albeit unused to the melting mood
Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees
Their medicinal gum.2 8
It is not improbable that a Shakespearean expert would be able
to find other parallel passages in both the novels and the
plays.
Certain parallel passages in Amelia .which are one of
the discoveries of this investigation, will be discussed in a
later chapter.
Summary. In general, the Shake spearean quotations and
*
'
references follow the pattern made familiar in the plays and
E. Yardley, “Fielding and Shakespeare,” Hotes and
Queries. 10 S VIIs 444-45, June 8 , 1907.
^ Hamlet. V, i, 283-5.
^Othello. V, ii, 337-40.
the miscellaneous writings.
Expressions of the highest admi­
ration for Shakespeare either come from the author himself,
or are expressed by the admirable characters in the novels.
The dramas are, in the main, the same to which he has referred
in previous works:
Henry IV. Midsummer-Night1s Dream, Othello,
Macbeth, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, King
John, possibly The Comedy of Errors.
These are probably the
most popular of Shakespeare's plays today.
Certainly, with
one or two exceptions, they are the most frequently presented
on the modern stage.
CHAPTER VI
ROMEO A m JULIET AHD TCM JOKES
There is aa^le evidence in the previous chapters to
show that Fielding was familiar with many of Shakespeare *s
plays and that he greatly admired his genius, hut there is
little to suggest that Shake speare was a positive influence
on Fielding as a creative artist*
A burlesque of the balcony
scene in Romeo and Juliet, and certain parallel passages in
plays by Fielding in which he caricatures many other plays
and the style of many other playwrights, are not evidence of
any considerable influence*
It is on Fielding the novelist
that Shakespeare*s influence is evident, and it may be traced
in the two finest works of his pen, Tom Jones and Amelia*
All who have read Fielding* s masterpiece, Tom Jones*
and Romeo and Juliet must have noted certain similarities*
The fables of both the drama and the novel deal with crossed
young love*
The heroes in both works are banished, and as a
result in each case the heroine leaves home*
Both Shakespeare
and Fielding use the device of having those possessing authority
over the heroine urge immediate marriage to another lover as
a means to speed up the action*
The catastrophes differ, of course, from the very na­
ture of tragedy and comedy.
Fielding was justly proud of in­
troducing a new form of art, termed by him the comic-prose-
epic.
Of tragedy he said:
tt. . . nor am I fond enough of
tragedy to make myself the hero of one.u-*- In some respects
the story of Tom and Sophia is the story of Romeo and Juliet
done with a happy ending.
On the other hand, the story of
crossed young love is the common ,heritage of all literary art­
ists, of all who tell tales.
It ante-dates written drama and
poetry, and must be as old as the history of the human race.
Some Fielding critics feel that there is only this inescapable
similarity between the plot of Tom Jones and that of Romeo
and Juliet. When the resemblance extends to one character, at
least, and to incidents and phrases, it would seem to be more
than coincidental.
But in the absence of any written or re­
corded statement from the author as proof of influence, some
people will probably always feel that these resemblances are
necessary concomitants of the theme.
Concerning the resemblance between the nurses of the
heroines, Professor Cross says:
Certain resemblances have been pointed out between Mrs.
Honour and the nurse in tlRomeo and Juliet.H They result,
I daresay, from the fact that both Shakespeare and Field­
ing depicted the characters from real life.4*
Si a contribution to Motes and Queries for June
8
, 1907, E.
1
The Works of Henry Fieldingf ed. W. E. Henley (Hew
York: Croscup and Sterling Co., 1902), Plavs and Poems. V, 247.
2
Wilbur I*. Cross, The History of Henry Fielding (Hew
Havens Yale University Press, 1918), II, 207.
78
Yardley expresses an opposite opinion, as follows:
The whole scene in which Blifil is imposed on Sophia
as a husband is a prose reproduction of one in •Romeo and
Juliet.* Sophia is Juliet; Mrs. Honour is the Nurse;
Squire Western i® Capulet; Mrs. Western, the Squire *s
sister, is Lady Capulet; and Blifil is County Paris. Bli­
fil is. a villain, and Paris is a gentleman. The characters
are different but the situation is the same. The conver­
sation between Sophia and Honour concerning Jones is quite
a reminiscence of that between Juliet and the Nurse con­
cerning Romeo. Here is part of it:tt,Nay, to be sure, ma*am,* answered Honour, *your la*ship hath had enough to give you a surfeit of them. To be
used ill by such a poor, beggarly, bastardly fellow. *“
“•Hold your blasphemous tongue,* cries Sophia: *how
dare you mention his name with disrespect before me? He
use me ill? Ho, his poor bleeding heart suffered more when
he writ the cruel words than mine from reading them. 0 1
he is all heroic virtue and angelic goodness. I am
ashamed of the weakness of my own passion for blaming what
I ought to admire.* 11
The above may be compared with the following:Nurse. Shame come to Romeo1
Juliet.
Blister*d be thy tongue
For such a wish! he was not born to shame:
Upon his brow shame is ashamed to sit;
For *tis a throne where honour may be crown* d.
Sole monarch of the universal earth. _
0 ! what a beast was X to chide at him.
There is a similarity of incident and phrase when the
nurses discuss the heroes with their mistresses.
Juliet*s
nurse describes Romeo as follows:
Well, you have made a simple choice; you know not how
to choose a man: Romeo! no, not he; though his face be
better than any.man*s, yet his leg excels all men*s; and
for a hand, and a foot, and a body, though they be not to
S. Yardley, “Fielding and Shakespeare,** Notes
Queries. 10 S VII, June 8 , 1907, pp. 444-45.
and
79
be talked on, yet they are past compare*4
Mistress Honour says of Tom Jones:
“Well, I say nothing; but io be sure it is a pity some
folks had not been better born; . . • for to be sure every
one must allow that he is the most handsomest, charmingest, finest, tallest, properest man in the world. ” 5
Haturally, both nurses are pressed into service to carry
messages.
After Juliet's nurse has carried a message to Romeo,
the following dialogue ensues between the nurse and Juliet:
Juliet. How, good sweet nurse; O lord! why
look*st thou sad?
Though news be sad, yet tell them merrily;
If good, thou sham'st the music of sweet news
By playing it to me with so sour a face.
Hurse. I am aweary, give me leave awhiles
Fie, how my bones ache! What a jaunce have I had!
Juliet. I would thou hadst my bones, and I
thy news.*
Hay, come, I pray thee, speak; good, good nurse,
speak.6
The conversation between Sophia and her nurse is as follows:
”0 dear, ma'am," says she, "what doth your la*ship
think? To be sure I am frightened out of my wits . . ."
"Good Honour, let me know it without any longer pref­
ace," says Sophia; "there are few things, I promise you,
which will surprise, and fewer which will shock me . " 7
When Juliet is being urged to marry County Paris, her nurse
4
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare« ed. W. J.
Craig (Hew York: The Plymouth Publishing Company, 1923),
Romeo and Juliet. II, v, 38.
5
Fielding, op* cit•, Tom Jones. Bk. VI, Chap. VI.
6
Romeo and Juliet. II, v, 21-8*
7
Tom Jones. Bk. VII, Chap. VII.
80
counsels:
Then, since the case so stands as now it doth,
I think it best you married with the county*
0 1 he*s a lovely gentleman;
Romeo!s a dishclout to him.; an eagle, madam,
Hath not so green, so quick, so fair an eye
As Paris hath. Be shrew my very heart,
I think you are happy in this second match,
For it excels your first*8
When Sophia is being pressed to marry Blifil, Mrs. Honour ad­
vises her;
**• i . And to be sure, if I may be so presumptuous as
to offer my poor opinion, there is young Mr. Blifil, who
besides that he is come of honest parents, and will be one
of the greatest squires hereabouts, he is, to be sure, in
my poor opinion, a more handsomer and a more politer man
by half; and besides, he is a young gentleman of a sober
character, and who may defy any of the neighbors to say
black is his eye . * *tt9
Both Romeo and Tom Jones have trouble in getting the
nurses to come to the point when they are sent with messages
by their young ladies.
In Act II, Scene IV, Romeo struggles
with Julietfs nurse, and in Book XV, Chapter VII, young Jones
has difficulty with Mrs. Honour.
But there is a closer textual
re semblance between the latter scene and Act III, Scene II of
the drama in which Juliet again has trouble in getting the
nurse to speak intelligibly.
Part of the scene is quoted be­
low:
8
Romeo and Juliet. Ill, v, 218-25.
0
...
Tom Jones. Bk* VI, Chap* XIII.
81
Jul. Ah, me! what news? why dost thou wring thy hands?
Nurse. Ah well-a-dayi he*s dead, he’s dead, he’s dead!
We are undone, lady* we are undone!Alack the day I— he’s gone, he’s kill’d, he’s dead!
Jul. Can heaven be so envious?
Nurse.
* Romeo can,
Though heaven cannot.— 0 Romeo, Romeo I— •
Who ever would have thought it?— Homed
Jul. What devil art thou, that dost torment me thus?
This torture should be roar’d in dismal hell;
Hath Romeo slain himself? say thou but I,
And that bare vowel,
shall poison more
Than the death-darting eye of cockatrice;
I am not I, if there be such an I;
Or those eyes shut, that make thee answer, I •
If he be slain, say— 1 5 or if not— no;
Brief sounds determine or my weal or woe.
Nurse. I saw the wound, I saw it with mine eyes,—
God save ,the mark!— here on his manly breast:
A piteous corse, a bloody corse;
Pale, pale as ashes, all bedaub’d in blood,
All in gore blood;— I swounded at the sight.
Jul. 0 break, my heart I— poor bankrupt, break at once!
To prison, eyes; ne’er look on liberty:
Vile earth, to earth resign; end motion here,
And thou, and Romeo, press one heavy bier!
Nurse. 6 Tybalt, Tybalt! the best friend I had;
O courteous Tybalt! honest gentleman!
That ever I should.live to see thee dead!
Jul. What storm is this that blows so contrary?
Is Romeo slaughter’d? and is Tybalt dead?
My dear-lov’d cousin, and my dearer lord?—
Then, dreadful trumpet, sound the general doom;
For who is living, if these two are gone?
Nurse. Tybalt is gone, and Romeo banished;
Romeo, that kill’d him, he is banished.
The conversation between Mrs. Honour and young Mr. Jones
follows:
*’Q, my dear sir! how shall I get spirits to tell you;
you are undone, sir, and my poor lady’s undone, and I am
undone.” “Hath anything happened to Sophia?” cries Jones,
staring like a madman. ’’All that is bad,” cries Honour;
”Qh, I shall never get such another lady!. Oh that I
should ever live to see this day!” At these words Jones
turned pale as ashes, trembled, and stammered; but Honour
went on; ”Qhi Mr. Jones, I have lost my lady forever.”
82
"How? what ! for Heaven's sake tell me. Oh, my dear Sophia!"
"You may well call her so," said Honour"she was the dear­
est lady to me. I shall never have such another place."
"D-n your place"! cries Jones5 "where is-what-what is be­
come of my Sophia?" "Ay.to be sure," cries she, "servants
may be d-n'd. It -signifies nothing what becomes of them,
though they are.turned away, and ruined ever so much. To
be sure they are not flesh and blood like other people.
No, to be sure, it signifies nothing what becomes of them."'
"If you have any pity, any compassion," cries Jones, "I
beg you will instantly tell me what hath happened to So­
phia?" "To be sure, I have more pity for you than you
have for me," answered Honour; "I don't d-n you because
you have lost the sweetest lady in the world. To be sure >
you are worthy to be pitied, and I am worthy to be pitied
toos for, to be sure, if ever there was a good mistress— "
"What hath happened?" cries Jones, in almost a raving fit.
"What? What?" said Honours "Why, the worst that could have
happened both for you and for me. Her father is come to
town, and hath carried her away from us both." Here Jones
fell on his knees in thanksgiving that it was no worse.
