The History of Henry Fielding - Vol. 3

The History of Henry Fielding - Vol. 3

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The History of Henry Fielding - Vol. 3

The History of Henry Fielding - Vol. 3

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Excerpt

The publication of the "Miscellanies" was followed by a period of silence extending over two years and a half, except for one occasion midway when Fielding explained why he was writing no more. Near the close of his preface to the "Miscellanies," he had declared that he would never again publish a book or pamphlet without setting his name to it. Subsequent to this promise, he evidently determined to employ his pen no longer in fiction and political pamphlets, whether anonymous or not. With his "Miscellanies," containing such stray pieces as he wished to preserve, his literary career was to end. Thereafter he would devote himself wholly to the law. If he wrote anything more, it should be on legal subjects. This, if I understand Fielding rightly, was his resolution. He was then only thirty-six years old, and there was yet time for a solid reputation in the law, towards which numerous friends, as seen by the array of legal names among the subscribers to his "Miscellanies," were encouraging him. The decision to cut loose from literature and to rely wholly upon the law for a livelihood meant an heroic struggle. His wife was in declining health, his gout was increasing; nevertheless he took the plunge.

So far as his gout would permit, Fielding was constant, says Murphy, in his appearance at Westminster Hall during term time, and regularly attended every March and August the Assizes on the Western Circuit, which included . . .

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