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Henry Fielding: A Memoir by G. M. Godden

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the cabin, with his wife and her friend--a cheerful moment, when
conversation 'is most agreeable,' when Tom, the captain's general
factotum, burst in on them and began, without saying a 'by your leave', to
bottle half a hogshead of small beer. After requests and protests, equally
unavailing, this functionary found himself, says Fielding, threatened
"with having one bottle to pack more than his number, which then happened
to stand empty within my reach." Thereupon Tom reported his version of the
matter to the captain, who came thundering down to the cabin in a rage
that knew no bounds of language or civility. This behaviour from a man who
had received not only liberal payment from his passenger for
accommodation, but also such frequent stores of fresh provisions that
Fielding's private purse had indeed gone some way in maintaining the
ship's crew, that passenger justly resented, and to a hasty resolve of
quitting the ship by a hoy that should carry him to Dartmouth, he added
threats of legal action. The 'most distant sound of law,' however, he
tells us, "frightened a man, who had often, I am convinced, heard numbers
of cannon roar round him with intrepidity. Nor did he sooner see the hoy
approaching the vessel, than he ran down again into the cabin, and his
rage being perfectly subsided, he tumbled on his knees, and a little too
abjectly implored for mercy. I did not suffer a brave man and an old man,
to remain a moment in this posture; but I immediately forgave him." It is
this incident that Thackeray chooses to complete his picture of the great
novelist; adding that memorable comparison between the "noble spirit and
unconquerable generosity" of Fielding, and the lives of many unknown
heroes of the sea: "Such a brave and gentle heart, such an intrepid and
courageous spirit I love to recognise in the manly the English Harry

Within a week of this reconciliation the ship had made such progress
southward that the captain 'in the redundancy of his good humour, declared
he would go to church at Lisbon on Sunday next' (not the least pleasant of
the pictures which Fielding gives us of the privateer is that of his
summoning all hands on deck on a Sunday morning and then reading prayers
'with an audible voice'); but again the wind played him false, becalming
him near Cape Finisterre. This last calm, however, brought with it
sufficient compensation: "tho' our voyage was retarded, we were
entertained with a scene which as no one can behold without going to sea,
so no one can form an idea of anything equal to it on shore. We were
seated on the deck, women and all, in the serenest evening that can be
imagined. Not a single cloud presented itself to our view, and the sun
himself was the only object which engrossed our whole attention. He did
indeed set with a majesty which is incapable of description, with which,
while the horizon was yet blazing with glory, our eyes were called off to
the opposite part to survey the moon, which was then at full, and which in
rising presented us with the second object that this world hath offered to
our vision. Compared to these the pageantry of theatres, or splendor of
courts, are sights almost below the regard of children."

Four days later, at midnight, the anchor was cast off Lisbon, after a calm
and moonlit passage up the Tagus, a passage, Fielding writes, "incredibly
pleasant to the women, who remained three hours enjoying it, while I was
left to the cooler transports of enjoying their pleasures at second-hand;
and yet, cooler as they may be, whoever is totally ignorant of such
sensation, is, at the same time, void of all ideas of friendship."

On the day following, the 24th of June, he landed, and that evening
enjoyed the long unknown luxury of a good supper, in a kind of
coffee-house "very pleasantly situated on the brow of a hill, about a mile
from the city, [which] hath a very fine prospect of the River Tajo from
Lisbon to the sea." With that pleasant prospect the Voyage closes. Begun
as it was to while away the enforced solitude of his cabin, a condition,
which no man, he tells us, disliked more than himself and which mortal
sickness rendered especially irksome, these pages, some of which "were
possibly the production of the most disagreeable hours which ever haunted
the author," reveal Fielding to us if not as Mr Lowell has said "with
artless inadvertence" at least with perfect fullness. The undimmed gaiety
of spirit, the tender affection, the constant desire to remove those evils
which he found oppressing his country-men by sea not less than on land,
the 'enthusiasm for righteousnes,' the humour of the first of English
novelists, burn here as brightly as though the writer were but midway in
his life's voyage. The hand that exposed evil in its native loathsomeness
in a Blifil and a Wild has not lost its cunning in depicting Mrs
Humphreys; the eye that delighted in the green fields of England saw in
the southern sunset that which made human creations 'almost below the
regard of children.' And to the last the patriotic energies of the author
of _Pasquin_ and of the _Champion_, of the whole hearted social reformer,
of the tireless magistrate, knew no relaxation. Page after page of the
_Voyage_ justify the passage in which he tells us how "I would indeed have
this work, which, if I live to finish it (a matter of no great certainty,
if indeed of any great hope to me), will be probably the last I shall ever
undertake, to produce some better end than the mere diversion of the
reader"; and manifest his desire, here explicitly stated, to finish life
"as I have probably lost it, in the service of my country."