"No worse!" repeated Honour; "what could be worse for ei­
ther of us? He carried her off, swearing she should marry
Mr. Blifil; that's for your comfort; and, for poor me, I
am turned out of doors." "Indeed, Mrs. Honour," answered
Jones, "you frightened me out of my wits. I imagined some
most dreadful sudden accident had happened to Sophia; some­
thing, compared to which, even the seeing her married to
Blifil would be a trifle; but while there is life there
are hopes, my dear Honour. Women in this land of liberty
cannot be married by actual brutal force.".
Summary. In general, the scenes in the novel in which
** ***
'
,
Mrs. Honour appears tend to resemble the part played by Juliet* s
nurse so strongly, that it seems highly probable that Fielding
was influenced by Romeo and Juliet. In view of this fact, it
seems strange that he does not once refer to or quote from
Borneo and Juliet directly in Tom Jones, although he mentions
or quotes from five of Shakespeare's plays.
them he mentions several timesv
Two or three of
From the parody on the bal-
83
cony scene in Tom Thumb the Great it is known that Fielding
was familiar with Borneo and Juliet*
CHAPTER VII
FIELDING*S INTEREST IN OTHELLO
One of the discoveries of this study is the fact that
Fielding showed an exceptional interest in the tragedy of
Othello, an interest that lasted over a long period of years.
What would the student of literary influences not give for a
statement from the great novelist giving the reason for this
interest and, especially, its bearing on his creative work?
Such favoritism toward a literary work is seldom attributable
to a mere vagary.
In Fielding*s case , some deduction can be
attempted from the internal evidence of his works, and from
the known history of his life and the period in which he lived*
In considering the theatrical history presented in a previous chapter, it is notable that in less than a decade
four talented young actors rose to prominence;
Thomas Sheridan, and Barry.
Garrick, Foote,
All of them played in Othello .
most of them appearing at one time as Othello, and at another
as Iago, so that the steady patron of the theater had an oppor­
tunity to become exceptionally well acquainted with the tragedy.
Fielding* s great interest in the play and his display of de­
tailed knowledge of it coincide in time with the appearance of
these remarkable young actors in it.
Doubtless, also, the
presentation of Othello by the fashionable amateurs in March
of 1751,^ caused the play to be much talked of.
1
Gf. ante, p. 22*
These stage
presentations might well be the only cause of Fielding»s inter­
est} were it not for one factors
These same professional ac­
tors } augmented by some of the older favorites# appeared dur­
ing this decade in many other Shake spearean roles} for which
they were equally famous.
Thus, their appearance in Othello
furnished the opportunity for thorough knowledge of the trage­
dy, but not necessarily the reason for Fielding*s special in­
terest in it.
His first reference to the tragedy occurs in his play
Tumble-Down Dick, or Phaeton In the Suds, first acted in 1736.
It is a casual reference, indicative of no special interests
Machine. QhS I smoke him, I smoke him. But Mr. Prompter,
I must insist that you cut out a great deal of Othello,
if my pantomime is performed with it, or the audience willbe palled before the entertainment begins.
Prompter. We*11 cut out the fifth act, sir, if you please.
Machine. Sir, that's not enough, 1*11 have the first cut
out, too.2
The next two references are from The Champion, and the
proximity of the dates, Tuesday, March 4, and Thursday,March
6
, 1739-40, suggests that Fielding had either seen or read the
play recently.
It is noteworthy that these quotations appear
in Fielding's writings some time before the appearance of any
of the young actors in it.
the periodical for March
6
The length of the quotation from
(seven lines) and its accuracy,
even to punctuation, would indicate that he had been reading
the tragedy.
These lines impressed him stifficiently that he
used them later, in Tom .Tones.
In The Champion for March 4
tfghe Works of Henry Fielding, ed. W. E. Henley (Hew York
Croscup and Sterling Co., 1902), Flays and Poems. V, 14.
86
he writes* “Shakespeare says in his Othello % ‘That reputation
is an idle and most false imposition, oft got without merit*
and lost without deserving. 1 “3
for March
6
The quotation from the issue
reads s
This is finely expressed in the following lines of
Shakespeare * which at the same time assert the inestimable
value of the possessing, and consequently the injury of
being deprived of a good character:
“Good name in man or woman* dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse, steals trash; *tis some­
thing, nothing;
lTwas mine* *tis his* and hath been slave to
thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Bobs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.1"
In A Journey From This World to the Next, published in
1743, occurs the satire on the interpretations of Shakespeare
by various actors caused by the placing of an accent* or even
the altering of words.
One line from Othello,
Put out the light, and then put out the light
is used in this satire*
Without other data, which are com­
pletely lacking* it is impossible to attach great importance
to the choice of this line* which lends itself well to such a
satire.
It serves to show that Fielding still had Othello in
mind.
3 Cf • ante, p. 46*
4:
Cf. ante, p. 46.
5
Cf. ante, p. 60.
87
In another essay published in the Miscellanies of 1743,
An Essav on the Knowledge of the Characters of Men, he quotes
from a speech of Emilia in Othello:
• . • And here I shall dismiss my character of a sancti­
fied hypocrite, with the honest wish which Shakespeare hath
launched forth against an execrable villain:
that Heaven would put in every honest hand a whip,
To lash the rascal naked through the world.6
While in this case, too,it is not possible to attach much im­
portance to the quotation of two lines, there is the suggestion
that Fielding is interested in Iago as a study of “an execrable
villain. “
With the publication of Tom Jones in 1749, it is obvi­
ous that Fielding*s interest in Othello is very great.
This
one novel contains seven references to or quotations from
Othello. Fielding mentions or quotes from six Shakespearean
plays in Tom Jones, but of the total of fifteen'references to
particular plays, seven refer to Othello. It should be men­
tioned, however, that in this computation, the description of
the performance of Hamlet by Garrick* s company in Chapter V ,
Book XVI, has been counted as one reference.
Four of the quotations, three direct and one indirect,
are from the speeches of Iago.
speeches.
6
Two quotations are from 0thell6*s
The remaining reference is a discussion of jealousy,
Cf. ante, p. 62.
87
In another essay published in the Miscellanies of 1743,
An Essay on the Knowledge of the Characters of Men* he quotes
from a speech of Emilia in Othello s
• • • And here I shall dismiss my character of a sancti­
fied hypocrite, with the honest wish which Shakespeare
hath launched forth against an execrable villain:
That Heaven would put in every honest hand a whip,
To lash the rascal naked through the world.6
While in this case, too, it is not possible to attach much im­
portance to the quotation of two lines, there is the sug­
gestion that Fielding is interested in Iago as a study of “an
execrable villain.lt
BEFEREMCBS TO OTHEIiLO IK TOM JOKES
With the publication of Tom Jones in 1749, it is obvivious that Fielding*s interest in Othello is very great.
This
one novel contains seven references to or quotations from
Othello. Fielding mentions or quotes from six Shakespearean
plays in Tom Jones, but of the total of fifteen references to
particular plays, seven refer to Othello.
It should be men­
tioned, however, that in this computation, the description of
the performance of Hamlet by Garricks company in Chapter V,
Book XVI, has been counted as one reference.
Four of the quotations, three direct and one indirect,
are from the speeches of Iago.
Two are from Othello *s
speeches. -The remaining reference is a discussion of Jealousy,
6
Cf. ante, p. 62.
88
in which. Desdemona, Cassio, and **the unfortunate Moor*1 are
mentioned#
The references are listed below in the order of
their occurrence in the n o v e l ‘The first is from Book II,
Chapter III:
This good woman was, no more than Othello, of a dispo­
sition
— To make a life of jealousy
And follow still the changes of the moon
With fresh suspicions—
With her, as well as him,
— To be once in doubt,
Was once to be resolved—
Prom Book III, Chapter Vis
• # • before they had thoroughly examined it, and
considered whether it was (as Shakespeare phrases it)
**Stuff q* th* conscience*1 or no.
From Book V, Chapter VIIs
. . . If the wisest of men hath compared life to a
span, surely we may be allowed to consider it as a day.
From Book DC, Chapter III:
• • • For this reason Shakespeare hath artfully intro­
duced his Desdemona, soliciting favors for Cassio of her
husband, as the means of inflaming, not only his jealousy,
but his rage, to the highest pitch of madness; and we
find the unfortunate Moor less able to command his passion
on this occasion, than even when he beheld his valued pres­
ent to his wife in the hands of his supposed rival.
From Book XJ,Chapter Is
Shakespeare hath nobly touched this vice when he says,
nWho steals my purse steals trash; *tis something,
nothing’Twas mine, 'txs his, and hath been slave to
thousands:
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that WHICH NOT ENRICHES HIM,
7.
For bibliographic data for these quotations, cf.
ante, pp. .66-71.
89
BUT MAKES ME POOR INDEED.n
Book. XII, Chapter X*
Jones, who in the compliance of his disposition (though
not in his prudence) a little resembled his lovely Sophia,
was easily prevailed on to satisfy Mr. Dowling* s curiosity
by relating the history of his birth and education, which
he did,-like Othello,
— Even from his boyish years,
To th1 very moment he was bade to tell:
the which to hear, Dowling, like Desdemona, did seriously
incline;
He swore 1twas strange, 'twas passing strange;
*Twas pitiful, *twas wondrous pitiful.
Book XVI, Chapter X:
• • . the whole produced that green-eyed monster
mentioned by Shakespeare in his tragedy of Othello*
REFERENCES TO OTHELLO IN AMELIA
The Shakespearean references in Amelia show s similar
preoccupation with Othello♦ Of eleven references to particu­
lar plays, six refer to Othello. Of the remaining five one
mentions Lady Macbeth, the second mentions Brutus and Portia,
the third mentions Hotspur and quotes from Henry IV. and the
fourth quotes indirectly from Falstaff in the same play.
The
fifth is quoted too inaccurately to be located with certainty.
It is probably from the Comedy of Errors, but possibly from
King John.^
Of the six references to Othello, three are quotations
8
Cf. ante. p. 73, footnote 25.
90
from Iago, and two are quotations from Othello*
compares a jealous husband to Othello*
The fifth
They are listed below
in the order of their occurrence in the novel, commencing with
Book VI, Chapter V:^
The greatest genius the world hath ever produced ob­
serves, in one of his most excellent plays, that
Trifles, light as air,
Are to the jealous confirmation strong
As proofs of holy writ*
Book VIII, Chapter VIIIs
Nor poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drousy syrups of the East,
Will ever medicine them to slumber*
Book VIII, Chapter X:
. • • The one is the brevity of life even at its
longest duration, which the wisest of men hath compared
to the short dimension of a span. * . *
Book IX, Chapter Vis
• • • for, as Shakespeare says, dreams denote a
foregone conclusion. • • •
Book X, Chapter Vs
“It is certainly the most cruel of all injuries,'* said
Booth. "How finely doth Shakespeare express it in his
Othellot.
*But there, where I had treasured up my soul.'"
Book X, Chapter Vis
. . . She went on, and related most of the circum­
stances which she had mentioned to the doctor, omitting
one or two of the strongest, and giving such a turn to the
rest that, if Booth had not had some of Othello's blood
9
. For bibliographic data for the quotations from Amelia,
cf. ante, pp. 72-3.
91
in him, his wife would have almost, appeared a prude in
his eyes*
OTHELLO IN FIELDING'S LAST WORKS
In the year following the publication of Amelia* Field­
ing made his contributions to The Covent-Garden Journal*1 0
Four of the leaders known to be Fielding's, published March 14,
March 31, July 18, and September 16, contain references to
Othello* In the issue for March 14 is a letter over the pseudo­
nym Iago-*--*- in which the writer mentions his constant hypocrisy.
In the second reference Fielding says, “Were we to recite Ham­
let or Othello to these venerable Quadrupeds • • *,” and in
the third, "By this Means chiefly the Tragic Humour differs
from the Comic | it is the same • . • Jealousy which forms an
Othello, or a Suspicious Husband.”
In the issue for September
16, he replies to Mason's essay on the drama, in which he had
claimed superiority of the classic drama in preference to
Shakespeare*
In this essay Fielding mentions Othello* Julius
Caesar* and Henry V.
