Clowns & Cowards – Henry Fielding

22 April 2012

Today is the anniversary of the birthday of Henry Fielding, English novelist (Joseph Andrews, Tom Jones), born 22 April 1707.

Clowns & Cowards

The story behind this note:

“Residing in Lyme Regis, Dorset in the summer of 1725, eighteen-year-old Henry’s affections soon latched onto fifteen-year-old Sarah Andrew, and her sizable inheritance.

But Sarah (and her fortune) were closely guarded by her uncle, Andrew Tucker, who hoped to see Sarah married to his own son and viewed Henry as an unsavory rival.

Undaunted, Henry persevered throughout the fall. The wooing came to a head in November, when Henry and his servant attempted to abduct the lady one Sunday as she was on her way to church. While the abduction was thwarted by Mr. Tucker, Henry’s attempt must have been a forceful one. Records in Lyme Regis show “A. Tucker feared that [Fielding] would beat, maim, or kill him.”

Miss Andrew was swiftly hustled from Lyme Regis to Modbury, where she was soon married to a more suitable gentleman. Disappointed and disgruntled, Henry also left Lyme Regis – but not before he posted the petulant public notice, right, now on display in Lyme Regis Museum:

This is to give notice to the World that Andrew Tucker and his Son John Tucker are Clowns, and Cowards. Witness my hand Henry F[ie]lding.

After this unsuccessful attempt at marrying money, Fielding decided he’d do better by earning it. As he wrote later, his choice was to be “a Hackney Writer, or a Hackney Coachman.” Fortunately for us, he chose the former.”

Source

by Amanda Patterson

Posted on: 23rd April 2012
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