The History of Henry Fielding - Vol. 1

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

CHAPTER V
DRAMATIC CAREER

QUARREL WITH THE GRUB-STREET JOURNAL

Thus far it has been necessary to present Fielding's dramatic history mainly in an indirect manner through his works and the alterations that he made in them. Hitherto the newspapers have furnished little else than dates for the performances of his plays, with an occasional effort at gaiety. For the season of 1731-1732 materials are less scanty. Fielding now drops politics for a time and flirts with the Walpole Administration in the vain hope of winning the Prime Minister as a patron. More interesting still, he becomes involved in a hot controversy with "The Grub-street Journal," which extends to other newspapers. On the one side are the onslaughts from the Grubeans; on the other the denunciations of Grub Street by Fielding and his friends. For the first time we now get a view of Fielding directly in action. How his quarrel with "The Grub-street Journal" arose and incidentally why he modified his attitude towards Walpole find their explanation in certain theatrical changes of the year and in the kind of plays which Fielding wished to produce.

The persecution of the Little Theatre in the Haymarket, which had begun in the summer, was kept up into the autumn and winter. It was no longer safe for the company to continue their performances because of threatened if not actual interference by the Government. We read of the frightened actors refusing to take the parts assigned to them; in a word, of their revolt. By December, plays

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