We have no knowledge concerning the four months following the last entry
in the pages of the _Voyage to Lisbon_. On October 8, 1754, the end so
calmly expected came; and in the beautiful English cemetery, facing the
great Basilica of the Heart of Jesus, was laid to rest all that an alien
soil could claim of 'our immortal Fielding.'

[1] The _Public Advertiser_, 1754, February 26.

[2] The _Public Advertiser_ 1754, April 17.

[3] Middlesex Records. _Sessions Book_. 1754.

[4] See the Middlesex Records.

[5] See the _Public Advertiser_. February, 1754.

[6] This little house was apparently replaced by a larger house; and it is
probably this second building of which a sketch is inserted in a copy of
Lysons' _Environs_ to be seen in the Guildhall Library. It is now pulled

[7] Dr Johnson spoke of Saunders Welch as "one of my best and dearest

[8] Austin Dobson. _Fielding_, p. 170.

[9] "Dedication" of the _Voyage_, written possibly by John Fielding.

[10] Austin Dobson. _Fielding_, p. 179. From the autograph in the
possession of Mr Frederick Locker.

[11] This and the following passage occur in the second version of the
_Voyage to Lisbon_.


_The Hapsburg genealogy_

It appears that the Hapsburg descent, formerly claimed by the Denbigh
family, must now be abandoned. The arguments against this descent,
published by Mr Horace Round, have been accepted by Burke. Further, Dr G.
F. Warner permits me to publish his statement that "I have myself seen
the documents upon which it [the claim] rests, and found them to be
unmistakeable forgeries."

As regards Henry Fielding's family it is interesting to find that his
grandfather the Rev. and Hon. John Fielding was not only Canon of
Salisbury, and a Doctor of Divinity, but also Archdeacon of Dorsetshire.
Canon John Fielding was buried at Salisbury. His son George (Henry
Fielding's uncle) was Lt. Colonel of the "Royal Regiment of the Blues,"
and Groom of the Bed-chamber to Queen Anne and to George II. He is buried
in St George's Chapel, Windsor. (J. Nichols. _History and Antiquities
of Leicestershire_. 1810. Vol. iv. pt. i. p. 394.)


_Receipt and Assignment of "Tom Jones"_

The following documents are in the possession of Alfred Huth Esq., and
are now first published

June 11 1748.

Rec'd. of Mr. Andrew Millar Six hundred Pounds being in full for the sole
Copy Right of a Book called the History of a Foundling in Eighteen Books.
And in Consideration of the said Six Hundred Pounds I promise to asign
over the said Book to the said Andrew Millar his Executors and assigns
for ever when I shall be thereto demanded.

L s d
L600, 00, 00. Hen. Ffielding

The said Work to contain Six Volumes in Duodecimo.

Know all Men by these Presents that I Henry Fielding of St. Paul's Covent
Garden in the County of Middlesex Esq'r. for & in consideration of the
Sum of Six hundred Pounds of lawful Money of Great Britain to me in hand
paid by Andrew Millar of St. Mary le Strand in the County afores'd.
Bookseller the Receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged and of which I do
Acquit the s'd. Andrew Millar his Executors & Assigns, have bargained
sold delivered assigned & set over all that my Title Right and Property
in & to a certain Book printed in Six Volumes, known & called by the Name
& Title of The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, inv'd. written by me
the s'd. Henry Fielding, with all Improvements, Additions or Alterations
whatsoever which now are or hereafter shall at any time be made by me the
s'd. Henry Fielding, or any one else by my authority to the s'd. Book To
Have and to Hold the s'd. bargained Premises unto the s'd. Andrew Millar,
his Ex'ors Adm'ors or Assigns for ever And I do hereby covenant to & with
the s'd. Andrew Millar his Ex'ors Adm'ors & Assigns that I the s'd. Henry
Fielding the Author of the s'd. bargained Premises have not at any time
heretofore done committed or suffered any Act or thing whatsoever by
means whereof the s'd bargained Premises or any part thereof is or shall
be impeached or encumbered in any wise And I the s'd Henry Fielding for
myself my Ex'ors Adm'ors & Assigns shall warrant & defend the s'd
bargained Premises for ever against all Persons whatsoever claiming under
me my Ex'ors Adm'ors or Assigns.

In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this twenty fifth
day of March One thousand seven hundred & forty nine.

H F fielding [Illustration: Seal.]

