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path, and each must bring its centuries of apparent stationariness or retrogradation, as a sacrifice to the common bond, for the sake of which, alone, they themselves exist.
When this first goal shall be attained, when everything useful that has been discovered at one end of the earth, shall immediately be made known and imparted to all, then Humanity, without interruption, without cessation, and without retrocession, with united force, and with one step, shall raise itself up to a degree of culture which we want power to conceive....
When selfish aims no longer divide mankind, and their powers can no longer be exercised in destroying one another in battle, nothing will remain to them but to turn their united force against the common and only adversary which yet remains,— resisting, uncultivated Nature. No longer separated by private ends, they will necessarily unite in one common end, and there will grow up a body everywhere animated by one spirit and one love. Every disadvantage of the individual, since it can no longer be a benefit to any one, becomes an injury to the whole, and to each particular member of the same; and is felt in each member with equal pain, and with equal activity redressed. Every advance which one man makes, human nature, in its entireness, makes with him.
Here, where the petty, narrow self of the person is already annihilated by the Polity, every one loves every other one truly, as himself, as a component part of that great Self, which alone remains to his love, and of which he is nothing but a component part that only through the Whole can gain or lose. Here the conflict of evil with good is done away, for no evil can any longer spring up. The contest of the good with each other, even concerning the good, vanishes, now that it has become easy to them to love the good for its own sake, and not for their sakes, as the authors of it;— now that the only interest they can have is that it come to pass that truth be discovered, that the good deed be executed; not by whom it is accomplished. Here every one is prepared to join his power to that of his neighbor, and to subordinate it to that of his neighbor. Whoever, in the judgment of all, shall accomplish the best, in the best way, him all will support, and partake with equal joy in his success.
This is the aim of earthly existence which Reason sets before us, and for the sure attainment of which Reason vouches. It is not a goal for which we are to strive merely that our faculties may be exercised on great objects, but which we must relinquish all hope of realizing. It shall and must be realized. At some time or other this goal must be attained; as surely as there is a world of the senses, and a race of reasonable beings in time, for whom no serious and rational object can be imagined but this, and whose existence is made intelligible by this alone. Unless the whole life of man is to be considered as the sport of an evil Spirit, who implanted this ineradicable striving after the imperishable in the breasts of poor wretches, merely that he might enjoy their ceaseless struggle after that which unceasingly flees from them, their still repeated grasping after that which still eludes their grasp, their restless driving about in an ever-returning circle; - and laugh at their earnestness in this senseless sport:unless the wise man, who must soon see through this game, and be tired of his own part in it, is to throw away his life, and the moment of awakening reason is to be the moment of earthly death ; — that goal must be attained. Oh! it is attainable in life and by means of life; for Reason commands me to live. It is attainable, for I am.
IELDING's best work as an essayist was done, no doubt, in the
Covent Garden Journal, a periodical of the school of the
Spectator and Whig Examiner which he himself founded in January, 1752. This was not his first experience in periodical literature, for he was a professional journalist, as well as a professional lawyer, a professional playwright, and a professional novelist. In 1745 he had issued the True Patriot, and in December, 1747, the Jacobite Journal, neither of which was long-lived. Steadiness of purpose was not one of the gifts which made him the first great English novelist, and the Covent Garden Journal, edited by Sir Alexander Drawcansir, of Great Britain, did not outlive the year in which it was founded. It would not have lived in vain, however, if the sole end of its existence had been to bring into the world one such essay as that of its tenth number on “Reading for Amusement.” It is by no means the only one in which Fielding shows his genius, but unfortunately the Covent Garden Journal, though correct in its intentions and highly moral in its purposes, does not always employ a “terminology” which more modern taste can approve. Fielding's most elaborate effort as an essayist, «An Essay on Conversation," is characterized by passages of striking brilliancy, but in sustained strength it does not equal the best of his shorter essays.
