1793 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Fielding

Edward Gibbon, Memoirs of My Life and Writings (1793); ed. Bonnard (1966) 4-5.



The nobility of the Spencers has been illustrated and enriched by the trophies of Marlborough; but I exhort them to consider the Faery Queen as the most precious jewel of their coronet:

Nor less praise-worthy are the ladies three
The honour of that noble familie
Of which I meanest boast myself to be.

Our immortal Fielding was of the younger branch of the Earls of Denbigh, who drew their origin from the Counts of Habsburgh, the lineal descendants of Eltrico, in the seventh Century, Duke of Alsace. Far different have been the fortunes of the English and German divisions of the Family of Habsburgh, the former, the Knights and Sheriffs of Leicestershire, have slowly risen to the dignity of a peerage; the latter, the Emperors of Germany and Kings of Spain, have threatened the liberty of the old and invaded the treasures of the new World. The successors of Charles the fifth may disdain their brethren of England: but the Romance of Tom Jones, that exquisite picture of human manners will outlive the palace of the Estuarial and the Imperial Eagle of the house of Austria.