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among them, with much tea-drinking and buttered toast. With one of his fair friends, Lady Bradshaigh, he held for some time a correspondence, which was on her side anonymous. She was shy in discovering herself, not knowing what manner of man Richardson was apart from authorship; and he drew his own portrait for her as follows :-“I go through the park once or twice a week to my little retirement; but I will for a week together be in it every day three or four hours, at your command, till you tell me you have seen a person who answers to this description: namely, short; rather plump than emaciated, notwithstanding his complaints ; about five feet five inches ; fair wig; lightish cloth coat, all black besides; one hand generally in his bosom, the other a cane in it, which he leans upon under the skirts of his coat usually, that it may imperceptibly serve him as a support, when attacked by sudden tremors or startings, and dizziness, which too frequently attack him, but, thank God, not so often as formerly ; looking directly fore-right, as passers-by would imagine, but observing all that stirs on either hand of him without moving his short neck; hardly ever turning back ; of a light-brown complexion; teeth not yet failing him; smoothish faced, and ruddy cheeked ; at sometimes looking to be about sixtyfive, at other times much younger; a regular even
pace, stealing away ground, rather than seeming to rid it; a grey eye, too often overclouded by mistiness from the head; by chance lively—very lively it will be, if he have hope of seeing a lady whom he loves and honours; his eye always on the ladies ; if they have very large hoops, he looks down and supercilious, and as if he would be thought wise, but perhaps the sillier for that: as he approaches a lady, his eye is never fixed first upon her face, but upon her feet, and thence he raises it up, pretty quickly for a dull eye; and one would think (if we thought him at all worthy of observation) that from her air, and (the last beheld) her face, he sets her down in his mind as so or so, and then passes on to the next object he meets; only then looking back, if he greatly likes or dislikes, as if he would see if the lady appear to be all of a piece, in the one light or in the other. Are these marks distinct enough, if you are resolved to keep all the advantages you set out with? And from this odd, this grotesque figure, think you, madam, that you have anything to apprehend ? anything that will not rather promote than check your mirth ? I dare be bold to say (and allow it too) that you would rather see this figure than any other you ever saw, whenever you should find yourself graver than you wish to be.”
Not a commanding figure—is he?—this squat
citizen, with little pig's eyes dotted in his fat bulbous face. And to talk to him, slow of speech as he is, we are as little impressed by the strength of his mind as by the dignity of his presence. Call this man great! I venture to do so, and even to claim for him the veneration of his countrymen. But in doing so, I am bound to say frankly, that I lay no stress on his intellectual eminence. Nay, for that matter, I may at once make a clean breast of it and say, that having read a good many novels in my time, I am not at all struck with their intellectual grasp, nor feel that great force of thought is needed in them for the attainment of extraordinary success. It is not to be denied that there are great intellectual novelists. No one can read Fielding, or Scott, or Thackeray (to speak only of the dead) without feeling in their works a great intellectual momentum. But is it their intellectual momentum, the breadth of their thinking, and the fulness of their culture, that is the chief constituent of their success ? Not so; it is a knack of storytelling which they share in common with men and women, whose minds are, as compared with theirs, what our Yankee friends would call one-horse minds. In driving a novel, six horses are not much better than one. Perhaps the one-horse novel will overtake the six-horse vehicle on the road. It is not always the most powerful minds that most enthral
us in the stories they tell. Or to state the case still more broadly—it is not always the most powerful things in nature that give us the most pleasure. That singer who fills your ear with the most ravishing melody—who has a power beyond that of any created thing of stirring your whole soul into tumult, and of holding you spellbound—would you be surprised to learn, that what we call intellect and worship as such, is dead or dormant in him ; that he passes for a fool; and that he has not brains enough even to read the music which he sings? Yet this is often true. And so in storytelling ; there is a knack of weaving events, which many an old crone possesses, and which is denied to the lords of intellect. Therefore, it need not disturb us to say of Richardson that, intellectually, he was a man of limited means. But it is the fault of criticism to set too much store by mere intellectual display, as if intellect in this world were all in all. Unhappily the world is in the main composed of stupid people ; our utmost of intellect is never much; and the higher any man soars in the scale of intellect, the more does he feel his own littleness with the smallness of the interval in reason that separates himself from his dog.
In the reckoning of magnitude there is something to be said for the heart. Richardson had a great heart. He nursed the consciousness of in
tense feeling, as men of high intellect nurse the consciousness of urgent thought. In Shakespeare we have vast tides of both—the thoughts that sway mankind, and the feelings that drive us more blindly. But after him there is no such tide of deep and dominant feeling, no such command of passionate situation, no such access to the most tremulous currents of emotion, to be found in our literature as in the pages of Richardson; and Richardson had a religious bias that enabled him to traverse and to fathom a sublime flood of feeling to which the great dramatist never drew near. His range of sympathy does not appear to have been great; and he is by no means remarkable for versatility. But within his range he is very intense; wonderfully true; and fine as fine as can be. For this man, though his intellect was only respectable, and though his outward form was ungainly, we may well claim the attribute of greatness, by reason of the narrative skill wherewith he has carried us to the deeps of the heart, and tossed us to and fro on billows of feeling, which are known full well in life, but which few besides himself have dared to navigate in fiction. When we think of the profundity of the feelings which he has sounded with consummate ease, we need not wonder at those French critics, who, to this day, speak of his work as colossal; and if our hearts can vibrate to the