Signed sealed & delivered
by the within named Henry
Fielding the day and year within
mentioned, in the presence of
Jos. Brogden


"_Pasquin turned Drawcansir_"

The _General Advertiser_ for March 13, 1752, Page 3, advertises, as
for Macklin's Benefit, at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden,

"A New Dramatic Satire of Two Acts, call'd
Covent Garden Theatre; or Pasquin turned Drawcansir
Censor of Great Britain

Written on the Model of the Comedies of Aristophanes and the Pasquinades
of the Italian Theatre in Paris; With Chorusses of the People after the
manner of the Greek Drama. The Parts of the Pit, and Boxes, the Stage,
and the Town to be performed by themselves for their Diversion; the Part
of several dull disorderly Characters in and about St. James, to be
performed by certain Persons for Example; and the Part of
Pasquin-Drawcansir to be performed by his Censorial Highness, for his

The Satire to be introduced by an Oration, and to conclude by a
Peroration: Both to be spoken from the Rostrum, in the Manner of certain
Orators by Signer Pasquin."

This advertisement is also in the _Covent Garden Journal_, with the
addition of "galleries" after the word _Boxes_. According to Dibdin,
_History of the Stage_, Vol. V. (preface dated 1800) p. 156, this satire
was _by_ Macklin.


_The Walpole 'anecdote'_

The following reference to Fielding occurs in a letter by Horace Walpole,
to George Montagu, dated May 18, 1749. It may be prefaced by the
statement that Fielding's strenuous opposition to Sir Robert Walpole was
not likely to be overlooked by Sir Robert's son; and by Mr Austin
Dobson's comment "his [Horace Walpole's] absolute injustice, when his
partisan spirit was uppermost, is everywhere patent to readers of his
Letters ... the story no doubt exaggerated when it reached him, loses
nothing under his transforming and malicious pen." Walpole writes: "He
[Rigby] and Peter Bathurst t'other night carried a servant of the
latter's, who had attempted to shoot him, before Fielding; who, to all
his other vocations, has, by the grace of Mr Lyttelton, added that of
Middlesex justice. He sent them word he was at supper, that they must
come next morning. They did not understand that freedom, and ran up,
where they found him banqueting with a blind man, a whore, and three
Irishmen, on some cold mutton and a bone of ham, both in one dish, and
the dirtiest cloth. He never stirred nor asked them to sit. Rigby, who
had seen him so often come to beg a guinea of Sir C. Williams, and
Bathurst, at whose father's he had lived for victuals, understood that
dignity as little, and pulled themselves chairs; on which he civilised."

The 'blind man' was doubtless the half brother later to be knighted for
his distinguished public services, Sir John Fielding; and, adds Mr Austin
Dobson, "it is extremely unlikely the lady so discourteously
characterised could have been any other than his wife, who Lady Stuart
tells us 'had few personal charms.' There remain the 'three Irishmen' who
may, or may not, have been perfectly presentable members of society. At
all events, their mere nationality, so rapidly decided upon, cannot be
regarded as a stigma." Bearing in mind, on the one hand, our knowledge of
Fielding as he reveals himself in his own pages, and in his friendships,
and on the other the character earned by Horace Walpole's pen, it seems
matter for doubt whether this 'anecdote' deserves even a place in an


_Fielding's Will_

Fielding's will was discovered in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, by
Mr G. A. Aitken. It is undated:--

IN THE NAME OF GOD AMEN--I HENRY FIELDING of the parish of Ealing in the
County of Middlesex do hereby give and bequeath unto Ralph Allen of Prior
Park in the County of Somerset Esqr and to his heirs executors
administrators and assigns for ever to the use of the said Ralph his
heirs &c all my Estate real and personal wheresoever and whatsoever and
do appoint him sole EXECUTOR of this my last Will--Beseeching him that
the whole (except my shares in the Register Office) may be sold and
forthwith converted into Money and Annuities purchased thereout for the
lives of my dear Wife Mary and my daughters Harriet and Sophia and what
proportions my said Executor shall please to reserve to my sons William
and Allen shall be paid them severally as they shall attain the age of
twenty and three And as for my Shares in the Register or Universal
Register Office I give ten thereof to my aforesaid Wife seven to my
Daughter Harriet and three to my daughter Sophia my Wife to be put in
immediate possession of her shares and my Daughters of theirs as they
shall severally arrive at the Age of 21 the immediate Profits to be then
likewise paid to my two Daughters by my Executor who is desired to retain
the same in his Hands until that time--Witness my Hand--HENRY
FIELDING--Signed and acknowledged as his last Will and Testament by the
within named Testator in the presence of--MARGARET COLLIER--RICHD

Proved 14th November 1754.

