Between Clarissa and Richardson's next work appeared the Tom Jones of Fielding—a rival by no means welcome to the elder writer, although a rival who generously (and perhaps peni tently) acknowledged Clarissa's rare merits.
Fielding had written in the Jacobite's Journal. But even this could not console Richardson for the popularity of the "spurious brat" whom Fielding had made his hero, and his next effort was the depicting of a genuine fine gentleman—a task to which he was incited by a chorus of feminine worshippers. In the His tory of Sir Charles Grandison, "by the Editor of Pamela and Clarissa" (for he still preserved the fiction of anonymity), he essayed to draw a perfect model of manly character and conduct.
In the pattern presented there is, however, too much buckram, too much ceremonial—in plain words, too much priggishness— to make him the desired exemplar of propriety in excelsis. Yet he is not entirely a failure, still less is he to be regarded as no more than "the condescending suit of clothes" by which Hazlitt unfairly defines Miss Burney's Lord Orville. When Richardson de lineated Sir Charles Grandison he was at his best, and his experi ences and opportunities for inventing such a character were in finitely greater than they had ever been before. And he lost nothing of his gift for portraying the other sex. Harriet Byron, Clementina della Porretta and even Charlotte Grandison, are no whit behind Clarissa and her friend Miss Howe. Sir Charles Grandison, in fine, is a far better book than Pamela.
Grandison was published in 1753, and by this time Richardson was sixty-four. Although the book was welcomed as warmly as it predecessors, he wrote no other novel, contenting himself in stead with indexing his works, and compiling an anthology of the "maxims," "cautions" and "instructive sentiments" they con tained. To these things, as a professed moralist, he had always attached the greatest importance. He continued to correspond relentlessly with a large circle of worshippers, mostly women, whose counsels and fertilizing sympathy had not a little con tributed to the success of his last two books. He was a nervous, highly strung little man, intensely preoccupied with his health and his feelings, hungry for praise when he had once tasted it, and afterwards unable to exist without it ; but apart from these things, well meaning, benevolent, honest, industrious and religious. Seven vast folio volumes of his correspondence with his lady friends, and with a few men of the Young and Aaron Hill type, are preserved in the Forster library at South Kensington. Parts of it only have been printed. There are several good portraits of him by Joseph Highmore, two of which are in the National Portrait Gallery.
Richardson is the father of the novel of sentimental analysis. As Sir Walter Scott has said, no one before had dived so deeply into the human heart. No one, moreover, had brought to the study of feminine character so much prolonged re search, so much patience of observation, so much interested and indulgent apprehension, as this twittering little printer of Salis bury Court. That he did not more materially control the course of fiction in his own country was probably owing to the new direc tion which was given to that fiction by Fielding and Smollett, whose method, roughly speaking, was synthetic rather than ana lytic. Still, his influence is to be traced, in Sterne and Henry Mackenzie, as well as in Miss Burney and Miss Austen, both of whom, it may be noted, at first adopted the epistolary form. But it was in France, where the sentimental soil was ready for the dressing, that the analytic process was most warmly wel comed. Extravagantly eulogized by the great critic, Diderot, modified with splendid variation by Rousseau, copied (unwill ingly) by Voltaire, the vogue of Richardson was so great as to tempt French critics to seek his original in the Marianne of a contemporary analyst, Marivaux. As a matter of fact, though there is some unconscious consonance of manner, there is nothing whatever to show that the little-letter author of Pamela, who was also ignorant of French, had the slightest knowledge of Marivaux or Marianne. In Germany Richardson was even more popular than in France. Gellert, the fabulist, translated him; Wieland, Lessing, Hermes, all imitated him, and Coleridge de tects him even in the Robbers of Schiller. What was stranger still, he returned to England again under another form. The French comedie larmoyante, to which he had given a fillip, crossed the channel as the sentimental comedy of Cumberland and Kelly, which, after a brief career of prosperity, received its death-blow at the hands of Goldsmith and Sheridan.
Richardson's novels were edited by Mangin (ig vols., 1811), and an edition in 12 vols. was published by Sotheran in 1883 with preface by Sir Leslie Stephen. A Collection of the Moral and Instructive Sentiments, etc., was published in 1755. A selection from Richardson's Correspondence was published by Mrs. A. L. Barbauld in 5804, in six volumes, with a valuable Memoir. Recent lives are by Miss Clara L. Thomson, 5900, and by Austin Dobson (" Men of Letters ") , 1902. A convenient reprint of the novels, with copies of the old illustrations by Stothard, Edward Burney and the rest, and an introduction by Mrs. E. M. M. McKenna, was issued in 1901 in 20 volumes.
(A. Do. ; X.)