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Remarks on Clarissa (1749)   By: (1710-1768)

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[Transcriber's Note:

The use of tildes (~) around a word signifies that it was spaced out in the original l i k e t h i s.

Spelling, grammar, and punctuation have been retained as in the original, with the exception of a few printer's errors. A full list of these can be found at the end of the text.]


Addressed to the AUTHOR.

Occasioned by some critical Conversations on the CHARACTERS and CONDUCT of that Work.


Some Reflections on the Character and Behaviour of PRIOR'S ~ EMMA ~.

~ LONDON: ~ Printed for J. Robinson in Ludgate street .


[Price One Shilling.]


~ SIR ,~

Perhaps an Address of this Nature may appear very unaccountable, and whimsical; when I assure you, my Design is fairly to lay before you all the Criticisms, as far as I can remember them, that I have heard on your History of Clarissa ; from the Appearance of the two first Volumes, to the Close of the Work. I have not willingly omitted any one Objection I have heard made to your favourite Character, from her first Appearance in the World; nor, on the contrary, have I either diminished or added to the favourable Construction put on her Words or Actions. If the Grounds for the Objections are found to be deducible from the Story, I would have them remain in their full Force; but if the Answers her Admirers have given to those Objections are found to result from an impartial and attentive perusal of the Story, I would not have her deny'd the Justice they have done her. But tho' I seem here to speak only of Clarissa , as she is your principal Character, yet I intend as well to take notice of what has been said relating to your whole Story, as to her in particular.

In the first Conversation I heard on this Subject, the whole Book was unanimously condemned, without the least Glimpse of Favour from any one present who sat in judgment on it. It was tedious stuff! low! Letters wrote between Misses about their Sweet hearts! There was an Uncle Anthony a Brother James ! a Goody Norton ! and a Servant Hannah . In short, one had no Patience to read it, another could not bear it, a third did not like it, &c. Such general Censurers, I knew, could be very little worth attending to; and this Judgment I should have formed had I been a Stranger to the Book thus unmercifully treated; but as I had read Clarissa , and observed some Beauties in it, yet heard not one of them mentioned, I was determined to say nothing, and to make my Visit as short as possible.

From hence I went to spend the Evening with a Family in whose Conversation I am always agreeably entertained. There happened, that Night, to be a pretty large Assembly of mix'd Company. Clarissa immediately became the Subject of our Conversation, when, after a few general Remarks, one of the Gentlemen said, "His chief Objection was to the Length of it, for that he was certain he could tell the whole Story contained in the two first Volumes in a few Minutes; for Example, (continued he) There is a Family who live in the Country, consisting of an old, positive, gouty Gentleman, two old Batchelors as positive as their gouty Brother, a meek Wife, an ambitious Son, an envious elder Sister, and a handsome younger Sister; who, having refused many offered Matches, engages the Attention and Liking of one Mr. Lovelace , a young Gentleman of a noble Family; her Brother has an absolute Aversion to him; a Rencounter follows between them; the Lady corresponds with Lovelace to prevent farther Mischief; a disagreeable Man is proposed to her by all her Family; she will not consent; they all combine to insist on her Compliance; she is lock'd up; forbid all Correspondence out of the Family, but still persists in her Refusal; they call it Obstinacy; she calls it Resolution; Mr... Continue reading book >>

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