Extracted from the Principal Registry of the Probate Divorce and
Admiralty Division of the High Court of Justice

In the Prerogative Court of Canterbury

November 1754

HENRY FIELDING Esquire--On the fourteenth day Administration (with the
Will annexed) of the Goods Chattels and Credits of Henry Fielding late of
Ealing in the County of Middlesex but at Lisbon in the Kingdom of
Portugal Esquire deceased was granted to John Fielding Esquire the Uncle
and Curator or Guardian lawfully assigned to Harriet Fielding Spinster a
Minor and Sophia Fielding an Infant the natural and lawfull Daughters of
the said Deceased and two of the Residuary Legatees named in the said
Will for the use and benefit of the said Minor and Infant and until one
of them shall attain the age of twenty one years for that Ralph Allen
Esquire the sole Executor and Residuary Legatee in Trust named in the
said Will hath renounced as well the Execution thereof as Letters of
Administration (with the said Will annexed) of the Goods Chattels and
Credits of the said deceased and Mary Fielding Widow the Relict of the
said deceased and the other Residuary Legatee named in the said Will hath
also renounced Letters of Administration (with the said Will annexed) of
the Goods Chattels and Credits of the said deceased--the said John
Fielding having been first sworn duly to administer.

In addition to the property mentioned here, Fielding possessed a library,
as Mr Austin Dobson discovered, [1] which when sold six months after his
death, "for the Benefit of his Wife and Family," realised L364, 7s. 1d. or
"about Ll00 more than the public gave in 1785 for the books of Johnson."
[2] Also according to the _Recollections of the Late John Adolphus_, by
Henderson, Fielding purchased a 90 years' lease of a house near
Canterbury, for one of his daughters.

Of the children mentioned in this will, William became, a contemporary
writer tells us, "an eminent barrister at law and inherits the integrity
of his father and a large share of his brilliant talents." [3] Mr Austin
Dobson refers to William Fielding as being like his father "a strenuous
advocate of the poor and unfortunate," and adds that the obituary notice
in the _Gentleman's Magazine_ records his worth and piety. [4] Harriet
Fielding is said to have been of "a sweet temper and great understanding."
[5] Allen Fielding became Vicar of S6. Stephens Canterbury, and was
"greatly beloved by all, especially the little children," writes a
descendant. Allen Fielding's four sons all took Orders, and of the second,
Charles, it was written on his death, that "he had not only a heart that
could feel for others, but a heart that lived in giving." [6] The noble
qualities of Henry Fielding found their echo in his descendants.

[1] Austin Dobson. _Fielding_. Appendix IV. p. 212-13; _and Eighteenth
Century Vignettes_, 1896, pp. 164-178.

[2] Austin Dobson. _Fielding_. Appendix IV. p. 212-13; _and Eighteenth
Century Vignettes_, 1896, pp. 164-178.

[3] J. Nichols. _History and Antiquities of Leicestershire_. 1810. Vol.
iv. Pt. I. p. 594.

[4] Austin Dobson. _Fielding_, p. 192.

[5] T. Whitehead. _Original Anecdotes of the late Duke of Kingston_, 1795.
p. 95.

[6] _Some Hapsburghs, Fieldings, Denbighs and Desmonds_, by J. E. M. F.


_Fielding's Tomb and Epitaph_

Fielding's present tomb, in the beautiful English cemetery at Lisbon, was
erected in 1830. On one side is inscribed:


On the other side are the following lines:

Henrici Fielding
A Somersetensibus apud Glastoniam oriundi
Viri summo ingenio
en quae restant:
Stylo quo non alius unquam
Intima qui potuit cordis reserare mores hominum excolendos
Virtuti decorum, vitio foeditatem asseruit, suum cuique tribuens;
Non quin ipse subinde irritaretur evitandis
Ardensin amicitia, in miseria sublevanda effusus
Hilaris urbanus et conjux et pater adamantus.
Aliis non sibi vixit
Vixit sed mortem victricem vincit dum natura durat dum saecula
Naturae prolem scriptis prae se ferens
Suam et sua genlis extendet famam. [1]

[1] _Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries_. Vol. viii. p. 353.


_Fielding's posthumous play "The Fathers"_

Fielding's play _The Fathers_ or _The Good-natured Man_ seems to have been
lost (apparently after being submitted to Sir Charles Hanbury Williams)
till twenty years after Fielding's death. It was discovered by M'r Johnes,
M.P. for Cardigan, in 1775, or 1776, who sent it to Garrick. Garrick
recognised it as "Harry Fielding's Comedy"; and, after revision, it was
produced at Drury Lane on November 30, 1778. Garrick not only appeared in
the cast, but also wrote both prologue and epilogue. A note, in the
Morrison Manuscripts, from Garrick to D'r John Hoadley, dated January 3,
1776, concludes thus "We have found the lost sheep, Henry Fielding's Good
Natured Man which was mislaid near twenty years." [1] In the following
pleasant letter Sir John Fielding commends Mrs Fielding's Benefit night to
Dr Hunter.

