The History of Henry Fielding - Vol. 1

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

CHAPTER XI
SHAMELA AND STRAY PAPERS

While writing essays for "The Champion"--one, two, and sometimes three a week--Fielding also put forth, as occasion arose, "a large number of fugitive political tracts," says Murphy without mentioning any one of them by title. For this reason, the truth of Murphy's statement has been often questioned; but search has brought to light Fielding's definite or probable connection with several anonymous productions lying partly within this period, not all of which are political. At the same time re-examination of one or two minor pieces formerly thought to be his has made the ascription doubtful. It will be interesting to state here the results.

Fielding was once suspected of having a hand in a mock autobiography of Theophilus Cibber, which was published in July, 1740,* by J. Mechell of Fleet Street. It was a twoshilling pamphlet entitled "An Apology for the Life of Mr. T C , Comedian. Being a Proper Sequel to the Apology for the Life of Mr. Colley Cibber, Comedian. . . . Supposed to be written by Himself." As this apology for the misdeeds of the son followed closely upon the sport that "The Champion" was having with the father, the wits naturally regarded it as Fielding's completion of the jest. Who else, it might be asked, possessed the intimate knowledge of the stage displayed in the pamphlet, or the ability to write in a style which everybody at once recognized as a burlesque of both father and son? It was the style of a

____________________
*
"The Gentleman's Magazine," July, 1740.

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