Of Othello he sayst
• • • Again, Sir, as to his Chorus he is so fond of *
why that did very well amongst the Greek Writers} but methinks this Mr* Chorus would be a very impertinent Fellow
if he was to put in his Observations on any of Shakespeare's
interesting Scenes} as for Example, what do you think of
Cf• ante, pp• 48—58•
1
XCf* ante* p* 50.
92
this same Chorus, if he was to be upon the Stage when, in
the Play of Othello, Iago is imprinting those exquisite
Tints of Jealousy upon Othello's Mind in the third Act; or
suppose when Desdemona drops the fatal Handkerchief, the
Chorus was to .call after her to bid her. take it up again,
or tell the Audience what was to happen in Case she did
not*
In the last of Fielding's writings, The Journal of a
Voyage to Lisbon* in describing a man met in the course of the
Journey, he says, "having wrought his features into a proper
harmony to become the characters of Iago, Shylock, and others
of the same cast . .
. QUOTATION'S AS THEY OCCUR W
OTHELLO
The references to Othello above are listed in the order
of their appearance in Fielding's works, and the works are
taken in chronological order*
This arrangement leaves no doubt
of Fielding's interest in Othello* When the quotations, ex­
clusive of general references to the play, are listed, not in
the order of their occurrence in Fielding's works, but in the
order of their occurrence in Othello * they bring into sharper
focus the picture of Fielding's knowledge of the tragedy.
list follows:
Act I, Scene II, 1*2 (Iago)*
Act I, Scene III, 11* 132-33, 160-61 (Othello).
Act II, Scene III, 1. 75 (Iago).I2
12
In Tom Jones*
The
93
Act II, Scene III, 1. 75 (Iago).
13
Act II, Scene III, 11. 270-73 Clago).
Act III,
Scene ill,
11.: 155-61
(Iago) . 1 4
Act III,
Scene III,
11. 157-61
(Iago) . 1 5
Act III, Scene III, 1. 166 (Iago).
Act III, Scene III, 11. 177-80 (Othello).
Act III,
Scene III,
11. 323-25
(Iago).
Act III,
Scene III,
11. 331-33
(Iago).
Act III, Scene III, 1. 429 (Othello).
Act IV, Scene II, 1. 56 (Othello).
Act IV, Scene II, 11. 141-43 (Emilia).
Act V, Scene II, 1. 7 (Othello).
Of the fifteen speeches, nine are from Iago, five from Othello,
and one from Emilia.
ACCURACY OF THE QUOTATIONS
A number of the quotations are rather free renderings
of Shakespearers text.
Words are occasionally substituted,
but the sense is never altered.
Some of these changes are of
ho significance, as when Captain Booth in Amelia telescopes
two lines to say "dreams denote a foregone conclusion."
13
In Amelia.
14
In The Champion for March
15
In Tom Jones.
6
,
It is
94
in keeping with, ordinary conversation, and what anyone might
do in using Shakespeare to prove a
point*
He condensestwo
lines again in the one speech from
Emilia,
which shouldreads
0 heaveni that such companions thou*dst unfold,
And put in every honest hand a whip
To lash the rascals naked through the world.
Fielding renders the lines as follows:
That Heaven would put in every honest hand a whip,
To lash the rascal naked through the world.
In condensing the lines he makes a hexameter of the first line.
There are some inaccuracies in two quotations found in
Amelia. Shakespeare says:
Mot poppy, nor mandragora
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
Shall ever medicine time to that sweet sleep
Fielding*s version follows:
Mor poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drousy syrups of the East,
Will ever medicine them to slumber
The second quotation should read:
But there, where I have garner*d up my heart
Fielding quotes it as follows:
But there, where I had treasured up my soul.
By the time he wrote Amelia* Fielding doubtless felt familiar
enough with the play to quote from memory, and he may have
quoted from stage versions*
It would not be strange if the
actors* memory failed occasionally, considering the number of
roles they were obliged to master in a seasons
95
OTHBLLO M B TOM JOKES
There can be no doubt of Fielding*s interest in Othello*
Knowledge of this fact is interesting to those who enjoy read­
ing Fielding, but not of major importance unless it had some
effect on Fielding as a creative artist*
He was greatly inter­
ested in Qthello at the time he was writing Tom Jones*
Is it
possible that the tragedy had any influence on the novel?
The quotations from Othello in Tom Jones are not applied
to situations which are parallel to any in the play*
For ex­
ample, the lines commencing uTo make a life of jealousy** are
applied to a jealous wife, Mrs* Partridge, but she is a coarse,
comic character*
In fact, the grandeur of the blank verse,
applied to so ordinary a person, heightens the humor of the
scene.
The reference to "that green-eyed monster*1 is applied
to a jealous husband, Mr* Fitzpatrick by name*
But Mr. Fitz­
patrick is a minor character, and his story not essential to
the main plot*
His jealousy is fortuitously induced, and there
is no character who plays Iago to his Qthello*
Moreover, Mr*
Fitzpatrick soon finds solace for his wounded affections.
His
situation becomes comic, not serious*
The quotation beginning "Who steals my purse steals
trash** is applied by Fielding to literary critics in the prolegomenous essay of Book XI.
3X, Chapter III reads:
The reference to Qthello in Book
96
• • • For this reason Shakespeare hath artfully intro­
duced his Desdemona, soliciting favors for Cassio of her
husband# as the means of inflamingt not only his jealousy,
but his rage, to the highest pitch of madness; and we find
the unfortunate Moor less able to command his' passion on
this occasion, than even when he beheld his valued present
to his wife in the hands of his supposed rival*
It is applied to the following ’situations
Tom Jones has res­
cued a woman, in distress, named Mrs. Waters, and brought her
to a village inn*
Because of Mrs. Waters6 disheveled dress,
the landlady has decided to evict her*
At this point Tom ap­
proaches the landlady and asks for some clothing for Mrs. Wa­
ters, thereby infuriating her.
The reference to Othello is
not particularly apropos to the situation, and seems to be
occasioned rather by Fielding6s interest in the play than by
its appropriateness.
The plot of Tom Jones is in no way indebted to Othello,
and with one possible exception, there are no character re­
semblances.
lainy.
The exception is Blifil, Fielding*s study in vil­
It is obvious that Fielding was fascinated by that
“execrable .villain," Iago.
Did Iago lend shape or color to
Blifil?
The motives of the two villains differ.
Iago*s motive
is revenge for the fact that Othello has promoted Cassio over
him, and because unsubstantiated gossip said that the Moor has
possessed Iago6s wife.
According to Fielding, Blifil is actu-
ated by avarice and ambition.
"7f i
They are the motives which
16
Cf., Tom Jones. Bk. VI, Chap. IV.
97
cause him to blacken, the character of his half-brother to
their wealthy uncle, Squire Allworthy.
For these “passions,“
as Fielding calls them, and not for love, he seeks to marry
Tom's sweetheart, the beautiful Sophia, who is a great heir­
ess, and whose father's estate lies contiguous to Squire All­
worthy* s.
But Tom Jones is not a study in jealousy, like Qthello.
Tom never has reason to think that Sophia loves another.
While Tom's passions (but not his love) wander, the episodes
are not at all similar to anything in Othello.
Tom's adven­
tures derive from Fielding's broad knowledge of eighteenthcentury English life.
Moreover, it is the fact that the prin­
cipals in Qthello are married that makes it such a powerful
study in jealousy.
In one way Iago and Blifil are similar:
studies in unrelieved villainy.
They are both
In this respect, Blifil is
an unusual creation for Fielding, who usually insisted, with
Olympian tolerance, that, human beings are compounded of mixed
good and evil.
Leslie Stephen has commented on Blifil at some
length, and has drawn some comparisons between him and Iago,
as follows:
How Blifil is perhaps Fielding's nearest approach to a
kind of partiality which is both unscientific and inartis­
tic. He hated a sneak and a hypocrite so heartily that
he could hardly describe him fairly. But we feel that
this is an exception to Fielding's ordinary method. As a
rule, he is really anxious to insist upon the inconsistency
98
of human nature in a good as well as a bad sense, and to
exhibit freely the good impulses which remain even in a
thoroughpaced scoundrel* And I doubt whether, even after
this admission, we could show that Fielding’s Blifil shows
more of the objectionable kind of partiality than Shake­
speare *s Iago* . . . The inferiority of Blifil (and it is
no shame to Fielding that he should have come short of one
of the greatest achievements of the greatest of dramatists)
is of a different and indeed a more obvious kind* It is
simply that he has not Shakespeare’s astonishing imagi­
native intensity, his power of concentrated and vivid
presentation, or so profound an insight into the psychol­
ogy of his characters*^
Stephen does not attempt to show that Fielding was influenced
by Iago in creating Blifil*
Iago’s and Blifil’s methods are similar*
They work by
insinuation, by half-truths, by suppression of information,
and by lies*
villains?
But sire not these the methods of all clever
It is possible, even probable, that Fielding was
influenced by his detailed study of Iago *s methods*
More can­
not be said with certainty, in the absence of notebooks, let­
ters, or reported conversations of Fielding’s that might
throw light on the subject.
The possible influence of Qthello on Amelia will be the
subject of the next chapter.
SUMMARY: Fielding had a great interest in Qthello *
shown by many direct quotations from the tragedy, and by many
17
Leslie Stephen, A Biographical Essay on Henry Field­
ing, in Works of Henry Fielding (London: Smith, Elder, & Co.,
1882).
.
99
allusions to the play and its characters found in his works*
The first reference is found in Fielding*s play Tumble-Down
Dick* first acted in 1736*
References are found with increas­
ing frequency throughout the remainder of Fielding*s life, and
are most numerous in Tom Jones and Amelia*
Iago is mentioned
in the last work of Fielding*s pen, The Journal of a Voyage to
Lisbon.
Fielding had made a thorough study of the play, shorn
by the fact that he quotes from every act of Othello* Re
quotes most frequently from Scene III, Act III.
such particular interest in any other play.
He shows no
The majority of
the speeches he quotes are Iago *s, with the speeches of Othello
second.
He quotes but one other character, Emilia, and but
one speech from her.
It is possible that he was influenced by
his study of the villainy of Iago in his creation of Blifil.
The plot of the novel and its incidents differ so from the
drama that, without a statement from the author, it is impossi­
ble to state positively that there was such an influence.
such statement from Fielding is known to exist.
Ho
CHAPTER VIII
OTHELLO AND FIELDING*S AMELIA
The purpose of this chapter is to show that Fielding
was influenced by the tragedy of Othello in writing his novel
Amelia.
Characters and incidents of the novel have been stud­
ied for traces of influence* and conversations between Booth
and Amelia have been compared with conversations between Othello
and Desdemona.
Quotations from, and references to, Othello
have been examined to see if their presence in the novel has
any special significance.
In commenting on Amelia, critics have asserted that
Fielding was actuated by motives of civic and social reform. ^
They have called attention to the fact that he was appointed
a justice of the peace for the Bow Street Court in 1748, and
that the knowledge of court practices and social conditions
which he gained from the bench impressed him deeply.
fact there can be no reasonable doubt.
Of this
Fielding dedicated
Amelia to Ralph Allen, and the first paragraph of the dedica­
tion reads:
Sir: The following book is sincerely designed to pro­
mote the cause of virtue, and to expose some of the most
glaring evils, as well public as private, which at present
1
H. K. Banerji, Henry Fielding, Playwright. Journalist.
and Master of the Art of Fiction (Oxford: Basil Blackwell,
1929) , pp. 216-40; and Aurelien Digeon, The Novels of Field­
ing (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 192577~PP« 210-21.
101
Infest the country, though there is scarce, as I remember,
a single stroke of satire aimed at any one person through­
out the whole*2
There is further evidence of Fielding’s interest in so­
cial and civic reform in the fact that in 1751 he published a
legal pamphlet entitled An Enquiry Into the Causes of the Late
Increase of Robbers*
Of the pamphlet and its relationship to
Amelia. Professor Cross says:
Such freedom from business as he could gain during the
autumn of 1750 Fielding had given to the composition of
his "Enquiry into the Increase of Robbers,"— a canvass, as
we have seen, of the underlying state of London society
whence sprang crime and misery. . . . Perhaps it would be
too unrestricted a statement to assert that "Amelia" is a
criminal pamphlet expanded into a novel* The "Enquiry" is
rather the background of " A m e l i a ."2
The pamphlet is a formal, scholarly work, carefully documented,
addressed chiefly to the legal profession.
