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sturdy rogues about,” in the persons of her violent father, her vindictive brother, her unfeeling sister, her coarse and cruel uncles, she was to be delivered over to the power of that crawling reptile whom her friends had selected for her husband; and alas, she escaped from one rabble crew only to fall into the toils of a worse. Once in the power of Lovelace her fate is sealed. Not only is he determined to possess her person, cost what it may, but unsatisfied with a brute victory, he would degrade her mind to patient existence as his mistress, and reduce the purest of maidens to the level of the inmates of Mrs. Sinclair's brothel. This fiendish determination of his the author has wisely actuated by the wounded pride of a man contumeliously repulsed by the family of a lady to whom he is superior in birth. His conduct is so far of a piece with that of the Red Indian, in one of Cooper's novels, who carries off the beautiful daughter of a general, from whom he had received some fancied injury, to serve him in his wigwam-at once his slave and his concubine.
It is not till she is in the power of Lovelace that the full glory of Clarissa's character shows itself. After the capital crime has been committed on the drugged and insensible lady, whose reason is for several days paralysed by the powerful opiates which have been administered to her, Lovelace, assured of his theory that once subdued a woman is always subdued, insists on an interview with her, to look her into shame and confusion. When doors are doublelocked and windows are barred, lest any screams should be heard to come from that fatal quadrangle, the lady steps into the midst of the plotting group. No shame—no womanly consciousness flushes that pure cheek; for her form, though ravished, is the shrine of immaculate thought. She looks the ravisher into confusion, and the reader feels that, though physically degraded, she is morally supreme. “There is something in virgin purity,” says Mrs. Barbauld,“to which the imagination willingly pays homage. In all ages something saintly has been attached to the idea of unblemished chastity; but it was reserved for Richardson to overcome all circumstances of dishonour and disgrace, and to throw a splendour round the violated virgin more radiant than she possessed in her first bloom. He has drawn the triumph of mental chastity ; he has drawn it uncontaminated, untarnished, and incapable of mingling with pollution.” During the remainder of her young life, when, like the ermine of fable that exists not if its fur be sullied, she pines away in her outraged purity, the mind of the reader is tossed in strife between grief and admiration, and while at last settling into laud of that saint-like image which the storms of passion, however they might tear around, could not invade, it cannot choose but make obeisance to the great novelist, who, by the spectacle of immeasurable wrong and misery, has opened the sluices of sorrow as they have seldom been opened before, but has also rung a peerless note of triumph in despair, which suddenly transfigures sorrow into radiance, and gives one to see more than aught else in uninspired writing, the soul in royalty inviolable, and in immortal essence ascendant over the ruin of its house of clay.
For the novelist who could so prevail I claim in all the English courts of criticism, and in the regard of all his countrymen, a reversal of the sentence of neglect from which he now suffers. Let me point out a great historic fact. It is—that in the last century, not one man of us, except this Richardson, made his mark on the literature of the Continent. I have already spoken of Frenchmen coming to seek out the Flask Walk at Hampstead, where Clarissa found refuge. I might now speak of Germans coming reverently to Richardson's house at Parson's Green, to kiss the ink-horn from which he wrote; and of the Moravians, struck by the fine strain of his writings, beseeching him, through Count Zinzendorf, to leave England and to join their society. But the most important of all the facts which bear upon this question is to be found broadcast in French literature. That is a literature which has always
been rather impervious to foreign influence ; and in the last century, it was the regnant literature of the civilised world. In this regnant literature there was not to be found a trace of English influence, save that of our novelist. The French discovered Shakespeare and Richardson about the same time. The former excited their wonder—nothing deeper; and their wonder was mingled with smiles, at a barbaric freedom of movement and of expression abhorrent to the genius of their own drama, which they were justly proud of. But Richardson went to their hearts, and roused their enthusiasm. Although the style of novel which he invented was new to them, it did not clash with any national prejudice. They were free to enjoy him without stint : and they did enjoy him ; they worshipped him. We may say, roundly, that all else in our literature of the last century was a blank to them. But Richardson they placed on a pedestal among the greatest authors of the world. Not only was he thus exalted by the turbulent and witty intellects that in the mid-century were busily sowing the dragon's teeth which thirty years afterwards were to spring up into armed men, and to shake the foundations of Europe ; but also his glory remained through all change ; he has never been lowered in the esteem of Frenchmen ; there are troops of them at this hour living who have sworn by Clarissa, who have chanted hymns in her praise, who have made music to her name, and who will tell us Englishmen, with chiding, that Richardson, one of the rarest of men, is of more account in France than in his own country.
Now it is a shame to us to need this lesson from foreigners; and it is no small thing for the little printer in Salisbury Square to have achieved the sort of greatness I have described. To have been able to pass beyond the confines of English literature, and to take possession of the French, implies in him a faculty unknown to all his fellow countrymen of last century, however great may be their gifts, and however splendid their renown : it implies the rare power which no one else among us possessed of reaching home to the universal heart. The greatest of his countrymen in that century had but a local influence, and a repute wholly insular. Richardson alone of us beamed upon the wide world, and was recognised in the current of European thought. And so now he is forgotten. It is like what happens in a provincial town, where some poet or painter, who ministers to local tastes, and hits the local fancy, is more cherished in life and, after it, has more care taken of his tombstone, than some greater man whose fame resounds all England over. There is Henry Fielding, your local celebrity; a great writer, no doubt; but one for whom, say what you will, you have ceased to care. He, too,