1793 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Fielding

William Cowper to Samuel Rose, 8 December 1793; Southey, Life and Works of Cowper (1835-37) 7:245.



We have read, that is to say my cousin has who reads to us in an evening, the history of Jonathan Wild; and found it highly entertaining. The satire on great men is witty, and I believe perfectly just: we have no censure to pass on it, unless that we think the character of Mrs. Heartfree not well sustained, — not quite delicate in the latter part of it, — and that the constant effect of her charms upon every man who sees her has a sameness in it that is tiresome, and betrays either much carelessness, or idleness, or lack of invention. It is possible indeed that the author might intend by this circumstance a satirical glance at novelists, whose heroines are generally all bewitching; but it is a fault that he had better have noticed in another manner, and not have exemplified in his own.