Professor Cross
contrasts it with the novel as follows:
In the pamphlet, Fielding proceeds by exposition and
argument enforced by examples for illustration. He is
there addressing lawyers and legislators. In the novel he
proceeds by narrative— by plot and characters— that he may
bring home to his readers the moral condition of London
within the immediate jurisdiction of his court, and warn
the unsuspecting against the lures to vice and crime* He
is there addressing the public at large.4
In Section III of the pamphlet, under the .heading Of; Gaming
2
The Works of Henry Fielding, ed. W. E. Henley (New
Croscup and Sterling Co., 1902), Amelia..
3
Wilbur L. Cross, The History of Henry Fielding
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1918), II, ,311-12.
4
Loe. cit.
York:
102
Among the Vulgar: A Third Consequence of Their Luxury Field­
ing writes:
I come now to the last great evil which arises from
the luxury of the vulgar? and this is gaming? a school in
which most highwaymen of great eminence have been bred.
• . . And here I must again remind the reader that I have
only the inferior part of mankind under my consideration.
I am not so ill-bred as to disturb the company at a polite
assembly? nor so ignorant of our constitution as to im­
agine that there is a sufficient energy in the executive
part to control the economy of the great, who are beyond
the reach of any, unless capital laws. Fashion, under
whose guidance they are, and which created the evil* can
alone cure it. With patience therefore must we wait, till
this notable mistress of the.few shall, in her good time,
accomplish so desirable a change? in fact, till great men
become wiser or better? till the prevalence of some lauda­
ble taste shall teach them a worthier manner of employing
their time? till they have sense enough to be reasoned,
modesty enough to be laughed, or conscience enough to be
frightened, out of a silly, a shameful, and a sinful prof­
ligacy, attended with horrid waste of time, and the cruel
destruction of the families of others, or of their own. 5
It would seem clear that the pamphlet was addressed to attor­
neys and legislators in the hope of securing judicial reforms
by legislative means.
These reforms he hoped would safeguard
the common people from injustice and from their own folly.
The rich were not helpless in the courts, and their follies
could only be remedied by a change of fashion.
The novel as a literary form was a development of the
eighteenth century.
Fielding had witnessed with amusement
the furor caused among women of fashion by the sentimental
novels of Hichardson, and had seen his own masterpiece, which
Fielding, pp. cit. , Legal Writings * An Enquiry Into
the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers* Section III.
Italics not in the original.
103
set the form for the modern novel, adopted with enthusiasm by
some and inveighed against b y others.
he
No one knew better than
the power of the novel in the fashionable world.
In the first sentence of the novel, Fielding states his
theme:
"The various accidents which befell a very worthy
young couple after their uniting in the state of matrimony will
be
the subject of the following history.” A great deal of em­
phasis
has been laid by critics on Booth's difficulties with
the law, particularly as it related to debtors.
Not so much
has been said about the fact that the novel is a detailed
study of jealousy.
The majority of the "accidents” which be­
fell the young couple were concerned with the attempts of oth­
ers to disrupt the happiness of their union.
There are other general resemblances between the novel
and Shakespeare's play.
not unlike.
In some ways Amelia and Desdemona are
They are both charming women of impeccable virtue,
possessed of a sense of humor, and capable of showing vivacity
when things are going well.
Each has a husband in the mili­
tary service, and a faithful lover (in Amelia's case an unsus­
pected one), also in the army, who follows her in her travels.
But Amelia, for all her swoonings and tears, is more the type
of the modern woman.
She is saved from tragedy not only by the
way in which the author manipulates the incidents of the plot,
but by the way in which he has her make a direct attack on the
situation, to be discussed later.
Amelia is a more fully de­
104
veloped personality than Desdemona, partly because of the dif­
ference in scope of novel and play.
Despite the resemblances,
Fielding is probably very little indebted to Shakespeare for
his heroine.
It seems to be the general opinion of critics
that Amelia is a portrait of Charlotte Fielding.6
Of some of the other characters, Cross says that Field­
ing took them from his own play The Modern Husband. He men­
tions several specifically, as follows:
• . • Lord Richly of the comedy was transferred with
slight change to the novelj he is the unnamed peer. Mr.
and Mrs. Modern became Captain Trent and his wife; and Mr.
and Mrs. Bellamant passed into Lieutenant Booth and Amelia.*7
Cross also says in the same chapter, nBut in Amelia more than
in its predecessors, Fielding drew the elements of his plot
from the comedies of his youth.*1 He names The Justice Caught
In His Own Trap, The Temple Beau, and The Modern Husband. There
is nothing inconsistent in acknowledging the influences on
Amelia heretofore suggested, and adding Othello to the list.
' IAGO AND MRS. ELLISON
Several of the characters in the novel perform Iago6
Austih Dobson, Fielding, in English Men of Letters,
ed. John Morley (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1883) , pp. 14750; Banerji, op. cit., p..230; Cross, pp. cit., II, Chap.
XXIIIf and Digeon, op. pit., pp. 207-9.
~
~
^Cross, pp. cit., II, 324-26.
105
like deeds, to be discussed in more detail below, but they are
not, taken all in all, cut to the same pattern as Iago.
The
most consistently villainous character, whose deeds are strong­
ly reminiscent of Shakespeare*s villain, is the London land­
lady, Mrs. Ellison.
It is therefore necessary to recount the
adventures of the hero and heroine which brought them into the
sphere of Mrs. Ellison's activities.
In the second chapter the hero, who is plainly dressed,
is brought before the justice and charged with "beating the
watchman in the execution of his office and breaking his lan­
tern."
Booth alleged that as he was walking home he saw two
men cruelly beating a third.
He intervened, and the watch
came up and arrested all four participants in the fray.
The
two original assailants, who appeared to be wealthy, found
means to be discharged by the constable.
Booth declared that
he was offered his liberty at the price of half a crown, which
he did not have.
He fared no better with the justice than
with the constable, and he and the man whom he had attempted to
assist were both sent to prison, where he remains during the
ensuing thirty-one chapters, or for a little more than onequarter of the novel.
Although Booth spent over a week in prison, he cannot
be said to "languish" for long.
During the course of his sec­
ond day with the common herd of prisoners, a guinea is sent to
him by Miss Matthews, a young lady who had been brought in
106
under arrest the previous day.
The unwary Booth soon loses
the guinea in playing cards with another prisoner*
The next
morning the keeper takes him to Eiss Matthews* s private apart­
ment.
Miss Matthews is a handsome, well-born girl who has
stepped from the path of strict virtue*
She has been arrested
for stabbing the man who had betrayed her under the promise
of marriage*
She and Booth have formerly been acquainted,
but have not seen each other for eight or nine years*
At his
request, she recounts her history since their last meeting*
Her story takes four chapters, and the rest of the morning.
Booth then spends the rest of the day and some twenty chapters
in bringing his history up to date . From time to time they
are interrupted by the keeper, who explains the peculiar ad­
ministration of the English law of the day.
Booth* s history during the previous nine years has been
largely concerned with his courtship of, and marriage to, the
beautiful and virtuous Amelia, and their financial struggles
subsequent to their marriage.
Booth has the highest admira­
tion for Amelia, and is still passionately in love with her;
nevertheless, at the conclusion of his day with Miss Matthews,
the keeper "locks up double" for a consideration of half a
crown.
"A whole week did our lady and gentleman live in this
criminal conversation," at the end of which time an admirer of
Miss Matthews*s, whose name she does not divulge, sends her a
107
hundred pound note, and at the same time has his lawyer pro­
cure her freedom.
With a larger portion of the note than
necessary, had she been a more, experienced bargainer, she pur­
chases Booth*s freedom.
The. follies of the fashionable which Fielding intends
to castigate are drinking to excess, gambling, and philandering.
At the close of the first quarter of the book he has depicted
his hero as amiable and inclined to virtue, but weak.
Even
the seriousness of his situation in prison has not prevented
his being guilty of the last two follies, and his amour with
Miss Matthews lays the foundation for future complications.
In relating his history, Booth tells how Amelia recov­
ered her health in the south of France, and the little family
(a second child was born in France) returned to England.
Booth*s regiment is reduced, and he becomes a lieutenant on
half pay.
Amelia* s mother has died, leaving her entire for­
tune to her other daughter.
tries farming.
At Dr. Harrison*s advice, Booth
At the end of four years he is considerably in
debt, and forced to leave the country to avoid arrest.
He has
taken lodgings in the verge of the court, where he will be free
from arrest until his affairs are settled.
In London the young
couple experience a remarkable series of adventures with the
courts and with fashionable philanderers.
While they were still in France, an attempt had been
made on the virtue of the charming Amelia by a French gentle-
108
man of fashion, but since Amelia's conduct had been irreproach­
able, it had only served to strengthen the bond between Booth
and Amelia.
The four years which the' hero and heroine spent
in the country seem to have passed without amorous incident.
Whether the lack of such adventure is due to the superior vir­
tue of the eighteenth-century English farmer, or to the fact
that the author is not at the time primarily concerned with
him, is left to the reader's imagination.
Memory of the rural
incidents in Tom Jones will incline one to the latter belief.
But in London, even prison did not serve to keep Booth free
from entanglements, and from the time the landlady, Mrs. Elli­
son, sees the beautiful Amelia, the peace and happiness of
their marriage are threatened.
Mrs. Ellison commences her machinations by expressing
the greatest admiration for the beauty of Amelia, and one aft­
ernoon invites Amelia to attend one of Handel's oratorios with
her.
They arrive, for no apparent reason,, two hours too early
for the performance, and during this time a plainly-dressed
gentleman makes himself most agreeable to them.
Mrs. Ellison
invites him to come to drink tea with them, and on the way
home rallies Amelia on having made a conquest, and says Amelia
shall see more of him when he comes to drink tea.
Amelia re­
fuses to drink tea with the gentleman, and Mrs. Ellison ridi­
cules prudishness.
Soon "a noble lord," a cousin of Mrs.
Ellison'e,comes to drink tea with her.
Amelia is absent, but
109
Booth, is present, and Mrs. Ellison asks the nobleman to use
his influence to secure him a captain's commission.
The lord
readily agrees} and is complaisant enough to report the pro­
gress of his intercessions at Booth/s lodgings, since Booth
cannot leave the verge of the court except on Sundays.
Mrs. Ellison continues to make herself agreeable in
many ways.
She recommends a physician for one of the children}
and a lawyer for Booth.
She introduces to them the widow of a
young clergyman} a well-educated young woman in poor health}
who greatly resembles Amelia in figure and voice.
She is most
kind to Sergeant Atkinson, who is now stationed in London.
Occasionally, it is true, her robust humor offends Amelia*s
delicacy.^
S
She tells Amelia how fond my lord is of children, and
how much attached he is to his sister's children.
She proposes
to "take master and miss to wait on my lord's nephew and niece•n
Booth objects, on the ground that it appears like begging, so
soon after asking a favor for himself.
Mrs* Ellison protests
vehemently, and Amelia intercedes to pacify.her.
"Mrs. Elli­
son, however, could not let it pass without paying some com­
pliments to Amelia's understanding, nor without some obscure
reflections upon Booth, with whom she was more offended than
-
Amelia. Book V, Chaps. II, VIII.
1X0
•the matter required.’’^
They return from the visit laden with
expensive gifts which the lord has bestowed on the children*
During their absence, Booth*s suspicions of my lord*s inten­
tions have been aroused by some chance remarks of Colonel
James’s, and he is most uneasy*
Alone with Amelia, Mrs. Ellison praises her cousin*s
goodness and generosity, and tells how he settled an annuity
on Mrs. Sennet as soon as he heard she was left a destitute
widow*
Amelia is much touched at hearing of the lord’s gener­
osity*
Mrs* Ellison tells her how much the peer is taken with
her, and remarks that if only Amelia were not married she be­
lieves she could make her the happiest woman in the world.
