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Fielding; and his works, as I have heard the best judges say, have a true spirit of comedy, and an exact representation of nature, with fine moral touches. He has not indeed given lessons of pure and consummate virtue; but he has exposed vice and meanness with all the powers of ridicule: and we have some other good wits, who have exerted their talents to the puposes you approve. Monsieur de Marivaux, and some other French writers, have also proceeded much upon the same plan, with a spirit and elegance which give their works no mean rank among the belles lettres. I will own that, when there is wit and entertainment enough in a book to make it sell, it is not the worse for good morals.
I think, Plutarch, you have made this gentleman a little more humble, and now I will carry him the rest of his journey. But he is too frivolous an animal to present to wise Minos. I wish Mercury were here; he would damn him for his dulness. I have a good mind to carry him to the Danaïdes, and leave him to pour water into their ves(sels,
sels, which, like his late readers, are destined to eternal emptiness. Or shall I chain him to the rock, side to side by Prometheus, not for having attempted to steal celestial fire, in order to animate human forms, but for having endeavoured to extinguish that which Jupiter had imparted? Or shall we constitute him friseur to Tisiphone, and make him curl up her locks with his satires and libels?
The supreme and righteous Judge does not esteem any thing frivolous, that affects the morals of mankind. By his final sentence Authors will be punished as guilty of every fault they have countenanced, and every crime they have encouraged; and vengeance will be denounced in proportion to the injuries, which virtue or the virtuous have suffered in consequence of their writings.
HARDING and WRIGHT, Printers, St. John's Square, London.