"Sir John Fielding presents his compliments to Dr. Hunter, and acquaints
him that the Comedy of 'The Good-natured Man' written by the late Mr.
Henry Fielding will be performed at Drury Lane next Monday being the
Author's Widow's night.

"He was your old and sincere friend. There are no other of his Works left
unpublished. This is the last opportunity you will have of shewing any
respect to his Memory as a Genius, so that I hope you will send all your
Pupils, all your Patients, all your Friends, & everybody else to the Play
that Night, by which Means you will indulge your benevolent feelings and
your Sentiments of Friendship. [2]

"Bow Street, Dec'r 4, 1778."

[1] Morrison Manuscripts. Catalogue.

[2] _The Athenaeum_. February 1. 1890.


_Undated Accounts of Fielding at Salisbury and at Barnes_

Research has so far failed to identify the period of Fielding's
traditional residence in Salisbury. According to the following passage in
_Old and New Sarum or Salisbury_, by R. Benson and H. Hatcher, 1843, he
occupied three houses in or near Salisbury. "It is well known that
Fielding the Novelist married a lady of Salisbury named Craddock [sic] and
was for a time resident in our City. From tradition we learn that he first
occupied the house in the Close at the south side of St Anne's Gate. He
afterwards removed to that in St Anne's Street next to the Friary; and
finally established himself in the Mansion at the foot of Milford Hill,
where he wrote a considerable portion of his _Tom Jones_." [1]

Fielding's residence in Barnes is no less illusive. The following passage
occurs in the edition of 1795 of _Lyson's Environs of London_: "Henry
Fielding, the celebrated Novelist, resided at Barnes, in the house which
is now the property of Mr Partington." [2] In the edition of 1811 the
house is described as "now the property of Mrs Stanton, widow of the late
Admiral Stanton." [3] In Manning and Bray's _Surrey_ the name of the house
is given: "On Barnes Green is a very old house called Milbourne House....
It was once the residence of Henry Fielding the celebrated novel writer.
The widow of Admiral Stanton is the present owner of this house." [4] The
Barnes Rate-books appear to throw no light on the date of Fielding's
residence at Milbourne House. It is noteworthy that both the Barnes and
Salisbury statements indicate a man of some means, living as befitted a

[1] _History of Wiltshire_. Sir R. C. Hoare; volume entitled "Old and New
Sarum or Salisbury," by R. Benson and H. Hatcher, 1843. p 602.

[2] Lysons. _Environs of London_, edition of 1795. Vol. i. part iii. p.

[3] _Ibid_. Edition 1811. Vol. i. p. 10.

[4] Manning and Bray. _History of Surrey_, 1814, vol. iii. p. 316.


_An undated letter of Fieldings to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu_

The following undated letter is printed in _The Letters and Works of
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu_ edited by Lord Wharncliffe and W. M.
Thomas. Lord Wharncliffe includes it with the letters from originals
among the Wortley papers. [1]

Wednesday evening

Madam,--I have presumed to send your ladyship a copy of the play which
you did me the honour of reading three acts of last spring, and hope it
may meet as light a censure from your ladyship's judgment as then; for
while your goodness permits me (what I esteem the greatest, and indeed
only happiness of my life) to offer my unworthy performances to your
perusal, it will be entirely from your sentence that they will be
regarded, or disesteemed by me. I shall do myself the honour of calling
at your ladyship's door to-morrow at eleven, which, if it be an improper
hour, I beg to know from your servant what other time will be more
convenient. I am with the greatest respect and gratitude, madam,

Your ladyship's most obedient, most devoted humble servant.

[1] Letters and Works of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, edited by Lord
Wharncliffe and W. M. Thomas. Vol. ii. p. 3, note I, and p. 22.


FIELDING'S _Tom Thumb_

This play appears to have carried some political significance in
Fielding's day; if it was not, indeed, written with a political intention.
This may be gathered from an article in the _Daily Post_ of March 29,
1742, apropos of a performance of the _Tragedy of Tragedies_, that night,
at Drury Lane. The article attributes, in detail, political intentions to
the _Tragedy_--"a Piece at first calculated to ridicule some particular
Persons and Affairs in Europe (at the Time it was writ) but more
especially in this Island."

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