Amelia assures her that she is the happiest woman in the world*
Mrs. Ellison attempts to disparage Booth, but Amelia will not
listen, saying, WI have observed, indeed, once or twice before,
that you have taken some dislike to him.
I cannot conceive
for what reason.”^
During the absence of the Booths from their lodgings,
their rooms are ransacked, and there are no clues to the in­
truder.
Mrs. Ellison enters soon after the event and asks-
Amelia if she cannot guess who it was, continuing, **For my
9
Amelia* Bk. V, Chap. VII.
1QIbid.* Bk. VI, Chap. III.
Ill
own part, I fancy it must be some lover of your si some person
that hath seen you, and so is run mad with love.
Indeed, I
should not wonder if all mankind were to do the same.
Lai
Mr. Booth, what makes you so grave? why, you are as melancholy
as if you had been robbed in earnest.”-*1
Booth’s suspicions of my lord’s intentions have been
aroused again by some remarks made a few minutes before by
Mrs. James, and when Mrs. Ellison says further to Amelia;
’’Here, madam, here is a present from my lord to us; here are
two tickets for the masquerade at Banelagh.
charmed with it!
You will be so
It is the sweetest of all diversions,” Booth
cries, ”May I be damned, madam, if my wife shall go thither.”12
Amelia refuses to go, since the invitation distresses
her husband, although she does not understand his attitude.
Mrs. Ellison becomes importunate in her invitation, and indig­
nant with Booth.
But M:soon after, Mrs. Ellison, finding all
her efforts to prevail on Amelia were ineffectual, took her
leave, giving Mr. Booth two or three sarcastical words, and a
much more sarcastical look at her departure.”12
Left"alone with her husband, Amelia questions him, re11
Ibid., Bk.Vjiphap. V.
12
Loc. cit.
13
Ibid., BkJ/IjChap. V.
112
proves him for his jealous suspicions, praises the virtues and
’
generosity of the nobleman.
The next morning during Booth*s
absence, Amelia talks with Mrs. Ellison, and finds that she is
much offended with him.
ttAnd though I have the greatest re­
gard for you, madam, in the*world,** said she, ’*yet I think my­
self in honor obliged not to impose on his lordship, who, I
know very well, hath conceived his greatest liking to the cap­
tain on my telling him that he was the best husband in the
world.
Amelia tells Booth that she fears his suspicions may
prove their ruin, which Booth is inclined to believe because
he has just learned from Colonel James that his lordship has
promised to use his interest to obtain a vacant company for him.
Booth is ashamed of his suspicions, and they agree that Amelia
shall go to the masquerade, if- only for an hour.
011
Mrs. Bennet comes to call, and Mrs. EllisA also comes in.
Amelia* tells her she has decided to go to the masquerade, and
Mrs. Bennet, who had been rather vivacious, becomes silent and
grave.
Later, a chairman brings an anonymous warning to the
Booths’ lodgings which reads:
Beware, beware, beware;
For I apprehend a dreadful snare
Is laid for virtuous innocence,
Under a friend’s false pretence.
14
Ibid., Bk. VI,Chap. VII.
113
Amelia recognizes the hand as Hrs. Bennet's, and immediately
goes to see her.
M?s. Bennet is much confused, but finally
consents to tell her history, which closely parallels Amelia’s.
She and her husband came up from the country, and were forced
to take lodgings at Mrs. Ellison's, in the verge of the court,
because of debts.
She met my lord, disguised, at an oratorio,
and later was introduced to this gentleman by Mrs. Ellison.
The nobleman showered gifts upon her baby, promised to help
Mr. Bennet, and later sent him to the country to inquire about
a curacy.
During Mr. Bennet's absence, Mrs. Ellison rallies the
lonely wife, and produces tickets to Ranelagh, which were a
gift from my lord.
She persuades Mrs. Bennet to go with her,
and there my lord joins them.
Later, at
Mrs. Ellison's,
where he, too, was lodging, he served a supper.
Mrs. Bennet
was given a drugged punch, and her ruin accomplished.
Her
realization of her downfall next morning, and her remorse, do
not end her troubles.. She acquired a venereal disease from
the nobleman, and transmitted it to her husband, who bitterly
reproached her.
Mrs. Ellison protests her innocence of any knowledge
of her cousin's designs, and says that he has left her house
at her request.
She assists Mrs. Bennet financially, and gets
my lord to settle an annuity of one hundred and fifty pounds
114
on her.
Mrs. Bennet formerly believed Mr s. Ellison's protes­
tations of innocence} but she now believes her privy to the
entire plot} and believes that she designs the same favor for
Amelia.
Sergeant Atkinson enters and reports that Booth had
been tricked into leaving the verge of the court, and has been
arrested for debt.
Mrs. Ellison later arrives and tries to
persuade Amelia to keep her appointment for the masquerade,
adding "and I am convinced there is one who hath the power and
the will to serve you."
The two ladies apprise her of their knowledge of her
true character.
She reproaches Mrs. Atkinson (Mrs. Bennet has
announced her marriage to the sergeant) with ingratitude, and
recounts the assistance she has rendered her.
"I own it all,"
answered Mrs. Atkinson; "and I add the favor of a masquerade
ticket to the number."
her and Amelia refuses.
Mrs. Ellison asks Amelia to leave with
The following, paragraph is quoted
from the novel:',
Mrs. Ellison then, casting a look of great indig­
nation at both the ladies, made a short speech full of
invectives against Mrs. Atkinson, and not without _
oblique hints of ingratitude against poor Amelia;
after which she burst out of the room, and out of
the house, and made haste to her own home, in a con­
dition of mind to which fortune vdthout guilt cannot,
Ibelieve, reduce any one.
Ibid., Bk. VIII, Chap. Ill
115
Mrs. Ellison's iniquity, like Iago's, lay not only in
furthering the attempts of another, to make love to Amelia,
hut in her attempts to bring about a rift between Booth and
Amelia.
Through inference
16
and outright statements
Amelia know that she thinks Booth her inferior.
17
she lets
She attempts
to arouse Booth's jealousy by suggesting that Amelia is the
object of the admiration of other men.
In describing Mrs. Ellison, Fielding shows less of
"the objectionable kind of partiality"
18
mentioned by Leslie
Stephen as shown by Shakespeare and Fielding to their cre­
ations, Iago and Blifil.
Stephen also made the following
statement:
rt. . . A great artist, and even a small artist,
ought clearly to be impartial in one sense; he
should not lose his temper with his villains, or
misrepresent the facts of life. . . And, so far,
it seems to me that Fielding is hardly less' impar­
tial than Shakespeare."IS
Mrs. Ellison is a thorough-paced villain who, having
accomplished the utter ruin of one-family, lays the same de­
sign for another unsophisticated young couple.
Fielding ex­
presses Amelia's opinion of Mrs. Ellison as follows in
Book VII, Chapter VII: "She now burst forth into some very
16Ibid., Bk.V, Chap. VII.
17Ibid., Bk.VI, Chap. III.
18
Cf. ante,-p. 97.
^Stephen, op. cit.
116
satirical invectives against that lady, and declared she had
the art, as well as the wickedness, of the devil himself."
But Fielding has the deeply injured Mrs. Bennet say
of Mrs. Ellison in Book VII, Chapter VIII:
"This confirmed me in the opinion of her inno­
cence ; nor hath she from that day to this, till my
acquaintance with you, madam, done any thing to for­
feit my opinion. On the contrary, I owe her many good
offices; amongst the rest, I have an annuity of one
hundred and fifty pounds a year from my lord, which
I know was owing to her solicitations, for she is not
void of generosity or good nature; though, hy what I
have lately seen, I am convinced she was the cause of
my ruin, and hath endeavored to lay the same snares
for you."
Unlike Mrs. Ellison, Iago performs no redeeming good deeds,
so in this respect she bears no resemblance to him.
It is in
the number and nature of her wicked deeds that the resemblance
lies.
IAGO AND OTHER CHARACTERS
When we consider further the characters in Amelia, we
observe that Colonel James and Captain Trent both attempt to
do Booth some ill services which, if successful, would have
’ been as ruinous as if plotted by Iago.
Colonel James, by re­
fusing to go bail for him, would have seen Booth make a long
stay in prison, in order that he might have a freer hand in
seducing Amelia.
He also attempted to have Booth assigned
. to a regiment on duty in the West Indies with the same design,
and to a rouse Booth's suspicions of Amelia.
Finally, by
117
-
sending a note to his lodgings -when he knew Booth was calling
on Miss Matthews, he achieved the double purpose of informing
Amelia of Booth's amour, and of challenging him to a duel.
On the other hand, before becoming enamored of his
friend's wife, he had performed many disinterested acts of
friendship, which included lending him considerable sums of
money without security.
At the intercession of Colonel Bath
and Doctor Harrison, he agreed not to pursue his challenge to
Booth.
He also dropped his fruitless pursuit of Amelia.
All
in all, he is rather a portrait of an eighteenth-century
English gentleman, of means than an Iago-like villain.
Captain Trent is described by a fellow officer as
"pimp in ordinary to my Lord," and after Mrs. Ellison's failure
is employed by my lord in furthering his designs with Amelia.
Trent first attempts to persuade Booth to allow Amelia to see­
the nobleman socially, with the idea of using his interest to
advance Booth.
When Booth indignantly refuses, Trent induces
him to drink and to play cards, and to borrow money of Trent
to pay his gambling losses.
These acts of Trent's arenemin-
iscent of the way in which Iago accomplished the ruin of Cassio.
He follows the party of Colonel James and the Booths to Ranelagh, and tells his lordship which "mask" is Amelia.
He has
Booth arrested for his gambling debt, but his lordship's de­
signs are frustrated when Booth is rescued from prison by
Doctor Harrison, Amelia's fortune is restored to her, and the
Booths retire to the country.
Trent has no .redeeming virtues, but he acts as a hire­
ling and at the orders of another.
Moreover, he designed no
injury to Booth which he had not willingly endured himself.
He had gained entree to fashionable society by conniving at
his lordship's debauching of
Mrs. Trent.
He considered
Booth rather as a fool than an injured man.
Fielding is at
some pains to picture Trent as a fashionable pimp.
After
some pages spent in^explaining him, he says in Book XI,
Chapter Ills
"After this preface, which we thought necessary
to account for a character of which some of my country and
collegiate readers might possibly doubt the existence, I
shall proceed to what more immediately regards Mrs. Booth."
In fine, Trent is not of the caliber of Iago.
The rather shadowy Lord —
is villainous, and his
methods are devious, but his motives differ materially frorn
those of Iago.
ferent class.
His liberality alone would place him in a dif­
He belongs rather to the genre of wicked noble­
men already depicted by Richardson, and destined to reappear
frequently in the literature of the eighteenth century.
His
type had been pictured by Fielding before, in Lord Richly.
•■i-Miss Harrison, Amelia's sister,, is a faintly drawn
female Blifil.
She and lawyer Murphy are actuated by motives
119
of material gain, and operate by the familiar device of the
forged will.
FIELDING1S TREATMENT OF JEALOUSY
There remains for consideration what is probably
Fielding’s primary indebtedness to Othello, his interest in
the theme of jealousy.
In his story to Miss Mathews, Booth
told how no jealousy resulted from the first attempt on
Amelia's virtue.
for some time.
He does not suspect the motives of Lord -He first becomes aware of the peer's charac­
ter in a chance conversation with Colonel James, part of
which is quoted below, from Book V, Chapter IX:
"A ladyI" cries the colonel; "well, I don't
ask her name. You are a happy man, Booth, amongst
the women; and, I assure you, you could have no
stronger recommendation. The peer loves the
ladies, I believe, as well as ever Mark Antony
did; and it is not his fault if he hath not spent
as much upon them. If he once fixes his eye upon
a woman, he will stick at nothing to get her."
"Ay, indeedl" cries Booth. "Is that his
. character?"
When the colonel continues in jocular fashion, "Have I not
shown you," answered James, "where you may carry your goods
r
to market?. . ."
Booth turns as pale as death, and
ex­
presses his horror, thinking the colonel means Amelia.
His
countenance clears up when it develops that the colonel meant
Miss Matthews, "for whom I am convinced my lord would bid a
swinging price against me."
