The History of Henry Fielding - Vol. 1

By Wilbur L. Cross; Humphrey Milford | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
DRAMATIC CAREER

FARCE AND BURLESQUE

Fielding was still but a boy in his twenty-third year when he broke away from Leyden and returned to London. At first he met with greater difficulties than he anticipated in establishing himself in the theatrical world. For some reason he had lost favour with the managers of Drury Lane. On submitting to them his "Don Quixote in England," Cibber and Booth both told him that it was immature and quite unsuitable for the stage. With their opinion he reluctantly agreed. He then wrote "The Temple Beau," which was probably also rejected. A little later he began another comedy called "The Wedding Day," the leading parts of which were intended for Wilks and Mrs. Oldfield; but being piqued by the conduct of Wilks, he laid aside the play for the present. Where, one may inquire, was Lady Mary with her influence at Drury Lane?

At this juncture Fielding fell in with James Ralph, a young man of some talent belonging to the literary adventurers who haunted the garrets about Covent Garden. This is the James Ralph whom we read of in Franklin's "Autobiography." He had come over to England with Franklin from Philadelphia and had settled in London, assuming for a time Franklin's name as a protection against arrest for his escapades. When Pope came out with "The Dunciad," Ralph published a counterblast called "Sawney," in defence of his Grub Street brethren; and in turn Pope lashed him

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