Sir Charles Grandison (Illustrated Gleanings from the Classics)
The Taylors of Ongar
and others of their family



Writers on
the Taylors

                Press frontispiece


The author

The book

The artist and the engraver

Sir Charles Grandison rescues Miss Byron

Sir Charles Grandison and his daughters

Sir Charles Grandison reconciles Sir Harry and Lady Beauchamp

Clemantina and her family

Coming home to Grandison Hall

Publisher's note
IN the days when wood engraving as now practised, and when lithography, zincography, photography, and the thousand and one mechamcal processes for cheap and direct reproduction of the artist' s drawing were practically unknown, illustrations were perforce almost entirely confined to direct impressions from engraved copperplates. The minor as well as the more important works of the best engravers of that elastic period find a safe refuge in the folio of the art collector. But only a few of the original copperplates have escaped the melting pot, and impressions from some of the more finely engraved of these are here presented. Each one has been carefully and separately struck off direct from the original copperplate itself — the only method of pnnting by which the minuteness and beauty of the engraved work can be properly rendered.
IN a world which boasts, or laments, that "of making books there is no end", every year necessarily adds to our store of imperish­able literary treasures. Every year, therefore, increases the number of books which deserve to be read and multiplied, and for those whose lives can­not be passed in a library, the difficulty of becoming acquainted with as much of the literature of even their own country as claims to be immortal becomes annually greater. Even our own young generation, in the struggle and fever of life, find that time fails for making acquaintance with the heroes and heroines dear to the hearts of their predecessors. And perhaps one of the first of our classic authors to be thrust aside is that leisurely and voluble author who delighted our grandmothers with portraits of "the best of men", and our grandfathers with delineations of the "most excellent of women".

Richardson was born in Derbyshire, in 1689. The son of a printer, he was ap­prenticed at the age of fifteen to a printer in London. It was characteristic of his deliberateness that he took half a century to discover he was a fine author. For he was fifty when he wrote Pamela, which, with a speed unknown to its creator, made haste into five editions. Eight years later, Clarissa Harlowe appeared; and four years after that, The History of Sir Charles Grandison, in which Richardson designed to draw the character of a Christian gentleman. It was a venturesome under­taking on the part of the old bookseller, writing in a back-shop, and in an age of license and of false honour. Yet how well he succeeded is seen by the great con­temporary fame he (very keenly) enjoyed, and by the fact that his graceful pages retain for fastidious readers today the fascinations they first exercised over fine ladies in the Ranelagh Gardens, who triumphantly waved Richardson's volumes — fresh from the press — before the eyes of envious beholders who possessed them not. This maker and printer of books — an ideal combination — had lived for seventy­two years, when he died in 1761. His declining days were soothed by the friendship of many ladies, who repaid with tenderness the true homage Richardson had offered in his pages to their sex. Nor was this all he gained from his worship of womanhood. For it was his gallantry, of a good kind, which did more than any­thing else to educate and to develop him — freeing him from ignorances and limita­tions common to his time. May the same dear devotion have always similar and sweet rewards!

The book
OF all Richardson's books, Grandison is perhaps the most con­spicuously unknown. Clarissa Harlowe, shortened, has been kept, by its strong incidents, among the books which are familiar; and Pamela is doubtless looked into on account of the fame of the literary retort which it provoked. But The History of Sir Charles Grandison must be taken according to the author's own intention, or not at all.

It is a pity that it should not be taken at all. The book is full of charm. We even venture to say that no one reading it with dramatic reference to time and manners would seriously wish to shorten its polysyllables, or moderate its gush, its tears, its sprightliness, its per­fectly high-bred and graceful twaddle, or would diminish the number of Sir Charles's virtues, accomplishments, or adorers. The "best of men" is really a very fine, generous, and delicate gentle­man. The old bookseller who drew him set his heart upon making a virtuous contemporary Christian, who should not be a milksop; and the little absurdities of the book ought not to impair the importance of the fact that he succeeded.

The whole being in the form of letters — such letters! "the loveliest of her sex" must have given all her days and all her nights, and they would not have sufficed, to her correspondence — Richardson has presented his hero dramatically, through the narratives of the other characters, whose virtues he encourages, whose vices he reforms, whose faults he forgives, whose good looks he outshines, whose dancing, fencing, wooing, and praying he outdoes. Thus the whole book has the effect of a chorus of admiration. Miss Byron narrowly escapes a decline through her suspense as to the state of his affect­ions, while the excellent Clementina, in Bologna, goes mad for love of him, and the reprehensible Olivia, at Florence, makes attempts upon his life and liberty in the vindictiveness of her love, and the ingenuous Miss Jervois spends her time in tears. Miss Byron, the chosen one and thus "the happiest woman in England", must be shown worthy of such a man, and so we have infinite correspondence on her beauties of mind and person.

The minor characters, at which Rich­ardson did not labour with so careful a hand, are really admirable. Lady G's letters are charming, even now, although the fashions in fun change so much; Sir Charles's "awful dad" (we really beg pardon for using slang on a subject which the best of men treats with such filial re­spect and such circumspection is cleverly sketched; and the Italian group (excepting perhaps the ill-behaved Olivia) are very good for the untravelled time at which Sir Charles Grandison was written.