For Booth had confessed to James
120
his amour with Miss Matthews, and had learned that the col­
onel is her unknown patron.
The colonel is extremely, jealous ,•
until he learns that Booth is no longer interested in Miss
Matthews.
But the conversation recurs to Booth when "Amelia and
her company returned [from the peer's3 > and all presently
came upstairs, not only the children, hut the two ladies,
laden with trinkets as if they had been come from a fair,"
including a watch worth twenty guineas, which his lordship
has given to the little girl.
"Instead of discovering so much satisfaction on this
occasion as Amelia expected, Booth very gravely answered,
'And pray, my dear, how are we to r epay all these obliga­
tions to his lordship?'
'How can you ask so strange a
question?’ cries Mrs. Ellison: 'how little do you know of
the soul of generosity (for sure my cousin deserves that
name) when you call a few little trinkets given to children
an obligationl'"
It was on this occasion that Colonel James, who was
present, began to look on Amelia with more than friendly in­
terest, until he feared that Booth would suspect the in­
creased warmth of his regard.
The following lines from
Book VI, Chapter II, describe Booth's demeanor:
121
Whether Booth had in reality made any such ob­
servations on the colonel's behavior as he had
suspected, we will not undertake to determine;
yet so far may be material to say, as we can
with sufficient certainty, that the change in
Booth's behavior that day, from what was usual
with him, was remarkable enough. None of his
former vivacity appeared in his conversation; and
his countenance was altered from being the picture
of sweetness and good humor, not indeed to sourness
or moroseness, but to gravity and melancholy.
Booth's suspicions make him restless that night, so
that Amelia wakes, too, and resumes her praise of his lord­
ship.
Booth again objects to the expensive toys, and Amelia
replies, ’"Indeed, my dear,1 cries Amelia, **'you see this
matter in too serious a light."'
After which the following
conversation ensues*
"Very well, my dear," cries Booth," you shall
have it your way; I must confess I never yet found
any reason to blame your discernment; and perhaps
I have been in the wrong to give myself so much un­
easiness on this account."
"Uneasiness, child!" said Amelia eagerly.
"Good heavensI hath this made you uneasy?"
"I do own it hath," answered Booth, "and it
hath been the only cause of breaking my repose."
"Why then I wish," cries.Amelia, "all the things
had been at the devil‘before ever the; children had
seen them; and, whatever I may think myself, I
promise you they shall never more accept the value
of a farthing: if upon this occasion I have been the
cause of your uneasiness, you will do,me the justice
to believe that I was totally innocent."
At those words Booth caught her in his arms, and
with the tenderest embrace, emphatically repeating
the word innocent, cried, "Heaven forbid I should
think otherwise! Oh, thou art the best of creatures
that ever blessed a man'.'1
122
Th^rhave been saved serious consequences fromBooth's first
jealousy by talking the matter over.
Booth discovers new
proof of his wife's great love for him, and her willing com­
pliance with his wishes.
Booth's peace of mind is of short duration.
The next
afternoon their lodgings are ransacked, after which Mrs. James
comes to call.
She admires little Emily's watch, and Amelia
praises the generosity of the donor, mentioning his name.
The following is a quotation from Book VI, Chapter Vs
. . . To which Mrs. James answered, "Oi cer­
tainly, madam, his lordship hath universally the
character of being extremely generous - where he
likes."
In uttering these words she laid a very strong
emphasis on the three last-monosyllables, accom­
panying them at the same time with a very saga­
cious look, a very significant leer, and a great
flirt with her fan.
The greatest genius the world hath ever pro­
duced observes, in one of his most excellent plays,
that
Trifles, light as air,
Are to the jealous confirmation strong
As proofs of holy writ.
That Mr. Booth began to be possessed by this
worst of fiends, admits, I think, no longer doubt. . .
It will be noted that Fielding calls attention to Booth's
jealousy, and that in so doing, he makes use of his first
direct quotation from Othello in his novel Amelia; also
that he refers to Shakespeare as the greatest genius the
world has produced, and to Othello as one of his most
excellent plays.
123
Immediately after Mrs. James's call, Mrs. Ellison calls,
suggests that the intruder was some lover of Amelia's, and
invites Amelia to the masquerade, to which Booth replies
that he .will be damned if his wife shall go.
Later, he asks
Amelia's pardon, and she refuses Mrs. Ellison's invitation.
After Mrs. Ellison's departure, the following conver­
sation ensues between husband and wife, quoted from Book VI,
Chapter VI:
"Pray, my dear, do informs me what could put you
into so great a passion #ien Mrs. Ellison first of­
fered me the tickets for this masquerade?"
"I had rather you would not ask me," said Booth. . . .
"I will appeal to yourself," answered she, "whether
this be not using me too much like a child, and whether
I can possibly help being a little offended at it?"
"Not in the least," replied he; "I use you only
with the tenderness of a friend. . . . These are
called the pious frauds of friendship."
"I detest all fraud," says she; "and pious is
too good an epithet to be joined to so odious a word. . . ."
Finally Booth says, "I am unwilling you should receive any more
presents from my lord."
After some further discussion Amelia
says, "I can appeal to heaven - nay, I will appeal to yourself,
Mr. Booth - if I have ever done any thing to deserve such a
suspicion. . . . "
Booth denies that he suspects her, and Amelia says,
"0 Mr. Booth! Mr. Booth! you must well know that a woman's
virtue is always her sufficient guard.
No husband, without
suspecting that, can suspect any danger from those snares you
124
mention;. . .”
She then defends Lord -— , .saying she is
sure he has been traduced.
Booth says he hopes she is right,
and quotes from Congreve:
The wise
too jealous are: fools too secure.
The following is
from the novel: ’’Here Amelia burstinto
tearsj . . . and
at last she cried, ’0 Mr. Bootht can
"bear to hear the
word jealousy from your mouth?1”
I
Booth assures her that she misunderstands him, and
she replies in part:
”1 don't misunderstand you, my dear,” said she,
”so much as I am afraid you misunderstand yourself.
Whatsis it you fear? you mention not force, but
snare’s. Is not this to confess, at least, that
you have some doubt of my understanding? do you
then really imagine me so weak as to be cheated of
my virtue?. . ."
Booth apologizes, and Amelia again assures him that
he has misconstrued the actions of his lordship and Mrs.
Ellison.
She kisses Booth’s hand, and says that no man
shall ever gain her esteem by making love to her.
Then •
"Booth caught her in his arms and tenderly embraced her.
After which the reconciliation soon became complete; and
Booth, in the contemplation of- his happiness, entirely
buried all his jealous thoughts.”
Amelia has prevented a rift with her husband by
her insistence on facing the situation and discussing it.
He'r dignified defense of herself, and her obvious affection
125
for him, shame Booth, and complete understanding is restored
between husband and wife.
The green-eyed monster slumbers until one night, in
a nightmare, Sergeant Atkinson attempts to strangle his
wife.
The Booths are awakened, Booth asks an explanation,
and receives the following reply:
"0 sirin cries the
sergeant, "I dreamt I was rescuing your lady from the hands
of Colonel. James, and I have killed my poor wife."
After
it is discovered that Mrs. Atkinson is not seriously in­
jured, Booth insists on hearing the dream.
The following
is quoted from Book IX, Chapter VI of the novel:
“To be sure, sir,” cries the sergeant,
”1 must not refuse you; but I hope you will
never think any more of it. Why, then, sir I
dreamt that your honor was gone to the West
Indies, and had left my lady in the care of
Colonel James; and last night I dreamt the
colonel came to my lady’s bedside, offering to
ravish her, and with a drawn avora in his hand,
threatening to stab her that moment unless she
would comply with his desires. How I came to be
by I know not; but I dreamt I rushed upon him,
caught him by the throat, and swore I would put
him to death unless he instantly left the room.
Here I waked, and this was my dream. I never paid
any regard to a dream in my life - but, indeed,
I never dreamt any thing so very plain as this.
It appeared downright reality. I am sure I have
left the marks of my fingers on my wife’s throat.
I would not have taken a hundred pounds to have
used her so.”
’’Faith," cries Booth, ”it was an odd dream,
and not so easily to be accounted for as that you
had formerly of my marriage: for, as Shakespeare
says, dreams denote a foregone conclusion. How
it is impossible you should ever have thought of
any such matter as this.”
126
In the discussion that follows, the sergeant informs
Booth that the colonel has censured his,extravagance, and
begs Booth, if he goes away with a regiment, not to leave
Mrs. Booth to the care of the colonel, as he planned to do.
Booth decides that the sergeant is influenced by a foolish .
dream, and is further prejudiced by some unflattering re­
marks the colonel had made about Mrs. Atkinson.
to listen to criticism of the colonel.
He refuses
Later, he relates
the sergeant’s dream to Amelia, and she "turned as white
as snow."
The following is from Book IX, Chapter VT, of
the novel:
Amelia turned as white as snow, and fell into
so violent a trembling that Booth plainly per­
ceived her emotion, and immediately partook of it
himself. "Sure, my dear," said he, staring wildly,
"there is more in this than I know. A silly dream
^euld not so discompose you. I beg you, I entreat
you to tell me - hath ever Colonel James ■?’’
At the very mention of the colonel’s name Amelia
fell on her knees, and begged her husband not to
frighten her.
"What do I- say, my dear love," cried Booth,
. "that can /frighten you?"
"JSlothing, my dear," ,said she; "but my spirits are
so discomposed with the dreadful scene I saw last
night that a dream which at another time I should
have laughed at hath shocked me. Do but promise me
that you will not leave me behind you, and I am easy."
Amelia fears that if her husband suspects that the
colonel is too attentive to her, he will challenge him to a
duel, in accordance with the code of the eighteenth century.
She convinces Booth, what is indeed true, that she is too
127
fond of him to remain behind if he leaves with a regiment.
He jumps to the conclusion that she, does not wish to stay in
the colonel's home because the sergeant has told her of his
criticism of Booth, and because Mrs. James has become a
snobbish fine lady.
The conclusion of this episode of
jealousy follows in Fielding's words: ”. . .
and thus ended
this affair, which had brought Booth to the very brink of
a discovery which must have given him the highest torment,
if it had not produced any of those tragical effects which
Amelia apprehended."
Booth escapes the black mood of Othello because of
his sublime faith in his friend and in his wife, and because
of Amelia's consummate tact.
It is important to note the
similarity between the sergeant's dream and the lie which
Iago tells Othello about Cassio and Desdemona in Act III,
Scene III of Othello.
Othello has demanded proof of Iago's
insinuations about Desdemona,- even as. Booth insists that
Sergeant Atkinson tell his dream.
The following is from.
Othello, lines 411-30;
Iago. I do not like the office;
But, sith I am enter'd in this cause so far,
Prick'd to't by foolish honesty and love,
I will go on. I lay with Cassio lately;
And, being troubled with a raging tooth,
I could not sleep.
There are a kind of men so loose of soul
That in their sleeps will mutter their affairs;
One of this kind is Cassio.
In sleep I heard him say, 'Sweet Desdemona,
128
Let us be wary, let us hide our lovesi *
And then, sir, would he gripe and wring my hand,
Cry, ’O, sweet creature!1 and then kiss me hard,
As if he pluck'd up kisses by the roots,
That grew upon my lips; then laid his leg
Over my thigh, and sigh'd, and kiss'd; and then
Cried, *Cursed fate, that gave thee to the Moori'
Oth. 0 monstrous! monstrous!
Iago.,
Nay, this was but his dream.
Oth. But this denoted a foregone conclusion:
'Tis a shrewd doubt, though it be but a dream.
Significantly,. Booth uses Othello's words in stating his
reaction to Sergeant Atkinson's dream.
The colonel persuades the Booths to accompany him and
Mrs. James to the masquerade at Ranelagh.
At least, Amelia
acquiesced, but unknown even to Booth, Mrs. Atkinson sub­
stitutes for her.
At the masquerade, the supposed Amelia
spent most of the evening in earnest conversation with
Lord -- , which greatly piqued the colonel.
another scene reminiscent of
Othello.
