1749 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Fielding

William Shenstone to Lady Luxborough, 7 April 1749; in Letters, ed. Mallam (1939) 140.



I think as you do that the Plan [of Tom Jones] is by no means easy, but must own at the same time that several Parts have afforded me much Amusement. There is a good of wit dispers'd thro' out, or rather ty'd up in Bundles at the beginning of every Book. You will conclude my Taste to be not extremely delicate, when I say I am chiefly pleas'd with the striking Lines of Mr. Western's Character. It is I fancy a natural Picture of thousands of his majesty's rural subjects; at least it has been my Fortune to see the original pretty frequently. Tis perhaps a Likeness that is easily taken, and moreover he seems to apply it too indiscriminately to Country-gentlemen in general. But it is the only Character that made me laugh; and that is a great Point gain'd, when one is in danger of losing that Faculty thro' Disuse. Tis moreover a Character better worth exposing than his Landlords and Landladys with which he seems so delighted — his Serjeants and his Abigails, &c.