The story consists simply in the de­liberations and difficulties of Sir Charles's choice in marriage. Before he had seen the amiable Byron he had felt a pure flame for the admirable Clementina, who has conscientious objections to marrying a Protestant, Sir Charles had promised this lady her own confessor, her chapel, and the education of daughters, but Clementina fears that his virtues and his goodness might some day wean her insensibly from her faith, and she struggles against her feelings at the (temporary) expense of her reason. Grandison inci­dentally reforms her brother Jeronymo, who is addicted to light courses. He returns to England to save from forcible marriage Harriet Byron, whom one of her innumerable adorers has kidnapped after a masquerade, and is hurrying across Hounslow Heath in a "chariot". Sir Charles's two sisters, Lady L. and Charlotte Grandison (afterwards Lady G) swear eternal friendship with Harriet, and re­count to her the family history, including the tyrannical behaviour of the late naughty Sir Thomas to his children. After innumerable scenes of high sensi­bility, Clementina decides against her English suitor, and Sir Charles is free to make the lovliest woman in the world his own. Incidentally he does a quantity of good works — among them being the reconciliation of Sir Harry Beauchamp and his unmanageable wife, who had had a long dispute about the younger Beauchamp. So much will make the illustrations intelligible to those who have not read the complete work.

The artist and the engraver
ISAAC Taylor, Stot­hard's competitor in the illustration of Grandison, was one of many artists who, in the course of the history of de­sign, have entered the studio by way of the silversmith's workshop — a way approved by Mr Ruskin. He was born in 1730, and was the son of a provincial brass founder, and in this business did his first engraved work on metal. But some change of conditions sent him in his youth, on foot, to London, destitute and quite alone. He was lucky in finding immediate employment with a silversmith, was industrious, prospered, and married. By degrees he began to produce en­gravings for the Gentleman's Magazine, which, with its peculiarly dismal plates, seems to have been a kind of nursery for young reputations in its day. Other magazines employed his graver, and he was encouraged to begin design, so that we find him in 1766-70 engraving and exhibiting his book illustrations.

The Sir Charles Grandison was his magnum opus. He had the sympathy of affinity with his author. Richardson's naif sentimentality, his elaborate scenes, over-explicit and minute, in which nothing — not a word, or look, or tone — was left to the imagination of the reader, his propriety and state, all had their counter­part in Taylor's illustrations. Both men loved to add fact to fact, and line to line; all corners are explored, all accessories emphatically explained. The modern novelist will sometimes record an action and leave you to infer the motive from what he has told you of the person's character, and the modern illustrator will leave you in the dark as to the precise way in which a lady's frill is finished, or the pattern in a carpet repeated. But Isaac Taylor and Richardson will permit no such mysteries.

The artist's explicitness in costume can scarcely be appreciated at a glance. A lady, minded to go to a bal poudre as a graceful Miss Grandison, or as the lovely Harriet herself, could perfectly well have a complete fancy costume made after Lady Grandison's coming-home attire, or the dinner dresses of Caroline and Charlotte. See the conscientious way in which Taylor has varied the trimming of these two ladies' skirts, and the perfect manner in which he has rendered the several textures in the "head" of the weeping Caroline — ­the taffeta puff, the quilled ribbon, the lapet of exquisite lace that lies on her powdered hair. See also Lady Beau­champ's still more fearful and wonderful coiffure, and the lace pendant therefrom. And Sir Charles's travelling dress, en­closing a figure which, allowing for the long-bodied and short-legged ideal of the day, is exquisitely drawn — so solid, clean, and clear. See also the dress of the General in the Porretta Palace, and the mosaic marble pavement. The ecclesi­astical costume has evidently presented some difficulty to the realistic Taylor, but he came nearer to the facts than Stot­hard, who put his Bolognese Bishop into a surplice. And all Taylor's extraordinary detail is expressed precisely as he in­tended. He "interpreted" himself, and thus had no engraver's misapprehensions to complain of. Moreover, his labour is all the more direct and unmistakeable, inasmuch as he engraved directly on the metal. That means of engraving bids fair to become, in time, one of several lost arts, of which the place is taken by new handicrafts. The many mechanical pro­cesses now in use have driven out the human precision of Taylor's method, but the relics we have of it will never lose their value. Energy, dramatic power, or singular grace cannot be claimed for him, but he was beforehand with the Pre-ra­phaelite movement-in part at least of its principles and practice.

The illustrations

Sir Charles Grandison rescues Miss Byron

THE following is a passage from Sir Charles Grandison's account of his rescue of Miss Byron from the hands of Sir Hargraves Pollexfen. He has heard a lady scream from the flying carriage, has challenged, stopped, and felled her captor.