There occurs
In revenge for being
slighted by the supposed Amelia, the colonel leads Booth
past the place where.she„is still e n .t§te.a,t§te with his
lordship, as Iago-lead’
s Othello to where he can see Desdemona
talking with Cassio.
The discovery in Othello reads as
follows, Act III, Scene'll, 11. 34-40:
Iago. Ha! I like not that.
Oth.
What dost thou say?
Iago.Nothing^ my lord: or if - I know not what.
Oth. Was not that Cassio parted ffrom my wife?
Iago.Cassio, my lord? No, sure, I cannot think it
That he would steal away so guilty-like,
Seeing you coming.
Oth.
I do believe 'twas he.
129
In the following quotation from Book X, Chapter II of Amelia
the resemblance to the Shakespearean lines above, and the
Iago-like role played by Colonel James are noteworthy:
The colonel led Booth directly to the place
where he had seen the peer and Amelia (such he
was now well convinced she was) sitting together.
Booth no sooner saw her than he said to the colonel,
"Sure that is my wife in conversation with that
masque?” “I took her for your lady myself," said
the colonel; "but I found I was mistaken. Hark ye,
that is my Lord --- , and I have seen that very lady
with him all this night."
This conversation passed at a little distance,
and out of the hearing of the supposed Amelia; when
Booth, looking steadfastly at the lady, declared with
an oath that he was positive the colonel was in the
right. She then beckoned to him with her fan; upon
which he went directly to her, and she asked him to
go home, which he very readily consented to. The
.peer then walked off; the colonel went in pursuit of
his wife, or of some other woman; and Booth and his
lady returned in two chairs to their lodgings.
When they are arrived home, Mrs. Atkinson dashes up­
stairs, and the real Amelia comes down in her place and asks
Booth what he would like for supper.
eat nothing.
He says that he will
Amelia remarks that she hopes he has not lost
his appetite at the masquerade. M,I'X know not well what I
have lost,' said Booth."
He questions her about her conver­
sation with Lord -- , and is working up to a fine pitch of
jealousy when Amelia confesses her harmless subterfuge.
The
joy of Booth is best sexpressed in the words of the author:
Booth was no sooner satisfied that his wife had
not been ifrom home that evening than he fell into
raptures with her, gave her a thousand caresses,
blamed his own judgment, acknowledged the goodness
130
of hers, and vowed never to oppose her will more
in any one instance during his life.
Booth's speech is reminiscent of Othello's lines when
Desdemona intercedes for Cassio after Iago has attempted to
implant suspicion in his mind.The following is from
Act III, Scene II, lines 75-76:
Prithee, no more5 let him come when he will;
I will deny thee nothing.
and lines 90-92:
Excellent wretchi Perdition catch my soul
But I do love thee Iand when I love
thee not,
Chaos is come again.
Booth has not suffered his last pang of jealousy.
It
is necessary to retrace the background of the next jealous
scene.
Amelia has confided her suspicions of Colonel James's
intentions to Dr. Harrison, and that gentleman has written
the colonel an anonymous letter, mentioning no names, re­
proaching him for his attempt to debauch his friend's wife.
The colonel lost the letter at the masquerade, and it fell
into the hands of his brother-in-law, Colonel Bath, .who read
it and admired its sentiments so much that he presented it to
Booth.
Booth observes that the hand and style are like Dr.
Ehrrison's, and mentions the letter to him.
Dr. Harrison,
believing that Booth has discovered the circumstances of its
composition, lets fall that Amelia is displeased with the
colonel's conduct.
Booth replies that he is sure his wife
has misunderstood the colonel.
Later, the colonel himself brings up the subject of
the letter, saying,among other things, :"'if I had been ever
married myself I*,should have cleft the man's skull who had
dared look wantonly at my wife."1
Booth replied, '"It is certainly the most cruel of
all injuries.
How finely doth'Shakespeare express it in
his Othello I
But there, where I had treasured up my souli"'
While he was conversing With the colonel, Booth was
thinking, and "several passages now struck all at once upon
Booth's mind, which gave him great uneasiness.
He became
confident now that he had mistaken one colonel for another. .
While he was meditating, Captain'Trent accosted him, induced
him to play cards, and to borrow money.
He returns home in'despair, and Amelia, observing
the great disorder of his mind, entreats him to tell her the
reason.
The conversation which ensues is very similar to
the conversation between
Othello and. Desdemona in Act IV,
Scene II, of Othellot
Des.
Upon my knees, what .doth your speech import?
I understand a fury in your words,
But not the words.
From Amelia, Book X, Chapter VI:
Amelia was thrown into the utmost consternation by
this behavior; and, with great terror in her counte­
nance, cried out, "Good heavens! my dear love, what
is the reason of thisaagony?"
From Othello:
Oth.
Des.
Oth.
Des.
Oth.
Why, what art thou?. . .
Swear thou art honest.
.
Heaven doth truly know. it.
Heaven truly knows that thou: art false as hell.
To whom, my lord? with whom? how am I false?
Ah! Desdemona; away, away, away!
From Amelia:
"Have you dealt fairly with me, Amelia?” said he.
"Yes, surely," said she. "Heaven is my witness how
fairly."
"Hay, do not call heaven," cried he, "to witness a
falsehood. You have not dealt openly with me,Amelia. . . .
"You astonish me as much as you shock me," cried she.
■"What falsehood, what treachery have I been guilty of?". .
"I call heaven again," said she, "to witness; nay, I
appeal to yourself for the truth of it. . . . "
"Vanity!” cries he; "take care, Amelia. . ."
From Othello:
Oth.
but, alas! to make me
The fixed figure for the time of scorn
To point his slow and moving finger at;
Yet could I bear that too; well, very well.
But there, where I have garner'd up my heart,
Where either I must live or bear no life,
The fountain from which my current runs
Or else dries up; to be discarded thence! . . .
Des. I hope my noble lord esteems me honest.
From Amelia:
"Is'not Amelia, then," cried he, "equally jealous of my
honor? .Would she, from a weak tenderness for my person,
go privately about to betray, to undermine the most in­
valuable. treasure of my soul? Would she have me pointed
at as the credulous dupe, the easy fool, the tame, the
kind cuckold of a rascal, with ^aom 1 conversed as a friend?
"Indeed you injure me," said Amelia.
This potentially tragic scene is given a turn toivard a
happy solution when Amelia says she will explain everything when
133
Booth is cool.
He assures her that he has no doubt of her
honor, but blames her lack of confidence in him.
Fielding
brings the scene toward areconciliation as follows:
•’When you are calm," cried she, "I will speak, and
not before."
He assured her he was calm..,. . .
She then went on, and related most of the circum­
stances which she had mentioned to the doctor, omitting
one or two of the strongest, and giving such a turn to
the rest that, if Booth had not had some of Othello's
blood in him, his wife would have almost appeared a
prude in his eyes.
This is the last time that Both and Amelia play the
parts of Othello and Desdemona, and it is notable how con­
stantly Fielding had Othello in mind while writing this portion
of his novel.
He mentions the drama in both Chapters V and
VI of Book X, and quotes from it in Chapter V.
In consider­
ing the parallel passages, it should be remembered that
Fielding incorrectly quotes 1. 56, of Act IV, Scene II as
"Butthere, where I had treasured up
my soul."
one of Booth's speeches quoted above reads "to
most ..invaluable treasure of my soul."
A phrase from
undermine the ’
It is significant that
throughout Amelia the references to, and quotations from,
Othello are integrally related to the plot, a fact which is
in direct contrast to Fielding*,s use of the tragedy in Tom Jones.
. Fielding has his heroine experience one attack of jealousy.
Booth leaves her and the children to sup alone, while he keeps
an appointment forced upon him by
Miss Matthews under the
134
threat of exposure to Amelia.
It is during this evening
that.Colonel James sends his challenge to Booth mentioning
the rendezvous with Miss Matthews.
Colonel James intends
for Amelia to receive and open the letter, as she does.
She becomes hysterical:
"Mention him no more}" cries Amelia;
“your papa is - indeed he is a wicked man - he cares not for
any of us.11
A few moments later a letter arrives from Booth an­
nouncing that he has been jailed again at the suit of Captain
Trent, and containing a confession of his folly couched in
rather obscure language.
Amelia is softened, and the next
morning visits him at the bailiff ' s.
Booth relates the com­
plete history of his amour with Miss Matthews.
Amelia tells
him that she cannot forgive him now, because she has forgiven
him long ago.
She then shows him a letter which Miss Matthews
sent her some time ago, and which she has never mentioned
before.
Fielding was fascinated by the theme of jealousy, as
'presented in Othello, and apparently interested in presenting
a study with a different solution.
Each time his hero suffers
from this ignoble emotion, serious consequences are averted by
the courageous attack made by the heroine■on the situation.
She demands anexplanation, and insists on talking the matter
over in a cool and rational manner, while keeping her feminine
135
charm throughout.
Contributing to the resolution of the dif­
ficulties are the great love which the couple feel for
each other, and Booth's trust in his wife.
Fielding doubt­
less saw Othello performed many times, and felt that Othello
did not show sufficient trust in his virtuous wife: .Her
>
great love for him should have taught him better, even as
Booth feels remorse for his suspicions when he thinks of
Amelia's sincere love for him.
And if only Desdemona had
yielded less quickly to her bewilderment, if she had been
more modern, less medieval!
If she had insisted on a hearing,
instead of obeying her husband's unreasonable commands.
If
she had approached Othello, instead of saying to Iago, as
she does in Act IV, Scene II, 11. 148-151:
0 good Iago,
What shall I do to win my lord again?
Good friend, go to himj for, by this light of heaven,
I know not how I lost him.
The incident of Miss Matthews Fielding solves by having
Amelia freely and unconditionally forgive her husband, con­
fident that she alone possesses his heart.
Fielding here
makes the same distinction that he makes in Tom Jones Detween
sins of the flesh and sins of the spirit, but he adheres to
the double standard:
it is always the man who is to be for­
given sins of the flesh, while his heroines are above reproach.
The question of why Fielding was so much interested in
the tragedy of Othello can,.perhaps, never be answered with
136
certainty.
One fact may well be mentioned in this connection,
that his interest in the;drama is recorded in his works after
his marriage to the beautiful Miss' Cradock.
Several parallels
between the novel and Fielding*s own life were mentioned by
20 .
contemporary and subsequent critics* the injury to Amelia's
nose, the period spent in the country subsequent to marriage,
Booth's equipage, the lodgings in London.
Amelia has been described as a Sophia matured by marn a g e and the passage of years.
21
The second chapter of the
fourth book of Tom Jones is a poetic eulogy of Sophia, and a
few lines of the fulsome praise are quoted below:
. . . for lol adorned with all the charms in
which nature can array her, bedecked with beauty,
youth, sprightliness, innocence, modesty, and ten­
derness, breathing sweetness from her rosy lips,
and darting brightness from her sparkling eyes, the
lovely Sophia comesi
He compares her to the Venus de Medicis and to the famous
court beauties of two generations, and then continues as
follows:
Yet is it possible, my friend, that thou mayest'
have seen all these without being able to form an
exact idea of Sophia; for she did not exactly resemble
any of them. She was most like the picture of Lady
Ranelagh: and,(I have heard, more still to the famous
Frederic T. Blanchard, Fielding the Novelist
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1927); and Cross,
op. cit., II, Chaps. XXII-XXIII.
^21
Cross, loc. cit.
137
duchess of Mazarine; but most of allj she resembled
one whose image never can’depart from my breast, and
whom, if thou dost remember, thou hast then, my friend,
an adequate idea of Sophia.
In the first chapter of the thirteenth book of Tom Jones
he writes:
Come, bright love of fame, inspire my glowing
breast:. . . Foretell me that some tender maid, whose
grandmother is yet unborn, hereafter, -when, under.the
fictitious name of Sophia, she reads the real worth
which once existed in my Charlotte, shall from her.
sympathetic breast send forth the heaving sigh.
It has been mentioned in a previous chapter that she
was the inspiration for the poems written in his youth, and
addressed to Celia.
