Page:Studies of a Biographer 4.djvu/280

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

the desirable corrective. He meditated among the tombs, as a great many Englishmen had done before him, but professed to find consolation in the revealed truths which were ignored in Pope's philosophy. Hervey took up the strain in the prose Meditations, which, I fancy, have still a kind of faded vitality. The Night Thoughts gained extraordinary popularity in France at a later period, and chiefly, as M. Texte thinks, because readers saturated with Rousseauism were prepared to accept any kindred sentimentalism. The relationship, anyhow, implies also a curious difference. Rousseau and Rousseau's followers held forms of religious belief which would have set Richardson's hair on end. Probably he would have agreed with his friend Johnson that the proper way of dealing with Rousseau was by a sentence of transportation. Richardson's discontent with the dominant ideals might be compared to that of Dickens, whose sentimentalism delighted the same class, and was met by the heartless sneers (so he thought them) of cold-blooded people in clubs and drawing-rooms. But, in English conditions, this did not imply any revolutionary outbreak, political or theological. The enthusiasm could still run in the old channels, and Richardson could