1772 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Fielding

Anonymous, in "Catalogue of the most celebrated Writers" Letters concerning the present State of England (1772) 357-58.



FIELDING. Perhaps of all men none ever saw deeper into the human mind than Shakespear and Fielding; that the former was the greater genius will not bear the shadow of a dispute; but that immortal poet is not greater in the superior walks of tragedy and comedy, than this inimitable writer is in comic romance. His characters are not only true to nature, they are nature itself; pourtrayed in colours, whose brilliancy almost dazzles the eye without ever offending the most scrupulous judge. His humour is incomparable; his plots excellent, and his incidents superior to those of any writer the world ever produced; every little accident of his drama develops character in a manner that can never be sufficiently admired. Never lived a man that saw in a quicker manner the foibles, vices, and wrong side of a character with such keenness. Which however did not arise from a misanthropy in his disposition, for he could paint the best, but from a strength of ridicule that exhibited in a moment all he saw.