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THE PENNY CYCLOPAEDIA

OF
THE SOCIETY FOR THE DIFFU S I O N OF
US EFU L KNOWLEDGE.

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RICHARDSON, SAMUEL, the inventor of the modern English novel, was born in Derbyshire in 1689. His father had been a joiner in London, but had retired to the country, and fixed himself at Shrewsbury, after the execution of the duke of Monmouth, with whom it appears he had been in some way or other connected. It is stated that both his father and his mother had been born in a superior station to that in which they had come to move. At one time the joiner hoped to have been able to educate his son for the church; but a decline in his circumstances forced him to forego this ambition, and young Richardson was in his seventeenth year bound apprentice to Mr. John Wilde, a printer of London, after having had merely the education in reading and writing to be obtained at a common village school. He has informed us himself however, that long before this the peculiar talents which he afterwards displayed in his novels had begun to show themselves. He was noted while at school, he relates, for his flow of invention; his schoolfellows used to make him tell them stories, and were always most pleased with those he made out of his own head. “All my stories,” he characteristically adds, “carried with them, I am bold to say, a useful model. But already, as throughout his life, his most delighted listeners, and the associates who best drew forth his powers, were of the other sex. "As a bashful and not forward boy, he says, “I was an early favourite with all the young women 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 a 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.’ This was an employment well suited to nourish and strengthen Richardsons wonderful faculty of entering into the feelings of other hearts, and giving them true and natural expresSiOn. He was so punctual and industrious during the seven years of his apprenticeship, that Wilde used to call him the pillar of his house; yet he did not neglect his private studies, finding time, by stealing it from the hours of rest and relaxation, both for much reading and a good deal of letter-writing. He remained five or six years as foreman in Mr. Wilde's printing-office after his apprenticeship expired, and then set up for himself in Salisbury-court, Fleetstreet. Soon finding himself in possession of a good business, he married Miss Allington Wilde, his old master's daughter, whom however he lost in 1731, after she had borne him five sons and a daughter, all of whom he likewise survived. He afterwards married Miss Leake, sister of Mr. James Leake, bookseller, by whom he had five daughP. C., No. 1231.

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ters and a son: of these, four daughters, with their mother, survived him. Richardson first became an author in the year 1740. He had been in the habit of occasionally furnishing prefaces and dedications for the works which he printed, at the request of the publishers; and had been often importuned by his friends Mr. Rivington and Mr. Osborne to draw up for them a small collection of familiar letters on subjects of general interest in common life; a task, they conceived, well adapted to his style and turn of mind. Many years before, he had been greatly interested by a story of real life that had been told him, the same in its general outline with that of ‘Pamela;’ he now thought of making it the topic of a letter or two in the proposed little volume; but when he began to reflect on the subject, its capabilities gradually unfolded themselves to him, and ‘I thought,” says he, “the . story, if written in an easy and natural manner suitable to the simplicity of it, might possibly introduce a new species of writing, that might possibly turn young people into a course of reading different from the pomp and parade of romance-writing, and, dismissing the improbable and marvellous, with which novels generally abound, might tend to promote the cause of religion and virtue.' The result was the composition of the first part of ‘Pamela,” the two large volumes of which were written between the 10th of November, 1739, and the 10th of January, 1740. It was published in the latter year, and became immediately so popular that five editions of it were called for within the twelvemonth. So refreshing and exciting were mere nature, truth, and simplicity, even under many disadvantages and indeed positive offensivenesses of style and manner, found to be in a species of composition fitted above all others to amuse and interest the popular fancy, but which had hitherto been cultivated in our language only in a spirit and after a mode of working with which the taste of the most numerous class of readers was the least formed to sympathise. The first part of ‘Pamela' was soon followed by the second part, which was felt at the time by most people to be a great falling off, and which it has since been generally agreed is an attempt at improving the original story that might very well have been spared. The author was led to write it by the appearance of a sequel to his book by another hand, under the title of ‘Pamela in High Life,' the wretched speculation of some needy scribbler to turn to his own profit the interest and curiosity which Richardson's work had excited. It ought to be mentioned that Richardson also completed and published the ‘Collection of Familiar Letters' out of the project of which his novel had arisen: Mrs. Barbauld, his biographer, speaks of this performance in high terms, describing it as “a work usually found in the servant's drawer, but which, when so found, has not unfrequently detained the eye of the mistress, wondering all the while by what secret charm she was induced to turn over a book apparently too low for her perusal.” Another incident connected with the publication of Richardson's Wol. XX.-B

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