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be regarded. The fact of Lovelace breaking the seals of letters which were none of his ought of itself to brand him. Moreover, the safety of his wrongdoing adds an ugly stain of dishonour to his deep damnation. He incurs none of that risk which sometimes gives a lustre to crime. He entraps an unoffending lady of tender years into his power, and stupefies her with drugs before he has courage to commit the capital offence, which he knows will go unpunished. The worst punishment he anticipates is the reward of marriage. It is the fair young victim that in this event would be punished. What, as she herself says, must be her degradation were she to vow at the altar to love him whose love was an accursed outrage, or to honour and obey him who was saved only by her forbearance from the gallows ? Yet Richardson seems to set this being before us, notwithstanding his guilt, as a gentleman; and I have been amazed to find that a writer in the Cornhill Magazine of the present year describes him as "a thoroughly fine gentleman of the Chesterfield type.”' The devil take such gentlemen! One grudges that Lovelace should fall in a duel with an honourable man instead of rolling handcuffed to his doom in the hangman's cart; and if it must be admitted that his letters are the most vivacious in the whole correspondence,-always sparkling, always readable,—we who can read him aright know that his wit, his
spirits, his gaiety, his power of dealing with solemn subjects so as to rob them of their importance, are but as the luminous unwholesome vapours that play upon graves and declare the dank corruption buried underneath.
Whatever we may say in criticism of Lovelace, it is a character which has the crowning merit of success, and which deserved this success, seeing that probably it gave the author more trouble than any other which occupied his pen. It is peculiar to Richardson, however, that though he could make heroines of his women, he could never make true heroes of his men. Remember the sneaking, servile demands made for Pamela by Gaffer Andrews; compare these with the dignified and spirit-stirring denunciations hurled by Basil, the father of Laurette, at the seducer of his child, in Marmontel's tale ; and admit the superiority of the French author. Although Richardson is inimitable in his description of Clarissa struggling with the storms of fate, he has never pictured one of his supposed heroes under distressing or undignified circumstances. Squire B. is prosperous in his wickedness, and then respectable in his propriety. Lovelace is successful in carrying out schemes of the darkest villany ever recorded in fiction ; and he is so wealthy, and withal so very prudent in money matters, that one fancies Clarissa, while she believed him to be in earnest in his
proposals of marriage, must have considered him in her heart a stingy fellow, for the small amount of pin-money which was to have been settled on her. Sir Charles Grandison clears his estates from all encumbrances; he is very wealthy; and he is successful in every encounter of arms, not only in single combat with practised swordsmen, but also against overwhelming odds. The qualities of Richardson's mind imprinted themselves on his literary offspring. He was uncommonly prudent, and his heroes always partake of the same disposition. One feels inclined to speculate how that piece of perfection, “who always wrote and spoke just as he ought,” would have looked, had he been kicked, instead of kicking the step-father of his young ward, Miss Jervois ; or if, when he was going onwards in life in the minuet step of his serene majesty, Lady Grandison had indeed, as suggested by Leigh Hunt, gone off with Mr. Greville. The distresses of Sir Charles consisted simply in this, that all the women of his acquaintance wanted to marry him. The old husbandman, Basil, toiling in the sweat of his brow under the burning sun in his vineyard, by the side of his weeping daughter, whom he had deprived of the trappings of her infamy, and reduced to a coarse petticoat and wooden shoes, precipitating his reproaches and his curses on the head of the kneeling, supplicating, Count, and condescending at length to VOL. I.
receive, as his son-in-law, the penitent nobleman, not because he is high born and wealthy, but because by his repentance he has raised himself to the level of an honest man, is a finer conception than that of any man drawn by Richardson.
He was in early life thrown much into female society, and he is far happier in his pictures of women than of men. It is rare for men to succeed in feminine portraiture; but Richardson, in laying the foundations of the modern novel, set the rule, with which we have since become familiar, at defiance. Clarissa is the most resplendent heroine in the whole wide circuit of romance. In the delineation of this stainless creature, who, like the lady in Comus, is compelled powerless to witness the orgies of the rabble rout that hem her in, and who walks alone in her saintly inajesty, a sinless Margaret; the one perfect image on which the mind can repose amid the grotesque and loathsome demons of the witches' Sabbath, Richardson has achieved a miracle of beauty unapproached by any writer before or since his time. One of the charms of this lady is that she is so truly a woman as not to be faultless. There are some pardonable sneers of hers at the puffed and fullblown countenance of her sister Bella when distorted with rage, which prove the maiden to be not utterly merged in the angel; and her little contrivances to deceive her persecutors by keeping reserves of pens, ink, and paper in different holes and corners, belong to that class of petty artifices which, if they be needful as a guard against the oppressor, still indicate with an amusing homeliness of touch the weakness of girlish nature.
The sort of oppression to which Clarissa was subject, and which drove her to her doom, is now impossible in English families. Our girls no longer kneel daily to their parents to ask a blessing; a simple Good Morning is held to be sufficient greeting. The treatment which Clarissa dreaded when she was to be taken to the solitary moated mansion of her tyrannical uncle, where cries for help could not be heard, and whence escape would have been impossible, there to be forcibly married, “sensible or insensible,” to a suitor whom she loathed, would in the present day be incredible. No parents, however determined, would venture on such a step; and no daughter, in her wits, would fear its fulfilment. Yet we have only to read the biographies of a hundred, or less than a hundred, years ago, to find the record of marriages in which the bride was as young, as helpless, and as reluctant as Clarissa, and the bridegroom as old and as decrepit, as hideous and as debauched as Solmes. Assuming these premises, the flight of Clarissa with Lovelace becomes intelligible. “Hemmed in by bands of