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occurred without much or profound study to one, too much of whose time has been spent in that “ delightful lande of faerie," the seducing mazes of fictitious narrative. 1
Abbotsford, 1st Sept. 1825.
[“ A few years ago there appeared at Edinburgh ten volumes in succession of a collection entitled Ballantyne's Novelist's Library, to which Sir Walter Scott supplied prefatory memoirs of the various authors whose works the publication included. The book had the additional recommendations of handsome type and paper, and careful printing, yet it does not seem to have met with success, at least we are at a loss to account otherwise for its sudden suspension, in a state of obvious incompleteness. In the meantime, Mr Galignani has taken the liberty to detach Sir Walter's Memoirs from the bulky tomes in which they lay buried ; and we hope our notice of his publication may induce those of whose property he has availed himself to imitate the shrewdness of his example. These essays are among the most agreeable specimens of biographical composition we are acquainted with: they contain a large assemblage of manly and sagacious remarks on human life and manners, and much ingenious criticism besides ; and, thus presented in a compact form, must be considered as throwing a new and strong light upon a department of English literature, perhaps the most peculiar, certainly the most popular, and yet we cannot help thinking, among the least studied of all that we possess.”. - Quarterly Review, September, 1826, p. 349.]
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICES, &c.
THE Life of this excellent man, and ingenious
SAMUEL RICHARDSON was born in Derbyshire,
Monmouth, after whose execution he retired to Shrewsbury, apprehensive, neitraps, of a fate similar to that of College, his brother-in-trade, well known in those times by-the title of the Protestant Joiner, who was executed for high treason in the reign of Charles Il.
Having sustained-severe losses in trade, the elder Richardson was unable to give his son Samuel more than a very ordinary education ; and our author, who was to rise so high in one department of literatúre, was left unacquainted with any language excepting his own. Under all these disadvantages, and perhaps in some degree owing to their existence, young Richardson very early followed, with a singular bias, the course which was most-likely to render his name immortal. We give his own words, for they cannot be amended :
" I recollect, that I was early noted for having invention. I was not fond of play, as other boys :my school-fellows used to call me Serious and Gravity; and five of them particularly delighted to single me out, either for a walk, or at their fathers houses, or at mine, to tell them stories, as they phrased it. Some I told them, from my reading, as true ; others from my head, as mere invention ; of which they would be most fond, and often were affected by them. One of them particularly, I remember, was for putting me to write a history, as he called it, on the model of Tommy Pots ;' I now forget what it was, only that it was of a servantman preferred by a fine young lady (for his good
1 Tommy Potts is the name of an old ballad published in. . Ritson's Anc Songs.
ness) to a lord, who was a libertine. All my stories carried with them, I am bold to say, an useful moral." But
young Richardson found a still more congenial body of listeners among the female sex. An old lady, indeed, seems to have resented an admonitory letter, in which the future teacher of morals contrasted her pretensions to religion with her habitual indulgence in slander and backbiting ; but with the young and sentimental his reception was more gracious. “ As a bashful and not forward
1 Life of Richardson, vol. i., p. 36, 37. [It is impossible to consider without delight and admiration the con. trast between Richardson's boyish fictions and those of his biographer himself, as described in the General Preface to the Waverley Novels. There Sir Walter Scott says, “ I must refer to a very early period of my life, were I to point out my first achievements as a tale-teller, but I believe some of my old school-fellows can still bear witness that I had a distinguished character for that talent, at a time when the applause of my companions was my recompense for the disgraces and punishments which the future romance-writer incurred for being idle himself, and keeping others idle, during hours that should have been employed on our tasks. The chief enjoyment of my holidays was to escape with a chosen friend, who had the same taste with myself, and alternately to recite to each other such wild adventures as we were able to devise. We told, each in turn, interminable tales of knight-errantry, and battles, and enchantments, which were continued from one day to another as opportunity offered, without ever thinking of bringing them to a conclusion. As we observed a strict secrecy on the subject of this intercourse, it acquired all the character of a concealed pleasure, and we used to select, for the scenes of our indulgence, long walks through the solitary and romantic environs of Arthur's Seat, Salisbury Craigs, Braid Hills, and similar places in the vicinity of Edinburgh ; and the recollection of those holidays still forms an oasis in the pilgrimage which I have to look back upon.”]
boy,” he says,
“ I was an early favourite with all the
young of taste and reading in the neighbourhood. Half-a-dozen of them, when met to work with their needles, used, when they got a book they liked, and thought I should, to borrow me to read to them; their mothers sometimes with them; and both mothers and daughters used to be pleased with the observations they put me upon making.I was not more than thirteen, when three of these young women, unknown to each other, having an high opinion of my taciturnity, revealed to me their love secrets, in order to induce me to give them copies to write after, or correct, for answers to their lovers' letters ; nor did any one of them ever know that I was the secretary to the others. I have been directed to chide, and even repulse, when an offence was either taken or given, at the very
time when the heart of the chider or repulser was open before me, overflowing with esteem and affection ; and the fair repulser, dreading to be taken at her word, directing this word, or that expression, to be softened or changed. One, highly gratified with her lover's fervour, and vows of everlasting love, has said, when I have asked her direction, I cannot tell
you what to write ; but (her heart on her lips) you cannot write too kindly. All her fear was only, that she should incur slight for her kindness.” I
1 Life of Richardson, vol. i., p. 39, 40. [Mrs Barbauld adds, “ Human nature is human nature in every class; the hopes and the fears, the perplexities and struggles, of these low-bred girls, in probably an obscure village, supplied the future author with those ideas which, by their gradual developement, produced the characters of a Clarissa and a Clementina; nor was he probably happier, or amused in a more