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rious memoirs is, to emulate the principal personage; and, finding it much

more easy to copy foibles and follies than laudable actions, he gives himself credit at least for a capability of being amiable; discovers that to fall into error is not difficult, and that its effects are not fatal; that though propriety may. be outraged, the punishment is but temporary; that debts imprudently contracted may be discharged, an angry mistress be appeased, and the best gifts of fortune be heaped unexpectedly on him; and that finally he may retire, with health, youth, riches, and reputation, into the bosom of felicity.

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It is needless to insist on what is likely to ensue, when the experiment is made, and this theory reduced to practice. The similitude to the hero or heroine is closely preserved, as far as it respects criminality and folly; but fails most lamentably in the catastrophe, and finishes in ruin. This may pretty safely be considered as an abridgement of the novel of Tom Jones, and of the fates of many of its juvenile admirers.

The names of Fielding and Smollet have, I know, become venerable; they have passed the ordeal of criticism, and their claim to eminence as novel writers no one ventures to dispute. It would

therefore be an act of more than or

dinary hardihood to arraign them on the articles of style, or selection of incidents; the knowledge of the world evinced in delineating human character; or the refinements of art, which they have displayed in the conduct of their fable; and of ingenuity, on all occasions, in the application of epic dexterity.

Such an inquiry is, however, foreign to my present purpose; which is to prove, that, whatever may be their masterly qualifications in other points, they are not to be esteemed teachers of

politeness or of virtue, but of coarseness and immorality; that society has been corrupted, not meliorated, by their novels; and that Tom Jones, Joseph Andrews, Peregrine Pickle, Roderick Random, Jonathan Wild, Count Fathom, &c. &c., may be fit manuals for the rake and the courtesan, but are objects of abhorrence to the chaste and delicate mind, and can only cease to be such, when they have executed their felonious office, and transformed the innocent into the depraved.

In support of my assertion, it would

be unnecessary to adduce particular

passages for the conviction of those who are already acquainted with any of the above-named works; and to do so for the information of such as are not, would be unsuitable to the character I wish to sustain. Indeed, the improper parts are so numerous, and of so gross a texture, as to render a detail of them incompatible with the established principles of decorum. It is to be hoped, therefore, that a rough outline of the story of any one of these notable performances, will suffice to create a sense of shame in some, and to repress the curiosity of others.

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