By J A Downie
Most sensible identified this day because the writer of 3 seminal novels, Joseph Andrews, Tom Jones and Amelia, Henry Fielding (1707-1754) was once the main profitable playwright of his day till Walpole positioned an finish to politics at the degree by means of passing the theatrical Licensing Act of 1737 - 'the maximum dramatist, with the only exception of Shakespeare, produced by way of England among the center a long time and the 19th century', in line with George Bernard Shaw. Turning to political journalism, Fielding wrote the lead essays for periodicals comparable to The Champion (1739-1741), the genuine Patriot (1745-1746) and The Jacobite's magazine (1747-1748), in addition to swingeing political satire in prose and verse. even though students agree that Fielding subscribed to Revolution rules, current money owed of his political rules are insufficiently acutely aware not just of the constitution of politics within the first 1/2 the eighteenth century, yet of the ways that many of the strands of Whig political ideology constructed throughout the sixty years following the Revolution of 1688. This political biography explains and illustrates what 'being a Whig' intended to Fielding.
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13 Unfortunately, Swift, Pope and Gay are still commonly described as ‘Tory satirists’, while Fielding’s politics are uncompromisingly Whig. This causes problems for critics who discern clear congruities between Fielding’s political ideas and those of his Scriblerian influences. 14 We should be wary, however, of applying retrospectively what we think we know about Fielding’s mature political outlook to the opinions he might have held in his early twenties. This can be misleading both with regard to Fielding’s ultimate description of Walpole as ‘one of the best of men and of ministers’,15 and the seriousness with which he sought a broad solidarity with the values and interests of the members of the Scriblerus Club when he decided to describe himself as H.
Admittedly, this is to confound cause and effect, but Rape upon Rape was a failure, at least in comparison with The Author’s Farce / Tom Thumb pairing. It ran for only eight nights in June and July, and flopped completely when it was revived at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in December as The Coffee-House Politician. 42 A Political Biography of Henry Fielding It is worth considering whether the comparative failure of a play containing such fairly obvious political overtones led Fielding to contemplate abandoning the topical allusions he had introduced into The Author’s Farce and Rape upon Rape.
We simply do not know how the “extended company” (if we may call it such) that used the house most often chose plays, bargained with authors, and made casting decisions’. As we simply do not know how Fielding managed to get The Author’s Farce produced either, or on what basis, it seems otiose to speculate whether he was required to experiment with a different kind of drama when he was ‘forced to turn to the Little Theatre in the Haymarket’. 98 While it is obvious that he had changed direction, turning from the more tradi- 40 A Political Biography of Henry Fielding tional comedies of manners with which he had begun his career to the ‘irregular’ forms – ‘rehearsal’ plays, ballad operas and burlesque – which began to appear on the stage following the success of The Beggar’s Opera and Hurlothrumbo, with which he seems more comfortable, and certainly was more successful, once again we must be careful not to over-state the case.