Is it not possible, and even probable,
that Fielding discovered,; after his marriage, that other
men found his wife beautiful and charming, and envied him
22
the possession of his "most inestimable jewel'.’ There was
never any suggestion, in all the bitter and personal criticism
23
visited upon Fielding, of any disagreement between Fielding
and his wife.
It would appear that his feeling, as he watched
Othello, was that a great love should be proof against inter­
ference by others.
With any work destined for sale to the general public
with profit as an objective, the question of timeliness is
important.
"
22
In this connection, further consideration may well
Amelia, Bk. XI, Ch. IX.
23
Blanchard,, op. cit.
138
be given to the production of Othello by the young men of
24
fashion in March, 1751, and its possible effect on Amelia.
Fielding's interest in Othello long antedated this eighteenthcentury example of the little theater movement, but the pro­
duction might have played some part in causing him to make
jealousy one of the main themes of Amelia.
Concerning the date of the compositions of Amelia,
Professor Cross writes as follows:
Immediately after the publication of the pamphlet in
January, 1751, he began, I take it, "Amelia," and wrote
it rapidly through the year while in actual contact with
crime and engrossed with those projects for its restraint
which pressed upon him. This opinion, to be frank, is
based upon no positive statement by Fielding or his
associates. In the literary ana of the period there is
no mention of.Fielding's being engaged upon "Amelia". . . .
Nor does the novel itself contain a reference or an al­
lusion to a book or an incident of the time quite certain
enough to fix the date of composition within so narrow
limits. In one place the author has in mind a fight,
between two notorious pugilists which occurred in April,
1750; and in another place, when ironically recommending
"the Apologies with which certain gay ladies have lately
been pleased to oblige the world," he may have been think­
ing not only of "An Apology for the Conduct of Teresia
Constantia Phillips," which went'into a third edition
in 1750, but also of "the Memoirs of a Lady of Quality" really the scandalous career of Lady Vane, - which Smollett
incorporated into "peregrine Pickle" and published in
February, 1751. That Fielding meant to include Lady Vane
among his "gay ladies", though probable, is not beyond
94
Cf. ante, p. 22.
139
question. Research really yields nothing definite
but Millar's announcement just before publication, and
the,.bare "Bow Street, Dec. 12,1751", which Fielding
appended to the dedication.
And yet there can be no doubt in the mind of a reader
that the composition of "Amelia" lies wholly within the
year succeeding the "Enquiry."
The first quotation from Othello in Amelia occurs in
Book VI, Chapter V, so that the scenes in which jealousy
plays so large a part may well have been written after the
production of Othello in March. ' But as Professor Cross says,
research yields no proof of the time of composition.
Summary. There are certain resemblances between the
tragedy Othello and the novel Amelia.
Each relates the ac­
cidents which'.befell a soldier and his wife after their mar­
riage.
A large proportion of these accidents is concerned
with the attempt by Iago in the drama, and by several persons
in the novel, to bring about a disunion between the devoted
husband and wife, and the debauchery of the wife. Mrs.
Ellison in the novel strongly suggests a female Iago, and
Colonel-James and Captain Trent perform some Iago-like acts.
In particular, the incident in which the colonel leads Booth
past his supposed wife-while she is talking with the peer
appears to be suggested by a similar incident in Othello.
The scenes between husband and wife in the novel whenBooth is
overcome with jealousy are strongly reminiscent of certain
scenes in Othello.
The effect of resemblance is heightened
by quotations from and references to Othello, and in a
number of instances by words and phrases which Fielding
borrows, perhaps unconsciously, and works into his prose.
Of all Fielding’s works, Amelia shows most definitely, and
in the greatest degree, the influence of Shakespeare.
CHAPTER IX
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
- -f
An attempt has been made to analyse the influence of
Shakespeare on Fielding.
The author did not bequeath to pos­
terity any record of his writing methods, or of the sources
of his inspiration, save the fact that the original of his
heroine in Tom Jones was his adored first wife, Charlotte
Cradock Fielding.
His relatives and friends either failed to
realize that his works would be considered classics of English
literature, or were indifferent to the curiosity of subsequent
generations to the extent that they made no effort to preserve
his letters and notes, or to record their reminiscences of the
working methods of the man who was playwright, essayist, jour­
nalist, pamphleteer, and novelist.
The investigation has had to depend solely on the works
of Fielding to yield such evidence of influence as can be traced.
Shakespearean quotations and references have been listed and
analysed for their relation to the context, or to subsequent
works*
Parallel passages and resemblances in plot, character,
and incident have been sought.
Fielding’s creative work is clearly divided into two
parts, both, chronologically and by type.
In his youth he
wrote plays, and in his maturity he wrote novels.
On the. work
of his youth the influence of Shakespeare was apparently negli-
142
gible, the evidence of any influence being confined to certain
parallel passages and parodies in a few of his many plays.
There are several factors which help to account for
this lack of Shakespearean influence in Fielding's early work.
In the first place, his education had been classical, and did
not include English literature.
Secondly, Elizabethan drama
was not the mode of the eighteenth century.
For this reason,
although the plays of Shakespeare were presented on the stage
throughout the eighteenth century, they were presented in greatly
altered versions.
The Shakespearean productions of Fielding's
early writing days were particularly heinous in this respect.
The Shakespearean references in the plays of Fielding
show that he- was familiar with a number of his plays, that he
had the highest admiration for his genius, and that he greatly
resented the freedom with which eighteenth-century producers
presented altered versions of Shakespeare's dramas.
In Field­
ing's playwrighting period he shows no partiality for any one,
or any several, of Shakespeare's plays.
\
Fielding's journalistic career extends in time from
1739 to 1752, although he was not continuously before the pub- “
lie in his capacity as a journalist.
His newspaper work and
miscellaneous writings are particularly rich in Shakespearean
references, allusions, and quotations.
The comment differs
little in kind from the comment in the plays, but periodicals
gave him scope to satirize at considerable length those who
143
altered the text of Shakespeare, and those who believed classi­
cal drama superior to Shakespearean*
From his earliest news­
paper work to his last he shows considerable interest in
Othello*
Fielding’s second creative period began with the publi­
cation of Joseph Andrews in 1742, and closed with the publica­
tion of Amelia in 1751.
Ho evidence has been found to show
that Fielding was influenced particularly by Shakespeare in
writing Joseph Andrews or Jonathan Wild* Jonathan Wild is as
consistent a villain as Iago, but he is an historical charac­
ter about whom a good deal had been written prior to Fielding*s
satirical novel.
Moreover, there is insufficient evidence to
base a claim for his descent from Iago.
A considerable case can be made for the indebtedness of
Tom Jones to Romeo and Juliet*
The plot is concerned with
crossed young love, and another suitor is preferred to the
hero by the guardians of the heroine.
Sophia’s nurse greatly
resembles the nurse in Romeo and Juliet» a resemblance which
is strongly evident in similar incidents and conversations.
These similarities would seem to be too pronounced to be acci­
dental.
Fielding does not quote from, or allude to, the drama
in his novel, nor does he elsewhere quote extensively from
Romeo and Juliet.
Some readers believe that Fielding is not
indebted to Shakespeare for Mistress Honour, and that the re­
semblance is due to the fact that both the dramatist and the
144
novelist, depicted the English nurse as a type.
Proponents of
this theory also hold that the theme of crossed young love is
so ubiquitous in life and in literature that Fielding had no
need to borrow it from Shakespeare.
Since there is extant no
statement on the subject by Fielding or his intimates, these
two schools of thought are probably irreconcilable.
An analysis of the Shakespearean quotations and refer­
ences in Tom Jones shows that Fielding was much interested in
Othello at the time he was composing the novel.
Strangely,
the quotations are not particularly apropos to the context.
He was especially interested in Iago, and it is possible that
he was somewhat indebted to Shakespeare for Blifil, his villain
in Tom Jones.
Analysis of the Shakespearean references in Amelia makes
clear that he still finds Othello a fascinating study.
At last
his long preoccupation with that drama has come to fruition.
As in the tragedy, the ignoble emotion of jealousy plays a
strong part in the novel.
In both works the husband is jealous
and the wife utterly innocent of wrongdoing.
There are inci­
dents in the novel that are strongly reminiscent of incidents
in Othello, and there are parallel passages, particularly in
the dialogue between husband and wife.
Contrary to the usage
in Tom Jones, the quotations from the tragedy are apropos, to
the context of Amelia.
The influence of Othello on Amelia has not previously
145
Deen commented on, and is the major discovery of this study*
BIBLIOGRAPHY
WORKS OP FIELDING AND OF SHAKESPEARE
Fielding:, Henry, Complete Works* William Ernest Henley, edi­
tor* New York: Croseup and Sterling Co.', 1802. 16 vols.
•Jensen, Gerard Edward, editor, The Covent-Garaen Journal*
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1915. 2 vols.
Maynadier, G. H. , editor, The Works of Henry Fielding* Miscel­
laneous Writings* New York: The Jenson Society, 1905.
2 vols •
Shakespeare, William, Complete Works. W. J. Craig, editor.
New York: The Plymouth Publishing Company, 1923. 1352 pp.
BIOGRAPHY AND CRITICISM
Adams, Joseph 'Quincy, A Life of William Shakespeare. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1923. 561 pp.
Banerji, H. K . , Henry Fielding* Playwright* Journalist * and
Master of the Art of Fiction. Oxford: Basil Blackwell,
1929.
Blanchard, Frederic T . , Fielding the Novelist* A Study in
Historical Criticism. New Haven: Yale University Press,
1927. 655 pp.
Chambers, E. K . , William Shakespeare.
don gress, 1930. 2 vols.
Oxford:
At the Claren­
Cross, Wilbur L., The History of Henry Fielding. New Haven:
.Yale University Press, 1918.. 3*vols.
Digeon, Aurelien, The Novels of Fielding. New York:
Dutton and Co.,,1925.. .. . ...
E. P.
Dobson, Austin, Fielding * in English Men, of Letters* ed. Jonn
Moriay. New-York: .Harper & Brothers, 1883. ..184 pp.
Fitzgerald, Percy, The Life of David Garrick. London:
kin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent.&Co., 1899.
Simp-
Murphy, Arthur, An Essay on the Life and Genius of Henry Field­
ing* Esq., in Works of Henry Fielding* with a Memoir of
the Life and Writings of the Author *-by Sir Walter Scott.
New York: Geo. A. Leavitt, Publisher, {n.d^ . 1 vol.
Reinhardstoettner, Carl von, Plautus. Spatere Bearbeitungen
plautInischer Lustspiele. Leipzig, Verlag von Wilhelm
Friedrich, 1886. 793 pp.
Smith, David Nichol, Shakespeare in the Eighteenth Century.
Oxfords At the Clarendon Press, 1928. 91 pp.
Stauffer, Ruth M . , The Progress of Drama Through the Centuries.
New York: The Macmillan Company, 1927. 696 pp.
Stephen, Leslie, A Biographical Essay on Henry Fielding, in
Works of Henry Fielding. London: "Smith, Elder, & Co.,
1882.
Summers, Montague, The Restoration Theatre. London:
Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1934.
Kegan
Thornbury, Ethel Margaret , Henry Fielding1s Theory of the
Comic Prose Epic. Madison: University of Wisconsin Stu­
dies in Language and Literature Humber 30, 1931. 202 pp.
CONCORDANCES AND BOOKS OF QUOTATIONS
Bartlett, John, A Hew and Complete Concordance or Verbal Index
to Words, Phrases, & Passages in the Dramatic Works of
Shakespeare with a Supplementary Concordance to the Poems.
Cunliffe , Richard John, A New Shakespearean Dictionary. Lon­
don E. C. : Blackie & Son Limited, 10 Old Bailey, 1910.
Furness, Mrs. Horace Howard, A Concordance to Shakespeare1s
- Poems. Fourth editionj Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott
Company, 1874.
Stevenson, Burton, The Home Book of Quotations, Classical and
Modern. New York: Dodd, Mead, & Company, 1934.
Stevenson, Burton, The Home Book of Shakespeare Quotations.
New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1937.
PERIODICALS
Yardley, E., "Fielding and Shakespeare," Notes and Queries,
10 S VII: 444-45, June 8, 1907.
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