I had not drawn my sword: I hope I shall never be provoked to do so in a private quarrell ... The lady, though greatly terrified, had disengaged herself from the cloak. I had not leisure to consider her dress; but I was struck with her figure, and more with her terror. ... Have you not read ... (Pliny, I think, gives the relation) of a frightened bird that, pursued by a hawk, flew for protection into the bosum of a man passing by? In like manner, your lovely cousin, the moment I returned to the chariot door, instead of accepting my offered hand, threw herself in my arms. “O save me! Save me!” She was ready to faint ... I carried the lovely creature round Sir Hargrave's horses and seated her in my chariot. “Be assured, Madam,” said I, “that you are in honourable hands.”

Sir Charles Grandison and his
Sir Charles Grandison and his daughters
MISS Byron writes out to her chief correspond­ent, Lucy, the account given to her by Sir Charles's sisters of their early sufferings from their father's cruelty. The meek Caroline had accepted the blameless addresses of Lord L, and the spirited Charlotte had abetted her. Sir Thomas, for no particular reason, except that he was a rake, and therefore unjust and suspicious, had resolved to make the path of true love as rough as possible. He had summoned the damsels from their weeping upstairs to attend him at dinner (their "heads" announce full dress), and to be bullied afterwards in the drawing room. The scene is told at immense length.

Sir Thomas: "Let me know, Caroline, what hopes you have given to Lord L. — Or rather, perhaps, what hopes he has given you? Why are you silent? Answer me, girl."

Caroline: "I hope, Sir, I shall not disgrace my father in thinking well of Lord L." 
* * * * * *

Sir Thomas: "Well, Charlotte, tell me, when are you to begin to estrange from me your affections? When are you to begin to think that your Father stands in the way of your happiness?"

* * * * * *

"I could not help speaking here," said Miss Grandison, '" Oh, Sir, how you wound me!'"
 Sir Charles Grandison saves
Sir Charles Grandison saves Jeronymo

SIR Charles regains the friendship of Jeronymo by saving his life, though the young Italian had been estranged by our admirable Englishman's reproof of his evil ways. Sir Charles writes:

Jeronymo pursued the adventure which had occasioned the difference; and one of the lady's admirers envying him his supposed success , hired him ... They had got him into their toils in a little thicket I, attended by two servants, happened to be passing, when a frightened horse ran across the way, his bridle broken, and his saddle bloody. ... I soon beheld a man struggling on the ground with two ruffians ... I leapt out of the post-chaise and drew my sword, running towards them as fast as I could, calling as if I had a number with me. On this they fled. I hastened to the unhappy man: but how much was I surprised when I found him to be the Barone della Porretta!

Sir Charles Grandison reconciles
                Sir Harry and Lady Beauchamp 
Sir Charles Grandison reconciles Sir Harry and Lady

THE settlement of the Beauchamps' conjugal quarrel is one of Sir Charles's most delicate achieve­ments. He quells the stepmother's temper, brings the father into courteous relation with his wife, and gets £600 a year, with arrears, for the" absent youth". As usual, the episode ends with the praises of the incomparable man:

"NOW, my dear Lady Beau­champ," said I, ... "permit me to give you joy. All doubts and misgivings so triumphantly got over, so solid a foundation laid for family harmony. What was the moment of your nuptials to this? Sir Harry, I congratulate you: you may be, and I believe you have been, as happy as most men, but now you will be still happier.

Clementina and her family
Clementina and her family

RICHARDSON'S English and Italian personages alike are as eager to enter upon "scenes" as moderns are to escape from those demonstrations of sensibility. The book is indeed a series of scenes, but those which take place in the noble family of Porretta are naturally the most emotional. The fifth illustration presents the incident of the general entreaty to Clementina that she should consent to bring herself to favour an Italian suitor. All the members of the family meet in the room of the still invalided Jeronymo, who writes to Sir Charles:

Then did we all supplicate her to oblige us. The General was at first tenderly urgent; the Bishop besought her; the young Marchioness pressed her; my Mother took her hand between both hers, and in silent tears could only sigh over it; and lastly, my Father dropt down on one knee to her: "My daughter, my child," said he, "oblige me." Your Jeronymo could not restrain his tears. She fell on her knees: “0 my Father," said she, "rise, or I shall die at your feet! Rise, my Father!"

Coming home to Grandison Hall
Coming home to Grandison Hall

FINALLY, Sir Charles takes his bride to the chief of his ancestral houses, Grandison Hall which Harriet had not before seen. She writes:

At our alighting, Sir Charles (after paying his compliments in a most respectful manner to Lady W) clasping me in his arms, "I congratulate you, my dearest life," said he, "on your entrance into your own house. The last Lady Grandison and the present might challenge the whole British Nation to produce their equals." Then turning to everyone of his guests, those of my family first, as they were strangers to the place, he said the kindest, the politest things that ever proceeded from the mouth of man. I wept for joy, I would have spoken, but could not. Everybody congratulated the happy Harriet. Dr Bartlett [the excellent Chaplain] was approaching to welcome us, but drew back until our mutual congratulations were over. He then appeared. "I present to you, my dear Dr Bartlett," said the best of men, "the lovely friend whom you have so long wished to see mistress of this house." ... "God bless you, Madam!" tears in his eyes, "God bless you both!" Then kissed my offered cheek. He could say no more: I could not speak distinctly.


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