1775 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Fielding

James Harris, 1775 ca.; in Philological Inquiries (1781) 163-64n.



The celebrated HENRY FIELDING, who was a respectable person both by Education and Birth, having been bred at Eton School and Leyden, and being lineally descended from an Earl of Denbigh.

His JOSEPH ANDREWS and TOM JONES may be called Master-pieces in the COMIC EPOPEE, which none since have equalled, tho' multitudes have imitated; and which he was peculiarly qualified to write in the manner he did, both from his Life, his Learning, and his Genius.

Had his Life been less irregular (for irregular it was, and spent in promiscuous intercourse with persons of all ranks) his Pictures of Human kind had neither been so various, nor so natural.

Had he possest less of Literature, he could not have infused such a spirit of Classical Elegance.

Had his Genius been less fertile in Wit and Humour, he could not have maintained that uninterrupted Pleasantry, which never suffers his Reader to feel fatigue.