He was born near Glastonbury, in Somersetshire, England, April 22d, 1707. His father, who represented a younger branch of the aristocratic Denbigh family, noticed by Gibbon as descended from the same ancestry with the Hapsburgs, was by no means over wealthy, and it is supposed that when he sent his son to be educated at Leyden for the English bar it was because life at German universities was cheaper than at English. Fielding studied law at the Middle Temple after his return from Germany, and was admitted to the bar, but he soon became a prolific playwright, then a journalist and finally a novelist. His early training for the bar may have helped him when he was appointed a magistrate in latter life, but he did not increase his fortune greatly by it, as he writes with pride that he had managed to reduce his magistrate's fees of “the dirtiest money on earth” from £500 to £300 a year. For «Tom Jones," written during this period, he received £600 and for «Amelia » £1,000, so that by «inventing the modern novel” he certainly did better financially than it is likely he ever could have done at the London bar or as the most exacting of country 'squires. His last work, « The Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon,” was written in 1754,— the year in which he died at Lisbon, where he had gone for his health. When Fielding was born in 1707, De Foe, who lived until 1731, was forty-six years old. «Robinson Crusoe » appeared in 1719, «The Life and Adventures of Duncan Campbell » in 1720, and «Captain Singleton” in the same year. Richardson's «Pamela" appeared in 1741, and a year later Fielding entered fiction with «The Life and Adventures of Joseph Andrews,” his parody on «Pamela,” which showed him his strength and led him to write « Tom Jones,” in 1749. The evolution of the modern novel from De Foe through Richardson is thus apparent, but it is within bounds to call «Tom Jones » the first modern novel, as is so often done, for though it was preceded in English literature by several of the best stories in any modern language, it is the first love story in which the characters move through the whole plot with definite and distinct individualities towards a conclusion, planned in advance as carefully as the climax of a drama, and developing by apparent necessity from every act, even the most trivial, of all the characters whose lives are a part of the destiny of the book. The room for art in such a microcosm as this is as infinite as the power of genius to take hold on nature, and Fielding was the first to realize it in English prose fiction.
W. V. B.
ON READING FOR AMUSEMENT
«At nostri proavi Plautinos et numeros, et
Laudavere sales; nimium patienter utrumque,
“In former times this tasteless, silly town
Too fondly prais'd Tom D'Urfey and Tom Brown.”
The present age seems pretty well agreed in an opinion that
the utmost scope and end of reading is amusement only;
and such, indeed, are now the fashionable books, that a reader can propose no more than mere entertainment, and it is sometimes very well for him if he finds even this in his studies.
Letters, however, were surely intended for a much more noble and profitable purpose than this. Writers are not, I presume, to be considered as mere jackpuddings, whose business it is only
to excite laughter: this, indeed, may sometimes be intermixed and served up with graver matters, in order to titillate the palate and to recommend wholesome food to the mind; and for this purpose it hath been used by many excellent authors: «for why," as Horace says, should not any one promulgate truth with a smile on his countenance ?» Ridicule, indeed, as he again intimates, is commonly a stronger and better method of attacking vice than the severer kind of satire.
When wit and humor are introduced for such good purposes, when the agreeable is blended with the useful, then is the writer said to have succeeded in every point. Pleasantry (as the ingen. ious author of «Clarissa” says of a story) should be made only the vehicle of instruction; and thus romances themselves, as well as epic poems, may become worthy the perusal of the greatest of men: but when no moral, no lesson, no instruction is conveyed to the reader, where the whole design of the composition is no more than to make us laugh, the writer comes very near to the character of a buffoon; and his admirers, if an old Latin proverb be true, deserve no great compliments to be paid to their wisdom.
After what I have here advanced I cannot fairly, I think, be represented as an enemy to laughter, or to all those kinds of writing that are apt to promote it. On the contrary, few men, I believe, do more admire the works of those great masters who have sent their satire (if I may use the expression) laughing into the world. Such are the great triumvirate, Lucian, Cervantes, and Swift. These authors I shall ever hold in the highest degree of esteem; not, indeed, for that wit and humor alone which they all so eminently possessed, but because they all endeavored, with the utmost force of their wit and humor, to expose and extirpate those follies and vices which chiefly prevailed in their several countries. I would not be thought to confine wit and humor to these writers. Shakespeare, Moliere, and some other authors, have been blessed with the same talents, and have employed them to the same purposes. There are some, however, who, though not void of these talents, have made so wretched a. use of them, that, had the consecration of their labors been committed to the hands of the hangman, no good man would have regretted their loss; nor am I afraid to mention Rabelais, and Aristophanes himself, in this number. For, if I may speak my opinion freely of these two last writers and of their works, their